HANNAH KESTLY, NEWS EDITOR
Seven students recently represented St. Norbert College at the 50th Annual Conference of the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) in Chicago, Ill., which took place on Nov. 11-15. The mission of NCHC is to support and enhance the community of educational institutions, professionals and students who participate in collegiate honors education around the world. The conference’s theme for 2015 was “Make no little plans.”
At NCHC, students selected from nationwide submissions gather to present findings from their research projects in poster presentation formats. The presentations took place on Friday, Nov. 13.
The SNC Honors Program students that attended and presented at the conference this year were Andrew Baert ’16, Anna Forcey ’16, Katie Flesch ’16, Colin Dassow ’16, Erin Lang ’17, Camille Hanna ’16 and Corinna Martell ’16. Dr. Marcie Paul, Director of the Honors Program, and Stacey Wanta, Office Coordinator of the Honors Program, attended the conference with the students as well.
This is the highest number of attendees the SNC Honors Program has ever had at NCHC, in past years a range of only 2-4 students have been accepted to attend. Attendees had to apply and submit their presentation proposals in the spring of last year.
Baert’s presentation was titled “Chemical Signaling Between Algae Species in a Wisconsin River.” His research looked into the relationships between two species of algae that live in the Fox River. He found that one species releases a chemical that causes another species to change from its dormant to active phase, which normally happens once the river warms up enough at the start of the summer, but this chemical shortens the process.
Forcey’s presentation, “The Women of Spain: The Effects of Religion on Gender Roles,” explored how monotheisms have affected the role of women in Spanish society through religious ideologies and political agendas. Forcey began her research after a two-week immersion in Spanish culture in the cities of Madrid, Toledo, Granada and Córdoba.
“I was excited to share my thoughts and experiences of Spanish culture and gain others’ insights and spread interest on this topic,” said Forcey. “I was also ecstatic about the number of meaningful contacts I made during my presentation. I exchanged information with professors and students from all over the U.S. and was encouraged by this networking opportunity!”
Flesch presented on research that she has been working on through the Chemistry program at SNC, titled “Indole Based Structural Analogs of Modafinil Inhibit the Dopamine Transporter.” Flesch worked with Dr. Cynthia Ochsner to “study the effects of structural variations in the functional groups of the drug modafinil on binding with the dopamine transporter, and characterize the analogs by their type of inhibition on the dopamine transporter protein.”
Dassow’s presentation was titled “Cannibalism in Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides): A Three Decade Record from a Small North Temperate Lake.” His research looked at analyzing 30 years of diet data on Largemouth Bass from Paul Lake, focusing specifically on cannibalism. Dassow’s research is currently being prepared for publication in a scientific journal; he has been working on his research for the past 3 years. His co-authors are Cal Buelo, University of Virgina, and Dr. Jim Hodgson, Professor Emeritus of Biology at SNC.
Dassow was also notified that he won the student poster competition award in the category of Natural Sciences & Mathematics, his winning research and presentation was judged and distinguished as the best of the 53 other student research presentations in this category.
“It was incredible to see all the other students from across the nation there presenting their research as well,” said Dassow. “The varieties of topics within certain fields of study were amazing to see. I applied to the conference because it was an excellent opportunity for me to present my research to a broader audience, which gave me a great experience in explaining it to people with different knowledge about the topic.”
Lang presented “Tunable Fluorescence from Novel Boron Difluoride Derivatives.” She has been working with Dr. Cunningham for the past two summers on this project dealing with fluorescent molecules. The idea behind the project “was to combine the best features of two well-known light emitting (fluorescent) molecules into one, smaller molecule. We test how changing the functional groups on our molecule changes the color and brightness of light emitted by our molecule,” said Lang.
Hanna and Martell were co-presenters. Their presentation was titled “Scars of War,” in which they worked with Dr. Brandon Bauer on building a curator’s statement and theoretical art exhibit based on nine works of art or collections depicting war and its atrocities. Their project focused on analyzing the historical development of art medium and how that art medium reveals the trauma and emotional destruction of war.
“What I liked most about the conference was that many of the students I talked to or whose posters I read were presenting on topics that were not explicitly in their field of expertise, and this applied to our project as well,” said Hanna. “I talked to an International Relations major who was presenting on cancer cell research, and a Business student who was exhibiting her photography project. I think it speaks to how well-rounded we as students can be, and that amazing things can happen when we venture out from what we ‘know.’”