Graduate Students Showcase Innovative Research
Posted: March 14, 2011
By Vilina Phan
There’s a fire and you call 911. Emergency Responders react in a matter of moments. Effectiveness is key to success, especially when life is the on the line. JMU graduate students, Zachary Hittie not only realized this, but seek to improve the system by putting “information at the fingertips of emergency services.” He developed research to create new software that featured “GIS maps with searchable address and street layers, the ability to import and search files such as building floor plans…hazardous materials instruction..” and much more so that emergency services could respond effectively and customize its services.
On February 3rd, the Virginia Council of Graduate Students (VCGS) hosted its Sixth Annual Graduate Student Research Forum, which promoted the research of Virginia graduate students. Fourteen schools across the Commonwealth of Virginia participated in this program that presented prestige to not only the university, but also the students as well.
The purpose of the Graduate Student Research Forum was to showcase the work of graduate students. The forum worked to highlight the economic concerns that impacted the Commonwealth of Virginia, such as transportation and healthcare. The target audience of the Research Forum was the Virginia General Assembly; the date of the Research Forum is purposefully centered on when the General Assembly is in session.
The Research Forum was held at the Library of Virginia, in Richmond and was across the street from the Capitol Building, where the Virginia General Assembly convened. Although for legislators, often times just the staff members attend because of schedule conflicts.
“The staffers are just as important because they relay concerns and ideas to the legislators,” said Kathy Thompson, Assistant Dean of the JMU Graduate School.
The Research Forum was set up so that each year, six students from each of the participating universities were selected to present their research. Each student was nominated by the Graduate Council, which comprised of all the University program directors. The student was required to write out a proposal of their research followed by a description. Selections were based on how closely related the research was to the current concerns of the General Assembly. The selected students arrived separately and met for the first time upon arrival in Richmond and following that, students set up their presentation at the library of Virginia.
“You tend to see students from the same school clumped together, for example all the JMU students will be together…the set up is close to a career fair or a science fair,” said Thompson. After setting up students present their research to the legislators, staffers, and other attendees. “I find that JMU students perform very well because we like to tell our students to present their research in a language that anyone can understand because chances are that your audience is not specialized in your research,” said Thompson.
This year the six students selected to represent JMU were Allison Wood (M.S. student in Adult Education/Human Resource Development), Jason Kopp (M.A. student in Psychological Sciences), Lauren M. Matyisin (M.Ed student in Educational Technology), Anna Zilberberg (Ph.D student in Assessment and Measurement), Lindsey A. Mayberry (M.A. student in Psychological Sciences), and Zachary Hittie, mentioned above (M.S. student in Integrated Science and Technology).
[The Research Forum] benefits the students because they meet other students from different schools, it’s a great networking opportunity, and it looks great on the resume too,” said Thompson.
Many of the students selected focused their research in science and technology, such as Lindsey Mayberry. Her research was categorized as healthcare and the title of her presentation was “An Examination of Impulsivity in Women with Eating.” In short, Mayberry worked to examine and distinguish features that are characteristic of women with eating disorders. Her research would “match participants who meet the criteria for an eating disorder with control participants without eating disorders.”
Anna Zilberberg has decided to focus her studies on autism, titling her presentation, “Detecting Autistic Traits in a Non-Clinical Population: Dimensionality of the Short Version of Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ-26).” Zilberberg wants to raise awareness for the often times “invisible disability” targeting developing adults by “examining the functionality of the 26-item attitudinal measure (Autism-Spectrum Quotient)” in hopes of detecting autistic traits amid the general student population. Through her findings she was able to conclude the need for revision in the future, concerning the current models in use to detect autism.
In Psychology, Jason Kopp has focused his studies on entitlement, specifically “Measuring Entitlement in Higher Education.” Kopp wanted to investigate the increasing trend in academic entitlement, and to do so he constructed a questionnaire dubbed the Academic Entitlement Questionnaire (AEQ). It is used to assess if the measurement found, functioned well for both complaint (hypothesized to be low in academic entitlement) and noncompliant (hypothesized to be high in academic entitlement) students. Through his research he found that the AEQ was “a useful measure to further study academic entitlement and evaluate collegiate programming created to reduce entitlement.”
And so on February 3rd this year, together Hittie, Mayberry, Zilberberg, and Kopp represented JMU CISAT, presenting projects from the different departments, and with two other JMU graduate students, will promote the whole of JMU as an institution and university.