E-Net News

Faculty and students kick off SURF 2009

Work by Elon University students and professors took center stage Tuesday morning in the opening hours of SURF 2009. More than 30 faculty members presented research in the second annual "Celebration of Faculty Scholarship," which segued into a special College Coffee in the Koury Business Center for dozens of students to share their research findings in a poster session that packed the building's concourse.

The annual Student Undergraduate Research Forum on April 28, 2009, spotlighted work from more than 100 students who made presentations about their scholarship in academic disciplines as diverse as biology, political science, art, economics and religious studies.

Each April, Elon suspends classes for a day to highlight the undergraduate research efforts of its students. SURF started in 1993, and for the first time, students used the concourse inside the Ernest A. Koury, Sr. Business Center to publicize their posters.

The day is part of CELEBRATE! 2009, a weeklong series of activities to recognize student achievement in academics and the arts.

During the poster session, students shared worked that looked at media literacy in elementary school; the impact of housing on physical activity among college students; modern masculinity in Japan; and the effects of distraction on stride rate while running, among other topics.

Examples of faculty scholarship Tuesday morning include the following:

“The Dissonance Between Culture and Intellectual Property in China”
Jessica Gisclair, associate professor of communications

Gisclair discussed intellectual property piracy and copyright both domestically and in China in “The Dissonance between Culture and Intellectual Property in China.” Her research has also published in the Southeast Review of Asian Studies.

The Chinese are No. 1 in the world in illegal downloads and, until very recently, they haven’t acknowledged an ethical dilemma. Gisclair said they adhere to a Confucian philosophy, which stipulates that whatever people should be willing to share whatever they create.

In fact, she said, it’s considered shameful to charge for it.

Joel Hollingsworth, a lecturer in computing sciences

Gisclair said there has been more efficiency in enforcing copyright laws in China recently, as the country’s rule of law undergoes significant changes in the realm intellectual property rights. Still, she said, she doesn’t see a resolution soon, particularly if Western countries continue to try to enforce their rule of law in China.

“A Comparison of Student Use and Understanding of Text Messaging Shorthand at Two Universities”
Lynn Heinrichs, associate professor of computing sciences and business administration

LOL… MYOB… POS? With so many different acronyms flying through the air in the roughly 75 billion text messages that cell phone users send each month nationwide, how do students know what they all mean? Heinrichs and a colleague at Nichols State University in Louisiana are exploring that question.

Their findings, she said, show several trends. While students rarely hesitate to use shorthand in messages to friends or family, they do not believe acronyms are appropriate in business environments when communicating with supervisors, vendors or clients.

And in a study conducted on both campuses – one a private institution in the mid-Atlantic, the other a public university in the Deep South – Heinrichs and her colleague, Betty Kleen, found that the students at the private institution tended to have a greater depth of knowledge into the acronyms most frequently used in text messages.

Further research is needed to understand why, she said.

“Screenwriting and Short Story ‘Noise Gate’”
Ken Calhoun, assistant professor of communications

Calhoun presented the challenges of turning his 12-page short story, “Noise Gate,” into an adapted 24-page screenplay titled “Dizzy” that he wrote in 2008. “Dizzy” won the Broadcast Education Association Award for Excellence for a screenplay at this year’s conference in Las Vegas.

Calhoun said the transformation from story to script required him to think more visually and more straightforward. The short story, he said, could contain more suspense and turns, but the script needed to have clear motivations and direction.

Calhoun said he learned several lessons during the adaptation process, including:
• Be ruthless and cut, cut, cut
• Opt for visual storytelling
• Keep motivations simple and clean
• Find answers within the story
• Trust ideas that have been in your head for a while
• Keep revising until you can’t

“A Software Framework for Exploring Mobile Computing Using Embodied Mobile Agents”
Joel Hollingsworth, lecturer in computing sciences

Hollingsworth’s presentation offered a glimpse of what may be in store for cell phone users – especially those with “smart” phones like the iPhone or who use Google’s Android platform.

New interfaces promise the change the way people work on mobile devices, Hollingsworth said. Rather than use traditional keyboards or mice, he said, cell phone owners may rely on 3-D interfaces that have their own “intelligence.” And gone are the days of dumping large amounts of data on a single device; instead, programs themselves will “move” from a phone to another computing unit, locate the requested information, than return to the phone with the results.

How will these devices be used? Simulations. Data collection. Location and context awareness.

“Managing Multiples”
Duke Hutchings, assistant professor of computing sciences

Hutchings look at two “multiple” issues in computing sciences – the emergence of multiple screen displays attached to the same computer, and the multiple passwords people use for accounts that vary from email programs to, in his own presentation, the use of passwords from ordering food from Pizza Hut.

Research by Hutchings and Elon senior Jonathan Citty has shown that people are about twice as likely to remember visual images that could be used as a password feature instead of a string of letters, numbers or symbols. Building such images into devices is one way to help users easily remember passwords yet make it too difficult for another person to randomly guess codes.

Hutchings is also looking at multiple monitors being used to increase a person’s productivity on the computer. But multiple screens means users process information in different ways, and research into how dialog boxes are accessed – where they appear, and how the increase efficiency – is one area he is continuing to research.


Eric Townsend,
8/26/2009 3:43 PM