Some 200 research projects, from studies exploring the impact of social media on modern romance to an investigation into the resilience of invasive grasses during drought, were presented at Chapman University’s annual Student Research Day.

Among the presenters was psychology major Itzel Anaya '14 whose research found that moderate -- but not extreme -- physical exercise helps reduce postpartum depression.

Among the presenters was psychology major Itzel Anaya ’14 whose research found that moderate — but not extreme — physical exercise may help reduce postpartum depression.

The daylong event Wednesday, May 14, is the university’s annual showcase of student research and scholarly projects. The Sandhu Conference Center buzzed with activity as students explained their work to faculty, visitors and fellow students and visited snack tables lining the room. An occasional cheer rose up as students won drawings for coffee and restaurant gift cards, handed out by Christopher Kim, Ph.D., director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and an associate professor in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

But behind the festive atmosphere was a lot of hard work, much of it conducted over the course of the entire academic year.

“It is a long process. You have to keep testing your variables over and over again,” said McKenzie Barnes ’16, who looked at voting trends among independent voters. And she didn’t even find what she thought she might – independent voters don’t appear to be forming a viable third party, as she had thought before conducting her project.

Realizing unexpected results is just one of the many experiences that come with research, said C. Ann Gordon, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the Henley Social Sciences Research Laboratory in Wilkinson College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

The research projects are “an important part of our teaching method. It takes students on the complete journey.”

More information about undergraduate research opportunities can be found at the Office of Undergraduate Research website.