A record number of Bemidji State University students presented the results of their academic efforts in a day-long series of oral presentations, poster displays, art exhibits and musical performances April 4 at the university’s 19th Annual Student Achievement Conference.
Dr. Travis Ricks, assistant professor of psychology and interim director of the conference, praised the students for their work during opening remarks at the conference’s kickoff breakfast.
“It was a record turnout because of you, the students who are presenting,” he said. “It’s an immense amount of time and effort, and you’re to be commended for that.”
BSU President Faith C. Hensrud also spoke at the kickoff breakfast and relayed her congratulations to all of the day’s participants for their efforts.
“My greatest source of pride as president continues to be the quality of our students and their many accomplishments, which reflect so well on BSU as a whole,” she said.
She added that the academic and artistic achievements on display at the conference shows some of the many ways students can exceed their own expectations and experience dramatic personal growth during their time as BSU students.
“Congratulations on distinguishing yourselves as scholars,” she said.
The conference featured nearly 150 projects and presentations by nearly 300 students representing a wide variety of academic majors and programs, with additional students participating in invitational displays featuring design, fine arts and music.
More than 140 students delivered oral presentations on subjects including theories of income polarization in the U.S., live-cell imaging of a protein called TCL, fish house rentals at the BSU Outdoor Program Center, CARE training for bystander intervention in sexual assault cases, and the relationship between working and grade-point average for college students.
Jessie Fuhrman, a senior double-majoring in criminal justice and psychology from Maple Grove, Minn., presented about gender stereotypes and how those stereotypes affect facial recognition and the mind’s ability to create false memories.
“False memories are really interesting to me,” she said. “There was a study where they showed people false pictures from their childhood and people actually started remembering the things that were happening. It never happened, but a couple months down the road they would recall those false memories. It’s scary to think you can implant those thoughts in people’s minds.”
Mountain Lake native Clarice Wallert, a graduate student in biology, presented the results of her eight years of work as a member of the Wallert Cancer Research Team, run by Dr. Mark Wallert, an associate professor of biology at BSU and Clarice’s uncle.
“It’s really had to think of what I have learned after eight years,” she said. “I think what I really learned was how much trial and error goes into our type of research — a lot more trial and error then you could ever imagine.”
Poster presentations by 159 students included topics such as facial recognition software, an examination of nesting habits of purple martins on Lake Bemidji, how different cultures reflect shapeshifting in their myths and legends and an environmental impact assessment of Bemidji Brewing.
Dr. Robert Youmans, head of user experience research sciences at YouTube, was scheduled to present the conference’s morning keynote address, but was unable to attend. He remained in California as his employees were among the victims of the April 3 shooting at YouTube offices in San Bruno, Calif.