Sarah Spring '11 presents her project on "Jane Eyre" and Dante's "Divine Comedy."Sarah Spring '11 presents her project on "Jane Eyre" and Dante's "Divine Comedy."

Students made poster presentations in Ford Hall about innovations in sustainability.Students made poster presentations in Ford Hall about innovations in sustainability.

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Student Scholarship Recognition Day honors student research and creative work

The 30-page program for the 11th annual Student Scholarship Recognition Day was a dizzying map to more than 280 incredible opportunities — the celebration of Willamette University undergraduates’ hard work had a record number of presenters, and the campus was alive with the buzz of intellectually stimulated audiences. 

The annual event cancels classes for a day so that the students can become the teachers as they share the fruits of their research; present musical, theatrical and dance performances; and display works of art to professors, fellow students, friends and family.

“SSRD provides an opportunity and platform for our students to present their work beyond the normal classroom, and to share and discuss their works with people from different academic backgrounds,” says SSRD Chairperson Juwen Zhang, associate professor of Chinese.

“Even those who do not present at SSRD have the chance to hear many great presentations on a variety of topics that may inspire them to work on their own projects for the future.”

A Day of Discovery

In one presentation, politics major Nathan Keffer ’11 discussed how the traditional irrigation systems in the Southwest, especially acequias in New Mexico, interact with public policy — while reflecting on his own experience as a New Mexico native. 

Rachael Steiner ’11, a biology and French major, and Sarah Sonnenfeld ’12, a biology major, explored the effects of cannabinoids on the behavior of male newts in response to both pheromone and food odor. Their initial results were inconclusive, but Steiner says she was glad to have the opportunity to conduct research and forward the subject to others for future work.

“SSRD was a really great opportunity to see the work other students have done,” Steiner says. “Especially in the ‘Newt Lab’ — we know each others’ projects, but don’t usually get to see how they’ve turned out.”

Steiner also presented an excerpt from her French thesis on the role of colonizer and colonized in the books “Colomba” and “Tamango” by Mérimée.

Caitlin Dilley ’11, a sociology major in Willamette's BA/MBA joint degree program, explored the sub-culture of the “bro” and the perpetuation of negative stereotypes and social behaviors associated with the group.

Henry Lo ’12, an economics major in the audience, says the presentation was insightful and raised awareness of issues he hadn’t previously considered.

“These presentations, especially those like Caitlin’s that address social issues of our generation, are important because students deserve recognition for this work,” Lo says.

Sharing Knowledge

This year, SSRD also attracted more than 500 high school students to campus as part of the Salem-Keizer School District’s Science Expo Darwin Discovery Days Program. The teens attended Willamette students’ science presentations — while allowing Willamette to build on its efforts to reach out to the local community.

“This day provides the forum for the distribution of ‘wealth’ of knowledge,” Keffer says. “What is the point in having knowledge unless you share it with others? We’re all here for scholarly pursuits; we should share what we’re finding with anyone we can.”