W.Va. Wesleyan to host research conference

For the 10th year running, undergraduate students will have an opportunity to share what they have learned when West Virginia Wesleyan College hosts the Mid-Atlantic Undergraduate Research Conference March 22.

The conference, which features a variety of research topics in several academic discipline areas, is free and open to public in WVWC’s Martin Religious Center at 11 a.m.

Conference organizer Vicki Phillips, PhD, assistant professor of religion, said the event engages students, especially when outside participants ask questions and find out more about the scholarly research. Wesleyan students will be joined by undergraduates from other Appalachian College Association colleges and universities.

Jess Scott, WVWC coordinator of gender studies and 2004 alumna, will present the conference’s key-note address. Scott holds a master’s degree in music from the University of Illinois and a Master’s degree in gender studies from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. She has traveled extensively outside of the United States as a performer, volunteer, and researcher to South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Austria, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, and South Korea.

Scott has served as a guest lecturer in South Korea and a visiting professor in Kenya. Her research interests include legal recognition of same-sex relationships in South Africa and LGBT visibility in Appalachia. While living in South Africa in 2009 and 2010, she was a researcher for the Gender, Sexuality, Law project at the African Gender Institute of the University of Cape Town.

Since beginning her role as coordinator of gender studies at Wesleyan in 2010, Scott has hosted internationally recognized guest speakers on campus. She has represented the college at multiple conferences and continues to present her research to diverse global audiences.

Most recently, she served as a representative to the 57th Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.

Her book chapter, “‘They respect you more’: Meanings of Marriage for Four South African Lesbian Couples in Cape Town,” was published by the United Nations University Press in a collection entitled “Jacketed Women: Qualitative Research Methodologies on Sexualities and Gender in Africa 2013.” In addition to her role as a faculty member and scholar, she serves on the board of directors of Fairness WV, the statewide advocacy organization for LGBT issues. Through these various roles, Scott seeks to provide experiences for her students in presenting their own research and in developing their role as participants in civic engagement.

The Undergraduate Research Conference participants with the best research submissions will be awarded with cash prizes. Areas of academic research that will be included are science, social science and humanities.

Wesleyan began hosting the Mid-Atlantic Undergraduate Research Conference when former philosophy professor Robert Hull, PhD, wanted to recognize the efforts of students contributing to academic research before the graduate level.