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BW Summer Scholars advocate for undergraduate research on Capitol Hill

Two BW students and a faculty mentor recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to have their voices heard.

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Left to right, Julia Stein '24, Dr. Jeff Dusek and Nicole Schwartz '24 outside the U.S. Capitol.

A hallmark of the extraordinary Baldwin Wallace University experience is the opportunity to engage in undergraduate research from paid Summer Scholars to a host of other year-round student-faculty collaborations.

Some of those projects are supported by private and government grants, and emerging researchers must quickly learn about the advocacy needed to secure that funding.

To that end, a three-person delegation from BW recently highlighted the value of research experiences for lawmakers on Capitol Hill. 

Training to be heard

Dr. Jeff Dusek, associate professor of engineering, Julia Stein '24 (biology and public health) and Nicole Schwartz '24 (psychology and neuroscience) made the trip on behalf of the Council on Undergraduate Research through their "Scholars Transforming Through Research (STR)" advocacy training program.

"We met with staffers from the offices of Representative Max Miller, U.S. Senator J.D. Vance and U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown," Dusek recounts. "In each meeting, the students shared the impact undergraduate research has had on their educational experience at BW and the support they have received from the University, their faculty research mentors and BW's Summer Scholars Program."

They also made a point to highlight BW's newly accredited engineering program and to advocate for maintaining funding to federal research agencies, specifically to BW partners at Ohio Space Grant and the Ohio Aerospace Alliance.

'Exceptional' performance

Dusek said the BW students were "exceptional" in each meeting, "well prepared, articulate and compelling in their advocacy," even though the sessions were combined with a team from The Ohio State University.

"They highlighted the high-quality research at BW, our partnerships with community colleges, local businesses and non-profits, and made specific, actionable asks to our representatives," he shared.

"As a biology and public health major, my field plays a large role in policy, so I appreciated the experience of communicating with lawmakers about the research that we do and the importance of that experience," Stein relayed. "We had a lot of constructive conversations with the staff that we met with, and they seemed to appreciate having our point of view as students." 

Rising to the occasion

Schwartz confesses she had to fight off some initial nerves.

"At first, I was very intimidated, but once the meetings began, I became extremely confident in my ability to convey my research experience at BW, as well as how our research benefits the community. I felt honored for the opportunity to use my voice to advocate for thousands of undergraduate researchers across Ohio, especially for my peers and mentors at BW."

"I couldn't be prouder of the team, and their performance was a testament to BW, the academic programs, and the Summer Scholars program," Dusek concludes.

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