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CREATE returns with lively display of student research and creativity

Published on May 03, 2023

CREATE returns with lively display of student research and creativity

Undergraduate research and creativity were celebrated at the 2023 CREATE conference at Eastern Connecticut State University on April 21, where students presented posters, gave talks, exhibited artwork and videos, performed music and acted in the University’s largest academic showcase of the year.

Held in-person and on campus for the first time in four years, the conference featured more than 200 submissions of student work from the current academic year.

The annual event is a “testament to the strengths in undergraduate research and creative work at Eastern,” said deans Niti Pandey of Education and Professional Studies and Emily Todd of Arts and Sciences.

Undergraduate research is a cornerstone of the liberal arts, helping students develop skills in critical thinking, problem solving and communication, said William Salka, provost and vice president for academic affairs. It is also at the heart of the work of Eastern’s teacher-scholars, who share their scholarly and creative talents with students, he noted.

The conference featured panels moderated by faculty, readings by Eastern poets and fiction writers, a cannabis business session, and a showcase of Eastern students who recently won awards at the Kennedy Center College Theatre Festival.

Oral presentations covered topics such as sustainability, data science, disability studies, social media and business. Poster topics ranged from political extremism and the effects of social media to banned books, the genetics of cannabis and artificial intelligence.

Professor Steve Muchiri (middle) received the Mentor Award. Standing beside him are student Jordyn Szretter and Provost William Salka.

Senior Megan Piechowicz received the President's Award. Beside her is Professor Vijay Veerappan, her research mentor.

Professor Allison Speicher received the Mentor Award. Beside her are senior English major Marcus Grant and Provost William Salka.

Sophomore Jordyn Szretter received the President's Award. Beside her is Professor Steve Muchiri, her research mentor.

To the many faculty who serve as research mentors, the deans added, “CREATE (is a testament) to the educational opportunities our talented faculty make available to our students through their careful mentoring and commitment to our mission to provide a 'transformative liberal arts learning experience.’”

Two students were selected for the annual President’s Awards: Megan Piechowicz, a senior majoring in biology who conducted research with faculty mentor Vijay Veerappan, professor of biology, and Jordyn Szretter, a sophomore economics and data science major. The awards for research and creative activity, established in 2016 by President Ela Núñez, are for original scholarly work carried out in the student’s field working with a faculty mentor.

Two faculty members were also recognized with Mentor Awards: Steve Muchiri, associate professor of economics and finance, and Allison Speicher, associate professor of English. Muchiri was nominated by Szretter for mentoring her on a study of variables that influence the likelihood of hospital readmission for pneumonia patients. Speicher mentored senior Marcus Grant, an English major, on a project to explore cultural questions surrounding motherhood, family, work and home.

Written by Cindy Weiss