Scholars Collaborating

April 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

Undergraduate research and creative inquiry is celebrated at WSU

Before steering her career toward administration and educational policy, Winona State University President Judith A. Ramaley was a professor of anatomy and physiology with more than 65 articles and chapters on the control of puberty onset, stress and fertility, and the development of biological rhythms.

Since that time, she published another 40 articles on educational reform; science, technology, engineering and mathematics education; and leading organizational change. During her seven years as president, she regularly taught a course in biomedical ethics and established an endowment at WSU to support undergraduate research.

Therefore, it’s fitting that Winona State’s Celebration of Research and Creative Scholarship has been named to honor Ramaley and her commitment to undergraduate research as she steps down from the presidency at the end of May.

While the Judith Ramaley Celebration of Research and Creative Scholarship introduced a new name in 2012, it was the symposium’s sixth year on the Winona campus. Mike Delong, professor of biology and member of the group that organizes the event, said the current format developed from separate research days previously sponsored by the College of Science and Engineering and the College of Liberal Arts.

“There are many across campus who have long been involved in faculty-advised student research, with a shared interest that scholarly and creative inquiry has great educational benefits,” said Delong when describing how the symposium has evolved.

For the last two years, the Celebration of Research and Creative Scholarship has been held at Kryzsko Commons to accommodate the growing number of student presenters. “The number has been growing each year, so the move to Kryzsko was necessary because we were simply running out of space at the Science Laboratory Center Atrium ” said Tom Nalli, also a member of the organizing committee and professor of chemistry at WSU.

“We were also hoping that holding the event at Kryzsko would encourage greater participation among students and faculty outside the College of Science and Engineering. I think that was indeed something we saw last year.”

There were about 200 presentations this year, ranging from posters that summarize projects and invite deeper discussion between the student researcher and conference attendees, to oral presentations, to theatre and dance performances. The celebration also embraces exhibitions of visual arts at campus galleries, including the Senior Art Show at Watkins Hall.

Uniquely, the poster presentations that make up the largest part of the celebration are arranged alphabetically, instead of by academic discipline. “Our objective is to encourage interactions across disciplines between and among students and faculty members,” explained Nalli. “The arrangement encourages people to look outside their own disciplines for interesting posters, increasing the richness of interactions.”

Immersion in a research project, with the problem solving and critical thinking skills it requires, along with exposure to new approaches and different ways of thinking from faculty advisors and fellow students, can have a huge impact on students’ learning and later as they move on to graduate school and careers.

“The foundation of knowledge from studying and learning in the classroom is essential,” said Delong, who has been directing undergraduate research projects during his 20 years as a professor. “Hands-on and practical experiences from undergraduate research make what students are learning in the classroom relevant.”

Delong added that advising undergraduate research is also valuable for faculty members. “We get challenging questions and fresh perspectives from our students, and it keeps us engaged with the latest research and techniques in our professions.”

Suzanne Smith, a junior art major from Winona, presented a poster on her project, “Podcasts of WSU Artwork Acquired Through the Minnesota Percent for Art in Public Places Program,” along with nine fellow students at last year’s celebration. Her presentation was located between a geoscience poster on prairies in the Late Holocene period, and a biology poster on fathead minnows.

“As a major I can identify and appreciate a work of art,” said Smith, who worked with Greg Neidhart, assistant professor of arts administration, on the project.

“To build the podcasts, we had to learn and work with the software to build audio and video presentations, and develop scripts for the audio narratives,” continued Smith. “I learned to work with tools in area that I had no experience with. It was a pretty big deal.”

Both Delong and Nalli believe that the name of the symposium – the Judith Ramaley Celebration of Research and Creative Scholarship – is important in attracting students from a wide variety of disciplines.

And in uniting them in a celebration of what Nalli describes as “the fruits of their scholarly inquiry and collaboration with their faculty mentors.”

Find out more about the Celebration of Research and Creative Scholarship:  www.winona.edu/undergradresearch

Remembering Our Veterans

November 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Veterans and community members read the names on the community memorial wall.

As we’re gearing down for the end of fall semester and heading into a holiday break that will be filled with family, friends, and lots of hot chocolate, we always need to remember and honor those that won’t have the privilege of doing just that this winter season. About two and a half weeks ago on November 11 was Veterans Day – a day dedicated to specifically honor those that have passed in the line of duty, those that have fought and survived, and those currently enrolled in the military.  I went to a public event that featured Vietnam veterans and their own personal experiences on the front lines of the Vietnam war.  All of the men that participated in the discussion were Purple Heart winners, and they all were part of the Purple Heart Organization of 53 members.  A couple of the men talked about the awful conditions they had to endure everyday – the unbearable mosquitoes with the possibility of Malaria, the sweltering heat and humidity, and the weight of six days of food and water plus weaponry was all very real to them.  One of the veterans even mentioned that their clothes would literally turn white from the accumulation of salt from their own sweat.

It’s almost unimaginable what they went through, and what all of the current men and women fighting for our country are doing right at this moment.  One veteran proclaimed that “It was an honor to serve this country, and I’d do it again,”, which perfectly demonstrates the true bravery, camaraderie, and selflessness of those that serve.  According to one of the Vietnam veterans in the presentation, letters mean ‘everything’ to a military person.  Just one letter may bring a ray of hope to someone that truly needs it.  Some of the men in the presentation also explained how after their service was over and the war finally ended, the Vietnam veterans weren’t well received when they came home to their own country.  It was a disgrace to call yourself a Vietnam veteran, and a lot of the American people looked down on them in shame, convincing most veterans to keep secret their past service in order to even get a job.  One of their missions is to keep this from happening with the current generation coming home from war, and to celebrate and honor their services unlike what the American people did when they themselves came home from war.

It’s especially important during this holiday season to keep those that have served and are serving in mind and to spread your thanks to them, even in just little ways such as donating money, sending a letter, or welcoming home a soldier.  One quote that really inspired me during the presentation was when one humble veteran proclaimed that “We survived when so many better men gave up their precious lives for us,”.  I know I have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season, including my own freedom.

– McKenzie Kline

Review on WSU’s Skillet Concert

November 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

From the chalk advertisements to the booths giving out free tickets, I think all the students on WSU’s campus had heard about the big Skillet concert that debuted this last Thursday November 3rd.  And what a concert it was indeed!  McCowyn Gym was literally transformed into a rocker’s paradise, with a stage that featured a cat-walk, two huge projector screens, an awe-inspiring light display, columns of smoke, and of course, speakers turned to full-blast.  It was a bit overwhelming, especially for someone like me that’s never been to an actual concert before.  They featured multiple bands, including Disciple, Manifest, and We As Human before the grand finale – Skillet.  Also included was a hilarious dance contest between some talented members of the audience! 
 
But all jokes aside, I wanted to write what I liked and didn’t like about the Skillet concert.  I thought that the crew that set up the concert did a fantastic job creating a ‘concert-like’ atmosphere, including the stage, the lights, the special effects, and the sound.  It was extremely impressive.  But at the same time, I got overwhelmed very quickly when the show’s finale band Skillet came onto the stage and the concert was turned up another fifteen notches.  After three hours of hard-core rock from the other three bands, I was done-in and left early.  It probably didn’t help that I’m not really a huge fan of hard rock in the first place, but it was a good experience to hear something different out of my music genre comfort-zone.  I think one thing that could be improved upon was the long sermon that was held in the middle of the concert.  Whether you were of the Christian religion or not, I think most people just wanted to come for the music and for a good time, and so the long sermon felt a bit awkward and out-of-place in the middle of a rock concert. 
 
Overall, I’m glad I went and I think the whole of the WSU student body that attended thoroughly enjoyed themselves and left with ringing ears and no voice whatsoever.

McKenzie Kline

Review: “May I Kiss You” with Mike Domitrz

October 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

I came into the performance not knowing exactly what to expect, except to hear a lecture about sexual assault and respect for your partner. I was interested to see how he would add humor to such a heavy subject and how he would tie the “May I Kiss You?” message into the overall schema.

After he opened with some hilarious role-playing between members of the audience that were ‘on a date’, what really hit home was when he proposed a theoretical situation at a party with two characters, Jordan and Erin/Aaron (he made sure to use gender neutral names). Jordan was very obviously giving Erin/Aaron too much alcohol and nobody else at the party raised any red-flags at the situation. We later learned that this theoretical situation was all too real and that this was the very story of his sister’s rape.

His advice to all of us? The safety of others IS our concern and if we’re too afraid to confront someone ourselves, the best thing that we could do would be to gather other people and come into the situation as a group. There is power in numbers, and we have the power to prevent this from happening in the future.

Not only did he give us advice on preventative action in a party situation, he also gave us some advice on respect within the dating spectra. He asked the question, “Why don’t we ask before we kiss someone?”. Some of the answers from the audience were, “That’s super awkward,”, “Nobody does that,”, and “They might say no,”.
He explained to us that everyone has the right to choose whether they want to become romantic with someone or not, even if it’s just a kiss. If we don’t ask before we do something, we’re not giving the other person a choice in the matter and we’re stating that it’s okay to do something to another person’s body without their permission. Asking not only confirms the other person’s approval, it actually ‘makes the moment’. He gave us an example from The Notebook (which I’ve never seen, so I have no idea what the characters’ names are), where ‘John’ asks ‘Mary’ for her permission before he does anything, and apparently the entire female population in theaters across the world uttered a sigh of romantic bliss. I guess it’s a proven fact that asking is a good idea in more ways than one.

But what if they say no? His answer was remarkably simple – so simple, in fact, that it astounded me that none of us in the audience had thought of it before. All we have to do if someone says no to our inquiry is to say, “I’m glad I asked so I didn’t make you feel uncomfortable.” That was a ‘light-bulb moment’ for me during the presentation – it just made sense.

Overall, it was a good show and I’m glad that I took the time to go and see it. I actually learned some helpful hints and a new perspective on dating, which is hard for any speaker to do on such a cliché subject such as respect. I will now proudly wear my wristband that states his powerful motto, “Ask First – Respect the Answer.”

For more information, go to http://www.doyouask.com and read more about Mike Domitrz and his message.

– McKenzie Kline

Join in the Fun

October 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

Members of the WSU Rowing Club practice on the water.

As the Monster Mash heats up for Homecoming Week 2011, the sense of campus community becomes almost tangible. With the weather growing colder and the halfway point in the semester crawling by, it isn’t surprising that we look forward to a little distraction. A club fair will be held in the courtyard from 11am – 2pm this Friday, October 21 for those who wish to maintain that sense of community in their college life.

Need some good reasons to (re)visit the club fair? Here are the top three:

  • You know your schedule. Unlike the beginning of the semester, you know your schedule inside and out. Now you can find clubs with meeting times that work for your schedule as well as your typical homework/study load.
  • You like hanging out with friends, new and old. The club fair is a great opportunity to find something fun to do with the people you like to hang out with. And (even better) you will meet more people who share your interests by participating in a campus club or organization.
  • You have at least one particular hobby or activity that you like to do. Great! Hobbies and activities are great ways to relieve the stress of college life, which can help you lead a healthy lifestyle. Wouldn’t it be even more fun to do some of your favorite things with other people who also enjoy them? Think about it. You get to do your favorite activities, meet people and you get to step away from classes/homework for while. Sounds like a win/win/win to me.

You can join an Academic Club/Organization such as Athletic Training Club or Geology Club, a Cultural Club like Club Sri Lanka or the French Club, a Faith-Based Club like Chi Alpha @ the Edge or WSU Cru or even a Sports Club like the Fishing Club or WSU Hockey Club. And those are but a few of the choices.

Plus, if you can’t find a club that fits your interest(s), you and a couple of your friends can start your own club.

Discover more Student Clubs & Organizations.

Find out more about Homecoming 2011.

– Rebecca Lutz

Are Online Classes For You?

August 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

It may be no surprise that in our technologically advanced era, WSU is offering more and more online courses. And while taking accounting or creative writing online may be tempting, online courses are not for everyone.

The following statements will help you to determine if online courses are right for you:

1. I am a responsible student. I do not need to be reminded about assignment due dates or dates for exams, and I know how to pace myself to get my studying/assignments done in time
Professors will generally give students a complete list of assignment due dates and exam dates in the course syllabus at the start of the course. After that, it is generally the student’s responsibility to remember to turn in everything and complete the exams on time.

2. I am willing to commit the time for an online course.
Online courses do not have set locations or times to meet, so it is the student’s responsibility to plan time to complete their coursework.

3. I have a reliable Internet connection, and I know where to get help in case something goes wrong.
The bonus to online courses is they can be done from virtually anywhere there is an Internet connection. This being said, students should be able to plan ahead for any issues that may result from faulty connections or other errors.

4. I will email my professor with any questions I have.
If you have a question about your online course, you need to email your professor. Professors understand how crucial communication is with an online course, and they will generally be checking their email every day to be sure they can provide the help you need to succeed in the course.

If these four general statements do not describe you, online courses may not be for you. For more information on online courses, refer to WSU Online.

– Rebecca Lutz

Get Ready for Move-In Day 2011!

August 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

Students hang out in a dorm room.

With Move-In Day on the horizon, some of you may be looking forward to it with boundless excitement. Others may be a little apprehensive. Whichever side of the coin you land on, here are some tips to help you get through the day:

  • Be patient. There will be a lot of students and parents looking for help on Move-In Day. You may find yourself waiting in quite a few lines (this includes the local department stores, too). Take a deep breath and remember things will quiet down.
  • Welcome Crew volunteers (the purple shirt people) will be on campus to help with parking, traffic control, checking-in and moving your stuff. If you need something, feel free to ask a Welcome Crew volunteer!
  • Meal plan changes need to be made in person at the Housing office. Plans can only be lowered within the first 10 days of the academic year, but they can be raised at any time.
  • Thinking about lofting? Talk to your RA upon check-in. They will help you get what you need to maximize your space.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk to your RA. RAs are not scary monsters. If you have a problem, tell them about it. They are there to help you out as you adjust to campus life.
  • Have some fun. Whether it’s a cool treat at the Lakeview or a nice stroll around one of Winona’s lakes, take some time to unwind with your family. (Note that local restaurants may be busy around lunchtime.)

Questions about moving in to WSU can be directed to Housing & Residence Life.

 – Rebecca Lutz

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