NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Two Stephen F. Austin State University seniors, Abigail Cloudy and Jasmine Thompson, recently presented research during the Texas Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol in Austin.

This event provided a forum for undergraduate students who are engaged in research to showcase their experiences to Texas legislators and the public through high-quality poster displays. The program and event's theme, "Transforming Texas Through Undergraduate Research," highlighted how research conducted by undergraduate students positively impacts Texas and Texans.

Both psychology majors, Cloudy of Sugar Land and Thompson of San Antonio, presented their research on gender identity, which explores body image and the pressure girls between the ages of 6 and 11 often feel to conform to gender norms and body image.

“I was honored to represent SFA at the Texas Capitol. There were schools from all over Texas represented at the conference, so I was excited to show others how supportive SFA is of undergraduate research,” Cloudy said.

Cloudy and Thompson have been working on their research since fall 2017, along with their research mentors Dr. Flora Farago, assistant professor of human development and family studies, and Dr. Sarah Savoy, associate professor of psychology. Farago and Savoy provided resources for the students and exposed them to current development theories, best practices for interviewing children and new statistical tests.

“It's key for students to work closely with faculty so they can learn by example by practicing problem-solving skills and presenting one's ideas in low-stakes settings with support from peers and words of encouragement,” Savoy said. “Communication skills and the ability to formulate a solution to a problem are skills that can be translated from a research context to other personal and professional contexts.”

Approximately 75 research projects reflecting a variety of topics were displayed and presented at the Capitol. While attending the event, SFA students had the opportunity to attend panel discussions and network.

“This experience taught me how important it is to not only share your research findings within your field, but also to share it with the public and researchers in different fields,” Thompson said. “Sharing and discussing your findings with others is an important part in taking the next steps with your research, whether that be conducting future studies on the topic or finding practical ways to apply the information in our communities.”