Students Present Research at Annual Showcase

News Story: January 17, 2013

On Friday, April 24, Sacred Heart University undergraduates presented the results of months of academic research at the 10th annual College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Poster and Showcase Session.

The event drew a capacity crowd to University Commons to explore the work of more than 70 SHU students from a variety of disciplines. These included biology, chemistry, computer science/information technology, mathematics, media studies/digital culture, psychology and sociology. For the second year in a row, the College of Education and Health Professions was also represented, with exercise science and athletic training, and for the very first time this year, criminal justice, history and political science.

Dr. Timothy W. Corson, a Yale postdoctoral associate, was one of 16 judges on hand for the three-hour session. “I am very impressed with the quality of the work,” he said. “The skills put to use here and the experience gained will be of clear benefit to many of these students in graduate study, where poster presentations are a regular part of academic scholarship.” While this has long been the case in the so-called hard sciences, the SHU sessions have expanded the disciplines involved to include such areas as history and criminal justice. In all, five of the judges, in the natural sciences and computer science and information technology, were from Yale University. One other was an area veterinarian, and the remainder were professors connected with Sacred Heart.

“Undergraduate research provides the students of the College of Arts and Science with a capstone educational experience,” said Keri Matthews, professor of computer science and information technology and co-chair of the Poster Session. “In its best sense, it fosters critical thinking skills in devising a research plan, discipline in executing the plan, and care in analyzing the results of that inquiry.”

Participating students were required to verbally present their research and answer questions for judges and attendees of the session.

Dr. Claire J. Paolini, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, explained that undergraduate research and internships was an area established in 1999 as one of the College’s two flagship programs, along with writing and communications across the curriculum. “This emphasis on research,” she said, “allows students to work closely with faculty on research projects. It is our belief that a combination of the theoretical knowledge obtained in the classroom with supervised hands-on experiences enhances students’ education and better prepares them to enter top graduate schools or the workplace.”

This year’s sessions covered a wide array of subject areas and approaches to research. A sampling of their titles will give an indication of their breadth: “Cohabitation with a Mate Facilitates Attraction to Ultrasonic but Not Audible Pup Vocalizations in Adult Prairie Voles”: “Optimal Procedure for Synthesizing Biodiesel”; “My Living Resume”; “A New Approach to Confronting Active Shooters”; “Homophobia in the City, the Town and on the Campus: Field Experiments on Discrimination against Gays and Lesbians”; and “Is Pulmonary Function Associated with VO2 Max in Adults.”