Students' Work on Display at Undergraduate Research Symposium

by Rashad Mulla

Students' Work on Display at Undergraduate Research Symposium

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences hosted 33 exemplary undergraduate student research projects at the 2011 Undergraduate Research Symposium on Tuesday, April 19, in the Johnson Center.

During the event, 23 students set up posters in Dewberry Hall, explaining their research to faculty, staff and fellow students. In the nearby Gold Room, 10 students gave oral research presentations for a similar audience.

Faculty judges looked at the posters, attended the oral lectures, met personally with the presenting students, and scored the projects, selecting winners at the conclusion of the Symposium.

Students engaged in a competitive online application process in order to present at the symposium.

Jamie Cooper, associate dean of undergraduate academic affairs in the college and lead organizer of the symposium, was pleased with both the turnout of the event and the enthusiasm of the students.

“In talking with the students about their research, it was very clear that they were excited to share their projects with the college and university community,” Cooper said. “They all seemed very invested in the research beyond just having to complete it as part of a course or graduation requirement.”

He added, “The event showed that our students have developed a keen understanding of how their research and the research process can contribute to their discipline and the local and global community.”

Five students won awards for their work:

  • Best Oral Presentation: Violet Boggs Snyder v. Phelps: An Analysis
  • Best Overall Research and Scholarship: Sarah Waldron - Non-Suicidal Self-Injurious Behavior: Dispositional Variables and Contingencies of Reinforcement
  • Best Poster Presentation: Bethny Scheuerman - Intimate Partner Homicide and the Legal System: Does Gender Bias Exist in the Courtroom Workgroup?
  • Best Project Involving Language: Andrew Pedry - American International Popular Prestige and the Barbary Wars
  • Best Use of Technology: George Buzzell - Time Course of Spatial-Semantic Conflict during an Auditory Stroop Task

Other faculty also commented on the excellence of the student work. Ted Kinnaman, chair of the Department of Philosophy, served as a judge for the oral presentations and got a close look at multiple student projects.

“I was impressed, this year as last, with the seriousness of the students' interests,” Kinnaman said. “It was a treat for me to get a glimpse of people who might be my future colleagues.” 

Bethany Usher, associate director of the Center for Teaching Excellence and a faculty member in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, judged the poster portion of the program, and likewise, came away with favorable comments.

“The students displayed their results well on the posters, and it was even more impressive to talk with them about their projects,” she said. “More than I have noticed before, the students were enthusiastic about the research process and were able to talk about the larger context of their scholarly projects.”

Jeannie Brown Leonard, director of the Bachelor of Individualized Study program, noted the depth and sophistication of presenters, as well as the diversity of projects.

“Each student with whom I spoke was poised, articulate, and offered sufficient detail to translate the research to a non-expert,” she said. “I appreciated the inclusion of different disciplinary perspectives. Our psychology department does an amazing job supporting talented students with research, but other areas, such as history, global affairs, and individualized study, were also represented.”

Many of the student presenters plan to either keep their current research projects going or dive into new studies. The entire list of presenters is available online. Pictures from the event are on the College’s Facebook page. (See links to right.)

View a video from the symposium.