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Student symposium marks milestone event

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A Zoom screenshot from the Spring 2021 Student Research and Creative Works Symposium. Image courtesy of Dr. Camonia Graham-Tutt

The University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu’s popular Student Research and Creative Works Symposium, which each semester aims to provide an opportunity for dynamic student research learning experiences to be showcased on a variety of topics, takes place 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 17, via Zoom. And this semester’s symposium is a significant one.

“We are excited as this Fall 2021 symposium marks the 10th time we have held this event,” said Dr. Camonia Graham-Tutt, symposium organizer and associate professor of Community Health at UH West Oʻahu.

Dr. Camonia Graham-Tutt
Dr. Camonia Graham-Tutt

Graham-Tutt reflected on how the research symposium has evolved since its inception in 2016, noting how organizers have made steady progress with the event while pivoting to a virtual space in Spring 2020 as a result of the pandemic.

“Changing the modality of the symposium from 100% in person to 100% virtual allowed for the event to be more accessible to more students,” she said. “These students include those from neighbor islands, those who are also working professionals, and those who did not think they would ever be able to attend, much less present, in a research and scholarship environment.”

This semester, there will be presenters in areas including creative media, physiology, biology, education, marketing, social science, health information management, and public administration. Symposium organizers are also working on having a few student presenters from the John A. Burns School of Medicine Consortium for Increasing Research and Collaborative Learning (CIRCLE) Grant.

Ultimately, the goal of the campus-wide event is to increase the number of undergraduate UH West Oʻahu students with engaged scholarship and research experience. The student-focused event will also demonstrate diversity in their respective fields of study.

“Students who are interested in attending professional school after undergrad should most definitely attend the symposium to learn more and see exactly what it is like to present in a professional setting — even if it is from the comforts of their own home,” Graham-Tutt said.

Two students standing in front of their research poster.
Diana Le (left) and Pashyn Morimoto present their research at the Fall 2019 Student Research and Creative Works Symposium at UH West Oʻahu.

Student presenters will benefit by showcasing mentored research that displays both exploration and creativity.

Sometimes symposium research projects have the potential to go beyond the UH West Oʻahu event. For example, students Diana Le and Pashyn Morimoto presented at the Fall 2019 symposium, and last year their research, “Lipophilicity Determination of Energy-Enhancing, Nootropic Supplements,” was published by Native Science Report as part of its annual Student Research Showcase.

In addition to student presenters benefiting from participating in the symposium, attendees will also benefit from viewing research carried out by undergraduate students, organizers said.

“UH West O’ahu, instructors, faculty, and staff should attend this event to provide support to our UH West Oʻahu student presenters,” Graham-Tutt noted. “Previous student presenters have shared positive comments about seeing their professors during their presentations.”

The first virtual symposium in Spring 2020 welcomed 100 event attendees and for the following virtual symposium in Fall 2020, there were more than 200 event attendees. The most recent virtual symposium in Spring 2021 had 265 attendees.

“One of the main reasons this event is a success each semester is because it is truly transdisciplinary,” Graham-Tutt added. “Faculty across UH West Oʻahu collaborate together on this event each semester. To date, we have had faculty from each one of our divisions be represented along with their students at this event.”

Moreover, for those faculty and instructors who may have not yet had their students participate in the event as presenters, many come as attendees to learn from other student presenters, Graham-Tutt said.

“Our overall focus with the Student Research and Creative Works Symposium is to build a safe space where our undergraduate students feel comfortable presenting their discoveries to the community, in an environment that will support their continued growth as researchers,” she said.

Graham-Tutt added that the symposium continues to be valuable to UH West O’ahu in the following ways:

  • Supports goals outlined in the UH West Oʻahu Strategic Action Plan (Impact Strategy 2: Advancing Dynamic and Integrated Learning Experiences – Engaged Scholarship and Research)
  • Providing undergraduate research among underrepresented students supports retention rates and opportunities for students to further their studies on to the graduate level.
  • Undergraduate research contributes to success in careers in sciences, technology, engineering and math (STEM), public administration, education, and business.

All UH West Oʻahu students, faculty, and staff, and the general public, are welcome to attend the Fall 2021 Student Research and Creative Works Symposium. For more information or to register for the event, please visit the symposium site or email camonia@hawaii.edu.

Images courtesy of UHWO Staff and Bradley Ashburn

A Zoom screenshot from the Spring 2021 Student Research and Creative Works Symposium. Image courtesy of Dr. Camonia Graham-Tutt