Poster session, panel discussion advances work of Elon College Fellows
The annual event offers guidance to those just beginning their research and an opportunity for those further along in their work to present their findings.
The Elon College Fellows program celebrated the impact of undergraduate research on Monday with a poster session and dinner discussion that provided the opportunity for students to share and learn from each other. The event, which included sophomore, junior and senior Elon College Fellows, is designed to help guide fellows as they delve into a wide range of research topics during their time at Elon.
During the afternoon poster session in the Moseley Center, junior Elon College Fellows presented the progress they have made on their research so far, with sophomore Fellows attending and learning how to move from a research idea into a formal research proposal. Nearly 50 presenters offered overviews and updates on their research to their peers and others in the Elon community in topics across the range of disciplines within Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences.
For many of the junior Fellows, the poster session was a first opportunity to discuss their research in a formal and professional setting with other Fellows, faculty and staff. Sophomore Fellows benefit by witnessing firsthand a variety of research questions and discipline-specific methods their peers are employing, as well as the sense of enthusiasm and ownership of their research by junior Fellows.
Nancy Harris, associate dean of Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences, and associate professor of biology, said the poster session is invaluable to all Elon College Fellows as they learn the value of undergraduate research and working closely with faculty mentors.
“The focus of this annual event is on the profound significance of undergraduate research for teaching and learning and personal and professional development as shared through reflections of Elon juniors, seniors and alums,” Harris said. “Delving deeply in partnership with a faculty mentor is certainly a powerful and transformative experience that impacts students in a holistic way.”
The four-year Elon College Fellows program guides students from an exploration of the arts and sciences traditions during the first year, with Fellows spending the second year homing in on a research focus. Sophomore Fellows choose to focus on one of three branches of Elon College — the Arts & Humanities, Mathematical & Natural Sciences or Social Sciences.
The third year centers on developing a research proposal with a mentor with the start of independent research hours. The final year sees the culmination of their research efforts with a public presentation of the research project and its findings.
Monday’s poster session was followed by a dinner discussion featuring a panel of senior Fellows and moderated by Tony Rizzuto ‘11, an Elon College Fellow and Lumen Scholar during his time at Elon who returned to the university this fall as an assistant professor of chemistry. After graduating from Elon, Rizzuto completed his doctorate in chemistry at the University of California in Berkeley, and taught there until joining the Elon faculty this fall.
Rizzuto offered his own insights into his path from undergraduate researcher to chemistry professor while leading the discussion among the senior Fellows about their own research paths and experiences.
“Common reflections from students in various stages of a research experience include anxious anticipation, excitement in exploring a line of inquiry, a feeling of greater understanding and appreciation for academic disciplines as ways of knowing, a sense of ownership and pride in challenges and accomplishments and of opportunities for work and study after graduation,” Harris said.