Annual Academic Festival Showcases Student Research

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By Emily Helldorfer

Staff Reporter

Sacred Heart’s annual Academic Festival, held in April and organized by the Committee for Undergraduate Research, is the finale of all the activities regarding undergraduate research at the university.

This year’s Festival will be held on April 20 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the University Commons.

There are over 180 students participating in this year’s Festival, making it the biggest turnout in the history of the event.

Steven Michels, Assistant Provost for Teaching and Learning, and chair of the Committee for Undergraduate Research, has been working along with the committee to put the event together.

“We have new categories. The old judging was all about methodology, so we had natural sciences and social sciences, and then everybody else. Which I didn’t think was a very interesting way, because it’s very difficult to compare research across disciplines,” said Michels.

“I thought it would be more interesting to involve categories of social justice, and we have a committee which will judge these categories.”

There will be awards and prizes given in seven categories. These categories include best writing, best multidisciplinary research or collaboration, most meaningful, best visuals, most creative, most scholarly impact or potential, and campus choice. Additionally, there will be a Dean’s Prize for the best poster or paper from each College and the Provost’s Prize, selected from the top College presentations.

The poster session will begin at 1 p.m. with over 90 submissions.   This session will be followed by paper panels for students presenting digital slides or writtten work. The presentation of awards will be held at 3 p.m.

Senior Thomas Ketcham will be presenting a poster of his economic research titled, “State Legislative Term Limits Impact on Cigarette Taxation.”

“My paper looks into the relationships between legislative term limits and legislative turnover, then how the turnover impacts the fiscal policy of state cigarette taxation,” said Ketcham.

“I think the event is the perfect opportunity for students to present their undergraduate research in a more formal setting. Students have the chance to interact with their peers as well as professors,” he said. “The Academic Festival is a step in the right direction for the university as a whole to be more supportive of research.”

Research from students of all the Colleges at Sacred Heart will be presenting original research at this event. Students participating can submit their research to be judged in up to three categories.

Junior Melissa Weaver will be presenting information concerning the psychology of compliments.

“It consists of two studies. The first was asking people to name the best compliment they have ever received. My group and I categorized them based on personality, skill, appearance, possession, and others. We wanted to see what people valued as important to them based on these topics,” she said.

“The second study was conducting research on freshmen. We had them carry journals recording compliments. Then they would fill out their “life satisfaction” by asking them questions in survey form. We wanted to find out if giving compliments had any correlation with life satisfaction.”

Since the start of the Annual Academic Festival, it has grown exponentially across the Colleges at Sacred Heart.

“When we started the Academic Festival there was less than 130 students participating, which is less than 10 percent of the graduating class,” said Michels. “I think everybody who graduates should present some kind of research, so my ultimate goal is to get over 1,000 students.”

“The reason I think undergraduate research is so important is because it’s all about students being able to make original contributions to their discipline, which is really the ultimate goal of why everyone comes to college or Sacred Heart,” Michels said.

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