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Undergrad Symposium Highlights Artistic, Scientific Achievements

Department of nursing students in Thai garb with their exhibit depicting their recent visit to Thailand. From left: Ana Ibarra, Tola Keo, Courtney Farr, Theresa Reed, Lisa Saem, Susan Cobb and Mary Lee.

Photo by Casey Crafton

One was a short animated film about a dedicated artist. Another – a Web site – provided a basic understanding of the scarab beetle and its significance to the ancient Egyptians. Yet another was a poster display describing the development of a device to identify creative people.

These projects and a host of others – including audio-visual tapes and original artwork – were presented in late April at the second annual Undergraduate Symposium for Scholarly and Creative Work.

Co-sponsored by Joseph Hellige, vice provost for academic programs, and Cornelius Sullivan, vice provost for research, the Founders Park event doubled its student participation over last year’s.

“We were pleased that this year’s event brought out so many undergraduates with such a diverse range of talents,” said Katharine Harrington, director for undergraduate programs.

The symposium lets undergraduates at the two USC campuses share examples of their research and creative endeavors.

Categories and their judges were: arts (Woody Omens, cinema-television; Penny Jones, fine arts; Deborah Huffman, music), humanities (Sally Pratt and Richard Fliegel, College of Letters, Arts and Sciences; Tim Gustafson, English), social sciences (Cheryl Maxson, sociology; Denis Mitchell, psychology), physical sciences, mathematics and engineering (Gene Bickers, physics; Lawford Anderson, earth sciences), life sciences (Julena Lind, independent health professions; Hans Bozler, physics) and professional and applied disciplines (Jon Yormark, Marshall School of Business; Martin Levine, Law School and vice provost for faculty affairs).

Each undergraduate project had a faculty sponsor whose role ranged from principal investigator to honors program director to mentor, said Harrington.

A ceremony at the conclusion of the symposium awarded $500 first prizes and $250 second prizes in each of the six categories. First-place winners and their categories were:

• Arts – Ian Dale, a freshman in fine arts/studio art, for his performing artistic work, an animated film using 3D Studio MAX and Adobe PhotoShop, “about a lonely but dedicated artist” (faculty sponsor: Wesley Wittkamper, pre-production coordinator, CNTV); Christopher Myers, a senior in music composition, for his “Ballade for Oboe and String Orchestra,” written for Dwight Parry, a music performance major who premiered the work in USC’s Newman Hall earlier this year (faculty sponsor: Donald Crockett, professor of music).

• Humanities – three freshmen in Bruce Zuckerman’s CORE 101 class – Rebecca Zak, political science, Jennifer Campbell, history, and Dara Purvis, theater – for their Web site, “Royal Representations on USC’s Ancient Egyptian Scarabs,” explaining “the significance of some encryptions on the scarabs of the USC collection” (faculty sponsor: Bruce Zuckerman, associate professor of religion).

• Life sciences – Thuzar Shin, sophomore in gerontology with a minor in history, for his poster illustrating “reactive as trogliosis that occurs in response to various physiological challenges to the brain, including head trauma, oxidative damage, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease,” and an evaluation of the involvement of caspases – a family of proteases – in this process (faculty sponsor: Christian J. Pike, assistant professor, gerontology).

• Physical sciences, mathematics and engineering – Mohammed Hossain, a junior in physics/computer science, for his poster describing experimental findings on the magnetic interactions of sodium atoms with iron and cobalt (faculty sponsor: Gerd Bergmann, professor of physics).

• Professional and applied disciplines – Darlene Duran, a senior in business administration, for her poster “Creativity Potential Profile,” illustrating that not only is intelligence multifaceted, “creativity also has a number of dimensions” (faculty sponsor: Alan Rowe, professor emeritus of management and organization, Marshall School of Business).

• Social sciences – Rebecca Ryan, a senior in psychology, whose poster, “Community Violence Exposure and Resilience in Preschoolers,” examined resilience “among 138 4-year-old children who are exposed to chronic community violence in high crime, inner-city Los Angeles neighborhoods” (faculty adviser: JoAnn Farver, associate professor of psychology).

• Judge’s Special Interdisciplinary Award – Lindsay Harrison, a senior in gender studies, for her poster, “Coming Out of the Constitutional Closet,” which “analyzes and compares several legal strategies … in determining which legal strategy best promotes the twin goals of gay and lesbian empowerment and mainstream social transformation.”

“Participating in the undergraduate research symposium was exceptionally fulfilling,” said Harrison, “not only because it enabled my research to be displayed and recognized, but also because I was able to see the amazing work that other ‘SC students are doing. It was truly an impressive bunch, so much so that I didn’t think I would win.”

(Harrison was also named one of the university’s first Renaissance Scholars at the May 12 commencement.)

Other faculty sponsors of symposium projects were: Marianna Edmunds, assistant professor, journalism; Steven Goodman, assistant professor, basic sciences, dentistry; E.P. Muntz, professor, aerospace engineering; William O. Mc Clure, professor of biological sciences; Penny Von Helmholt, director, Resident Honors Program; and Jill McNitt Grey, associate professor, exercise science.

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