14 Elmhurst Students to Present Research at National Conference

March 29, 2018 | by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs

This spring a record number of Elmhurst undergraduates applied and were accepted to participate in the 2018 National Conference on Undergraduate Research, to be held in Oklahoma City in early April.

Fourteen students will present their work in poster or oral presentations, on topics ranging from psychology to organismal biology.

“We’ve had students going every year for the past nine years,” said Honors Program Director Mary Kay Mulvaney, “but 14 is the most we’ve ever had—and it’s the first time 100 percent of our students’ proposals have been accepted.”

The conference opportunity is a game-changer for the students, enabling them to hone their communication skills and requiring them to explain their work, interact in a professional setting and present themselves as authorities.

Jonathon Prehn, a junior, will argue in his presentation “that the presumption of homogeneity of social groups inside Chicago’s community areas is not a valid assumption.” His geography project posits that Chicago’s “community areas,” which were mapped out by sociologists in the 1920s to study neighborhoods, are inherently flawed because of significant variation within the areas. “I’m questioning why sociologists even use community areas anymore.”

In addition to being a challenging academic exercise, the conference will be an adventure for students, some of whom have never left the Midwest before.

For Sarah Dickey, a sophomore from Evergreen Park, the conference trip will be only her third plane trip. Her presentation is titled, An Investigation of Newton’s Method in Hyperbolic Geometry, a project for which she developed a computer tool to solve an old math problem in an entirely new way.

The students’ expedition is made possible with funding from longstanding donors to the Honors Program, and also by the many faculty who encouraged and supported the students’ projects.

My colleagues in different fields are opening amazing doors to these young people.

Mulvaney on the experience

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