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The Possibilities of Undergraduate Research

(Posted April 27, 2013)

Students reading the list of Liberal Arts Presenters.

The Liberal Arts Symposium, or LAS, is an annual event hosted by Juniata College. Tagged as "Mountain Day for the Mind," LAS aims at celebrating student research, project development and other performances. On this day, classes are canceled and, beginning at 9 a.m., students pack the campus buildings to watch their peers present. Participants from a wide range of academic departments shared their thoughts on this year's event, which was held on April 18, and gave a sneak-peak into their projects.

Travis Russell '13, Martinsburg, Pa.:

LAS provided me with an opportunity to educate students, faculty, and the public about box turtle ecology. We looked at the overwintering ecology of eastern box turtles at the Raystown Field Station for the second year. What we found was that, when snow occurred, the snow actually acted as insulation for the turtles. The research has many implications, one being for conservation management plans, and another being assessing the potential effects of climate change on box turtles.

John Dubensky '14, Pittsburgh, Pa.:

My presentation was actually a panel of six students reading personal narrative essays from the Essay Writing class. Because we were scheduled at 9 a.m. and our presentation involved six essays read one after the other, I wasn't expecting a huge crowd, but our room was actually full and we ran out of seats. The LAS provides a great opportunity for any student to share their academic work (in any field) with an interested audience.

Sydney Masters '13, Bellefonte, Pa.:

I think LAS is a great opportunity for students to dabble in research before possibly pursuing further education, to see if they enjoy it or not. Our research topic was to find an operational definition of emotional cheating. We found that, basically, if there was deception in the relationship even without sexual intentions, it was considered emotional cheating by our sample of students.

Colleen Chiochetti '13, Annapolis, Md.:

At this years liberal arts presentation I presented my senior thesis research on Russian Identity and Conflict in the Caucasus. What I found was that in the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia has been struggling to define a new national identity. This new identity has influenced national interests in relation to the North Caucasus and created an "us" vs. "them" narrative, fueling discrimination and racism against the people of this region.

Andrew Maul '14, Portage, Pa.:

LAS was a great opportunity to improve my skills as a public speaker while presenting my research to faculty and students. We're really fortunate that Juniata sets aside a day to recognize students' hard work on research projects across all academic disciplines. I was really impressed by all of the interesting, unique projects that students have worked on throughout the year.


Seth Ruggiero '14 Juniata Online Journalist

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