CREATE Conference Highlights Student Research, Art

Displays of research and creativity dominated the Eastern Connecticut State University campus on April 12 for the annual CREATE conference. CREATE stands for “Celebrating Research Excellence and Artistic Talent at Eastern,” and is the university’s premier undergraduate conference.

The day-long showcase featured more than 250 students from all majors who led oral and poster presentations, panel discussions, music and dance performances, art and photography exhibitions, new-media demonstrations and more.

Research questions probed the effects of “fake news” on the economy, the influence of climate change on Northeastern coastlines, the use of virtual reality gaming compared to traditional exercise, and much more. Artistic attractions included a dance “inform-ance” in homage to African migration, operatic duets, a gallery of student artwork and more.

Eastern President Elsa Núñez says CREATE is one of her favorite days of the academic year. “Some of these projects represent three of four years of work,” she said. “Being able to recognize their work is not only a source of pride, but a validation of Eastern’s mission.”

Dance performance "Diasporic Distillations" presented by Jackie Verian, Tayla Bogle, Gabbie Robertson, Ishah Azeez and Erika Moore.
Matt Bessette presents "Decedus," part one of "The Duritia Trilogy," a series of original plays.
Patrice Eugene presents "Literacy Warriors: Identifying Inequalities and Maximizing Literacies Comprehension in a Mixed-Income Community" during the CREATE poster session.
Martha Ennis presents "Mexican Migration in Connecticut: Braceros and Beyond" to a packed meeting room in the Student Center.
Patrons peruse the CREATE art gallery in the Wood Support Center.

 

“CREATE really shows the breadth and depth of what’s happening on this campus in terms of research and artistic endeavors,” added Environmental Earth Science Professor Bryan Oakley, conference co-chair. “This is the culmination of many hours in and outside of the classroom.”

Midway through the day, CREATE participants gathered for an award ceremony in the Student Center. Two outstanding undergraduate researchers and two faculty mentors were awarded. Research awards went to biology major Lauren Atkinson and psychology major Kelly Bielonko.

Atkinson’s research on antimicrobial resistance has landed her several grants and numerous presentation opportunities. “I’m very appreciative to how much Eastern provides and supports our research,” said Atkinson, who praised her mentor Barbara Murdoch and the Biology Department. “This certainly wouldn’t have been possible without you.”

Bielonko’s research has spanned organizational psychology and underserved native communities, landing her grants and summer fellowships. “Eastern is an incredible place,” she said. “The experiences I’ve had, the great group of professors here.”

Angel Bleggi presents "Music Video as Performance Art."
Andrew Hoffman presents "Arduino Motor Manipulation."
Kayla Santos presents "Mood Alterations as a Result of Participation in 'Beat Saber' Virtual Reality Game."
Christiana Montalbano and Christian Fronckowiak present scenes from the operetta "The Mikado."

 

CREATE is as much a celebration of faculty mentorship as it is undergraduate success. Provost William Salka presented two awards to outstanding faculty mentors. “The many nominations we received detail how faculty have gone above and beyond expectations,” he said, “not only helping with research, but teaching students the skills they’ll need for their careers.”

Awards went to Biology Professor Amy Groth, nominated by her student Jonathan Rappi, and History Professor Scott Moore, nominated by his student Cassaundra Epes.

Groth’s mentorship of Rappi refined his honors thesis on cancer-gene interaction and contributed to his acceptance to present at the World Congress on Undergraduate Research (WCUR) this summer in Germany. Moore’s mentorship of Epes was a big reason her research — “The Ideal Woman: Sexology, Sex Reform and Engineering Marriage in Weimar Germany” — was accepted for publication and gained entry to the American Historical Association Annual Meeting this past January.

“There’s nothing like seeing your students grow intellectually, exploring a topic, solving a problem or following a creative muse,” said Núñez of mentoring students.

The CREATE conference reinforces high-impact practices such as mentored research and creative projects; increases the percentage of students who present their work, developing their communication and presentation skills; and contributes to the intellectual richness of the campus community.

Written by Michael Rouleau