Tenth annual Ignatian Scholarship Day: Where we began and where we are heading

By Amanda Weber

Assistant News Editor

ignatian

The tenth annual Ignatian Scholarship Day at Canisius College occurred on April 5, 2017 from 9a.m. to 5p.m. Throughout the day, students were able to demonstrate research that they have conducted and presentations on a particular topic they are passionate about in order to inform the rest of the Canisius public. According to the Canisius College Facebook page, “approximately 200 Canisius students participated in Ignatian Scholarship Day 2017 with poster displays, oral presentations, multimedia presentations, and art & musical performances.”

The first Ignatian Scholarship Day occurred on April 16, 2008. According to Kathy Peter, Executive Associate to the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Associate Vice President at the time, Dr. Scott Chadwick, came from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. At that time, this university, another Jesuit institution, already had a day in place where students were able to show off their research and work with their faculty members on projects. Therefore, Chadwick decided to organize a committee to see if this type of event could be brought to the Canisius community.

Although Ignatian Scholarship Day is still going on, its form has changed since its first time at Canisius. According to Sara Morris, current Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, the day originally occurred at the Student Center and only ran from 1:30p.m. to 5:30p.m. Therefore, there was only one poster session, and other presentations, such as musical and multimedia presentations, often ran concurrently with those who were presenting posters. In order to combat this, the day was expanded to an all-day experience and a majority of the presentations were moved to Science Hall.

One poster demonstration that occurred this year in the Science Hall Commons was by Maxine Osetinsky ‘17. Her faculty advisor for this research was Dr. Malini Suchak, Assistant Professor in the Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation (ABEC) department. Her research was conducted about the behavior of cats in shelters when they are unhealthy. Specifically, she analyzed cats that had upper respiratory infections (URIs), which Osetinsky explained as a “common cold” for cats. She also explained that when cats experience more stress, URIs tend to be more prevalent amongst cats in shelters.

“It goes up in shelters because it is a different environment than they’re used to and there’s a lot of cats surrounding them,” said Osetinsky.

Osetinsky did her research through analyzing the social behavior of cats at the SPCA in Erie County. She measured this social factor by the proximity of one cat to another. After this, using an online source, she was able to categorize whether the cats were healthy, unhealthy with no URI, unhealthy with only a URI, or if they had a URI but also experienced other illnesses. The middle of the poster, which was shaped like a cat, demonstrated Osetinsky’s findings. Ultimately, she was able to discover a trend that cats that only had a URI during their stay at the SPCA were more social than the other categories. She also discovered that cats with a URI and other illnesses were having longer stays at the SPCA than healthy and unhealthy (without URI) cats.

“It’s important because shelters can see this and know what URI actually affects,” said Osetinsky.

Another set of research presented at Ignatian Scholarship Day was by Trent Schrader ‘18. He worked alongside Dr. Michael Wood, chair of the Physics Department, in order to develop a project about a cosmic ray detector. Cosmic rays are particles that are originally from outside the earth’s atmosphere. However, once the particles have penetrated this barrier and have interacted with the atmosphere, a “new” particle called a muon is created. The cosmic ray detector is then able to identify these newly created particles and is able to determine when they reach the Earth’s ground-level surface.

Schrader, who is also working on this research as a part of a class, is extremely interested in discovering how the world works and being able to prove why what occurs around us does. At Ignatian Scholarship Day, Schrader was able to present this information he was interested and passionate about. He also noted the social aspect of the day and was grateful that he was able to have knowledgeable and enlightening conversations with other professors, even those not involved with his major. Schrader values Ignatian Scholarship Day for its ability to allow students to gain hands-on, real-world experience that they can take with them when they become working professionals. He also notes the importance it has for the rest of the Canisius community.

“It also gives students a chance to see the broad range of projects that are happening on campus, learn about these projects, and possibly get involved,” said Schrader.

Kate Anticoli, ‘17 also presented research at Ignatian Scholarship Day. Anticoli’s faculty advisor for this research was Dr. Melissa Wanzer, Professor in the Department of Communication Studies and co-recipient of the Full-Time Faculty Teaching Award for the College of Arts and Sciences. Anticoli conducted her research on student involvement and identified some potential positive and negative effects it might have on an individual. Although college students are pushed to get involved, they might not consider that too much involvement may have an adverse effect on their mental or physical well-being.

“A lot of people talk about the positive effects, like how it’s a resume builder and that you can form relationships, but they don’t really look at the whole picture of it,” said Anticoli.

Despite her interest in this particular topic, Anticoli explained that there was not much information on this topic and one student affairs professional, Alexander Astin, researched student involvement thoroughly. Astin coined his definition in the late ‘90s, which states that student involvement is “the amount of physical and psychological energy that a student devotes to the academic experience.” Anticoli explained that Astin’s definition is still being used today.

“It’s still valid, but there hasn’t been a lot of research since then, which is a problem,” said Anticoli. “That’s something that we need to delve into a little bit more.”

In order to bring this topic to light, Anticoli decided to measure the relationship between student involvement and physical health, mental health, and the self-esteem of a student. In order to gain primary research for this topic, a survey was created that was able to encompass these different factors. Anticoli was able to gather a sample for this research by having professors in the Communication Studies Department distribute these surveys to their classes. Anticoli did not find a significant correlation between academic involvement and stress, social involvement and stress, and social involvement and physical health. However, she was able to find a significant and positive correlation in the relationship between academic involvement and physical health.

“The more involved students were academically, the more physical problems they have,” said Anticoli. “So maybe they’re not sleeping enough, not eating well, and not really taking care of themselves.”

Another positive correlation and significance was discovered by Anticoli’s research. She discovered that students who were more involved, both academically and socially, had more positive and higher self-esteem. For her project, Anticoli was able to collect 182 samples. Although her project did not find conclusive research in all of its categories, she hopes that further research will strengthen these correlations and will find a significant relationship between them.

Although students might not be totally aware of the purpose of Ignatian Scholarship Day, Morris believes there are numerous benefits for those who participate and for the entire Canisius community. She describes Ignatian Scholarship Day as a day dedicated to “our students’ scholarly and creative pursuits and student-faculty collaborations.” In addition, she emphasizes the opportunity that students have to work with their professors on these projects, which could lead to job opportunities or letters of recommendation. Ultimately, she sees Ignatian Scholarship Day as a beneficial experience that will allow all Canisius students, whether they are presenting or learning about the presentations, to gain more knowledge and real-world experience through interacting with others.

“One of the hallmarks of a Jesuit education is strong communication skills, and this day showcases both our students’ work and their ability to discuss it,” said Morris.

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