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Students share results of research at Capitol events

Five undergraduate and five graduate students from the University of Kansas Medical Center showcased their research at the Kansas Capitol during two separate events in spring 2020. Students discussed the posters illustrating their research with lawmakers and the general public.

Three students and a professor from the School of Nursing posed before bulletin boards at Capitol
Before social-distancing meaures put in place for the COVID-19 pandemic, professors and students gathered at the Kansas Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol, an annual event in Topeka.

Before Jade Soukup became a nursing student, she worked as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and witnessed nurses who were assaulted while trying to provide care.

The violence bothered her, so when it was time to select a research topic, she chose to examine assault rates on nurses in the United States. "It's important to identify the trends that are going on in the U.S. so we can come up with effective solutions to prevent violence," she said.

Soukup and four other undergraduate students from the University of Kansas Medical Center presented their findings at the Kansas Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol March 4. While in Topeka, the students talked with legislators and other state government officials near poster boards that illustrated their research.

Time for both undergraduate and graduate researchers

The scene was similar one week earlier when graduate students gathered in Topeka to share their findings at the 17th Annual Capitol Graduate Research Summit on Feb. 26. Both events offer the opportunity for students to showcase research that attempts to uncover or solve a key societal problem.

For example, take Soukup's research with her mentor, Emily Cramer, Ph.D., research assistant professor in the KU School of Medicine. They found that the assault rate on nurses in Kansas is roughly 50 percent greater than the national average.

"Since being in nursing school, I have had several nurses tell me stories about violence they have experienced on the job. It occurs in the healthcare industry far more than any other industry," she said. "The results indicate that more needs to be done to protect nurses, especially nurses here in Kansas."

Soukup said she found the day rewarding. "It was interesting to learn about topics that could impact my nursing practice one day," she said. "I also was able to talk about my research with other students, faculty and even a few members of the House of Representatives. They all seemed really interested, and some even surprised, at what was going on in our hospitals in Kansas and around the country."

Fellow School of Nursing student Faith Higgins researched culturally responsible teaching in nursing education. With her mentor, Pamela Barnes, Ph.D., MBA, education associate professor, they studied students' perceptions of classroom conditions impacting their motivation to learn. Data collected from the study provides faculty with a benchmark of students' current motivational conditions.

That data will be then be combined with ongoing collection of data from many classrooms to study how perceptions may generally differ across population subgroups.

"From our research in the literature, we understand that it is not always the case that every demographic or culture feels a part of the overall learning atmosphere," Higgins said.

Research topics are diverse

Other KU Medical Center students who presented at Undergraduate Day at the Capitol included:

  • Brynlee Robbins, senior in nursing; mentored by Jill Peltzer, Ph.D., APRN-CNS, nursing: "Promoting Wellness for African Americans Affected by Cancer: A CBPR Approach"
  • Lee Tubbs, senior in respiratory care; mentored by Cheryl Skinner, M.Sc., RRT, CPFT, and Dave Burnett, Ph.D., RRT, AE-C, respiratory care education: "Innovative Pulmonary Rehabilitation Telehealth Program for Improving COPD Patient Outcomes"
  • Michael Seeley, senior in respiratory care; mentored by Skinner and Burnett, respiratory care education: "Innovative Pulmonary Rehabilitation Telehealth Program for Improving COPD Patient Outcomes"

KU Medical Center students who presented at the Capitol Graduate Research Summit included:

  • Katie McKenzie, doctoral and medical student in biostatistics, "Concordance of Beta-Amyloid PET Images Using a Generalized Logistic Mixed Model Framework"
  • Olivia Provance, doctoral student in the Department of Cancer Biology, "Interferon Induced Transmembrane Protein-1 Plays a Vital Role in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer and Can Be Targeted by the Naturally Derived Compound Parthenolide"
  • Connor Chestnut, medical student, "Targeting Bladder Cancer with Cinnamaldehyde and Trans-Cinnamic Acid"
  • Megan Campbell, doctor of nursing practice student, "Screening Military Veterans for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the Civilian Primary Care Setting"
  • Eber Silveira Beck Jr., doctoral student in rehabilitation science, "Cognitive Assessment in Older Adults with Diabetes Mellitus: A Retrospective Analysis"

Students and mentors at Undergraduate Research Day  Student standing next to board exhibiting her research

Photo 1: Students and their mentors talked to lawmakers, Capitol visitors and researchers from other regent schools in Kansas. Photo 2: Nursing student Jade Soukup displays the results of her research on violence against nursing personnel across the United States. Photos courtesy Emporia State University.

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