College students present academic research

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ENID – College students compared notes with their counterparts from across the state during Oklahoma Research Day. Next year, students will come from across the nation for a research conference.

“I really like how we get the chance to see other posters and see what kind of stuff other researchers are going over in other Oklahoma universities,” said Sujana Rupakheti, a senior at Cameron University.

Rupakheti examined the demographics behind skin cancer and who could be most vulnerable.

“I learned to be dedicated and to finish my project,” she said of the experience.

The March 3 conference, held in Enid, attracted more than 950 students, with disciplines including business and several areas in the science field.

“I really want to go to grad school and you have to have presentations and you have to do research if you want to go to grad school, so this a steppingstone for me,” said Kaitlyn Harkey, a senior at the University of Central Oklahoma.

Ashton Dickey, a senior at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, studied how depression affects varying demographics.

Every two years a different university hosts the conference, with Northwestern hosting it for the first time.

“We invite students from all of the regional universities, as well as some community colleges around the state, to share their research,” said Shawn Holliday, associate dean of graduate studies at Northwestern State University.

“OU and OSU have their own programs, but Oklahoma Research Day allows these students the ability to share their work,” he said.

“It is important even in these very trying budget times,” state higher education Chancellor Glen Johnson said. “Another thing that is really important to emphasize is the dollars that research brings into the state.”

Oklahoma Research Day was created in 1999 and was hosted by the University of Central Oklahoma until 2008.

The National Conference on Undergraduate Research is coming to Oklahoma in April of 2018.

John Barthell, provost for the University of Central Oklahoma, is hoping students will take part in both conferences next year.

“Both conferences will bring the best students from across the state in undergraduate research,” he said.

Greg Wilson, assistant vice president for the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, said the two conferences will provide the entire state with a new focus on student research.

“With us hosting NCUR we are going to learn a great deal about the process of reviewing abstracts then providing the opportunity and venue for student to present posters,” Wilson said. “All disciplines are encouraged to sign up.”

The three-day conference is expected to bring more than 5,000 students to Oklahoma during the first weekend in April.

“NCUR is like an Oklahoma Research Day, just magnified many times,” Wilson said.

CAPTION: Reem Almutairi, a junior at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, shows her research to Melville Vaughan, a cell biology professor at the University of Central Oklahoma. [Photo by Eriech Tapia, for The Oklahoman]

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