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Saint Mary’s to host student, faculty research symposium

| Friday, April 13, 2018

Saint Mary’s will host the second Symposium of Research and Creative Scholarship, showcasing scholarly work of students and faculty alike from a variety of departments, Friday.

Laura Williamson Ambrose, department chair of Humanistic Studies and coordinator of the event, said the event was inspired by a colloquium series where Saint Mary’s faculty members could present their research. Last year’s symposium consisted of seniors presenting their work for an hour, with a few panels focused on faculty research spread throughout the day, but Williamson Ambrose said she wanted to expand the symposium’s content to fill an entire day.

“This year, what we decided to do was really expand it in scope and in scale,” she said. “We have a full day of events. … We asked for students to submit proposals as well as faculty, and we had a selection process for those proposals and created a series of interdisciplinary panels of a mixture of faculty and students throughout the day.”

The symposium will have various conference portions throughout the day featuring students and faculty members from different departments and will conclude with a senior showcase and social hour. Williamson Ambrose said she hopes the event will celebrate all research conducted on campus, especially senior student research.

“This kind of work, of course, has always gone on, but we realized that we need to make it more visible,” she said. “To make it more visible to the entire community and to the region, but also take an opportunity to celebrate, particularly for seniors as they prepare for their last month, or really, by that point, just a few weeks left on campus. It’s an opportunity to sort of sit back, congratulate yourself for your work and look and learn at the work of your friends and peers. You may know folks very thoroughly but not know very much about the kind of everyday scholarly interaction they have, particularly if you don’t have them in class or don’t share a major with them.”

This celebration and exposure of research is one of the reasons senior psychology major Mara Egeler decided to present her studies on television as a coping mechanism at the Symposium, she said in an email.

“I decided to say yes to presenting because it gives me the opportunity to educate others about my research,” Egeler said. “My project can be applied to all college students, not just those in the psychology department. I’m excited to spread my newfound information to a variety of students and faculty.”

Similarly, senior music and psychology double major Franny Wall’s desire to share her research on music’s effects on dementia patients inspired her to present at the symposium, she said.

“I’ve always heard great things about the symposium, and knowing that I would have a project put together that I was excited about, it greatly impacted my desire to present this year,” Wall said in an email.

This symposium is not only a way for members of the community to share their findings, but it is also an opportunity for those not participating in the event to show support for their peers, Egeler said.

“Everyone who is presenting at the symposium has put many hours into their projects and feels a great sense of pride about them,” she said. “We are excited to be sharing what we have learned with everyone in the Saint Mary’s community. Going to this symposium will help to show that you support all the research being conducted at Saint Mary’s. You may find new ideas in projects that you would like to further explore in your own research.”

Similarly, Williamson Ambrose said she hopes the various presentations will inspire students to learn more about something that interests them or even lead them to a new path that may be seen as completely different from what interests them. She said she purposefully paired seemingly disparate disciplines to showcase the integration of learning Saint Mary’s strives to instill in its students.

“There’s an integration in that way that I hope is going to be surfaced during the event itself,” Williamson Ambrose said. “In other words, we have integration that happens implicitly because of the majors and the kind of work the students do or collaborative projects between faculty and students or one another. But then we also have this in-the-moment kind of integration that can happen when sparks fly when you just put two people in a room together with two different ideas and see what happens. That’s what I’m excited to see happen on Friday.”

The symposium will take place Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and a schedule of the symposium’s events can be found on the College’s website.

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