Research program grows every year


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For Sylvia Hill, passion, as well as personal experience, inspires her research.

The 30-year-old shared her eight-week study on perspectives of domestic violence Wednesday.

Hill was one of more than 175 students from various institutions who showcased summer explorations for the sixth-annual University of Iowa Summer Undergraduate Research Conference — a program that grows each year.

The conference is the climax of an eight-week summer research program, allowing each student an opportunity to network and share work with fellow student researchers, the university research community, and other interested individuals.

"It's really geared toward collecting all the undergraduates doing research during the summer," said Minnetta Gardinier, an associate dean of the UI Graduate College. "It's just grown each year."

Gardinier, the event coordinator, said the conference grows by approximately 30 students each year; it started off with around 60 participants in 2006.

Hill's work investigated the reasons women remained in unstable relationships.

Something she could relate to.

"I'm a survivor," said Hill, a LSU undergraduate who plans to apply to the University of Iowa next fall. "Feb. 6 of this year, my ex broke into my home and abused me in front of two of my children."

The program helps young investigators reach their goals in pursuing graduate work, with some organizations focusing on underrepresented and low-income students.

"It really creates a different dynamic for students," Gardinier said. "They realize how many others are doing research during summer."

UI senior Kaitlin White, 21, began her research on multimodal intervention in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis to improve gait in August 2010. White is looking to find ways for those with the disease to move more quickly.

"It's nice to see enthusiastic responses," the integrative physiology major said. "It's a great thing."

Hoping to continue research until summer of 2012, White said she will apply for the Carver College of Medicine with a possible career in pediatrics.

Diana Bryant, the coordinator of the Summer Research Opportunities Program/McNair Scholars Program, returned for a third year with around 40 students.

"It's a unique opportunity to get together with other cultures and research," she said, and she enjoys seeing the work her students complete with the program.

Bryant said the program has representation from the East and West Coasts, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Students in the 25-year-old program participated in the Ohio State University fair last week as well.

Hill, a participant, was able to network, receive GRE preparation, and reach out to youth in the community through the program.

"It has been a very uplifting experience," Hill said. "I've met a lot of people."

The program helps to accommodate each student in pursuing a postgraduate degree, she added.

"I believe that you get out of an experience what you put into it," Hill said. "And I've put my all in it."

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