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Ogden Honors College Hosts Ninth Annual Undergraduate Research Colloquium

Student Presentations Span Diverse Topics

On Wednesday night, the Ogden Honors College hosted its ninth annual Undergraduate Research Colloquium. The College holds this event at the end of each spring semester to give Ogden students the chance to share their Honors Thesis research—and showcase their hard work—with the LSU community.

“Presenting research findings to the wider public is in many ways as important as the investigation itself,” said Ogden Honors College Dean Jonathan Earle. “The students in the panel I moderated did a fabulous job putting their research into context and explaining its wider significance." 

Laville Honors House bustled with LSU students, faculty, and staff who came to the Honors campus to hear the research presentations, which spanned a wide variety of disciplines. Researchers were grouped thematically into four sessions, and each student delivered twenty-minute presentations of their Honors Thesis findings. Ogden students with research in progress presented their projects during a group poster session in the lobby of Laville.

Garrett.colloq.2015Ogden Honors College Academic Advisor Michael Legendre, who works with and supports students throughout the thesis process, noted the quality of the student talks. “The presenters demonstrated not only the high caliber of their research in their respective academic fields, but also delivered presentations with the confidence of seasoned professionals,” Legendre said. “They’re doing important work, and I was delighted to see their dedication on display at such a great event.

Ogden Honors College sophomore Christopher James, an Architecture major, presented during the poster session, and shared his ongoing research on the infrastructure of CRMS, Louisiana’s coastal environmental monitoring system.  “Working for the School of Architecture as a research assistant has been an incredible experience,” James said. “I’ve collaborated with professors and participated in projects that have opened my eyes to the scope of architecture, which goes far beyond the design of buildings. The Honors Research Colloquium was a great chance to show others the discoveries we are making as designers, and how we’re facing the challenges presented by the Louisiana coast."

Some Colloquium sessions focused on biological, engineering and environmental research, while others allowed Ogden students to read from creative thesis projects. In one presentation session, three Political Science majors presented thesis research on distinct but profoundly interrelated issues of race, class, and social inequality. Leslie LaCoste discussed her research on the impact of implicit racial bias on wrongful convictions. AshLee Smith presented her analysis of the effectiveness of social safety net programs (such as SNAP, WIC, and TANF) in helping low-income families to meet food and housing needs. Grace Reinke shared her research on the criminalization of poor and working-class mothers in the American south. 

“I think it's rare for undergrads to have the chance to present their research in a formal setting, and the Honors Colloquium provides that,” Grace Reinke said. “I especially enjoyed the Q&A session after our panel’s presentations. Hearing from audiences about what they think of your research is a really good way to test your own understanding of your work.”rachael.colloq.2015

Ogden graduation distinctions require completion of an Honors Thesis in the senior year. This long-term independent project is the capstone of the Honors curriculum. An Honors Thesis can be undertaken in any of the fields of study offered by LSU, and depending on the student’s discipline, the thesis may be a scholarly paper; research paper involving laboratory or field work; business plan; field report; portfolio; performance; or design project.

“Writing a thesis was challenging, but very rewarding,” Reinke continued. “Had it not been for my thesis experience, I probably would have never considered graduate school. But after completing this project and seeing how much I enjoy this kind of work, I can imagine myself pursuing an academic career as a real possibility.”