This year's Student Showcase for Projects, Research & Innovation awarded 16 students.

Bulls Notebook: USFSM student research showcase grows again

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: April 07, 2017

SARASOTA, Fla. (April 07, 2017) – More USF Sarasota-Manatee students are participating in the annual Student Showcase for Projects, Research & Innovation.

Founded in 2012, the showcase encourages undergraduate students to tackle in-depth research projects that require detailed study, writing and final presentations before peers and faculty. The students collaborate with faculty mentors throughout the process, but select the research topics and conduct the research and analysis themselves. Some also collaborate with other students.

Bulls Notebook: USFSM student research showcase grows again

Dr. Kimberly Badanich

Dr. Kimberly Badanich, who organized the showcase with Dr. Elaine Augustine and Dr. Timothy Turner, said the showcase is generating more attention – and accolades – each year because of what it means to students.

“These projects can be especially helpful to students entering graduate school, but even if they’re not thinking about grad school, they can help when students are looking for jobs after they graduate,” she said. “They show (employers) that they can complete in-depth projects on time and that they have critical thinking and communication skills. Those are the two skills most sought-after by employers.”

At Friday’s all-day event at Selby Auditorium, 35 student researchers made 30 project presentations: 19 poster presentations and 11 oral presentations – the most presentations ever and twice last year’s number, Badanich said.

She attributed the increase to several factors, including that more professors are urging students to get involved and because the showcase is occurring later in the school year, which allows for more time.

During its first few years, the showcase occurred in the fall. Last year, to accommodate faculty and students, if was pushed back to Feb. 19, and this academic year it shifted again, to April 7, in part to assist School of Education students involved in internships at public schools.

As a result, Dr. Badanich said, she’s seeing not only greater participation but also higher quality work because the students have more time for their research and presentations.

“I’m seeing more complete projects,” she said.

Wendy Turk, an elementary education student with a minor in Spanish, said she appreciates the academic demands required of the project.

“I think it encourages undergraduate students to explore their academic disciplines in more depth,” she said. “During this whole process we take in a lot of information and a lot of theory.”

Working with faculty mentor Dr. Helene Robinson, Turk explored the impact of arts-integrated teaching on public school students, including those from lower-income neighborhoods. Among Turk’s conclusions, that students exposed to arts-integrated teaching are more apt to excel academically and socially.

“The overall idea is that students are more connected on an emotional and cultural level so they are more engaged in the classroom, and as a result do better academically,” she said.

This year’s showcase winners received a plaque and will have their studies published in an on-campus academic journal anticipated this fall. Winners were chosen in two categories, poster presentation and oral presentation. Congratulations to all.

The winners in the poster presentation category were:

Science & Mathematics

First place: Carlos Santos and Marcus Ehrlich; The Effects of Personal Agency on Religious Faith Motivation (mentor, Dr. Jay Michaels)

Second place: Bryn Austin; Lepitdoptera Larvae & Host-Plants in Costa Rica: An Observational Pilot Study (mentor, Dr. Edie Banner)

Third place (tie): Chelsea Woodard; Aerobic Exercise as an Adjuvant to Speech-Language Therapy: A Literature Review (mentor, Dr. Donna Polelle)

Third place (tie): Katherine McClure; Statistical Correlation of Factors Associated with Liver Cancer (mentor, Dr. Joy D’Andrea)

Social Science

First place: Marissa Fleenor & Ashley Wichern; The Phenomenon of Foreign Fighting Revisited: Have Motivations for Foreign Fighting Changed? (mentor, Dr. Murat Haner)

Second place: Priscilla Augustine; What are the Causes of Wrongful Convictions? The Relative Impact of Forensic and Eyewitness Evidence (mentor, Dr. Christine Ruva)

Third place: Sandra Sabino; Political Conservatism and Racial Differences in Arrest Rates (mentor: Dr. Fawn Ngo)


First place: Nefike Gunden; How Online Reviews Influence Consumer Restaurant Selection (mentor: Dr. Cihan Cobanoglu)

The winners in the oral presentation category were:

Science & Mathematics

First place: Stephanie Maddox; Assessing the Perceptions of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Veterans and Therapists Regarding Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (mentor, Dr. Eric Hodges)

Second place: London Lang; The Effect of Bilingualism on Children with Cognitive and Language Disorders: A Literature Review (mentor, Dr. Jenna Luque)

Social Science

First place: Breanna Glover-Van Rensselaer; Casual Dining Employee Turnover: Causes and Effects in Sarasota (mentor, Dr. Michael Snipes)

Second place: Denise Rodriguez; Age and Cybercrime Victimization: Is It How Long You Are Online, What You Do Online, Or What You Post Online? (mentor, Dr. Fawn Ngo)

Third place: Sadie Lipman; Mind the Gap: Gender Disparities in STEM Fields (mentor, Dr. Jody McBrien)


First place: Maria Balashova; Biometric Technology in the Spa Industry (mentor, Dr. Ekaterina Berezina)

Second place: Frida Bahja; The Market Share of Environmental-Friendly Attributes on Cruise Customers’ Decisions (mentor, Dr. Cihan Cobanoglu)


First place: Wendy Turk, Arts Integrated Teaching for Low SES Learners (mentor: Dr. Helene Robinson)

Local reading campaign wins national accolades

Kudos to the Suncoast Campaign for Grade Level Reading. The local initiative that encourages grade-level reading by the third grade, including among lower-income students, has won a national Pacesetter Award.

The Suncoast Campaign was one of 48 communities of the 300 nationwide to earn this distinction by the National Campaign for Grade Level Reading.

The Suncoast Campaign for Grade Level Reading is supported by The Patterson Foundation, the United Way of Manatee County and USF Sarasota-Manatee.

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