Students to present research during the 2015 annual undergraduate symposium


by Kylee Hereid, Staff Reporter

More than 100 Simpson College students will present their research Thursday at the annual undergraduate symposium. 

The symposium showcases work students have done through the presentation of papers, performances, posters and panel discussions. 

According to Simpson’s website, students can research independently or with a small group to explore an issue of interest to them. These projects can include design, creation, investigation, research, application, writing or performance. 

Lindsey Stubbs, senior english and music major, is one of many students presenting her work. Her project is “*Boom! Bang! Pow!*: The Super-Powered Woman’s Struggle for Maintaining Identity In Comic Books.”

“When I had to choose a topic for my senior paper, I knew I wanted to research what I was passionate about and comic books were the obvious choice,” Stubbs explained

Her presentation will explore how female superheroes in the comic book industry operate and how conflict arises when femaleness is paired with power. 

“Also, I have a soft spot for superheroes and as a feminist I have mixed feelings on the treatment of women in comics,” she said. “This project was basically the perfect opportunity to merge hobby and homework.”

The symposium will kick off at 8:00 a.m. with a campus-wide breakfast. Following registration, Simpson alumni Amy Gookin, Derek Lyons and Sean O’Bryan will discuss their experiences in the symposium and where it led them after graduation. 

After the roundtable, students present on topics including performance, diverse identities, gender, scripture and immigration. 

At 11:00 a.m., the Senior Art Reception will be hosted in Farnham Galley in Mary Berry Hall. At this reception, senior art majors will display drawing, painting, photography, art education and graphic design work.

After a lunch break, the second round of student presentations will begin, offering topics such as campus matters, development, germs, voting and images of women – which is when Stubbs will present her research by reading from her project and showing a slideshow of related images. 

One concept Stubbs hopes to highlight throughout her presentation is how comic book portrayals of women affect societal beliefs. 

“I think that mediums in popular culture can either perpetuate or change the ideals and belief of our culture,” she said. “If we understand the beliefs that go into a problematic portrayal of women in comic books then we can understand how to correct them.

After the second session is complete, there will be a poster session and reception in the Kent Campus Center Black Box Theater, where students will present posters about their work, ranging from attitudes toward mental illness to the media’s influence on American politics. 

During this time, Marissa Belau, junior psychology and sociology major will present her project “How Feedback Impacts Who We Become: Self-Esteem, Reactions to Positive and Negative Feedback, and Possible Selves.” 

According to Belau, her project was inspired by a course she took previously. She, along with junior Annie Collins and recent graduate Megan Wulf, enjoyed their topic of study from the course and chose to focus on it through independent study. 

Throughout the research process, the group recruited participants who would go to a specified classroom and complete a test in a group setting. The participants would be randomly assigned tests that were either easy or difficult, but were under the impression they were taking the same test as other participants. Because of this, participants who took easy tests were completed before those with difficult tests. After completion, the participants corrected their tests, reflected on their scores, and completed a measure of attribution to explain why they performed the way they did. 

The information collected from this study will be displayed on the group’s poster during the symposium and again in May at the Midwestern Psychological Association’s annual conference in Chicago. 

Although the research did not produce expected results, Belau said the results are still beneficial.  

“We wanted to find out what this study would yield, and we wanted to take full advantage of the opportunity to find out,” she said. “This could be a useful finding for clinicians, therapists, and others working with patients suffering from depression or other serious mental disorders.”

The symposium will end at approximately 5:00 p.m., but the research is never done. According to Stubbs, the project has given her resources to help her as she continues to study powerful superheroes. 

“I definitely learned a great deal about the history of my hobby, and I’m able to look at the medium in a more critical way,” Stubbs said.

Both students agree they benefitted from their experiences and are excited to share their final results at the symposium. 

Belau said, “I am excited to present at the Symposium again this year and am very thankful that Simpson has given me such wonderful research and academic opportunities.”

Belau also encourages students to take advantage of undergraduate research and to present whenever they can while at Simpson.

 “Completing research is always a benefit to students,” she said. “It helps you look at problems in new ways and find out information that you may have never learned otherwise. It is also a great way to connect material you have learned about in classes to real life situations and problems.”