New lab software enables Felicity Harris to prepare research abstract that gets accepted for presentation at leading undergraduate research conference.
On April 17th, at the 2009 National Conference for Undergraduate Research to be held at the University of Wisconsin in La Crosse, Felicity Harris will present her abstract on the effects of a calming image on one’s exhaling capacity. Chosen from thousands of submissions, Felicity’s abstract, “Visualized Guided Imagery Increases Forced Expiratory Lung Volume (FEV1),” was recognized by the NCUR review committee as “a unique contribution to your field of study. Your scholastic achievements and efforts are impressive and we hope you continue this high standard of excellence into graduate school and beyond.”
Felicity’s advisor, Julia Smith, Professor of Biological Sciences, is the first to admit that “the only reason Felicity could accomplish what she did is because of the new software, part of the science lab renovation intended to provide our students with the resources they need to be competitive in biology.” Says Felicity, “This particular software from iWorx allows you to calculate pulmonary functions. I wanted to find out whether visualizing a calming image would increase one’s FEV [forced expiratory lung volume].
I used 19 subjects from HNU and had them imagine such things as humming in their grandmother’s kitchen or listening to the rain from under a blanket. There was a significant difference between the control group and the test group. I found that calming imagery can actually increase volume.”
When Professor Smith saw “the compelling results” of Felicity’s work, Smith suggested submitting an abstract to NCUR. “I’ve been here 15 years,” says Smith, “and I’ve never seen a biology student take her own research and present it to a wider community. She was able to produce a professional product in an undergraduate class and to be competitive in a professional setting. I believe her research is of a quality to merit publication.”
Felicity’s mentor, Assistant Professor of Biology Jennifer Sherwood, concurs. She is assisting Felicity with her independent study during her final semester, which includes preparing her research results for publication. Says Sherwood, “Felicity is a phenomenal student. I see Felicity’s success as nucleating the process of getting more students involved in doing research with faculty. We have more phenomenal students and the equipment is a great first step in facilitating our students to do research, which is huge for the students for when they are applying to grad school and huge for the University, too. A plus at HNU is that it’s small enough that faculty can spend a lot of time with students as they conduct their research.”
As for Felicity, she’s forging ahead, hoping to obtain a research internship so she can conduct further tests on asthma patients and getting ready to apply for med school. “I’ve wanted to get into medical research ever since I did an internship at Children’s Hospital in Oakland,” Felicity reveals. “I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else.” Now, thanks to HNU’s upgraded science lab, neither can a lot of other people!