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Community Voices, November 2015

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This coming week we are excited to host our 10th Annual SMSU Undergraduate Research Conference on Wednesday, December 2 from 8:30am to 5:00pm.  This conference has grown to be one of the premier programs in the Midwest and will feature over 200 SMSU students from nearly twenty different academic programs.  Undergraduates ranging from freshmen to seniors will present their research in both oral and poster presentations throughout the day. It promises to be an invigorating day!

Dr. Emily Deaver, Professor of Environmental Science initiated the inaugural conference in 2006 to engage science students in a professional exchange of scientific ideas and to showcase their hard work and celebrate their accomplishments.  The following year the program expanded to include all programs and has grown every year since.

Wednesday events will kick-off with a Keynote Presentation by Dr. Martin A. Draper, the National Program Leader for Plant Pathology/Integrated Pest Management from the United States Department of Agriculture and Nation Institute of Food and Agriculture in Washington D.C.  Dr. Draper will discuss the importance of critical thinking in sound decision making and how research experience builds and contributes to the development of these skills.  His talk is titled, “Education, Research and Critical Thinking – Keys to a Progressive Society.”  Dr. Draper’s presentation will be in the Upper Conference Center and is open to the public.

A highlight of this year’s conference will be featured in a special session that will run the entire day in the Student Center Upper Level.  “Migrant Voices: The Marshall Area Narrative Inquiry Project” is an extensive study that explores the experiences of immigrants who moved to the Marshall area within the last thirty years.  SMSU sociology students interviewed 49 different immigrants in Marshall, digitally recorded the interviews, and then transcribed the stories. A team of student researchers analyzed the stories and identified common themes. More than 57 students were involved in the project as story researchers, cultural advisors, and translators or research assistants.  The poster presentations will be on display the entire day while student presenters will be scheduled throughout the day.

This conference is a wonderful showcase of the academic talents of our students; an opportunity for the community to learn about our students’ civic engagement activities; and witness first-hand some of the meaningful partnerships that occur among our students and a variety of people, projects and places across southwest Minnesota.  The format for the day is very welcoming for the community, so I would invite everyone to come out and engage with our students.  You can find a schedule for the entire day and a list of the research projects at .


Published in the Marshall Independent, Saturday, November 28, 2015.

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