SALT LAKE CITY -- Abby Jayne Ronnow was hailing strangers in the Utah Capitol rotunda Thursday, eager to talk about her shared research on tiny homes and sustainable living.
"I'm getting the concept out there," said Ronnow, a student participating in Weber State University Day at the Capitol, a chance for 52 undergraduate students to present the 23 research projects they completed as teams or individuals.
"I want to promote this kind of building and get people used to the idea, but we are also here to get noticed by lawmakers and send the message, 'We love you. We do good things with our state money. Please support Weber State.' "
Bill Sederburg, Utah commissioner of higher education, took notice and said he was impressed with what he saw.
"This really elevates Weber State," Sederburg said after reviewing student research on topics ranging from incomplete protein digestion to leadership determination in anonymous groups of online gamers.
"I like seeing people educated in specialty areas, and apply research skills," Sederburg said. "And it's good for people here at the Capitol to have any kind of exposure to students, to see them applying what they have learned."
F. Ann Millner, Weber State president since 2002 and a veteran educator, took time to ask all of the students about their theories, research methods and conclusions.
"I'm impressed to see the quality of work our students do as undergraduates," she said.
"This research will be built on by others and will continue to contribute to society. I'm glad our leaders and legislators will have the opportunity to interact with students and see the quality of the work. It will help them be informed."
House Majority Leader state Rep. Brad L. Dee, R-Washington Terrace, said he's a big WSU fan.
"It doesn't surprise me at all that Weber State students would excel in this area," he said.
"I'm a graduate of Weber State, so I'm a little biased. But these students have learned to think and to process information using scientific methodology. Their work is amazing.
"Some of them may never delve into their research areas again, but they have the methodology and they have learned how to think critically, and that will serve them for the rest of their lives."
Sociology major Shaylee Wheeler, 22, of Ogden, researched the similarities between acid attacks against women in Bangladesh and American women's inclination to undergo cosmetic surgery in pursuit of an unattainably high beauty standard.
Ogden resident Karlie Cline and her research partners charted the number of dental hygienists coming out of Utah training programs, concluding that local supply exceeds demand and that graduates of lesser commercial training programs will have a difficult time finding work or continuing their education.
And Christopher Becker, 26, of Ogden, figured out how leaders are chosen by online gamers, determining that the first player to make a winning move becomes the team boss by unspoken consensus.
Becker studies social psychology and plans to attend graduate school before finding work in the online gaming industry.
"I'm not an artist, and programming bores me to death," he said, laughing.
"Understanding what motivates gamers and learning how to make them do what I want them to, that's social psychology, and that's my way in. And I would not have gotten to do a project as awesome as this without the resources of Weber State."