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Undergraduate students showcase research in Frankfort

by UofL Today last modified Feb 23, 2011 09:48 AM

More than a dozen University of Louisville undergraduate students presented their research projects to state lawmakers last week through Posters-at-the-Capitol.

Undergraduate students showcase research in Frankfort

Nursing students Colleen Rodeffer, Megan Davis and Whitney Graves took part in Posters-at-the-Capitol. They conducted their research with nursing assistant professor Diane Chlebowy.

The event, organized by a committee comprised of a representative from each Kentucky state university and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, took place Feb. 10 at the state capitol in Frankfort, Ky. Posters-at-the-Capitol includes students from each of Kentucky's public higher education institutions and aims to help the governor and legislature better understand the importance of undergraduate research, scholarly and creative experiences.

"University of Louisville students are getting the chance to participate in cutting-edge research projects," said UofL President James Ramsey. "This was a great chance for them to show state policymakers what they've learned and how it will impact the health or economic status of all Kentuckians."

Fourteen UofL undergraduate students with majors in bioengineering, biochemistry and molecular biology, biology, chemistry, nursing, pharmacology and molecular biology and pharmacology and toxicology presented their work.

UofL faculty mentored all the students, with many projects building on faculty research. For example, three nursing students worked with Diane Chlebowy, assistant professor and director of the BSN program. Chlebowy's research focuses on diabetes self-management among African Americans.

"I have always been interested in going to graduate school, so getting involved with research will help me in the future," said nursing student Megan Davis. "I discovered research isn't just about numbers and statistics. I had the unique opportunity to interview participants in Dr. Chlebowy's study and experience the human element of research."

The experience helped senior nursing student Colleen Rodeffer understand the research process and how to become "a contributor of research that validates my profession and shapes its future," she said.

Laura Oliver worked with Carolyn Klinge, a biochemistry and molecular biology professor in the School of Medicine. Klinge's research focuses on mechanisms of resistance to tamoxifen, a drug used to treat breast cancer. Oliver worked in the lab and contributed directly to Klinge's efforts.

A Princeton, Ky. native, Oliver said it was exciting to meet with her state representative, Mike Cherry, and tell him about her research.

"I’ve watched Laura grow up as a super-achiever across the education spectrum," Cherry said. "Her work being part of a wonderful program like 'Posters at the Capitol' gives me, her family, her many friends and supporters and, indeed, the entire town of Princeton and Caldwell County great pride."

The Posters-at-the-Capitol program allows lawmakers to meet with students and see the value of this type of high-impact learning, according to Jody Cofer, a member of the Posters-at-the-Capitol organizing committee at Murray State.

"This type of work frequently results in presentation and publication opportunities which better prepares students for graduate study and their careers," Cofer said. 

This is the 10th year for the event. The program initially was funded by a Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant to Murray State University and now includes all of Kentucky's public universities and Kentucky Community and Technical College System. It has grown from 85 participants to more than 200.

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