Western Connecticut State University will renew and reimagine the popular tradition of celebrating student research at the close of each academic year with the online presentation of Western Research Week as a four-day virtual event from May 3 through 6.
After a hiatus in 2020 forced by the university’s closure last spring at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, WCSU has transformed the annual Western Research Day tradition begun in 2005 into this year’s Western Research Week, a series of Zoom sessions streaming live beginning at 4 p.m. each afternoon during the four-day program. Admission is free and the public is invited to register in advance to view the Zoom presentations by accessing the URL link at https://wcsu-edu.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYld-itqzMiGNbiSOsLiiT91wV6tifJwiqz.
A total of 34 WCSU graduate and undergraduate students from a wide range of academic disciplines will make poster presentations of their research over the past year and participate in live interactive discussions with student peers, faculty members and event judges. These programs showcasing the diversity, scholarship and creativity of student research at WCSU will stream in poster sessions to be held from 4 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 4, and Wednesday, May 5.
The opening session from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Monday, May 3, will feature a keynote talk by Dr. Kaston D. Anderson-Carpenter, assistant professor of Psychology at Michigan State University. His lecture will follow introductory remarks offered by WCSU President Dr. John B. Clark; Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Missy Alexander; and Dr. Michelle Monette, associate professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences and chair of the 2021 Western Research Week planning committee.
Alexander will reveal the Provost Awards for best student poster presentations during the closing Zoom session of the event from 4 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 6. Other honors to be announced during the program include the Sigma Xi Awards and the Library Research Award, sponsored by the WCSU Library Services department to recognize accomplishment in the use and application of library resources.
Anderson-Carpenter’s talk, “Justice for All: Using Science to Advance Health and Social Justice for Marginalized and Vulnerable Communities,” will explore how research in experimental psychology, behavior analysis, community psychology, public health and other fields can work in concert to support improvement in health and justice outcomes for these populations. While science has been misused in the past to harm these communities, he observed, “when used as intended, science can highlight the voices of the oppressed” and provide an integrated framework to reach “a comprehensive understanding of the human condition.”
A behavioral psychologist by training, Anderson-Carpenter’s research specializations have included addiction and social determinants of health in underserved and marginalized communities. Recent investigations have studied the psycho-social and behavioral impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on adults in the United States and four other nations, and the racial and political disparities between black and white Michigan residents during the pandemic. For more than a decade, he has worked extensively with local grassroots organizations, state coalitions and underserved populations in Michigan on topics ranging from substance use and HIV/STI prevention to health issues in the LGBTQ+ community.
Anderson-Carpenter earned Master of Public Health and Ph.D. in Behavioral Psychology degrees from the University of Kansas, and also received a master’s degree in Experimental Psychology and Applied Behavior Analysis from McNeese State University. He holds faculty appointments at MSU in the Consortium for Multicultural Psychology Research, the Consortium for Sexual and Gender Minority Research, the Center for Gender in Global Context, and the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research. He serves as guest editor for three scientific journals and is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral in the state of Michigan. He also is a member of the Association for Behavior Analysis International Practice Board.
The student research and creative work presented during Western Research Week will represent many academic disciplines in the sciences, arts, professions and humanities. Participation requires prior approval by the student’s faculty adviser and submission of an abstract to the WRW planning committee for review. Serving with Monette on this year’s WRW committee are Dr. Adam Brewer, associate professor of Education; Dr. Bernard Gee, associate professor of Psychology; Debbi Johnson, adjunct professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences; Brian Stevens, university archivist and special collections librarian; and Dr. Emily Stevens, professor and co-chair of the Department of Health Promotion and Exercise Sciences.
“The committee and I are really excited that students will get a chance to showcase the research and creative work that has continued at WCSU during this extremely challenging year,” Monette remarked. “We are also thrilled to have several graduate students from the Education and Educational Psychology, Nursing and Integrative Biological Diversity programs presenting their research during Western Research Week this year.”