UVM Holds Student Research Conference

Apr 28, 2017

The University of Vermont held its ninth Student Research Conference on Thursday, showcasing the work of students through poster sessions, oral presentations and creative presentations.

The fourth floor of the Davis student union was a hub of activity as students from across the campus showcased the work they are doing in their respective fields.

This Student Research Conference started as an undergraduate research fair skewed toward science, medicine and engineering.  UVM Provost and Senior VP David Rosowsky explains it has expanded to encompass all disciplines on campus.   “Often when people hear the word research they have a very singular understanding of what that means.  And in fact to us it’s about discovery. And that discovery can occur in literally any discipline at the university and is taking place in every college at the university.”

The conference is occurring across the entire fourth floor of the student center.  In one room lightning rounds are occurring in which the researchers have 5 minutes to explain their work.  Other students nervously wait outside smaller rooms to give oral presentations to small groups of professors and peers.

But the busiest spaces are those designated for posters. Rosowsky explains:  “A poster is a visual depiction of the research, a short presentation version of a longer study. The author of the study, or the undergraduate student participating in the study, often is standing next to the poster and is available to answer questions, to point out highlights or to discuss further the findings of the work.”

Biomedical Engineering Sophomore Jordyn Scism is standing next to her poster: “Automatic Detection of Jump Landings.”  “A lot of sports injuries occur after jump landings from an improper technique during their landing: rolling your ankle, having an improper knee movement which can tear like your ACL. And we’re focusing on preventing that.” (How difficult was it to come up with this poster?) “The poster wasn’t hard. It was all the work that had to go into the code writing for how I was getting all the landings and detecting them. So I wrote an entire algorithm with the help of my advisor.  But I like wrote the code by myself and that took a lot of work.”

The poster sessions are clustered and across the building from biomedical are student researchers from the Archaeology Lab class.  The students’ advisor had urged them to present on pottery and Junior Helena Rainville’s poster compares how far two cultures would travel to obtain raw material for their pottery.  “In the long run I think I’d like to be an archaeologist. So this poster is really the beginning of much further research.  There’s lots of other questions that you can ask from this. So that kind of helps especially for a Ph.D papers and dissertations.  So I think that’s a pretty good start on other academic challenges.”

One of the more unique posters is English and Studio Art Senior Ben Merrylees’ interpretation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and soliloquies — in graphic novel form.   “It’s all about taking Shakespeare, which is like traditionally very hard to read and kind of understand, and re-representing it in the format of the graphic novel, so like comic books pretty much,  to make it more accessible and more interesting. ‘Cause cartooning, comics, is kind of like what I want to be doing I think somewhere down the road. And I really didn’t have a ton of experience with it.  So this was a really interesting way of not only like experiencing source material really well and like learning the process of adaptation, but just like you know the logistics of cartooning.”

Honors College Acting Dean David Jenemann notes that this conference is intended to mimic professional ones.   “They are doing cutting edge research. And stuff that’s resulting in publication, resulting in professional performances, resulting in gallery shows. It’s really impressive.”

A record 440 UVM students registered to participate in the Student Research Conference.