Dr. John Falconer
director of Sponsored Programs, 308.865.8496

Over the summer, some University of Nebraska at Kearney students worked a variety of jobs to earn money for fall classes, but 22 students spent their summer earning a modest income while conducting research projects through the UNK Summer Student Research Program (SSRP).
The results of their summer research will be presented at the fifth annual Fall Symposium this Friday. The symposium, which runs from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Nebraskan Student Union Ponderosa Rooms E and D, is free and open to the public.
Each student involved in the SSRP will be allotted 15 minutes to give an oral presentation to summarize his or her findings. Topics to be discussed will draw from fields as diverse as biology, art and art history, chemistry, criminal justice, family studies and interior design, history, human performance, management, music and performing arts, philosophy, political science, psychology and social work.
According to the SSRP Web site, students must intend to keep their full-time student status during the fall after completing their summer research to be able to participate in the program. Participants also must be able to work 20 hours a week on their research during June, July and August.
Students receive $500 per month from May to September for their academic work, and they are also permitted to hold outside employment.
John Falconer, UNK director of Sponsored Programs and coordinator of the SSRP, said that the program was created to “provide a multi-disciplinary research opportunity to undergraduate students.”  

“It broadens student understanding of a wide range of topics while providing an intensive research experience,” Falconer said.
Falconer also said that students usually pick their topics through personal preferences and consulting with their faculty mentor.
Christine Gilling a junior from Jackson, Wis. , said she picked her topic because of a deep interest in science.

“I love science; I find this research interesting and rewarding. I love being able to learn new things and fulfill my curiosity through trial and error,” Gilling said.  Aside from the information students obtain for their research papers, the SSRP also gives participants learning experiences that transcend their data collection.

“The research experience allows students to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom, which greatly increases understanding and retention,” Facloner said. “It also gives them a better foundation for future coursework, and it gives students the opportunity to improve their writing and speaking skills.”  

Brad Miller, a senior from Le Mars, Iowa, said that his work in the lab during the SSRP aided him in preparing for graduate school.

“As a chemistry major, I feel that if somebody is looking to go to grad school, then [the SSRP] is a must because of the amount of experience you get,” Miller said. “Research also gives you a head start on what you will learn in classes.” Falconer said that research provides a great benefit to undergraduate education.

“It greatly supports general studies objectives, it increases ‘engagement’ in education, and it helps students transition from absorbing knowledge to making original discoveries,” Falconer said. “All this is of tremendous benefit to post-graduation plans, whether that is starting a new career, going to graduate school or going to professional school.”
According to Gilling, the benefits of the SSRP are not just confined to career planning. For her, one of the most important things she learned from the SSRP was how to be patient.

“With science, especially, discoveries come about from repeated experiments,” Gilling said. “One experiment may last several weeks, months or years. A good researcher will learn to be patient, to take breaks from work every now and then to sit back and look at the overall problem he or she is trying to solve.

To be a great researcher, you have to take time off to reflect on what you are doing and truly understand why you are doing it that specific way.”
After students finish their presentations at the fall symposium, Falconer said that many of the SSRP participants submit their research to undergraduate journals and conferences.
Miller said he plans to send his work to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR). He also said he will continue his research throughout the school year.  
Similar to Miller, Gilling said that she intends to present at NCUR, and she said that she hopes to have her work published in a scientific journal. She also encourages other students to participate in the SSRP.

“This program teaches students not only about the field they are in, but how research works,” Gilling said. “Research is not always perfect with great results, solid conclusions and the like. Research is making mistakes, learning from them, exploring new ideas, researching other’s discoveries, and observing how they correlate to one’s own research, effective time management and patience.”

Below are the 22 students who will be presenting at the fall symposium. They are listed with the location of their presentation along with their research project titles and faculty mentors.
Ponderosa Room D

1:30 p.m.     Kristi Newman, Axtell

How Far Will Sexual On-Line Predators Go?
Mentor:  Dr. Beth Wiersma, Criminal Justice

1:45 p.m.      Alison Copple, Kearney

The Accommodating Home

         Mentor:  Dr. Janice Kimmons, Family Studies & Interior Design
2:00   p.m.      Logan Cope, Hastings

Business Plan for “The Mudhouse” – a trendy new coffeehouse
Mentor:  Dr. Susan Jensen, Marketing

2:15   p.m.     Shannon Thompson, Homer

Academic Dishonesty Among College Students
Mentor:  Dr. Theresa Wadkins, Psychology

2:30 p.m.      Hoa Nguyen, Hanoi, Vietnam

Business Plan for “Au Lac Airways” – a new airline serving Vietnam
Mentor:  Dr. Susan Jensen, Marketing  

2:45 p.m.     Kyle Mossman, Monument, Colo.

Physical, Visual, and Implied Tension
Mentor:  Dr. Elizabeth Kronfield, Art and Art History

3:00 p.m.     Sarah Jones, Holdrege

Art Nouveau and the Iconography of Women
Mentor:  Dr. Michelle Lang, Art and Art History

3:15 p.m.     Kyle Myers, Lincoln

Improving Cavity Ring-Down Spectroscopy techniques using a LED
as the light source
Mentor:  Dr. Jon Thompson, Chemistry

3:30 p.m.     Megan Jones, Wray, Colo.

Motivations for Drinking: A Self-Report of Members of Alcoholics

Mentor:  Dr. James Gilbert, Criminal Justice

3:45 p.m.     Brad Miller, LeMars, Iowa

Using Isocyanides to Prepare Novel Solvatochromic Materials
Mentor:  Dr. Christopher Exstrom, Chemistry

4:00 p.m.     Courtney Johnson, Ainsworth

Characterization of Enzyme Activity of Ascorbate Peroxidase from

Mentor:  Dr. Frank Kovacs, Chemistry

Ponderosa Room E

1:30 p.m.     Christine Gilling, Jackson, Wis.

The Effect of OTK18 Upregulation in U937 Cells on Neuronal

Mentor:  Dr. Kim Carlson, Biology

1:45 p.m.     Michael Gruszczynski, Broken Bow

The Effects of Presidential Approval Ratings on Media Coverage
Mentor:  Dr. Joan Blauwkamp, Political Science

2:00 p.m.     Allison Swendener, North Platte

Energy Intake, Calcium Intake and Glycemic Load in 9-11 Year Old
Mentor:  Dr. Kate Heelan, Health, Physical Education, Recreation &
Leisure Studies

2:15 p.m.     Grant Sorensen, Pine Bluffs, Wyo.

Plant Diversity and Abundance in Prairie Dog Colonies
Mentor:  Dr. David Smith, Biology

2:30 p.m.      Craig Carstensen, North Platte

The Efficiency of Self Directed Exercise

Mentor:  Dr. Greg Brown, Health, Physical Education, Recreation &
Leisure Studies

2:45 p.m.     Racheal Smith, Kearney

Internationalization of American History in the Twentieth Century
Mentor:  Dr. Linda VanIngen, History

3:00 p.m.     Sarah Westesen, Kearney

“We Can Serve Behind the Lines”:  World War II and Nebraska
State Teachers College

Mentor:  Dr. Mark Ellis, History

3:15 p.m.     Elizabeth Killip, Omaha

Forever Changed:  The Transformation of Rural America Through

Mentor:  Dr. Maha Younes, Social Work

3:30 p.m.     Jerod Petersen, Ruskin

The Changing Landscape of Rural America: The Impact of

Mentor:  Dr. Maha Younes, Social Work

3:45 p.m.     Matthew Rauert, Grand Island

Pablo Casals as Composer: Selected Sacred Choral Works
Mentor:  Dr. Andrew White, Music and Performing Arts

4:00 p.m.     Melanie Spilinek, Weeping Water

The Head and the Heart:  A Need for Harmony
Mentor:  Dr. Thomas Martin, Philosophy