JMU in the Community

Conferences give students experience beyond the classroom


headshots of student presenters

Student presenters from left: Liz McTaggart, Chris Gates, Julie Nawiesniak, Cari Rand, Caroline Robinson, Kelsea McKinley, Thomas Harbour, Ryan Cleveland, Brandon Euker, Whitney Spivey, Jason Ferguson, Catherine Witherspoon, Daroon Jalil, Danika DiPalma, Elizabeth Nottingham, Lauren Maher

James Madison University is known for the opportunities it provides undergraduates to do research alongside faculty mentors. In addition to what they do in labs, students present their research at meetings and conferences in Virginia and around the country. Here are some of the students who presented at conferences this fall and the topics they presented:

Department of Geology and Environmental Science

Eleven undergraduates presented their research at the national Geological Society of America meeting Nov. 1-4 in Baltimore, Maryland. The GSA's mission is to advance geoscience research and discovery, service to society, stewardship of Earth and the geosciences profession.

JMU presenters were:

Liz McTaggart and Chris Gates:
Skarn Fluid History Recorded in OH and Trace Element Zoning in a Raspberry Garnet from Sierra de Cruces, Mexico

Colorful pink and brown garnets contain within their mineral structures a record of the conditions in which they grew.  The garnets grew through a metamorphic process of multiple pulses of hot water entering the rock, and the colors in the garnet reflect the changes in trace elements dissolved in the hot fluids.

Julie Nawiesniak and Cari Rand:
A Methodological Study of Handheld X-Ray Fluorescence Analysis, and its Applications Towards Marine Sediment Chemostatigraphy

The purpose of this research was to perform a methodological study of a new handheld X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzer that the Geology, Art History and ISAT programs jointly purchased. The students developed protocols for the use of this new analytical tool, and evaluated the data collection accuracy by comparing their results with data previously measured on the same marine sediment core using a standard XRF at another university. The next step in the research is to develop a calibration to calculate elemental abundances for marine sediments from the Gulf of Mexico.

Caroline Robinson and Kelsea McKinley:
XRF and Smear Slide Analysis of Color Bands in Holocene-Pleistocene Calcareous Ooze, IODP Site U1330 Western Equatorial Pacific

This is a paleo-oceanographic study of sediment transport to the tropical Pacific Ocean during the last ice age. The purpose of this study was to collect and analyze elemental changes in a marine sediment core from the equatorial Pacific Ocean. The goal was to determine if there was a correlation between high photon counts of particular elements and stratigraphic color variations in the sediment. This data, in combination with microscope analysis of sediment samples, is being used to interpret changes in the input of terrigenous sediments to this site, that is otherwise dominated by biogenic carbonate.  The stratigraphic distribution of purple and green color bands was also examined to consider the possibility of cyclic patterns of deposition during the Pleistocene.

Caroline Robinson:
Combining Virtual and Actual Mud: An Interactive Google Earth Ocean Sediment Resource Compliments a Real IODP Sediment Core Kit 

This is a geoscience education study. The purpose of this project was to develop a virtual resource that educators and their students can use to learn about marine sediments. It was developed in Google Earth and an open access resource. It complements a physical kit of real ocean sediment cores from the International Ocean Discovery Program that college and high school teachers may borrow for classroom instruction.

Thomas Harbour:
Comparing the Relative Contribution of Iceberg vs. Sea Ice-Rafted Sediment During Times of High and Low IRD Accumulation at Site 918, SE Greenland Margin

This is a paleo-oceanographic study with climatic implications. The purpose of this project was to better understand the relative contribution of iceberg vs. sea ice-rafted sediment at peak and background times of ice-rafted debris transported from SE Greenland to the northern North Atlantic during the Pleistocene. Scanning electron microscope analysis of quartz grains helped show that iceberg transport dominates overall, but sea ice increases in importance as a transport mechanism during periods of low IRD abundance.

Thomas Ferrell:
Eruptions Triggered by Magma Mixing at Mount Jefferson, Cascade Range, Oregon

Crystals of the mineral plagioclase were used to test the hypothesis that a lava flow at Mt. Jefferson erupted because two different types of magma mixed together in the magma chamber beneath the volcano.  We found that there is evidence that magma mixing occurred, but that this evidence was partially or completely erased during the relatively slow eruption of the lava flow.

Ryan Cleveland:
U-PB Ages of Detrital Zircons in Quartz Arenites of the Ordovician Blount Molasse, Southern Appalachians, USA

This research involved acquiring detrital zircons from Ordovician age (485-443 Ma) sandstones located within the southern Appalachians. These zircons were then tested for their Uranium/Lead ratios which allow for the determination of the approximate age of the zircons; which allows us to theorize which source lands were eroding into the southern Appalachian basin.

Brandon Euker:
A Comparison of the Effectiveness of CMIP5 Models at Simulating Lake Level Changes in the American Southwest During the Mid-Holocene

The main goal of my research is to compare the effectiveness of global climate models at simulating lake level changes during periods of drought. Specifically we analyzed these models ability to re-create droughts that occurred around six thousand years ago in the western U.S.  If these models can re-create past droughts we can have greater confidence in their ability to model the present and project into the future. 

Whitney Spivey:
The Response of Agglutinated Benthic Foraminifera to Dissolution Events in the Latest Paleocene

The latest Paleocene (~55.6 million years ago) is marked by two sudden and rapid perturbations in the global carbon system.  These two events resulted in a localized increase in agglutinated benthic foraminifera (single-celled marine organisms) populations in southern Maryland due to increased continental runoff and acidification.

About 15 other students attended the meeting, which provided opportunities to visit graduate school booths and learn more about geology during talks and presentations.

Department of Psychology

Ten students presented their undergraduate research at the 32nd Annual South Eastern Applied Behavior Analysis Conference Oct. 23-24 in Roanoke, Virginia. 

The students, led by Dr. Daniel Dean Holt, presented their poster, Delay Discounting in the Pigeon, during the poster session. The focus of their research is to uncover the environmental variables affecting impulsivity and choice behavior in the pigeon.

The students who presented were:

  • Jeremiah Brown, senior
  • Valeska Cousins, senior
  • Ben Krause, senior
  • Taylor Livesay, senior
  • Michael Phelan, senior
  • Nathan Reza, senior
  • Alex Rivero, senior
  • Ryne Skytta, Graduate Assistant
  • Matt Wolf, senior
  • Amanda Woolsey, senior

Daroon Jalil, a junior psychology major and non-teaching exceptional education minor, presented her poster at the Psychonomic Society's 56th Annual Meeting Nov. 19-22 in Chicago, Illinois.

We wanted to see how words spoken by native and foreign accented speakers were represented in memory. To examine whether or not a foreign accented speaker increased the chance of producing false memories, we had participants listen to a series of words spoken by either a native or accented speakers and were then presented with some previously heard and new words and asked if they recognized them or not. We found participants were more accurate in correctly recalling the word and the speaker when the word was spoken with a native accent.

Graduate student presenters

In addition to undergraduates, graduate students present their research at meetings and conferences.

Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

Three students presented their research at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Conference Nov. 12-15 in Denver, Colorado.

Danika DiPalma:
Graduate Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) students' clinical decision-making skills over the course of their Master's program 

The study found that while graduate students become more accurate in diagnosing clients over time, their clinical decision-making skills do not advance in complexity. Therefore, direct teaching of critical thinking skills may need to be incorporated into graduate SLP programs to help students develop their clinical decision-making.

Elizabeth Nottingham:
National Survey on Use of Simulations in Undergraduate and Graduate Training in CSD Programs

This presentation described a national survey that we conducted in order to describe different ways that CSD programs are using simulation to teach clinical skills.  We also looked at reasons why programs aren't using this teaching method more often, by exploring perceived barriers and resources needed to use more simulation experiences for students.

Practices Supporting Breastfeeding and Oral Development in the NICU:  A Case Report

This presentation also described a national survey that we conducted in order to investigate how various hospitals are supporting breastfeeding for infants born prematurely.  We compared results to a survey that was conducted more than 20 years ago, and described one patient's success with establishing a good breastfeeding relationship with her son, who was born 7 weeks early.

Lauren Maher:
My research was on measuring and improving the quality of life for people who have sustained a brain injury. It provided a new visual analog scale for use with clients at Crossroads to Brain Injury Recovery in Harrisonburg VA to allow the client's to self report their quality of life and better inform their own therapy.

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Published: Monday, December 28, 2015

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 29, 2017

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