The annual School of Arts & Sciences Student Symposium will be held from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. April 11 in the Modlin Center for the Arts, where there will be oral presentations, poster sessions, performances and art exhibits of students’ research from across the disciplines. The entire University of Richmond community is invited to see the students’ presentations.
Vincent Wang, associate dean of School of Arts and Sciences, said the undergraduate symposium was an occasion to celebrate and honor students’ research and creative arts.
“We encourage students to hone their professional skills such as making presentations about their research findings in front of their peers and professors, receive critique and then make improvement so that maybe they can submit for publication or go to professional conferences,” Wang said.
Laura Runyen-Janecky, a biology professor, said the symposium originated about 30 years ago in the chemistry department. Runyen-Janecky is the faculty coordinator of the event.
“This was all happening in the Gottwald Science Center,” she said. “It was a very small thing, and I think there were 15 posters. Now there are about 150.”
Several students will present research they did over the summer, partially because it is a requirement for students who receive one of the summer fellowships offered by the university. However, there will also be many students who will present their work on projects done during the school year, Runyen-Janecky said.
Alyson Fraser, a senior with a leadership studies major and women, gender & sexuality studies minor, will present her research work as a poster presentation. Her research, titled “Abuse, Awareness and Advocacy in Young Adult Literature,” is about how authors approach the topic of sexual violence in young adult literature.
“The main things I searched for were what resources the authors provided in the book, whether or not the author perpetuated rape myths like common ideas about rape that often place blame on the victim, and if the authors brought awareness to the mental health issues that result from trauma,” Fraser said.
Fraser said she was slightly nervous because the topic tended to make people uncomfortable, but at the same time she thought it was an important issue that needed to be discussed.
“Since I am a leadership major, I examined the authors as leaders because they have a considerable amount of power to influence culture, and I believe it’s important that they approach this sensitive topic in a responsible way,” Fraser said.
At the end of the symposium there will be a dinner for student presenters and their mentors. Elizabeth Baughan from the classics department is this year’s keynote speaker, Runyen-Janecky said.
Runyen-Janecky said Wang recently suggested to have the symposium and the honors convocation on the same day next year.
“There’s a lot of celebration in the last two weeks of classes and one of the ideas is to combine things so that people are more likely to go to things if they are all in one day,” she said.
Contact reporter Sabrina Islam at firstname.lastname@example.org