Student research takes center stage during expo, symposium

The research prowess of Western Carolina University students will be on display as the university holds two early spring events, the Undergraduate Expo and Graduate Research Symposium.

The research, creative work and service of undergraduate students will be on display during the 16th annual expo, which will be hosted by WCU’s Honors College on Monday and Tuesday, March 24-25.

Approximately 250 students representing 20 academic areas have signed up to give presentations, said Brian Railsback, dean of the Honors College. Sixty-one faculty sponsors are involved.

The expo schedule includes research presentations on topics such as “Understanding HIV: Changes in Mathematical Modeling from 1987-2010,” “An Android-Based Guide to the Night Sky” and “An Examination of 21st-Century Appalachian English.”

The expo poster session and a reception for student presenters, faculty sponsors and the general public will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. March 24 in the Grandroom of A.K. Hinds University Center. During a 6 p.m. ceremony, WCU faculty member Jamie Vaske, assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice, will receive the Recognition of Distinguished Instruction and Nurturing Award, which comes with an engraved replica of “The Thinker” and $500.

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

The scholarly research of WCU’s graduate students will be on display during the 22nd annual Graduate Research Symposium on Thursday, March 27, at Hinds University Center.

Sixty-eight students representing a variety of academic programs will present their research during sessions that will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Among the topics to be addressed are “Baiting the Stage: Bear-Baiting in Shakespeare’s ‘The Winter Tale,’” “New Age Cherokees: Experiences at the Cherokee Boarding School on the Qualla Boundary” and “Finger Placement Correction for Static Gesture Recognition in American Sign Language.”

Eleven WCU graduate students have signed up to compete in the new Three-Minute Thesis Competition that will be held as part of the symposium at 4 p.m.

Participating symposium students and their faculty sponsors will be recognized during a reception set for 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the Grandroom. Honors to be given out at that time include Research Paper Awards, the N.C. Research Designation Oral Award, Dean’s Fellowship Awards and awards for students who gave the best presentations during the Three-Minute Thesis Competition. The Research Paper Awards are based on a complementary activity to the symposium that encourages students to submit research papers for blind review and ranking by WCU faculty members.

The symposium is sponsored and hosted by Graduate School and Research at WCU. A detailed schedule of presentations is posted online. For more information, contact the Graduate School at 828-227-7398.