Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning – Research

Research Spotlight: Poster Session Winners!

by Hannah Green ’26

As this year’s poster session quickly approaches, we decided that it would be a great idea to reach out to last year’s poster session winners Faith Fang and Melanie Wright! For those who don’t know, the Research and Innovation Week Undergraduate Poster Session is an event where research from various departments are displayed on posters created by students. Now seniors, Faith and Melanie were able to give us a student’s perspective on the event.

Dark Matter Detection:

Faith Fang ’23

Studying Mechanical Engineering and Violin, Faith Fang was the first-place winner of the poster session last year! As a Grand Challenge Scholar, she has been conducting research with the SuperCDMS Lab under Dr. Jodi Cooley and Dr. Robert Calkins of the Physics department for two years and was excited to share her research. Her research focuses on reducing the amount of radon that sticks to dark matter detectors. Radon interferes with the precision of detecting dark matter particles, due to their identical emittance of energy. Leading up to the presentation, Faith identified three main steps. Step One was working with her research team to collect suitable data from the experiment. Step Two involved making the poster, which took a lot of work considering the amount of information that needed to be summarized and how the results applied to the overall experiment. Finally, Step Three involved the finishing touches which included ensuring presentability and approachability. Faith wanted to “make it as accessible as I could because I knew that there were people of all different fields [attending].” One important thing that Faith addressed is making sure you have an in-depth understanding of what you are presenting in order to answer questions with accurate information. 

Faith’s Tips: 

  • Have your research professor or mentor test your presentation readiness by having them ask you challenging questions.
  • Make sure your poster is visually pleasing and easy to follow. That way, even if you’re not present at the poster stand, attendees can still read and understand it.
  • Be honest when you’re not entirely sure about how to most accurately answer a question.

 New Mexican Archeology:

Melanie Wright ’23

Studying Anthropology with an emphasis on Archeology, Melanie Wright placed second in the poster session! Her research from last year focused on a pottery assemblage from New Mexico. Melanie decided to participate in the poster session because she felt it would be a great opportunity to frequently communicate her research. The overall new experience of making a poster as well as seeing what other students were researching across campus also sold her. She started preparing for the session one month in advance and recalled having to overcome logistical hurdles due to her relatively “out of the box” poster design. On the day of the event Melanie “started off pretty nervous, especially when the judges came around,” but everything worked out! People were very receptive to Melanie’s poster, which she attributes to the included visuals. She would describe the environment of the event as positively engaged amongst both the students presenting and attendees.  

Melanie’s Tips: 

  • Wear comfortable shoes as you could find yourself standing for a couple of hours.
  • Add attractive visuals to your poster, for example adding a colorful and creative picture.
  • Have a 1-minute, 3-minute, and 5-minute version of your presentation so you can interchange between them to “gauge people’s interest when they are coming up to you,” determining which version communicates most effectively.

If you are interested in participating and potentially winning this year’s poster session, registration closes on March 10th! Prizes will be awarded to the top three posters overall, as well as recognition for the best poster in each department. The event will be held in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballroom on March 21st from 2-5pm. 

Info & Registration

Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning – Research

Summer Research Fellow Interview: Brynn Price

by Hannah Green ’26

Brynn Price, Class of  ’23, is a 2022-23 Summer Research Fellow.

Tell me about yourself! 

My name is Brynn Price, and I’m from Dallas and will be graduating next fall. At SMU, I am on the SMU Libraries Student Advisory Board (and have done so since my first year) and love serving the Mustang community in this role. I am also a 2022-23 Summer Research Fellow and am especially grateful for Engaged Learning’s support as I have pursued research on campus (shoutout Dr. Neal and Dr. Ebinger!). This semester, I am excited to continue to serve Dr. Wieselmann and her NSF-funded research project (which is described here!).

What did you do during your summer research? Who did you work with-overall, how was it?

Last summer, I worked with Dr. Jeanna Wieselmann and Marc Sager (a PhD student at Simmons). We undertook a study that examined how well teacher-developed curriculum units incorporated integrated STEM instruction and PBI (project-based instruction). After completing the study, we wrote the manuscript, then submitted it to Education Sciences (where it was published here!). And while I have always loved writing, I had never written anything for a manuscript that would be submitted to an academic journal—but even so, Dr. Wieselmann and Marc were so encouraging during the process. I learned a lot and am appreciative of all they taught me.

What was your favorite part during your research? What was the most memorable part for you?

Actually, my favorite part ended up being the writing of the findings. I do love to write, and it was rewarding to be able to articulate new knowledge from the study in a format that is now shared with others—and hopefully, it will prove useful to those who read on it. Also, likely a result of my love for libraries, I enjoyed locating literature that was used in our manuscript (e.g., in the lit. review/discussion sections). It was cool to see the full research process and see how pre-existing knowledge can facilitate the creation of new knowledge. And lastly, I absolutely loved working with Dr. Wieselmann and Marc. They are amazing, intelligent people! From this experience, I will of course remember how interesting it was to experience the research process from start to finish—but even more, I will remember my time learning from and working with my research team. I am so thankful for them and for Engaged Learning, as well.

What would you say to someone wanting to pursue this program and research? What are things you think people should know before going into this program?

Even if you’re not sure that you want to pursue research, I highly recommend checking out the Summer Research Intensive. The program offers students a unique insight into the world of research and scholarship (and into the professional lives of professors)it’s an experience that cannot be fully replicated in the university classroom. For me, the program helped me to better understand the value of research/scholarship, as well as howand whyto engage with it; it was immensely helpful to experience the research process myself. Consequently, I have been able to transfer these skills and understandings to my courses, reaffirming that this program is truly characterized by “engaged learning.” But even if you are not interested in academic research, the lessons learned from the SRI can be transferred to other settings, as the research process is used all the time and all around. It is always important to know how to ask good questions; how to engage with the abundance of information that surrounds us; and, notably, how to work with a team to find answers to questions. The Research Intensive helped me develop myself in a number of ways, but it most importantly taught me that there’s so much that I can learn from and with the people around me. Engaged Learning works hard to not only support individual students, but also to connect them to the knowledgeable community around themI am grateful for this support.