Conference spotlights local students research

UNG held the Annual Research Conference on March 24 at its Dahlonega Campus. The conference had more than 100 student submissions. Jessica Cisneros Lerma won the Best Poster Presentation award. Contributed photo

DAHLONEGA, GA (04/19/2023)– The University of North Georgia (UNG) hosted the 28th Annual Research Conference (ARC) at the Dahlonega Campus in the Convocation Center on March 24.

UNG undergraduate and graduate students from all disciplines and campuses shared their research and projects in poster sessions, performance pieces and panel presentations.

“The Annual Research Conference is a great opportunity to see all the exciting and creative work UNG students have been up to,” Dr. Diogo Pinheiro, Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (CURCA) assistant director, said. “This year we are particularly excited because it was our largest ARC since the start of the pandemic with over 100 student submissions.”

Selection to present included the submission of a 250-word abstract. 105 submissions were accepted and presented at the conference, with 58 posters and 54 oral presentations.

Participants included:

  • Marshall VandenOever from Monroe.
  • Nicole Van Der Meer from Loganville.
  • Rebecca Jensen from Loganville.

Awards were given for Best Presentation based on these abstracts as well as essays and posters.

This year’s research proved to be exciting like 2022 Best Poster winner Ranah Ocampo’s research on “Introducing Immunofluorescence Microscopy of Tetrahymena Cells in Cell Biology Lab.” Ocampo, who is pursuing a degree in biology, also won a CURCA mini-grant with her mentors Dr. Jo Qian and Dr. Adam Davis last year.

“My mentors have provided immense support and guidance as I’ve worked on these projects and have given long-lasting feedback that I can employ for the rest of my career,” the senior from Snellville, Georgia, said. “I’ve gained great experience that will help me in the next stage of life and education. Those awards have motivated me to keep working more diligently every day and keep sight of my aspirations.”

After having such a great experience herself, Ocampo believes her peers should participate in the conference to build schema, diversity and awareness of various topics.

“I feel as though the best way to learn is to do something yourself, and I gained so much more confidence through this research,” Ocampo said.

This year’s ARC winners are:

Best Oral Presentation: ” Testing how Framing of Sustainability Affects Student Interest for a Sustainability Fee,” Anna Marie Moller. Faculty mentors: Dr. Bryan Dawson, Hugh Scott and Dr. Diogo Pinheiro

Best Oral Presentation: ” A Reinvestigation of PepsiCo’s Revenue Growth after the Russia-Ukraine War,” Jenna Gardner. Faculty mentor: Dr. Ruohan Wu

Best Poster Presentation: ” Promoting the Development of Critical Thinking in Pre-Nursing Students through Concept Mapping: A Review,” Jessica Cisneros Lerma. Faculty mentor: Dr. Cathy Whiting

Honorable Mention-Best Poster Presentation: ” Effects of partial timber harvests on vertebrate community composition,” Atticus Tomcho and McKenna Johnson. Faculty mentors: Dr. Erin Barding and Dr. Jessy Patterson

To see the students’ research, visit the Annual Research Conference page. Students interested in learning more about undergraduate research opportunities may visit UNG’s CURCA website or email

Positioned in the fastest-growing region of the state, the University of North Georgia comprises five campuses united by a single mission focused on academic excellence and academic and co-curricular programs that develop students into leaders for a diverse and global society. The University of North Georgia is a University System of Georgia leadership institution and is The Military College of Georgia. With more than 18,000 students, the University of North Georgia is one of the state’s largest public universities. The university offers more than 100 programs of study ranging from certificate and associate degrees to doctoral programs.

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