Smith Students Present Research at Celebrating Collaborations

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Anya Gruber '16Associate Editor

Celebrating Collaborations, an annual opportunity for Smith students to share research, projects, posters and performances with the community, was held April 18. With several presentation and poster sessions throughout the day, over 100 Smith students participated alongside faculty advisers and other Five College students.

“Preparing for Collaborations has kept me very busy,” said Michaela Rohde ’17, who participated in the afternoon poster session. “The purpose of my research is to evaluate the effectiveness of a summer laboratory research boot camp in terms of increasing student perceptions of self-efficacy, knowledge of laboratory techniques and future STEM research goals,” said Rohde, a dance major and chemistry minor. She worked closely with the education department to carry out her research.

Rohde has dedicated a significant amount of time to her research project. “I started transcribing interviews last semester, but the project really kicked into high gear this semester,” she said.

Sarah Lopez ’17, a neuroscience major, presented her project entitled “Danger in the Drunk Tank: The Effect of Acute Ethanol Exposure on Predator Risk Response in Adult Zebrafish,” which she worked on alongside Lydia Ross ’17 and Liza Halpin ’16. “Our research used zebrafish as a model for human intoxication and the idea that risk is more difficult to assess when inebriated,” said Lopez.

Lopez and her research partners submitted their proposal for Collaborations shortly before spring break, and they completed the majority of their research since then. “Preparation was a little stressful but a really interesting and fulfilling process,” said Lopez. “My group members are really amazing and worked incredibly hard, so the process was made a lot less stressful because of their general loveliness and ingenuity.”

Regarding the importance of carrying out and presenting research at an event like Collaborations, Lopez said, “Something I think is really important to keep in mind while doing research is that getting unexpected results is okay, and even helpful, because they lead you to new ideas and cause you to question your process.”

“While our results don’t lead to any new or enlightening ideas, I think people can gain from research in general [and learn] to not become discouraged,” she said.

Emily Cryan ’17 worked with seven other students in education professor Shannon Audley-Piotrowski’s research lab, Respecting Children and Teachers (RCAT).

“For our Collaborations project, we were interested in the disrespect experiences of elementary-school-aged children,” said Cryan. “Disrespect is an unjust act that has been seen to manifest itself in adults through externalized and internalized behaviors, which can lead to higher levels of anxiety, so we wanted to see how children process disrespect, which can have implications for their peer relations in the classroom,” she said.

Cryan said that Audley-Piotrowski “helped us highlight the important findings in an efficient way. I found this very helpful to learn the techniques of how to best present posters at events such as Collaborations.”