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Honors Students Present Research at Kentucky Honors Roundtable


by Sarah Geegan

studentsStudents in the University of Kentucky Honors Program had the opportunity to demonstrate their dexterity last month at the bi-annual Kentucky Honors Roundtable (KHR), hosted at UK.

A conference held each spring, KHR rotates among public universities in the Commonwealth and allows undergraduate students to present their research projects, serve on academic panels and interact with academically excelling students from other Kentucky institutions. This year the conference hosted approximately 60 presentations, spanning over a range of diverse topics.

The conference will serve as wonderful practice for UK honors students as many of them prepare for more large-scale conferences, such as National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), which UK will also host in April 2014.

"The Kentucky Honors Roundtable serves to give honors students a kinder, gentler avenue to hone their skills and present their work, many for the first time," Brad Hubbard said. "The point is to unite like-minded honors students, who constitute a supportive, active audience to ask critically-based questions and who support the intellectual undertakings of others."

UK anthropology junior Jacob Welch conducted an oral presentation during the second session of the round table, on a paper titled,  "Using Ceramic Distributions to Infer Neighborhoods at Chunchucmil." Welch's research involved the study of pottery fragment distributions at the ancient Maya site of Chunchcmil, in the northwestern part of Yucatan, Mexico.

By analyzing the types, forms and extravagance of these ceramics, the study aimed to identify ancient neighborhoods within the site of Chunchucmil that were once meaningfully constituted.

"I will be presenting this same paper at NCUR," Welch said. "This roundtable served a great practice for this future event and allowed me to see the parts of my presentation that perhaps required more elaboration. It was very fun, and it was interesting to see what my peers around that state were researching and to discuss their topics informally."

UK psychology junior Elina Matveeva said the conference will help her tremendously as she pursues graduate school opportunities. She conducted an Honors independent research project with psychology professor Richard Smith.

"I gained confidence in my competence as a researcher and feedback on my ideas," Matveeva said. "I decided the Honors Round Table was a non-intimidating chance to share my work with like-minded individuals, and I loved how the students actually wanted to discuss my research with me! That's the benefit of being around peers who care as much as you do about research and academics --you feel like your work is appreciated."

KHR began in the 1980s as a meeting for honors directors only to discuss issues they faced. In the 1990s the concept morphed to encompass more student participation, and today the conference consists of one full day of presentations and one night of programming to encourage interaction among scholars. On Friday night, students gathered for a trivia night in the Cat's Den.

Matveeva said she looks forward to future opportunities to present her research.

"I loved it," Matveeva said. "I made new friends from other Honors Programs around Kentucky. I fully plan on doing it again next year!"