WCU received a high ranking for the number of students accepted to the National Conference of Undergraduate Research (NCUR), an annual research conference that highlights achievements in scholarly research from students across the nation.
Forty-seven students were accepted to the conference this year, giving WCU a tie for fifth place in the highest number of accepted research projects out of the 308 participating schools. This marks the fourth year in a row that WCU has ranked in the top ten presenting schools, outperforming all other schools in the University of North Carolina system.
For students, the conference offers the chance to present their research to other students and professors, to make connections with others in their field, and to have their work published. The process begins in the fall when students submit abstracts of their faculty-sponsored research projects. Those accepted travel to the conference to present their work to an audience of students and faculty from schools throughout the country.
Katy Elders, a sophomore majoring in Political Science, is one of the WCU students who will be attending NCUR.
“I am a little nervous about the presentation itself, but I am especially excited to have such an opportunity,” Elders said.
Elders’ said that her paper, sponsored by Julie Loggins of the Political Science Department, discusses “the proliferation of nuclear weapons during and after the Cold War.”
Other WCU students will cover topics in the fields of business, chemistry, ecology and biology, engineering, history, international studies, law, music, philosophy and ethics, physical therapy, political science, psychology, sociology and theater.
NCUR began in 1987 at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, though the host campus is now changed each year. This year students will travel to the University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse where the conference will be held April 16-18. In past years WCU students have travelled to Salisbury, Md., San Rafael, Calif., and Asheville, N.C. for NCUR.
The Honors College oversees NCUR for Western students. The college has implemented programs such as the Undergraduate Academic Projects Grant, the Undergraduate Expo, and the Honors College Magazine to continue to encourage undergraduate research projects.
Other departments at WCU are also increasing research opportunities for students. Following a donation from the USConec Corporation, The Kimmel School opened a materials microscopy laboratory with an ASPEX PSEMII Scanning Electron Microscope for use by faculty and students in their research.