Wilson 2019-20 Disert Scholar Joy Merchant gives her presentation via Zoom, reading from her creative nonfiction essay collection entitled Encephalon.

Approximately 119 students presented the results of their undergraduate and graduate research covering a variety of disciplines and topics at Wilson College’s 11th annual Student Research Day, held Friday, May 1. The presentations were held virtually using Zoom videoconferencing to allow students to present their research to an audience of campus community members online.

Approximately 22 students gave oral presentations based on their work, which was produced in conjunction with faculty advisers, beginning at 9 a.m. Two sessions were held concurrently in the morning, one with a welcome given by Wilson President Wesley R. Fugate and one by Vice President for Academic Affairs Elissa Heil. One session was held in the afternoon and, as always, the day concluded with the prestigious Disert Scholar presentation.

In addition to the oral presentations, one student presented a dance performance she had videotaped and other students shared their work graphically in what is normally a poster session, but this year, consisted of PDFs made available online.

Student Research Day was “a proud day” for Wilson, according to Heil, who is also the dean of the faculty.

Ashlee Bourquin's presentation on her internship as a veterinary medical technolgist.

“In any typical year, Student Research Day is a wonderful way to close our academic year, as we feature and celebrate student work,” Heil said. “This year, we were able to move the day online, thanks to the resilience, creativity and ingenuity of our faculty, staff and students. Our ability to pivot this way shows how we embody the mission of the college: to prepare students to meet the challenges of a very complex global society—and one that is facing a global pandemic."

Student research presentations focused on the humanities, sciences and social sciences. The Disert Scholar award is given to the student with the best honors thesis proposal. The 2019-20 scholar is  Joy Merchant, a senior who is majoring in both English and history and political science. She read a powerful entry from her collection of short, creative nonfiction essays called Encephalon, which focuses on a variety of brain-related issues through anecdotes involving neuroscience, surgery, psychology and mental health.

Other presentations included examinations of:  how age factors in the formation of false memories; the effects of cannabidiol on the wound-healing process; the relationship between time spent on social media and a person’s confidence level; the effects of environmental stress on the equine immune response to a specific parasite; the animal-human interaction and how it affects the human’s psychological and physiological health and well-being; the evolution of tanks as machines of war over history; the effects of providing enrichment activity on aggression in swine raised as livestock; and a study of how a fermented fresh food diet for dogs influences the production of gut bacteria.

Wilson’s Student Research Day concluded with the annual Academic Awards presentation, which was also held remotely using Zoom. For a complete rundown of the awards and winners, visit www.wilson.edu/students-faculty-honored-virtual-academic-awards-ceremony.

Student Research Day at Wilson was founded in 2010 as a way to recognize and celebrate the research, scholarship and creative activities of students and their faculty mentors. For more information, visit www.wilson.edu/student-research-day-and-academic-awards-ceremony.


Published: May 5, 2020