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Graduate Student Work Showcased at First Research Symposium

a history graduate student presents her research

The symposium was an opportunity for students to present their scholarship and refine their research questions.

an environmental science graduate student presents his research poster

VILLANOVA, Pa. – This September, 22 graduate students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova University took part in the Colleges’ first Graduate Student Research Symposium. The event was organized by the Office of Graduate Studies and the Center for Research and Fellowships and took place in the Connelly Center. The students who showcased their work, either with an oral presentation or a poster, each earned a Summer Research Fellowship from the Graduate Studies Office, and their presentations reported on the results of their summer inquiries.

See the list of presenters and research abstracts.

The goal of the research symposium was to not only highlight the outstanding and diverse scholarship being conducted by graduate students in the College but also provide the students with experience presenting their work in public.

Said Emory Woodard, PhD, Dean of Graduate Studies in the College, “The hallmark of scholarship is generalizable knowledge. While there are paradigmatic differences in what this means for different disciplines, the communication of key insights from scholarly inquiry is universal. The Graduate Research Symposium provides our graduate students with an opportunity to hone this important outcome of academic life.”

Academic disciplines represented at the symposium included: Biology, Chemistry, English, Environmental Science, History, Philosophy and Psychology.

History student Katarina Andersen gave a presentation about her research of the Pennhurst "Asylum" and the legacies of eugenics in Pennsylvania.

“I found the experience of sharing my research to be a critical component of the Summer Research Fellowship,” Andersen said. “Crafting a presentation to share gave me the opportunity to think through how to refine my research questions and observations, and allowed me to gain experience presenting in a formal symposium, which is a highly coveted addition to any CV, resume and skill set. Presenting at the symposium gave me the opportunity to discuss my research with people in and outside of my field, which helped me to consider new questions or possibilities with my project, as mine is ongoing. Most importantly, the symposium helped me to more fully conceptualize what is at stake with my project, and how I can fully articulate those stakes to wider audiences.”

Environmental Science student Michael McCullough presented a poster outlining his research of land-based sources of pollution and their contributions to coral disease in Hawaii.

“The Graduate Research Symposium was a fantastic opportunity to elaborate about my project to both scientists and the public alike,” said McCullough. “There's nothing quite like talking to someone one-on-one in order to gauge what people are able to easily grasp and what details I need to elaborate on so that people can become intrigued with and appreciate my research on coral reef health.  It was a valuable experience to be able to witness which concepts and takeaways people responded to and cared about.”

See more photos from the event.

All graduate students in the College may apply for a summer stipend to support their scholarly efforts. Awards are made on a competitive basis and applications are evaluated by a standing committee of graduate faculty. Learn more about the Summer Research Fellowship Program.

the research symposim poster presentation took place in the Presidents' Lounge

About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenged and changing world. With 39 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.