Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Graduate students show off research and artwork at competition

OU Daily
Sam Higgins, Campus Reporter | March 4, 2012














Photo by Sam Higgins
Rouzbeh Ghabchi, civil engineering and environmental science graduate student, stands next to his presentation, Environmentally Friendly Asphalt Technologies for Pavement Applications, during the Student Research and Performance Day Friday in the National Weather Center. Ghabchi's reaserch is focused on finding cheaper and more environmentally friendly methods for laying asphalt.

Graduate students presented their research Friday to judges in an effort to win money and have their research evaulated by OU faculty, staff and undergraduate students.

The Graduate College Student Research and Performance Day held at the National Weather Center divided graduate students into four divisions: Education and Fine Arts and Humanities (which is one division), Engineering, Science, and Social Science. The students in each division presented their research or artwork to three judges. Each of the four divisions had a cash prize of $100 for second-place winners, $200 for first-place winners and $150 for the winner of the McNair Scholars prize, all of which will be announced by email on Friday.

The judging panel was comprised OU faculty and staff as well as undergraduate participants in the McNair Scholar Program.

Graduate College dean Lee Williams oversaw the event and said the program is beneficial because it provides opportunities for graduate students to be evaluated by their peers who may perform research in other fields.

“Having the ability to explain to another intelligent person from a different research area or discipline what you’re working on in a way they can understand is an important skill,” Williams said. “Increasingly we need to have the ability to justify and explain our work to a much broader audience the nature of our work and the importance of our work.”

Price College of Business doctoral student Hyo Jin Jeon said she used information she has gathered since she was a sophomore from China and India to investigate the cultural convergence of consumers in those countries.

“We found that the sanitary conditions of restaurants in Hong Kong have dramatically improved after McDonald’s entered the Hong Kong Market,” Jean said. “Foreign companies like McDonald’s and KFC go to emerging markets to benefit themselves they also change the structure of industry and culture in those countries as well.”

Jennifer Davis, medical ethnomusicology graduate student said she has conducted research on the use of the Native American flute as a means for improving mental, physical and spiritual well-being. Davis said she had worked as a teacher for ten years and had several special needs students. After seeing how the students opened up and responded to music, she became interested in music therapy, she said.

The initiative in programs such as Student Research and Performance Day isn’t purely academic, Williams said.

“Once you get to graduate school, you’re really focused within your academic department,” Williams said. “Graduate students also want to feel like they are part of a larger community.”

Because a larger proportion of graduate students are married, they are older and more mature with a different set of needs and perspectives, Williams said.

“We want the graduate students to have a positive academic experience. We don’t have a responsibility or authority for their non-academic life but we do have a vested interest in it,” Williams said.

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