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Summer research institutes delve into literature, film and big data

Published on June 04, 2024

Summer research institutes delve into literature, film and big data

Eastern Connecticut State University recently offered three one-week intensive courses to help students spark their academic and professional interests in the fields of English, film/theatre and business/economics. Eastern’s Summer Research and Creative Activity Institutes took place from May 20-24.

Professor Allison Speicher and students gather in the J. Eugene Smith Library as part of Speicher's summer research institute.

Professor Allison Speicher (second from left) teaches her summer research institute, "Finding Your Scholarly Voice."

Professor Allison Speicher and her students

English Professor Allison Speicher led an institute titled “Finding Your Scholarly Voice.” This course enabled students to choose a literary text to study, analyze and criticize. “Throughout the week, we focused on the steps it takes to move from an interest in a work of literature to a full-fledged scholarly argument," said Speicher.

"Students explored a wide range of sources, from Amazon reviews to authors’ letters, newspaper articles and literary criticism, and devised research plans for writing scholarly articles. Students far exceeded my expectations, eloquently articulating their ideas and, most importantly, passionately explaining why their research matters,” she added.

The course was intended to prepare students for their senior capstone projects and/or future classes. Part of the process involved learning to access and use resources within the (J. Eugene Smith Library) and beyond.

“Being able to participate in this while learning to conduct research with no negative repercussions was a great privilege,” said Julianna Concepción, one of the 10 students who participated this year.

Students edit a film for the summer research institute, "Filmmaking and Projection Media."

Students film a project for "Filmmaking and Projection Media."

Professors Kristen Morgan (left) and Brian Day (right) and their students

Brian Day and Kristen Morgan, professors in the Department of Communication, Film and Theatre, led a course called “Filmmaking and Projection Media,” designed to help students learn to craft films for live stage performance. This skill set meets a market need in the film industry, which is intersecting with live theatre at an increasing rate.

The students were assigned to create projections and short films that aligned with poems related to an upcoming film/theatre production this fall. 

“We don't often have time to record our own, original footage for projections in our productions because it’s so resource-consuming,” said Morgan. “(At the institute) we enjoyed the luxury of uninterrupted time for the students to work on their films and projections.

"The students worked so hard to come up with creative responses to the poems that they were assigned and we will be using many of their ideas in the first production in the fall," added Morgan.

Professors Fatma Pakdil (left) and Steve Muchiri lead a summer research institute titled "Engaged Scholarship in Undergraduate Research: A Big Data Analytics Experience in Healthcare."

Students learn about data management in healthcare.

Professors Fatma Pakdil (left) and Steve Muchiri (second from right) and their students

Fatma Pakdil, professor of business administration, and Steve Muchiri, associate professor of economics and finance, co-led an institute called “Engaged Scholarship in Undergraduate Research: A Big Data Analytics Experience in Healthcare.”

The point of this institute was to use big data to understand how to make better-informed decisions in the healthcare industry. This process included not only making students aware of management-related issues in healthcare; students also became familiar with the nuances of healthcare management systems.

Student Jocelyn Simpri learned that “when it comes to healthcare, analyzing data is important, but it doesn't always tell the whole story.” Students’ eyes were also opened to the “amount of care that goes into handling massive data sets,” said Simpri. The goal in taking this care is to “ensure that patient data is safe and secure.”

"The students accomplished so much in one week!" said Dean of Arts and Science Emily Todd. "I was impressed by the quality of their final presentations, and I was so pleased to see evidence of the supportive community the students and faculty created together.  The faculty mentors clearly did such a good job of ensuring that the Summer Research and Creative Activity Institutes were purposeful and fun experiences for everyone involved."

Ryan Colwell, assistant dean of the School of Education and Professional Studies, echoed: “It was inspiring to witness students in the Summer Research Institutes posing critical questions and finding their scholarly and creative voices throughout the week, with the support of their peers and their faculty mentors.”

Written by Noel Teter