Western Connecticut State University will celebrate the research of WCSU students spanning diverse academic disciplines and present talks by two Western alumni about their investigations of topics in public health and American history during the 13th annual Western Research Day (WRD) on Friday, May 5 in the Science Building on the university’s Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury.
The WRD 2017 program will begin at 10 a.m. in Science Building Room 125 with welcoming remarks offered by WCSU Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Missy Alexander and WCSU President Dr. John B. Clark, who will introduce the keynote talks. Featured speakers will be Aretha Townsend, a 2004 Western alumna and doctoral candidate in public health at Walden University, and Ryan Bachman, a 2012 Western alumnus in history and doctoral candidate in history at the University of Delaware.
The WRD 2017 theme, “Promoting Interdisciplinary Conversations,” will be on display in an exhibition of student posters detailing research projects conducted during the current academic year, continuing from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Atrium of the Science Building. Students will be on hand during the exhibition to explain their research or creative work to the public and to judges drawn from WCSU faculty and staff. WRD 2017 will wrap up with the closing session at 1 p.m. in Science Building Room 125 featuring the award by Alexander of 10 Provost Prizes honoring outstanding student posters in various academic fields. Admission to all WRD 2017 program events will be free and the public is invited to attend.
Townsend, who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from WCSU and Master of Public Health degree from A.T. Still University, recently completed advanced medical studies at the American University of Integrative Sciences. In her doctoral thesis work at Walden, she has investigated the health care behavior profiles of Afro-Caribbean migrants who work in agriculture in the Connecticut River watershed, with specific emphasis on medication compliance and lifestyle modifications by farm workers with Type 2 diabetes.
Bachman, who received a B.A. in History at WCSU and a Master of Arts in History from James Madison University, has focused in his doctoral research on the practice of staging human exhibitions, specifically of indigenous peoples, in early 19th century America and the cultural conditions that made these shows popular among urban middle-class audiences. His dissertation work explores the case study of the 1820-21 Inuit Exhibition, one of the many “Indian exhibitions” that toured the eastern United States in the period following the War of 1812.
Student research and creative work exhibited at WRD will encompass diverse academic disciplines in the sciences, arts, professions, business and humanities. Participation requires prior approval by the student’s faculty adviser and submission to the WRD planning committee for review. Dr. Michelle Monette, assistant professor of biological and environmental sciences, serves as chair of the 2017 planning committee, with other members including Dr. Bernard Gee, assistant professor of psychology; Debbi Johnson, adjunct professor of biological and environmental sciences; and Brian Stevens, university archivist and special collections librarian.
“Western Research Day gives students valuable experience in communicating and presenting their work in a professional, conference-like setting,” both to specialists in their field and to individuals from other disciplines, Monette observed. At the same time, she noted, “WRD provides a public venue to inform the community about the exciting research work going on every day at WCSU.”
“This year we are encouraging more participation from a greater diversity of academic disciplines,” Monette said. “By bringing together students from many different departments, we seek to reach an understanding of how we define research in each discipline and to find common ground to discover that all of us at Western are doing some form of research. We are promoting conversations across disciplines to help people appreciate the research that is being done throughout our university.”
To encourage wider participation in this year’s event, Alexander formed an ad hoc WRD advisory committee that includes Monette, for the Macricostas School of Arts and Sciences; Dr. Divya Sharma, associate professor of justice and law administration, for the Ancell School of Business; Dr. Gabriel Lomas, associate professor of education and educational psychology, for the School of Professional Studies; and Darby Cardonsky, assistant professor of art and coordinator of the M.F.A. in Visual Arts program, for the School of Visual and Performing Arts.