Symposium boasts good turnout


by Tyler Utzka

Last Thursday, Simpson College held its second annual Undergraduate Research Symposium—highlighting the research students have put in all year.

Rachel Bandy, assistant professor of social and criminal justice, led the symposium and was pleased with Thursday’s attendance.

“We didn’t know what to expect – this is a new event, but we were pleased with the turn-out and hope to keep growing it,” Bandy said.

While the symposium showcases students’ hard work, they have to be chosen to participate.

“It is a selective process,” Bandy said. “Students must apply to participate through the submission of an abstract of their work. A group of faculty then reads each abstract and determines if the work should be invited to be a part of the Symposium.”

According to the Simpson website, the symposium serves to showcase outstanding work by enabling individuals and groups to explore and communicate their work.

Oral performance winners from Thursday were seniors April Carlson and Zach Rohlwing. Poster exhibit winners were senior Mary Huff along with the group advised by Professor of Mathematics Heidi Berger which consisted of seniors Molly Peterson, Dani Peterson, sophomore Adam Smith and freshmen Mike Henry and Luke Kirchner.

Junior Emily Van Roekel felt a fluctuation in attendance throughout the day.

“I believe that attendance varied,” Van Roekel said. “There was a great turn out for the afternoon poster sessions but attendance was a little scarce in the longer talks, specifically in the morning sessions. Hopefully in the future, students will not only attend to receive extra credit, but also to support their friends and classmates.”

Sophomore Antonio Reyes agrees with Van Roekel and Bandy.

“I think the turnout of students could have been a lot better, but obviously the presentations were going on at random locations so that could have been a factor,” Reyes said. “But in all, those who attended got to see the hard work that many students here at Simpson are putting in and I think the symposium allows the Simpson to grow even more as community.”

While Reyes and Van Roekel believe that the turnout could have been better, classes were cancelled this year in order to encourage students to attend.

“It was decided to cancel classes because last year’s event was such a success that we wanted to expand the number of opportunities to participate and attend,” Bandy said.

Reyes said that with the opportunity to attend, students would be able to see the success of their fellow classmates.

“This school is filled with talented students,” Reyes said. “I think the Simpson symposium allows the community and many other professors see the potential that many students have in various departments.”

Van Roekel also believes that the symposium allows everyone to showcase the hard work that takes place in the departments.

“I think the symposium is a great idea and really gives credit to those who are doing a lot more work behind the scenes,” Van Roekel said. “It gives students a chance to share what they have discovered as well as showcase the work they have been putting forth. The symposium is also a way to encourage and strengthen Simpson students’ speaking and presentation skills which is especially essential for those looking to continue education post graduation.”

If chosen to participate in the future, Van Roekel’s reminder to students is the amount of time and energy that goes in to the presentation is significant.

“The work of the projects varied depending on the presentation format,” Van Roekel said. “Preparation for the independent research talk took considerably longer than preparation for the round table discussion. But regardless of the time it took and the added stress involved, I felt that the practice and experience was undoubtedly worthwhile.”