Campus Benefits from Research Day
During the December session of Southern Adventist University’s biannual Research Day, 352 Southern faculty and students (both undergraduate and graduate), presented the culminations of various research projects. They represented 18 departments on campus with topics ranging from exploring the synthesis of new chemicals to the etymology and usage of languages.
There were four moderated sections of breakout sessions held in various places around campus and a featured poster session held in McKee Library. Presenters also have the opportunity to become published authors in Southern’s Journal of Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Research or KnowledgeExchange@Southern, the university’s online institutional repository.
During the poster session, many science majors presented new research on chemical reactions and synthesis. Senior biochemistry major Esther Ramley worked on research targeted at synthesizing compounds that might have a positive effect on treating different forms of cancer. Although she was not able to successfully create the final compounds in high enough amounts, she was able to gain ground on making a lot of the substances needed in order to start the process.
Ramley said that she hopes to go to medical school after graduating and chose this research topic because it was something that she was quite interested in. She picked up the research where another student had left off, and one day the same may be done with the work she has completed thus far.
“At the end of the day this research will have to be continued with future work attempting other methods,” Ramley said. “I’m a senior, so I’ll be graduating, and I won’t be able to continue this, but another student may come in and pick up the parts.”
Even though Southern is not primarily a research-based school, many students find merit in participating in Research Day to widen their understanding of different topics and to prepare themselves for life after college.
“Research is a good opportunity to study some of the things that I am interested in,” said Sharon Hart, graduate healthcare administration student. “It's scary to present, but it helps solidify your thoughts and makes you really push yourself.”
During her presentation, Hart displayed her research on “Just Culture,” a workflow model for organizations and employees in the healthcare field.
“I want to be able to implement ‘Just Culture’ in my career, so it's interesting to see it in its infancy and witness it as a budding program,” Hart said.
Hart is confident that the skills she was able to cultivate during her research will directly correlate with what she will do in her career.
“As we approach graduation, a lot of us don't know where we're going to be in the future, but research is a big component of any healthcare career,” Hart said. “To get funding, better drugs, and better patient care, you have to have research. To be introduced to that process early on is really a very wonderful experience.”
Kristie Wilder, dean of the School of Social Work at Southern, presented the preliminary findings of a study that she is working on with professor Victor Bumphus from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. They are looking at how minority victims of crime perceive law enforcement in today’s ever-changing social climate.
“One of the preliminary findings is that the way Chattanooga police officers think they are serving victims of crime and how the victims report they are being served are vastly different,” Wilder said. “One of the goals of this research is to help the the Chattanooga Police Department become more victim-centered. In doing so, not only will crime be reduced, but the trauma experienced at the individual and community levels will be addressed.”
Wilder believes that professors and students alike have a lot to gain from being part of Southern’s Research Day.
“Presenting your findings is a rewarding and stimulating experience and a confidence booster,” Wilder said. “Students need strong oral communication skills to succeed in their future workplace, so it is great to have opportunities like Research Day where they can practice these skills.”