Lafayette takes innovative approach to sharing students’ work
By Stella Katsipoutis-Varkanis
COVID-19 and social distancing may have prevented the Student Research Poster Session—a biannual tradition—from physically taking place on the Lafayette campus this fall. But that didn’t stop the College from showcasing the exceptional research students conducted during the spring and summer semesters. The event—which typically draws hundreds of Lafayette community members to Kirby Sports Center each year—looked slightly different this time around, but still proved to be a success.
In partnership with virtual exhibition platform Acadiate and under the leadership of Tracie Addy, associate dean of Teaching & Learning and director of Center for the Integration of Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship (CITLS), Lafayette’s Office of the Provost hosted a virtual version of the poster session from Sept. 14 to 18. During the nearly weeklong event, all Lafayette community members were invited to view students’ posters online at their leisure, send messages of support to the students, and participate in a live online wrap-up presentation, during which they could interact with the presenters and ask them questions about their research.
“I am delighted we were able to run the fall poster session virtually this year and give students the opportunity to share their scholarly work,” says Addy. “This was a virtual space full of discoveries and lessons learned from failures, amidst a year full of uncertainty and change during a pandemic. The virtual poster session highlighted Lafayette’s commitment to faculty-student interaction. And more than anything, it demonstrated the excellent educational experiences that faculty can provide even during COVID-19.”
More than half of all Lafayette students are involved in student-faculty research projects before they graduate. The College offers students research opportunities through the EXCEL Scholars program, independent studies, and honors theses. Federal and private foundation grants also make it possible for Lafayette faculty to engage students in their scholarly work.
The Student Research Poster Session is not only the concluding event of the student research experience, but also the students’ first step in professional development, Addy says, as many students go on to have their work published in scholarly journals or present their findings at professional conferences. This fall, the session featured research topics that spanned across disciplines, ranging from the local spread of spotted lanternflies to the political spectrum of the U.S. Supreme Court. Below is just a sampling of the important work students presented this month.