Student Symposium goes online to larger audience

By Tiffany Moore
Transcript Correspondent

The coronavirus created many first’s for Ohio Wesleyan, but not all of them are bad.

OWU will still host its annual Student Symposium this year, but for the first time it will be online, opening it up indefinitely to a wider audience and giving students more room to show off their projects.

Typically, the symposium is a one-day event where students present their research projects live or on posters. But this year, they will get an opportunity to create a webpage that is scheduled to go live the week of May 4. OWU will train chosen applicants to create web pages using the university’s content management system.

The Student Symposium is used to showcase summer internships, theory-to-practice grants, senior capstones and other academic projects done by OWU students.

The website will be open to the public indefinitely, which is expected to boost the audience and offer an opportunity for prospective students to view student research projects, said Will Kopp, OWU’s chief communication officer.

“I think it will be something that OWU will be proud to show to prospective students and families,” Kopp said.

Students can create a webpage to show videos, photos, text and illustrations related to their research. Previously, about 40-to-50 applicants applied annually, including those applying for presentation or posters.

This year, 30 students applied, but that is a good number considering current circumstances and changes due to the virus, said Lisa ho, assistant director of international and off-campus programs.

“We feel very good about how many students were still willing to participate given the new format,” Ho said.

The research topics evenly cover academic disciplines such as humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. They are also well distributed between independent studies, class projects and grant-funded programs, Ho said.

Digital posters of research projects from previous years can still be accessed through the OWU library Digital Commons site, said Ellen Arnold, associate professor of history and manager of this year’s student symposium,

Arnold says she hopes students will feel proud of the work they have done while using the new online format.

“I hope that all the students involved will feel proud of the fact that such a wide audience will be able to see the results of their hard work,” Arnold said.

The symposium will be promoted to students, families and prospective students through email, social media and the OWU website.  The site will also be linked from major web pages to draw in a larger audience, Kopp said.

Symposium showcases semester

By Orion Wright, Transcript Correspondent

Students and faculty chatting together over refreshments; rows of posters displaying the details of research projects; students giving presentations on the work they had completed over the course of the semester- these are the sights attendees of the Student Symposium enjoyed on Thursday.

The Student Symposium is an annual event organized by The OWU Connection, an OWU program  intended as a “commitment to help you find your pathway to meaningful work and a rewarding life,” according to the university website.

“The spring Student Symposium showcases the research and creative work of Ohio Wesleyan students across the academic spectrum. The Symposium provides an opportunity for students to share their work with the OWU community and enter a dialogue that can spur ideas for new projects,” according to the Academic Affairs page on OWU’s website.

“The Student Symposium really gives us a chance to see the incredible work that students are doing in a variety of . . . fields,” said Dr. Shala Hankison, Associate Professor of Zoology.

“I think it is also great for students to see the wide variety of ways that their classroom topics can be put into practice for a variety of research projects,” Hankison said.

And variety indeed- the research on display ranged from sociology to chemistry to ecology, and everything in between.

Among the diverse topics explored on the posters were projects such as “Mobilizing the LGBTQIA+ Movement,” Stochastic Stage-Based Population Model for Loggerhead Sea Turtle,” and “Common Core Standards: More Than a Meme.”

Ellen Sizer, one of the students presenting research at the Symposium, had been working on her project “Physical Fences and Social Boundaries: The Human Implications of Privatizing Nature in Patagonia Park,” for a year. She hadn’t set out with the intent of displaying it at the event- rather, the reward was “fun.”

“I came in thinking it would all be physical and environmental geography, but it ended up being more human and cultural,” Sizer said.

“I see [the Symposium] as practice for how to talk to people and hopefully get an idea of presenting at a larger scale,” Sizer said.

The Symposium was held in the atrium of the Schimmel-Conrades Science Center from 4 to 7 p.m. on April 18.