Hundreds of students shared their research and passions from academic work
Four hundred undergraduates filled Lawler Rink and the Blue Line Club to present their semester-long projects at the inaugural Merrimack College Research and Creative Achievement Conference Thursday May 5.
There were 170 individual and group poster presentations and about 59 movie presentations in the largest research conference in Merrimack’s history. The conference showcased research done in the fall and spring semesters.
Provost Carol A. Glod walked from poster session to poster session at different places on different days on campus last year when she considered how much more powerful a single event would be for students to present their research to the entire school across disciplines.
“It signals where the college is at — the interest in scholarship and students and faculty working together,” Glod said. Assistant psychology professor Michael Stroud volunteered to organize the conference with cooperation of 49 faculty who oversaw the research.
“I think it’s great,” Stroud said. “It’s very professional. The students are engaged; they (were) talking across disciplines. Michael Stehnach ’16, a mechanical engineering major from Little Falls, N.Y., presented his research on tidal energy devices and turbulent flows about devices to harness tidal energy done for his advanced fluid mechanics class.
“I want to get into fluid mechanics research,” Stehnach said. “That’s why I took this class and picked this project.” Mechanical engineering assistant professor Roselita Fragoudakis said Stehnach’s career choice will lead to plenty of public presentations, so the conference was good practice.
A fews rows away Alex Deacon ’16, a computer science major from Burlington, Mass., was displaying the work he did to create a multi-player two-dimensional video game. The game was developed for an independent study course on game design under assistant professor Christopher Stuetzle.
The characters are cube figures that fight with swords. “When a player is hit, the cubes fly off,” Deacon said. “You’re breaking each other apart.”
Meghan Brophy ’16, a health sciences major from Waltham, Mass., presented work based on her time as an intern at Open Door in Gloucester, Mass., providing fresh produce to the underprivileged “It showed me there are people struggling to eat right in our backyard,” Brophy said. “I realize how a program like this can help the health of our community.”
Plenty of people are going hungry locally, she said.
“A lot of people would go hungry so their children could eat,” Brophy said. “Once they started coming here, they could eat.” Devon Brunner ’17, a biology major from North Reading, Mass., shared her research collected during an internship at the Center for Wildlife in Cape Neddick, Maine last summer. She prepared the medications for wild animals being rehabilitated and fed them, cleaned cages, and met with people who found animals in distress. “Basically, I set up care for everyone,” Brunner said.
She enjoyed the work and sees the center’s importance but the internship helped Brunner realize she wants her career to go in a different direction.
“It was amazing but not fully what I want to do,” she said.
“Rehabilitation of squirrels is not my forte. Now she’s considering a career along the lines of the National Parks Service to track wildlife.