The 2018 Research Symposium, an annual Fairfield University event that highlights the scholarly work of undergraduate and graduate students, will feature pieces of work from nearly every discipline and field of study offered at Fairfield.

According to the description on Orgsync, “Students present research posters, performances and other creative works that celebrate the vibrant spirit and intellectual vitality of Fairfield University’s student body.”

The event will take place on Thursday, April 26 from 1:30-5 p.m. in the Oak Room at the John A. Barone Campus Center. However, from 2-4 p.m., the Dogwood Room will host the displayed works of nursing and health studies and undergraduate scholarship students. Also, from 3-5 p.m., Sigma Xi and graduate students will display their work in the Oak Room.

On Orgsync, it states that, “the works and projects on display [will] highlight the importance of Fairfield University’s Jesuit mission to promote scholarship through service, international engagement and to strive for excellence in work that contribute to the common good.”

Students who plan to partake in the symposium will need to register on Orgsync and are encouraged to attend the poster building workshops on Tuesday, April 10 from 5-7 p.m. and Tuesday, April 17 from 5-6 p.m., both of which are to be hosted by the DiMenna-Nyselius Library.

Current Sigma Xi president, Associate Professor of biology Dr. Anita Fernandez, Ph.D, noted that, “The Sigma Xi Poster Session is to me the highlight of the year’s Sigma Xi activities. Sigma Xi is an honor society whose main purpose is to promote and advance research in the STEM fields.”

“I think it’s really great that students get the chance to show off all of their hard work and research … I think it’ll be a great opportunity for those involved,” said Emma Rybacki ‘19.

Junior Natasha Sefrien, a student who plans on attending the event, stated, “I am excited to see my peers hard work presented and paid off.”

Dr. Fernandez added that the poster session has been hosted by Sigma Xi on campus for about 18 years and, since 2011, it has been held in conjunction with the University-wide Research Symposium.

The former president of Sigma Xi, Associate Professor of chemistry and biochemistry Dr. John R. Miecznikowski stated that, “The Sigma Xi poster session is one of the highlights of the academic year for me. It is very affirming for me to see so many students presenting their research at the poster session. I can see their excitement about science and their joy in presenting their research.”

“It is a great experience for students to present their work and explain their research to others who may not be familiar with their project. It is also worthwhile for students to obtain suggestions about their research from other faculty and students at the poster session.” Miecznikowski added.

One of the primary changes to the event this year, according to Dr. Fernandez, “is that posters will be available for public viewing from 1:30 until 5 p.m. Student presenters will be in front of their posters available to explain their work between 3 and 5 p.m. In the past, the posters were available for viewing for just the two hours [3-5 p.m.] with the student researchers present the entire time explaining them.”

With the new 1:30-5 p.m. presentation, Dr. Fernandez noted that the presenters themselves will have the time to see their friends’ posters before having to stand in front of their own respective works. Essentially, she felt that the new format will give their hard work more visibility.

As for how she felt about the event as a whole, Dr. Fernandez stated that, “The Sigma Xi Poster Session is the one real opportunity we have to learn what students have been doing with their independent research projects. Each of my own research assistants has spent at least three semesters working on their research, adding up to hundreds of hours invested in their projects.”

Junior Bryce Talbot-Dion noted, “I haven’t personally heard of it, but it sounds like an excellent opportunity for students.”

“I’m so excited to share my research with other students and learn about where our funding goes for research on this campus,” said Rocky Reilly ‘20, who is presenting her research in chemical biology with Aaron Van Dyke, Ph.D.

In 2017, there were 71 Sigma Xi posters and she added that it is anticipated that Sigma Xi is to experience a similar number for this year’s event.

As for what fields of study are generally represented at the poster session, Miecznikowski said that, “This year, students will present posters from the departments of biology, chemistry and biochemistry, mathematics, physics, psychology and the School of Engineering. This year, as in most years, a majority of the posters come from the departments of biology, chemistry and biochemistry.  

“All the STEM fields on campus are represented at the Sigma Xi Poster Session, including psychology, biology, chemistry, physics, math and engineering. In order to qualify for the Sigma Xi Poster Session, students must have participated in research with a faculty member and must be able to encapsulate that research in a short abstract. Students typically do this in close collaboration with a faculty member, and the quality and quantity of the submissions is very high,” said Fernandez.

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