Research symposium


Ethan Ly

Ethan Ly was one of 19 students who shared their research, pre-professional and creative endeavors with classmates, faculty and staff.

Academic achievements shared

Bluffton University students showcased the research, pre-professional and creative endeavors they completed from spring 2021 through spring 2022 during the Bluffton University Research Symposium. The April 21 event included presentations from 19 students.

“It was interesting to see everyone come together,” said Evie Masters ’24, a psychology and social work double major from Arcadia, Ohio. “It was a collaborative effort to explore the different majors at Bluffton and the different classes and learn about what everyone is studying.”

Masters was nominated to present by President Jane Wood for work she completed in an honors class examining the Grecian impact on the Romanticism movement.

“An event like this allows students to hear from each other and to be on the opposite side of faculty members,” said Dr. Lamar Nisly, vice president and dean of academic affairs. “Faculty members are learning from them and engaging them in conversation, so it reverses the power dynamic that you find in the usual learning process.”

Nearly a dozen professors nominated the work of students, and the information presented ranged from an exploration of the molecular motion of water droplets called “Random Walks in Python” to “The Pianist” a multimedia presentation about a fictional apocalyptic event.

The 3–5-minute talks followed the format of Three Minute Thesis or PechaKucha, but the event was not a competition. Instead, once presenters finished their time, the next presenter immediately began their presentation. Follow-up questions could be asked during a reception with the nominated students.  

“There were several faces I had not seen before, and it was so interesting to see a wide range of topics represented,” said Carrie Phillips, library director and organizer of the event. “A few of the students were nervous, but I also saw them ease into their five minutes. Five minutes is enough time to either endure a presentation or thrive in it. I saw some students build confidence today.”

Ethan Ly ’24 enjoyed sharing about his experience as a medical scribe while also learning from his peers.

“I always thought of Bluffton as being a small campus, but what people are studying is so vast,” explained the biology and pre-medicine double major from Celina, Ohio. “I thought it was really interesting.”

In recent years, Bluffton’s Musselman Library had held a weeklong series of events called Celebrate the Library Week which concluded with a research fair. However, because of COVID-19 restrictions, the event did not take place last spring. The symposium-style event was envisioned earlier this year and designed as a way to celebrate academic success while having the ability to follow pandemic protocols.

“Last year it didn’t feel right or safe to hold the event, but we wanted to bring it back this year with a safer way to do it,” said Phillips. “We weren’t sure of the response, but it turned out really well.”