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Annual Academic Conference to be Held April 24

Public Relations
Posted: Tuesday Mar 26, 2013

March 26, 2013

A multidisciplinary exposition of the academic accomplishments of students in the sciences, business, humanities, fine arts, social sciences and other fields will be showcased at Saint Vincent College's 10th annual academic conference at the Sis and Herman Dupré Science Pavilion from 2 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 24. Admission is free and open to the public.

Chaired by Saint Vincent faculty members Dr. Elaine Bennett, assistant professor of anthropology, and Dr. Michael Rhodes, associate professor of biology, the unique event is designed to both recognize individual student research and to provide an opportunity to share the results of that research with fellow students, parents, teachers and others through posters, presentations, lectures, readings, photography, video, multimedia, music and performances.

More than 200 students are expected to present their work during the conference which has grown substantially from its birth in 2004 as a student science exposition initiated by faculty members Dr. Bruce Bethke and Dr. Matthew Fisher. All of the students who displayed during the early conferences have now graduated and many have gone on to complete graduate education degrees with impressive professional research and publications to their credit. Information about some of these graduates will be highlighted at the conference as well.

The co-chairs noted that an academic conference of the type being presented at Saint Vincent is very unusual. “It is unique for a small college to present such a large conference,” Rhodes said. “Other colleges and universities sometimes collaborate with other area colleges to present research but rarely do so by themselves. The college-wide research also makes this something special. It is not just scientific presentations but work from all fields that gives this a true liberal arts dimension. With presentations including poetry, it truly is an interdisciplinary event.”

The co-chairs said that the conference celebrates a culture of independent inquiry. “We are celebrating the work students are doing that advances their fields and they are doing it in all fields,” Bennett noted.

Rhodes said that the conference encourages not just scholarly endeavors but everyday classroom work. “Students do projects that are fascinating and worthy of presentation,” he said. “It celebrates not just research but things going on every day in the classrooms.”

The academic conference is where it all comes together for Saint Vincent College’s senior student researchers. “They are sharing all of this information that they have worked so hard on,” Bennett explained. “That is one of the ethical principles in any discipline – to share your findings with the public and that is exactly what these students are getting to do. They are contributing to the expansion of human knowledge. Through convening this conference, we are promoting a culture of sharing work and sharing knowledge.”

The conference was first held in the Robert S. Carey Student Center and then later moved to the Fred M. Rogers Center. “Since moving to the new Sis and Herman Dupré Science Pavilion, it has exploded,” Rhodes said. “I like this location because of the extensive space we have for displays and oral presentations. You can study posters on your way to a presentation.”

The pavilion, completed in December, was designed with the academic conference in mind. “All of the hallways in the south building and extending out to the east and west buildings have railings at eye height that make it easy to hang large display posters,” Rhodes noted. “This was done to promote learning activities and interaction among people. I noticed that last year during the conference communication was at a high level among students and faculty both in the hallways and in the seating areas. That is the kind of productive interaction we want to encourage. We want to expand into all corners of the building with more presentations and more panels.”

“I hope the conference continues to provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate their skills and expertise with pride to their peers, to underclassmen, to their family and friends, and to area teachers and residents,” Bennett concluded. “The academic conference truly celebrates the liberal arts spirit and promotes active inquiry among the students of Saint Vincent College.”

View a video on YouTube about the Saint Vincent College academic conference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4TqIwGh94A&list=UU5THDNu9O2fLVGtN-yX6Mgg&index=9 

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Photo: Co-chairs of the 10th annual Saint Vincent College academic conference are Dr. Michael Rhodes, associate professor of biology, and Dr. Elaine Bennett, assistant professor of anthropology. 

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PR2013-116