Spotlight On: Student Research

Photos by Janet Rogers, Bob Steckmest and Jim Thomas

Annual SEARCH Symposium and Research Summit feature the best of UMKC's student scholars

From architectural renderings to vision research, and a whole lot more in between, the best examples of UMKC student research and scholarship were on display across both campuses on Thursday, April 19. On the Volker Campus, visitors to the 12th Annual Students Engaged in Artistic and Academic Research (SEARCH) Undergraduate Symposium were treated to a multidisciplinary assortment of posters, presentations and project displays.

On the Hospital Hill Campus, faculty, students and staff gathered for the 3rd Annual Health Sciences Student Research Summit, which featured poster presentations from students representing all five of UMKC's health and life sciences schools.


SEARCH Symposium

Now in its 12th year, the SEARCH Undergraduate Research Symposium features research, scholarly and creative activities by undergraduate students from a variety of disciplines, including physical and life sciences, performing and visual arts, computing and engineering and the humanities. Topics ranged from a comparison of working class fiction and punk rock songwriting, to the relationship between sensation-seeking and risk-taking, to a 3-D model of a Pavilion for Lepidopterists (butterfly collectors).

Patrick Schmidt, a Psychology major, presented a poster highlighting his research on methods of assistance and barriers regarding smoking cessation. He said the opportunity to present his research in a professional setting was an invaluable experience.

"Not only did it give me a chance to promote an area of study important to me and my mentors in the Psychology Department, but the opportunity to present the research in public was a great learning experience," Schmidt said.

Political Science major Haley Mickelson agreed. She presented a poster that featured her exploration into the differences in the amount of coverage of political issues between the mainstream network news and "fake news" progams, such as "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report."

"There are a lot of people who get most of their news from the fake news programs, and I was curious to see what they're missing. I was a little surprised to find that they're not missing much, if anything," Mickelson said. "Being able to work with a great faculty mentor to explore this topic, and then have an event like this to showcase it, has been great."


Health Sciences Student Research Summit

Students from the UMKC schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Pharmacy and Biological Science presented nearly 100 posters throughout the day in three separate sessions at the School of Dentistry, the School of Medicine and the UMKC Health Sciences Building.

Mark Hecker, M.D., director of Research Administration at the School of Medicine, said the event gives students an opportunity to present their research in a format similar to that of professional scientific and medical meetings.

“It has really helped me supplement both the classroom work that we have done as well as from a clinical perspective of medicine that we’ve practiced in the hospital,” said Sarah Jennison, a year-5 medical student, who presented a scientific poster on identifying markers for tumors.

During the Summit Welcome Session, Nelson Sabates, M.D. chairman of ophthalmology and director of the Vision Research Center spoke to students and faculty about the importance of research. He encouraged students to identify the questions that interest them and pursue the answers. The Welcome Session also featured a panel discussion featuring Dr. Sabates and the Deans of UMKC’s Health and Life Sciences Schools -- Dr. Lawrence Dreyfus, School of Biological Sciences; Dr. Marsha Pyle, School of Dentistry; Dr. Betty Drees, School of Medicine; Dr. Lora Lacey-Haun, School of Nursing; and Dr. Russell Melchert, School of Pharmacy.

“Research is great,” Sabates said. “It gives you that intellectual curiosity. It makes you analyze things differently and makes you look at things differently. A lot of the things I learned in doing research as a student at the School of Medicine, I still use. Research just makes you a little more critical and a little more wary of things. I applaud all of you on your research. Keep it up.”

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“Research is great. It gives you that intellectual curiosity. It makes you analyze things differently and makes you look at things differently."

Nelson Sabates, M.D.
Chairman of Ophthalmology and Director of the UMKC Vision Research Center