UIndy students present research for Scholars Day

From biology to media studies, undergraduate students from disciplines across campus shared their research projects for Scholars Day, presented by the Shaheen College of Arts & Sciences and the Ron & Laura Strain Honors College. Activities included a Shakespeare marathon reading session in honor of Bill Dynes, professor of English, and Shakespeare’s birthday.

Junior Karli LaGrotte, psychology, was one of several students who presented posters for Scholars Day.

Junior Karli LaGrotte, psychology, was one of several students who presented posters for Scholars Day.

Brad Neal, assistant professor of chemistry, and Jim Williams, assistant professor and interim executive director of the Honors College, organized the event. Students moderated conference sessions on topics ranging from the sciences to arts performance, while others held poster presentations of their academic research.

Neal said Scholars Day highlights the University of Indianapolis’ emphasis on student-focused learning as well as student-faculty collaboration.

“It’s great to see how many projects were started based off a lecture in class, where a student got excited and their instructor then helped the student grow and foster the project into what we have today. This kind of individual support for our student projects helps make the lessons in the classroom connect to the world at large in a practical way,” Neal said.

Junior Karli LaGrotte, a psychology major, worked with Kendra Thomas, assistant professor of psychology, for her poster presentation, “Belief in a Just World Among Brazilian Adolescents: Differences Across Age, Race and Religion.” She appreciated the opportunity to collaborate with Thomas on the international research project.

“My big takeaway is that learning is a journey. It’s not a destination. I could continue developing what I’ve learned for five or ten more years,” LaGrotte said.

Organizer Jim Williams said the experience prepares students both for graduate work as well as the workplace. “If they want to apply to graduate school, the fact that they’ve already done academic research puts them on a whole different playing field in terms of preparation,” he said. The academic research experience also provides students with a distinct advantage when applying for jobs as they learn to work collaboratively.

Senior mathematics major Joshua Track explored the activity of motoneurons, which are specialized cells that transmit signals to the muscles, under the supervision of Lochana Siriwardena, assistant professor of mathematics and computer science. The research has potential applications in the study of motor neuron disease.

Focusing on one part of a larger process was a common theme in the student presentations. “It’s another building block that makes it more comprehensive,” Track said.

Ghost-hunting might sound like an unusual subject for academic research, but that was the focus of freshman Mikayla Williams’ poster. An archeology major, Williams worked with Christopher Moore, associate professor of anthropology, to study the devices that ghost hunters use to detect “supernatural” activity and found they can be easily manipulated to produce misleading results.

Senior Erica White, who is graduating with a degree in English literary studies and creative writing, presented her research on “Folk and Feminism in Poetry and Art,” which included her own paintings. White will be teaching in Latvia for the 2017-18 school year on a Fulbright Teaching Assistantship.

“I wanted to celebrate how women and feminine people break boundaries of gender identity,” White explained. She pointed out that her work was just a small part of a greater theme. “This is just one dot in a whole range of many different perspectives on what it means to be a feminist, to be feminine, to be a person.”

See a complete list of student projects here.

UIndy students present bold vision for Indiana’s energy future

After a year of research, a group of 11 students from the University of Indianapolis and IUPUI have drafted a strategic plan for the future of energy in Indiana.

The group, led by former Indianapolis Mayor and Visiting Fellow Greg Ballard, held a series of forums in early 2017 to gather public feedback to incorporate into their proposal. The Indiana Advanced Energy Plan creates  an energy policy for Indiana that “strives for a safe, sustainable and economically secure future.”

Students from the University of Indianapolis and Indiana University-Purdue University are working to answer the question of how Indiana's economy compares in the way of sustainable energy production. (Photo by D. Todd Moore)

Students from the University of Indianapolis and Indiana University-Purdue University are working to answer the question of how Indiana’s economy compares in the way of sustainable energy production. (Photo by D. Todd Moore)

The students were hired as interns on the project and brought a diverse mix of backgrounds to the discussion, with majors ranging from accounting to biology to art education. Ballard said the group bonded quickly as the students dedicated themselves to the project and understood its importance.

“I told them from the very beginning, this is not my plan. I wanted the state and government officials to understand this was the students’ plan,” Ballard said.

The Indiana Advanced Energy Plan will be shared with Indiana lawmakers to raise  awareness of how the state can continue its tradition of self-sufficiency by moving toward a more economically and environmentally sustainable energy model.

The plan considers the decreasing cost of renewable energy with its recommendation that Indiana adopt a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which requires the state to commit to a specified percentage of renewable energy sources. The students considered options for both rural and urban areas, including ideas like virtual net metering for municipalities, which is when solar energy is externally installed and shared among subscribers.

“This plan isn’t just for the City of Indianapolis. This is for the entire state,” said senior Carly Nicholson, an earth-space science major.

“We hope to see widespread, small-scale advanced energy projects that position rural communities as anchors for advanced energy in the state,” said junior Rowan Farrell, a biology major.

Several of the students talked about how the project sparked passion and commitment for a sustainable energy future. She noted how some of the students have chosen to pursue careers in climate science.

The students working on the project recognized their role in shaping Indiana’s energy future. “It’s going to be our generation that makes the push to transition the state so that it can have a healthy and secure future,” Farrell said. “It’s people speaking up about what they want, about what they envision for the future.”

The Indiana Advanced Energy Plan also makes recommendations for commercial and industrial sectors including lowering barriers for renewables in order to attract businesses that have sustainability goals. On the residential side, the plan encouraged  Homeowner Associations to loosen restrictions on solar panels.

Indiana Advanced Energy Plan – Download the PDF 

UIndy alum battles human trafficking around the world

While many doctors enjoy the resources of large clinics or hospitals, Dr. Katherine Welch, ‘93, delivers medical care in some of the most remote areas of the world, sometimes with few of the amenities typical for physicians today.

Alumnus Katherine Welch (UIndy '93) holds a discussion on human trafficking with pre-med and science students on April 6, 2017. (Photo by D. Todd Moore)

Alumnus Dr. Katherine Welch (’93) held a discussion on human trafficking with pre-med and science students on April 6, 2017. (Photo by D. Todd Moore)

Welch is the founder of Relentless, a Thailand-based global consulting agency that trains organizations to assist populations that oftentimes are victims of abuse, exploitation and trafficking and have no access to medical services. She is a global leader in the fight against human trafficking, a scenario she never imagined as a chemistry student at the University of Indianapolis.
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UIndy senior headed to Latvia on Fulbright ETA

University of Indianapolis senior Erica White was awarded the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Latvia. She will spend the 2017-18 school year working in a Latvian educational institution.

White, a double major in English literary studies and creative writing with a concentration in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), joins more than 100,000 Fulbright U.S. Student Program alumni who have worked abroad since 1948. 

Erica White, left, with Prof. Kyoko Amano at the English Department Awards Banquet (April 2017)

Erica White, left, with Prof. Kyoko Amano at the English Department Awards Banquet (April 2017)

“We’ll be sad to say goodbye to Erica when she graduates in May, but we know that she’ll be going on to good things as an ambassador of English and the University of Indianapolis,” said Karen Newman, assistant professor of English and one of White’s faculty advisors. Newman encouraged White to apply for the assistantship.
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“Inspire You” illustrates bond between students and campus mentors

A recent Professional Edge Center event allowed students to recognize some faculty and staff members who have mentored them to success, highlighting the close relationships that exist in the University of Indianapolis community. inspireyou420

The “Inspire You” event saw several students honoring people who have had a significant impact on their lives. Twelve outstanding nominees were honored at the Skyline Club in Indianapolis, with Dr. Katherine Welch (’93) as guest speaker. Dr. Welch is one of the University’s 2017 honorary degree recipients for her work at Relentless, a global health organization committed to caring for and treating exploited and marginalized populations across Asia.

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American Pianists Awards winner named Artist-in-Residence at the University of Indianapolis

A 23-year-old, internationally acclaimed pianist and winner of the 2017 American Pianists Awards will serve as the Christel DeHaan Classical Fellow and Artist-in-Residence at the University of Indianapolis.

University of Indianapolis President Rob Manuel with Drew Petersen, winner of the 2017 American Pianists Awards and the Christel DeHaan Classical Fellow and Artist-in-Residence at the University of Indianapolis.

University of Indianapolis President Rob Manuel with Drew Petersen, winner of the 2017 American Pianists Awards, Christel DeHaan Classical Fellow and Artist-in-Residence at the University of Indianapolis.

Drew Petersen, who will perform as Artist-in-Residence at the University for the next two years, was among five finalists who performed in the American Pianists Awards New Music Recital in April at the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center. The recital led off the final week of a 13-month competition involving some of the world’s top pianists. 

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Pathways to Prosperity explores new approaches to career success

Navigating the transition from education to a career has always posed challenges for graduates. With today’s employers focused on soft skills like collaboration and problem-solving, the demands of the modern workforce require new solutions.

The University of Indianapolis recently hosted an event, Pathways to Prosperity: Rethinking the Transition from Education to Career, to explore the new approach universities are taking to prepare students for successful careers.

Jeffrey J. Selingo, author of "There is Life After College." Pathways to Prosperity: Rethinking the Transition from Education to Career held in Schwitzer on April 10, 2017. Photo by D. Todd Moore.

Jeffrey J. Selingo, author of “There is Life After College.” Pathways to Prosperity: Rethinking the Transition from Education to Career held in Schwitzer on April 10, 2017. Photo by D. Todd Moore.

The event was co-hosted by the University of Indianapolis, Strada Education Network (formerly USA Funds) and author Jeffrey J. Selingo. A group of local, state and regional education leaders, business executives and policymakers joined the collaborative workshop to explore how schools and universities can better equip students to succeed.
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International guitar festival provides music students with world-class experience

Two University of Indianapolis guitar students embarked on a life-changing trip in March to the XVIII Guitar Art Festival in Belgrade, Serbia. Their instructor, Nemanja Ostojić, University of Indianapolis professor of guitar and world-renowned classical guitarist, was a featured artist at the festival. 

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Evan Hawk (second row, second from left) and Jamie Johnson (third from left) performed in the World Guitar Orchestra with 100 guitarists.

A grant from the U.S. Embassy funded travel and accommodations for sophomores Jamie Johnson (music and psychology) and Evan Hawk (jazz studies), who also received lessons with some of the world’s leading guitarists. They also attended concerts and performed in an international guitar orchestra.
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Alumnus brings awareness of refugees’ plight to immigration battle

Cole Varga (’10, international relations) understands more than most the impact of the recent immigration restrictions on families looking for better opportunities in the United States. As the executive director of Exodus Refugee Immigration Inc., he has seen firsthand how refugee resettlement transforms people’s lives. 

Cole Varga, executive director, Exodus Refugee Immigration Inc.

Cole Varga, executive director, Exodus Refugee Immigration Inc.

Exodus is a 36-year-old Indianapolis-based non-profit refugee resettlement agency, and is one of about 300 in the United States. In 2016, Exodus welcomed 947 refugees from 17 countries, including Burma, Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Burundi, Central African Republic, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Honduras, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, and Ukraine.

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