West Virginia University students will be among 48 students from colleges and universities throughout West Virginia participating in the first West Virginia Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol in Charleston Thursday, Feb. 26.

Four studentsall native West Virginiansfrom the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences will present their research: Amber Fancher of Fairmont, psychology; Brendan McGeehan of Chester, physics; Aaron Phillips of Parkersburg, chemistry; and Reyna VanGilder of Fairmont, biochemistry. All four students are seniors in their respective majors.

The four Eberly College students are among 11 WVU students making presentations during Undergraduate Research Day.

Fancher’s research project is entitledPredictors of Pediatric Distress during Invasive Dental Procedures.She has been completing her research under the guidance of Assistant Professor Lindsey L. Cohen. The study’s primary focus examines some of the correlates of children’s distress during a painful dental procedure. The patients were selected from Pediatric and Teenage Dentistry of Morgantown.

“Amber Fancher is an excellent psychology major who maintains a part-time job at a pediatric dentist office. She combined her interests in dentistry and psychology through her capstone research project examining predictors of pediatric dental distress,Dr. Cohen said.In this study, she is attempting to identify those psychosocial variables (e.g. temperament, adjustment) predictive of high child fear, anxiety and distress during their dental procedures. This work will lay the groundwork for intervention efforts to relieve children’s dental related discomfort.”

McGeehan conducted research on his projectMeasuring Magnetic Field Fluctuations Using a Hall Effect Probeunder the supervision of advisors Earl Scime and Costel Biloiu of the Physics Department.

“Brendan McGeehans current research project involves the use of small Hall effect sensors for detecting magnetic fluctuations in our laboratory plasma experiment,Dr. Scime said.He is a 2003 Goldwater scholarship winner and has spent the last two summers involved in plasma physics research at Auburn University and MIT .”

Aaron Phillips, of Parkersburg, will be presenting his research projectExploring the Chemistry of Electrophilic Five coordinate Group 4 Metal Complexes Featuring a Diamidoamine Ligand,which he conducted under the guidance of Professor Jeffrey Petersen.

Phillips describes his research as”directed toward exploring the reactivity and evaluating the thermally stability of a Zirconium based compound that might be useful as a catalyst in the petrochemical industry.”His research adds to WVU s recent research efforts that have focused on the development of alternative synthetic routes for the preparation of electrophilic Group 4 metal complexes featuring various chelating diamido ligands.

Reyna VanGilder has been conducting research alongside Linda Vona Davis, associate professor of surgery and adjunct professor of biology, focusing on the adipocyte hormone leptin and its effects on cancer growth. VanGilder is a recipient of a Hurlbutt Award in undergraduate biology research, which helps fund her research project. The research project,Identification of Leptin Receptor Isoforms in Human Prostate Cancer Cells,was presented to the Association of Academic Surgery annual meeting in Sacramento, Calif., last November.

“I’m very glad I had the opportunity to do scientific research during my undergraduate career,VanGilder said.It allowed me to take the information I learned in a classroom setting and apply it to a hands on situation.”

“WVU’s success in generating biologists and medical students reflects its commitment to undergraduate research,Dr. Vona-Davis added.

Fred L. King, Eberly College associate dean of research and graduate studies, called the Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol”an excellent opportunity for our undergraduates to showcase their research projects to members of the legislature.

The complexity of these projects demonstrates the value of obtaining an undergraduate education at a major research university such as WVU ,”Dr. King said.

Undergraduate Research Day runs from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the upper rotunda of the Capitol between the House and the Senate chambers and will consist of a poster session featuring presentations by undergraduate students and their faculty mentors. The event is designed to familiarize state legislators with some of the research activities involving undergraduate students that occur on campuses across the state and the educational impact of those activities.