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‘The Celebration of Student Research is Back’ for 22nd Anniversary

The roles reversed Friday as students, like Henry Egan ’22, found themselves in various spots across campus at the center of classrooms, leading discussions, and, condensing months’ worth of extensive research into a fifteen-minute presentation.

It was all part of Wabash’s 22nd Celebration of Student Research, Scholarship, and Creative Work, an event dedicated to showcasing the impressive work of students in the form of oral and poster presentations, representing accomplishments across various disciplines.

Henry Egan ’22 talks with English Professor Elan Pavlinich after presenting “Wabash College and Gender: Reflections and Suggestions” at the 22nd Celebration of Student Research, Scholarship, and Creative Work.

Egan presented “Wabash College and Gender: Reflections and Suggestions,” sponsored by English Professors Agata Szczeszak-Brewer and Elan Pavlinich. The senior studied the ideas and models of masculinity and how conversations focused on gender can be improved campus-wide.

“In my research, I treated Wabash as a text to analyze through the lens of Gender Studies, synthesizing gender and literary theory,” Egan said, “and my own experiences as a queer student on campus.

“For there to be real, systemic and intentional academic change, there needs to be more intense approaches to prompt students to think about masculinity critically,” he continued. “There can be a lot of good that can come from thinking critically and breaking down one’s relationship to gender roles and identities, and how that plays out in the world.”

After receiving a round of applause inside Hays Hall, compliments weaved into questions by the audience, which was made up of classmates, faculty, staff and other campus members. An engaging conversation continued back-and-forth between Egan and members of the crowd until it was time for the next student presenter.

Next door in Baxter Hall, Zhangquan Li ’24 gave a presentation titled, “Religion and State,” which analyzed how religion can play a role in the process of state formation.

“In ancient times, religion and state were often connected,” explained Li, who’s research was sponsored by History Professor Stephen Morillo.

“Take the example of the Crusades. You can argue they fought for religious purposes, but the desire for land and wealth could also be viewed as the cause,” Li said. “Besides the connections among them, there is also a lot about the conflicts among them, the struggle between kings and the pope, or religious revolts in history.”

In Detchon Center, Wabash Democracy and Public Discourse (WDPD) fellows Cole Bergman ’24, Burkley McCarthy ’24, and Clayton Allen ’23 presented “Deliberation with Wabash Pastoral Leadership Program,” and provided insight about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected churches.

Adan Villeda Jr. explains his research on drug targeting on G-quadruplex DNA.

During the fall of 2021, WDPD, in collaboration with the Wabash Pastoral Leadership Program (WPLP), hosted their first in-person event since the start of the pandemic where the students got to interact with more than 40 Indiana pastors.

“We conducted a deliberation about civic habits, which are repeated and intentional community-facing acts, to understand how COVID-19 affected the past, current, and future relationships between pastors, their congregations, and their broader local communities,” the group said. “During our deliberations with pastors, we gained insight into the community activities and values that were lost or altered as well as new ones that have emerged during the pandemic.”

More than 20 posters and exhibits were found inside Detchon’s International Hall. Daren Glore ’22 and Thomas Kay ’23 presented “Advances in Box Turtle Ecology Research.” Blake Thomas ’22 presented “Domestic Terrorism and Voter Participation in United States.” Thomas Joven ’24, Drew Bluethmann ’22 and Reese Fokine ’22 presented “Roma!”

The Celebration presentations on display Friday were diverse and focused on a wide variety of student work from all three academic divisions, including collaborative work with faculty and staff, independent study, or other projects that showcased efforts beyond normal coursework.

Since 1999, the Celebration has recognized, in a proud and public way, the creative accomplishments of Wabash students, said Dean of the College Todd McDorman. 

“We celebrate not only the particular achievements of individual students, but also a deeply embedded ethos of the College,” McDorman said. “The impressive breadth and quality of student creative work is evidence of the challenge and change that marks the Wabash experience.

“Close collaboration between Wabash students and faculty across the College is a hallmark of our culture, a labor of pedagogy and love that makes a difference for our students. It is a special pleasure to introduce some of the results of that collaboration in these presentations,” he said.

Lon Porter, professor of chemistry and chair of Undergraduate Research and Celebration Committee, said there have been a lot of changes throughout the years, especially do to the COVID-19 pandemic—from the number of participants to the number of disciplines that are represented at the event.

This year, Porter is happy to report that there has been a 100% increase in the number of student participants.

A buzz of activity surrounded poster presentations in Detchon Center's International Hall.

“COVID was rough. It really reduced — if not eliminated — a lot of summer opportunities for students to go and study at different places and do research. Last year, we were down to about 40 student participants,” Porter said. “This year, we have well over 80. The Celebration is back!”

Prior to this year’s event, the Celebration Planning Committee announced the winners of two prestigious awards associated with the Wabash tradition: The Celebration Research, Scholarship, and Creativity Award, and the Robert Wedgeworth Research, Scholarship, and Creativity Awards.

The Celebration Research, Scholarship and Creativity Awards are $100 prizes awarded to the students who most effectively articulated their gains in professional development and personal growth as a result of their research, scholarship, or creative work. This year’s winners are Adam Berg ’22, Blake Thomas ’22 and Adan Villeda Jr. ’23.

The Robert Wedgeworth Research, Scholarship and Creativity Awards are $500 prizes that recognize a student’s effective use of library resources in the preparation of Celebration work. This year’s winners are Kenny Coleman ’22 and Alex Rotaru ’22.