Sights and sounds: UW-Green Bay students present research at state event

Six UW-Green Bay undergraduate researchers joined about 100 of their peers at the state Capitol April 17, showing their stuff during the 10th annual Posters in the Rotunda event. This UW System-wide undergraduate research showcase allows students to present their work to state leaders and legislators, as well as students, faculty and administrators from across the state.

“It’s definitely an incredible honor for me to be here today,” said UW-Green Bay senior Zona Fang, an international student from China. “Never in a million years could I have thought that I’d be actually be physically standing in the rotunda and present(ing) to our legislators.”

For senior Psychology and Human Development major Emily Vogels, the event presented a terrific opportunity.

“It’s exciting to be chosen and be able to be here and be able to talk to legislators about my research,” Vogels said, “— especially since it pertains to kind of the education system — so it gives me kind of a platform to talk a little bit about the importance of education and supporting knowledge and gaining knowledge.”

The day was exciting for students — and so was the research that led up to it. For senior Holly James, Biology and Human Biology, the experience solidified her educational and career choice. After taking a year off, James hopes to pursue her master’s degree in public health.

“I had the opportunity to actually do real-life lab work that other people are publishing papers on,” James said, “and to me that was just invaluable. It got me so excited about my field.”

James’ faculty adviser, Assistant Prof. Kimberly Baker, also attended the Posters in the Rotunda event. Working with Baker, Biology and Human Biology, was a wonderful experience, James said.

“We’re testing different dietary compounds on a line of highly-estrogen sensitive breast cancer cells,” she said of the research. “I was interested in learning how to do cell culture because it’s something that a lot of grad schools will find attractive on an application — and the opportunity to actually see real-life of the outcomes of foods that we eat having an impact on a tumor cell, it was fascinating.”

Fang, a Mathematics major who will do her student teaching in the fall, decided to incorporate international analysis into her study.

“I basically did a textbook comparison between an IB (International Baccalaureate) mathematic book and my personal, my high school math textbooks,” Fang said, “to find out how IB curriculum can help U.S. students to compete with students from other — around the world, academically.”

For Vogels, an interest in how — and why — people hide or express their intelligence drove a study on the subject. In addition to survey questions and self-reported behavior data, Vogels used t-shirts that featured “knowledge-based” (aka “nerd-based”) humor to assess stereotypes and how they might affect expression of knowledge.

“I studied people who were downplaying their intelligence, and we looked at personality factors, as well as how they responded in different scenarios, to try to understand why they might be downplaying their intelligence,” Vogels said. “And we found that my hypothesis of negative stereotypes did, in fact, predict hiding one’s intelligence across social situations.”

The day in Madison passed quickly in a flurry of activity for the student researchers. For James, it presented the perfect opportunity to talk up the school she loves.

“I want people to know that you can go to a school that’s not as big as Madison and not as big as Northwestern, some of the brand name schools,” she said. “And you can still get a first-rate education and get to talk to people that know a lot in their field, and that are willing to spend their free time sharing that with you and teaching you in a lab — and it’s incredible. You don’t have to go to a giant school to get a giant education.”

View a photo gallery of Posters in the Rotunda.