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Student research shines on new Stetson Showcase 2020 website

The Stetson Showcase 2020 website displays some of the best of students’ independent research and creativity.

One Stetson student composes music through computers and examines its ability to enhance the enjoyment and immersion in virtual reality.

Another delves into mathematical biology, applying a mathematical approach to study the growth of microorganisms. A third examines political support for the Green New Deal, which lays out goals to address climate change.

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Kimberly Reiter, chair of the Undergraduate Research Committee, explains more about the change in this year’s format in “Showcase 2020: The Vision Endures.”

Stetson’s Showcase 2020 was canceled this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, which prevented almost 250 students from presenting their research in person on April 14. But some of the best projects are now on virtual display for Showcase 2020: Vision.

“We’ve had a whole batch of really fantastic entries for this little miniature Showcase,” said Kimberly Reiter, PhD, chair of the Stetson Undergraduate Research Committee and an associate professor of History.

When this year’s event was canceled, students were given the option to submit posters and other presentations for an online display if a faculty member recommended the project or the student had received a Stetson Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) grant. A dozen projects went live on the Showcase website this week.

“They range from YouTube oral presentations to voice-over posters to a couple of musical compositions. They’re coming out of the sciences, the arts, digital arts, social sciences – so we’ve got quite a nice mix,” Reiter said.

For example, the submission by John Levee is actually two projects – an artistic endeavor combining one of his musical compositions in a forested virtual-reality scene, called “Seasons: Summer.” A second poster project examines how audio affects people’s enjoyment and immersion in a virtual reality environment.

Artwork by Reeva Licht and Cameron Gerstenslager was selected for the cover for “Stetson Showcase 2020: Vision.” Licht, a business major with a minor in art, drew the design and Gerstenslager, a digital arts major with a minor in business, used Adobe Illustrator to convert it into a graphic.

A double major in audio technology and industry and digital arts, Levee presented his project at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research last spring and was slated to present again this year, until the conference was canceled due to COVID-19. He also has presented his work at the British Conference of Undergraduate Research and at the World Congress on Undergraduate Research, the global showcase, Reiter said.

“He is definitely one of the people that we are glad put the composition in for the people to see what he’s doing,” she said.

Jeffrey Lu is a double major in molecular biology and applied mathematics who plans to go to medical school. His “Diffusive Flux Study of Biofilm” research is based in mathematical biology. Reiter featured the presentation this month during Hatter Saturday for incoming and perspective students.

Reiter told perspective students, “Look, I know you don’t understand a word of this thing. It looks scary, but you, too, could be doing this in three years’ time. This is the kind of level and standard that our students can produce even as rising seniors, even as juniors in their summer year, so you’ve got a lot of good things to look forward to.

She added, “Stetson is a cut above because we challenge you and give you a chance to do independent research and creativity.”

In his project, Nelson Quezada Herrera examines how people form opinions and attitudes toward a proposal like the Green New Deal, a congressional resolution that would set goals to tackle climate change, economic inequality and other issues. A double major in political science and English, he hopes to attend grad school and earn a doctorate in political science.

The projects on the Showcase 2020 website highlight student research and can be a selling point for perspective students and perspective donors, who support student research work through grants.

“This shows Stetson in the best of light,” Reiter said. 

-Cory Lancaster