Honors students Robert Guillette and Janelle Roberts have had their research projects accepted for presentation at the most competitive undergraduate-research venue in the country, Posters on the Hill in Washington, D.C.
Posters on the Hill, held in the Rayburn Building of the U.S. House of Representatives on Capitol Hill, selects just 60 outstanding undergraduate research projects from across the country and across all academic disciplines. Congressional representatives, U.S. senators, their staff members, and the staffs of numerous governmental agencies, including the National Science Foundation, are invited to hear about research conducted by those deemed the “best and brightest” undergraduate students in the U.S.
For the second time in the past decade, two of those shining lights will be from Bridgewater.
“To have 2 of the event’s 60 spots go to our students, from among over 600 reviewed proposals, is a singular achievement for Bridgewater State University,” said Dr. Jenny Shanahan, director of undergraduate research.
Mr. Guillette was mentored by Dr. Irina Seceleanu, assistant professor of mathematics. His research study, titled “Modeling the Retreat of Glaciers in a Changing Climate,” features sophisticated mathematical research with a profound real-world application: predicting the rate of glacial retreat due to global climate change.
“When I first started attending Bridgewater State University never in a million years would I have imagined that I'd be involved in so many great opportunities,” he said. “Participating in the Adrian Tinsley Program for Undergraduate Research has opened up so many doors for me. My mentor, Dr. Irina Seceleanu, has helped me realize that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. It's nice to know that hard work and dedication still pay off.”
Ms. Roberts, of Smithfield, R.I., was mentored by Dr. Jenn Manak, assistant professor of elementary and early childhood education. The young researcher is a dual-license major in elementary and special education with a second major in English. Her project, “Exploring the American Revolution from Multiple Perspectives through Critical Literacy Discussions in a Fifth-Grade Classroom,” builds on Dr. Manak’s peer-reviewed, published research on diversity and critical literacy. The research reflects BSU’s values of preparing excellent, reflective teachers whose pedagogies and curricula promote diversity and inclusion. The fifth-grade students in a multicultural Massachusetts school who participated in Janelle’s study learned about the American Revolution from children’s books told from multiple perspectives – not just white men (the Patriots and British), but also African American and Native American men, women, and children. The students demonstrated better understanding of the diversity of people and beliefs involved in the conflict than when they read only textbook accounts.
Janelle also has the distinction of being the first undergraduate student ever to present at the Massachusetts Reading Association conference, a prestigious professional meeting of the International Reading Association. She will be co-presenting at the Massachusetts Reading Association conference with Dr. Manak and BSU graduate student Jenny Callahan this spring.
“I am honored to have been selected for such a prestigious event and to be able to have the opportunity to represent Bridgewater State University,” Ms. Roberts said. “My mentor, Dr. Jennifer Manak, has dedicated so much hard work and guidance throughout my research that I would not be able to have this opportunity without her. BSU has opened many doors for me throughout my time here and I could not be any happier to have the chance to represent the institution in Washington, D.C.”
Posters on the Hill will be held April 29. ATP conference travel grants will fund the students’ travel and lodging.
Dr. Shanahan said Posters on the Hill officials made a couple of wise choices in selected Mr. Guillette and Ms. Roberts.
“They both are such kind, thoughtful, and articulate students that besides their fascinating research, their very presence at the conference and visits with Massachusetts representatives in Washington will represent Bridgewater State University beautifully,” she said. “Time and time again, our amazing students and faculty take us up on the opportunity to engage in the joys and challenges of scholarly work, creating new knowledge and sharing it with the world. And the world is taking notice.” (Story by John Winters and the staff of the Office of Undergraduate Research; photos submitted; University News)