Undergrad research to be showcased

The research, creative work and service of Western Carolina University’s undergraduate students will be showcased during the 14th annual Undergraduate Expo, which will be hosted by WCU’s Honors College on Monday and Tuesday, March 26-27.

More than 250 students representing 24 academic departments and programs have signed up to give presentations, said Brian Railsback, dean of the Honors College.

This year’s Undergraduate Expo is part of a slate of activities being held during the week of the installation of WCU’s new chancellor, David O. Belcher, to highlight the accomplishments of the university’s students, faculty, staff, alumni and community partners.

“I am thrilled that so much excellent undergraduate work will be on display during the week of the chancellor’s installation, when we are celebrating all the things that make WCU a great institution,” Railsback said.

The expo schedule includes presentations on topics ranging from “The Risk Factors for Changes in Juvenile Delinquency,” “Ethics and the Pharmaceutical Industry” and “The Garden of Eden of the Red Man: William Holland Thomas and the Eastern Cherokee” to “How Many Servings Are Really on Your Plate?,” “The Social Implications of Sexting” and “Ocean Pollution and the Destruction of Coral Reefs.”

The expo poster session will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on March 26 in and around the Grandroom of A.K. Hinds University Center. Also that day in the Grandroom, a reception for student presenters, faculty sponsors and the general public will begin at 5:30 p.m.

During a 6 p.m. ceremony, four faculty members will receive the Recognition of Distinguished Instruction and Nurturing Award, which comes with an engraved replica of “The Thinker” and $500. This year, the Honors College board of directors is recognizing faculty who have excelled in the implementation of honors contracts, which allow students to receive honors credit for the courses they take, Railsback said. The four honorees are Pamela Duncan, assistant professor of English; Michelle Scifers, assistant professor in the School of Health Sciences; Karyn Tomczak, director of the dance program in the School of Stage and Screen; and Blair Tormey, geology lecturer in the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resources.

“The four faculty members we are honoring this year represent the work of most of their colleagues at WCU,” Railsback said. “Honors contracts often lead to undergraduate research projects, and thanks to a very dedicated faculty, there are more than 900 contracts each semester.”

All expo presentations are open to the public and will be going on at numerous campus venues all day long on both days. A detailed program is available and more information is available by calling the Honors College at 828-227-7383.