Student Research Day was a new Wilson experiment that featured more than just seniors in 2010. The afternoon also featured students from Exercise and Sports Science, Economics, Biology, Sociology, Mass Communication and more, and preceded the evening's Academic Awards Banquet. Can the findings be replicated in 2011?
Wilson faculty members devised a new way for student researchers to present their findings to the campus community. On Fri, April 23 in the C.Q. Smith Auditorium in the Harry R. Brooks Complex for Science, Math and Technology the Wilson Community took a day off of classes to attend presentations by fellow classmates at the Student Research Day.
12 seniors presented their research to the audience between 9:00am and 4:00pm and six students from the class Media and Society (MCM 304) participated in a poster session. Topics from the day ranged from Mate Selection, Mathematics, Poetry and Artwork to Biology and Chemistry. Honors presentations included "Economics in Sub-Saharan Africa," "Leadership in Women," "Civic Engagement" and the "Effects of Methylphenidate on Rat Pups." Mariza Lakmini Shehara Cooray presented on the "Hattan National Bank Microloan Borrowers" as her Disert Scholar presentation.
The origins of Student Research Day 2010
These presentations were held on the first of many anticipated annual Student Research Days. Mary Hendrickson, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty, explains how the idea to set aside one day for research presentations followed by the Academic Awards Banquet arose in a faculty meeting. Last semester and in previous years, each department set a time for their students to present their research. Usually the times conflicted with classes so many professors and students who wished to attend could not. Also, with each department setting aside a different day and time the presentations were scattered which caused confusion about presentation times, dates and room assignments. The social sciences, sciences and humanities departments discussed the idea of having the presentations on one day during the spring semester. No classes would be held that day in order to allow faculty, staff and students to attend the presentations. Hendrickson says, “In human nature there is a tendency to focus on the negative,” and the Student Research Day allows Wilson to focus on the accomplishments of these students.
Being in the know
Faculty like to know what students are doing and underclassmen have the opportunity to see a presentation an get a feel of what would be expected from them if they were to do a research project. They could get a feel for the types of questions asked and range of topics that could be researched and presented. Many professors made attendance mandatory for their students which ensured that presenters faced a full auditorium.
Disert Scholar Mariza Lakmini Sehara Cooray presented “the Impact of Received Remittances on Savings Behavior: An Inquiry into the Savings of Hatton National Bank Microloan Borrowers using Experimental Methods.” Cooray thinks, “the Disert Scholarship allowed [her] to find [her] “niche” in Economic development.” She hopes to continue “working with experimental economics because [she] enjoyed translating the findings that were made during the experiment.”
Testing the experiment
Hendrickson hopes Student Research Day will become an annual event and this day of presentations was a trial run to determine how to improve the day. Sara Isner ’11 liked the day and hopes to see it continued, but wishes to “see more students from all the majors presenting. [She felt] it [was] a great way to learn what the students from other majors were doing.”