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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Student Research


By Emily Legleitner

On April 4, the University of Michigan – Flint Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) hosted their fourth Annual Student Research Conference (SRC), which featured faculty-mentored research presentations from undergraduate and graduate students alike.

One speaker at the conference, Chris Waters, the associate provost and dean of Undergraduate Programs, said that the purpose of the SRC is “to give an opportunity to showcase faculty and student collaboration.”

The conference featured just over 80 students’ work, while also giving them recognition for the progress they have made academically and professionally on campus.

“I get to see what everyone else is doing and
get other ideas,”- Kelly Walsh

This conference also served as an introduction to the upcoming Meeting of the Minds (MOM) Undergraduate Conference, which has been held annually since 1993 as a collaborative effort between UM – Flint, the University of Michigan – Dearborn and Oakland University. MOM showcases student-faculty collaborative research from all three schools. Last year the conference was held at UM – Flint, but this year the event will take place on the Oakland campus, May 9.

The students at the UM – Flint SRC presented research from a multitude of disciplines, including the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and applied sciences.

This year, it appeared the Department of Psychology was heavily represented.

One psychology student, Stephanie Harris, conducted research on autism and employability. Harris works with three children with autism, but was particularly inspired by one.

“I worry about him, and I wonder if the label [of having autism] will affect his chances of employment,” Harris said.

Harrison’s project, entitled “How Perceptions of Autism Affect the Employability of a Person with High Functioning ASD,” gave her a sense of achievement. “I’ve never done research like this,” Harris said. “It’s very rewarding.”

Jaclyn Borrow, also a student from the psychology department, conducted a study entitled “Self-Esteem in Dancers.”

“Physical activity has been researched in the past and been found to increase an individual’s self-esteem,” Borrow stated in her abstract. “Dancers are highly active people so I wanted to see if this high level of activity increases self-esteem in dancers.”

A dancer herself, Borrow feels as though she has relatively high self-esteem. “I’m interested in dance therapy, which involves depression and other psychological disorders,” Borrow explained what led her to researching her topic.

Her study was inconclusive, and she found the results were nearly equivalent in self-esteem levels of dancers and non-dancers. However, Borrow said she would like to do further studies.

Kelly Walsh, an undergraduate student, conducted a series of studies, of which the second portion she presented at the SRC. The first focused on what heterosexual individuals find attractive in online dating. The second was “Attraction in Online Dating: Phase Two, What Do Lesbians, Gay Males and Bisexual People Find Attractive.”

Walsh said she pursued this research because of the increased popularity of online dating. “I’ve always been interested in what makes people attracted to each other,” Walsh said.

Her results were inconclusive, “Further data collection is needed to draw any conclusions,” Walsh said. However, she did mention that “the results of this study suggest that bisexual participants may respond differently to online profiles when compared to lesbians and gay males.” According to Walsh, her findings were limited because most of the bisexual participants were females.

“This will be great for my resume to graduate school,” Walsh said about her opportunity to present at the SRC. She also added, “I get to see what everyone else is doing and get other ideas.”

All student abstracts can be found at the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs’ website,, along with more information about the department and the opportunities available to students.

Emily can be reached at

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