March 30, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 28°F


College community presents work at Whalen Symposium

More than 300 students and faculty showcased their work in 200 presentations from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. yesterday in Campus Center as part of this year’s James J. Whalen Academic Symposium.

The Symposium, which was first held in 1997, provides an outlet for showcasing student research and creative projects and is considered one of these most prestigious showcases of academic work at Ithaca College.

Hillary Barrett, administrative assistant to the provost and co-organizer of the symposium, said in the two years she has helped organize the annual event, she has never seen such a large turnout.

“The feedback was that [the Symposium] was better than last year,” she said. “There [are] about 100 more presenters this year than there was last year.”

One of the aims of the event is to facilitate student-faculty collaboration by requiring a faculty member to sponsor each student and to work with them to complete the project.

Junior Tim Schmitz said his faculty advisor, assistant professor Rachel Wagner, helped him develop a research paper into his symposium presentation titled “The Omega Glory: Star Trek as Religion.”

“I was proud of the paper when I wrote it so I thought that I may as well give it a shot and submit it,” he said. [My adviser and I] met three or four times to rework it and talk about how I was going to present it.”

The symposium featured work from a variety of academic subjects and novel topics.

Junior Sarah Belencia, who presented her chemistry-related findings on a poster titled “The synthesis of Tantalum- substituted Titanium Dioxide Materials, Using Chemical Vapor Transport,” said it took two semesters to research her project.

“To make inferences on [research] like this you have to collect a bunch of samples that have to sit in acid for a month,” she said. “It takes a lot of time.”

Free and open to the public, the Symposium attracted an eager audience from the college as well as the community.

Sophomore Melissa Stutzbach, one of the students observing the presentations, was required to attend four presentations for class, but said she came for more than a grade.

“I didn’t just come for the class,” she said. “It’s cool seeing peers our age presenting in a formal setting, [doing] professional studies and presenting their findings — preparing us for the future.”