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SU's Summer Student Research Conference celebrates innovation

SU student Catherine Milligan stands in front of her research project poster, which focuses on how contact sports afflict young athletes. Image courtesy of Liam McGinnes.

Within academic institutions and our society as a whole, the ability to conduct thorough research is invaluable. At Salisbury University, student mastery of this skill is promoted through two annual Student Research Conferences – or an SRC – the first of which took place last Thursday in the Guerrieri Academic Commons.

On the fourth floor of the library, 34 posters were placed on boards by students who, through collaborative effort with their faculty mentors, put together impressive research projects over the summer.

Standing by their posters, these students presented the concept, purpose, and potential of their research projects to both guests and colleagues who filled the room.

Inspired by the hardships he faced as an undergraduate, SU student Hunter Whitt created an eye-opening research project which focuses on how accommodations for disabilities are understood in the college classroom, detailing the issue he intends to solve with the work he's done.

SU student Hunter Whitt faces his research project poster, which addresses the way accommodations for disabilities are understood in the college classroom. Image courtesy of Liam McGinnes.

“What I hope to achieve is that we think about accommodations differently. Typically, we think about accommodations as being on college syllabuses. It’s not being discussed in classrooms, it’s being discussed in the DRC [Disabilities Resource Center], but students aren’t navigating through DRC, they’re navigating by talking with their instructors,” Whitt said.

Although Whitt faced some difficulties finding the most appropriate way to ask sensitive questions during interviews, he ultimately persevered in bringing his idea to life. He plans on wrapping up his project with a literature review, and encoding the data he's collected.

Another student, Catherine Milligan, studied the cognitive and emotional effects that sub-concussive head injuries have on younger athletes.

Drawn to the issue of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy – or CTE – by a documentary titled The League of Denial, Milligan decided to focus her efforts on determining how contact sports negatively impact the younger population. On this endeavor, however, she encountered some challenges, specifically with student participation in the study.

“It was definitely [difficult] getting people in. Not everyone’s super comfortable answering depression questionnaires, not everyone’s comfortable sitting on an iPad for an hour and a half,” Milligan said.

Despite her difficulties, she was able to collect the data she needed.

At the conference, SU President Carolyn Ringer Lepre along with fellow administrators made encouraging remarks about the plethora of innovative displays.

The president gave recognition to the bold decision which each of the several students made: to spend their summer break toiling away on their respective studies.

“Summer is often a time of rest [and] relaxation, you’re sort of recovering from the hard work during the academic year. But you chose not to do that. You chose to take that step further and not stop that learning process over what was your summer vacation,” Lepre said.

Near the conclusion of the speech, Lepre decided to highlight the immense significance learning and research possess in our society.

"You've, I'm sure, learned that research has this transformative power; that we have the power to revolutionize our understanding, to drive innovation, and to address pressing global challenges, and this will impact the world for the better," Lepre said.

This year's SRC provided for a successful display of creative projects which SU students invested their time, energy, and resources into producing. Not only the students, but the mentors also deserve a lot of credit for the navigation and support they gave to each of the student researchers.



Staff Writer

Featured image courtesy of Liam McGinnes

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