The Student Movement


Honors Scholars and Undergraduate Research Poster Symposium 2023

Nora Martin

Photo by Blaise Datoy

On March 10 from 2:30 - 3:30 pm, the yearly Honors and Undergraduate Research Poster Symposium was held, where Honors students and Undergraduate Research Scholarship award scholars from all disciplines presented their research to the public and were graded by a panel of students, professors, and faculty. Hosted in the hallways of Buller, the Symposium event was a come-as-you-wish event where all students could come and see what their classmates have been working on. Several refreshments were provided, including cookies, fruit, chips, and breads. The event had over 20 researchers, each presenting a poster summarizing their work over the course of the past several years. Defending research at the Symposium, a requirement for all graduating Honors students and undergraduate researchers is a fantastic way for new researchers to practice presenting their work to a lay audience, as well as to display their hard work. For many, such as Chrissy Stowell (senior, psychology), a student presenting her psychology research, the event was a zenith of multiple years of work:

She says, “Research was actually a lot of work that I did not anticipate—the project grew so much. I’ve been working on this project since my sophomore year—it has really exploded since then. It’s been really rewarding, though, to see all the effort that I’ve put into it come through with the poster presentations. It was one of the biggest rewards [of the research]. Also, it all happened super fast. There was very little time between seeing someone and them asking me to tell them about my research. It was really encouraging to have all of these people be interested in my research—it’s kind of discouraging to put so much work into something and have no one care—so this was really cool and made me excited about continuing with research in the future.”

Other students such as Lily Burke (senior, anthropology, English, and Spanish), a recipient of the Undergraduate Research Scholarship, found fulfillment in explaining her research with interested attendees. She stated,“I was so excited to present the progress on my current research project at this symposium. Sharing my work and getting feedback from other scholars was an enriching experience.”

For some researchers—including Valerie Akinyi (senior, political science), presenting political science research—the presentation itself was a process that grew, much like the research itself. She says, “Presenting was nerve-wracking. I first presented to my evaluator, and I hadn’t hit my stride yet, but I started to feel myself get comfortable when questions started coming in, and then I had a good time getting to talk about my knowledge in this niche subject area.”

Honors presenters were evaluated by a panel of evaluators, including professors, a few students, and some faculty. This panel is the “Honors Council,” and they are responsible for critiquing Honors research throughout its development. Maxine Umana, one of the evaluators, says that the Honors Scholars and Undergraduate Research Symposium is a later step in the process.

Ms. Maxine shared, “What the Honors council is primarily looking for is that the students took the feedback they gave during their proposal defense, as well as particularly things that students might have to work on for their final thesis. However, one thing that we try to emphasize at this point is praise; faculty know that praise is super helpful to validate the students’ work and passion in the work they did—of course, there’s critiquing as well, but we try to make it as positive as possible. One thing that I do try to remind students to do as they are defending is to keep their work interdisciplinary; all students will have professors grading them that are in their discipline, but will also receive feedback from professors that are not at all familiar with their discipline. I like to encourage students to learn how to present the information they know to an audience with no background knowledge.”

She explains that the students are graded on five things: research quality, poster content, poster appearance, verbal performance, and holistic impression. Provided that students took the feedback they were given during earlier stages of the research, presentation defense is not difficult. Overall, the Honors Scholar and Undergraduate Research Scholarship Poster Symposium was a capstone event in the educational development of many Honors upperclassmen and Undergraduate Research Scholarship scholars, for whom we eagerly await future research endeavors. 

The Student Movement is the official student newspaper of Andrews University. Opinions expressed in the Student Movement are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors, Andrews University or the Seventh-day Adventist church.