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Spotlight on Undergraduate Research

News Feature

News & Events

December 11, 2012

More than 500 students participated in the Mid-Year Symposium, a showcase of student research and creative work from 100- and 200-level courses, which was held in the campus center ballroom.

“This is a celebration of early undergraduate scholarship and creative work and it’s great to see the diversity of disciplines that are represented,” said Dr. Jenny Shanahan, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, which sponsors the program.

For the symposium, students choose to present their research projects individually or in groups and select which format to use, said Dr. Shanahan. “Some do academic posters or talk about their projects, while others do performances or art displays, or slide or video presentations," she said. "The experience is different for each of them but collectively it’s an exceptional opportunity to showcase to the entire university community their academic achievements.”

Dr. Shanahan said BSU is rare among higher education institutions in promoting scholarship among those taking freshman-and sophomore-level courses.

“Our belief is that first and second year students who are learning research skills should be demonstrating what they’ve learned and how they’re applying that knowledge,” she said. “The research literature bears out our conviction that early opportunities will make those students more likely to take on more challenging projects later on. We don’t make students wait until their senior year to do research or engage in creative work and share their results. Building both skill and confidence should start much earlier, and at Bridgewater it does.”

Among the students presenting posters was Ayan Abdullahi, ’15, a native of Somalia who is majoring in management.

“I chose to do my poster about climate change and how it’s affecting all of us,” she said. “I received a great deal of support and encouragement from my English instructor, Stacy Nistendirk, as I worked on the project.”

Bopha Chan, who is originally from Cambodia and is a social work major, worked with her faculty mentor, Dr. Jonghyun Lee, assistant professor of social work, to produce a poster on world-wide child abuse.

“Maybe because my own childhood was so difficult, this subject is of intense interest to me,” she said. “Children have no voice and they need advocates to help grow up successfully.”

John Bibler and Julie Boucher, both ' 14, are Army veterans and social work majors who made poster presentations focusing on homeless veterans. “Because of backgrounds in the Army, this seemed like a natural topic,” said Mr. Bilber, who, like Ms. Boucher, is in a vocational rehabilitation program because of service-related injuries.

Ms. Boucher, who spent 18 months in Iraq, focused on veterans and post-traumatic stress disorder. “This project has given me an opportunity to research this subject much more extensively than I could have done otherwise,” she said.

Scott Gorman, ’14, dual major in biology and chemistry, worked with faculty mentor Dr. Stephen Waratuke of the Department of Chemistry on a project researching the extraction of pesticides from water. He researched the types and levels of chemicals found in local waterways. “The environmental consequences of having these chemicals in our rivers are enormous,” said Mr. Gorman.

In addition to poster displays, the all-day program featured oral presentations in art history, aviation science, psychology, anthropology, English, business and mathematics. (David K. Wilson, ’71, Office of University advancement)

Presenters (from left) Kristen Croke, John Bibler and Julie Bocher
Dr. Jenny Shanahan
Scott Gorman