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Wildcats present research on Capitol Hill

(Photo by Raychel Johnson)
(Photo by Raychel Johnson)

Weber State University Wildcats descended upon the capitol building Monday afternoon to present undergraduate research projects for the sixth year in a row.

The WSU Day at the Capitol is a day set aside specifically for WSU students and alumni to speak to legislature and showcase their research. Other universities in the state have similar events, but tend to share their time with other institutions.

John Cavitt, director for the WSU Office of Undergraduate Research, said the WSU Day at the Capitol is an opportunity for students to highlight the work they’ve done through community engagement or undergraduate research. Cavitt said the multiple projects featured at the event spanned a number of disciplines.

“We have a very diverse range of projects going from all seven of our colleges at Weber State University,” he said. “It’s a really complete opportunity for Weber State to represent what we do best at the university.”

Most of these students have spent a few semesters working on their research. The WSU Day at the Capitol is, for many students, their first opportunity to speak to their legislative representatives. Cavitt said that during breaks between sessions and during lunch, representatives would come to the rotunda and meet with students one on one.

“Each of the students actually sent an email to their legislature, letting them know that they are here and are presenting today,” Cavitt said.

India Nielsen, student senator for the College of Arts & Humanities, along with Trevor Shepherd, student senator for the College of Business & Economics, presented Nielsen’s research on different community engagement topics. She had posters for civic education and internships, solving local food insecurities and the American dream.

Nielsen explained that the research she did with the community garden started by the WSU Student Senate this year was one way for student government to help solve local problems in Ogden. The garden is located on WSU property between the main campus and the Dee Events Center.

“I made advance contact with my state senator and my state representative, and they both got back to me,” said Nielsen on the rotunda floor. “It’s really exciting to be here representing Weber State University, advocating for all of the things students and faculty do for the community . . .”

There were 21 posters in all, although several students collaborated on certain projects and presented them together. Niccolle Spjut, sociology major, presented her research on the Ogden United Promise Neighborhood community needs assessment with two other students, Corbin Standley and Paola Tobar, at the capitol.

Spjut explained that she, Standley and Tobar are student employees at the new community research extension housed in the Red Cross building located on 30th Street and Harrison Boulevard. The students are currently partnered with United Way and sought a grant to support central Ogden.

“Some of the research we are presenting comes from a survey we did over the summer,” Spjut said. Tobar said the team surveyed 730 households over the summer.

Standley, a psychology junior, said it was his first time presenting his undergraduate research at the capitol. He said having a specific day for WSU in Salt Lake City helps separate the university from other institutions.

“Us in particular have had a really great experience, in that a lot of the work we are doing is graduate-type work, and I think sometimes people don’t fully understand the type of education that they are getting at Weber.”

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