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Today's word on journalism

Monday, January 29, 2007

Words as weapons:

"When he had a pen in his hand it was like giving a kid a machine gun."

--Peter Hall, theater director, on "Angry Young Man" playwright John Osborne (1929-1994)

USU's 'academic opportunity fund' helps undergrads travel to present research

By Angela Busselberg

December 12, 2006 | Brittany Webb, a senior dual-majoring in physics and chemistry, recently attended a conference in Mexico to present research on a Women and Gender Study on why women advance and or leave professional organizations. "As a scientist, this helps me understand who it is I work with, how it happens and understanding why. It will help me a lot in my profession career," said Webb.

"We were invited to attend a conference in Mexico. They paid my registration fee and I had to cover my hotel and passport. It was over $700 for just the hotel. That's a gigantic amount for a poor college student," said Webb.

Webb was granted $450 from the Academic Opportunity Fund to help cover the expenses. "It doesn't cover everything but it helps," said Webb.

"The Academic Opportunity Fund was exactly what we wanted to help undergraduate research," said Joyce Kinkead, vice president for undergraduate research, "we had a gap in our funding and ASUSU stepped up and created a wonderful program."

"The fund was created to give students the opportunity to present research or compete in an academic competition. It covers travel and entrance fees up to $500," said Michelle Lundberg, Academic Senate President, and member of the AOF committee.

"This research got me involved and it looks good on grad school applications but also professionally," said Webb.

Zac Humes received funding from AOF last year when he presented research on a fluid dynamics project called Aerodynamic Vectoring Particle Sorter. "This product uses fundamental fluid dynamics to sort particles more accurately without contact and more cheaply than its predecessors," said Humes.

Humes was invited to attend the American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics. "This conference is a chance to present our capabilities as a lab in terms of equipment we have in leading research ideas."

The APS said this meeting is "one of the most significant professional meetings in fluid dynamics in the US."

"I was able to attend the conference because of the AOF funding I received. It's difficult to find extra money for anything outside of the usual expenses when you are a student," said Humes.

This year alone, the fund has been able to provide funding for over 30 students, totaling $7,170. Since it was established in 2001 the fund has helped 144 students giving out $32,400 worth of funding, said Kinkead.

"Sixty-three percent of the money asked for is awarded and almost all of the applicants get some funding," said Lundberg, "until we run out of money."

The fund's budget is about $8,600, and they have awarded the bulk of the money fall semester not leaving much for spring semester.

"We are trying to establish some private funds to be able to fund everything we want," said Lundberg. "The committee has a hard time giving all the funds someone asks for knowing that someone else will need them next semester."

"We are bursting at our seams," said Kinkead. "We'd love to find some private money to help the fund." She and Lundberg have been trying to find private funding for the AOF. If they are able to obtain extra funding the committe will continue to give students academic opportunities for spring semester.

"Our University is known for its research," said Lundberg, "We really hope that we are helping build that reputation while reaching out to the undergraduates who want to participate in academics."

Webb said, "This opportunity was great and I really felt that I understood what it meant to be part of university research."

"We're lucky to have an advisor that pushes us to achieve more; when we attend these types of events we actually present very well in comparison to other universities. It's nice to hear people say, 'Utah State? you guys have a very strong mechanical engineering program, right?'" said Humes.

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