BC Takes Part in ACC 'Meeting of the Minds'
By Reid Oslin
Six Boston College students represented the University this week in an Atlantic Coast Conference event that had nothing to do with footballs or basketballs.
The six participated in the ACC's first annual "Meeting of the Minds" conference on advancing undergraduate research, an event designed to showcase the academic excellence of students at the league's 12 member schools. Nearly 150 students presented 112 projects in a poster or oral presentation format at the event, which also featured live performances from performing arts undergraduate groups.
Representing Boston College at the three-day conference held at Clemson University were undergraduate scholars whose research projects spanned a wide array of academic expertise: Emily Cersonsky '07 (English and philosophy); William Hillmann '06 (biochemistry); Mark Irvine '06 (international studies); Tiernan Mulrooney '06 (biology); Emily Neumeier '08 (art history); and Richard Paul '07 (environmental geosciences).
Also attending the event was College of Arts and Sciences Associate Dean Barbara Viechnicki, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Associate Dean Robert Howe and Rebecca Kraus '07, who will serve next year as editor-in-chief of Elements, the University's undergraduate research journal.
"I thought that the conference was a splendid idea," said Prof. Donald Hafner (Political Science), who coordinated the selection of Boston College's participants.
Hafner said he looked to recent and upcoming contributors to Elements when selecting BC's participants. "All of the research published in Elements is really first rate. I sent out a general proposal to people and several were interested and available to do this."
Hafner said he preferred sending a cross-section of the University's best undergraduate researchers to the conference. "I did want to get some of the sciences there. The people we are sending were very highly recommended by their own faculty members because they have already done a research presentation or they are going to do one in the near future."
The idea for a conference-based undergrad research event was developed at a recent meeting of the ACC presidents council, says event coordinator Heidi Williams of Clemson, who notes that there were no restrictions on what research could be presented.
"One of our real strengths is that we had a very even spread of topics," Williams added. "We had as many humanities- and literature-type presentations as we did your typical bench science. That's very encouraging because one thing we are trying to do is to broaden the perspective that research at either the graduate or undergraduate level is not restricted to bench science. It can be any disciplinary field."
In addition to the student presentations, the conference - which will be held annually, with the 2007 meeting set for the University of Virginia - included panel discussions for faculty members and a graduate school information session where each ACC institution sponsored a display table and had an admissions representative available.