Presenting research, creativity outside the classroom

GVL/Kevin Sielaff - Kelsey Winchell (left), presents her work during Student Scholars Day on Wednesday, April 8, 2015 inside of Kirkhofs Grand River Room.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL/Kevin Sielaff – Kelsey Winchell (left), presents her work during Student Scholars Day on Wednesday, April 8, 2015 inside of Kirkhof’s Grand River Room.

Jenna Fracassi

Student Scholars Day (SSD), an event held annually at Grand Valley State University, is purposed to display and celebrate the scholarly research and creative work achieved by GVSU students.

The Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (OURS) is presenting and hosting the 21st annual SSD, which will showcase more than 400 presentations by more than 600 presenters.

The event will take place Wednesday, April 12, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Henry Hall Atrium, Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons and the Kirkhof Center.

“It’s a day of events to give students the opportunity to present their research work, excitement and experiences with the university community and visitors,” said Feryal Alayont, associate professor of mathematics and SSD committee faculty member.

For attendees, she said it is an opportunity to learn about interesting research in a variety of disciplines, as well as how the research process works.

Though only students will be presenting, the event encourages the participation of guests, volunteers, sponsors and committee members. Presentations will be shared verbally and through performances, posters, panel and discussion sessions, and more.

“The kind of works that they’ll be presenting could range anywhere from scientific, literary or historical research, or it could be something like a fine arts exhibit or a dance or music performance,” said Andrew Lantz, associate professor of chemistry at GVSU and SSD committee faculty member.

Student projects can be done independently or in conjunction with a faculty member as a mentor for research, depending on what type of work and scholarship they are doing. However, all student work must be signed off by a faculty member to be showcased at the event.

Lantz said one reason SSD is important is because students who participate are creating something new that hasn’t been done before.

“It’s really the first time they get an experience where they’re creating something where they can’t just look up the answer in a textbook or ask a faculty member what the answer is,” he said. “They’re really finding it out for themselves and relying on their own knowledge and creativity to either find those results or create that project.”

Alayont believes that participating in SSD is particularly beneficial for students planning on going to graduate school because it gives them practice in both research and presenting.

Kaitlyn Denney, OURS student ambassador, presented at SSD in 2016 as a junior at GVSU. She found her experience to be very rewarding and will be presenting again this year.

“I think it’s a really good opportunity for students to see all the hard work that’s happening on campus, like all of the research,” she said. “It’s a really great opportunity for students to get experience on presenting in a free conference because sometimes those things can be really expensive. It’s a really cool opportunity to collaborate, get feedback from your work and share it with the world.”

Denney said the most valuable part of SSD is being able to exchange ideas within the community with people of all different disciplines. She highly recommends participating in the event to students who have not been involved with SSD in the past.

“You gain a lot of skills doing research, like critical-thinking skills, problem-solving skills and a lot of self-driven motivation sort of things,” she said. “Presenting on SSD is very gratifying when you get to share your knowledge with the world and show them what you’ve been doing in your research project.”

Lantz said by improving their independent-thinking skills and developing their methods, students will also have a greater confidence in their career path.

For more information about SSD, visit www.gvsu.edu/ours/ssd/.