Skellington, spiral galaxies, symposium, oh my

Cortney Wood

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A crowd of approximately 25 show up to watch students give their presentations during the 11th Annual Redwine Honors Program Symposium on March 25. Photo by Arianna Davis

Pure black attire clothed her body and echoed the eery tone of the film. While she wanted to appear as a shadow of the character in the movie, English junior Margaret Greenhalgh said she ultimately wanted to weave her presentation between fond memories of childhood and emphasis on leadership, rather than elicit screams from the audience like the Pumpkin King would. As she walked towards the front of the room, she fixed the back of her Jack Skellington earrings one last time before she dissected the twisted Tim Burton film, Nightmare Before Christmas, and explain why exactly Skellington ruled Halloween Town.

Five honors students presented a wide range of research topics at the 11th Annual Redwine Honors Program Symposium March 25.

While Greenhalgh not only opened the presentations with analysis of the character strengths of Jack Skellington in “Spook-tacular Leadership,” she also concluded the presentations with “Honors Music Appreciation” by illuminating various progressions of music masterpieces throughout history that will be presented next week at the Great Plains honors symposium as well.

“I must have rehearsed both presentations 20 times yesterday while pacing back and forth all day, thinking, ‘what did I get myself into?’” Greenhalgh said. “The projects were interesting and extremely diverse, so I think the event went very well.”

The symposium allowed honors students to present research topics on a range of interests, and business management sophomore Hanna Gebel focused her 10-minute presentation on Alfred Hitchcock’s “Objectification of Women in Auteurist Cinematics.”

“Throughout his movies, Hitchcock continued to drive his focus on male dominance, and I chose the movies Rear Window, Vertigo and Psycho to show this,” Gebel said during her presentation.

According to Gebel, her research was driven from Hitchcock’s relationship with actress Tippi Hedren, and his alleged obsession with her to express the connections between his cinematography and genuine infatuations.

Teaching assistant Sachithra Weerasooriya and Jacqueline Dunn, associate professor of physics, worked together to research correlations between dwarf spiral, dwarf elliptical and dwarf irregular galaxies and presented their findings in Weerasooriya’s presentation entitled “Investigating Dwarf Spiral Galaxies.” The initial results in the presentation indicates a potential evolutionary link that merits further investigation, Weerasooriya said.

Along the science presentations, biology senior Cody O’Donnell presented “Low-Intensity Venous Occlusion Training, and Effective Post-Surgical Recovery Exercise” by analyzing a pilot study.

“While the study had fewer participants than preferred, the outcomes produced significant evidence for the training,” O’Donnell said. “I have spent so much time with this research it almost feels like I’m a part of it, but I’m not. I do find the research fascinating, however.”

Visual aids that allowed the audience to engage in the research were used in each presentation, as well as follow the presentations more effectively.

Like Greenhalgh, cellular biology sophomore Nathaniel Shawver used his wardrobe to emphasize his topic on “Leadership as a Function of Color.” According to Shawver, the colors red, blue, navy, gold, black and white all manifest emotions that are necessary for leaders to seem “not abrasive, but assertive.”

“I particularly liked the pair of the colors: gold as a lead color of my tie with a blue suit as the medium,” he said. “Plus I like this tie because it has my instrument on it: the French horn.”

According to Shawver, his presentation came together through comparing vintage superhero costumes that depicted bright, stark difference in colors of pure blues and reds, to more muddled colors which he said mimicked the world’s view on righteousness and honor “introducing more gray into the mix” where things aren’t so black and white as they once were.

Assistant Director of the Honors Program Juliana Lehman-Felts said about 40 people attended the presentations and faculty panel that followed. Through the last 11 years, Lehman-Felts said the students “always deliver an interesting approach” to topics while entertaining the audience.

“It’s incredible to see these students talk about their interests in such a way that people who aren’t in their fields can understand what they are talking about, even a little bit,” she said.

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