Nevada State College science departments develop new programs

The Nevada State College (NSC) Department(s) of Physical and Life Sciences and Social Sciences continue to thrive, celebrating the addition of several new programs, including GradFit and poster presentations for both social and life sciences.

Recently, NSC partnered with the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) to develop the GradFit program, which afforded eight biology and psychology majors an opportunity to visit UNR, to get an in-depth look at graduate school at the University. GradFit is a three-day program which took place from May 27 to May 29, during which students learned about GRE preparation, met with UNR professors and visited the University's science labs. Students also toured the campus and even visited Lake Tahoe at the conclusion of the program.

Dr. Robin Cresiski, Physical and Life Sciences Department Chair, and Dr. Laura Naumann, Assistant Professor of Psychology, accompanied the students to Reno. Programs such as GradFit really make the abstract concept of graduate school something concrete. It prepares them for the realities of what is necessary to apply for and attend graduate school, but shows the students that there are many support systems to help them in their endeavor, Dr. Naumann said.

NSC faculty members are aware that many students are unfamiliar with graduate study, and may be intimidated by the prospect of pursuing advanced degrees. Given that many of our students are first-generation or returning students, these students typically have not been exposed to post-graduate degree options or the typical requirements to gain admission, Dr. Naumann explained.

Psychology major Danette Barber was one of the eight students who participated in the program. Graduate school seems more tangible now, and I know more about what I need to do for the process, Barber said. GradFit was a great experience and I hope many other students have the same opportunity I did to see what it's all about.

Dr. Naumann noted that many students are Las Vegas natives and had never been to Reno. She says the students had expressed hesitancy about leaving home for graduate school. It was great for them to see life on a university campus, meet current graduate students, and hear from several faculty speakers, Dr. Naumann said. I think the visit to the campus helped to demystify what graduate life is like, as well as alleviate some of their fears about moving away for school.

In addition to GradFit, the Physical and Life Sciences Department and the Social Sciences Department boast poster presentations from both the social and physical and life sciences majors. The psychology poster presentations were part of the Advanced Research Methods classes taught by Drs. Laura Naumann and Jonathan Dunning. Students in this course design their own research study from start to finish. This includes idea generation, design of materials, collection and analysis of data and dissemination of findings in the form of a paper and poster. In May of 2014, psychology students presented their posters in the lobby of the Liberal Arts and Sciences building (LAS), giving students, faculty and staff the opportunity to view their findings and ask questions. This was the first time the research posters were presented by students in a public forum.

Our first poster presentation was a success, and we look forward to continuing this practice with every semester's Advanced Research Methods cohort, Dr. Naumann said. These research projects and presentations expose students to the real deal of being a psychological researcher. The poster presentations are another tool to prepare psychology students for graduate school. Dr. Naumann asserts that the Advanced Research Methods class is an obvious necessity for any student who wants to apply to a psychology graduate program.

The goal of projects like GradFit and the psychology poster presentation is to not only prepare students for graduate school, but also to highlight the work being done by science majors at NSC. The poster presentation helps bring visibility to our field, both among majors and non-majors, Dr. Naumann said.
Prior to the psychology poster presentation, the physical and life sciences majors had a presentation of their own, in the fall of 2013. For the first time, physical and life sciences students displayed their undergraduate research, conducted over the summer.

Dr. Andy Kuniyuki , Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, says he is pleased with his faculty. We ve been able to guide undergraduate research in a very big way, in both the social sciences and physical and life sciences, Dr. Kuniyuki said. Our faculty members are dedicated, and I believe they are taking the School of Liberal Arts & Sciences and our students in the right direction.

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