Northeastern State University Student-Faculty Team Selected For National Research Program

KTUL - January 2, 2023 8:11 am

Northeastern State University freshwater sciences majors Keegan (middle) and Viktoria (left) Stallings and professor Dr. Elizabeth Waring (right) were chosen to participate in the 2022-23 Council on Undergraduate Research’s Scholars Transforming Through Research program. (Courtesy NSU)

Northeastern State University freshwater science majors Keegan and Viktoria Stallings along with professor Dr. Elizabeth Waring were chosen to participate in the 2022-23 Council on Undergraduate Research Scholars Transforming through Research program.

This professional development program is six months long and offers undergraduate students and faculty the opportunity to develop communication and advocacy skills to better leverage the impact of their undergraduate research by conveying their stories to stakeholder groups such as funding agencies, association partners, elected officials, future employers, and more.

Teams from 75 different nationwide institutions were selected this year to participate in the program which runs from October through April.

The NSU student-faculty team was just one of three Oklahoma teams selected.

“This program will help students improve their communication skills for the general public as well as the policymakers,” Waring said. “Additionally, programs such as STR help increase the students’ sense of belonging in the sciences. They are being taken seriously by peers and stakeholders as knowledgeable contacts in their respective fields.”

The Stallings are a Sallisaw husband and wife team that are juniors in the freshwater science program at NSU.

The two are on track to be among the first graduates from the recently added program.

They have each been working with Waring and the Grand River Dam Authority Scenic Rivers Lab at NSU on examining the seasonal changes in macroinvertebrate communities in Town Branch Creek.

Viktoria says stream macroinvertebrates such as snails, bugs, and crayfish are the focus of their research.

She also says these so-called “water bugs” are known stream indicators that can be used in different ways to identify problems with the quality of the stream.

“We hope that this research can be used in future tests of ecological disturbances,” Viktoria said. “Also, we hope that other students and community members can use the information as well, whether it be in future research projects or knowing which dragonflies to look for in the spring. The applicability of environmental knowledge is diverse, and we hope that this research informs policymaking that protects the integrity of our waterways.”

Viktoria uses the word fantastic to describe hearing the news that they were selected for the STR program.

The team has already begun training as part of the STR program which includes attending training events both in-person and online.

She said some of the skills they have learned thus far include understanding how scientific research can impact policy-making and writing for different audiences to better communicate research effectively.

Viktoria says the sessions were better than anticipated and that they are excited to see what new skills they will gain in future sessions.

The duo has their sights set on graduate school where they can become scientists who do sustainability and conservation work.

“We really like animals and water, and desire to learn more about our environment and how to better protect it,” Viktoria said. “NSU has been awesome and more than we both could have ever imagined at helping us in this journey.”


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