Contestants and Committees – An Inside Look of the 2017 Annual Student Research and Creative Endeavor Symposium


The 20th Annual Student Research and Creative Endeavor Symposium took place March 29 in the Walb Ballroom.

The symposium was open to all undergraduate and graduate students from different fields of study. Participants came from the social sciences, humanities, visual arts, business, nursing and more.

Cheryl Truesdell, who has judged the event for many years, said the top-three contestants were chosen based on points awarded by judges for their effort.

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Symposium Judging Rubric

“We’re trained to look at the discipline itself,” Cheryl said, “and to actually base it primarily on, not only the writing, but if they express the research so that anyone can understand it.”

Cheryl, also the retired dean of Helmke Library, said in 2013 the symposium committee changed the symposium format, to draw more interest from students and faculty.

Cheryl said a group of people involved with the symposium decided to make it poster-oriented, because they felt like it was more interactive and visually appealing.


Along with Cheryl, Stephen Buttes is a returning judge. He said IPFW is a comprehensive university and the symposium gives people the chance to see that. The Spanish professor feels the event gives students the opportunity to show what they are learning here at IPFW.

“It’s exciting to learn about the projects that they’ve produced,” Stephan said. “And it’s an opportunity to celebrate students’ success.”

But they don’t work alone.

Each participant was given the opportunity to research with an IPFW faculty member, and many others chose to work with peers as well. Gabriella Romo, a senior IPFW student majoring in biology,  did just that, collaborating with others on her project.

“We needed a big group because we had to collect 99 samples,” Gabriella said. “And that’s why on my poster I have them recognized, and I put all their names, because I couldn’t just say it was all me.”

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For Gabriella’s project she researched cyanobacteria. She became interested because other students were researching it as well. Gabriella said there’s so much research to do on this specific bacteria because it does a lot for humankind.

“Fun fact, they are the reason why we’re here,” Gabriella said. “And what I mean by that is that they’re the ones who allow the Earth to have oxygen. So if it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be here.”

Cyanobacteria was a popular at the symposium. To gather what they needed, Gabriella and five others traveled to the Indiana Dunes this past summer to collect everything for their research.

They spent countless hours digging up soil, covering over a quarter-mile of land, to make their projects possible.

Gabriella said even though they all used the same samples,  people did different studies, and found different outcomes.

Gabriella gives credit to everyone on her team. She said without them, she wouldn’t have been able to finish her research and compete in the symposium.

“Just imagine one person trying to do all of that. There’s no way!” Gabriella said. “I can’t imagine doing it all alone. You need people.”

Winners Courtesy of Jim Whitcraft
2017 Winners- Courtesy of Jim Whitcraft

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