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In focus: seniors finishing I.S.

Sanjana Kumbhani

Senior Features Writer

With I.S. Monday only a couple of weeks away, the atmosphere on campus is reflective of the seniors’ drive to begin wrapping up their I.S. projects. There’s a mix of emotions: while seniors are pressured to tie together loose ends, they are also certainly looking forward to the freedom that awaits them after Spring Break.

When asked what her biggest struggle is at this moment, math major Christine Hagan ’15 said, “I have my data, but I’m just not sure how I’m going to use it and I’m stressed because I’m so pressed for time.”

Hagan’s I.S. explores female professors’ fertility decisions and the probability of women having children based on these decisions.

“Since the math department doesn’t have Junior I.S., I felt completely unprepared when I started because I have never had the chance to do individual research before,” Hagan commented.

Rachelle Brenner ’15, a business economics major, also made note of the importance of a Junior I.S. project.

“Take experiences you’ve had in your life, something that you’ve seen out there in the real world that interests you and use that to develop your Junior I.S.,” she said. “That makes you well prepared for senior year.”

Brenner’s I.S. was inspired by her summer internship experiences at the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals of Cleveland. She is examining U.S. hospitals and their move to strategically consolidate in order to lower costs and leverage the resources necessary to implement multifunctional Electronic Medical Records.

“I have really enjoyed the research process,” said Brenner. I am proud that I felt prepared to undertake such a challenging topic.”

As for the hardest part of the process, she said the empirical analysis — the whole process of gathering and evaluating data — was her biggest struggle. “You understand that process in a classroom setting but there are lots of obstacles you run into when you actually do it yourself because of the constraints of an undergraduate research project,” she said.

Political science major Jacob Oppler ’15 is examining the ways in which the U.S. Supreme Court balances American civil liberties with the government’s national security policies in times of war or international conflict.

“The I.S. process presents a great opportunity to inject some creativity into an otherwise analytical process,” said Oppler.

However, finishing one section of research before starting another one has been the most challenging part so far.

“I often end up getting restless when I focus on one section for too long and take up a different section of my I.S.,” he remarked. “It’s also difficult to cut out a lot of writing — there’s so much I want to write about, but it’s important to be concise as well as thorough.”

On the other hand, sociology major Teresa Butel ’15 is undertaking a more local study. Her I.S. is titled, “A Paradox of Visibility: Case Study of a tent city in Wooster, Ohio.” Butel says she has thoroughly enjoyed building relationships with Wooster community members: “By volunteering at Trinity UCC’s breakfast program downtown, I was able to connect with numerous social service representatives, concerned private citizens and individuals living in Tent City, a homeless encampment off Madison Avenue,” said Butel.

Skye Patterson ’15, a neuroscience major with a biology focus, shared that her experience working with her advisor, Professor Sharon Lynn has been incredible.

“She has been a great support and coach throughout the process,” said Patterson.

Patterson is examining the lactational exposure of Duloxetin on rats and its effects on depression and BDNF in the hippocampus.

As for the hardest part, Patterson said that she faced some unexpected complications on the road to completing her science major and had to pull some long nights in the lab. Her advice to underclassmen is, “Fall in love with your topic. Find something you are passionate about and just go with it.”

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