Each spring, undergraduate students who have produced capstone and honors projects showcase their research and creative work during Academic Spree Day. This year, the event will be held in a virtual format, with more than 100 students exhibiting projects produced under the mentorship and support of the University’s faculty.
Academic Spree Day 2021 will take place on May 19 and can be accessed via a Moodle link that will be emailed to the campus community and posted on a dedicated event website. Student work will be featured in a variety of live and pre-recorded Zoom presentations, posters, and Q&A sessions covering a wide array of topics, ranging from racial wealth divergence in the United States to optimizing proteins. Academic Spree Day will also highlight students’ creative work through the Senior Thesis Art Exhibition and the English Department’s annual writing contests.
While some submissions are restricted to members of the Clark community, others can be viewed by the general public.
“Many of these projects are a culmination of several semesters of work at Clark — whether they’re capstone projects, seminars tied to internships and fellowships, or honors programs — so this is of great importance for students to be able to cap off their Clark experience,” says event staff coordinator Kerri Stearns. “I urge the Clark community to support these students and help share their research.”
For Ian Hirons ’21, a double major in international development and social change and global environmental studies, his research pathway took several turns over the past year. Between the pandemic interrupting his Institutional Review Board proposal and being evacuated from his study abroad location in Ecuador last spring, Hirons was certain of one thing: His research would not turn out as he had envisioned. But as the year progressed, he felt a strange sense of relief.
“With the pandemic halting daily life as we knew it, I realized I now had the time to take a step back from my research, recollect my thoughts, and reassess my proposals,” he says. “I became more educated on my topic, more aware of my positionality as a researcher, and subsequently better equipped to enter the scholarly debate. In hindsight, I see the pandemic as providing more of an inopportune favor rather than total detriment to my research. Though my initial ideas, proposals, and goals had to undergo adaptations, I realize now that it was for the better.”
During Academic Spree Day, Hirons will hold a live Zoom presentation titled, “Contested Landscapes, Disputed Realities: An Investigation of Socio-Environmental Conflict from Mining in Northern Ecuador,” which explores various elements of socio-environmental issues created by large-scale mining.
Ngoc Kim Nguyen ’22, a molecular biology and biochemistry major, will hold a live presentation that discusses her research in Dr. Arundhati Nag’s lab. Her project investigates the rate of dopamine oxidation by a newly synthesized copper-peptide complex to help understand the neurodegenerative process of Parkinson’s Disease.
“Academic Spree Day is a wonderful way for me to display my research to the Clark community,” Nguyen says. “I hope to engage in more intriguing discussions on my project as I’m preparing a live Zoom presentation. It’s very exciting to participate in this event that highlights a rich research atmosphere at Clark.”
Anne Harrington, Clark’s new associate dean of academic enhancements, says Academic Spree Day serves as a compelling example for first-year students and sophomores of what can be accomplished at Clark. In her role, Harrington will work across various areas of the University to help students better connect to their academic experience and promote their success and learning. She says she has assisted with Academic Spree Day planning and is looking forward to supporting the event in fresh ways moving forward, including by helping to create pathways for students to get involved early.
“Clark has wonderful programs and opportunities, and is doing really interesting things with the curriculum,” Harrington says. “I see part of my role here as building that awareness by packaging what we do and messaging it to students in a way that’s going to resonate.”
You can explore 2021 Academic Spree Day projects and post-event highlights here. A Moodle link to access the virtual event and program book will also be available on the Academic Spree Day website and emailed to the campus community.
This event was made possible by the presenting students and faculty mentors, as well as the Undergraduate Student Research Festival Team, which includes Anne Harrington, Betsy Huang, and Kim Fisher of the Office of the Dean of College; Amelia Balik ’22 of Academic Technology Services; Jordan Aubin, Andrew Hart, Danielle Strandson, and Aviva Luttrell of the Office of Marketing and Communications; and Faculty Coordinator James Cordova, Kerri Stearns, Kelly Boulay, Mira Ormsby, Ana Beirne-Meyer ’22, and Sarah Whalen ’23 of the Psychology Department.