Students persevere and deliver for 2021 President’s Academic Showcase

The Concordia Courier

Patience the rover designed by team Helios. Courtesy of Susan Eschelbach.

By Miylan Eubanks | 4/26/2021

They've done it again! Concordia held its annual President’s Academic Showcase of Undergraduate Research. The competition gives exemplary students the opportunity to work alongside faculty members as they compete full-steam ahead with their very own interdisciplinary research topic. It's a chance for students to change the world one research project at a time.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, students had to do their research and presentation over an online Zoom platform. Presenting online was anything but easy. Many students faced challenges, but students managed to flip the reciprocal and come out on top like a scientific fraction. 

Dr. Erin Nelson, Communication Studies professor and Coordinator of the Academic Showcase noted students' outstanding creativity in problem-solving logistical issues. Nelson highlighted Joemyl Rajah Ian Osorio, the third-place winner who exhibited excellence by figuring out how to compare the analgesic properties of CBD versus Ibuprofen on fish from his at-home lab space. A space which doubled as his family’s kitchen. “Not only did our students figure out ways to still conduct their research despite possible hiccups from the current circumstances, but they thrived and made their experience the best it could be! We were so proud of all of our participants this year and demonstrating such commitment to scholarship,” said Nelson.

Along with its challenges, the virtual showcase helped students rise to the occasion. Hannah Scheyder recounted, "My showcase project was entitled, "Missions Are Local: Looking Through the Reality-Defining Spectacles of Language for Effective Cross-Cultural Gospel Communication. Dr. Jack Schultz [Professor of Anthropology] helped advise me along the way!"

Schedyder found the online presentation to be challenging, but she rose to the occasion. "It was definitely out of my comfort zone to create a digital poster as I tend to gravitate towards physical art, but it was a good skill to develop and hone,” she said.
Susan Eschelbach, a physics major, was on a team that created a rover capable of completing all the objectives put forward by NASA’s Rover Challenge. Eschelbach didn’t know how challenging the project would become when she started initially. However, through teamwork and the help of their faculty advisor, Dr. John Kenney, they overcame every roadblock. 

"Dr. Kenney helped the team with design considerations and the mitigations for various forces acting on the rover. Mostly, he contributed guidance, wisdom, wit and comfort when things were not going smoothly on the project. His help was essential," said Eschelbach. 

The determination and perseverance of students and encouragement from professors moved this competition forward like a well-oiled machine. One project at a time, students and faculty introduced findings that could shape the future.

Dr. Norton, a faculty advisor, said his favorite part is the student interaction. "Each time I mentor a Presidential Showcase student, I learn something new. I love it."

In this year's showcase, students put their best foot forward. It was a moment for students to display their competitive spirits, work together, bond and increase self-discovery. More students came out of the competition with a desire to learn and continue to contribute impactful research. 

“I was surprised at how excited I was to share my project. I usually get super anxious about doing public presentations but because I had put so much time into researching my topic, I was able to relax knowing that I was prepared,” said chemistry major Averie Perez. Perez researched traumatic brain injury and her advisor was Dr. Mary von dem Bussche.

Megan Enriquez, Professor of Psychology who assisted in publicizing this year’s showcase, said, "If there's one thing this year has taught us, you can never predict the future." However, Concordia students are certainly laying the groundwork to create a better tomorrow for future generations.

Tags: Academic Showcase

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