Student Research Highlights Scholarship

This was a year of firsts for Wilson College’s annual Student Research Day. For the first time ever, the event included five sessions to showcase student presentations. Exuberant professors and faculty Dr. Theresa Hoover, Dr. Rebecca Smith, and Dr. Jonathon Long also worked together for the first time to plan and orchestrate a day’s worth of events to honor student scholastic achievement.

The event included numerous student presentations, a poster session, a presentation by this year’s Disert Scholar Morgan Shadle ’14, a reception for student academic award winners and their families, and the annual Academic Award Ceremony.

Associate Professor of Chemistry Smith noted that her student advisees gained research experience that would prove invaluable in post-graduate education and research.

“Monica Drummond presented her research at the 78th Annual Intercollegiate Students Chemists Convention at Albright College in Reading, PA on Saturday, April 26.  Meghan Stine will present her research at the 2014 Ecological Society of America (ESA) Meeting in Sacramento, California in August 2014,” Smith said.

Student presenters showcased impressive academic projects at the event in a variety of  disciplines—including environmental and natural sciences, chemistry, sociology, psychology, biology, veterinary and equine studies, literature, media studies, and other fields.

Cheyenne Waslaski ’14 conducted a study of media representations of foster children in “The Lying Game” and “The Fosters.” She found that media representations of foster children in “The Lying Game” depicted foster children as aggressive and violent, and overdramatized problems that foster children typically experience.

“I think this issue is important because it helps get things out in the open. I think we need more education in schools about foster children and what they are going through, so they are not teased and unfairly stereotyped as bad kids,” Waslaski said.

Derrick Group ’14, who argued for the establishment of a chicken processing plant in Millsboro, Delaware, also felt that his student research experience helped him apply his knowledge and skills in a practical and real-world context.

“I have previous knowledge of these environmental challenges from my classes, but it was nice to be able to step outside of the textbooks and witness and learn about environmental challenges firsthand,” Group said.

George analyzed social messages in the ‘X-Men’ films. She identified and analyzed the films’ portrayals of sex, race, class, gender, and ableism via the films’ inclusion or exclusion and portrayal of these minorities.

“Many of the messages sent by the ‘X-Men’ movies are socially regressive, but ultimately there are still positive lessons to be learned from the films,” George said.

George also noted that completing the project has helped her to identify her interests and goals for life after Wilson.

“I have discovered my passion for sociological and philosophical research; I am leaning more towards a career in academic research now,” George said.

After graduation, George also hopes to revise her project and submit it for publishing.

Hoover, Long, and Smith all noted the importance of the event in showcasing student work and helping to prepare students for future academic research and public speaking.

They also hope to encourage more students to take on senior research projects and expand next year’s Student Research Day.

“Students can ask their advisors if they are interested,” Long said.

“We hope to start planning this August for next year’s event,” Hoover said. “We as faculty believe we have amazing students. We also want to invite high school students from local high schools, to showcase Wilson and to show students having fun.”

“We encourage people to present. I’d like to expand this event to the community at large and show surrounding towns what great things students are doing,” Hoover said.

The Nova Corporation provided funding for this year’s events. Hoover, Smith, and Long hope to gain more corporate sponsorship in order to expand next year’s event.

For more information about student research day, visit

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