The inaugural Research and Scholarly Activity Day provided a new forum for University of New Orleans scholars and artists from a wide range of disciplines and all academic levels to display and discuss their work with the university community. From 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Friday, April 7, 2017, the fourth floor of the Earl K. Long Library was abuzz with multiple demonstrations and presentations from individual scholars and artists, as well as UNO’s varied research centers and institutes. A highlight of the day was a competition among twelve Ph.D. students who were vying for four 1-year, $16,000 dissertation fellowship awards.
Based on robust participation among students, faculty and staff, events of the day affirmed that UNO scholars are enthusiastic about their own work and keenly interested in the contributions of others. Some of the day’s sessions were previously conducted as singular events but were scheduled in conjunction with each other this year along with some new crowd pleasers, like complimentary breakfast, lunch and snacks and several $50 campus dining gift cards as door prizes.
“The response was much larger than we expected,” said Carol Lunn, associate director of research and sponsored programs, who organized Research and Scholarly Activity Day. “We definitely want to see this become an annual event for UNO.”
The day began with a browse session inviting attendees to peruse dozens of posters, pieces of visual art and written works. Posters on display represented a broad spectrum of research projects from all UNO colleges. A sampling of poster topics includes sperm whale sizes near the BP oil spill, estuarine habitat of the Bayou Savage National Wildlife Refuge, anxiety’s relationship to memory in children and the provenance of Snickers® candy bars. During the browse session, scholars were on hand to discuss their work and answer questions.
Included among the art works on display were 24 student drawings that comprised the annual Svenson Drawing Exhibition, which began 20 years ago with a gift to the fine arts department from Ernest and Shirley Svenson. The Svensons saw drawing as a gateway to understanding the spatial world and valued its history as one of the most important forms of communication. With their gift, they sought to establish a yearly retrospective of student drawing. Research and Scholarly Activity Day provided a preview of this year’s exhibition. Eventually, the drawings will be judged, and prizes will be awarded to the artists of the top three works. In addition to the Svenson exhibition drawings, paintings and quilts rounded out the visual arts submissions.
Representatives from the Lester E. Kabacoff School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration performed a cooking demonstration that yielded shrimp with herbed risotto and tasso gravy. The chemistry department produced its own culinary offering by demonstrating how homemade ice cream can be prepared using liquid nitrogen.
Besides the Svensen exhibition, another component of the day which previously had been a stand-alone event was the “lightning talks” session with UNO authors of books, music and film. Eleven presenters talked for about five minutes each about their books, book chapters, articles, script, film or other form of creative work. Authors were also invited to submit items for physical display near the permanent collection of works by UNO authors housed on the library’s fourth floor.
Of particular importance to the day’s activities was the doctoral dissertation fellowship competition sponsored by the Graduate School. Twelve semifinalists competed by pitching their research in 5-minute presentations. The judging panel consisted of Lora Amsberryaugier, interim dean of the Earl K. Long Library; Caroline Noyes, associate provost for academic affairs; and Matthew Tarr, vice president for research and economic development. Winning presenters included Jennifer Brodmann in financial economics, Rebekah Ellis in curriculum and Instruction and M. Shafiqur Rahman and Pratik Sarker, both engineering and applied science Ph.D. students with concentrations in mechanical engineering. These finalists receive a one-year fellowship with a stipend of $16,000 and a tuition waiver.
Research and Scholarly Activity Day would not have been complete without participation from UNO’s preeminent research centers and institutes. Over the course of an hour, brief descriptions of current research priorities were presented by representatives from the Advanced Materials Research Institute (AMRI), the Center for Hazards Assessment Response and Technology (CHART), the Greater New Orleans Center for Information Assurance (GNOCIA), the Hospitality Research Center (HRC), the Joseph Canizaro and James Livingston Center for Environmental Informatics (GULFSCEI), the UNO Transportation Institute (UNOTI) and the Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences (PIES).