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Take Five: Syracuse Students Adapt Skillfully to Virtual ACC Meeting of the Minds
It’s not easy to condense a year’s worth of research into five to eight minutes, but five Syracuse University students with a variety of meaningful research projects were able to do just that and make the University proud with their presentations at the annual ACC Meeting of the Minds Conference in April.
The Meeting of the Minds (MoM) Conference is an annual showcase of some of the most outstanding scholars from the Atlantic Coast Conference’s 15 institutions. Normally, the students present their research and creative work in-person at the host school.
But this year’s two-day event, hosted by the University of North Carolina, was held virtually because of the pandemic and students were asked to keep their presentations to five to eight minutes. The five Syracuse students who presented at the conference were seniors Bronwyn Galloway, Emily Michaels, Ifeyinwa Ojukwu, Nicole Pacateque Rodriguez and Dorbor Tarley.
“Our representative students from Syracuse University each delivered polished and insightful presentations of their work that truly highlighted the range of innovative research being done by our undergraduates,” says Kate Hanson, director of the Syracuse Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Engagement (SOURCE). “It’s an interdisciplinary conference, so presenters must explain the significance of their work to a non-expert audience while also sharing the depth and nuance of their projects. Nicole, Dorbor, Bronwyn, Ify and Emily all achieved this balance in their extraordinary presentations.”
Galloway spent this past school year working on her 40-page thesis that explores the significance of caviar in Russian foodways and outlines the historical factors that led to the current decimated state of sturgeon populations worldwide. Galloway was allotted five minutes for her presentation and says it was “good practice to focus on the key points.”
“What Kate (Hanson) emphasized for our group was for everyone from SU to stay for the entire two-day conference and ask questions and attend other SU students’ presentations as if we were there,” Galloway says. “I appreciated that, and it made it more of an event instead of a five-minute slot.”
Pacateque Rodriguez’s research was about understanding the correlation between stressors and the academic performance of Puerto Rican college students in the United States during Hurricane Maria in 2017.
“It was a little scary when I first heard back, especially when I learned I had to summarize everything in eight minutes, but it went amazingly well,” Pacateque Rodriguez says. “I was very proud of my work, and I am very grateful I was able to share it with the rest of the conference.”
The students were selected by an internal Syracuse University committee to participate in the conference, which provides students with an opportunity to hone their research presentation skills. Here are the students, their projects and their faculty mentors:
- Bronwyn Galloway ’21, Russian language, literature and culture major, College of Arts and Sciences, Renée Crown University Honors Program. “Russian Caviar: A Delicacy in Jeopardy.” Faculty mentor: Professor Erika Haber.
- Emily Michaels ’21, psychology and information studies major, College of Arts and Sciences and School of Information Studies, Renée Crown University Honors Program. “Roles of Routine, Flexibility, and Gender in Online Freelancing.” Faculty mentor: Professor Steve Sawyer.
- Ifeyinwa Ojukwu ’21, biology and psychology major and public health minor, College of Arts and Sciences, Renée Crown University Honors Program. “Evaluating the Functional Consequences of Novel Mutations in the Pantothenate Kinase 2 Gene.” Faculty mentor: Associate Professor Frank Middleton (Upstate Medical University).
- Nicole Pacateque Rodriguez ’21, psychology major and sociology minor, College of Arts and Sciences and Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, McNair Scholars Program. “Understanding the correlation between stressors and academic performance of Puerto Rican college students in the United States during Hurricane María.” Faculty mentor: Professor Kevin Antshel.
- Dorbor Tarley ’21, human development and family science major, David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, Renée Crown University Honors Program, McNair Scholars Program. “Differential Reactions to African-American and Caucasian Women’s Postnatal Maternal Stress.” Faculty mentor: Associate Professor Matthew Mulvaney.
For Galloway, the MoM Conference was the culmination of a yearlong journey that started with finding a thesis topic that would merge her Russian major with her interest in food studies. Working with Haber, her mentor, Galloway focused on an ethnographic approach that explored the history of caviar from its emergence in Russian cuisine to its modern symbolism as the ultimate delicacy to its current jeopardized status because of habitat destruction and overfishing.
“I’m really glad I was able to present my research to an external audience,” says Galloway, who has written a book manuscript on Russian cuisine that she’s hoping to publish eventually. “It was an honor to represent Syracuse at the conference and even if it wasn’t the same as usual, Kate (Hanson) and everyone involved did their best to make it as special as they could.”
In her research on the connection between Hurricane Maria stressors and academic performance, Pacateque Rodriguez determined that the responses of governments and colleges to natural disasters should incorporate Psychological First Aid. The common thread through her presentation–and the other presentations from the Syracuse students–was that their research is intended to make the world a better place, and that’s what the conference is all about.
“It was an amazing experience, and to be able to listen to students presenting on various topics was very educational,” Pacateque Rodriguez says. “I learned so much through this process and I am very grateful I was able to present in this conference.”