Written by Ed Osborn
Willimantic, Conn: -- A record 120 students presented at the 11th Annual Research Conference and Exhibition at Eastern Connecticut State University on Apri1 14. More than 40 faculty members served as mentors for the students' projects.
More than 40 oral presentations covered such topics as the geology of Andover Lake; the anatomy and physiology of coral competition; the media's influence on public opinion of war; an analysis of the Harry Potter books; sustainable energy and the workforce; ancient Greek history; the history of Irish-American women in Willimantic; and Alzheimer's Disease. Music students and faculty also presented an experimental music performance in Science 104, and several short plays were presented by theatre students.
Other students presented their research findings using tabletop display posters. Visual art students exhibited two-dimensional and digital art as well as a range of sculpture art.
English majors James Boyle'13 and Anna Sobanski'14 said the conference helped them tremendously. "The audience was small and receptive, filled with many familiar faces, but it still simulated what a large-scale conference might feel like," said Boyle. "It also proved that no small amount of work goes into a truly engaging presentation. I appreciate my mentor June Dunn for recommending me to present and persuading me to submit my abstract. It turned out to be a valuable experience."
Sobanski said, "I really enjoyed presenting at the conference because I want to be a high school English teacher, and my presentation gave me an experience that will help me in my future career goals. The conference gave me the opportunity to present on a subject I love and to practice public speaking."
"First off, I got to share my research, which I have worked so hard on and feel very passionately about, with both peers and professionals," said psychology major Melissa Griffin'12. "Second, I was able to hear about other students' research projects and creative activities. This second point really highlights the point of a liberal arts education: to gain knowledge and skill not only within our area of focus, but in other areas as well. Lastly, this conference was a great way to get some public speaking experience. This was the first time I shared my research in an oral presentation, but it definitely will not be the last time. Speaking at the Arts and Sciences Research Conference & Exhibition was a comfortable, yet realistic way to practice public speaking, and I am very glad I had the opportunity to do so."
"This is no longer just an event," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez, "it is part of our culture." The president declared that undergraduate research is flourishing at Eastern and noted that it is one of the cornerstones of the University's emphasis on experiential learning.
"Your work here today is a symbol of your perseverance and a reminder that you have something important to share with the world," said English Professor Dan Donaghy, keynote speaker for the opening ceremonies.
"I want you to spend a few moments when you have free time today to make up three short lists," said Carmen Cid, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. "First of all, write down all the people who have helped you get here. Secondly, write down a list of the things you have learned or discovered in the process. Finally, think of the moments of joy that you have experienced."