May 3 Scholarship Fest provides outlet for student research, project presentations

Mount Mercy University prides itself on the experiential learning opportunities afforded to its students, both on and off campus. Often, these opportunities come in the form of faculty-led research or projects—culminating in the day-long annual Scholarship Festival.

Funded through the university's Pathways to Scholarship program, MMU students have opportunities to learn through hands-on research and experience the deep academic work usually reserved for students at larger institutions.

To celebrate faculty-student work this year, Scholarship Festival will take place on May 3 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. More than 50 students in majors from every academic department are presenting 43 unique projects.

Before graduating in 2015, alumna Rebecca Louison presented multiple times at two different MMU Scholarship Festivals—once through an oral presentation, twice as a part of panel discussions and twice more through poster presentations.

“My experience was life changing,” Louison said about her research. “Each person I worked with afforded me different opportunities and different areas where I could learn and grow.”

A psychology major, Louison worked on four projects with Professor of Psychology Ron Feldt, Ph.D., and two with Associate Professor of Psychology Dennis Dew, Ph.D. Working on multiple projects with two different faculty mentors meant a range of experience.

“With Dr. Dew, I was able to begin a study from the ground up,” Louison explained. “We brainstormed, read articles, discussed options, and finally designed the study and conducted the research. This gave me firsthand knowledge and experience as to the complexities of study design.

“On the other hand, my work with Dr. Feldt was a bit more like jumping in and helping with what was already created. Since this research began before I was there, there was no design, or brainstorming. It was a lot of researching, reading articles, and data analysis. I was able to understand, again in a hands-on way, what these statistical tools really did. It took it out of the book and put it into real life.”

Today, Louison is a paid research assistant in the Department of Neurology at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. She credits her success after graduation with the opportunities given to her as a Mount Mercy student.

“You rarely get opportunities like this to work independently and collaboratively with a leading researcher without being in grad school,” she said. “When preparing for graduation from MMU, I sat down with Dr. [Jen] Lee about what I wanted to do next. I loved the research I had done at MMU and wanted to continue with similar work. My career focus is to train to be a Neurospychologist, so she suggested sending my CV to Dr. [Natalie] Denburg. Dr. Denburg was impressed with my depth of research and experience, so she hired me.”

Research poster presentations will be held in the University Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and student panels will be held from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Some highlights of this year’s festival include: “Gender Pay Gap in the US and other Advanced Economies” by finance and accounting student Jin Misong, “Feminine Stereotypes in the Harry Potter Series” by religious studies student Kayla Hodgson, “The Effects of a Holistic-Patient-Centered Approach on Breast Cancer Outcomes” by psychology and religions studies student Victoria Roe, “The Nature and Nurture of Antisocial Behavior” by psychology student Amy McGlynn, and as well as a reading of poems and stories by English students and a concert by music students.

Scholarship Festival is free and open to the public. Find more info and a full schedule on our Scholarship Fest page.

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