Students to showcase varying research topics at annual symposium

Lauryn Tadda, Reporter

The annual Undergraduate Research Symposium allows students to showcase their research in one digestible document. Students present to judges from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Student Center and will be considered for cash awards. The schedule for the event is as follows:

  • 9 a.m. – noon: Student check-in and set up
  • 11:45 a.m. – 1 p.m.: Judges convene for lunch and orientation
  • 1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.: Poster displays and oral presentations
  • 2:45 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.: Reception
  • 4 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.: Awards ceremony in the KIVA

Kristen DiCresce, senior public health major

DiCresce is working on her senior honors thesis: “The Value and Performance of Community Health workers for at-risk maternal and pregnant populations.”

She works hand in hand with Bethany Lanese, assistant professor of health policy and management, to showcase her work at the symposium.

“Since I did start working with [Lanese] she’s been incredibly helpful with teaching me a lot of things and connecting me with a lot of people,” DiCresce said. “I definitely would recommend a research mentor.”

DiCresce was a research assistant her freshman year in public health for its mental health and substance abuse division. She said she plans to earn her masters in public health with a specialization in biostatics.

“[Biostatistics] is a really lucrative field and not something I would have thought of before so I am very grateful for that,” DiCresce said.

Addressing the disparities of female health care staff and patients surrounds the majority of her research.

“I think a large part of pregnancies that people do not always address is the girl’s and women’s health that are pregnant,” DiCresce said.

Xavier Heipp, senior theater performance major

Heipp works with theatre professor Yuko Kurahashi to make Shakespeare easier to learn and to teach. Their work began in summer 2022.

Over that summer, the two to three months they worked were used to take five of Shakespeare’s most commonly taught works and compiled information such as scene breakdowns, famous staging, adaptations and vocabulary into one seamless place for people to use.

“I always joke about the vocabulary thing because one time my mom came into my room and said ‘Why are you doing vocabulary? Doesn’t that already exist?’” Heipp said. “I have 45 [vocabulary] words for just the first scene.”

At the symposium, he plans to showcase how Shakespeare is being used today. In the future he said he hopes Shakespeare will be easier to digest.

“For teachers the important thing is finding a point to jump off so that students can get the ideas of the plays … themes, character relationships or even the general plot to lead into further discussions,” Heipp said.

The vocabulary they use is in chronological order making it easier for people or students to find a word and look it up quickly to understand the material better.

Heipp has always been a Shakespeare enthusiast and in high school he was cast as Nick Bottom in their production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

“My junior year in the spring at Kent we were doing the play ‘Much to Do about Nothing’ and I didn’t get cast, but the director was thinking about bringing in a dramaturg, so there were a number of things I had to research to make it the most authentic world possible,” Heipp said.

Representing undergraduate research at an R1 school is very important to undergraduate researchers.

“I think there is a certain level that being able to be recognized at an R1 school for the research you’re doing carries with a certain weight, but also a certain pride,” Heipp said.

Jonathan Evanick, junior public health major

Evanick’s research surrounds studies using a mixed methods approach of qualitative and quantitative research to examine college students experiencing homelessness in Ohio.

“It is crucial to inform all students that this is a genuine problem within college campuses, and even though you may not see it, it does not mean it is not there,” Evanick said.

Evanick said he is very passionate about his research and stresses that students should always ask for help.

“I can not stress how important it is to reach out and ask for help. Kent State does a great job of addressing students in need,” Evanick said. “Contact the CARES Center, and they will be able to help. We have resources in place for a reason, and there is no shame in accessing them.”

Evanick puts his passion for research into his own form of story-telling. His podcast, “The Research Review,” lets other researchers share their findings. DiCresce and Heipp share their opinions on the podcast as well.

More students will also showcase their work at the symposium in the Student Center April 17.

Lauryn Tadda is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].