Annual Research and Creative Achievement Week highlights students, faculty

East Carolina University researchers shared their work with the community as part of the university’s 13th annual Research and Creative Achievement Week.

Nearly 400 oral and poster presentations – including a record 229 undergraduate presenters – were held over the weeklong event from April 1-5, with prizes awarded in undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, innovation and engagement, and postdoctoral categories.

In addition, this year’s event featured a new category focused on innovation and entrepreneurship. The Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Intersection of Arts and Sciences Showcase highlighted student research with an eclectic mix of fine art, performance art and entrepreneurial work.

“Student involvement was incredible,” said Thomas McConnell, associate dean of ECU’s graduate school. “Our students got a chance to share their work and practice translating their research to a wider audience that may not be familiar with their scientific background. It’s crucial students gain this experience so they’re prepared to tell others about the impact their research has on the world.”

Research and Creative Achievement Week also hosted ECU’s International Scholars and Students Symposium. The symposium recognizes the university’s international scholars and their work both in the United States and abroad.

Joshua Parker, a senior researching the genetic makeup of the pitcher plant fly, said his project allowed him to form connections with others in his field.

“Research has opened up a lot of doors to students and mentors that are interested in the same sort of science I’m interest in,” Parker said. “Through these different presentations and conferences, I’ve been able to network and meet a lot of really great people.

“Conducting a research project takes a lot of time, but in the end, it was definitely worth it,” he said.

College of Education instructional technology specialist Christine Wilson, who presented with co-investigator Michael Daniels at the innovation event, said the access to students, staff and the community at RCAW is unparalleled.

“There’s no other place at ECU that my research can get out to this many people at one time,” Wilson said.

RCAW coordinators took time to thank faculty mentors – more than 200 – that sponsored student-led projects.

“An event like RCAW isn’t possible without our mentors,” said Mary Farwell, assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs research and director of undergraduate research. “Their guidance is enormously valuable to our student researchers. The expertise they provide prepares our students to conduct research later in their careers, whether for a future job or graduate school.”

A full list of RCAW winners is available online.

Students present their research during the Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Intersection of Arts and Sciences Showcase at Research and Creative Achievement week.

Students present their research during the Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Intersection of Arts and Sciences Showcase at Research and Creative Achievement week. (Photo by Rhett Butler)

ECU Provost Ron Mitchelson, center, and the winners of the 2018-19 Provost Challenge team including Joshua Spears, from left, Tyler Bartone, Cam Cass, Grant Francis and Michael Auwn. (Photo by Rhett Butler)

Team wins Provost Challenge

Earlier this academic year, Provost Ron Mitchelson challenged students from the Horizons Living Learning Community and teaching instructor Corey Pulido’s entrepreneurship essentials class to form teams to analyze problems and develop strategies to increase ECU’s enrollment.

A total of 16 teams comprising 80 students participated. From those, four groups presented plans Friday ranging from more effectively using social media to hosting “Pirate Days” at select North Carolina high schools to coordinating educational events with other state universities. Judges, including Mitchelson, selected “Income share agreement,” a plan whereby ECU would provide tuition assistance to students in exchange for 2% of their salaries for seven to 10 years. Joshua Spears, Tyler Bartone, Michael Auwn, Cam Cass and Grant Francis made up the group.
Mitchelson said he wanted to hear fuller presentations from the other groups, and that the admissions department had part-time jobs for any of the team members who were interested in putting their ideas to work.
ECU enrollment dropped by about 400 students in the 2018-2019 academic year, compared to the year before. Mitchelson said yearly growth of 300-500 students would be ideal. He also said future Provost Challenges may address other issues, such as water quality and manufacturing needs.
“I think we all know there are plenty of problems to go around,” he said. “The fact they’ve already latched on to problem solving is inspiring.”
Heidi Puckett, interim director of undergraduate admissions, said findings the students presented about what high schoolers think of ECU – that it’s a party school and its educational value is less than some other schools in the state – isn’t new.

“I think what’s interesting is to see it from a student’s perspective,” she said. “It’s great to know they understand what we’re trying to accomplish. It takes time. It’s something we have to continue working on.”
– Doug Boyd, University Communications