April 1, 2012

Inaugural Campus-Wide Symposium Begins Thursday, April 5


Valdosta -- Valdosta State University will hold its inaugural campus-wide Undergraduate Research Symposium titled "Occupy Your Genius" in the Student Union Ballroom and Theater on Thursday, April 5 and Friday, April 6.

The symposium includes student presentations on a wide array of discipline-based research projects. The event will feature 80 poster presentations and 38 oral presentations. The symposium will also include a Spotlight in the Arts, during which VSU debate team members will discuss a proposal for the federal government to lower gas prices.

For 17 years, the undergraduate research symposium showcased research projects completed by students in the College of Arts and Sciences.

“We are most excited that every undergraduate college at VSU is represented at this symposium with more than 160 student participants,” said Dr. James LaPlant, symposium coordinator and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Paper sessions begin Thursday at 9 a.m. and continue throughout the day until 4:30 pm. The student debate will be held from 5 to 6 p.m. followed by a poster session and reception. The first day of the symposium concludes with the plenary session at 7 p.m. During the plenary session, Michael Schmidt, VSU professor of art, will deliver an address titled "Defining Moments".

Paper sessions resume the next day at 8 a.m. A poster session and presentation of poster awards will be held at 9:30 a.m. followed by more paper sessions.

All paper presentations, as well as the plenary session, will be in the theater, while the poster sessions and receptions will be in the ballroom.

"We conclude on Friday at 3 p.m. with a panel of students from the Department of Art who participated in one of our inaugural QEP projects in interior design," said LaPlant.

Interior design presentations begin with "Social and Circulatory Spatial Use in Assisted Living Facilities" by Alden York. York's presentation addresses the importance of designers or architects providing space that encourages the use of health amenities when designing assisted living facilities. As part of her research, York visited local assisted living homes to gather information about the residents' exercise regimens and factors that influenced their workout habits.

"I gathered that not all residents have a scheduled exercise time or are even motivated to travel to the social spaces and use that distance as walking exercise," said York. "Residents told me that if the social spaces are too far away, too close or not stimulating enough, they would rather just stay in their rooms. Assisted living facilities should want to provide an environment that stabilizes a resident's health or improves it, not contribute to the decline of health. Subtle factors such as these are ones that designers need to focus on to improve these facilities, especially since there will always be a demand for these facilities."

Presentations conclude with "Companionship Matters" by Asea Thompson. Thompson's research was also conducted at assisted living facilities, but focuses on how the design of the facilities contribute to the overall mood of the residents and their interactions with other residents. While interviewing residents, Thompson noted residents' energy level, comfort with staff, number of friends at their facility and the space residents were given for picture, heirlooms and freedom to interact with others.

"What I found was that the facilities that were lavish in design or resort-like and offered an ample amount of space for free expression had the happiest, most energetic and most sociable residents," said Thompson. "Residents in facilities with more of a dorm-style design seemed sad. Some mentioned that they missed 'home.'"

VSU's QEP, or quality enhancement plan, promotes undergraduate engagement in discipline based exploration. The projects conducted under QEP involve work on the premise that not all research is conducted within a traditional laboratory setting.

The Undergraduate Research Symposium is hosted by VSU's Undergraduate Research Council, which is comprised of faculty representatives from various academic departments and programs. The council promotes student interest in research activities and encourages collaboration between students and faculty members in research projects.

For more information about the symposium, contact LaPlant at jlaplant@valdosta.edu.

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