Putting Scientific Theory into Practice

OWU’s Summer Science Research Symposium showcases exciting student-faculty research. (Photo by Mark Schmitter '12)

OWU’s Summer Science Research Symposium showcases exciting student-faculty research. (Photo by Mark Schmitter ’12)

OWU’s Schimmel/Conrades Science Center hosted the Patricia Belt Conrades Summer Science Research Symposium (SSRS) on September 16th. This outstanding program celebrated its 21st year at Ohio Wesleyan and featured brief presentations from each of the students who participated in the intensive 10-week summer research program. They had the opportunity to work alongside experienced mentors in their fields of study, with research locations that varied from OWU’s campus to The Ohio State University to international locales such as Peru and the Amazon Rainforest. The topics of research varied from “A Novel, Aqueous Fluorescent Fluoride Probe Using Coumarin Derivatives” researched by Khoa Lam ’16 and Professor Katherine Hervert to “The Relationship between Stress and Memory in Cognitive Aging” by Jessica Martin ’14 and Thin Lee ’14 with Professor Lynda Hall as the faculty advisor.

President Rock Jones opened the symposium by welcoming all visiting prospective students and family members to the Science Center and thanking all of those individuals who worked so hard to accomplish the amazing research extravaganza. He explained that one of the most prominent features of the science curriculum is “the students’ ability to work with faculty on ground-breaking research both here on campus and around the world.”

Students acted in the unique roles of researchers and scientists rather than simply observers. Participants were able to design their own projects or continue past experiments and add their own new perspective to the already existing data. The students and the faculty advisors who assisted them stood proudly by their poster boards of abstracts, data, and hypotheses, each station ready and willing to explain the work they had completed and the findings and conclusions they had discovered. The enthusiasm in the room was both vibrant and contagious.

Erika Kazi ’14 (right) and Ashley Taylor ’14 presented their research about sustainability practices experienced in Ecuador. (Photo by Mark Schmitter ’12)

Erika Kazi ’14 (right) and Ashley Taylor ’14 presented their research about sustainability practices experienced in Ecuador. (Photo by Mark Schmitter ’12)

The amount of passion and dedication that went into each project was obvious. Walking around the atrium, I spoke with Ashley Taylor ’14 and Erika Kazi ’14 about their project on “Environment, Permaculture, and Sustainability in Ecuador.” They initially spent two weeks apart during the summer, with separate travel learning courses (in Peru and Bolivia) before meeting up to spend  10 weeks together in the Ecuadorian Rainforest. Their objective was to examine and implement methods of sustainability, an underrated yet eco-friendly task that OWU has begun to institute into daily life here on campus. Not only were they able to bring back a bevy of techniques and methods to improve sustainability of living but they also were able to “experience the cultural composition and assist in the sustainability practices of a developing country.”  Taylor is currently working with Professor David Johnson on an Independent Study about the creation of stingless bees.

Kelsey Morrison ’17 and Cheyenne Gibbons ’17 were able to experience this fantastic program for the first time. Morrison explained how interesting she found it that so many different areas of the sciences were covered and how the school has not only been able to accommodate the vast range of subjects but excel in providing the best opportunities for students.

“As a freshman, this [symposium] has shown me the huge number of opportunities and science-related programs offered at this school,” says Gibbons.

The SSRS is just one example of the many practical learning opportunities at Ohio Wesleyan. Visitors could see and hear about groundbreaking research, the genius and passion of some of the nation’s brightest students working with their imaginations and the support of inspired faculty members who share similar passions. The Summer Science Research Symposium is a clear example of how Ohio Wesleyan is a cut above other academic institutions, demonstrating its sincere appreciation for learning and bettering the world, one mind at a time.

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