Research Communications

Student Expo participants reflect on value of experience 

Registration for 2013 event closes Sunday, Feb. 24

By Jessica Salerno
Feb. 13, 2013

Ohio University’s Student Research and Creative Activity Expo isn’t just a presentation of undergraduate and graduate students’ most exciting work. It’s also a place where participants can improve their projects. Anna Grossman was a senior theater major when she participated in the expo last spring and presented her senior thesis “The Audience and the Performer” to the judges.

“It gave me a chance to take a step back from my work and examine, in the simplest terms, what my goal was and how successful my project was at reaching those goals,” she says.

Each spring, hundreds of Ohio University students present their research, scholarship and creative work at the expo, which will be held at the Convocation Center on April 11 this year. Students can choose to have their work evaluated by a panel of judges, and may win up to $200 in prizes. Students can register for the event through Sunday, Feb. 24 at

Hundreds of students present at the expo each spring. (Photo: University Communications and Marketing)

Grossman describes her thesis as “part theatrical production in a bar and part 70-some page theoretical essay.” She says blending the two different parts together proved frustrating at times, especially as she wrote her final draft.

“The presentational nature of the expo served as a middle ground where I could return to performance and use the visual aspect of the expo to reexamine my ideas,” she says.

Grossman now interns at the Wooster group, a theater company in New York. She says her presentation experience has allowed her to summarize her thesis work in a way that accurately describes her as an artist.

Her favorite part of the event was seeing other students’ work.

“The expo at Ohio University is probably one of the few places where the entire university comes together so completely,” she says.  

Second time around

Not all of those who present at the student expo are first-timers. Dyah Arin Hening has presented twice, in 2012 and 2009. When she participated in the first event, she was finishing up her master’s program in industrial and systems engineering. Hening decided to sign up for the expo upon the advice of her advisor, as she thought that the event would give her practice with presenting her work.

“Another benefit that I get out of the expo is the connection, not only with peer students, but also with faculty,” she says.  

In 2012, as a third-year mechanical and systems engineering doctoral student, Hening returned to the expo to present “Industrial Engineering as a Study Case for Engineering Leadership in the US and Indonesia.”

Participating in the event more than once has given her confidence in her poster presentation skills. Another advantage of the expo is meeting peers from different departments and learning new ideas from different areas of research, which Hening says was a lot of fun and has helped her prepare for future research endeavors.

“The integration (of disciplines) will help to close the gap between fields and hopefully will be able to help provide more comprehensive perspectives for the graduates in facing real-world situations,” she says. 

Dyah Arin Hening enjoys making new connections to her work at the expo. (Provided photo.)

Art and culture

For Brittni Barranco, a painting and drawing major, the expo presented an opportunity to share an outside culture with the university and Athens community. She showcased three paintings that portrayed indigenous dance forms from African, Mayan and Native American cultures. She focuses on how the relationship between art and dance can serve as a visual form of information and analyzes the moving body’s positions through figure drawing.

“I wanted to bring back my multi-ethnic experience and continue to re-live it and assist others to also do so through my paintings,” says Barranco. “I was able to take the role of a visual storyteller and capture the expressive gestures of the dancing body in the context of their culture.”

Barranco presented “The Ethnography of Art” at the expo last year after receiving the Dean’s Undergraduate Creative Research Award for her research in Ontario, Canada. She describes the experience as a “major stepping-stone” in her career and exploring folklore in the visual arts.  

She says her experience with the expo improved her confidence and motivation to continue to pursue folklore and mythology through cross-interdisciplinary works. Barranco graduated in December and plans to pursue a MFA in painting or illustration this fall.

Brittni Barranco displayed "Feather Rain Meditation" as part of her expo presentation (Provided photo).

For more information about this year’s Student Expo, visit or contact Liz Pahl at or (740) 593-0374.