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Seniors present Independent Studies at academic conferences

Theresa Dunne
Features Editor

Although the I.S. process may be nearing the end, some seniors at The College of Wooster are giving new life to their undergraduate research projects as they present their findings at academic conferences across the country.

Earlier this month, political science majors Lucy Brazil ’17, Michael Herman ’17, Jack Johanning ’17 and Anthony Malky ’17 attended the Midwest Political Science Association’s (MPSA) annual conference in Chicago, Ill, which caters to many graduate students and professors of political science from Midwestern academic institutions in addition to experts from think tanks and other political analysis institutes.

Brazil gave a poster presentation of her I.S. on how female Senators advocate for women’s issues during time periods which haven’t been dominated by masculine issues.

“I was attracted to the fact that I would be presenting to a group of people that have a genuine interest in my research and could help me think about my process in a new light. Most people I talked to and the other undergraduate presenters I met were impressed not only by my project but also by the idea of I.S. in general. The concept of a year-long mentored project that was a requirement for all students was virtually unheard of, and it reminded me just how special this experience is,” said Brazil.

Additionally, biology major Avery Wilson ’17 found the opportunity to discuss his research with experts in his very specific field of study at the Oomycete Molecular Genetics Network Meeting (OMGN) in Pacific Grove, Ca. the most rewarding. “Oomycetes are really obscure organisms to the general public,” said Wilson. “So it was rewarding to be able to share the work I’ve done with a group of people who could more easily grasp its significance.” Engaging with other researchers reaffirmed the truly collaborative nature of scientific research for Wilson.

“I think there’s an idea in the general public of scientists as people who work independently, locked away in their lab and isolated from the real world. But through this conference I was able to interact with some of the biggest names in this particular field, and everyone was excited to hear about the work of others, and to push the research community forward through collaboration,” said Wilson.

Staying closer to home, Wooster seniors from a variety of social science disciplines presented their independent studies at the Northeast Ohio Undergraduate Sociology Symposium (NEO-USS) hosted at The College of Wooster on April 8. Caitlin Ziegert McCombs ’17, a sociology major who gave an oral presentation on her I.S. which explores the role of ethnic enclaves on modern immigrants’ integration processes, enjoyed getting to present her project in an academic environment and receiving feedback from students and professors in attendance.

“Surprisingly, I found that I loved the critiques of my project just as much [as presenting],” said Ziegert McCombs, “Hearing fellow students and professors from other schools ask me questions about my methods, theoretical approach and even vocabulary choice has really pushed me to get the most out of my research experience.”

To see these seniors and many more present their I.S. research on-campus, stop by presentation and poster sessions during Senior Research Symposium on Fri., April 28.

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