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Science, Scholarship & Creativity Celebrated Across Campus

St. Lawrence University celebrated both the Festival of Science and the Festival of Scholarship and Creativity together on Friday, April 27.

View a photo gallery of student research and creativity

The celebration of student research and creativity began at 9 a.m. with oral and poster presentations in Eben Holden. One of the day’s presenters, Yihuan Lai ’18, a psychology and statistics major from Guangdong, China, presented twice at both poster sessions. Her first presentation, titled “Estrangement and its Consequences,” was actually inspired by a well-known actor.

“I knew that Jennifer Aniston was estranged from her mother, and I wanted to learn how families become estranged from each other, such as parent-child relationships, and how they dissolve voluntarily or involuntarily,” explained Lai, who has been accepted into Duke University’s master of science in global health program. “One of the things I’ve learned is that grief can often be worse for the parents than the children.”

Many of the projects focused on North Country issues. Gabrielle Smith ’18 presented on her research from her Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) summer fellowship, in which she conducted a case study on small-town revitalization for the Village of Canton. Working last summer with the Canton Economic Development office and the St. Lawrence County Industrial Agency, she found that Canton struggles with a lack of economic development opportunities for various reasons.

“There needs to be a change in perception of what’s possible,” said the senior from Brooklyn, New York. “People are stuck on manufacturing coming back to the region, but that’s never going to happen. What’s needed is a new set of skills that can fit today’s employment needs, not yesterday’s.”

Philip Park ’18 , a chemistry and economics major from Seattle, spent the past year collecting maple syrup samples so he could analyze the familiar North Country breakfast condiment for trace metals. He hoped to understand if soil microenvironments influence the metal content between maple syrups produced in St. Lawrence County and Chittenden County, Vermont. His findings had him a little alarmed.

“The levels of lead were much higher than I expected, on average, but my standard of deviation was so large that it was a little hard to pinpoint,” he explained. “It was really interesting to investigate this unregulated, cottage industry. For example, a lot of Vermont syrups say “lead-free” but really they’re not testing each and every supplier, so it’s impossible to know how much lead is in their product.”

Haley O’Brien ’18, a biology and anthropology major and public health minor from Cazenovia, New York, worked with the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department on mapping cases of Lyme disease using geographic information systems, or GIS.

“I was able to use the county’s public health data to draw conclusions from spatial data to locate areas of need or treatment,” said O’Brien, who will attend Syracuse University’s master’s in public health program. “This is just one example of what GIS can do. What I’d like to look at even more closely is opioid cases in the area. GIS can help map out areas of the greatest need and make the case to lawmakers that resources are needed to treat a critical public health concern.”

Students also had an opportunity to present on research conducted in their First-Year Seminar. Connor Black ’21 presented his research on World War I snipers using a digital narrative tool rather than the more traditional poster.

“It really allowed us to be much more dynamic than using posters or PowerPoints,” said the first-year student from Killington, Vermont. “It was a great way for us to present our research.”

Classes were canceled on Friday during the celebration of student research and creativity in order to recognize student accomplishments.