this week than last about ribbon worms and heat-shock proteins, he's got three Weber State University students to thank.
Chelsie Thomas and Rainee Stevens, of Ogden, and Raquelle Castonguay, of North Salt Lake, were among 67 WSU students who set up information posters about their 31 senior projects Thursday in the rotunda of the Utah Capitol.
The goal was to share their work with passersby, and especially with state legislators, to show the lawmakers the value of investing money in education.
"I was really impressed," said Bell, an Ogden High School graduate. "Utah State was here the other day, and the level of scientific research is off the charts, and Weber State is at the same level. This isn't just repeating canned material for a test. This is unique, original work."
Jamie Jensen, of Clinton, studied the helpfulness of blogs versus Facebook groups among senior students in her major. She worked with classmates Whitnee Evans, of Ogden, and Heather Mckay, of Clearfield.
"In our group, we found you could post a question and get a fast answer, or students could post links to articles that everyone needed to read, and that was helpful," Jensen said. "Blogs were more in-depth and reflective, which was helpful on another level."
Other topics included how the probiotics in commercial yogurt affect oral streptococcus mutans, the process of designing costumes for a musical parody set in the 1980s, the effects of androgen deprivation therapy on glucose metabolism in prostate cancer patients, and the factors affecting trout presence in Wasatch Front creeks.
WSU psychology major Melissa McAughty, West Jordan, and three of her peers spoke about 100 Strong, a mentoring program at Ogden's George Washington High School, an alternative school with low graduation rates.
"We would meet weekly, and go over credits and preparation for graduation, and we would help students set goals," McAughty said. Between 2009 and 2010, when the program started, the number of students graduating increased from 54 to 68. In 2011, 97 graduated, she said.
Andrea Rounkles, of Ogden, talked to all who came close about her experiences in Switzerland, working for the United Nations, and her follow-up job with Girl Child International. Rounkles helped assemble educational kits for 900 Girl Child clubs. Leaders, many of them youths, will get the kits and share information on self-esteem, hygiene, turning hobbies into incomes, and other life-improvement topics of high interest to impoverished populations in which girls go uneducated and marry very young. Rounkles worked on kits intended for Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone.
"It's about building a sustainable life," Rounkles said. "I think when the girls get the information, it will make a big difference in their lives and futures."
Rounkles said that before her overseas program she had barely left Utah.
"More students should have this opportunity," she said. "I learned so much more about the world out there. You don't even realize how cultures differ until you get out there. The world is bigger than I really realized."
Rounkles said that while working with the United Nations, she learned to interact well with people from many different cultures. She said that prepared her, somewhat, for meetings with Utah senators and representatives.
"I'm still nervous," she said, eyeing the doors to the legislative chambers.
WSU President F. Ann Millner said the students had nothing to worry about.
"They're doing phenomenal work," she said. "There are amazing projects this year, and we've seen more students publishing in journals and attending international conferences."
Bell left impressed.
"I think senators and representatives will be impressed with the level of Weber State students' initiative," he said. "And all the good work you see here in science and technology, this is a representation of Utah's economic future."