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With the help of a $3,000 grant, 22-year-old Kayla Anthony will spend the next eight months pursuing one question: Do eyewitnesses to crimes act differently when they correctly identify a guilty criminal versus when they are mistaken in their identification?
The Hilton Head Island resident is the first psychology student from the University of South Carolina Beaufort to receive a research grant, professor Jennifer Beaudry said. Anthony will begin participating in the University of South Carolina Magellan Scholar grant program May 1.
"The Innocence Project struck a chord with me," Anthony said,referring to a national organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing. "We need to look for ways to improve the justice system and stop people from being wrongly accused."
Anthony is one of several local students who have taken advantage of expanding research opportunities at USCB, Beaudry said.
More than 45 students and faculty will show off the school's budding research initiatives at its first Student/Faculty Research Day, scheduled from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday at the USCB campus in Bluffton.
Professor William Boggan, the event coordinator, said it's time USCB provided a way for the community to review students' work the way larger universities across the state already do.
"Now that USCB is growing and we have a larger number of students doing research, we should have our own day," he said.
Anthony will be a student judge during Research Day, which she and others hope will become an annual event.
"USCB is an up-and-coming university," she said. "I think it's a really great way for the university to get recognized. ... We want the community to actively be a part in what the students are doing."
Students from several majors -- such as anthropology, nursing, biology, English and psychology -- will present their work. Presentations will be judged and cash prizes awarded based on scholarship, clarity and quality of delivery and handling questions.
Carrie Randall, director of the Charleston Alcohol Research Center in the Center for Drug and Alcohol Programs at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, will speak at the event. Randall is nationally known for her work on social phobia and alcoholism, Boggan said.
USCB student Fiorela Ruiz, 23, of Bluffton said she looks forward to hearing Randall speak after she presents her own research, a study of how smoking patterns among females relate to their ovarian cycle.
Because students know their research will be on public display, they will put more effort into their projects, Ruiz said.
"(Research Day) will help a lot of students," she said. "It will start driving more research to the school, which I think is a really good thing."