Virtual 2021 Celebration of Excellence in Research and Creative Activity showcases best in student, faculty research scholarship

Kpatcha Massina’s thirst for answers followed him into his dreams. 

The coronavirus pandemic had robbed the now-Norwich senior and Corps of Cadets member’s chance to travel to Burkina Faso to study food insecurity and film the documentary he’d imagined. Nevertheless, he was determined in a typically Norwich way, and no virus would crush his drive or dampen his fascination.

“It was the only thing I did for about 10 weeks,” Massina, an international studies and computer forensics minor from Togo, said. “I even started dreaming about my research.”

At Monday night’s opening ceremony for the Virtual Celebration of Excellence in Research and Creative Activity, Massina said his work had benefits intellectual and presentational. He’s shared findings at the Association for Environmental Health and Science Foundation and this week at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research. He’ll present on nutritionally displaced women and children in Burkina Faso.

The celebration features two weeks of cross-disciplinary research presentations, poster displays and panel and roundtable discussions, all virtual, all free to attend. Video sessions will be recorded for open playback.

Massina stood as a walking symbol of research’s rewards at Norwich’s celebration, which is presented by the Office of Academic Research and is virtual for a second consecutive year. Dr. Amy Woodbury Tease and Dr. Lea Williams, both professors in the English and Communications Department coordinated the celebration, which runs through April 22.

The celebration, which Office Manager and Post Award Analyst Cristy Boarman also helped mount, features two weeks of cross-disciplinary research presentations, poster displays and panel and roundtable discussions, all virtual, all free to attend. Video sessions will be recorded for open playback. Posters and visuals will be posted for perusal.

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Dr. Lea Williams, left, and Dr. Amy Woodbury Tease directed the Virtual 2021 Celebration of Excellence in Research and Creative Activity. (Screenshot from video/Norwich University.)

As Woodbury Tease said during the celebration’s opening remarks, the Office of Academci Research lets students of all majors participate in collaborative research with faculty through the Apprentice Grant program, Summer Research Fellowships and travel to conferences domestic and foreign to share findings.

For example, Carina Berg, Matti Fagan, Jessica O’Toole, AnnaLeigh Runion and Johannes Shephard will join Massina in presenting at the virtual National Conference on Undergraduate Research.

Spotlighting faculty

Although previous iterations of Norwich’s Celebration of Excellence have showcased student work, this year’s will feature faculty presentations, too, including eight Category I Dana Talks, one each by Cathy Frey and Dr. Joe Latulippe (mathematics), Dr. Patricia Ferreira and Sean Prentiss (English), Dr. Matthew Bovee (cybersecurity), Dr. Elizabeth Gurian (criminal justice), Dr. Laurie Grigg (environmental science) and Dr. Tara Kulkarni (civil and environmental engineering).

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Norwich President Dr. Mark Anarumo said officials at other universities are always impressed to hear about the high caliber of research Norwich students perform. (Screenshot from video/Norwich University.)

The celebration will include presentation of the Chase Faculty Research Awards, talks by Independent Study Leave recipients and a look at “Narrative Medicine,” a course from the Norwich Humanities Initiative, the cross-disciplinary, team-taught series of courses started in 2019 with a National Endowment for the Humanities grant.

At Monday’s opening ceremony, President Dr. Mark Anarumo, who has published scholarly work on criminal justice, said Norwich punches above its weight class in research, having undergraduates pursue research that master’s and doctoral students might pursue at other universities.

“It’s amazing to me that the media and other college presidents and other provosts around the country, when I explain what we do here, from the faculty and student perspective, they say, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize you were a Ph.D.-granting institution. (I say,) ‘We’re not.’ … They’re always shocked that we’re at that level of quality.”

Anarumo praised student researchers for challenging norms, discerning between good and bad information and learning quickly, yielding transformational experiences. Only by adapting to change’s dizzying pace can anyone thrive, he said.

“Changing the status quo is yesterday’s business,” Anarumo said. “Great leaders are driven by the need to do something to enrich their own lives and to better our world.”

Stoking creativity

Provost and Faculty Dean Sandra Affenito, who has published research on the nexus of nutrition and psychology, said she’s devoted to the teacher-scholar model. Faculty research helps raise Norwich’s profile and stokes creativity and rigor in class and out. 

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Dr. Karen Hinkle, Norwich University’s associate provost for research, said Norwich’s commitment to scholarly inquisition leaves room for students and faculty to dig deep in their pursuit of knowledge. (Screenshot from video/Norwich University.)

“We all benefit when we learn from others. And the exchanges I had with experts from psychologists, epidemiologists, pediatric cardiologists, biostatisticians, all of those exchanges were critical to my learning,” she said, reflecting on her own research. “This is why I’m a strong proponent of interdisciplinary research and we see this right here, every day at Norwich University.”

Dr. Karen Hinkle, Norwich’s associate provost for research and a Charles A. Dana Professor of biology, said Norwich’s commitment to scholarly inquisition leaves room for students and faculty to dig deep, make mistakes and grow. They can present, publish and succeed.

“I encourage you all to take the time to check out as many of the events and presentations as you can,” she said of the celebration. 

Massina called his research a logical continuation of reading and class discussion and encouraged his peers to follow his lead by finding a faculty mentor and pursuing answers.

“It’s going to be a massive project, but your mentor is there to work with you,” he said. “You’re going to say things like … ‘How can I meet the deadline?’ and ‘What am I doing?’ But every researcher walked in the same shoes you’re going to walk in. 

“You’re going to learn so much,” he added.

* * *

Here’s the complete Celebration schedule.


Tuesday, April 13

9 to 10 a.m.: Oral presentation, “COVID-19 Wastewater Analysis and Emergency Quarantine Facility Design.”

11 a.m. to noon: Category I Dana Talk with Professor Joe Latulippe, “The Impact of Group Quizzes on Student Learning Outcomes.”

3:30 to 4:30 p.m.: Dana Research Fellowship Recipients for 2020-21 Roundtable.

Wednesday, April 14

Noon to 1 p.m.: Category I Dana Talk with Professor Sean Prentiss, “Crosscut: Building a Book.”

2 to 3 p.m.: Oral presentation – Student panel: Daniel DeRosa and Alex MacPherson (criminal justice), KC Herne (biology).

3 to 4 p.m.: Category I Dana Talk with Professor Cathy Frey, “Analysis of Student Success in a Flipped Classroom in Mathematics.”

Thursday, April 15

2 to 3 p.m.: Category I Dana Talk with Professor Patricia Ferreira, “Throwing a Ghetto Narrative: The Pottery of Roberto Lugo.”

3 to 4 p.m.: Apprentice Grant Roundtable.

4 to 5 p.m.: Oral presentation, Student Panel: Dante DeSalvo and Gunner Nunn (criminal justice) and Johannes Shephard (international studies).

Friday, April 16

1 to 2:15 p.m.: Independent Study Leave Recipients for 2019-20 Roundtable.


Monday, April 19

Noon to 1 p.m.: Category I Dana Talk with Professor Laurie Grigg, “Vermont’s Depositional Archives: Using Lake Sediment Cores to Reconstruct Past Climate Change and Ecosystem Change.”

1 to 2 p.m.: Oral presentation, student panelists, Kurt Kuegler (criminal justice) and Johannes Shephard (international studies).

3 to 4 p.m.: Norwich Humanities Initiative Roundtable on “Narrative Medicine.”

4 to 5 p.m.: “From Proposal Idea to Award Letter and Beyond: Stories from Norwich,” Roundtable featuring faculty members funded by extramural grants, academic year 2020-21.

Tuesday, April 20

9 to 11 a.m.: Scholarship For Service Student Research Viva Voce Roundtable.

2 to 3 p.m.: Category I Dana Talk with Professor Tara Kulkarni, “Building Professional and Personal Resilience and Security: Applications to Teaching, Research and Service.”

3 to 4 p.m.: Oral presentation, student panelists, Michael Barnard (geology) and Juliet Quintero (criminal justice).

Wednesday, April 21

1:30 to 2:30 p.m.: Category I Dana Talk with Professor Elizabeth Gurian, “In the Gray Zone.”

3 to 4 p.m.: Honors Program Roundtable.

Thursday, April 22

11 a.m. to noon: Chase Faculty Research Awards, academic year 2020-21.

12:15 to 1:15 p.m.: Category I Dana Talk with Professor Matthew Bovee, “Superb Owl 50” – A Partridge-model experiential-learning example.

1:30 to 2:30 p.m.: Nevada Humanities Initiative Roundtable, “Race, Gender and Sport in 20th Century America.”

5 to 6 p.m.: Closing Awards Ceremony.

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