Students celebrated at honors and awards event

Nikki Brahm, News Writer

The Annual Celebration of Scholarship and Creative Activity was held April 26 for their 25th anniversary. The event showcased student research as well as artistic projects, followed by a scholarship and awards ceremony on April 27.

The event included posters and exhibits presenting student research, performance presentations, oral presentation sessions, WiSys Technology Foundation Quick Pitch Competition and the Provost’s Awards Reception.

Interim Director of the Office of Student Research and Creative Activity Stephen Kercher said the event showcased philosophy, nursing, social sciences, performance sessions, visual artists and more.

“I love seeing science students do oral presentations because it’s only then that I think a lot of non-scientists can really understand the process of discovery that a young scientist will go through toward their goal of scientific research,” Kercher said. “And when they narrate it, when they describe it in personal terms, they reveal something about the process of their discovery and that can be very cool.”

Kercher said an example of this is senior Jeshanah Zolkowski, who placed first in the Quick Pitch Competition.

“I heard her oral presentation about applying math, not theory, to her chemistry research, and it was fascinating to see how she had evolved her interests over time,” Kercher said. “So there’s no strict dividing line over which format is best. I think both can do both and challenge themselves a little more. In other words, scientists shouldn’t always just do poster sessions and maybe humanists could do a lot more with a poster than they could have imagined.”

Student shows pottery and answers questions
Nikki Brahm|The Advance-Titan
Student shows pottery and answers questions

Kercher said this event was a celebration for faculty as well, and the work they put into this campus toward student research and more.

“Much of it is uncompensated, much of it doesn’t fall within the regular teaching load that professors have,” Kercher said. “Really, it’s a reflection of faculty’s dedication to the success of their students.”

Kercher said Quest didn’t have much of a distinct role, and now it’s converted to be more forward-looking. Kercher said Quest students were assigned or strongly encouraged to attend this event.

“You’re taking this class and we’re also helping you think about your career options and your research options on campus,” Kercher said. “Like you’re a freshman, think about it now because you’re going to be graduating, think about the possibilities you have to do research.”

Administrator of the Office of Student Research and Creative Activity Susan Surendonk said she coordinated the event from start to finish.

“It’s part of the whole research process for students to actually communicate what they’ve done,” Surendonk said. “It’s not just the actual doing the research, but sharing what they’ve learned. That’s a big part of the whole research process. So I think that’s a big thing. I think it’s also nice for students to see what other students are doing, and we’re trying to really encourage cross-major [communication].”

At the Quick Pitch competition Zolkowski placed first and received a cash prize and had her research presented at WiSys’ annual Wisconsin Science and Technology Symposium at UW-Parkside.
Zolkowski gave a math talk for her Quick Pitch and said it was a lot of fun, and she was not expecting to win.

“I think it’s important to get as many different students exposed to needing to present their research and seeing the research of others,” Zolkowski said.

Zolkowski said it’s nice to travel and present research but not many students can do that.

“If you have it on your campus, and it’s Celebration of Scholarship, which is something that pretty much if you apply you’re going to be able to do it,” Zolkowski said. “Since it’s open to many different students, it’s a great opportunity to help everyone succeed because the events that are restricted to only stop students, they make it harder to all students to elevate and be successful.”