KOKOMO, Ind. — Indiana University Kokomo senior Kay Jones is an expert in the field of human trafficking.
This week, she was among the students sharing their expertise at the IU Kokomo Student Research Symposium.
Faculty nominates students to participate, based on the quality of their research. Thirty-six students presented papers, while 50 showcased their research with posters displayed in Alumni Hall.
Chancellor Michael Harris said the symposium is an opportunity for the campus and community to see the excellent teaching, learning and research taking place at IU Kokomo.
"We have outstanding faculty who work hard to give students real-world research opportunities," he said. "We are focused on academic excellence and student success at IU Kokomo. This symposium allows our students to demonstrate and share their success."
Faculty co-sponsor Joe Keener said participating in the symposium is great professional training for students, whether they plan to begin careers immediately after graduation or go on to graduate school.
"Many of them will have to do presentations in their careers. This gives them that experience in front of a friendly crowd," he said. "It is also an opportunity to show the quality of research taking place at IU Kokomo. We have excellent students doing outstanding work."
Jones, a sociology major, displayed a poster and presented her paper about human trafficking. She began the research with Ligaya McGovern, Ph.D., then served an internship with Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller. The attorney general sponsored a task force to prevent human trafficking during Super Bowl XVI in Indianapolis.
Jones specifically studied signs law enforcement officials and nurses can detect if someone is a human trafficking victim. She presented her research to both groups in meetings preparing for the game.
"They are usually the first people victims will reach, and it is important for them to know these signs, so they can investigate and help," she said.
Jama Hoover learned the power of a Tootsie Roll in her research about positive reinforcement in a high school classroom.
Hoover, an education major, noticed while student teaching chemistry that many of her students were not paying attention or participating in class. She started rewarding students who asked or answered questions with Tootsie Rolls.
"Once they figured out they would get candy, they were racing to get their hands up and answer questions," she said. "I didn't give rewards after the first few, but by then they were used to participating, and they kept talking."
Hoover said as participation increased, so did her students' grades.
"It made class more fun for all of us," she said.
Candy Thompson, director of continuing education, said planners review submissions to reward the most outstanding work. Award winners were Sarina Gaunt, Laurie Wardrop and Matthew Harvey for outstanding posters and Melinda Stanley, Rachel Marschand and Brian Arwood for outstanding presentation. Award winners received $200.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.