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Rochester Institute of Technology
College of Liberal Arts
Department of Communication
Undergraduates Strut Their Stuff at April Conferences
by Jacqueline Licht

At RIT, April is a time for celebrating undergraduate research. Both the Conference for Undergraduate Research in Communication and the College of Liberal Arts (COLA) Student Research Conference provide
students with the opportunity to highlight their accomplishments and brush up on their professional presentation skills. Fourth-year Economics major Gregory DeAngelo offers this advice to future presenters:
“There is truly no substitute for the conference environment. The goal of a conference, in my mind, is to bring together active researchers and curious minds to expand knowledge and provide advice to members of the research community.”

The Second Annual Conference for Undergraduate Research in Communication, held on April 6th, students from across the state exchanged ideas and mingled with peers. About 40 students from nine New York State public and private colleges and universities presented
their research in the forms of poster presentations and panels to more than 100 conference attendees. Panel topics included thesis presentations by RIT’s own Professional & Technical Communication majors Kayla Zerby, Sean King, Lauren Heege, and Jonathan Bove.

After the stunning success of last year’s local event, this year’s statewide conference aspires to a regional or national future. According to conference organizer and Department of Communication Professor Patrick Scanlon, “this conference--and there aren’t many undergraduate
research conferences--brings prestige to RIT.” On the student perspective, Kayla Zerby adds, “It’s also a good way to practice presenting in front of people. The more I do it, the less nervous I am!”

The Seventh Annual COLA Student Research Conference on April 18th gave students from across RIT’s colleges an opportunity to show off their work on class projects and independent studies in Liberal Arts. Music, literature, history, politics, philosophy, economics, and
language come together at this once-a-year event to celebrate RIT’s budding scholars. Panels of students with related topics signed up through their professors to present work that they have completed within the year, or by contacting conference organizer Associate Dean
Laurence H. Winnie.

Some panels featured projects created by the students’ own imaginations, like the independent research conducted by Gregory DeAngelo. He presented two research papers this year, and his work on improving landfill quality has been submitted to the Journal of Energy and Resource Economics. “I chose this topic because I’ve had a tremendous amount of experience with landfills—the largest landfill in
Upstate New York resides in my old backyard,” DeAngelo explains.

Other panels were based on a particular class: as a course project, Advanced Japanese III students wrote and performed a play in Japanese based on a cultural folktale. Yukiko Maru, Japanese Lecturer in the Department of Language and Literature, organized the performance. “Students in the class are involved in all aspects of the production,”
she says. “Creating a play provides them with an excellent opportunity to integrate what they have learned for three years, such as grammar, speaking, writing, and culture, including some history.” Not only does this conference allow students to gain professional experience presenting their work, but the college also benefits from the opportunity to display the spirit and variety of the Liberal Arts at RIT. Involving students from
other programs creates a unique interdisciplinary experience, as does the involvement of students from neighboring universities.


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