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Seniors attend national research conference

Six College of Idaho seniors recently took their research and scholarship to the next level as participants in the 2015 National Conference on Undergraduate Research in Spokane.

Tierra Candelaria, Shelby Elkins, Gary Parkinson, Seth Raver, Derek Tropf and Dannen Wright capped their C of I careers by attending the NCUR, where they presented on everything from eclipsing binary light curves of stars to the correlation of cadmium and bone diseases. The students represented the College on a national level and shared their research with peers from institutions across the U.S.

“It’s a great forum, as a small school, to mingle with these larger schools and show the research that happens on the C of I campus,” said Tropf, a math-physics major.

NCUR, established in 1987, promotes undergraduate research, scholarship and creativity in all fields of study by sponsoring the annual conference. The event consists of talks and poster presentations, much like the C of I Student Research Conference—but on a larger scale of some 3,000 students.

Having the chance to branch out “liberal arts style” and visit presentations outside their areas of knowledge was something the C of I students enjoyed.

“All the talks I attended were non-science related because I wanted to see what other fields were doing,” said Raver, also a math-physics major.

Candelaria, another math-physics major, said she mainly attended sociology, anthropology and psychology talks—including a poster about the effects alcohol has on a person’s desire to fight.

Besides finding out about research in other fields, the C of I students also benefitted from their peers in the sciences.

“We were given an opportunity to push our boundaries on our understanding of the research we did because we were put in front of students and professors who specialize in those fields,” Tropf said.

When it came time for them to present, it wasn’t only the audience that was learning. For Raver, who shared his internship experience studying turbulence with NASA last summer, presenting his research four times this year has allowed him to fine-tune his knowledge.

After sharing their hard work and research conducted at the College, the NCUR participants will continue the C of I tradition of excellence this fall at graduate institutions such as North Carolina State University and Columbia University. As they head off to their next adventures, each senior credits their academic department for influencing them during their time at the C of I. Wright said the beauty of the C of I is getting to know professors and truly benefitting because of that. Candelaria agreed.

“C of I turned out to be a lot more than I expected it to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to go to school, get my degree, do my thing and be done. I didn’t think I’d be doing astronomical research, presenting that research or going to graduate school for it. And I didn’t think I would form the relationships or bonds that I found at the C of I.”

Founded in 1891, The College of Idaho is the state’s oldest private liberal arts college. The C of I has a legacy of academic excellence, a winning athletics tradition and a history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, four NFL players and countless business leaders and innovators. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. For more information, visit