The human development and family science department’s inaugural undergraduate research symposium highlighted student achievement and culminated with two students receiving the newly established Price-Coker Excellence in Research Award.
The symposium was held in March in conjunction with the HDFS graduate student visitation day in which applicants to the program are invited to campus to meet with faculty members and other college personnel.
Eleven undergraduates were accepted for the symposium: five conducting research internships and six from the Family Life Education Methodology course who develop HDFS-related programs to meet a community need.
“The undergraduate posters represented the breadth and scope of the HDFS undergraduate major, including various stages of human development, military families, health outcomes and community outreach,” said HDFS undergraduate coordinator Dr. Jennifer Gonyea.
The symposium gave both undergraduate and graduate students a forum to present posters of their research. Brianna Garcia received first place, along with a $100 award, in the undergraduate poster contest for her research project entitled “Assessing the knowledge, training needs and use of brain development information in early childhood educators and families.”
Faculty member Dr. Diane Bales and Garcia developed a two-session training on stress and brain development as part of the research involving toxic stress.
Stephanie Kors and Audrey Lanier were named second and third place recipients, respectively.
Dayoung Bae received the graduate poster award for her project about adolescent friendship network dynamics and body mass index.
“I was impressed with the quality and breadth of the student poster presentations,” said Dr. Emilie Smith, HDFS department head and Janette McGarity Barber Distinguished Professor. “They ranged from studies of training initiatives with early childhood providers to longitudinal and multi-level analyses of the role of social factors in health. Seeing both faculty and students engaged in vibrant conversations was gratifying and rewarding.”
“The poster session was an important opportunity for graduate and undergraduate students to display their research projects to their peers, faculty and UGA research community,” said Dr. Kandauda Wickrama, the Georgia Athletic Association Endowed Professor in HDFS. “The participants received acknowledgements and constructive feedback from the faculty and peers for their research. This event has been a motivation not only for the student participants but also for other non-participant students as well as for the faculty for their research activities.”
Along with the undergraduate recognition, the department also presented two graduate students with the inaugural Price-Coker Excellence in Research Award.
The award is named in honor of Sharon Price, former professor and department head emerita, and her husband, David Coker, former executive assistant to the president and associate provost for international affairs, who have funded two research scholarships in HDFS.
The inaugural award winners were Savannah Spivey and Andrea Farnham.
Spivey is a Ph.D. candidate whose research and outreach projects focus on refugee and immigrant families, health and resettlement.
Farnham is a doctoral student pursuing a Ph.D. in HDFS with an emphasis in family therapy. Her research focuses on aging and sexuality and minority populations.
“We are thrilled that Dr. Coker and Dr. Price are fostering a culture of giving by establishing a fund to support original doctoral research in HDFS,” Smith said. “We also look forward to the continued success and growth of this event, which highlights the research achievements of our students.”
In addition to recognizing several students, Dr. Melissa Kozak, a lecturer in HDFS and undergraduate internship coordinator, received the Undergraduate Mentoring Award; Dr. Denise Lewis received the Graduate Mentoring Award; and April Few-Demo, an associate professor of family studies in the department of human development at Virginia Tech, received the HDFS Alumni Award.
To see a photo gallery from the event, visit our Flickr page here.
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