Academic Festival Highlights Students’ Research Talents

Student Dara Sollart talks about her biology research during the annual Academic Festival.

News Story: April 28, 2014

A total of 140 Sacred Heart students, including juniors, seniors and graduates, showed off their research talents at the University’s Second Annual Academic Festival, held all day Friday, April 25.

Centered around the University Commons and adjacent classrooms, the event presented research projects conducted by students across 13 disciplines from four of the University’s Colleges, including Arts & Sciences, Health Professions, the John F. Welch College of Business and University College.

An event highlight was the 67 posters on display, which effectively top-lined the various research projects. The students that worked on them stood with the displays and spoke with visitors about them.

There were also 29 talks, divided across four time blocks, some of which were given by honors students spanning 10 disciplines. These were presented in classroom settings and included projected visuals.

All of the projects were outside of scheduled classwork and guided by SHU faculty, according to the Festival’s chair, Professor Marlina Slamet. Explaining the benefit of the Festival, Slamet said, “Many of the participating students are headed to graduate school. This serves as a training for them, to prepare them for the demands of higher education. It also enhances their resumes going forward.”

In the past, only posters were presented at the event, sponsored by SHU’s College of Arts & Sciences. Starting last year, the poster displays have been combined with talks to help honors students meet their studies requirements in one consolidated activity.

Chemistry/biology majors Amy Buonaccorsi, Neil Doppler and Joseph Wetherell teamed up on a project to determine how neurons develop, and said the experience was rewarding. “We collaborated over a couple of years on a weekly basis, researching and recording our findings,” said Buonaccorsi. “The project showed us how to effectively work together as a team. It was a good undergraduate learning experience.”

Psychology Professor Dawn Melzer remarked that the project work allows for individual attention. “I came to Sacred Heart because of its focus on mentoring, which is unique to the school,” she said. “The projects really enable one-on-one attention, and we teachers get to share our passions with our students and get them excited. A plus is that abstracts that we discuss in class become real and tangible, which creates greater engagement.”

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