Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Largest Compilation of Student Research of the Year

This afternoon, Wednesday, May 11, the Ken Olsen Science Center will feature the research of over 60 individual and group projects at the 2011 Undergraduate Research Symposium with topics from the physical, social and biological sciences.

“The undergraduate research symposium is a great way to highlight the variety of student research that takes place on campus,” said Dwight Tshudy, associate professor of chemistry and a program director for the event. “We typically have over 100 student authors—a testament to student interest and involvement in projects in the sciences. Each year the level of student research gets better and better.”

Standing with their research posters from 4 to 5 p.m. for faculty, staff and judges to view and ask questions about, the students are hoping for record attendance by the campus community. The program also includes an awards presentation for the competitive section at 5:30 p.m. “Student researchers love to talk about their work, to show what they have done and what they have learned,” shares Suzanne Phillips, professor of psychology and chief organizer of this year’s symposium. “Many of these projects come out of months of concentrated effort, sometimes lonely and frustrating times, and always more complicated than anticipated.” There is passion threaded through these projects, and this symposium serves as the student stage. “To complete a project, to bring the findings into this public setting, and to have the community respond with interest—all of this is incredibly gratifying for our students. Each year the authors are amazed at the engagement Gordon’s faculty, their friends, and staff members demonstrate as they walk the room and talk with students,” said Phillips.

Though this is the fourth annual Undergraduate Research Symposium at the College in its present format, the tradition of science research symposiums for students spans back decades with interdepartmental presentations by academic interest. Today the symposium brings a wider audience across the science disciplines to showcase student research through an exciting festival feel. “Do yourself a favor and spend an hour at the Undergraduate Research Symposium,” says Provost Mark Sargent. “The highlight is always hearing the students explain their projects, their hypotheses and their methods. I always come away impressed at the blend of creativity and discipline in their research.”

The symposium is organized and hosted by faculty in the sciences. This year’s organizing committee includes Suzanne Phillips; Dwight Tshudy; Mike Veatch, professor of mathematics; and Jessica Ventura, assistant professor of kinesiology.

Photo: Kristen Entwistle ’12 is a chemistry and biology double major. Holding the catalyst of taml for one of her two research projects on display at this year’s symposium, Entwistle took First Place in the competitive category of last year’s symposium.

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