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Western Undergraduate Research Symposium to highlight locally relevant student projects on April 17

April 13, 2015

Western students wil
Western students will share what they have learned in the sciences and humanities on April 17.

ROCK SPRINGS — Western Wyoming Community College and the Hay Library invite the public to attend the Second Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium on Friday, April 17, beginning at 1 p.m. in Room 3650 at the Rock Springs campus. Students will deliver presentations based on research projects they have conducted this academic year.

One highlight of this year’s Symposium will be the 2:30 p.m. presentation “The Quickest Draw in the West: The Media Legacy of Ed Cantrell,” by history student BriAnna Logan, of the Sweet Memories Research Group, and Assistant Professor of History and Political Science Jessica Clark, Ph.D. This study looks at the impact and local legacy of the infamous 1979 Ed Cantrell-Michael Rosa shooting, which left Rosa dead and police chief Cantrell on trial for murder. The study looks particularly at local and national media coverage of the shooting and trial, and how that media spotlight helped to transform a tragic incident into an established folktale that continues to influence Rock Springs’ identity today.  

On the science side, meanwhile, biology student Tiffany Simpson will explain how her data collection on the number and variety of invertebrates found in three separate microclimates along Trout Creek at Little Mountain, Wyoming, will help to assess the effects of future disturbances to those microclimates by drilling or other intrusive activities.   

These are just a few of the many timely and fascinating topics that Western students have investigated during the current academic year. The Symposium is free and open to the public, and community members are encouraged to come out and learn about the fascinating topics that Western’s students have been studying this semester.  

Additionally, several Western faculty members will present on their own research projects during an evening session that begins at 7 p.m.  There also will be a poster session featuring geology and anthropology research from 2 - 2:30 p.m. The evening program will conclude with refreshments at 8:30 p.m.

Many of the students who will present at the WWCC Undergraduate Research Symposium will go on to present at the University of Wyoming’s Undergraduate Research Day later this spring. The symposium’s purpose, according to Hay Library Director and Symposium Organizer Janice Grover-Roosa, is to provide student researchers with an opportunity to present their discoveries to their peers, instructors and the community. 

“Our students and faculty are conducting serious research,” she said. “This symposium not only gives the researchers a chance to demonstrate their acquired expertise and knowledge, but it gives members of our community the opportunity to witness firsthand the quality of instruction taking place at Western Wyoming Community College.”

Grover-Roosa noted that student research opportunities like those offered at Western are not common at community colleges. Students who take part in research here will graduate with the knowledge and preparedness necessary to continue that academic inquiry at four-year institutions, she said.

Student researchers apply and are selected by research faculty to work on original research projects. In some cases, the students themselves select a research endeavor; in other cases, faculty members design a study and guide students through the research process. In both cases, the goal is not only to help the student thoroughly understand what is known about the topic but also to answer questions that have not yet been answered.

Student research presentations at the Symposium will begin approximately every 15 minutes between 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Students presenting at this year’s symposium include:

•          Kaleigh Shutran and BriAnna Logan - History

•          Taylor Cortez- Chemistry

•          Shawn Moran - Earth Science

•          Kelsey Dockter, Stephanie Ashley, Alexander Monique Weaver, and Tiffany Simpson - Biology

•          Andrea Sanchez Walk, Luiza Minuzzi Bosch, and Denise De Loera - Physiology

•          Jennifer Knox and Philip Clarkson - Computer Science

•          Rachel Tolhurst - Sociology

•          Jamie Johnson, Maggie Lustig, Andrew Beachell, Alychia Sellers, Tia Tiller, Ryan Price, Kathryn               Currier, Briana Stotts, Katrina Richardson, and Shara Reynolds - Geology/ Anthropology

Faculty presentations will be presented approximately every 30 minutes between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Presenting faculty include:

•          Assistant Professor of History/Political Science Jessica Clark, Ph.D.

•          Professor of Biological Sciences Bud Chew, Ph.D.

•          Professor of Earth Sciience/Engineering Craig Thompson

A full schedule of presentations is available online at

Visitors to campus for the Symposium may park in the lot near the swimming pool, enter the building at the Rushmore Gymnasium entrance, and take the stairs or the elevator to the third floor of the new Exercise Science Building and Room 3650.

For more information, contact Audrey Harton at (307) 382-1661 or
(307) 382-1600 or toll free (800) 226-1181