Symposium features student work

Emi Weed '13 is one of the students who shared her research at the symposium on Wednesday afternoon.

Emi Weed ’13, a sociology major, examined the nature of hookups, romantic relationships and companionate love at Dartmouth at the Undergraduate Research Symposium. Defining hookups as any casual sexual interaction and citing data that only 35 percent of college students hook up, Weed concluded that Dartmouth students prefer companionate love, such as friendships, to passion and sex.

Over 15 students presented research at the symposium on Wednesday in Baker-Berry Library.

For her Native American studies thesis, Meghan Topkok ’13 studied the relationship between Alaska and Native American tribal governments through child welfare laws. Next year, with funding from the Tucker Foundation, Topkok plans to return to Alaska to work on child law issues. The organization that she is working with has already requested a copy of her research.

“Writing my thesis not only helped with my writing and communication, but also my future career,” Topkok said. “It opened a lot of doors for me.”

Alexandra Procopio ’13, an Italian major, explored the role of migrant literature in perceptions of Italian immigration.

Students expressed enthusiasm for their projects, and many said they hope to continue their research in the future. Weed said that writing a thesis has practical applications and will attend graduate school to continue her work in emotional sociology.

Although thesis planning began well in advance, the majority of the students said they began writing during the fall of their senior year.

Topkok said she arrived on campus hoping to write a thesis and planned her academic career around it. Her mentor, Native American studies professor Bruce Duthu, encouraged her to pursue the project.

Other students, such as Noah Lebowitz-Lockard ’13, began mapping out their projects during junior year. A math major, Lebowitz-Lockard designed an algorithm to generate random-factored Gaussian integers with mathematics professor Carl Pomerance.

Many students spoke of the ease with which they were able to find research advisors.

Lebowitz-Lockard said that Pomerance came up with the research proposal on number theory and, despite never having taken a class with him, Lebowitz-Lockard was able to work with the professor for his thesis.

Kelly Tropin ’13, who presented a government honors thesis on the roots of inter-communal conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa, reached out to government professor Jeremy Horowitz, who specializes in ethnic politics and democracy.

Students said they were pleased with the turnout of the event.

“I’m really glad that the President’s Office put this event together,” Topkok said. “This is a great opportunity.”

Jennifer Estrada ’14 said that she appreciated the variety of the research and the symposium’s location, which made the presentations more casual.

“I really like seeing my friends’ work from the other side, instead of watching them slave away,” Estrada said.

Interim President Carol Folt, who spoke at the symposium, described research as one of the most exciting and satisfying parts of the Dartmouth experience and a strong example of the partnership between faculty and students.

“Our hope is that in the long run, virtually every student, even those of a shyer nature or those unable to connect well with others, can participate in research,” Folt said. “I hope that all students will take the time to tell underclassmen about how great your experience was.”

The symposium was sponsored by the President’s Office.

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