This past weekend marked a milestone for the Muhlenberg community. President Kathleen Harring was officially sworn in as the College’s first female president. Although she has served as the president for some time, inauguration and other festivities have been cancelled and rescheduled throughout the past two years due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
However, this weekend students, faculty and alumni were finally able to partake in celebratory campus-based activities and events. One of the most notable of these events was the Research Poster Fair that took place on Saturday, Nov. 13.
The Baker Center for the Arts was completely full of poster boards that ran the length of the hall. Students, faculty, staff, family members and alumni were invited to visit the event and ask the researchers questions about their projects.
Elizabeth Nathanson, Ph.D., chair of the media and communication department, said, “I’m incredibly impressed by the number of both student projects and the people talking with the students about their projects. It’s a sign of a rich and vibrant research community that’s hugely supportive and interested and curious about projects that are going on across the curriculum. It’s wonderful to see.”
As Nathanson mentioned, the diversity among these student projects was astounding. She further remarked that, “Just wandering around and seeing all of the departments and the areas of scholarship that are represented… It’s really inspiring… One of the best parts of my job is seeing students take their own research agendas and run with them and then present that work to others and become their own experts.”
The term “research” is sometimes stereotyped as being strictly scientific but, as proved by this poster fair, there was a huge range of subjects being studied.
“I was super nervous initially. But I got some super cool people to talk to and work with.”
Olivia Sica ’22 presented their project called “I Miss You – Queer Femme Intimacies With Heterotopic Boy Bands” which examined the research question: “Why are queer women so drawn to BTS when on the surface they appear to cater to a straight female audience?” As a first-time participant in this event, Sica highlighted that, “There are a bunch of different disciplines [being presented] here.”
Another project, presented by Nyjah Johnson ’22, examined enzyme iron-binding by observing four different enzymes over an extended period of time. It was her first time presenting at the poster fair as well and she mentioned, “I was super nervous initially. But I got some super cool people to talk to and work with.”
It was impossible to walk into this poster fair without finding one subject or presentation that stood out to you. This range of projects and studies made the event enticing and enjoyable. However, putting it together took collective effort and passion from everyone involved.
Keri Colabroy, Ph.D., professor of chemistry, undergraduate research coordinator, and coordinator of this event explained that, “[Putting together this event was] busy, but it was also really fun. I love seeing all of the different projects. I love seeing students’ creativity come out in their posters. So the best part is when I get to hang up all the posters and see how beautiful they are. The worst part is trying to catch all of the typos in the program.”
Participants in this event worked extremely hard and it was reflected in the work presented at the fair this weekend. Arielle Touitou ‘24 came across the event through a schoolwide email and said, “I think [it went] super well! At least for me, I’m able to see so much more of what happens on campus.”
“I think [it went] super well! At least for me, I’m able to see so much more of what happens on campus.”
Moreover, choosing to showcase an event of this caliber on Inauguration Weekend was not a coincidence but rather a conscious decision. Colabroy explains that, “[The Research Poster Fair] reflects the festivities of Inauguration Weekend because Kathy Harring was and is so incredibly invested in transformative student experiences like this. When Kathy was the dean of assessment and the provost, she loved this event and helped me put it on and she cares a lot about student research. So I think this was a great match, to have it be part of [the] inauguration. It’s exactly expressing the kind of stuff Kathy values.”