For the 10th consecutive year, and for the second year online, Binghamton University students and faculty are coming together to share their work in all fields of research.
Research Days, the University’s annual public celebration of scientific and humanities research, made a rapid switch to an online format in April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, more than 300 students will be presenting 145 research projects online via Zoom. The event, which will be taking place from Monday, April 26 to Friday, April 30, offers an array of workshops on various topics, including research, writing and presentation and public speaking.
Rachel Coker, director of the Office of Research Advancement and a member of the organizing committee for Research Days, noted the adaptability of students and faculty to a remote context.
“In a typical year, we’d have a variety of in-person talks, lab tours, poster sessions and workshops planned,” Coker wrote in an email. “I have been impressed by people across campus finding ways to reimagine these programs in light of [COVID-19] safety measures.”
Despite the onset of COVID-19, the research itself at BU has not slowed down. According to Coker, while research-related spending decreased slightly this year, research funding itself for the 2019-2020 year was 23 percent greater than it had been the previous year. Coker added that interest in research remains high at BU.
“The campus reported a 10 percent increase in proposals submitted to external agencies to support faculty research efforts, many of which focus on health sciences related to the pandemic as well as resulting policy, social and economic issues,” Coker wrote.
Molly Battaglia, an undeclared freshman, became involved in research through the Dickinson Research Team (DiRT). Her project, covering the role of gender diversity in the workplace and academic productivity, was completed in collaboration with the faculty of the BU School of Management (SOM). Battaglia said she was hopeful about the impact of her work on workplace inclusivity.
“Gender diversity and equality mean everything to me as a woman pursuing a [science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)] career, and I hope that research like mine can help create a more inclusive and supportive environment for women, as well as foster greater understanding for all about the importance of diversity,” Battaglia wrote in an email. “The past year’s constant discord is evidence of the need for more conversations like these in the educational environment. Our future depends on what we learn today.”
The University’s research is not limited to STEM pursuits alone, as exemplified in the research conducted by Katie Dullaghan, an undeclared freshman, who found her research topic through the course
History 186A: Immigration and Refugee Settlement, a research stream in The Source Project, BU’s social science research program for first-year students.
“My project is about Latinx immigrants’ access to health care in the United States,” Dullaghan wrote in an email. “I am passionate about this topic because I want to pursue a career in medicine, and it’s important for this research to be pursued because healthcare is a human right.”
Another project, by Johanna Seppala, a sophomore majoring in political science, and Leah Wardlaw, a sophomore majoring in human development, tackles the Chinese government’s subjugation of Uyghur Muslims to “forced sterilization, mass surveillance, cultural genocide and forced labor,” according to the project’s abstract. Wardlaw expressed the gravity of the issue and the importance of this research.
“The Uyghur crisis is a human rights crisis happening right now, and we need more information and research in order to be able to respond or combat the abuses that are occurring,” Wardlaw wrote in an email.
Wardlaw added that despite the long, sometimes fruitless hours of searching for answers, the lessons learned made the difficulties worth it.
“This project has taught me about the process of researching, including all of the highs and the lows, which were incredibly frustrating at times,” Wardlaw wrote. “However, the highs were totally worth the lows, and the products that we will be able to put out into the world will hopefully make a difference, which is incredibly exciting.”
Even for those who are not participating in research, there is much to be gained from attending this week’s events, according to Coker.
“Research Days are a great time for students to learn a bit about their professors’ scholarly work,” Coker wrote. “There’s fascinating research going on in so many areas.”