A Celebration of Student Research

Students showcase their work at Nancy Kreiter Research Day

By Kashay Webb

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In less than a month, the Notre Dame community will join to celebrate undergraduate and graduate research once again.

Each year, students submit proposals for both research conducted from previous semesters and research currently being worked on. As students from different programs and majors ranging from STEM to liberal arts will be present, the types of projects exhibited vary in content and format. For example, Robyn Githui, a senior political science major, is a first-time presenter this year who is focusing on philosophy research. She submitted two presentations for consideration: a paper on audism and its effect on testimony and deaf epistemology and her senior thesis, “The Evolution of Whiteness and Citizenship Hierarchy in the U.S.” She will be presenting in both the panel and solo presentation format.

Meanwhile, Renee Hajnik, a junior biology major and current fellow of the Sr. Alma Science Year, will present a poster on exosome biogenesis and the potential to a better understanding of the creation pathway and the function of the structures to potentially produce therapies that target diseases utilizing this pathway for infection.

Students are eager to share the work they are passionate about and they have worked on diligently throughout the year. Chinwendu Nwokeabia, a junior mathematics major, explains why she participates in Nancy Kreiter Research Day: “I enjoy doing research, and Research Day provides a chance to discuss what I’ve learned throughout the year about a topic I’m interested in.”

The forum was named to honor Dr. Nancy Kreiter, an associate professor of biology. As an 11—year faculty member of the biology department, Dr. Kreiter was esteemed by the community for her teaching, research, and advocacy for undergraduate research.

The spider emblem used on the Nancy Kreiter Student Research Day informational materials represents Dr. Kreiter’s research interests on the behavioral ecology of spiders. In 2007, she participated in a faculty task force created to explore how faculty and students could develop and expand opportunities for student research. One of their suggestions included initiating a forum in which students could share their research.

Indeed, sharing their original research has been a great benefit to the participants. “Research Day gives me the opportunity to formally present my work in front of an audience other than my class,” shares Githui. “I’m hoping that Research Day helps me bolster my public speaking skills and prepare me for graduate school.”

Dr. Kenneth Sossa, associate professor of biology and co-chair of the Research Day committee, hopes that the experience of participating in Research Day continues to inspire students. “My hope is that students can begin thirsting for the chase of scientific inquiry,” he says. “I hope all students can admire this curious and satisfying process.”

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