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Undergraduate Research Conference

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Dr. Andrae Marak

Posted on April 9, 2010

The Cal U Honors Program will Robert Morris University as co-hosts of the Intersections Undergraduate Research Conference, April 16 at RMU's Sewall Center, in Pittsburgh.

The event highlights intersections between various academic disciplines, research and methodologies.

With the support of a Portz Grant from the National Collegiate Honors Council, the conference will offer video-conferencing with honors programs at other institutions, such as Northern Kentucky University. Selected presentations will be videotaped for an online archive.

Dr. Andrae Marak, interim director of Cal U's Honors Program, said the conference resulted from a yearlong collaboration with RMU.

"The purpose is to allow our students who are ready take part in national and regional conferences to have something that sort of steps in before they go to these bigger-level conferences, so they can practice their craft, hone their skills and get more exposure," he said.

"We reached out to other area honors programs, and this is a sub-regional conference for southwestern Pennsylvania."

Cal U will host the Intersections conference next year.

Marak emphasized that students play a major role in this event - and not only by presenting papers.

"This is not the equivalent of what happens at these national conferences, where it's a bunch of professors putting them on with the students not playing much of a role," he said. "Here the students play a central role in the whole process. They even choose which papers are used and then published afterwards. In that respect, it's a significant advantage over the bigger conferences."

More than 40 papers will be presented, with Cal U students contributing the greatest number. Scheduled presenters include Jade Berkley, Jeanne DiNovis, Becca Geiger, Louis Hartz, Desiree Helterbran, Seamus Hutchens, Berajah Jayne, Amy Johnson, Anne Komacek, John Locke, Priscilla Lupo, Andrew Marra, Emily Martik, Vic Masciarelli, Chad Morrow, Eric Peccon, Justin Piper, Bridget Rogan, and Jennifer Wherry.

Dr. M.G. Aune, of the English Department, will chair a panel focusing on A Midsummer Night's Dream, the subject of an honors course at Cal U.

"Dr. Aune and other teachers focus on students producing original work and research in the honors classes we offer," Marak said. "A great deal of what was presented came right from our curriculum."

Several students who are not enrolled in the Honors Program also will make presentationsd, based on faculty recommendations.

Marak said he is eager to have Cal U serve as the host site next spring.

"We still need to work with campus officials and decide on the best venue that enables us to run multiple panels," he said. "But this conference will be a good experience, and I know our students are looking forward to it."