Colloquium celebrates research

The Wichitan

Students, professors showcase 66 diverse projects

Music Professor Alan Black performs West African rhythms with the MSU percussion ensemble. He went to Ghana under a research grant and presented his trip and what he learned Friday at the scholarship Colloquium.

Ethan Metcalf & Brooke Long | Staff Writers

Creative and scholarly projects were showcased last Friday at the fourth-annual scholarship colloquium. Students, post-graduates, and faculty presented their work at the two-part event.

The colloquium allowed graduate and undergraduate students as well as some members of the faculty to showcase some of their research projects.

Seven podium presentations were given during the colloquium’s opening hours, and awards were given to the top three.

First prize went to biology major Sanjeev Mahabir for his survey of insects in the Chihuahuan Desert of West Texas.

He surveyed two permanent streams and one temporary stream in order to compare the types and quantities of insects he found in the two areas. In his fifteen months of research Mahabir sampled almost 17,000 insects.

Second place went to Cassie Toft and Carter Wallace for their presentation on creating the severed head for the theater department’s production of The Bacchae last fall.

“It takes somebody with a great sense of calm to sit through that process,” Wallace said.

Third place went to computer science majors Matthew Farmer and Rob Goodefellowe for their work on “MSU2U,” their upcoming Android and iPhone application for students of Midwestern.

“One of the biggest challenges that I faced was pulling all this information in and putting it all in a standard format,” Goodfellow said.

Ron Fischli, dean of the fain college of fine arts, was a member of the colloquium committee as well as the publicity manager for the event and he said the colloquium is a great learning experience for its participants as well as a means to show the importance of the research being done at MSU.

“I like what it’s trying to make happen with the students,” Fischli said. “To encourage student research and creative activity and then also to give it a platform so that we can recognize and appreciate that kind of work being done by our students in the same way that we recognize and appreciate the work being done by our athletes.”

Fischli said the colloquium is also an opportunity for students to see the work being done in the other colleges, which might even lead to some inter-disciplinary collaboration in the future.

“It allows students from the various colleges to experience what’s going on in other colleges and also opens the door to working together on projects,” Fischli said. “Not just a chemistry project or theatre project, but maybe there’s something in both arenas that can contribute to whatever the project is.”

Fischli was also responsible for bringing some of the presentations to the colloquium as he convinced mass communications graduates Brady Tyler and Brandi Stroud to show their Senior Production documentary, Legacy: Remember, Honor, Serve, about a group of men at a Frederick, Oklahoma skydiving school who jump using gear and planes from World War II to honor those who serve in the military.

“I did a little arm twisting to get the mass communication students to come because I’m very proud of the work they do,” Fischli said. “With encouragement from mentors and faculty and administrators who believe in it, students will respond.”

The Wichita Suite was full of students and professors watching the presentations being given at the Fourth Annual Scholarship Colloquim Friday, April 19.

MSU graduate Brandi Stroud said she was happy to present the group’s documentary at the colloquium.

“It was an honor to be asked to come back to MSU and present our documentary at the Scholarship Colloquium,” Stroud said. “Everyone seemed to enjoy it and we were happy to share it once again.”

Fellow MSU graduate and group member Brand Stroud said she was happy to present the group’s documentary at the colloquium.

“It was an honor to be asked to come back to MSU and present our documentary at the Scholarship Colloquium,” Stroud said. “Everyone seemed to enjoy it and we were happy to share it once again.”

Fellow MSU graduate and group member Brady Tyler said it was an interesting experience for him and his group to be offered the chance to present their documentary again.

“None of us in our group had really seen the documentary since we showed it in December,” Tyler said. “So it was like watching it for the first time again, getting goosebumps whenever there were heartfelt parts and being awed whenever they were jumping.”

Tyler said that producing their documentary was a great opportunity to learn within a group and try things they had never done before.

“I learned that you need to step out of your comfort zone to really get the best material,” Tyler said. “We didn’t know a single person when we went to Frederick to start this documentary, but we left with great new friends.”

Stroud echoed Tyler’s sentiments that working together is important, an idea that the scholarship colloquium aims to foster.

“Working with others is key,” Stroud said. “Unless you are going into business for yourself, you’ll have colleagues to work with.”

Assistant music professor Alan Black gave a talk on his time in Ghana studying the traditions of drumming in the culture.

Black was able to go to Africa on a faculty research grant from a Boston based organization called “This World Music.”

Black said four students from other universities around the nation were present on the trip and that were able to have the experience because of programs like Eureca.

During his presentation Black said that students should apply for undergraduate funding like Eureca because it gives them an opportunity to further their education where they may not otherwise have the chance.

Junior education student Jaclyn Wood said she thinks the colloquium is a good event because it helps students see that their work matters.

“Students work really hard,” said Wood, “and having the opportunity to have our work displayed can bring instant gratification.”

Fischli said he hopes that the colloquium will help teach students that the work they do in college can be practical rather than just to earn a respectable letter grade.

“It says that it’s not just important that you’re turning in your assignments,” Fischli said, “we really believe in these things, that they have an application and a function in life.”

Fischli said that he can see these results personally through his theatre students.

“When they see the function that their art form has in culture, which is what these events allow us to do, it just causes them to believe in what they are doing.”

Fischli said that academics are at the center of his and other faculty and administrators’ mission at MSU, and the yearly scholarship colloquium is a way to make that point.

“People have done something really relevant,” Fischli said. “It’s not just research done in a vacuum, and seeing that promoted publicly gets everybody interested.”