BHSU students travel to Botswana for International Research Conference

Author: BHSU Communications/Thursday, November 5, 2015/Categories: 2015

Black Hills State University professor Dr. John Dixson, associate professor of chemistry, presents research concerning malaria at the Botho University International Research Conference in Botswana, Africa. Dixson, along with other BHSU students, faculty and staff, are at Botho University this week, presenting research and finalizing plans for a future service learning project.

Several Black Hills State University students and faculty are at Botho University in Botswana, Africa this week presenting research.

Three BHSU science students and one recent alum are attending the Botho University International Research Conference (BUIRC), Nov. 5-6. Rachel Crawford, chemistry major from Spearfish Kristin Rath, physical science composite major from Canton Madison Jilek, chemistry major from Spearfish and Brett Montieth, who earned his master of science in integrative genomics, will meet with undergraduate researchers from around the world and share their own research experiences at BHSU. The Botho University Research Conference will focus on the changing role of higher education and include a wide range of topics from education for sustainability, diversifying higher education, and educational leadership.

The group listened as the U.S. Ambassador to Botswana, Earl Miller, addressed the conference attendees. Dr. Katie Wildman, director of the Office of International Relations & Global Engagement at BHSU, said the Ambassador spoke highly about Black Hills State University and the dedication the University has to establishing thoughtful relationships with Botswana and in promoting international education.

Crawford has been working with Dr. John Dixson on research concerning malaria. Attending the Botho University conference and meeting with students, educators and the Botswana community will further enhance her research, she said, offering the opportunity to visit with high-level personnel about the impact of the disease.

"We will be able to talk to the Minister of Health, which is very exciting for us, because it will give us a better understanding of how this devastating disease affects the area," Crawford said. "We have an opportunity to develop a lasting partnership with fellow students and faculty at the university."

In addition to gathering first-hand research for their own projects, BHSU students attending the conference will see the opportunities students at Botho University have for undergraduate research.

"Research is such an important part of a college career. I want to see how involved their students are in the process," said Madison Jilek, chemistry major from Spearfish. "It will be inspiring."

Jilek is excited to share the research she is conducting at the BHSU Underground Campus at the Sanford Lab. She knows it may attract future international exchange students to BHSU. Jilek has been working with the Sanford Lab since she was in high school, and has presented her research on dark matter at a variety of local, regional and national conferences. Jilek also was a Davis Bachall Scholar and spent five weeks interning at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead and in Italy.

Dr. Brianna Mount, assistant professor of physics research at BHSU, and Dr. John Dixson, associate professor of chemistry at BHSU, will present their research at the Botho University conference.  

"Presenting internationally at a research conference is a wonderful opportunity to discuss BHSU's research with people with differing world views," Mount said. "It also affords us the opportunity to hear about their latest research, as well. We're particularly excited about the Botho University conference as it will further strengthen our ties to that university."

Wildman added that students were able to contribute to the presentations by Mount and Dixson.

Representatives from BHSU also are finalizing plans for a service learning trip that will provide experimental education opportunities for BHSU students to address human and community needs, globally. The trip, planned for May 2016, will be part of a new International Service Learning Program at BHSU.

BHSU signed a memorandum of understanding with Botho University in March, developing BHSU's first   international partnership in Africa. Botho University is a private university and the largest university in Botswana, Africa.

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