Gerrymandering, Gun Control, and Extraterrestrial Encounters Will Be Among Topics Explored During Student Research Symposium

March 26, 2019

Nearly 400 students will present their original, faculty-mentored research at the University of Richmond’s School of Arts & Sciences 34th annual Student Symposium April 12. Topics include everything from alien life to hot button policy issues.

The Symposium is part of a day-long celebration of academic and creative achievement. Student research will be highlighted from 12:30-5 p.m. in Tyler Haynes Commons, with additional exhibitions and performances in the Modlin Center for the Arts.

Students presenting at the symposium represent 28 disciplines across the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences. Their research spans from studying coal waste and environmental justice in Central Appalachia’s prison industry to teaching rats to drive cars.

The research projects are presented in the form of poster presentations, oral presentations, performances, and art exhibitions.

“This event has become an annual celebration of creativity and discovery within our A&S community,” said School of Arts & Sciences Dean Patrice Rankine. “It’s the culmination of an entire academic year, where our students get to demonstrate what they’ve learned under the guidance of their faculty mentors to an eager and engaged audience.”

Research highlights include:

  • Senior Alexis Szepesy, a geography and political science double major, uses geospatial analysis and government data to explore prison-based gerrymandering, spatial and environmental injustice, and the rural prison boom in Central Appalachia.
  • Senior Zachary Cain, a music major, analyzes the daily operations of Richmond-based record company Spacebomb Records in his research where he interviews Richmond artists and studio staff to develop an in-depth view of their work within the greater Richmond music community.
  • Junior Chris Cassella, a political science and philosophy, politics, economics and law double major, looks at the political impact of mass shootings on modern gun politics.
  • Sophomore Peizhi Li, a computer science and psychology double major, leads a group in applying operant conditioning as a technique to teach rats to drive robotic cars.
  • Freshman Betty Duan and her group test the accuracy of labeled fish in the Richmond area by collecting DNA samples from local fish markets, sushi restaurants, and UR campus food services after a 2013 report revealed mass mislabeling of fish across the country.

The Student Symposium is free and open to the public.

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