Worcester State University Celebration of Scholarship and Creativity image

Student Scholarship and Creativity Shine at Event

April 15, 2015
By: Worcester State University News

Preventing falls among the elderly, teaching financial literacy in the community, and studying invasive plants in area lakes are some topics featured in posters, panel discussions, and exhibitions at our 8th annual Celebration of Scholarship and Creativity.

The event, held on April 15, gives students across all academic disciplines an opportunity to showcase their research, scholarship, and creative work. Thirteen oral and panel presentations and more than 130 posters were held throughout the day in the Student Center and May Street Building.

“This is a very special event that gives students a way to present their work, building confidence and presentation skills in the process that will be useful beyond their careers at WSU,” says Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Patricia Marshall. “I’m more impressed than ever with the way our students light a spark, making us aware of new ideas, issues of the world, and problems and solutions.”

The research and creativity posters, exhibitions and oral presentations represented students in programs under the School of Education, Health, and Natural Sciences and School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Sample projects included undergraduate nursing students working with the Worcester Senior Center to create a new exercise class for the elderly that increases muscle strength and agility to prevent falls, a leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries.

“The students began by attending the exercise class and joining in,” said Patricia Moran, nursing instructor of community health and pediatrics. “They gathered input from the older adults as to what helped, what they wanted to keep, and what they wanted added. They took into consideration the need for this population to be able to adapt to their individual activity levels.”

Moran’s students joined several other students in researching this topic. Lindsey D. Silva, a student in the graduate nursing community health track, worked with the Worcester Division of Public Health to assess falls of the elderly population in Worcester in order to recommend ways to prevent further falls and improve risk assessment measures. Silva will discuss her findings, including that the 70-84 year old age group represented the largest percentage of falls each year, at the poster session.

One of the projects originated from the Enactus Club, an organization that prepares students for entrepreneurship and business success. Students worked with the Hector Reyes House, a Worcester non-profit that helps Hispanic males re-build their lives. The students researched, designed, and delivered a financial literacy project to match the need of the residents. They also helped market the grand opening of Café Reyes, a local restaurant that trains people to run a business and learn new job skills.

“The students constructed the menu board in the café, designed the printed menus, and created a series of pamphlets, in Spanish, to help their employees understand the requirements and expectations for success in their new jobs within the café,” says Enactus’ faculty advisor, Professor of Business Administration and Economics Jay Mahoney.

Enactus also presented posters on its ESL Financial Literacy Workshop and promotional activities for the upcoming On Guard 5K Road Race, which supports an organization started by former Enactus member Julie Broderick.

Senior biology student Richard G. Ruby III presented his poster about invasive plants that are taking over waterways and lakes in 25 states, including Massachusetts. “This event gives me hands-on experience presenting complex information to the public,” he says. “As a future scientist, I think it’s especially important for me to learn how to communicate effectively since many issues in science today are revolutionizing the way people view our role in the environment.”

Ruby’s advisor, Professor of Biology Steven Oliver, says that the event is beneficial for students by bringing together the coursework and the research they’ve completed. “Students are the producers of, rather than the consumers of, new knowledge,” he says. “Presenting research at this event is useful in shaping their future plans and in helping them get jobs, graduate positions, and further opportunities in their fields.”

Math major Gina Molinari’s research showed how mathematics plays a role in the strategy game of roulette. The house has an advantage on any kind of bet in roulette, but numerous betting strategies have been developed over the years that claim to help a player beat the odds. Gina set out to find the best strategy for winning at roulette by looking at the player’s profit after playing 1,000 games and betting $1 on each game. Using a Monte Carlo simulation, she could model the probabilistic behavior of roulette and test the various strategies under consideration.

Meanwhile, the Student Thesis Exhibition marked the culmination of work by graduating art concentrators in the Visual and Performing Arts program. Their thought-provoking work demonstrates mastery of conceptual, technical, and aesthetic content. For example:

  • Nicole Atchue focused on floral and natural forms as her inspiration.
  • Nicole Elias produced ceramic sculptures that explore the female body as vessel.
  • Isaac Fontain’s gouache paintings used the high-energy colors and exuberant forms of animation.
  • Aynsley Goodness made a conceptual installation about children and violence.
  • Brianna Howe used mixed media to represent her complex attitudes toward mothers and heroines.
  • Kristine MacBrian used photography and mixed media to explore gender as performance.
  • Shannon McGinty used mixed media and printmaking to represent aspects of her own identity.
  • Abigail Paley created a mixed media installation about consumerism and waste.
  • Frank Quaratone designed a magazine entitled Buy American using computer-manipulated imagery.
  • Justin Sliwoski used the self-portrait to explore alternative perceptions of reality.

To view a booklet with the full listing of panel discussions, performances, and oral and poster presentations, visit the Celebration of Scholarship and Creativity web page.

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