Stand Up and Be Seen!
The seventh annual WestConn Research Day (WRD) held on May 12, 2011, showcased 33 student research projects representing a wide range of academic disciplines including biology, chemistry, psychology, management information systems, communication, world languages, history and social sciences. Undergraduate students Phanuel Mariano and Pierce O’Donnell shared the 2011 Provost’s Prize, awarded annually at the closing session of WRD to provide $1,000 toward student expenses for future presentation of an original research project at a professional conference. The prize recognized research conducted by Mariano and O’Donnell under the faculty guidance of Professor of Mathematics Dr. Josie Hamer on the topic, “The Modeling of Repeater Coordination by an Area Optimization Approach.”
The WRD 2011 program featured a poster exhibition of research projects in the Science Building Atrium, as well as a Student Center luncheon where several student researchers offered presentations of their projects to invited guests from WCSU faculty and staff and the Danbury area business and civic community. Projects accepted for display at WRD required prior review and approval by the student’s faculty adviser.
WRD 2011 and the Connecticut State University Psychology Day program, also held on May 12 on Western’s Midtown campus, cosponsored a keynote lecture by Harvard Medical School Professor of Ophthalmology and Radiology Dr. Jeremy Wolfe, a pioneering researcher in the field of visual attention. Wolfe has received international recognition for his ground-breaking research exploring how human vision and the human brain manage complex tasks ranging from security scanning at airports to pathology diagnoses from CAT scan and MRI imaging. In his lecture at the WCSU Science Building, he discussed findings from his research in a talk titled, “Dancing Chickens and iPods Stored in Honey: Why Visual Attention Research Matters.”
Dr. Susan Maskel, professor of biological and environmental sciences and cochair of the WRD 2011 organizing committee, observed the annual event provided an important reminder that students are engaged in research in all fields of academic study at Western.
“Even in times of hardship, research is essential for economic progress and personal development,” Maskel remarked. “We need to have people who know how to conduct proper and rigorous research for the benefit of the economy and society. We must continue to teach the next generation of researchers.”
Assistant Professor of Management Information Systems Dr. Emilio Collar, cochair of the WRD 2011 committee, emphasized that the diversity of projects displayed served to demonstrate that research is not limited to laboratory studies in the physical sciences. “Many of our students become interested in areas with which they were previously unfamiliar because they participated in WestConn Research Day,” he said. “It’s not just about research in the lab, but also about how we apply research findings in the real world.”