Denman Forum celebrates young researchers
Ohio State event for undergraduates is in its 25th year
Rows of students and their poster boards filled the third floor of a research building at The Ohio State University this week, each detailing the results of an original research experiment or creative activity.
Now in its 25th year, the Richard J. and Martha D. Denman Undergraduate Research Forum is an annual judged research presentation opportunity for Ohio State undergraduate students. Under the direction of research mentors, the students work on collaborative research projects to solve real-world issues.
“We do a lot of research events throughout the school year and they involve a lot of students, but this one is really the cream of the crop,” said Kayla Daniel, program coordinator for the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquiry. “These are really some of the top student researchers at the university.”
More than 150 students presented their research projects to judges at Pomerene Hall during the March 3 forum. Projects included research on legalized sports gambling, the impact of stress and emotional eating on pregnant women, and human/climate interaction.
“I think that undergraduate research really is a good foundation to push forward research that these students could potentially study when they graduate. This gets everybody in their own individual disciplines more comfortable with the field they’re going into,” said Jacob Schlaegel, a fourth-year psychology major. “That gets us to be a little bit more confident in ourselves and a little bit more knowledgeable in what we’re going to be doing for the rest of our lives in that field.”
Schlaegel’s research examined perception and the limits of our attention. He believes his findings may help people be more productive or improve students’ study habits. He said he was excited to present at the Denman Forum and to learn from his peers.
“I thought it was a great idea to see some of my other colleagues’ research. I wanted to share what I found, talk about it and see if we can move the research forward,” he said.
Audrey Shreve, a fourth-year operations management major, studied the volunteer vetting process of child-serving nonprofits. Her research was influenced by her experience working with Big Brothers, Big Sisters.
“For one, you get to learn about things that are really close to you. This is something that I could learn about in class, but I cannot go as in depth,” she said. “It also allows for a lot of professional development.”
For these graduating seniors, this knowledge carries over into the workforce.
“[Student researchers] say they’ve learned so many skills that they didn’t think about when they were doing their research. They’ve learned persistence, they’ve learned collaboration skills that you get from working in a lab with others,” said Ola Ahlqvist, associate vice provost for the Office of Academic Enrichment. “So for a lot of those skills that employers are looking for, a research project will help these students to develop.”
Daniel said the real-life experiences for undergraduate researchers support the mission of Ohio State as a leading public research university.
“I think the Denman Forum shows students that their research is valid and it’s valued by the university,” she said. “One of the main things that the university highlights, especially in the admissions process, is that we are an R1 research institution. Events like this show students: look what you can do, and look what students have done.”