Rewarding research

Apr 29, 2022

CEHSP student projects featured in year-end showcase.

The second annual CEHSP Research & Scholarship Showcase happened on April 28—this time in person! Thirty-seven undergraduate and graduate students from all departments within CEHSP highlighted their research and academic achievements, with topics ranging from the psychology of authoritarianism to the impact of physical activity on quality of life after a stroke. While most participants presented posters, two students and one alum discussed their research as panelists.

Claire Curran in the panel presentation
Claire Curran presenting on the panel.

Claire Curran, a master of environmental education student, presented a poster and was one of the panelists. Her project, “Fostering Empathy for People & Animals: The Promise of Nature Preschools,” involved children at local nature preschools and ties in closely with the recently-founded major in childhood nature studies. Curran thoroughly enjoyed her research, in particular being able to work with kids. “I love interacting with the children … their responses are delightful, and I always leave feeling full of hope!” 

The research she’s doing has impact, a fact that continues to bring joy to Curran. “I am reminded every day what a timely construct I am studying and feel heartened that my work might make a contribution to a more empathetic world.”

Gavrielle Gunther, a junior majoring in psychology and minoring in biology, presented her project, “Hopeless Romantics: The Relationship Between Idealized Beliefs and Enjoyment of One’s First Romantic Kiss.” When discussing the process of her study, Gunther expressed appreciation for all the work. “I learned a lot along the way and it has been an amazing experience to see my research conclude itself and all of the hard work we put in.”

Gavrielle Gunther explaining her research to two others
Gavrielle Gunther (middle) talks to attendees about her research. Meaghan Hesterman (right) is an education student who also presented at the event.

“My favorite part, other than working with my amazing lab, was being able to learn in-depth about a certain topic,” Gunther said. “I really enjoyed being able to read in-depth about implicit beliefs, cognitive dissonance, and other topics.”

Emily Ostrand, a second-year graduate student in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, especially enjoyed sharing her research with others. She presented her project, “Attitudes Towards People Who Use AAC: Implications of Virtual Reality,” at the showcase. She presented similar research at the Minnesota Speech-Language-Hearing Association, notably receiving the “Best Presentation” award there. 

Ostrand encountered some surprises in her research, noting that “like most people, I originally assumed that virtual reality technology was only used for playing video games … it was surprising and exciting to learn that this technology could also help further research.”

She noted that it was a long, but rewarding process. “There were many unexpected challenges to overcome during the research process, but I had a great support system of faculty and peers to help guide me,” she said.

Two public health students standing in front of a poster
Public Health students, Maya Cochrane and Donovan Doffing

Growth, Collaboration and Impact

Associate Professor Jolene Hyppa-Martin, one of the organizers of the showcase, talked about the impact this event has on students. “Generally students don’t come to college thinking about doing primary research… Often when I talk about the UROP program and the wonderful opportunities that UMD provides for our students to conduct research, the initial reaction from students is one of surprise, possibly mixed with fear,” she said. “Seeing students present their research is so rewarding because I remember the uncertainty they may have expressed at the beginning of the project, and events like the showcase highlight how they’ve grown to the point of expertise in the subject.”

The event brings the CEHSP departments together. It allows students to explore studies outside their typical realm of research. The fact that the co-organizers are from different departments helps facilitate this aspect. Hyppa Martin teaches in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders while Associate Professor Rebecca Gilberston and Assistant Professor Jessica Hanson are from the Departments of Psychology and Applied Human Sciences, respectively.

Hyppa-Martin and her colleagues hope to see more interdisciplinary collaboration in the future. “The showcase is one effort to help us all see how each program in CEHSP contributes to human development and human services and gives our students an opportunity to make connections and learn from people outside of their home program or major,” she said.

The annual showcase provides students with a chance to explore unique topics and publicly present their work. It also helps them to develop relationships and professional aspirations. It’s an important stepping stone toward their eventual careers that gives students a sense of how they might make a difference in the world.

“While UMD is a mid-size university, we have faculty that mentor students to make meaningful contributions to science,” Hyppa-Martin said. “The research generated by our students and their faculty mentors is designed to make a positive impact in society and to serve the community where we reside.”

Two students present their work to people

Winners of the Showcase's "People's Choice" Presentation Awards:

  • Gavrielle Gunther from Psychology: Hopeless Romantics: The Relationship Between Idealized Beliefs and Enjoyment of One’s First Romantic Kiss (Mentor: Dr. Ashley Thompson)
  • Annika Juenemann from CSD: Multimodal Analysis of The Effects of Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy on Cognition in Children Following Posterior Fossa Tumor Resection  (Mentor: Dr. Sharyl Samargia-Grivette)
  • Marissa Lenertz from CSD: The Awareness of the General Public in Minnesota about the Role of Speech-Language Pathologists  (Mentor: Dr. Dana Collins)