Student Research Week showcases undergraduate projects of all kinds
Think research isn’t for you? Think again. Meghan Abbott, director of Research Services, says you’re probably already a researcher—you just might not know it yet.
“Student Research Week is about celebrating research that our students are proud of, in all its forms,” she says. “It could be a class project, paper or independent study. Or research you assisted a faculty member with—in a paid or volunteer capacity.”
This year’s presentations and posters run the gamut—from a class project in a statistics class that looks at “hashtag politics” to a study on corporate divorce, and even insights into what makes art saleable. And those are only a few of the close to 50 student projects featured during Student Research Week.
On Monday and Tuesday, follow the smell of popcorn to the Multipurpose Room in Building 6 to check out more than 20 poster presentations on everything from racist posts on Facebook confession pages to the intermolecular forces at play in the active site of lactoperoxidase (don’t worry, student researcher Brandon Manary will explain it to you).
Not excited about the prospect of reading 20 different research posters? Good news. Nobody expects you to.
“Posters are designed to stand alone, but they’re not actually intended to be read—they’re really there to support a conversation,” says Meghan. “Posters are really a tool—they give presenters examples and data to refer to when they’re talking to people.”
If you’re standing at a student’s poster presentation or art installation, Meghan suggests beginning with a simple question. “’What was the best part of doing this work?’ What gave you the idea to study this? or even “Tell me about your research,” is enough to start a really interesting conversation,” she says.
On Wednesday and Thursday, students will present research on topics like whiteness culture on university campuses and how self-labelling can turn hurtful mental disorder labels into a badge of pride. If the engaging subject matter isn’t intriguing enough, there will also be coffee and sweet treats at each of the oral presentations.
It was fascinating to research the reasons why companies like Facebook, Tim Hortons, Ford and Pfizer formed business partnerships that ended in “corporate divorce”—and to make comparisons between personal relationships and business relationships.
First as a research assistant to Dr. Ali Taleb with the School of Business and then as an independent research project, I looked at more than 200 cases to see what impact the reason for forming a partnership had on how long that partnership lasted.
The research is still ongoing, but the hope is that being able to predict a partnership’s lifespan could help companies prepare for an anticipated split, have a clean break-up or even use different business strategies to strengthen the partnership and prevent corporate divorce.
I found the case of Jeff Koons, whose Balloon Dog (Orange) is the record holder for most expensive piece of art ever sold, interesting so I decided to look at the inner workings of the contemporary art market. I wanted to see how factors outside of a work’s inherent quality—subjectivity of price, vulnerability to hype, underlying traditional mentalities and general weakness in commerce—can be manipulated to allow artists to increase the price and salability of their work.
I was amazed to learn how malleable the apparent or perceived rules of what makes good or salable art, and fascinated by the complexity of the place where arts and commerce collides.
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