William Peace University Sends Record Number of Students to National Research Conference, NCUR

March 24, 2016

William Peace University is proud to announce it is sending a university record nine students to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), an annual event that promotes and displays research projects being performed at the undergraduate level at universities across the United States. The 30th annual event will be held Thursday, April 7, through Saturday, April 9, at UNC Asheville.

Three separate student groups from WPU, each representing a different academic discipline, will present at the conference. They include Biology students Caroline Bergstrom, Sydney Melchert, and Abigail Nails; English students Elizabeth Clark, Rachel Pottern, and Halla Sider; Psychology students Shannon Condon, Madison Irvin and Merica Ivey.

“NCUR provides our students an unparalleled pre-professional experience,” said Dr. Corinne Andersen, Associate Professor of English and Honors Coordinator at WPU. “Students have the opportunity to not only share their research with other high-achieving peers, but immerse themselves in an intellectual environment that will undoubtedly inspire them. I always walk away from the experience with the satisfaction of knowing that WPU undergrads can compete with students from all over the country in just about any discipline you could imagine.”

“Students have the opportunity to not only share their research with other high-achieving peers, but immerse themselves in an intellectual environment that will undoubtedly inspire them.”

In particular, WPU Biology students will present their findings in research surrounding PCB (Polychlorinated Biphenyl) levels at Crabtree Creek in Wake County following a chemical contamination many years ago by Ward Transformer Company, a facility that handled transformers and other types of electrical equipment (News & Observer). PCB has been known to cause cancer within animals and poses several other serious health risks to humans, including learning deficits, birth defects, and immune system deficiencies, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“Ward is one of the EPA’s most extensive Super Fund cleanup sites in the nation, but the fish are still dangerously contaminated. Working on this research project has been interesting,” Melchert said. “These are important findings since they affect public safety and fish consumption in the Crabtree Creek watershed,” Bergstrom stated.

In psychology, WPU students completed independent research projects covering several topics, including the impact of color on memory and mood, the impact of music on athletic performance, and the relationship between locus of control (LOC) and retention in first-year students at post-secondary institutions.

“This experience has made me realize that while the research process can be frustrating at times, the outcome is extremely rewarding,” Condon said of her research. “The psychology program at Peace consists of a close-knit group of individuals always willing to provide support for each other. Most of us are very close with the professors, which makes it easier to ask for help and seek guidance when necessary.”

English majors explored and dissected several literary pieces for possible publication in peer reviewed journals in the field. For example, Pottern examined how swapping genders of characters in Shakespeare’s plays–specifically Julius Caesar–has the potential to make strong feminist statements.

“This experience has caused me to examine my beliefs about feminism more deeply, and has forced me to be more articulate about the nebulous idea of gender equality,” Pottern said. “The professors here constantly inspire me not only to work harder, but to keep asking questions, and never to settle for an easy, half-right answer.”

NCUR, established in 1987, is dedicated to promoting undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activity in all fields of study by sponsoring an annual conference for students. Unlike meetings of academic professional organizations, this gathering of young scholars welcomes presenters from all institutions of higher learning and from all corners of the academic curriculum. Through this annual conference, NCUR creates a unique environment for the celebration and promotion of undergraduate student achievement, provides models of exemplary research and scholarship, and helps to improve the state of undergraduate education.

For more University news and updates, visit: www.peace.edu/news.