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Oak Leaves

April 27, 2018



20th Annual Student Research Symposium Showcases Talent, Presentations


Teresa Masteller


Manchester University will be conducting its 20th annual Student Research Symposium today,  Friday, April 27. This event, which is open to the public, will highlight student research and a presentation conducted by keynote speaker Emily Lynn ’20. Further, President Emerita Jo Young Switzer, who founded the Symposium, will return to share some memories and pass out awards.

“The Research Symposium is an opportunity for students at all levels in their university education to showcase the sophisticated research that they’ve been doing throughout their time here,” said Dr. Katharine Ings, chair of the Student Research Symposium Committee. “It is a chance for students—and their faculty mentors—to celebrate the different kinds of projects that they have been working on for one semester or longer.

Lynn, a sophomore double-majoring in vocal performance and French, will present her research as the keynote speaker. She started taking courses through MU when she was a junior in high school.

As a first-year, Lynn presented in 2017’s Research Symposium after encouragement from her French professor, Dr. Janina Traxler. “It was a good experience, and my sister, Abby Lynn, was the keynote speaker,” Lynn said. “This year I decided to do it with the help of Janina again, who encouraged me to follow in my sister's footsteps and audition for the keynote speaker position.”

While a lot of preparation is needed for this Symposium, Lynn’s first step was to write an abstract explaining her research topic. “After that, I expressed my interest in auditioning as the keynote speaker in the online application,” Lynn said. “The audition was a presentation of my research in front of the Symposium panel. The audition was one month before the Symposium, so my research needed to be polished and ready to go early.”

Lynn’s presentation involves her two disciplines, French and music. “I studied how Claude Debussy, a French composer, culminated the Symbolist ideal to evoke images and emotions indirectly through suggestion,” explained Lynn. “I chose two French Symbolist poets, Paul Verlaine and Pierre Louÿs, whose works Debussy set to music, and explained how he illustrated their poetry through music. In the presentation, I provide musical demonstrations played on piano by one of our faculty, Dr. Pamela Haynes, and I sing some demonstrations as well.”        

The Student Research Symposium committee held auditions to find an excellent keynote speaker, and Lynn’s multifaceted presentation was exactly what they were looking for. “The auditions were very competitive this year,” Ings said. “Emily’s audition included not only text, but music and a foreign language. We thought it exemplified everything a keynote speaker could do.”

Lynn began this project in the fall of 2017 when she was introduced to the poetry of Paul Verlaine and Pierre Louÿs in her French literature class. “I had done a smaller research project of Debussy's illustration of Pierre Louÿs' poetry, and in the spring, I continued adding on to that with Paul Verlaine's poetry,” Lynn said.

After investing several months, and almost the entirety of her spring break, on this presentation, Lynn feels nervous, but excited about representing the French and music departments. “I don't feel much pressure because I feel like 20 is a lucky number for me this year,” Lynn said. “It's the 20th annual Student Research Symposium, I am 20 years old, and I graduate in 2020.”

President emerita Jo Young Switzer will return for the 20th anniversary of this symposium that she founded when she was Dean of Academic Affairs. In addition to being honored and invited to say a few words about her vision for the Symposium, she will also be passing out the awards this year. Elected undergraduate students are considered for three awards, the Jo Young Switzer Writing Award, a poster award and the honor of being the keynote presenter.

To start the Symposium, brochures will be available at 3:15 p.m. in the Academic Center. Research presentations will follow at 3:30 p.m., then undergraduates, graduate and professional students will present their posters in the upper level of the Jo Young Switzer Center from 4:45-5:30 p.m. After an introduction, Lynn, the keynote speaker will start her presentation at 5:40, also on the upper level of the JYSC. Awards will be presented at approximately 6 p.m.