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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

HORIZONS Research Symposium Sees Nearly Double Participation in 2024

The Knox College HORIZONS research symposium was held on May 17, 2024, featuring 146 student presenters—nearly double the number compared to 2023.

Lisa Harris, director of the Vovis Center for Research and Advanced Study, expressed excitement for the participation in this year’s event, hoping to provide a memorable conclusion to the academic year for faculty, staff, and students. "I love collaborating across the College community. It’s great to celebrate all of the hard work these students have done," she shared.

This year’s event, accommodating the increased volume of research, was spread across multiple locations on campus, including Alumni Hall, Old Main, and more, creating the ambiance of a true research conference.

President McGadney

The event commenced with a speech by Knox College President C. Andrew McGadney, who highlighted the collaborative efforts that made the research possible. Provost and Dean of the College Michael Schneider acknowledged the mentors and the significance of their ongoing partnership with students, even beyond the HORIZONS symposium. Harris concluded the ceremony with remarks on fostering a campus culture that encourages exploring new ideas and pushing boundaries.

The ceremony also took time to thank Tim Quinn, senior vice president of Bank of America, who attended on behalf of the Richter Memorial Fund which funded much of the research. Carol and Jerry Vovis ’65, namesakes of the Vovis Center for Research and Advanced Study, were also honored for their contributions to the College. “The number of participants means everything to us. We feel very proud,” Jerry Vovis shared.

Knox students at Lombard Middle School

Following the opening ceremony, students showcased their work through poster and oral presentations. Some examples of Knox students' research included:

  • Seth Kosanovich ’24 studied the effects of positive, negative, and neutral pre-performance visualization tasks on athletes' physical output through strength and education measurements. Being able to take part in this study was an enjoyable process for Kosanovich, who worked with Knox student-athletes to gather the data. “Having a local opportunity to showcase our research is a major benefit. It’s very gratifying,” he said.
  • Elise Huey ’24 completed her research in Michigan, where she lived for three months conducting prairie strip surveys and comparing the bee diversity, abundance, and communities. Her research compared bee species in different prairie strips in real-time while trying to observe if there was a difference in bee diversity based on prairie strip age. The goal of the project was to highlight the significance of planting prairie strips in crop fields to aid in the diversity of pollinators. “Bees are the number one pollinator and are very important,” Huey said. “I think it would be a great thing to have more native plants in crop fields. I hope to spark interest in everyone who comes up to see the research.” 
  • Lance Miller ’26 sought to better understand the structure of dinuclear copper(II) carboxylate metallomesogens. He says he was always interested in chemistry, and, as a pre-med student, he was particularly interested in the mixture of physics within the study. “It’s amazing to see all the students around me show off their work. It takes a lot of hard work, but it’s great to be able to represent the research,” he said.
  • Nysa Phulwar ’26 collaborated with Assistant Professor of Biology Mark Slabodnick to determine the phototactic effect of the ciliate Blepharisma sp. and analyze the protein composition of its pigment. This investigation was sparked by a previous student's research with a close cousin of Blepharisma sp. and the primary focus of Slabodnick's lab, Stentor coeruleus. “I like talking to people and sharing ideas. Being able to be in that space and talk about something I’m passionate about is very satisfying,” she said.
  • Daisy Buchanan ’25 explored regenerative agriculture through creative writing, examining the relationship between the earth and humans and how this is expressed through care or lack of care for nature. Buchanan wrote about the experience in a body of poetry while volunteering at the Knox Farm and taking part in daily sustainable practices. “I wanted to explore the relationship between my writing and the natural world,” Buchanan added. 

With continued growth and potential for new initiatives, HORIZONS remains a cornerstone of the Knox College experience. The 2024 HORIZONS presentations were generously supported by the following endowed funds, grants, and fellowship programs:

  • Richter Memorial Fund
  • Artists, Scholars, Scientists, and Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow (ASSET) program
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s “Abolition for All Time” Humanities Lab
  • McNair Scholars program
  • Knauss Student Research Fund for the Lincoln Studies Center
  • Mogbo Endowed Sustainability Fund
  • Lizzy Warner Fund for Women in STEM
  • Knight Fund for the Study of Religion and Culture
  • Baker Velde Student Research Award
  • William Fern Prize
  • Steve Floyd Memorial Fund
  • Laszlo J. Nemeth Memorial Research Award
  • Charles & Arvilla Timme Fellowship Award
  • David R. Arnold Research Award

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Printed on Sunday, June 16, 2024