Representing Dixie State University and the state of Utah, Senior Noelle West was one of 60 students in the nation selected to present at the Council on Undergraduate Research’s 24th annual Posters on the Hill event.
The competitive poster session, to which more than 360 students applied this year, offers undergraduate students the opportunity to share their research with members of Congress and their staff.
“It allowed me to gain more confidence in my research while presenting on the national level,” said West, who was one of only two students from Utah selected to participate in the event. “I was able to not only represent Dixie State University, but also Utah during the event and show what kinds of research are going on in our community. It brings light to the kinds of academic activities that are going on in Utah and St. George in particular.”
West, who will pursue a doctorate in mathematics from the University of North Texas in the fall, is the first Dixie State student to ever present at this prestigious event. Additionally, she was one of four students selected to participate in the Mathematics and Computer Sciences division.
“I am very proud of Noelle’s achievement on this prestigious honor, as this gives her external confirmation that her research work is advanced and high quality,” Dr. Vinodh Kumar Chellamuthu, an assistant professor of mathematics at Dixie State, said. “Moreover, Noelle’s selection is corroboration to the quality of undergraduate research that gets done at DSU.”
West presented her research on “A Mathematical Model of West Nile Virus: The Effects of Passive Immunity in Birds and Vertical Transmission in Mosquitoes,” which she carried out under Chellamuthu’s mentorship.
“I think that everyone understands the importance of the research we are doing in our area and will be more likely to seek our university out when pursuing similar kinds of questions,” West said. “I am happy that I was able to trailblaze a new path for my fellow and future DSU classmates and I hope that I was able to inspire them to pursue their goals, even if they seem out of reach.”
Traditionally held on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., each spring, the event was transitioned to a virtual format due to social distancing guidelines put in place due to COVID-19. As part of the digital event, students shared digital versions of their posters on Twitter in an effort to carry on the event’s mission to advocate for continued funding for undergraduate research across the nation.
“Academic research at Dixie State gave me the chance to learn more challenging concepts outside the classroom and apply them to real world problems, such as simulating the spread of West Nile Virus,” West said. “Participating in this conference was a way to spread the word of the years of research that Dr. Chellamuthu and I conducted throughout my undergraduate experience.”
Dixie State’s Mathematics Department, which offers baccalaureate degrees in Mathematics, Mathematic Education and Applied & Computational Mathematics, helps students master mathematical competencies for future career and educational endeavors. The department features small class sizes and professors with a wide variety of areas of expertise.
“Noelle’s participation in Posters on the Hill puts DSU alongside some of the largest and most prestigious schools in the country,” Chellamuthu said. “This is a great achievement for the Math Department, which is relatively small compared to several schools, but valuing quality over quantity is helping us gain attention at the national level.”