For Lauren Hunsicker, a psychology major at Middle Tennessee State University, presenting her research to a live audience at the annual Scholars Week Exposition was extremely meaningful.
“College is supposed to be a time where you meet different people and engage in new experiences, and we’ve all missed out on that aspect for the past year,” Hunsicker said.
“Presenting … and seeing all the incredible research projects that other students have been working on gave me the sense of community and engagement that I have needed for so long.”
Before MTSU wrapped up its Spring 2021 semester, the Office for Research and Sponsored Programs organized and hosted Scholars Week, a five-day event featuring both undergraduate and graduate student research and creative projects.
It includes research poster presentations; student-produced musical, dance and drama creative performances; and a virtual awards ceremony presented by David Butler, vice provost for research.
Sixty-five students presented posters in person and 137 students presented posters online through the Symposium platform.
With university provisions allowing in-person gatherings that adhered to strict safety protocols, Jamie Burriss, program manager of the ORSP, and the Scholars Week Committee were dedicated to celebrating the students’ scholarship.
“It was important to give our students the option to showcase their research and creative performances to a live audience,” Burriss said of the April 12-16 event. “Many of the students are graduating and this was their final opportunity to share the fruits of their labor with friends, colleagues, parents and the campus community.”
Eric Oslund, chair of the University’s Scholars Week Committee and chair of the College of Education subcommittee, participated in Scholars Week both in person and online.
“It was great to see people, especially all the students, presenting and continuing the important process of research and dissemination,” Oslund said. “Nothing prepares future scholars, and even professionals, better than presenting in person. Having interactions with other people in a time where many are isolated was helpful and highly valuable. Getting in-person feedback and engaging with others on campus brought back an element that has been missing for the past year or more.”
Hunsicker, a graduating senior, presented her research about the relationships between reading ability, educational experiences and psychological functioning.
“Scholars Week 2021 was one of the highlights of my senior year,” she said. “I loved sharing my ideas and gleaning insight from faculty and other students. Before the event, the only people that really knew about my project were my research lab members, so it was interesting to hear feedback from totally different perspectives. I heard from education students, chemistry students and even a sports management student, so it was exciting to form connections with people in other disciplines.”
— Stephanie Barrette (Stephanie.Barrette@mtsu.edu)