Students network, share research at IdeaFest
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Students network, share research at IdeaFest

More than 450 University of South Dakota students will fill the Muenster University Center with presentations of their research this week.

Sarah Wittmuss, director of the Center for Academic and Global Engagement (CAGE), said there will be 80 more students at the 23rd annual IdeaFest than there were last year. The event takes place all day April 15-16 in the MUC.

“IdeaFest is a celebration of undergraduate, graduate and professional students’ academic engagement, creative scholarship and research,” Wittmuss said.

Wittmuss said students present posters, take part in panel discussions and others put on theatrical performances during the two-day event.

To take part in IdeaFest, students have to put together an abstract and submit it to CAGE by March.

“IdeaFest always amazes me in the variety of different academic venues our students are developing projects,” Wittmuss said. “People often think of student research as just what happens in a lab, but I think IdeaFest illustrates that assumption is wrong.”

Junior Emily Roberson will be presenting her research on seed libraries and sustainability. 

“It’s really making sure there’s enough resources to sustain our quality of life now and in the future,” Roberson said.

Public seed libraries allow people to pick up seeds, grow plants and then bring back those seeds so others can grow plants. This is just one aspect of sustainability that Roberson is interested in.

Last year, Roberson attended a sustainability conference in Pittsburgh, Penn. She said she learned a lot about sustainability and wanted to share that information with others.

“Part of the reason was to get other people to look at conferences that have to do with sustainability and this was a really big youth empowerment one,” Roberson said.

Roberson presented a poster during the poster session of IdeaFest in 2014. While it was a bit untraditional since she didn’t actually do undergraduate research, she said she benefited in other ways.

“It was really good to see what other people were doing in different disciplines,” Roberson said. “It kind of opened my eyes to the kind of research that goes on here.”

Roberson plans on participating in IdeaFest again and is currently waiting to hear if she will receive the U.Discover Scholarship to work on undergraduate research involving sustainability. This scholarship would allow Roberson to do undergraduate research for 10 weeks this summer.

“It gave me some ideas of where I could and what I could do,” Roberson said.

First-year Tomas Kamenik is an accounting major and will be presenting on stock markets around the world and whether they correlate with each other.

“I applied what I learned in class, because it related to the class,” Kamenik said. “The most work was calculating the data.”

Kamenik said he received bonus points for participating in IdeaFest, but that wasn’t the only incentive for him to join in.

“Mainly, it was something like I think I should do that, since I’m looking (at) doing my thesis in the future and I would definitely like to present my thesis in IdeaFest more seriously, so it’s probably good for me to have some experience before I actually do something big,” Kamenik said. “I was just wondering what it looked like and how it is to present some research.”

Kamenik said he also decided to participate to meet other people doing research, especially from the business school.

“It’s really cool to see what your peers are doing outside of class,” Roberson said.

Jacquelynne Eccles is the keynote speaker for IdeaFest and has conducted extensive research on gender, ethnicity and social development. She will be speaking at 4 p.m. April 15 in the MUC Ballroom on gender and career choices.

(Photo: Non-traditional first-year student Cody Reed demonstrates his group’s research project entitled “The Rubber Hand Illusion” to sophomore Rachel Noonan at IdeaFest in the Muenster University Center April 8, 2014. File Photo / The Volante)