20th Annual Scholarship and Creative Works Conference Features Record Number of Student Presentation
By Justin Kresse and Lizz Panchyk
The 20th anniversary of the Scholarship and Creative Works Conference, also known as Research Day, took place on Tuesday, April 25 and aimed to give students the opportunity to represent their work and research, and allow for students, faculty and others to see the hard work showcased at Adelphi. The 2023 conference had the most presenters and visitors ever—684 total—and brought in 250 proposals—another record—including presentations in core four areas of focus: arts and humanities, STEM and social sciences, health and wellness, and the business and education professions.
Co-chairs Dr. Alexander Heyl and Dr. Wei Liu, said they were very happy with how it went.
Heyl said, “We are always striving to provide the best possible platform for students to present their work. The idea is to engage in a dialog with other people working on topics that you might find interesting or related to your own work. In fact, there was a purposeful attempt not to break up presentations just into sections by the department they were associated with so as to allow this dialog between disciplines to happen.”
He also noted that they strive for everyone to get the conditions they need to present their work adequately. Three years ago they implemented starting the conference later in the day this year with presentations beginning around noon so that people could have more time to get to campus. Also, last year the program was moved entirely to the second floor of the Ruth S. Harley University Center so everyone could be closer together and attendees could better go between the different kinds of presentations.
New this year, the conference started with a complimentary breakfast and energy panel discussion while the presenters for the first session were getting started. At noon President Christine M. Riordan came onstage in the Ballroom for a brief opening address. She described the great variety of presentations there would be throughout the day and remarked on how this year's conference had the largest number of undergraduate and graduate proposal submissions. There were also 104 faculty advisers. After President Riordan’s address, the actual presentations started.
Throughout the day, students were giving oral presentations with friends and advisors near. There were many students presenting their research in the poster section. Among them was senior international relations major Caio Gomes, whose research project was titled “Indian Non-Alignment and the Future of the BRICS.” He examined the economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. He concluded that although China is the only country of this group to have had extensive economic growth recently, they collectively are uniquely positioned to address issues facing our planet such as climate change because of their lack of attachment to a global superpower like the U.S.
Caio said he was happy with his first time presenting at the conference. “I genuinely was not expecting so many people to show up, so it was a pleasant surprise to see a lot of people walk by the posters and attend other presentations throughout the day.”
After a short break to allow the next group of presenters to set up, it was time for another group as the day was split into four sessions. Presenting in this second section was Matthew Brophy, a junior who is also the president of Delta Chi. Brophy, who is majoring in psychology, described his research on the association between trauma and diagnosis of learning challenges. He said, “It was a wonderful experience, being able to not just go and discuss something that I was passionate about researching, but to also meet and discuss with others about their ideas and even their plans for future studies.”
The conference is not solely e-poster presentations, though. In each of the time sessions, there were also oral presentations, computer science and game exhibitions, and either dance performances or visual arts performances. One of the computer science presentations was a group project by senior computer science majors Gabriel Sutton, Jazz Singh and Ruben Laureta called “JRG News.” They created an online site that sorted through news sites and marked articles considered unbiased to be reposted on their website. When asked about the conference, Sutton said, “I thought that the conference went well.”
Catherine Desiderio, a senior English major who is concentrating on creative writing, presented her senior honors thesis project about poetry and performed some she’s written. She explained how poetry is free and unrestricted and acts as a type of therapy and that her writing really began to bloom from the pandemic. She read three of her own poems, “Born Before the World Turned Digital,” “To Make the Ocean Sing to Me Again” and “In the Room With All of My Past Selves.”
“Each time I share my writing with the world, I become less scared,” Desiderio said. “I have turned my anxiety into appreciation for the opportunity to speak in a space where people listen and support me. I am looking forward to reading more poems, whether to my family, friends, peers or at future readings.”
As part of the new format for the conference, students from the Communications Department were able to present their short films for the first time as well. There were five total: “Significant Bother” by Nina Berntzen and Nicole Cecere; “A World For All of Us” by Nina Berntzen and Alyssa Krell; “Driving Over Bridges” by Jacob Rosenfeld and Ethan Bloch; “Take Two: Reclaiming Queer Adolescence in Adulthood” by Olivia Reid and Bethany Goodwin and “Artemis Why?” by Jade McClinton-Dorley.
Reid, a sophomore communications major with a concentration in digital media and cinema studies, said, “I was asked by the department chair Peggy Cassidy to show my film at the Viewfinders Film Festival hosted by the Department of Equity and Inclusion and following that festival she encouraged those of us who participated to also submit our films to the Research Day Conference. Several people have spoken to me about the impact my film had had on them, which I didn’t expect when I made it, and I welcomed the opportunity to talk about it again.”
She added that presenting at both events has been empowering to talk about the queer experience so openly and freely, “and it’s reminded me of why I enjoy making films.”
The keynote was given by Dr. Francine Conway, PhD ‘99, a psychologist and Adelphi alum and current chancellor-provost of Rutgers University-New Brunswick. She is the person who created the Research Day Conference 20 years ago, so Dr. Liu and Dr. Heyl said they saw it only fitting for her to return as the keynote speaker for this special anniversary conference. Here, she shared her research as to why grandparents are so important in a child’s life and the impact they leave, adding that her grandmother raised her and was her inspiration. She explained how research starts with curiosity (the building block), which leads you to ask questions to further your research. A good researcher is willing to tell a story, and the next frontier for research is interdisciplinary collaboration, she said.
Conway also shared some of the most important parts of research, which include but are not limited to connection, collaboration, communication and serving the common good. She ended by saying how much artificial intelligence (AI) is intertwined within our lives and is our reality now. Whether this could hurt or help with research is up to the beholders’ eye. But for now, Conway sees beauty in watching students blossom at Adelphi, just like she did during her time here.
“Sharing your work with others takes courage, and many Adelphi students took on the role as researchers, presenting their impressive work with everyone who came,” she said.