Virtual Senior Research Symposium Draws Big Crowd

4,186 visitors were part of the annual event that was moved on-line this year

While little about the format of the 2020 Senior Research Symposium was familiar, one constant remained–The College of Wooster community once again reinforced its commitment to mentored undergraduate research through its thoughtful and creative celebration of seniors’ Independent Study (I.S.) projects.

“This is such a cherished tradition at the College,” remarked Christa Craven, professor of Anthropology & Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Dean for Faculty Development. “Classes are all cancelled, the campus and community come out to celebrate our seniors’ work through presentations, posters, exhibits, installations, and performances across campus.”

Craven has attended 11 in-person Symposium events at Wooster, since they began in 2008, but then a global pandemic made that impossible. “COVID threw us off for a minute,” Craven admitted, “but that just meant we needed to retool, get a little more creative… and go virtual!”

In fact, it turned out to be the most well-attended Senior Research Symposium ever. A total of 4,186 visitors made their way to news.wooster.edu/symposium throughout the day on Friday, May 8. They logged 17,218 unique pageviews, and left 3,382 comments and questions across individual student’s pages.

Over 70 seniors participated by developing innovative digital presentations about their work—from videos, posters, and documentaries to digital zines, excerpts of creative writing, art exhibitions, and virtual reality demos. The day began at 8 a.m. in Ohio so students who had to remain on campus because of the pandemic could participate from their dorm rooms, but family and friends in different time zones across East & South Asia, Africa, South America, Europe and the Pacific could join them before nightfall. The digital format also allowed students who had been able to make it home across the United States and to countries throughout the globe to participate with friends, faculty, and other supporters no matter where they were physically. In total, guests from 51 countries came to appreciate Wooster students’ work.

Presentations represented over 30 of Wooster’s majors and minors, including Ancient Mediterranean Studies, Anthropology, Art History, Biology, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Business Economics, Chemistry, Cognitive Behavioral Neuroscience, Communication Studies, Communication Sciences & Disorders, Computer Science, East Asian Studies, Economics, Education, English, Environmental Studies, French & Francophone Studies, Geology, Global & International Studies, History, International Relations, Journalism & Society (self-designed), Mathematics, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Religious Studies, Russian Studies, Sociology, Spanish, Studio Art, and Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies.

Each student presenter had their own webpage where visitors could leave comments, questions, and congratulate them, and they could respond to those comments in real-time at designated times throughout the day.

By the end of the day, most students’ pages had well over 50 comments and a few pages had been visited nearly 400 times. The webpages will remain active (though comments were limited to that day) so that family, friends, community members, future students, and potential employers can appreciate their hard work & ingenuity. Guests also had the opportunity to vote for honorary prizes for the presenters.

Congratulations to all of the Seniors who presented, as well as their dedicated faculty advisors, and supporters across campus and around the world.

Here are the winners of the 2020 Virtual Senior Research Symposium Honorary Prizes: