Anderson University held its first AU Scholars’ Day on April 27. The event featured over 25 students’ work from their specific academic departments as poster presentations in Reardon Lobby with art students presenting at Wilson Gallery.
"At AU, many of our students, from many disciplines, experience the joys of creating works of self-expression, researching important ideas, and discovering new knowledge. Scholars’ day is an opportunity for our students to showcase that work," said chemistry professor and scholars’ day organizer Chad Wallace.
The idea came to Wallace as his students presented their research at various chemistry conferences. He realized that these discoveries are often shared within their discipline-specific community, but go unnoticed by the larger academic community. He thought it would be a great idea to share that work with the rest of Anderson University. He also realized that he did not know what other departments do. Wallace approached Dr. Marie Morris, vice president for academic affairs and dean, about hosting the event at the end of the school year. He then formed a committee to bring the idea to life. That committee contacted department chairs to nominate or ask students to participate in Scholars’ Day.
Each participant put together an abstract about what they worked on for the academic year or their college careers. The physical plant, Wallace, and retired professor Dale Bales collectively constructed the presentation boards for the students. The abstracts were then put together in a program so viewers could locate each student’s work the day of the event. Visitors to the event were welcome to engage the students and ask questions about their research.
Senior history and political science major, Courtney Bettner, tied in her love of research with her other passion of French history and culture. Bettner studied "Africa’s Triple Heritage and West African Francophone Literature" for her class with modern foreign language French Professor Sally Shulmistras. Though many students, faculty and staff passing Bettner’s projects did not speak French, the opportunity behind Scholars’ Day is to help make others on campus aware of each major’s unique differences.
"Scholars’ day is very interdisciplinary," added Bettner. "This event creates an interesting atmosphere since so many majors are represented and helps each major explain what they have been working towards for their degree."
Another project presented from senior psychology student Kristin Bradley was titled "Parenting Styles in Relation to Academic Performance and Academic Stress." Bradley focused on these parenting styles and their effects on college age students. Bradley felt this experience with Professor Linda Swindell was meaningful and hopes AU develops Scholars’ Day to help represent more majors in the future.
Though many students worked on their projects for an assigned class, junior Melissa Carlson felt the independent studies she has taken separate from required classes in her chemistry major as invaluable. Carlson has completed one previous independent study in the fall and plans to research over the summer what she will focus on in the fall for her senior seminar.
For the spring semester, Wallace suggested to Carlson a study through an article from ECHO, a non-profit organization whose vision is "to bring glory to God and a blessing to mankind by using science and technology to help the poor." Her project titled “Helping the World’s Poorest Farmers: HPLC Determination of L-Dopa in Mucuna Pruriens (Velvet Beans)” involved research to expel a harmful chemical from the beans while leaving the nutritious protein behind in the bean. Velvet beans could be an important crop for farmers to grow in third-world nations. This was Carlson’s first independent study without the help of other students and believes the opportunity to present was a "stepping stone" towards future studies.
"It is impressive to see how the undergraduate students not only working on independent studies and various research but how well they can help explain these studies in a way others can understand," added Morris.
"The first AU Scholars’ Day was a huge success," said Wallace. "It was exciting to see the interactions of our presenters with their fellow classmates and professors. I am thankful for the hard work of the many individuals who helped make this event so successful."
- Stefanie Leiter is the Web Content Manager in the Office of University Communcations at Anderson University.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2009, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the sixth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.