Scholarship Celebration conjoins students and professors

Dr. Cunningham presenting his work on penguin sense of smell
Dr. Cunningham presenting his work

By Evan Bourtis, Staff Writer

The Lavery Library hosted Fisher’s annual Scholarship Celebration on Oct. 20 to showcase the research and publications faculty members completed over the past year

The event also included the presentation of the Szarejko Faculty Information Literacy Award which was given to philosophy professor and Associate Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Dr. Barbara Lowe.

The presentations were held on the first floor of Lavery Library, in three different locations. One of the organizers of the event was Library Director Melissa Jadlos.

Jadlos believes that students across campus generally don’t realize what scholarly work their professors are doing and hoped that this would be a great opportunity to introduce students to their professor’s work.

“We want people across the campus to know what research is being done on campus and for students to be able to see and relate to their professors,” Jadlos said.

Although several students attended the event for extra credit, nursing student Brittany Habermas explained her interest in the event.

“We are in an evidence based research class in nursing school and a lot of our professors are involved in research on their own time,” said Habermas. “We were interested in what they were involved in.”

The first event at the celebration was the presentation of the Szarejko Faculty Information Literacy Award to Dr. Lowe, an award given for excellent teaching and use of information literacy in class.

Provost Dr. Kevin Railey presented the award and said that Lowe’s dedication to attending problem-based learning workshops and the current paper she is working on about information literacy made her a great candidate for the award.

Lowe talked about the importance of learning and practicing information literacy throughout student’s careers in order to think critically, become more ethical, and participate in a democratic society.  

“I think we can all agree that information literacy is not something that can be checked off a box after one session with a librarian…just like the teaching of writing, ethical reasoning, just to name a few, these skills cannot be mastered in one day….they must be embedded across the curriculum,” said Lowe in her speech.

English professor M.J. Iuppa was one of the first presenters. She read three poems from her poetry collection, Small Worlds Floating. Iuppa explained that most of her poems are about nature and places in New York state.

“As a child growing up, these landscapes are extremely important to me,” Iuppa said.

Iuppa lives on a farm and grows food sustainably, which gives her time to think about poetry.

“My place allows me the opportunity to think about how we indeed occupy space,” she said.

One poem, entitled Uncovering the Well was about the time Iuppa discovered the skeleton of a hawk and a rabbit intertwined in an old well she uncovered. Iuppa said that she averages around 88 publications per year in creative writing and literary journals, including a novela about a small town.

A presenter from the science department was Dr. Greg Cunningham, who presented his research on the sense of smell in emperor penguins and other related birds. Cunningham hypothesized that certain seabirds are able to detect the smell of dimethyl sulfide (DMS), a chemical produced by phytoplankton in the ocean, and associate that smell with catching fish.

Cunningham did research in the Kerguelen islands, in between Australia and Antarctica. His research included driving a small motorized car smelling of DMS through a penguin colony to determine if the penguins followed the car. Cunningham discovered that adult penguins responded to the smell of DMS, while the chicks had no response.   

Faculty members Lynn Donahue and Kimberly McClure Brenchley presented about a service learning project they lead about helping homeless adolescent mothers deal with stress.

The instructors explained that service learning involves teaching students through helping the community. For this project, students visited four different shelters and created a survey to find out what kinds of stresses young mothers deal with.

“This is a group that is really vulnerable to stress, as you can imagine. Homeless adolescent mothers suffer more violence, certainly more disruption in their social lives, more financial stress, plus, they have the stress of raising a child,” Brenchley said.

In the second week of the project, the students taught the young mother’s stress coping methods, such as meditation and conducted a second survey about how the coping methods worked.     

“I think one of the things that’s nice about having a scholarship day is it allows our staff, faculty and students to realize that we do more than just be in the classroom,” Iuppa said.

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