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Fourteen students attend third annual Southern Conference forum

Representing WCU at the Southern Conference forum are (left side of sign, from left) Jesse Sarver, Bailey Stillman, Madison Klein, Ethan Stiles, Natasha Kreiling, Sierra Rice, Kyle Monaghan, (right side of sign, front from left) Emma Hand, Grace Woodard, McKenley Webb, (right side of sign, back from left) Casey Cook, Samantha Griffin, Richard Lavallee and Jerome Suminski.

Fourteen Western Carolina University students participated in the third annual SoCon Undergraduate Research Forum held in Spartanburg, South Carolina, on Nov. 2-4.

The students were accompanied to the forum by Kloo Hansen, WCU’s undergraduate research coordinator, and Bill Kwochka, associate professor in WCU’s Department of Chemistry and Physics, and one of the primary facilitators of the event. About 150 students from the 10 Southern Conference institutions gave presentations, with research in the arts and humanities included with the more traditional science, technology, engineering and math (also known as STEM) disciplines. The forum was hosted by Wofford College.

WCU student presenters Casey Cook (left) and Bailey T.J. Stillman discuss Stillman's project titled "“Analysis of Inherent Residual Stress Developed Through Direct Meta Laser Sintering of 316L Stainless Steel.”

Two WCU seniors gave oral presentations. Sierra N. Rice presented on “Investigation of Insulin Degrading Enzyme Inhibition by LT10 Peptide” and Grace K. Woodard presented on “Our Global Trash Problem.”

Ten WCU students gave poster presentations. They are listed, with the presenter’s name, class and topic:

Casey R. Cook, junior, “An Investigation of the Role of Religiosity in Perceived Pornography Addiction.”

Samantha R. Griffin, junior, “Preventing Sexual Assault on Campus: Understanding Attitudes Toward Affirmative Consent Policies.”

Emma L. Hand, senior, “The Effects of Inadequate Cellular Access on Emergency Medical Services Efficacy in the Rural Setting.”

Madison Klein, senior, “Comparing mRNA Profiling Data of Various Body Fluids Using the Oxford Nanopore MinION and Illumia MiSeq FGx.”

Natasha F. Kreiling, senior, “Exploring the Unique B-amylase2 and its Novel Potential Binding Partner.”

Natasha F. Kreiling's forum project, involving cell and molecular biology, was titled “Exploring the Unique B-amylase2 and its Novel Potential Binding Partner.”

Richard R. Lavallee, senior, “Omnidirectional, Ball-Balancing Robot.”

Kyle W. Monaghan, senior, “A Rheological Investigation into the Melt, Flow and Cure Behavior of Phenolic Resins.”

Jesse L. Sarver, sophomore, “Investigating the Properties of Ceramic Matrix Composites.”

Bailey T.J. Stillman, senior, “Analysis of Inherent Residual Stress Developed Through Direct Meta Laser Sintering of 316L Stainless Steel.”

McKenley G. Webb, sophomore, “Where You Stand is Where You Sit: The Influence of Framing on Health Care Policy in the United States.”

Two seniors from WCU’s School of Engineering and Technology, Jerome Suminski and Ethan Stiles, attended the forum as co-authors for the projects presented by Lavallee and Stillman.

Webb, who serves as vice president of WCU’s Student Government Association, said her research looked at the way political parties talk about health care policy and how that affects the outcome of particular policy. She said that is a relevant issue because of changes in health care in recent years, including the Bush administration’s Modernization of Medicare Act, the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act, and the Trump administration’s efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Webb, who hopes to earn a doctorate in political science and pursue a career in policy research, said she was impressed by the diverse range of majors and disciplines covered by the forum projects. “I’ve been able to learn so much and meet so many people,” she said. “This is an experience that I could not get anywhere else.”

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