May 18, 2012
Music major Alex Lindgren presents his senior project in one of several events during Horizons 2012. Photo by Supriya Kasaju, '12.
Knox College unveiled its first-ever collective presentation of student research and creative work this month in a series of public events called Horizons: A Celebration of Student Inquiry, Imagination, and Creativity.
The students' research and creative works -- including art, music, dance, poetry, and playwriting -- were on display May 4-11 on the Knox campus in Galesburg, Illinois.
Photo Gallery: Research Presentations
The inaugural Horizons was presented by The Gerald and Carol Vovis Center for Research and Advanced Study, in conjunction with the College's 175th anniversary celebration and the formal installation of Knox President Teresa L. Amott.
At a Horizons reception on May 5, Amott and Gerald Vovis '65 congratulated students for their achievements.
"To see all of this work, collected together, is dazzling," Amott said.
"We're here to celebrate your work, your creativity, your initiative, and your imagination," she added. "Because whether it is scientific work, artistic work, creative writing, whatever it is, it is an act of imagination to see what has not been seen before, to invent or create something that no one else invented or created before. Each one of you is, in that sense, a pioneer."
Vovis, a biotechnology executive, recalled how Knox Biology Professor Bill Geer introduced him to scientific research in the 1960s.
"I was exploring my scientific interests, much as you have explored yours, whether they're in the humanities and fine arts, history and the social sciences, or math and the natural sciences," he said.
"Let me assure you that later in life, you're going to look back and realize the importance that your accomplishment has played in your growth and development as an individual," he added. "I certainly do."
Students said they were proud to participate in Knox's inaugural Horizons presentations.
"I think the event showcases the passion of a lot of Knox students in pursuing something much, much further than a lot of undergraduates at other institutions do," said Greg Noth, a senior from Des Moines, Iowa, who is majoring in international relations and minoring in psychology. "It's refreshing and exciting."
Noth's Honors project used qualitative case studies to explain how authoritarian regimes in Yemen, Oman, and Bahrain responded differently to popular uprisings in 2011.
"The most important things that determine whether or not a regime will respond to an opposition movement with violence have to do with the regime's legitimacy and its past history with opposition," said Noth, whose post-graduation plans include taking the Foreign Service exam and working in Washington, D.C.
Knox senior Ya-Lin Yu, who was born in Taiwan and grew up in Thailand, presented scientific research, "Identification and Characterization of Small Non-Coding RNAs in Dictyostelid Social Amoebas."
"This was my first time realizing how science really works," she said. "In (many) science laboratories, you do mini-experiments that are known to work because the professor wants you to learn something from it. But in reality, or at least in my case, nothing works the first time."
"Yet because of those failures, I've learned a lot, such as what I should do better next time and what I should be more careful about," she added. "Most importantly, it taught me the science mentality that you should anticipate for good results, but don't be too frustrated if nothing goes right."
Vovis said he and his wife, Carol Klail Vovis '65, are proud to be associated with the Vovis Center for Research and Advanced Study at Knox.
The center's goal is to "enhance the existing culture of research at Knox, which Knox pioneered as a liberal arts college," Gerald Vovis said.
"Carol and I strongly believe the center will help prepare Knox students -- help prepare you -- to meet the challenges of the real and rapidly changing world," he added. "We also believe the center will allow Knox to remain an important liberal arts institution, educating leaders of the future."