BETHANY, W.Va. – A Bethany College senior has been selected to participate in the fifth annual West Virginia Undergraduate Research Day, set for Jan. 31 at the State Capitol Building in Charleston.

Kelly Reneau, a senior Biology major from Grafton, W.Va., joined 99 other students from 13 of the state’s colleges and universities in making presentations of original research projects in the Capitol Rotunda. Under the guidance of faculty members from their respective institutions, Reneau and her fellow students presented their results in poster format and discussed their findings with state legislators. The posters were designed for general audiences. 

The purpose of the event was to give legislators a first-hand look at some of the research projects being developed by undergraduate students at campuses across the state along with the positive educational impact of those studies for West Virginia.

“I am honored to be one of the students selected to present at the Capitol,” Reneau said. “As a West Virginia native, it’s nice to have the opportunity to represent my hometown, my state and my school.” 

Reneau’s project was entitled “REM Sleep and Short-Term Spatial Memory Function in Rats.” Other projects were presented in the areas of engineering, aerospace engineering, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, chemistry, environmental studies, psychology, geology, biology, biological science, biochemistry, sociology, foreign languages, physics, mathematics, computer science and information technology.

The hypothesis of Reneau’s research was that REM sleep deprivation would interfere with short-term memory performance. The foundation for her hypothesis was that REM cycles have been found necessary for restoration and maintenance of normal brain functions. These functions include a process known as consolidation, which stabilizes memory into an enduring form. If the REM cycle is prevented from occurring, the consolidation process will be interrupted and memory performance will be affected. 

Reneau modified an experimental design used for testing long-term memory to accommodate her project exploring the relationship between REM sleep deprivation and short-term memory. Significant data was developed through her project and additional studies are now in progress based on the hypothesis.

In addition to Bethany College, other institutions represented at Undergraduate Research Day were Alderson-Broaddus College, Concord University, Fairmont State University, Glenville State College, Ohio Valley University, the University of Charleston, West Liberty State College, West Virginia University, West Virginia Wesleyan College, Wheeling Jesuit University and WVU Institute of Technology.