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Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning – Research Student Academic Engagement & Success

Poster Session 2024: Let’s Hear from the Winners!

SMU’s Undergraduate Poster Session for 2024 has concluded with some incredible posters and winners! The winners Elisabeth Hood, Veronica Khoury Seeling, and Gabriel Mongaras have shared with us some information about their respective posters. Read on to learn more about them! 

Can you give us a layman’s terms explanation of your project? 

Headshot of Ellie Hood
Elizabeth Hood, Factors Affecting Romantic Partner Preferences Majors: Psychology, Sociology

Elisabeth:My study investigated factors that influenced people’s attitudes and behaviors towards romantic interethnic relationships. Through surveys and interviews, we concluded that people would rather have a partner who shares their beliefs and values than have a partner who belongs to specific racial/ethnic group. This aligns with an emerging theory of interracial relationships known as dyadic cultural affinity, which places less focus on differences in the partners’ physical appearances and more focus on the compatibility of the partners’ beliefs, values, and practices.”

 

Veronica Khoury Seeling, The Relationship Between Executive Functioning and Immediate Memory

Veronica: “Based on researchers like Arain, we know that frontal lobe related executive function may not be fully developed until around age 25 and although the relationship between executive functioning and memory abilities has often been researched in child and older-adult populations, little research has looked to examine that relationship in college age/young adult populations. Thus, this study sought to examine the relationship between executive function and long-term episodic memory. Executive function refers to any higher order processes such as working memory, cognitive flexibility, or inhibitory control while long term episodic memory refers to the recollection of personal experiences or events. It was hypothesized that when controlling for variables like ADHD status, anxiety or depression level, age, and hours of sleep that executive function would still predict long-term episodic memory performance. After a 1 hour in lab session in which about 95 participants’ baseline executive function and long-term episodic memory performance were assessed, we took the data and ran a multiple regression controlling for those variables previously mentioned. It was found that executive function did indeed significantly predict long term episodic memory performance, suggesting that executive function is very important for general memory abilities in college age students, and future research should look towards intervention methods for those with executive dysfunction who may be struggling in school (like those with ADHD).” 

Headshot of Gabriel Mongaras
Gabriel Mongaras, Linear Transformers With Cosine Attention Majors: Computer Science, Math, Statistics

Gabriel: “ChatGPT and related GPT style models have a major problem. After every word GPT generates, it has to store that word so it can reference it later. This is a problem as each word added increases the memory quadratically in term of the sequence length – that is every word increases the memory by every other word, not just itself! This becomes intractable to handle for any reasonable conversation or sequence. This problem comes from the attention mechanism, the heart of GPT models. We fix this problem by converting the softmax function to a cosine function and stabilizing the new attention mechanism, giving linear complexity while retaining the accuracy of the old softmax attention.” 

How long have you worked on this project 

Elisabeth:This project began in Fall 2022!”  

Veronica: “The data used for this project was taken from a larger 3-day study organized by a doctoral candidate in the MAPL lab, Diane Moon. I’ve been working on that larger project since October 2023. This particular project has been something Diane Moon and I have worked on since January/February of this year.” 

Gabriel: “I have been working on this project since September of last year.” 

How did you prepare, design, and print your poster? 

Elisabeth:To prepare and design my poster, I used a template provided by the Office of Engaged Learning. You can easily find these templates on the Engaged Learning website! The Engaged Learning website also has PDFs of the previous year’s winning posters, so I also used those as a guide. To print my poster, I used the FedEx on Hillcrest.” 

Veronica: “This poster was prepared after countless meetings with Diane Moon and was designed with previous posters done by Diane and Dr. Bowen in mind. After I initially created the poster, Diane and Dr. Bowen looked over it two separate times before it was finally printed by the Psychology department.” 

Gabriel: “Since we’ve been writing a paper, most of the information and charts came from there. However, the language had to be changed to be a little less technical. Most of the information was written around the results, algorithm and charts, which made it a lot earlier to write in less technical language, but also written like a narrative: what’s the problem, how is it fixed, what’s the results. Additionally, I tried to supply as much background information on the attention mechanism as possible with the little space I could do it in.” 

What was your favorite part about presenting your poster? 

Elisabeth:My favorite part about presenting the poster was answering people’s questions! The sociology of interethnic relationships is something I’m very passionate about, and so receiving questions and being able to answer them was really inspiring; it gave me hope that this is a topic other people care about as well!” 

Veronica: “Hearing how students with ADHD or other learning disabilities felt that accommodations and future interventions were very important for their success in college and that this research validated those experiences. This made me realize that this research, although small, was still important.” 

Gabriel: “Meeting all the cool people with amazing projects and who were super passionate about them!” 

Any tips for future presenters? 

Elisabeth:Future presenters: have confidence in yourself! Imposter syndrome is very common, especially for first-time presenters, but you know more than you think you know about your research topic. Posters are a huge feat for undergrads, so just remember that you worked so hard and you deserve to feel proud of yourself! For more practical advice, definitely get a second pair of eyes on your poster before you get it printed. Furthermore, don’t wait until the last minute to print.” 

Gabriel: “Don’t be nervous about the poster presentation. It’s a lot of fun to talk about the work you’ve been doing over the past months or year(s) and most people just want to see the cool stuff you’ve been working on! Though one piece of advice is to try to think of possible loopholes or limitations in your approach as people may ask about those.” 

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Office of General Education Student Academic Engagement & Success

The Office of General Education to re-launch Common Reading in revised format

As the Spring 2024 semester comes to an end, the Office of General Education is working to re-launch the Common Reading program for SMU undergraduate students in Fall 2024 in a revised format.

This version of the Common Reading will target first-year students, allowing them the opportunity to earn their Civics & Individual Ethics (CIE) Common Curriculum (CC) Proficiency. Due to budget and logistical constraints, it will only be a targeted group within the first-year cohort rather than all first-year students.

The Office of General Education has created a campus-wide survey to get feedback from students, staff, and faculty members on the following:

  • Book selection and its alignment with the CIE rubric
  • Time commitment and requirements for students intending to receive the CIE credit
  • Time commitment for faculty/staff facilitators

This survey will assist the General Education team in these early planning stages as they work to create a meaningful program for students that also supports their academic endeavors. The Office of General Education encourages undergraduate students, and faculty/staff that work primarily with undergraduate students, to complete this survey.

More information will be provided regarding the Common Reading program as it continues to be developed throughout the spring and summer months.

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Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center First-Generation Initiative Student Academic Engagement & Success

First-Gen Spotlight: Arath Dominguez 

The Dallas Morning News recently featured Arath Dominguez, a first-generation student at SMU. In the article, Arath describes his experience as a first-generation student and explains why he chose to attend SMU. Coming from a family of seven he knew he wanted to go to a school where he could thrive while staying close to his family. He is pursuing a B.A. in computer science and a B.S. in data science. Society of Hispanic Engineers (SHPE) has opened many doors to engage in opportunities to engage with people from diverse backgrounds which led him to switch his degree from electrical engineering. “Thanks to the contacts I made through SHPE, I interned at AT&T as a data scientist. This experience solidified my passion for pursuing a career in data science or technology consulting and reinforced my desire to work for a company that values diversity.”

He notes his strong alliance with Student Financial Services and how crucial it is to keep applying for scholarships even after high school. “I did not stop looking for scholarships during my undergraduate career. Students are not limited to not only getting scholarships during high school.” A combination of federal grants, merit scholarships, and institutional support has aided Arath in attending SMU paying for almost 95% of his tuition!

Lastly, he emphasizes how important it is for first-generation students just to ask for help. “Just asking questions is crucial, especially for first-gen students like me. I struggled with this because I didn’t want to reveal that I didn’t know what was going on, even when I didn’t. In hindsight, I would’ve benefited from asking more questions.” Asking questions has allowed Arath to be successful and seek more resources to help him through his academic career.

“Failure is a natural part of the learning process, and you need to be open to it to identify areas for growth, So don’t be afraid to ask questions even if you feel like the person next to you has it all figured out. Because the truth is, they probably don’t. – Arath Dominguez

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Student Academic Engagement & Success

The Office of Engaged Learning Welcomes New Staff

The Office of Engaged Learning is excited to welcome two new staff members to the team, Alisha Bailey and Olivia Prioleau.

Headshot of Alisha Bailey

Alisha serves as Assistant Director for Pathways to Business and Industry Program. Before transitioning to OEL, she served as Program Manager in SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering, where she led the engineering outreach camps for K-16. Alisha received her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Spelman College and her Master of Science in Environmental Sciences from Alabama A&M University. Prior to obtaining her master’s degree, Alisha worked as a sixth and seventh grade mathematics teacher in Houston, TX, before transitioning back into the science field. Through her master’s program, her knowledge and focuses were fisheries, aquaponics, and water management research and by studying abroad in Nanjing, China, she broadened her skills in GIS. Alisha worked for the government in the environmental health field as an Environmental Compliance Specialist for several years in Atlanta, GA. Outside of work, Alisha is continuously dedicated to service by volunteering at Ronald McDonald House Dallas, as an advisory board member with Women Leading Technology, serves on the Board of Directors for The GEMS Camp, a proud alumna of Leadership ISD Dallas County Civic Voices Fellowship, and a member of Junior League of Dallas.

Headshot of Olivia Prioleau

Olivia Prioleau serves as the new Project Specialist, coordinating the Big iDeas and Mustang Mentors program. As a Charleston, South Carolina native, Olivia received her B.A. in Journalism and Communications from the University of South Carolina and will be graduating with her M.Ed. in Higher Educational Leadership from Texas Christian University in May of 2024. During her two years at TCU, Olivia served first-year leadership programs, student organizations, and large-scale programs in her role as the Graduate Assistant in the Student Activities Office. She is excited for her new journey at SMU and to serve more students on the Hilltop.

Please join us in welcoming Alisha and Olivia!

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Academic Center for Excellence Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center First-Generation Initiative Honors and Scholars Office of General Education Offices & Programs Rotunda Scholars SMU in Four Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs Student Success & Retention

Student Senate Awards First-Generation Scholarship

The First-Generation Initiative is excited to announce that on March 26th, Student Senate passed legislation, which appropriates $50,000 per year exclusively to Pell Grant, first-generation students. This first-gen scholarship will begin in Fall 2024 and last for the next nine years (Spring 2033).

A huge thanks to all of Student Senate for the unanimous vote, but a special thanks to: Alex Alarcón, Clayton Meyer, Michael Castle, and Wyatt Harms! We also want to thank the First-Generation Initiative’s former graduate/student assistants, Briana Morales and Guadalupe Roman, for their determination in continuing to push for more first-gen support.

 

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Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning – Research Student Academic Engagement & Success

Meadows students pursue research projects with Engaged Learning Fellowships

Discover what meaningful research projects Meadows students across four different majors are pursuing with their Engaged Learning Fellowship. Read the full article from Meadows School of the Arts.

For students interested in pursuing a research or capstone project, there is another opportunity to apply for an Engaged Learning Fellowship this spring. Find information about the fellowship and how to apply at smu.edu/elf. The deadline to apply for this cycle is April 15.

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Honors and Scholars Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning – Research President’s Scholars Student Academic Engagement & Success University Honors Program

Research & Innovation Week, April 1-5

Research & Innovation Week is happening next week! As part of RIW, The Office of Engaged Learning is excited to showcase the outstanding research and projects being done by SMU undergraduates across campus.

The Undergraduate Poster Session will take place Tuesday, April 2, 2-5 p.m. in the Moody Hall Atrium.  Prizes are awarded for the Top 3 posters overall, and the best poster in each school will be recognized. You can also vote for your favorite poster during the session for the Fan Favorite award. We hope you will come by to check out their posters, hear their presentations, and support these exceptional Mustangs!

The week is filled with panels, workshops and more. Visit the Research & Innovation Week website for event details and registration links.

  • Monday, April 1: Kick-off Event and Centers & Institutes Panel, 8am-12 PM
  • Tuesday, April 2: Undergraduate Poster Session, 2-5 PM
  • Wednesday, April 3: Graduate Poster Sessions, Dedman College graduate programs at 9 AM-12 PM, All other graduate programs and postdoctoral scholars at 2-5 PM
  • Thursday, April 4: Lunch & Learn: Navigating through the Research Labyrinth, 11:30AM-12:30PM
  • Thursday, April 4: Keynote Talk: Keivan Stassun, Director of the Frist Center for Autism & Innovation and Stevenson Professor of Physics & Astronomy at Vanderbilt University, 5 PM
  • Friday, April 5: SMU Faculty Innovation Day, 8 AM – 3:45 PM
  • Friday, April 5: MFA Qualifying Exhibition: “To Feel, To Mend, To Be”, 2-5PM in the Pollock Gallery

 

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Office of General Education SMU in Four Student Academic Engagement & Success

Degree Planner updated to plan co-curricular options

The Office of General Education partnered with the Office of Information Technology and the Registrar’s Office to permit undergraduate student’s the ability to plan co-curricular obtainment of Common Curriculum (CC) Proficiencies and Experience in Degree Planner. 

The purpose of this change is to simplify and ultimately make planning easier for our students.  With the Degree Planner update, students can select an SMU course, a preapproved activity, or inform us of their desire to petition an individual activity to fulfill a Proficiency or Experience 

Watch this new video on how to plan a pre-approved or individual activity in Degree Planner:  

The following pre-approved clubs and organizations fulfill CC graduation requirements, also known as Proficiencies & Experiences (PREX), and have already been added as options in Degree Planner: 

Activity Name  CC Requirement 
Alternative Breaks  Community Engagement 
Engage Dallas  Community Engagement, Civics and Individual Ethics 
Vice President for Student Affairs Advisory Board  Civics and Individual Ethics 
Mustang PEP Talks  Civics and Individual Ethics, Oral Communication 
Peer Academic Leaders (PAL)  Community Engagement, Oral Communication 
Student Wellness Program  Community Engagement 
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)  Community Engagement 
Board Fellows Program  Community Engagement 
Spiritual Life Mentors  Community Engagement 
SMU Abroad Programs  Global Perspectives 

 

Search for these pre-approved activities under the PREX course attribute in Degree Planner. 

Following the Council on General Education‘s approval, look for more pre-approved clubs and organizations that will be added to Degree Planner. Updates can also be found on each Proficiency &  Experience webpage.  

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Office of General Education Student Academic Engagement & Success University Advising Center

Upcoming Office of General Education workshops for faculty and staff

The Office of General Education is continuing to offer various workshops for faculty and staff this spring semester.

The upcoming workshops for March include:

  • Faculty and Staff Common Curriculum Workshop
    • Tuesday, March 19th, 12PM-1PM in HT 219
    • Learn more about the Common Curriculum! This workshop will go into depth about how students are able to complete Foundation, Breadth, and Proficiency & Experience requirements.
    • Register for the workshop on SMU360 here
  • Faculty and Staff Course Proposal Workshop
    • Friday, March 22nd, 11:30AM-12:30PM in HT 219
    • Learn more about how to submit a Common Curriculum course or experience proposal. Questions will be answered about what documentation is needed, annual responsibilities to maintain the CC tag, and more.
    • Register for the workshop on SMU360 here
  • Departmental Responsibilities Workshop
    • Thursday, March 28th, 3PM-4PM in Blanton 110
    • Learn more about departmental responsibilities for submitting, maintaining, and removing Common Curriculum component tags.
    • Register for the workshop on SMU360 here

For more details about these upcoming workshops, please contact Dallas Forbes within the Office of General Education.

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Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning – Research Student Academic Engagement & Success

Encourage undergraduate students to present at Research & Innovation Week

Research & Innovation Week is two weeks away and we’re looking for students to present at the Undergraduate Poster Session. The deadline for students to register is Monday, March 18.

Please encourage your students to participate! This is a great opportunity for undergraduates to share their research with the SMU community, and to compete for cash prizes.

The Undergraduate Poster Session will be held Tuesday, April 2 from 2-5pm in the Moody Hall Atrium. For more information about the poster session and other events, visit smu.edu/riw.