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Six graduate students at Old Dominion University presented their research at the statewide 2008 Graduate Student Research Forum in Richmond on Tuesday, Feb. 5.

The ODU students were among about 70 presenters from 12 Virginia universities. The forum, which is sponsored by the Virginia Council of Graduate Schools, was held at the Library of Virginia. Guest attendees have academic, business and political interests in the best graduate research being done in the state.

"Investing in graduate education is investing in Virginia," declared Gov. Timothy Kaine in a letter endorsing the forum. "Graduate students work closely with faculty to create new understandings and discoveries, which are applied to the social and economic challenges facing society."

Kaine pointed out that his recent proposal for a $1.65 billion bond package for higher education is largely aimed at providing Virginia universities with more modern research facilities and equipment.

Philip Langlais, ODU vice provost for graduate studies and research, said the projects presented contribute to economic, social and civic progress in Virginia.

The ODU participants were:

*Jane Amelon, doctoral student in rhetoric, from Virginia Beach. Her research project is "Burkean Analysis of the B.O.S.H. Prison Quilt." The Battered Offenders Self-Help quilt served as a rhetorical object that launched the move to commute sentences in Kentucky of 115 abused women who were convicted of crimes against their abusers. This research analyzes the artifact as a text regarding the power of the rhetorical object with a Burkean cluster analysis.

*Brandi Blessett, doctoral student in urban studies and public administration, from Detroit. Her research project is "Assessing Community Needs to Coordinate Neighborhood Revitalization Initiatives." The purpose of this study is to assess the needs of three neighborhoods that surround the ODU campus and coordinate activities with the university's Community Development Corp. to support the revitalization of these areas.

*Phyllis Bernice Opare, doctoral student in occupational and technical studies, from Koforidua, Ghana. Her research project is "Factors that Influence Females' Persistence in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Majors." This research is seeking to discover the factors that contribute to the retention and progression of females in science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses and careers at ODU.

*Saikou Y. Diallo, doctoral student in modeling and simulation, from Conakry, Guinea. His research project is "Model-Based Data Engineering (MBDE)." The research explores how the application of the Extensible Mark-up Language (XML) and Web services enabled a new level of interoperability for heterogeneous IT systems. However, it shows that although XML enables separation of data definition and data content, it does not ensure that data exchanged are interpreted correctly by the receiving system.

*Joyce Downs, doctoral student in health services research, from Cape May, N.J. Her research project is "Bisphenol A Blood and Saliva Levels Prior to and After Dental Sealant Placement in Adults: An Exploratory Study." Bisphenol A is a chemical byproduct of polycarbonate resin plastics. It is interpreted by the body as estrogen and is delivered to estrogen receptor sites. Laboratory rodent studies have linked Bisphenol A with cell proliferation in breast and prostate cancer, increased infertility and early onset of menses. This exploratory study examines the presence of Bisphenol A systemically in saliva and blood before and after the placement of cavity preventive resin dental sealants in adults. Results concluded the presence of Bisphenol A in saliva before and immediately after placement of sealants was not detected in serum samples.

*Altaf Merchant, doctoral student in business administration, from Mumbai, India. His research project is "How Personal Nostalgia Influences Giving to Charity." Charitable organizations in the United States have found it increasingly difficult to raise funds from donors. With a decline in the number of givers and the number of charitable organizations increasing, there is a need to identify ways to engage the giver to increase giving. This research argues that increasing the personal nostalgia that a donor experiences will strengthen the commitment of the donor to the organization and result in increased giving.

Brenda Lewis, ODU's assistant vice president for graduate studies, said the students who presented were nominated by their colleges and chosen 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.

Lewis said that about 70 percent of the people who earn graduate degrees at Virginia schools 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 4, 2008

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