Visitors to North Central’s Rall Symposium for Undergraduate Research will encounter student research that has taken hours and hours of inquiry.

Feature News

Conducting undergraduate research readies students for the real world


May 15, 2019

Rall Symposium for Undergraduate Research brings student research projects to the forefront

Visitors to North Central’s Rall Symposium for Undergraduate Research, witnessed condensed summaries of student research that belied the hours and hours of inquiry that students invested in their projects.

Student-researchers know it’s a worthwhile investment.

“Research has aided me in making that ‘next jump’ outside of the classroom,” said Audel Ochoa ’20, a finance and economics major. “I’ve learned how to convey complicated findings in a way that is digestible—an experience that you just can’t find in a classroom environment.”

Ochoa is one of 141 students who presented their work on topics that spanned immigration, tourism in Greece, wastewater treatment, Japanese New Year’s celebrations and consumer behavior in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Ochoa’s research into cryptocurrency prices is a collaboration with Chetan Chawla, assistant professor of business and entrepreneurship, one of 58 faculty members mentoring these students. “I think that research really allows students to apply what they are learning and forces us out of our comfort zone—that’s a valuable experience that I can carry into the work force,” said Ochoa.

Kennedy Taylor ’19, who is majoring in secondary education and English studies, wrote her College Scholars Honors thesis on using supplemental texts to address cultural diversity in high school English curricula.

There is such a sense of accomplishment to know that you may now be considered an expert in the field you're passionate about,” Taylor said. “Overall I’ve gained a more nuanced understanding of peer-reviewed research and what goes into it behind the scenes, as well as what I can do to help change the education system for the better.”

Undergraduate research provider Kennedy Taylor.

Kennedy Taylor

Undergraduate research inspires REU, Goldwater honor and graduate school

Biology major Brandi Pessman ’19 will enter a Ph.D. program in animal behavior this fall at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln—a goal that was shaped by her research with Chandreyee Mitra, assistant professor of biology. At the symposium, Pessman presented findings on electrocommunication signals in Black Ghost Knifefish, the result of a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at Indiana University.

“The thirst for knowledge and curiosity for the unknown has fueled much of my research career, and it will continue to do so,” said Pessman, who earned a Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention last year. “Doing research at North Central, and presenting at the Rall symposium … demonstrate that I have the power to find answers to questions and solutions to problems.”

College Scholar Luke Musgrave ’19 explored a subject way outside his actuarial science major. He embraced his musical talents and decided to contrast traditional protestant hymns with contemporary praise and worship songs. “I wondered if the lyrical content was significantly different between the two styles of worship. Since I couldn't find any specific studies on this subject, I decided to write my thesis on that topic,” said Musgrave, who will begin a career in actuarial science at Allstate in September.