SRU’s research symposium sets record for participants


space research photo

Celia LaPorta and Clare Clark, environmental geosciences majors from Upper Black Eddy and Brookville respectively, will highlight this image of a supermassive black hole as part of their research presentation at SRU’s March 24 Symposium for Student Research, Scholarship and Creative Achievement. (Submitted photo)

March 22, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - A record number of Slippery Rock University students - 168 ¬- have been accepted to present research, art exhibits and live performance during Slippery Rock University's March 24 "Symposium for Student Research, Scholarship and Creative Achievement."

The symposium, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Smith Student Center, will include oral and poster presentations in science, business, education, communication, computer science, the arts, history, exercise science, contemporary culture and more. The symposium is SRU's signature student-faculty scholarly event.

"The Symposium gives many students the opportunity to present and discuss their research and be proud of it," said Heike Hartmann, SRU associate professor of geography, geology and the environment, who studies undergraduate research. "Undergraduate research is considered a High Impact Educational Practice by the Association of American Colleges and Universities."

Hartmann said research pays many learning dividends.

"Interviews with students that participated in research showed gains in the ability to apply knowledge and skills, gains in understanding the scientific process and the process of research and general gains in science knowledge and understanding," she said. "Improved critical thinking and problem-solving skills including analyzing and interpreting results that have been reported."

The 168 student presenters is the largest in SRU history, said Nancy Cruikshank, director of grants, research and sponsored programs and symposium coordinator. She said 149 students presented last year.

Cruikshank said presentations run the gamut, encompassing "just about any endeavor" in academia. She said students submitted 111 abstracts this year, compared to 101 a year ago.

Some of the student presentations tap into current events, such as a critique of the racial disparities in the Oscar Awards, the "Fight Against Fatophobia," an Easter cantata and a fast-food crisis management case study.

Students submitted a 300-word abstract describing their project. Faculty members selected which projects to accept. Students had the choice of either presenting a poster for display, offering a 10-minute oral presentation, conducting a performance or displaying an exhibit.

The Journal of Scholarly Endeavor, which includes all the abstracts, will be published on CD for the third consecutive year.

The symposium enables students to present in their specialty interests. For instance, 16 physics majors will present in astronomy and other areas, including "Universe through X-Ray Eyes" and "Elusive Dark Matter."

"Presenting is important because it gives students experience with cutting-edge technology and what happens in the real world," said Krishna Mukherjee, assistant professor of physics and pre-engineering.

For "Universe Through X-Ray Eyes," Celia LaPorta and Clare Clark, environmental geosciences majors from Upper Black Eddy and Brookville, used x-ray technology for a new perspective on the cosmos. They said X-ray telescopes allow astronomers to observe celestial objects that cannot be observed with conventional telescopes.

They used NASA resources, articles and images from multiple x-ray telescopes to investigate high-energy particles.

Dylan Vamosi, an education major from Sharpsville, will present on Butler Historical, a public history project that recruits people to write stories related to Butler County history, buildings, themes and people.

Vamosi said his most recently history research focuses on the Butler Hot Dog Shop. "This site was immensely popular location for the latter part of the 20th century where many different social classes mixed. It closed in 2004."

Coffee and registration for the symposium is from 8-8:40 a.m. Oral presentations will take place from 8:40 a.m. to noon and 2-4 p.m. in Rooms 320 and 322. Poster presentations and exhibits will be from 12:30-2 p.m. in the Smith Student Center Ballroom and performances from 2-4:30 p.m., in the Smith Center Student Theater.

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