Students give presentations, win awards for projects at symposium

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About 120 CSUN students participated in the 10th annual Student Research and Creative Works Symposium Nov. 11 in the University Student Union Grand Salon.

Mack Johnson, associate vice president for Graduate Studies, Research and International Programs, said 10 winners from the event are expected to go to the CSU Student Research Competition next April to compete with other California students.

The symposium is organized in the same format as the CSU Student Research Competition, where students make oral presentations to peers as well as to faculty judges and receive awards, according to Johnson. CSUN’s symposium had oral and poster presentations, said Hedy Carpenter, associate director of Graduate Programs for Graduate Studies, Research and International Programs.

Eighteen students won awards in the oral presentation category, and seven students working on five projects won awards in the poster presentation category.

This year, CSUN awarded $125 to first-place winners, $75 to second-place winners, and $50 to third-place winners, Carpenter said.

“It’s quite an honor,” said Peter Lee, graduate student in history, who won first place for his “Period Men, Manly Periodicals: Men Magazines in the 1950s.” “It is acknowledgement by both faculty and by fellow students of all these accomplishments.”

Robert Danes, director in Undergraduate Studies, said the symposium is a good opportunity for students to develop their ideas and presentations in front of general audiences.

“I think this is one of the best things we do at CSUN,” Danes said. “I spent a lot of my time dealing with students who have troubles in academic (grades), so it’s a great treat to see all these students’ wonderful works.”

“It makes (us) realize that everything is going well after all,” he added.

Delbert Moreno, graduate student in Chicano/a Studies, who won a first place in the College of Humanities for his “Parent Pioneers and Single Latina Mothers: A Community Based Study,” said participating in the symposium is a good opportunity for all students in terms of seeing other people’s works and building presentation skills.

“It’s a good learning experience,” he said.

Carpenter said the symposium is benefit for students, especially those who are planning to pursue a master’s degree or Ph.D.

Laura Beltz, graduate student in anthropology, who did oral presentation, said she thinks the symposium was a good practice for graduate students.

“Especially a lot of us who want to go on become professors need this practice. (We) need to be able to speak in academic situations,” she said.

According to Carpenter, because there is no separate undergraduate and graduate student division, student presentations are given in different phases.

Johnson said the quality of poster presentations are getting improved with each year.

“I think the level of participation and the knowledge of training these posters continue to increase year after year,” he said.

According to Johnson, 42 students participated in poster presentations this year, with each poster examined by three judges.

Danes said that as one of the poster judges, he looks to see how clear the presentation is.

Tovah Sands, educational psychology and counseling professor and judge for the poster presentation, said the judges have to look at all different criteria, such as the quality of the actual research, questions and results, significance of actual questions, and presentation.

“One of the things I look at the posters was the presenter’s ability to discuss the posters,” Sands said.

At the oral presentation competitions, each student was permitted to have a 10-minute presentation, and after that, the two to three faculty judges gave questions to the student about his/her work, according to Carpenter.

David Black, graduate health science major and oral presenter, said he felt good about the judges’ questions.

“That helps me increase my awareness of my own research,” Black said.

CSUN President Jolene Koester and Provost Harold Hellenbrand were on hand to address the symposium’s participants, both emphasizing the importance of student research.

Johnson said he thanked all the faculty mentors who helped students, because each student worked with a faculty mentor for his or her work.

Rene Fleischbein, graduate student in English, said her oral presentation went well because of her thesis adviser’s guidance.

Stephen Batham, graduate student who won second place for his “A Man for All Seasons: the Transplantation of American Racial Hierarchy and Social Structure to the Panama Canal” project, said he participated in the symposium last year but did not win an award.

“I think I learned a lot from doing it a second time,” Batham said. This year, he was able to focus on the particular things and incorporate materials into his presentation, Batham said.

“It’s finished, but it’s always under revision,” he said.

Aya Oikawa can be reached at aya.oikawa.73@csun.edu.