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2022 University Libraries Student Expo Winners

Photograph of the digital screens in the Convo showing the 2022 Expo logo
The Student Expo took place in the Convocation Center in 2022.

The Ohio University Student Research and Creativity Expo returned in-person this year, as hundreds of students gathered in the Convocation Center to show off the wonderful work they’ve been doing outside of the classroom. University Libraries was excited to give out ten of its annual awards in 2022, which are supported by the Libraries’ Vernon R. and Marion Alden Endowment

Three graduate and three undergraduate researchers were honored by the Libraries for outstanding student research that utilizes the Libraries’ resources this year. Two awards were also given to student employees of the Libraries who participated in the Expo, and two Librarian’s Choice awards were given out.  

Take a look at pictures of the event on the Libraries’ Flickr page!

The first-place winner in the graduate category was Oumarou Abdoulaye Balarabe, a Ph.D. candidate in higher education, who studies how undergraduate students in the Benin Republic thrive and succeed. His presentation was titled, “By the Numbers and from Their Own Voices: Identifying and Understanding Pathways to Student Thriving at a Public University in Benin.”

“Understanding students’ distinct pathways to thriving can help identify effective practices for higher education institutions, as they strive to design data-driven, strength-based and student-centered services to help students thrive and succeed,” Abdoulaye Balarabe wrote. 

Second place among graduate students was Marissa Dyck, a Ph.D. candidate in ecology and evolutionary biology. Dyck studies a familiar face at OHIO – the bobcat – and her Expo presentation was titled, “Assessing the Viability of Ohio’s Recovering Bobcat (Lynx rufus) Population.”

Photo of Marissa Dyck presenting at the 2022 Student Expo
Marissa Dyck discusses her research on bobcats in the state of Ohio.

“Bobcats were locally extinct in Ohio for a century and have been recolonizing the state for the last 50 years,” she said in her application. “Currently there is no baseline population data for bobcats in Ohio.” 

In her research, Dyck assessed and predicted trajectories for bobcat populations in Ohio for the next 40 years under different ecological scenarios. The research has real-world applications, as bobcats are trapped for their fur and their recovery in Ohio has led to interest in a state trapping season, but more information on bobcat populations is needed. 

Finally, third place in the graduate student category was Mary-Magdalene Chumbow, a Ph.D. media arts and studies candidate in the Scripps College of Communication. The research she presented was her dissertation project, titled, “Breaking the Silence: Exploring the Narratives of Survivors of Female Genital Cutting in Kenya.” 

Chumbow conducted in-depth interviews with 19 women from communities in Kenya who have survived the practice of female genital mutilation. 

“[UNICEF] estimates that about 4 million girls and women in Kenya have undergone one form or the other of Female Genital Cutting (FGC),” Chumbow wrote. “It is important, therefore, to understand FGC from the perspectives of these women who live within communities where FGC is practiced, and who have undergone one form or the other of FGC.” 

In the undergraduate student category, first place went to Callie Martindale, a senior studying English in the Honors Tutorial College. Martindale researched how the bodily hierarchies represented in “Villette,” a novel by Charlotte Brontë, illustrate how disabilities were created in Victorian society. 

Martindale said that she used disability studies scholar Lennard Davis’ impairment-disability system as the foundation of her argument. Davis’ system states that an impairment only becomes a disability when society refuses to accommodate it. 

“I argue that while Brontë acknowledges the bodily norms of her time, she also challenges them in ‘Villette’ through the protagonist Lucy Snoew’s interactions with characters in her community and through the representation of Lucy herself,” she wrote. “This project lays the foundation for both a greater understanding of how ‘normality’ is textually constructed, and how fiction contributes to this construction.”

The second-place winner in the undergraduate student category was Jayne Yerrick, a senior journalism student in the Honors Tutorial College. In her research project, “Investigating the News Media Coverage of ‘People vs. Turner,’” Yerrick analyzed news coverage of the 2015 rape trial, “People vs. Turner.”

The trial of Brock Turner was a high-profile and highly controversial case in which the defendant was ultimately convicted of three counts of felony for sexual assault. 

“[T]he analysis demonstrated that rape myths concerning alcohol use, consent and the rapist image were presented, endorsed and rejected in the news coverage of the case,” she said. “These findings shed light on how victims and perpetrators are framed by news media, and the findings also provide insight into how rape myths are used by media in sexual assault news coverage.” 

Third place among undergraduate researchers went to senior sociology student Sydney Borsellino, who studies in the Honors Tutorial College. Her project was titled, “Unheard Victims: The Ways in which Families of Death Row Inmates Experience the Criminal Justice System.”

“Previous research indicates that the experiences of family members of the condemned warrant further exploration, as comparatively very little sociological analysis has been conducted on this population,” she wrote in her application. “This project further examines an element of their experience that has not yet been fully explored – the ways family members of death row inmates experience the U.S. criminal justice system.” 

Borsellino explored how the family members of those on death row are victims, as well as various suggestions for changes to the way that families interact with the criminal justice system. 

First place among student workers at the Libraries went to Morgan Spehar, a senior studying journalism and environmental studies in the Honors Tutorial College and – full disclosure – the author of this article. Spehar created “Spread Out!,” a podcast that looks at how the national parks in the United States changed during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Weaving together interviews with National Park Service employees and other experts, extensive research and my own personal experience, I illustrate how visitors have both impacted and been impacted by national parks throughout the course of the pandemic,” Spehar wrote in her application. 

Second place among student Libraries employees was awarded to Peyson Weekley, a senior music student in the Honors Tutorial College. His project was titled, “Sturm und Drang: A Term in Crisis,” and explored “Sturm und Drang” (which refers to a period of dramatic and emotional German literary history) as a musicological term.

Weekley, who works in the Music and Dance Library, said that the term has recently fallen out of favor, though he argues that it is an “accurate and appropriate term” in a musical context. 

“In this thesis, I offer a new construction for understanding the literary and musical Sturm und Drang that is based on a three-part framework of preparatory, intensive and concluding phases,” he said. “Overall, the phases show a clear progression of stylistic development, and they demonstrate chronological parallels between the literary and musical movements.” 

The Librarian’s Choice award was given to Lizzie Shuga, a senior anthropology student, who researched mental health during pandemics in the state of Ohio in the early 20th century. Her project was titled, “Empirical Ethnography of Pandemic-Related Mental Health in Appalachia,” and looked at various pandemics, including influenza, that occurred during the 1900s.  

Camellia Azzi presenting at the 2022 Student Expo
Azzi gestures to her poster, which displayed examples of North African textiles and jewelry.

The Librarian’s Choice award was also given to Camellia Azzi, a senior English student who researched and examined how Amazigh (which means “free person”) women help shape and preserve Amazigh identity. In textiles, pottery and jewelry, Azzi said the women construct spaces of female agency through the creation of symbols of their identity. 

Her project was titled, “The Influence of Artistic Creation: Amazigh Women and Symbols of Amazigh (Berber) Identity in North Africa.” 

University Libraries supports student research in a variety of ways, such as  providing a diverse array of materials and resources to preserving many student research projects and theses in the Ohio Open Library, the Libraries’ online digital repository. 

Through these efforts and involvement in events like the Student Expo, the Libraries hopes to empower the OHIO community so that students at OHIO can continue to innovate, create and push boundaries in their fields of research. 

Check out more pictures from the Student Expo on our Flickr page!

Photos by Billy Schuerman/Ohio University Libraries.