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Psychology students present poster on Capitol Hill

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – On April 13, in Washington, D.C., the Council of Undergraduate Research (CUR) honored the research achievements of 75 undergraduate students – three of them Bethel College science majors.

The event was CUR’s annual Posters on the Hill reception on Capitol Hill in the Rayburn House Office Building. Each student presented his or her research, displayed on posters, to the members of Congress, congressional staff members, federal government officials and others in attendance.

The Bethel students were Sonia Barrera, junior psychology major from Newton, Jose Rojas, senior chemistry major from Newton, and Aimee Siebert, senior communication arts and psychology major from Topeka. They presented the poster “Validating a music search engine through affective and physiological responses of listeners.” Dwight Krehbiel, professor of psychology and the students’ advisor for the poster, accompanied them to Washington.

The Bethel students’ poster was one of 58 selected from more than 300 applications. The 75 students at Posters on the Hill were from 54 colleges and universities nationwide. Bethel was the only Kansas institution represented.

Part of the Posters on the Hill event included recognition of Rep. Vernon Ehlers of Michigan and Dr. Arden Bement, director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), as members of CUR’s inaugural class of Honorary CUR Fellows. Rep. Ehlers, who retires at the end of his current term, and Dr. Bement, who is stepping down as NSF director, were cited for their staunch commitment to undergraduate research and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

Nancy Hensel, CUR executive officer, said, “The 2010 Posters on the Hill program showcases not only the very impressive accomplishments of individual students, but also the tremendous potential of undergraduate research for producing breakthrough discoveries as well as encouraging careers in STEM.

“As our first Honorary CUR Fellows,” she added, “Congressman Ehlers and Dr. Bement are being recognized for the major roles they played in helping make these individual achievements, as well as the larger contributions of undergraduate research, possible.”

Also at the event, the American Chemical Society presented its Public Service Award to Rep. Brian Baird of Washington and Rep. John Culberson of Texas. Reps. Baird and Culberson were recognized for their leadership and support of research funding and science education.

During their visit to D.C., the Bethel students and Krehbiel met with aides for Kansas Senator Sam Brownback and for Rush Holt, Congressman from New Jersey, a Ph.D. physicist and a strong advocate for science and undergraduate research, and with Kansas Member of Congress Dennis Moore. They also visited the Folger Library, National Museum of Natural History, Library of Congress and National Archives. In addition, Dr. Wayne Clough, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, spoke at a morning session.

A list of all 75 honored students, their institutions and descriptions of their research is at

The Council on Undergraduate Research ( supports faculty development for high-quality undergraduate student-faculty collaborative research and scholarship. Nearly 600 institutions and more than 5,000 individuals belong to CUR, which believes that the best way to capture student interest and create enthusiasm for a discipline is through research in close collaboration with faculty members.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the only Kansas private college to be ranked in’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2009 and one of only two Kansas colleges profiled in Colleges of Distinction 2009-10. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at

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