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Undergraduates Share Research on Student Scholarship Recognition Day

Regular undergraduate classes were cancelled Wednesday for Student Scholarship Recognition Day, but Willamette’s classrooms were filled with students, faculty and administrators listening, inquiring and sharing.

This time the students were leading the classes as they presented their academic research and creative work. Panels, poster sessions and music and theatre performances were among the offerings at SSRD, held every spring.

The students’ presentation topics reflected a diversity of academic disciplines. “Exploring Asymmetric Organic Catalysis: Glucosamine Derived Catalysis,” “Dressing Our Hips: An Overview of Women’s Curves Through the Decades,” “Winning is Everything: Why Margins of Victory Do Not Matter for Presidential Success,” and “A Spatiotemporal Analysis of Forest Fragmentation in Monmouth Township, Oregon” were among the subjects students explored.

University community members packed a room in Collins Science Center to hear five presentations on issues relating to food and agriculture in the 21st century. The panel was coordinated by Kimberlee Chambers, assistant professor of environmental science and Latin American studies.

Katie Grauel ’11 will travel to Mexico this summer to research the country’s organic farm movement. She received a grant from the Lilly Project at Willamette, which helps students discern their calling in life, and she will interview Mexican farmers about their reasons for raising food organically.

“Presenting at SSRD was an interesting experience in that I was able to get feedback from a wide range of people,” Grauel said. “The attendees asked some great questions that I will continue to investigate in my research.”

Katie Rigsby ’11 is interested in creating more opportunities for composting on campus. She researched the options available in Marion County and how Willamette might connect with existing programs. “Compost is the mother of recycling,” she said, noting that about 24 percent of the material in landfills is organic and could be turned into compost instead of being discarded. Rigsby also described the work she and other students have done to bring composters to several residence halls.

The local food movement in the Willamette Valley intrigued Katy Giombolini ’10, who spent last summer visiting area farmers’ markets and interviewing farmers after the university awarded her a Carson Undergraduate Research Grant.

Giombolini appreciated the way SSRD gave her the chance to practice her presentation skills. “I liked being on a panel with other fabulous presentations,” she said. “It is a great way to exchange ideas and research with peers.”

Learn about other students’ SSRD presentations and see a photo gallery at www.willamette.edu/cla/ssrd.