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Bethel student chosen for prestigious poster event on Capitol Hill

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. -- A Bethel College psychology student has been selected to present her research on Capitol Hill April 19, under the aegis of the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR). Rae Dain, a senior from Wichita, is one of only 60 undergraduate students nationwide chosen to participate in CUR’s annual "Posters-on-the-Hill" event.

The students were competitively chosen from several hundred applicants. Funders for student research included the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, NASA and many other private, state and federal agencies.

On April 19, the 60 students will visit with their respective senators and representatives or their staff during the afternoon and invite the lawmakers to attend the research poster presentation in the evening. At that time, the students will illustrate the results of their research in science, engineering or mathematics.

Posters-on-the-Hill is designed to show members of Congress why funding for undergraduate research is important.

"This is another example of the excellent opportunities for individualized projects that we have at Bethel College," said Ami Regier, associate professor of English and chair of Bethel College’s Undergraduate Research Committee. "It’s especially gratifying to see one of our students’ work be recognized at a national level, especially when some might consider a small liberal-arts college to be unable to compete with the ‘big’ schools. Rae’s selection for Posters-on-the-Hill shows that Bethel is competitive."

Dain’s poster is entitled "Hierarchical linear modeling of dynamically recorded emotional responses to music." She has been working in research related to music and human emotion, a particular interest of her professor, Dwight Krehbiel, since her freshman year at Bethel.

The poster serves as a visual abstract to help describe one aspect of that research. "We used a statistical technique called ‘hierarchical linear modeling’ to determine the emotional effects of music on people," Dain said. "We also looked at whether different experiences--for example, taking private lessons as opposed to doing music in a group--had an effect on emotional response." Most previous research shows little evidence that musical experience changes measured emotional responses, but this technique has demonstrated several such effects.

Dain submitted a written abstract to CUR last November and was notified in February that she had been chosen to take her poster to Capitol Hill. While there, she hopes to visit with Rep. Todd Tiahrt and Senators Sam Brownback and Pat Robertson. Her trip to Washington is being underwritten by the Eldon Rich Endowment, established at Bethel College by Margaret Rich in memory of her husband.

"If I had been at a big university, I probably wouldn’t have even gotten the chance to do this kind of research," Dain said. "It’s cool to be at an institution like Bethel that values undergraduate research so highly, and gives us the kinds of opportunities that can lead to an honor like this one."

Krehbiel, professor of psychology and Dain’s advisor, said, "We are pleased that Rae has won this opportunity. It is well deserved recognition for her fine work and a significant step toward her goals of advanced study in psychology and neuroscience.

"Rae provides a great model for what students can achieve at Bethel," he added, "and we are delighted to have her representing our department and Bethel College."

CUR is a national professional association representing faculty and administrators at nearly 1,000 academic institutions. CUR and its government and private partners facilitate collaborative research by students and their faculty mentors, work to provide students with a wide range of opportunities to "learn science by doing it," and provide faculty with opportunities to integrate research into their teaching.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and in 2004 was named a Top Tier college by U.S. News & World Report for the 7th straight year. For more information, see the Bethel web site at www.bethelks.edu.

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