The Symposium, held in person at the Sojourner Truth Library for the first time since 2019, is the College’s annual showcase of faculty-mentored work by undergraduate researchers.
“During the last 12 years, I’ve often been asked what makes me most proud as president at New Paltz, and my ready answer is: it’s the work and the achievements of our students,” said President Donald Christian. “We’re especially proud when you venture out of the structured classroom, laboratory or studio into the unscripted, intellectual landscape of independent or collaborative research and creative activity.”
There were a total of 62 presentations by 99 students in a variety of majors this year, covering a range of relevant subjects: From an examination on how our personalities shape our political views to a digital museum dedicated to the history of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A defining characteristic of the Undergraduate Research program at New Paltz is its accessibility to students in all majors. The Symposium represents scholarship not only from STEM fields that are traditionally represented in events like these, but also the humanities and creative arts.
Sean Loughran ’22 (History; English) of Bloomington, New York worked for a year to compile artifacts representing how both the 1918 influenza pandemic and today’s COVID-19 pandemic were handled.
“What I found was that the federal responses during the beginning of the pandemics were not properly controlled in the beginning. Once the pandemics hit the country, that’s when they started to react, ” he said. “What I hope is that my research will be looked at in the future as what not to do in events like this.”
Loughran plans to bring his research to national conferences, including the upcoming SUNY Librarians Association conference in June, before applying to master’s programs.
Kaitlyn Longo ’22 (Psychology) will also be pursuing graduate school, with plans to return to New Paltz in the fall for the Master’s of Science program in psychological science.
The Marlboro resident prepared for that advanced work with a research project exploring political preferences through concepts known as the dark and light triads of personality.
Longo’s joint study with fellow psychology majors Julia Lombard ’24, Megan Fritche ’24 and Avrey Goodwine ’22 makes a case that people who trend towards the dark triad traits tend to prefer conservative candidates, and light triad-leaning individuals are more inclined to support more liberal candidates.
“We wanted to look at leadership from not a political standpoint, but to examine general leadership qualities in candidates and how they can reflect our political preferences,” said Longo.
Beyond celebrating work by students, the Symposium gives the campus community a chance to recongize the many faculty members who dedicate their time and experience as mentors, supporting students’ experiences in these valuable projects. This year’s Symposium included projects mentored by 35 faculty members representing 14 academic departments.
One such mentor, Associate Professor of Art History Keely Heuer, earned distinction as the 2022 Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year, an award presented annually to exceptional scholars. Read more here about Heuer’s support for undergraduate research at the College.
The 2022 Student Research Symposium was presented by the Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity (RSCA) Program, helmed by Director Corwin Senko, who also serves as associate professor of psychology.