Eastern Michigan University students set to present in Washington D.C.

by Debra Johnson, Published October 25, 2010

YPSILANTI - Two Eastern Michigan University students will travel to Washington D.C. Oct. 27 to demonstrate the importance of undergraduate research to a conference of the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) and the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research (NCUR).

The two organizations, NCUR and CUR, will become one Oct. 27 with the mission of promoting high quality undergraduate research. The celebration will be at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

Cindy Bedrosian, a senior from Plymouth, and Ian Pendleton, a junior from Ypsilanti, will represent Eastern Michigan University.

"Cindy was selected from a group of over 50 student nominees from across the country to speak about the importance of research opportunities at the undergraduate level. We are so pleased to have her representing EMU. She is a shining example, not only outstanding undergraduate research, but also of the added educational benefits of student/mentor relationships." said Undergraduate Symposium event chair Dennis M. Beagen

"Eastern Michigan University's commitment to undergraduate research is evidenced each year with our Undergraduate Research Symposium. Having two students, Cindy Bedrosian and Ian Pendleton, presenting at the October 27 celebration in Washington D.C. is affirming of EMU's commitment to and excellence in undergraduate research," said Provost Jack Kay.

Bedrosian, an international affairs major, will give a three-minute speech about the significance of undergraduate research and its impact on her education.  Pendleton will display a poster presentation highlighting his research as a Symposium Undergraduate Research Fellow (SURF).  His research explores the scope and limitations of the aza-Cope-Mannich reaction as a method for generating small molecules to be used as asymmetric organocatalysts.

 "It's exciting to be recognized at the national level," Bedrosian said. "It's important that the EMU Undergraduate Symposium be recognized."

One of the longest running events of its kind in the nation, EMU's Undergraduate Symposium began in 1981 with 17 students and 19 faculty. Last year, more than 300 students presented in a professional conference format under the direction of 158 faculty sponsors.

Bedrosian has been involved with the Undergraduate Symposium since she was a freshman. Prior to the start of her sophomore year she traveled to El Salvador as part of the EMU study abroad program on Poverty, Human Rights and Health. She returned to the country as a sophomore to volunteer as an accredited International Election Observer with the Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad, a United States-El Salvador Solidarity NGO.

Her experiences in El Salvador and research on Latin American Politics led to a paper presentation on Social Movements and Democratization in Latin America at the Mid Atlantic Council for Latin America Studies 2010 Annual Conference at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, and ultimately to a presentation at the Undergraduate Symposium.

Bedrosian credits her relationships with EMU faculty as a key reason for her success in undergraduate research.

"Professors Barry Pyle, Richard Stahler-Sholk and Judith Kullberg (political science) have played an integral part in my academic success," said Bedrosian.
Another key in Bedrosian's development was the EMU Symposium Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program (SURF). SURF matches students with Faculty Mentors to conduct research for presentation at the Undergraduate Symposium, for which they receive a scholarship.

"The SURF program has granted me numerous opportunities to conduct field research and actually experience my field of study" Bedrosian said. "My research has made my degree relevant to the real world, which is a valuable asset in our globalized society" said Bedrosian, who will pursue a career in Public Interest Immigration Law.

Debra Johnson

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