Displaying Discoveries in Science, Art, Humanities

Mimi Panzica ’24 and Abigail Pinnow ’22 perform a scene from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll during the creative arts performances.
Mimi Panzica ’24 and Abigail Pinnow ’22 perform a scene from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll during the creative arts performances. 

As the corners of the Moreau Center for the Arts came to life with violins and violas, about 300 guests wove through the center to the backdrop of student and faculty art exhibits.

In the Little Theatre, stage performances began with pianists and the Sleeping Beauty Waltz by Tchaikovsky, followed by vocalists and dancers captivating the audience. At the same time, drama students transformed the outdoor Miller Arcade into a scene from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

The festival feel of this year’s symposium Revere, Revise, Reimagine: A Symposium of Research and Creative Works, complemented the celebratory atmosphere of Inauguration. The all-day event, held in three campus buildings, showcased the talents and projects of students and faculty across several interdisciplinary programs at Saint Mary’s.

The addition of performing and visual arts to the symposium emphasized the importance of research in the performing arts. Professor Nancy Menk, chair of the Department of Music, explains: “Research in the performing arts can involve many things,” she said. “Singers need to understand the text and its source, which often involves translation. We all need to understand through the historical context and the performance practice of the style of music we are performing.”

The primary goal of the symposium is to display and celebrate the original work and high-level research that faculty and students engage in across disciplines—from dance to neuroscience.

“So much of our research is community-centered, from the art exhibits in the galleries to the graduate students in Speech Language Pathology who study the effectiveness of speech therapies for those with Parkinson’s,” said Colleen Hoover, associate provost and event organizer. “It’s a joy to share our work—in person—with the community.”

During the panel discussions faculty presented their latest research.Moving from creative performances to discussions, guests traveled to Spes Unica Hall to participate in interactive research panels and discussions. Panelists featured work that ranged from spiritual lessons of Catholic women mystics, to the evolution of the Cryptodiran turtle, to the proper use of walls from an artistic perspective, with engaging discussion about each of them.

A dynamic student poster session in Angela Athletic & Wellness Complex culminated the event as students and faculty displayed their work. Just as diverse, projects during the poster session ranged from potential solutions for antibiotic resistance to variations in fox squirrel alarm calls.

Ambrosia Bell ’22 had a constant flow of guests surrounding her with conversations and questions about her research titled, “The Black Woman Experience at Predominantly White Institutions.” The motivation for her work stemmed from a lifetime of her own experience, including at Saint Mary’s.

“It’s time to take action, instead of pushing this issue aside,” Bell said. “I’m hoping this research promotes change at Saint Mary’s and possibly other institutions.”

After 40-hour weeks of research for a solid 10 weeks, Valerie Eddington ’22, who is majoring in biology, can discuss the minute differences in the sounds of squirrels. She even demonstrated the high-pitched alarm that she studied during her field work. “Being here is a great way to talk about our work. We get excited to know someone wants to learn more,” she said.

Wrapping up the event this year was a performance by the Program in Dance called “Welcome Home” that brought the day full circle with the “Bells of Saint Mary’s.”

The research symposium—named this year with reference to President Katie Conboy’s strategic plan for the College—epitomizes the daily work scholars are doing at Saint Mary’s, Hoover added. “The research and creative work here is an integral part of our academic excellence, for faculty and students alike,” she said. “That students from all disciplines have the opportunity to pursue research projects with faculty is a signature of Saint Mary’s.”

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