Students' Research, Creative Works in the Spotlight

March 05, 2014

Horizons 2014: Mike Supej '15

Knox College student Anna Roser '14 studied abroad for the entire 2012-13 academic year in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Barcelona, Spain, returning home with what she calls "a mountain of questions."

Mostly, she wondered about how her study abroad experience would have a long-term effect on her. "I was trying to think about later in my life. 'What is this (study abroad experience) going to mean? What does this mean to other people?' There were things I needed answers to."

When she arrived back at the Knox campus in fall 2013, she decided to try to find those answers through an in-depth Honors research project, "Study Abroad and Identity."

It was selected as one of the student-driven, independent research presentations and creative endeavors to be featured at Knox's Horizons: A Celebration of Student Inquiry, Imagination, and Creativity. The annual event took place on February 21 as part of the College's Founders Week festivities.

"Knox has a long and excellent tradition of students engaging in research while they're undergraduates -- and in all disciplines," said Mariangela Maguire, interim director of the Gerald and Carol Vovis Center for Research and Advanced Study at Knox. "Horizons is an opportunity for the students who've done undergraduate research to be able to communicate what their experience was and what they found. It's a celebration of what students have done."Horizons 2014: Maricruz Osorio '14

The 2014 Horizons presentations covered a variety of academic subjects, including theatre, computer science, modern languages, history, art, music, English literature, chemistry, and biology.

Michael Belitz '14, for example, researched the diversity of invertebrates in restored prairies. An environmental studies and biology double major from Cleveland, Wisconsin, he plans to pursue a career in conservation biology. He has conducted field work in Australia through a study abroad program and in Sitka, Alaska, through an internship. "I love field work. It's what I want to do," he said.

Roser's research on study abroad was inspired by the fact that she became fond of her host families' daily habits and customs, such as their tendency to make healthy choices when cooking and eating food.

"I grew attached to these different ways of living and wanted to incorporate them into my life in the U.S.," explained Roser, a Spanish major from Boise, Idaho. "I was curious if other students had experienced these same changes in priorities of values."

She interviewed more than 30 Knox students and alumni who studied abroad, discovering that many of them had experiences similar to hers. "With this project, not only have I learned about what I wanted to know, but I've also gained this new skill set about doing in-depth research and qualitative studies," she said.

Knox senior Drew Diaz said he enjoyed discussing Roser's research with her.

"It was really fascinating to find out how many alumni were able to communicate with her and tell her how much they appreciated being abroad and how it affected them," he said.

(Photo at top of page: Mike Supej '15, standing at right, discusses his chemistry research with visitors at Horizons. Photo above right: Maricruz Osorio '14, standing at left, explains her research on perceptions of race.)