By Sandi Combs
More than 86 prizes were awarded Thursday at the university's seventh annual Research & Creative Activity Expo. Winning projects included a study of theater as a tool for social and political change, the use of data-mining to analyze student retention at Ohio University, a content analysis of Southern Ohio community newspapers' coverage of health and health disparities, and an investigation of how the small, racially diverse community of Blackfork has lived harmoniously since the 19th century.
This was the biggest exhibition of Ohio University research, scholarship and creative work to date, comprising the original work of more than 550 undergraduate, graduate and medical students and post-doctoral fellows. Faculty and staff judges honored first- and second-place winners with cash prizes for their projects in categories based on student enrollment in each discipline.
Professor of Communication Studies Ray McKerrow, director of the McNair Scholars Program, was one of many faculty members who came to support their students.
"Students have done excellent work," he said, "and the opportunity to practice presenting fits in with what the McNair Program endeavors to offer students in terms of advancing their potential as graduate school candidates." The McNair Scholars completed their research last summer through a research opportunity hosted by the program and have presented at various national conferences throughout the year.
Also attending were more than 400 area junior high students brought in by the STEAM Project sponsored by the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. High school students who attended participated in special programs earlier in the day at Baker University Center sponsored by the Office of Admissions and the Russ College of Engineering and Technology.
Students had many motivations for participating in the expo. Ohio University-Southern seniors Cary Williams and Candace Fyffe appreciated the chance to tell the story of the racially blind community of Blackfork.
"The expo offered us an opportunity to give attention to the Blackfork community (and) show that the world could be better off," Williams said. "We are in the beginning of our research, and we've made many great contacts today as well as spoken to many people interested in and appreciative of our work."
Graduate student Sadie Roth, a first-place winner in the category of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems of Engineering, researched how engineering methodology can be used to pinpoint characteristics of students who are not likely to return to the university. This was Roth's third year participating.
"It is an opportunity to learn from others and fascinating to see what different disciplines are working on," she said. "(There are) things you may never have thought of. It's also helpful (because) faculty members from different backgrounds come up and give new ideas from which you can look at your own work."
The WOUB Center for Public Media produced a special broadcast from the event that aired on WOUB II and CATVision.
Students were responsible for planning and executing this year's event, with initial work done by a winter-quarter Meeting and Conference Planning class and a staff of five Office of University Events interns carrying the project out.
"The time, dedication and hard work of everyone involved made the expo a great success," said graduate student Anna Rankin, who led the interns and coordinated the event as part of her thesis project. "The involvement of faculty, staff, students and community made it a valuable experience for everybody."
View a full list of student winners.
Writer Sandi Combs is among the students who have played a role in coordinating this year's expo.