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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

HORIZONS 2023 Showcases Over 80 Student Research Projects

For the first time in four years, Knox College hosted the HORIZONS Student Celebration in person on May 5, 2023, to a large audience that packed Alumni Hall. 

This was the first time Knox has hosted an oral presentation research symposium that included both a poster session and an oral presentation component, which Vovis Center for Research and Advanced Study and Health Professions Advising Director Lisa Harris says was a big moment. “We wanted it to feel like an undergraduate research conference,” Harris said.

Knox students at Lombard Middle School

Over the three-hour runtime, students from all academic disciplines spread out across campus to showcase the research they had been working on for the past year or more. In total, 81 projects were showcased in poster and oral presentations, with 45 faculty members supporting the projects. 

Provost and Dean of the College Michael Schneider says the in-person event served as a reminder of the energy that fuels scholarly and creative work. He commended Harris and the many other individuals involved in bringing the event back to campus.

“Among the many values in Knox's educational mission, perhaps none is more obviously on display at HORIZONS than the importance of ownership of one's education,” Schneider said. “Developing an independent or collaborative project, pursuing it with unfailing determination, learning to ask one's own questions and seek answers, navigating unexpected twists and turns, and presenting one's conclusions among peers are expressions of that ownership.”

Knox students at Lombard Middle School

Hailey Bauchman '23 displayed her research, “Feline Induced Stress Reduction in Humans, Petting a Robotic Cat” during as a poster presentation. She says being able to share her work with such a large audience felt gratifying. However, it was also daunting to open her work to criticism and feedback. “I’m hoping to publish this work in the summer, so having this opportunity to gather feedback is a huge benefit,” she said. 

For Jackie Pavlovsky '23, presenting her research provided a sense of validation. She had worked on her project, “A Survey of Interactions Between Dicalcium and Random Soil Bacteria,” for over a year and a half. While her research is anything but simple, she says being able to stand and talk with passing audience members and help them better understand the work she completed was an invaluable experience. “Most people won’t fully understand the work I’ve done, but people still appreciate and engage with it. I appreciate that,” she said.

Knox students at Lombard Middle School

Other students were spread around campus to present oral presentations. Tristan Blus '23 felt relief after finishing his presentation on diversity, equity, and inclusion within theater and live performance. While there were certainly nerves related to being in front of an audience, he says it felt natural to speak about something he is so passionate about. “It’s been a fantastic experience. I’ve learned a lot and feel like I’ve become a better person after completing my research as a whole,” he said.

Knox students at Lombard Middle School

With more than 150 in attendance, Harris believes that the event successfully showcased the dynamic of faculty and student-led research, and the overall power of a Knox education. 

“When students are engaged in the pursuit of original knowledge—when they are asking questions, pursuing answers to those questions, eventually finding some answers—we see them at their best,” Harris said. “It is times like these, when students are being stretched and challenged, that both their larger worldview and their own sense of self expands.”

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HORIZONS was made possible by the Vovis Center for Research and Advanced Study, named after alumnus and trustee Gerald F. Vovis ‘65 and his wife Carol A. Klail Vovis ‘65. Gerald began his career as a research scientist and a member of the faculty at Rockefeller University in New York City. He subsequently went into the biotechnology industry, where he has more than 30 years of executive management experience. Gerald was greatly influenced by his undergraduate research experience at Knox, working with Professor Bill Geer, a renowned geneticist and long-time professor of biology. Carol Vovis taught high school science and held management positions in the travel industry, most recently at American Express. Gerald and Carol live in Cheshire, Connecticut, where he is president and CEO of Vovis Enterprises and an Executive-in-Residence at Connecticut Innovations.

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Printed on Sunday, July 14, 2024