Student Researchers in Chico for Systemwide Competition

The best and brightest California State University students from twenty-two campuses competed against one another at the 12th annual CSU Research Competition last weekend on the CSU, Chico campus.

One hundred sixty-six undergraduates and graduate students who have won campus competitions presented their research findings and artistic works before juries May 1-2.

The annual research competition is the largest student achievement event of its kind in the CSU. No other university system is believed to have a comparable research competition for students.

Four CSU, Chico undergraduate and graduate students distinguished themselves by garnering first and second places in their categories. Nathan Ratzlaff, won first place in the Graduate, Business, Economics, and Public Administration competition with his paper, "1997 Chico Heat Marketing Research Report." Cathryn Whitmore also won first place in the Graduate, Biological and Agricultural Sciences competition with, "Vancomycin Dependence to Vancomycin Independence in Enterocus Faecuim: A Genetic Analysis."

Shelinda Skemp won 2nd place in the Graduate, Education competition with her presentation of, "The Effects of an Eight-Week Circuit-Training Program on the Strength of People Aged 55-80." Holly Foster won 2nd place in the Undergraduate, Biological and Agricultural Sciences competition with her study, "The Effect of Melatonin Dosage on Prosterone Induced Estrus in Anestrous Ewes."

The competition's founder, Vivian Vidoli, dean of the division of graduate studies at CSU, Fresno, said the size and format of the CSU competition makes it unique in higher education. "I don't know of any other research competition in the world that is like this one," she said. Vidoli said the competition is unusual because student research uses juries composed of business leaders, private-sector scientists, and practicing artists as well as retired faculty scholars, outside the academy.

Robert Jackson, dean of the Graduate School and International Studies, said, "I'm so pleased with how the event went. People from throughout the University and the Chico community generously contributed their time and effort to make it a success."

Two sets of comments were noteworthy, according to Jackson: those of the outside jurors and those of visitors from other campus. The jurors indicated that their expectations of the students were "more than exceeded" in every case. Visitors to Chico commented on how beautiful, clean, and attractive the campus is. "They couldn't say enough positive things," said Jackson.

The students had ten minutes for their presentations, which can, and do, utilize a wide range of visual and technological aides. The three jurors then had five minutes to ask about a student's work, which is also explained in an abstract the student prepares.

Students competed in one of seventeen different subject-based categories, from physiology and genetics to creative arts and design. Winners and runners-up receive $250 and $150, respectively.

Vidoli said the genesis of the competition twelve years ago was the desire to focus more public attention on academic achievement. "We asked ourselves why athletics got so much publicity, and the answer was its competitive nature. So why not a student research competition?"

Along with the money award and the prestige that comes from winning, students also have used the competition as a springboard to getting jobs and initiating research at the master's and doctoral level, Vidoli said. "Each CSU campus has its own student success stories to report as a result of the competition," she said.


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