REACH Week highlights student research at WKU

Taylor Harrison

Students doing research at WKU will have a chance to share it with the rest of the university this week.

Research Experiences and Creative Heights, or REACH, Week is from March 18-23. Throughout the week, the different WKU colleges will put up showcases, and the week will end with an all-day research conference on Saturday.

Gordon Baylis, vice president for research, said this is only the second year for the full REACH Week. However, this is the 43rd year for the day-long research conference.

Last year, Baylis said he and Gordon Emslie, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, decided research needed a bigger celebration, and the week-long model was successful.

“Students are doing so many cool things it’s hard not to be successful,” he said.

There will be a lecture delivered by the keynote speaker, Sarah Vowell, in Van Meter Auditorium on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

“Who is very fun, by the way,” Baylis said. “I’ve been listening to one of her books on tape actually read by her, and she’s actually terrifically interesting.”

Vowell’s area of research is history, and Baylis said he didn’t want people to think a historian would be dry.

“She has a very quirky and quite funny take on history,” he said.

Lynn Minton, manager of marketing and business development in the Office of Research, serves on the student research council, which helped plan the event. She also said Vowell talks about her historical research in a unique way.

“She presents the information in kind of a different light,” she said. “She makes it kind of humorous.”

She said Vowell was one of the options for keynote speaker that was more well known to the committee, and whom they thought students would enjoy.

Conference Speaker Paul Simmons will be speaking to close out the Saturday’s research conference.

The conference, which will be in Gary Ransdell Hall, will start with registration and information tables at 7:30 a.m. and Simmons will speak at 4:30 p.m.

To participate in the research conference, students had to submit a synopsis of their research and have a faculty mentor to back them. Minton said there are more than 300 students participating.

“There’s very few that submit a synopsis that…aren’t able to present, just because they walk through the process with their faculty advisors,” she said.

She also said REACH Week, and research in general, is important for students.

“I think that any student that is wanting to pursue areas in their field, that they do research and they learn more about it, so they get out of college and they’re a little bit more aware of what’s going on in that field,” she said. “It puts them one step over people that haven’t had that hands-on experience when they’re looking for a job.”