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Old Dominion University doctoral students Rachel Sleighter and Ann Marie Kopitzke took the opportunity at the 2007 Graduate Student Research Forum in Richmond on Tuesday, Feb. 6, to explore the possibility of interdisciplinary research collaborations.

Melanie Carter Rose, another ODU doctoral student who was chosen to present her research at the forum, was impressed by how many of her fellow presenters are working on projects based in their communities.

Two other doctoral students in the ODU delegation, Bruce Floersheim and Janet Laughlin, said the forum is valuable because it forces the participants to put their research goals into everyday language.

"The forum presented an opportunity to set up possible future collaborations," said Sleighter, whose field is chemistry. She also noted that the event "allowed legislators to see the research being done throughout the state, and how future funding could really help answer some questions of public concern." Kopitzke, whose focus is health services research, said, "Legislators and the public should understand that this experience will greatly enhance networking and collaboration efforts of universities and graduate researchers."

The research that was presented has "the potential to influence the local economy and the quality of life here, and also across the country and the world," said Rose, a student in business administration/finance. "It was a pleasure to participate in the forum."

Floersheim, whose studies are in mechanical engineering, appreciated the opportunity to learn about research being done outside of his field. "This is a unique opportunity since most forums at this level are with researchers pursuing similar efforts in similar fields," he said. He also welcomed the opportunity to defend his research. "Ultimately, if we can't articulate the value and benefit of our work to the people of the commonwealth, we need to find a new line of research."

Added Laughlin, who is pursuing a doctorate in community college leadership, "the forum forces one to synthesize a research initiative into succinct talking points appropriate for audiences with various levels of sophistication and differing interests. By sharing our findings and how they are being used to improve practice, we build a case for continued investment in graduate education."

The five were among six ODU doctoral students who participated in the forum, which was sponsored by the Virginia Council of Graduate Schools. The event was held at the Library of Virginia and featured exhibits of the work of about 70 students from 13 Virginia universities.

Philip Langlais, ODU vice provost for graduate studies and research, and who led the ODU delegation at the forum, said the university's six students "were impressive and great ambassadors for ODU."

The ODU participants and their project titles are:
·Sonja Sray, international studies, "Examining the Dark Side: When Democracy Faces Hostility and Loses."
·Melanie Carter Rose, business administration/finance, "For Better or for Worse: Earnings Management, Forecast Error, and Analyst Following."
·Janet T. Laughlin, community college leadership, "An Examination of Differences Between Occupational-Technical Student and Transfer Student Engagement of Small Community Colleges in Virginia."
·R. Bruce Floersheim, mechanical engineering, "Uncertainty Analysis and Model Validation for Structural Dynamics in a Helicopter Tail Cone."
·Ann Marie Kopitzke, health services research, "Elderly Access to Pharmaceuticals and Medicare Part D."
·Rachel Sleighter, chemistry, "The Characterization and Reactivity of Dissolved Organic Matter Along a River-to-Ocean Transect of the Lower Chesapeake Bay."

Brenda Neuman Lewis, assistant vice president for graduate studies and who also was at the forum, said the various ODU colleges nominated candidates and the final selection was made by the Office of Graduate Studies. "Our decisions were based, among other things, on the quality of research and the value of that research to the commonwealth," Lewis explained.

She noted that about 70 percent of the people who earn graduate degrees in Virginia take jobs in Virginia, and that the forum is designed to show the benefits of in-state graduate education.

This article was posted on: February 14, 2007

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