Symposium Provides Unique Opportunities for its Participants

More than 90 students gained the skills necessary to present research in a professional atmosphere as they participated in the 20th Annual Student Research and Creative Endeavor Symposium in the Walb Classic Ballroom on March 29.

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Stephen Buttes, assistant professor of Spanish and symposium judge, said there are three awarded winners in each division, and student has the opportunity to turn their projects into a professional platform.

IPFW Visual Communication major Paige Robertson is one such student. Robertson’s research focused on special education for deaf children and incorporated pieces of her original photography. Being deaf herself, Robertson has first-hand experience with her topic.

“I went through it myself. I’m a deaf student, and I have been a deaf student ever since I have been going to school,” Robertson said, “and so I really put my own knowledge into it.”

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Associate Professor of Sociology and Symposium Judge Donna Holland reached out to Robertson after seeing her presentation to ask if she would be willing to present it in class.

“She actually wants me to present my poster for her classroom,” Robertson said. “She has some experience talking about people with disabilities, and she was always looking for someone who could be an example. I did my poster and she was really excited about it.”

Not only will Robertson be presenting her research in the classroom, but she was also invited to share some of her photos in a showcase in Indianapolis this June.

Another resource that symposium participants have is IPFW’s online scholarly repository, Opus.

Susan Anderson, director of Library Academic Resources, said the students have the option to archive their poster and abstract onto Opus for future use.


“What that means for the students is it becomes a permanent url, and they can list that on a cv or on a grad school application and say this an example of the work I did,” Anderson said. “So it’s a real polished way to present that kind of work.”

Former Dean of Helmke Library and Symposium Judge Cheryl Truesdell said the event also provides the opportunity for undergraduate students to conduct their research with Ph.D. professors.

“You cannot replace that with any kind of money,” Truesdell said.

Truesdell also said working directly with Ph.D. faculty is rare in other universities.

“I’ve been to R1 institutions, IU and Purdue, and you don’t get in the lab,” Truesdell said. “You don’t get to work with Ph.D.s until you’re a graduate student.”

In addition to help from faculty, another resource these students have is Studio M. John Nicklin, Studio M Coordinator, conducted workshops to teach students how to present their research in a visually appealing way.

“It was designed for students who weren’t familiar with graphics programs to give them a framework and ideas on how to create a poster that is more visually captivating,” Nicklin said.


Nicklin said he thinks it is valuable for a participant to have a well structured poster, but what is most important is the quality of a student’s research and presentation.


While the Student Research and Creative Endeavor Symposium has been showcasing student projects for 20 years, Nicklin said this is the third year that Studio M has been involved and he looks forward to the years to come.


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