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Conference presents student research

Mel Flanagan | Friday, February 8, 2013


This weekend’s fifth annual Human Development Conference, “In the Field: Cultivating Collaboration and Innovation,” will highlight students’ research on their chosen topics.

“It suggests a duel meaning,” senior and conference co-chair Kara Ryan said. “It can be in the field physically, or in the field of health or art, an abstract field.”

The conference, sponsored by the Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity, features more than 60 student presenters from universities all over the country.

Ryan said the students will present their research on a wide variety of topics that took them to every continent except Antarctica.

“We promote that it’s kind of for everyone,” she said. “We have students who present on architecture and students who present on health or culture.”

The conference is organized into a series of panels with different foci depending the research topics, Ryan said.

“We have a couple health ones, some post-conflict ones,” she said. “Those are interesting because it’s cool to see students who have gone to such different places and have similar themes emerging and compare.”

Other panels are geared toward specific places across the globe. Allowing student presenters from all universities enables the conference to display research from some places Notre Dame students do not travel to, such as Rwanda, Ryan said.

At the end of the conference, Sarah Sievers of the Earth Institute at Columbia University will deliver the keynote address.

Ryan said she and senior co-chair Hannah Reiser chose Sievers for a variety of reasons, including her ability to speak to seniors about their futures in the field of development.

“It’s a career that doesn’t really have a trajectory,” Ryan said. “She’s been involved in a lot of different organizations and I think she would have a positive message for students who are interested in getting involved in development.”

Ryan, who is pursuing a minor in International Development Studies, will present her research from this past summer in India, where she worked in rural health clinics and analyzed data related to health and development.

The conference’s strength lies in its ability to connect human development to a wide variety of fields, Ryan said.

“Depending on what you’re interested in, there’s something at the conference that includes that,” she said. “It’s kind of a fundamental thing that everyone can relate to.”

The conference will run from this afternoon to the keynote dinner on Saturday night.