Luther College Chips

Student Research Symposium

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Brenna Sherman ('19) and Rachel Schwabenbauer ('19) discuss their poster.

Brenna Sherman ('19) and Rachel Schwabenbauer ('19) discuss their poster.

Olivia Enquist (‘19) | Chips

Olivia Enquist (‘19) | Chips

Brenna Sherman ('19) and Rachel Schwabenbauer ('19) discuss their poster.

Olivia Enquist, Staff Writer

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Luther held the annual Student Research Symposium and the Senior Recognition Convocation on Friday May 11. The Student Research Symposium celebrates research and creative work produced by students over the course of the year. Classes were suspended to encourage students and faculty to attend presentations from across disciplines.

The day began with an opening invocation and keynote address. Nicole Weber (‘18) and Erik Floden (‘18) offered reflections on their research. In addition, the event recognized the participants of the symposium. The ceremony also showcased music from the Horn Quartet.

Throughout the day students participated in research sessions, giving presentations lasting approximately 15 minutes and answering questions as a group. For many first-years, the research symposium is their first opportunity to present their Paideia research in a professional setting.

Associate Professor of History and professor of a first-year Paideia section Brian Caton has a process he uses in choosing a student research project for the symposium.    

Kate Sorenson (’19) presents her research at the Student Research Symposium poster presentation.

“I do different things each year,” Caton said. “Generally, I like to make sure I choose a student paper that has been well done. If a student hasn’t put in the effort it shows in the written version and it doesn’t turn out to be a good presentation. That’s true in any year. Sometimes I encourage a student who is a good writer and has good ideas but isn’t necessarily forward in class to say here’s a venue where your ideas matter, but you have to actually present them.”

One student from each section presents a paper they wrote on a theme their professor decides. The idea is that students learn how to connect their personal interests to diverse topics.

“Our section had the umbrella topic of Asian America,” Caton said. “The idea of that is that students are interested in a variety of different kinds of disciplinary or topical things, but most of those can connect to the topic. The goal is to get students interested in the things that they are already interested in and see how those connect to . . . a larger cultural phenomenon.”

In the afternoon, students presented posters from specific projects or research they conducted in classes. One such class was The Physics of Sound. Lauren Bennati (‘19) enjoyed the chance to present on research she normally would not do.

Olivia Enquist (‘19) | Chips
Madilyn Heinke (’19) and Nina Johnson (’19) discuss research posters.

“As a music major, I wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to participate in the symposium,” Bennati said. “It was a really good opportunity to learn how to create a poster or a presentation for a symposium.”

Attendee Isabel De Ayala (‘19) thought the symposium highlighted the liberal arts aspects of Luther’s curriculum.

“I especially enjoy Luther’s Research Symposium because I think it’s a great chance to get to see what students in different departments are doing,” De Ayala said. “It exposes us to new subjects and allows us to learn from our classmates. I also like how oftentimes the projects integrate things from multiple departments, so the presentations are more holistic and interesting.”

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