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WKU conference highlights researchers

WKU conference highlights researchers

This month, the university will showcase its researchers during Research Experiences and Creative Heights Week from March 18-23.

More than 300 students will present their research during the Student Research Conference from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. March 23 at Gary Ransdell Hall. This is the 43rd annual conference.

Leszczewicz, a 2005 Greenwood High School graduate, won first place for his presentation “Controlled Growth of Ultrathin Molecular Films” at the 2013 annual meeting of The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society.

“We have so much to show off,” said Gordon C. Baylis, vice president of the Office of Research, about REACH Week. “This celebrates all the wonderful research activities our students do throughout the year.”

In an email, Baylis said Leszczewicz’s presentation was before “a highly prestigious, international society that has been in existence for more than a century.”

Sarah Vowell, a New York Times’ best-selling author of six nonfiction books on American history and culture, is the keynote speaker for REACH Week at 7 p.m. March 20 in Van Meter Hall.

Vowell’s 2011 book, “Unfamiliar Fishes,” tackles the history of Hawaii, while her 2005 book “Assassination Vacation” discusses visits to tourism sites dedicated to the assassinations of U.S. presidents Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield and William McKinley, according to information on the WKU website.

Vowell is also the voice of teen Violet Parr in the movie “The Incredibles.”

The conference speaker is Dr. Paul Simmons, professor of medicine at the University of Louisville, who will deliver the address, “Intelligent Design: Is This the End of Evolution?” at 4 p.m. March 23 in Gary Ransdell Hall Room 1074.

WKU students will also present research papers that day.

Baylis said the university used to celebrate research on one day, but in recent years the celebration has stretched into a week.

“We prepare students very, very well for research careers,” Baylis said. He added that WKU was ranked in the top 6 percent in the country in research master’s degree programs by the National Science Foundation. “I think we can be very proud of that,” he said.

Baylis said students write their own grants, putting them, in effect, in the driver’s seat. He said that experience is good for all students, whether they are preparing for a research career or other career choice.

“Hands-on research is one of the best things we can do to allow students to take charge of their own destiny,” he said.

WKU received nearly $23 million in research monies in 2010-11, according to the annual report for that year online.

Through FUSE grants – Faculty-Undergraduate Student Engagement – the students do the driving. For example, Megan McDonald, a junior at WKU from Louisville, used artwork from 50 elementary school students in the Louisville area to put together a mural that will be on display at the WKU Center for Research and Development during REACH Week. The mural is part of the Kid’s Guernica Peace Mural Project. McDonald wrote her own grant, Baylis said.

REACH Week also includes Research Showcases March 20-22 at WKU College of Health and Human Services, WKU College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, Carol A. Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science, Potter College of Arts & Letters and Gordon Ford College of Business. —

A complete schedule of 2013 REACH Week activities is available at

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 Last Modified 9/24/14