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Students representing ASU, other state universities to present research to state legislators


Approximately 80 students from Arkansas four-year public and private colleges and universities will gather at the State Capitol Rotunda in Little Rock, Wednesday, Feb. 15 to present cutting-edge undergraduate research to state legislators.

Students will share their work in the areas of natural sciences, computer science, engineering and mathematics. The research will be on display between 10 a.m. and noon in the rotunda.

Students participating in “Arkansas STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Posters at the Capitol” are from Arkansas State University, Philander Smith College, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, University of Central Arkansas, Southern Arkansas University, Henderson State University, Harding University, Hendrix College, Arkansas Tech University, Lyon College, University of Arkansas at Monticello, Ouachita Baptist University, and John Brown University.  

“I felt strongly this program would fly in Arkansas because I know there exists around the state a strong culture of undergraduate research at public and private schools. This is especially true in STEM disciplines,” said Dr. Patrick Desrochers, organizer and chemistry professor at the University of Central Arkansas. “This February’s session is the result of conversations shared with STEM colleagues around the state and the commitment of these individuals to support their students in original research at their schools.

Dr. Robert Engelken, professor of Electrical Engineering at Arkansas State University, echoed Dr. Desrochers, “I am delighted that I have both undergraduate and graduate students from the ASU Optoelectronic Materials Research Laboratory who are going to present their research results at this event.   These include electrical engineering undergraduate student John Hall and environmental science graduate students Joshua Vangilder, Maqsood Ali Mughal, Jason Newell, and Shyam Thapa.   

“We have students working in a range of topics from solar cell materials to biofuel pellets.  We also have nearly thirty years of experience in utilizing undergraduate research assistants.  This experience will enhance their education, confidence, marketability, and networking skills.  I hope and trust that the event will be a great success, and both congratulate and appreciate Dr. Desrochers and his colleagues for establishing it.”

Additional ASU student co-authors include David McNew, undergraduate electrical engineering major, and Frederick Felizco, a student in the Engineering Management graduate program.  Dr. Bruce Johnson and Dr. Ross Carroll from the ASU Physics Program are also additional mentors and co-authors.

Desrochers hopes the poster presentations become an established program for the state capitol.   

“This should become something the legislators and public anticipate, a showcase of the best and brightest students from around the state involved in exciting and innovative projects. In the end, this should advocate for the good work these students and faculty do at their schools," he said. "Hopefully, this poster session will help it become widely known that outstanding educational opportunities are available right here in Arkansas in highly technical, exciting, challenging, and sometimes financially lucrative fields, following undergraduate and graduate training.  Arkansans should know these opportunities exist at schools throughout the state.”

A luncheon honoring these students will immediately follow the capitol presentations. This luncheon features as keynote speaker Dr. Alex Biris, Director of the Nanotechnology Center, University of Arkansas at Little Rock. 

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