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Students prepare research for the interdisciplinary conference
Written by John Hund
Webster University undergraduate seniors are wrapping up their research projects for the Fall 2018 Research Across Disciplines (RAD) conference. Collaborative research students will be presenting their research from the academic year.
Eric Goedereis is an associate professor of psychology who co-chairs the Internal Review Board (IRB). The IRB ensures a student’s work is ethical. He also teaches a senior thesis psychology class where eight students plan to present work at the RAD conference.
“I really look forward to RAD, especially for my own students,” Goedereis said. “As the professor for the thesis course in psychology, I have a front row seat to a pretty amazing experience.”
Goedereis said his role as an educator makes it very rewarding to witness the growth of students on their journey for knowledge. At the beginning of the semester, Goedereis said students have varying degrees of research ideas in place. He works with them as they refine their ideas and consider what could work and what doesn’t.
“I see students learn from one another’s mistakes and help their peers make their projects stronger,” Goedereis said. “And in a few short months, it all comes together at RAD when the students deliver typically high-quality, polished presentations of their projects.”
Webster committed itself to promote and encourage collaborative research and creative experiences between students and faculty mentors in recent years. The RAD conference at Webster serves as a regular on-campus opportunity for the dissemination of these efforts to a wider community.
Students’ research includes fieldwork, laboratory work or any exhibit of their findings in regards to their professional research fields. Students conducting studies can apply to the provost’s office for a $500 grant detailing their work and how it applies to their field.
Rachel Downey is a psychology major whose research focuses on extroverts and introverts in the job market. She conducted a survey for students comparing how extroverted or introverted people acted in relation to how often their bosses promoted them.
“I myself am an introvert, and I have been in the job market for about seven years now,” Downey said. “I’ve been at a job for months at a time, even years at a time and never received a promotion, and it’s not that I’m not doing my job.”
Downey said she noticed people who got promoted were usually more extroverted. She said despite working at a company longer, her extroverted coworkers received promotions months into their jobs.
Downey said she wondered if she was alone in this matter or if it was a consistent pattern in the workforce. To find out, Downey’s survey asked subjects about their personalities, skill levels and work experiences.
Carrie Burnett, a student studying for her Bachelor of Science in psychology, focused her research on trauma and its effects on cortisol levels. She used her grant money to purchase testing kits.
“Being a massage therapist, I work with trauma survivors, I’ve gone through an extensive training program to be able to do that,” Burnett said. “I know that we don’t just automatically assume that touch is okay.”
Her research aims to quantify the stress around trauma and touch. Burnett hoped her research will help people in fields dealing with touch, including physical and massage therapists, chiropractors and yoga instructors.
“I’m not creating anything new with what I’m doing,” Burnett said. “I’m just connecting dots that already exist and trying to bring meaning to them. I think that’s the future of where science is going.
Goedereis said the RAD conference aligns with Webster’s strategic theme to provide a global, student-centered experience by supporting programs that increase student engagement, access and success.
Research is done year round, and applications for the Spring 2019 research grant can be found on the Office of Academic Affairs website. Submissions close Dec. 14.