SRU students presenting scholarly work virtually at annual symposium, April 13


Student at 2019 Symposium

Before the pandemic, Slippery Rock University’s Symposium for Student Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities was conducted in the Smith Student Center but this year students will present their work virtually, April 13.

April 8, 2021

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — The ways in which Slippery Rock University students are sharing their scholarly work continues to expand. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2019 was the last year SRU's Symposium for Student Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities was an in-person event. This showcase event will once again be live this year, April 13, but in a new, virtual format that offers opportunities to reach wider audiences and enable greater creativity and interaction.

"Every year, we're inspired by our students' breadth of knowledge and creativity, and this year, having virtual presentations adds a new dimension to the symposium," said Brad Wilson, associate provost for academic affairs and integrated learning. "Everyone is making the most of these new formats, and by doing so, students are learning valuable skills to communicate their research, art and scholarly work to reach more people."

More than 80 submissions of SRU students' scholarly work from across all academic disciplines will be presented virtually in some form for this year's symposium. The event will feature 41 poster presentations, 26 live oral presentations and 13 recorded oral presentations, performances and exhibits.

The public can access these presentations online through ForagerOne, a platform SRU's is using to host the symposium virtually. The public can view presentations but those wishing to interact and submit questions using the chat function must register on the platform. The symposium will begin with a welcome and registration at 8 a.m., followed by live oral presentations delivered two at a time in 20-minute intervals from 8:30 a.m. to 4:20 p.m. From 12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m., students with poster presentations will be available to interact virtually with attendees to share their work and answer questions just as they would in an in-person, exhibit hall.

Students presenting their works include upperclass undergraduate and graduate-level students who have presented their research elsewhere at regional and national conferences, as well as first-year students who are presenting for the first time. Kendall Grossman, a first-year petroleum and natural gas engineering major from West Sunbury, will conduct her oral presentation titled "Tidal Energy Technology" at 2 p.m.

Brad Wilson


"As a freshman, I'm trying to take advantage of all the opportunities that I have and this symposium gives students a chance to show what we've been working on," Grossman said. "I think it's neat, and although it would be definitely different if it was in person, this is the next best thing."

Using Zoom within the ForagerOne platform, Grossman will present on camera as well as with slides and other visual aids. She will discuss her research of tidal energy, a renewable energy source that uses the reliable, kinetic energy of rising and falling tides and converts it into electricity. Grossman examined three types of tidal energy sources -- barrages, fences and turbines -- to determine the positives and negatives of each. While she still has a few years to narrow in on a career path, she said she's always been interested in energy and where it comes from and conducting research is valuable for her career development.

"Research is important because it's not like I'm going to get a job where I'm listening to lectures or reading textbooks all the time," Grossman said. "You have to be able to apply information to field work, and you learn how to do that with research."

While each student presenter has a faculty sponsor who plays a major role in mentoring them, there are also seven student mentors coordinated through SRU's Office of Academic Affairs and Integrated Learning who assist first-year students with their research process so that they can eventually present at a future symposium.

For example, Mohamad Khalaifa, a senior psychology major from New Castle, was assigned to Aaron McCloskey, a freshman exercise science major from Clearfield, and the two have met twice a week this semester. Khalaifa is presenting a poster this year at the symposium, titled "The Impact of Emotional Neglect, Psychological Disorders, and Alcohol Use Associated with Stress in Adults." McCloskey is yet to conduct research but he's learning about the process through Khalaifa's mentorship.

"I describe what the procedures are like and how to get involved in a specific department, and I shared the story of how I got started," Khalaifa said. "I got involved in research in the spring of 2020, right before the pandemic hit, and I remember being nervous about making progress with the labs I started working with and avoid having it all go to waste. But I've still been able to make a lot of progress."

The symposium exhibits an array of student work, from the hard and soft sciences, such as biology and political science, to the humanities, including performances in dance and music therapy.

"A lot of the work that students do goes unnoticed, especially in the middle of a pandemic," Khalaifa said. "But what's great about this symposium is that it allows students to still be able to present their work and their research and also develop the presentation skills, with so many things being virtual nowadays. This shows our resilience and that the work hasn't stopped because of the pandemic."

The schedule of student presentations, as well as instruction for registering for the virtual symposium, are available on the symposium's webpage.

MEDIA CONTACT: Justin Zackal | 724.738.4854  |