Students to present research at conferences Saturday

Natalie Hayden

Tomorrow, a total of 269 students will present their research to the community.

This year, WKU is hosting its first-ever REACH Week, which stands for Research Experiences and Creative Heights. REACH Week began Monday and will end Saturday with the student research conference.

Farley Norman, psychology professor and head of the student research council, said WKU has put on the student research conference for 41 years. But when Gordon Baylis, vice president for Research, and Gordon Emslie, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, arrived, they wanted to expand it to a whole week.

“When Dr. Baylis and Dr. Emslie did their listening/speaking tour across campus, they identified that this event is something that should probably become a more week-long event to get more students more aware of what is taking place across campus,” said Lynn Minton, manager of Marketing and Business Operations.

“It’s really just trying to build on everything we do,” Baylis said. “They say, ‘You stand on the shoulders of giants.’ We’re building on this great tradition of student research day.”

Students have many different ways to present their research, Norman said. There will be 146 students giving oral presentations, and 111 students will present their research as posters. Some theatre and dance students will perform, and some English students will read poetry.

“Saturday’s going to be a very nice mix of natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, so what’s nice to see is students are presenting from all over campus and from every department,” Norman said.

Research grants will be given out for the first time this semester. There is a total of $50,000 to be given as 100 grants of $500 each. The money must be used toward a faculty-advised research project.

“I think that’s going to facilitate even more faculty-student cooperation on research, so that can only help,” Norman said.

There has been a 60 percent increase in student participation this year, Norman said. He said he hopes the new student research grants will help numbers continue to rise next year.

“We want to put more resources behind it and also emphasize how we want the student to be sort of in charge of this research,” Baylis said. “Those are the two things — to add and expand to what we’re doing already.”

While the actual conference will be held Saturday, ongoing showcases have been held throughout the week in different locations.

“With students becoming involved in research, they generate knowledge and are being active participants in generating knowledge as proposed to just simply being passive and reading about it,” Norman said.

Baylis said that not only generating knowledge but spreading it as well is important.

“That’s really the key behind research and creative activity is the impact on everybody else,” he said.