The 11th Annual Student Research and Creative Works Symposium held on Friday was a comprehensive display of a number of CSUN students’ academic and artistic aptitude, imagination and intellect.
The symposium featured the research and work of graduate and undergraduate students from all the colleges that CSUN houses with 41 poster presentations on display at the Grand Salon in the University Student Union, and 84 oral presentations scheduled throughout the day.
“(The research symposium) is evidence of one of the unique characteristics of CSUN,” President Jolene Koester said during her opening remarks.
“The faculty actually works with the students who wish to participate in research. This is not something done at other undergraduate institutions,” she said.
The poster presentations included an overwhelming display of the work of students with an interest in the sciences from departments including psychology, biology, chemistry, biochemistry, family and consumer sciences, and geological sciences, among others.
Jennifer Hedger, a second-year biology grad student, conducted original research on gene regulation and the photosynthetic process.
“The purpose of my research was to contribute to our understanding of the (photosynthesis) process, how carbon dioxide gases affect the global climate and how all of this could perhaps lead to finding new ways to use solar energy,” Hedger said.
Students stood by their poster displays ready to present to the judges, who were mainly faculty members from various departments who volunteered to judge, and answer their questions. The Grand Salon was also open to all other students who wished to take a look at the work of their peers and enjoy refreshments.
Outside of the Grand Salon, students were conducting oral presentations to a group of judges at the Oviatt Library, Jacaranda and Sequoia halls, and the Reseda and Balboa rooms of the USU. Students presented their research from departments including anthropology, art, biology, Chicano/a studies, English, geography, history, art, sociology and theater. The students displayed a diverse range of interests and insight. Among the research topics were the illegal diamond trade in West Africa, a new way of redesigning the Cascade Liquid Dishwasher bottle, human leukemic cells, various interpretations of historical events, social issues such as California’s Mandatory Minimum Sentencing law, and actors and acting, to name a few.
Kara Steffen, a history undergraduate student, presented the research she conducted on the television show “Will and Grace” and titled it “Will and Grace, More Homophobic than Groundbreaking.” During her presentation, she delved into the social aspects of the program as well as the historical significance it stands to hold for the perceptions of homosexuality in the coming years. Steffen pointed out that although the popular show had been praised for its positive portrayal of homosexuality and been acclaimed by groups such as GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders), her extensive analysis of the program content showed that it was heavily laden with stereotypes and thus proved otherwise.
“(‘Will and Grace’) actually mirrored heterosexual expectations of what homosexuals are like,” Steffen said.
The symposium ended with an awards ceremony in which a number of students selected by the judges received recognition for completing the most thorough research and creative work.