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Dozens of undergrads to represent UNG at national research conference

NCUR 2016
Many of the undergraduates who present at UNG's Annual Research Conference (ARC) often go on to share their research at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, where they can network and collaborate with thousands of their peers from across the country. Here, Avery Shupert presents research into the production of a new way to apply stain-resistant polymers onto surfaces such as household carpets..

Twenty-five undergraduates from the University of North Georgia (UNG) will step on the national stage in April to share their research with hundreds of peers from across the nation.

The National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), an annual event held by the Council on Undergraduate Research, helps students do more than just hone their presentation skills. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the conference; the event will be held in Asheville, North Carolina from April 7 to April 9.

"Presenting original research on a national level is a valuable experience by itself, but this unique opportunity also gives our students personal access to networking and feedback from peers in many disciplines," said Dr. Andy Novobilski, UNG's associate provost for research and engagement. "These experiences change lives, forging partnerships and creativity, and in the future many students will likely view this event as a catalyst for their success."

Disciplines covered by UNG's representatives span from literature and music to biology and psychology, and include both oral and poster presentations.

Kristen Howard graduated with a Bachelor of Science in biology in December 2015, but she still wants to know why some college students struggle with primary literature, and continuing her research to find where the divide lies between students who can effectively read and understand it versus those who have difficulties with it.

"When comparing upper and underclassmen, it became clear that, for many students, their first exposure to primary literature was as upperclassmen," Howard said. "I and my faculty mentor, Dr. Miriam Segura-Totten, want students to have more exposure and better understanding earlier in their education, so we are trying to identify exactly where that line of distinction falls."

Though Howard initially planned to teach at the high school level, she said this research has given her great insight and interest in the world of a college professor. She became so involved in the project that she has also presented it at a conference for the Society for the Advancement of Biology Education (SABER) as well as UNG's Annual Research Conference.

"At NCUR, I am hopeful that attending professors and students will see what they can do to increase their own understanding of this issue. We want professors to see how they can help their students and for students to see how they can help themselves," she said. "The next phase of the research is to measure how professors read the articles in comparison to upperclassmen and underclassmen. If there is a disconnect between what professors are reading and understanding and what their students are reading and understanding, that would be another helpful area to explore."

NCUR regularly hosts some 4,000 students and their faculty mentors to present their research through posters, oral presentations, visual arts and performances. Opportunities to learn from keynote speakers, interact with representatives from more than 100 graduate schools, and participate in excursions and other activities sponsored by the host site have become staples of the event.

ARC is held and supported by UNG's Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities.

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