Written by Amanda Usher
On Friday from 3-6 p.m., the VSU community piled into the UC Magnolia Room to see graduate students present their research during the Fifth Annual Graduate Student Research and Scholarship Symposium.
According to Teresa Williams, administrative coordinator of the Graduate School, this year’s symposium broke the record for the amount of poster presentations by graduate students with 47 posters, though there were 50 nominations.
“Basically, departments chose students from their graduate programs based on research/scholarship and creativity that was outstanding and worthy of being represented at this type of forum,” she said. “Our symposium planning committee usually accepts all nominations, but eventually some students withdraw.”
The symposium featured students from departments such as biology, history, marriage and family therapy, modern and classical languages, political science, adult and career education and library and information science.
Posters were set up in a circle around the room while students explained their research to spectators who attended.
The event then transitioned into the recognition ceremony, where Dr. James LaPlant, interim assistant vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School, acted as emcee and gave a brief welcome.
Dr. William McKinney, VSU president, and Dr. Sharon Gravett, assistant vice president for Academic Affairs, both gave opening remarks before Dr. LaPlant handed out certificates to each participant.
VSU Catering provided refreshments, which included meatballs, an array of fruit, parfaits, cake and more.
Dr. LaPlant said that he especially enjoyed speaking to all of the participants.
“My favorite part of the symposium [was] the opportunity to visit with our wonderful graduate students across a variety of disciplines about their exciting and innovative research,” he said. “Faculty sponsors of the graduate student research also attend the symposium, and it is a pleasure to see the exceptional mentoring work of my colleagues.”
Both Williams and Dr. LaPlant hinted that oral presentations and creative performances could possibly be added as part of the symposium.
The very first Graduate Research Symposium was organized in spring 2009 by Dr. Karla Hull, dean of the College of Education.
Williams believes that it’s essential for the symposium to exist because it showcases the research and scholarship present at VSU.
“Grad students deserve a little attention now and again,” she said. “And we were also able to highlight faculty mentors and their contribution to graduate students’ successes.”
Dr. LaPlant feels that the symposium is necessary as well.
“VSU graduate students benefit from the opportunity to present their research to a campus-wide audience of faculty and fellow students,” he said. “Graduate students can discuss the evolution of their research, the methodology and research design of their project and the next stages of their research as well [as] potential publication opportunities.”