Students present final research at Academic Symposium

Cole R. Chagnon (Left) and Sam Koch (Right), both seniors and major in psychology, pose for a photo in front of their tri-folds.PHOTOS BY ERIKA AVELLINO AND AURORA YORK

Will Coppolla I Staff Writer I

As another academic year comes to a close, a new crop of students prepare to display their work in the Academic Symposium Poster Session which will take place on Saturday, April 29. The annual event took place in the Roy Room of Dion that morning from 11:00 a.m. -1:00 p.m., and all students & faculty were able to attend and celebrate. Oral presentations, which give a more in depth project analysis,occured on April 24 and April 28.

Most of the senior seminar classes revolve around an individual research project that students come up with themselves. “These types of presentation skills, written, oral, and poster are important for students to develop as they enter their chosen career paths.  All careers require workers to effectively communicate their work with their colleagues, their financial supporters, and their leadership team,” said Shane Lamos, Professor of Chemistry in an email. For seniors in chemistry, they are allowed to choose any chemistry-related topic to research that they are interested in. “Students create a full presentation on their senior project including a written, oral, and poster presentation.  [They] spend two, two-credit semester courses working on their capstone projects,” Lamos said. 

Andrew Champagne is a senior majoring in chemistry and biochemistry presenting his project on gene analysis in cavities. “I am proud I was able to find a topic that really allowed me to use my knowledge I have gained from Saint Michael’s college and relate it to and make a great project towards dentistry,” Champagne said. Champagne is presenting a project that a protein is crucial for enamel formation “I will be looking to see if this single nucleotide polymorphism has a correlation with the presence of cavities,” Champagne said. “With a future career in dentistry, this disease is ‘Extremely prominent.’”

Professor John Trono echoed the value of symposium presentations: “Students will have to make presentations in just about any career they enter…and so this gives them one more opportunity to be better prepared” said John Trono, Professor of Computer Science in an email. “It is always rewarding to see the final product produced by the students,” Trono said.  “However, I feel that they can really add their own personality to their presentation and some students have really surprised/impressed me with their presence during this public speaking event.” 

Grace Gallo (Right) senior major in Chemistry and biochemistry, talks with peers in front of her poster.
Lauren Welch (Left) ’25 is double major in psychology and sociology and Nika Mitchell (Right) ’25, discuss Welch’s presentation on academic symposium.

Maeghan Kennard, a senior majoring in chemistry and biochemistry, presented her project on ALS. “This project has pushed me in my research development skills which are important for me to have as I am an aspiring physician,” Kennard said in an email. Maeghan showcased her project “on a proposed drug therapeutic for treating Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS),” Kennard said. It is still unknown the cause or cure for ALS, so this project extends much beyond Saint Michael’s bubble. “Clinical research will be an important part of my career, and conducting a capstone project that involves finding a public health issue, learning as much as I can about it, and trying to find a way to treat it has taught me a great deal about how these ideas grow and develop,” Kennard said.

Krista Billingsley, Director of Criminology, emphasizes the individual skills developed throughout this project. Criminology students here “Design the project from start to finish…students will also be presenting on how they have and how they will utilize what they have learned through the Criminology Program at Saint Michael’s College to service, restorative approaches, social justice, and human dignity,” said Krista Billingsley in an email. It is very independent based as students for Criminology “Choose their research topic and submit a research proposal; conduct a literature review and submit an annotated bibliography; design and submit their interview and survey questions; recruit research participants; and conduct research and data analysis,” Billingsley said.

Marie Bavely, a senior majoring in criminology, speaks on the connection between her project and future career. I hope that my future career is in Washington, D.C. working on social justice causes and advocacy,” Bavely said. Her project focused “On how non-US citizens experience the court system here in Chittenden County, Vermont,” Bavely said. Throughout this project, Bavley interviewed 13 different people including: “public defenders, a prosecutor, a Community Justice Center advocate, and an immigration expert,” Bavely said. “I am most proud of the relationships that I have created with the people I interviewed, they were very insightful and interested in my research. Some of them even asked to see the final project, just showing how invested and curious they were in the topic.”

Criminology students conducted their oral presentation on Monday, April 24, while the rest of the students presented on Friday, April 28. After that, students moved to a more open setting where students, friends, and professors celebrated one another’s work in the Roy Room.