LAC’s Inaugural Undergraduate Research Competition

Written by Christina Lopez.

Photos by Christina Lopez. 

Liberal Arts Council’s Academic Affairs Committee hosted their first Undergraduate Research Competition on Saturday, April 28th. Ten undergraduate students presented their research to a faculty panel composed of a variety of liberal arts professors. The presenters had ten minutes to explain their research, followed by five minutes of question and answer. The top prize, awarded to linguistics and Spanish Senior Emily Frazier, was a scholarship for $400.


The topics of research ranged greatly, from A Linguistic History of Peach Palm in the Amazonian Basin by Emily Frazier, to understanding how race impacts the shortcomings of Foucalts “Panopticism” in Brazil by Xavier Durham, to Cultural Variations in Adult’s Perceptions of Children’s Intelligence by Stephanie Estrera. None of the competitors were matched with judges in their discipline, because according to AA co-chair Michaela Lavelle, the focus of the competition was not on finding the best research in a specific field, but rather, on the effectiveness of a presentation.


“It’s more about knowing what you’re talking about and knowing that the judges know what you’re talking about,” Lavelle said.

Practicing presentation skills was one of economics senior Joseph Stemmler’s main motivations for participating in the competition.

“I did a couple poster presentations recently, so this topic was fresh in my mind,” Stemmler said, “and it’s really good public speaking experience.”

Frazier agreed that the presentation practice in front of an audience was beneficial, and also appreciated the opportunity to present her work.

“I’ve been working on this project since the beginning of last semester and it’s my first independent project. This was a great experience. I thought it was really good to get to present this to experts in different fields,” Frazier said.

The competitors’ passion for their research manifested into their projects, and for some, their motivation to compete was to acquire funding to extend their research. Senior government Sarah Rowe is studying how the Supreme Court of New Zealand’s press releases on some decisions affect their coverage in the newspaper. She plans to complete this research in New Zealand over the summer.


Three honorable mention prizes were awarded to Xavier Durham, Sierra Rowe, and Antoinette Dao.

The third-place prize was awarded to Stephanie Estrera, second place was awarded to Alyjan Daya, and first place was awarded to Emily Frazier.

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