||Students win top honors—and have fun doing it—at Kentucky Academy of Science meeting
RELEASED: December 3, 2009
By Leigh Ivey
DANVILLE, KY—Not many of the Centre College students who competed in the recent annual Kentucky Academy of Science meeting expected it to be much fun.
Fun, however, is just what it was, and while having it, four Centre students were awarded top honors.
Taking first place out of 24 students in the physiology and biochemistry section was Emily Green '10 of Frankfort, Ky. Jordan Feigerle '10 of Knoxville, Tenn., placed third in the division.
"What I really enjoyed was being able to give a presentation not only to my peers but to my advisors and some of my favorite professors," Green says. "I felt good about the presentation; I told Dr. Fieberg when I got back that I felt like I'd taken a page out of his book because my main goal was to have fun during the presentation. My goal was to make someone excited about the research I did because I was excited about telling someone about my work."
Seeing the reactions of her professors was also rewarding for Green.
"I think my favorite part was going back to my seat after the presentation and Dr. Stephanie Dew, my advisor, telling me I did a great job," she says. "To me, that's priceless."
In the psychology division, Emily Sither '10 of Lexington, Ky., placed first (of 20), while Catherine Moonan '10, also of Lexington, placed third.
Although Moonan's presentation centered on research completed during the summer at the Developmental Neuroscience Lab at the University of Louisville, she says that she "wouldn't have applied if Dr. Melissa Burns-Cusato hadn't encouraged me to try for it. And Dr. Brian Cusato helped me revise that presentation through three or four drafts with patience, wisdom and his usual sense of humor, and it wouldn't have been half as good without him."
For her presentation, Sither discussed a project she has been working on since 2006, much longer than many students spent devoted to the research they presented.
Other Centre students who represented the College well in the competition were Sarah Hawkins '10 of Louisville and Laura Hench '12 of Lexington, Ky., both of whom competed in the cellular and molecular biology section; Amanda Glueck '10 of Hustonville, Ky., who presented research in the psychology section; and Emily Gregory '11 of Louisville and Ryan Will '11 of Lexington, Ky., both of whom presented research in psychobiology.
Although competing in the annual meeting was no easy task, Cusato says that this "is a very friendly conference. It gives first-time presenters a very real experience without the intense questioning that happens at some other meetings."
Conferences like this, he adds, "help students really discover what it means to 'do science.' They come away thinking, 'Wow, that was fun, and I didn't expect it to be.'"
Because the students also had the opportunity to mingle with other competitors, judges and professors from other schools, they made personal contacts that they greatly enjoyed.
"There's an element of camaraderie that they all like," Cusato says.
With funds from an NIH Area grant, Cusato was able to treat the students to a weekend of camaraderie, paying for their hotel rooms and other travel expenses.
"Conferences like this allow us to get to know the students and tell them about our experiences when we were their age and in graduate school," Cusato says. "I think those conversations really help them with their decisions about their futures in grad school."
Benefitting from such extraordinary personal education, the students have bright futures ahead of them, and they believe that Centre has prepared them for any challenges.
"Centre classes in general prepared me because all professors want your best, which means 'practice makes perfect,'" Green says. "I think a first place accomplishment at this competition really hammers that message home."
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Consumers Digest ranks Centre No. 1 in educational value among all U.S. liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
For news archives go to http://www.centre.edu/web/news/newsarchive.html.
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