The 2021 Student Show(case) Goes On(line)

May 24, 2021

Students from across the academic divisions of Arts & Humanities, Physical and Life Sciences, and the Social and Behavioral Sciences put their best work of the 2020-21 academic year on display during the College’s 13th annual “Student Showcase: An Exhibition of Liberal Arts in Practice” recently.

Showcase 2021 featured more than 50 presentations, exhibits, performances, and discussions of work. Traditionally hosted in person at locations across campus, this year’s edition was conducted entirely via Zoom.

Presentations were grouped into one of eight tracks: Biology; Nursing; Sociology, Psychology, Art, and English; Economics; Geology & Environmental Sciences, Environment, Sustainability & Society; Biomedical Science, Chemistry Presentations; and Music. Virtual attendees could watch all presentations in a group, or jump from room to room.

Neiva Fortes ’22, John Mahn ’23, Jennifer Paszko ’21, and Diego Espinola Ramirez ’22 presented on their internships with the National Development Council. Ten Criminal Justice and Sociology students presented their Senior Seminar research projects. Some of their topics included child abuse, the courts, education, friendship, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

A sampling of some of this year’s other Showcase entries includes:

Maria Sorriento ’21 – “The Effects of Exercise on Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder”
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a chronic neurodevelopmental disorder common in children. The underlying cause may involve neurotransmitters. Evidence suggests exercise improves cognitive function, has positive effects on children with ADHD, and common medications target the same dopamine and norepinephrine systems that exercise affects. Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor levels increase during exercise and is associated with exercise-induced skeletal muscle regeneration. Maria’s study explored the connection of exercise-induced BDNF production on behaviors associated with ADHD.

James Dana ’21 – “Music of Two Pandemics: 1918 Spanish Flu vs COVID-19”
James’ presentation looked at the music produced and composed during two of the biggest pandemics in American History: the 1918 Spanish Flu and the 2020/2021 Coronavirus pandemic. He analyzed historical music programs from the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Philharmonic, and more, as well as the experiments of music making that technology has allowed today. Material from interviews with composers and musicians living and working in the COVID-19 pandemic was featured.

Abigail Maddison ’21 with Emilyann Feldman ’21, Nicole Chisdak ’21, Amy Tracy ’21 – “Reduction of Nausea, Vomiting, and Pain in Pediatric Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy with Acupuncture: An Integrative Review”
Pediatric cancer is a common diagnosis which affects children of a variety of ages and cultural backgrounds. The treatment plan commonly involves chemotherapy. However, chemotherapy can cause distressing symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and pain. Pediatric chemotherapy treatment is complicated by developmental factors such as cognitive, speech, gross motor, and fine motor development. This change in developmental factors leads to a higher degree of distress which may be improved through the use of acupuncture. Abigail and her co-presenters’ research project evaluated the feasibility and effectiveness of acupuncture to treat nausea, vomiting, and pain in pediatric chemotherapy patients. The results in this review concluded that the use of acupuncture in treating nausea, vomiting, and pain for pediatric chemotherapy patients is both feasible and effective. In order to implement these results efficiently, a translation plan for pediatric oncology nurses was decided to be the most effective. This translation project was also presented.

Erin Mcree ’22 – “Pathogenic Immorality in The Picture of Dorian Gray”
In queer late-Victorian writer Oscar Wilde’s 1890 novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, the title character is overcome with depravity (by Victorian standards, at least) after being introduced to the philosophy of New Hedonism. Erin’s essay, “Pathogenic ‘Immorality’ in The Picture of Dorian Gray,” explores the connection of Dorian’s decline into New Hedonism with early germ theory in late-Victorian England. She also examined the relation between Dorian’s descent into relative corruption and Wilde’s evolving understanding of and philosophical engagement with Aestheticism and Décadence.

Gerald Meyer ’23 – “An Investigation to Classify a Northwest African Meteorite”
Gerald’s research sought to conclusively classify a Northwest African (NWA) meteorite, believed to be a chondrite. No previous tests have been conducted on the sample, making it a prime candidate for a detailed study. He plans to classify this meteorite based on its mineralogical, whole-rock chemical, and O-isotopic composition, which then will categorize it into one of three classes: chondrite, primitive achondrite, and achondrite. This can be further broken down into clan, group, and subgroup respectively. To facilitate this, an electron microprobe analyzer will be used in combination with petrographic microscopy to determine the bulk and trace chemistries, and distinctive crystalline textures. The focus is to determine if chondrules are present, and if so, are they altered by any natural processes. Gerald earned the Freedman Prize for Student-Faculty Research for his project.

The switch in format this year worked to the advantage of at least some of the presenters. “Although forced into an online method, having the nursing students actually do a formal presentation for their peers and faculty was a great experience for them,” said Assistant Professor of Nursing Dr. Melody Best. “It was much more formal than years past, when students spoke in front of their posters in a sometimes loud, crowded hallway. The success of this new format may impact how the nursing department concludes their senior thesis in the future.”

Student Showcase Committee Chair Rich Barlow, associate professor of art, noted his department had similar success throughout year, for exhibition openings and visiting artist lectures. “It has been great to invite a wider community in and have the students prepare to present publicly,” he said. “We’re thinking we may find a way to integrate the Zoom angle in the future, even if the main events are in person. This is worth considering for Showcase in the future, too, including having cameras in each presentation room, having a Zoom component in the morning for poster talks in the afternoon, etc.”

For more detailed information on student presentations from this year’s Student Scholar Showcase, visit the Showcase webpage.