XU undergrads travel for academics

Xavier researchers visit NYC’s Madison Square Garden to present their projects

By Justin Malone, staff writer

This year, the Big East basketball tournament not only honored the talents of student-athletes, but the hard work and dedication of undergraduate researchers. 

Along with 10 other Big East universities, Xavier sent five research presentations to the inaugural Big East Undergraduate Research Symposium at New York’s Madison Square Garden on March 12. 

During the conference, Xavier students Anna Snyder, Payton Wood, Samantha Hawkins, Andrew LeBlanc, Jeremy Johnson and Molly Mariani all showcased their individual research to a panel of judges made up of faculty and administrators from Big East universities. 

The students represented the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Professional Sciences and the Williams College of Business. Their presentations encompassed several topics with a wide variety of studies, including psychology, environmental science, chemistry, economics and art.  

Each research presentation was nominated by a faculty advisor and then selected by a small group from each college. At the symposium, each university brought five presentations, organized at tables for the judges to view. 

Every student prepared a visual poster of their research and prepared a 10-minute speech to present to three separate judges, each from different interdisciplinary backgrounds. 

Dr. David Gerberry, director of the undergraduate research program in the College of Arts and Sciences, noted the way students were tested during the symposium. 

“It’s a real challenge to communicate your research in a specific discipline and in a way that makes sense to a wide audience,” Gerberry said. 

Wood presented her research on the impact of sewer overflow and channelization in Cincinnati’s Mill Creek. 

“I had someone approach me and just ask, ‘Oh can you tell me a little bit about your poster?’” Wood said. “It was a little nerve-wracking, but it was really fun to be there.” 

The students then answered questions the judges had about their work and were scored based on the quality and presentation of their research. 

After the two-and-a-half hour judging period, the judges selected three finalists and three honorable mentions for recognition of their research. Snyder won an honorable mention for her work on analyzing the effects of external perception on self-perception and LeBlanc also won an honorable mention for her  work on and synthesizing the chemical kalkitoxin.  

Photos courtesy of Anna Snyder
Students Anna Snyder, Payton Wood, Samantha Hawkins, Andrew LeBlanc, Jeremy Johnson and Molly Mariani all attended and presented their undergraduate research projects at Madison Square Garden two weeks ago.

In the future, the symposium will become an annual event. 

“I got a sense from students that they really enjoyed the opportunity to talk about their research and that they felt they got a lot of positive feedback from the judges they talked to for their presentations,” Gerberry said. “I’m proud of the Xavier students for their performance overall.” 

“It was a really fun experience,” Snyder remarked. “We got to meet other students who are all doing undergraduate research, and it’s interesting to see how Xavier measures up to what other people are doing.” 

“It’s super cool that we are doing some really innovative and new, novel research,” she added.

“I thought that the entire experience was great. I would definitely recommend it to other people and loved being a part of it,” Wood reminisced.  

“I found it to be really cool to see all these passionate people come together. I am definitely glad that I went and would always hope that Xavier can continue to do this in the coming years,” she noted.