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Five to present at national conference on undergraduate research

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. -- Are women unlikely to be found in science and engineering fields, as Harvard University’s president seems to have claimed in a widely publicized speech recently? Not according to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, they aren’t.

An NCUR spokeswoman pointed out that of the 1,004 science and engineering presentations at the 2005 conference, 457--or 46%--will be by women. Three of those are from Bethel College. They along with two of their male colleagues in the sciences will present papers at NCUR April 21-23.

NCUR, which states its mission as "to promote undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activity, done in partnership with faculty or other mentors, as a vital component of higher education," holds its annual meeting this year in Lexington, Va., jointly sponsored by Virginia Military Institute and Washington & Lee University.

The five Bethel students, all seniors, did their research under the direction of Paul Lewis, professor of psychology, and Dwight Krehbiel, professor of psychology, and are either majoring or have special interest in psychology.

More than 85 professors read and judged the 2,547 abstracts (from 290 colleges and universities all over the United States) submitted for this year’s NCUR. Ultimately, 1,785 were accepted for presentation, representing all academic disciplines and the fine arts. More than 2,500 undergraduate students and professors are expected to attend the conference.

In addition to the prestige of having their work accepted for presentation at the conference, students can also submit their work to the NCUR "Proceedings." Again, submissions will be read and judged, with the best given national recognition through publication.

Elizabeth Rempel, Newton, will present her senior psychology research paper, "Concepts of God and personal meaning: Investigating the perspective of older adults."

"My paper is the culmination of almost a year of rumination, reading, writing and research, which began with application for an undergraduate research grant from Bethel College, and became a summer pilot study in 2004," Rempel says. "The aim of my work is to contribute to the understanding of how views of God are related to different ways of experiencing personal meaning in older adults. Because both spiritual and religious beliefs and experiencing personal meaning are important parts of emotional and physical health, holding a better understanding of how these two aspects relate to each other could shed understanding on how to experience healthier older age."

Matt Kaiser, Inman, will be presenting the findings of a study done by a group of Bethel students in the field of music psychology, in a paper titled "Emotional responses to Bach’s ‘Sarabande from Cello Suite #6’: A comparison of continuous response instruments."

"The goal of our study was to examine the relationship between music and perceived or elicited emotion as measured by two different continuous response instruments," Kaiser says. "We concluded that one instrument might be more sensitive in capturing music-elicited emotion in future research."

Kelley O’Reilly’s paper, "The effects of attribution in writing about traumatic events on anxiety levels," is based on a research project she did in summer 2004. O’Reilly, from Mountain Lake, Minn., looks forward to NCUR as "an excellent opportunity that will allow me to meet others who have similar interests and establish ‘network’ connections. Plus, simply honing my project for this presentation, receiving criticism and suggestions from listeners and seeing how others have conducted their research are all valuable opportunities that might give me the tools to improve my methods."

Some of the expenses for Rempel, Kaiser and O’Reilly, as well as Giovanni Garofalo and Lauren Symmonds, to attend the NCUR conference will be covered by the Eldon Rich Endowment, a gift to Bethel College from Margaret Rich in memory of her husband.

The two other students who will give papers at the conference are Garofalo, Newton, whose paper is titled "The relationship between mood and self-reported emotional response to music," and Symmonds, Emporia, whose paper is called "Mmpi II: Studying effects of preceding events and mood on personality inventory results."

Symmonds, Garofalo, O’Reilly and Rempel all received $1,000 Bethel College Research Awards in the summer of 2004, which enabled much of the research on which their papers are based.

"The judges lauded these five students’ abstracts as conveying ‘a sense of originality, thoughtfulness and passion’ that is believed to bode well for this year’s conference," says Lewis. "Indeed, this has been a fine group of students to work with."

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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