Research, research and more research

Undergraduate and graduate students conduct unique research to gain out-of-classroom and hands-on experience

Ciara PearceThe University of Northern Iowa is not a research institution, but you might think otherwise after hearing about the abundance of research being conducted by undergraduate and graduate students across all levels of the university.

UNI gives students a unique hands-on experience while conducting their research, and students are given many opportunities to share their research with others.

Undergraduate research

Selena Losee, a senior with a double major in biology - honors research and the study of religion, prepared a research symposium in support of her topic regarding the formation of intercellular junctions of a developing chick embryo. Losee's research has been in the works for more than a year. Along with 19 other honor students, Losee was granted the opportunity to present this research to legislators, Regents and guests in the Iowa State House.

As students conduct research, Losee testifies to its benefits.

"Conducting your own research allows you to become responsible for your own learning," said Losee, who was nominated by an adviser to present the research for her senior honors thesis. "My research and subsequent Jennifer Nultypresentations have made me more self-motivated and has contributed to my knowledge on current issues in my field."

Presenting research at the capitol celebrates how undergraduates learn by conducting research in a variety of fields. Students presented on topics such as the executive functions in healthy young and middle-aged adults, and personality and drug use on college campuses.

Ciara Pearce, a senior marketing: advertising major, conducted her research on reasons for liking companies on Facebook and the effect on customer-firm relationships.

"Presenting at the capitol allowed me to explain my research to an entirely new audience outside of the academic realm," said Pearce. "As I was explaining my findings, many people asked me for advice on how to apply those findings to their small businesses. That was fun for me because, in that situation, I was the expert."

Graduate research

Shannon Erb, a graduate assistant pursuing a master's degree in communication studies, conducted her research on discovering if participants who watch FOX's television drama Lie to Me learn deception-detection techniques, and if so, how those techniques are used in everyday life.

“All my research has been very hands-on,” said Erb. “I have conducted interviews, created a website, done surveys and even completed an experiment -type of research project.  Through all of these projects, I have been able to get in touch with the participants on a personal level and get to know people more than I would have if I didn't employ hands-on methods.

“The university has a strong commitment to education in regard to research and the willingness of university staff to work with students to publish and help them achieve goals,” she said. “I have not only had the opportunity to do research on my own, but also collaborate with faculty members on their research projects. This expands my knowledge and experience and helps prepare me for my future.”