BY Jackie O’Rourke
On Oct. 3, 2018, Sacred Heart University’s second annual College of Arts and Sciences Conference, CASCon, was held. The conference took place in the University Commons wing of the Main Academic Building.
The event was organized like other academic conferences with multiple sessions and simultaneous panels. The panels were made up of faculty from different disciplines in the College of Arts and Sciences. For CASCon at Sacred Heart, there are three hour-long sessions. During each session, there were various panels taking place in which faculty members presented their scholarship and creative work in 10 to 12 minute intervals.
The Chair of the conference’s organizing committee, Psychology Professor and Researcher, Dr. Rachel Bowman said, “The College of Arts & Sciences hosts CASCon as a way to showcase the work of faculty from multiple discipline and affirms the College’s commitment to undergraduate research. The conference seeks to emphasize the interdisciplinary nature of faculty scholarship, model academic excellence, and highlights the various opportunities for student involvement.”
The event was attended by many members of the Sacred Heart University student body. Freshman Tyler Heinz said that it was “really cool that SHU is getting involved in doing research to help people and not just to do it.”
Students did not only attend the event. Some helped with the planning and organization of it as well. One of the students who worked the event was junior Erin Perotta, who is a psychology major who also works with the psychology department.
Regarding her experience with the 2018 CasCon, Perotta said, “I actually really liked it. I enjoyed it because I got to work it and I got to attend [sessions with] different professors that I normal wouldn’t hear talk. I found it interesting to listen and hear about what they do and what their passions are.”
One of the sessions that received a lot of attention and recognition was the session titled “Utilizing Creativity to Discover Cognitive Skills in Dolphins and Preschoolers”, which was led by psychology professors Deirdre Yeater and Dawn Melzer.
Describing this particular session, the event program said, “Few studies have investigated the development of creativity as a measure of intelligence/cognitive ability in non-human species and children. Creativity assessments are not associated with the same biases (e.g., gender, culture, etc.) often related to traditional intelligence tests and are therefore a valuable tool for studying cognition. Our current research focuses on using a modified creativity task to assess creativity in bottlenose dolphins and preschool aged children to provide insight on the evolution of cognitive abilities.”
Perotta was one of the students who attended the session.“One of my experiences was Dr. Yeater and Dr. Melzer talking about cognitive behavioral development within dolphins and preschool children the ages of two, three, and four. They do work with children around Bridgeport and dolphins somewhere locally about how creative they are and what they have to do to see how they learn,” said Perotta.
The conference focuses on the research done by faculty in a variety of subject areas outside of their work at Sacred Heart. This event allows them to come together as a group and share their personal insights and outside work.
“It was very interesting how science and computers are connected,” said sophomore Lucinda Cahill who also added that the conference included “very different takes” on the variety of topics featured.
CASCon is an annual event at Sacred Heart. This first event was held during the Spring 2017 semester. The committee then decided to move the conference to the fall semester for 2018. Bowman said, “The idea there is now we have two large research oriented events that book-end the academic year. CASCon is in the fall and the Academic Festival that is in the spring.”