Students from all disciplines prepare to present their undergraduate research on campus. The Celebration of Student Scholarship is an all-day, campuswide event.
Nathan Stanelle ’15 figured out a better way to schedule lacrosse games. Katharine Spencer ’15 explored theology on Native American reservations.
Both will be among hundreds of students sharing their research with peers this spring.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to both show what I’ve been up to, and to hear critiques and questions of the community to nuance and enhance my thinking,” Spencer says.
While both Stanelle and Spencer will present nationally, the first place they’ll present is at the on-campus Celebration of Student Scholarship on April 15.
Organizers expect about 300 students will prepare oral presentations and posters for the daylong affair. Students submit abstracts for consideration.
It’s an opportunity for students to show off their work while engaging in learning outside the classroom, says Dr. Susan Larson, director of undergraduate research.
“It’s a day that honors the work they do,” she says. “It also shows the value we place on undergraduate research here.”
Presentations represent all disciplines. Some of the research reflects classroom assignments while other projects were completed independently with the help of research grants and faculty mentors.
Stanelle and his classmate Mitch Campion '14 used applied mathematics and operations research last summer to balance travel time and competition for the Great Lakes Lacrosse League. Their proposed scheduling model cuts costs and improves the quality of the game experience by better pairing teams with similar abilities, Stanelle says.
“Developing the project on our own really made us take responsibility for it,” he says.
Spencer used her religion major to explore Christian mission on Native American reservations. Her paper argues that self-determination and solidarity should replace the current culture of charity on reservations.
“Though I don’t feel like the project is ever complete, the feeling that comes from having a wide variety of perspectives on one topic is amazing,” she says. “I’m a bit nervous to present this topic to others but very excited to get their feedback and improve my work.”
Research and presenting that research helps students build a number of valuable skills, Larson says.
Students learn how to be innovative and creative. They demonstrate problem-solving skills and fine-tune their abilities to collaborate.
And then they get to show off those abilities to other students.
“Students get to see what is possible,” Larson says. “They get a chance to see what their peers are doing and thinking.”