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SMSU’s Celebrate Science Week goes on in a different manner

Special to the Independent

Southwest Minnesota State University’s Celebrate Science Week presentations will go on as usual this week.

The work of the students will just be shown a bit differently, is all.

Some students in Botany, Biology Senior Seminar, Chemistry and Exercise Science (on and off campus) are giving presentations throughout the week. In addition, some independent research by SMSU students is also being highlighted.

All presentations are being done using the Zoom online meeting format.

“So far it’s worked well,” said Professor of Biology and Department Chair Tony Greenfield. “Under normal circumstances, the posters would be set up in the Library Plaza, and there would be more traffic there,” he said.

Celebrate Science Week has been an academic tradition at SMSU since 2006, the first year, also, for the Undergraduate Research Conference. Students give either poster presentations, or oral presentations, accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation.

Each student presentation this week is being evaluated by several science faculty members, along with some presenters’ classmates. There is a Q&A at the end of each session.

“We were a little bit worried about possible technical issues that may crop up, but it seems to be going OK,” said Greenfield.

Associate Professor of Biology Vaughn Gehle said he’s glad the tradition can continue. “We’ve been doing it as long as the Undergraduate Research Conference and the circumstances of this year made it challenging on how we could continue Celebrate Science Week, whether it would be feasible. But more people have more practice with Zoom, so we thought we’d give it a try. The students have been extremely adaptive and professional,” he said.

Zoom, he said, lends itself well to the presentations.

“The students can share their screen, and everyone can watch along. Actually, the students have had a little bit more breathing room because they didn’t have to get their posters in early to be printed,” he said.

Environmental Science Professor Emily Deaver said she’s grateful that Celebrate Science Week could continue under the COVID-19 environment.

“The students have done all this work on projects and we wanted to be sure they got a chance to present. They’re doing a nice job. They’re dressing up for it, they’ve made an effort to look nice, and so far, they’ve all done a great job,” she said.

Things have changed at SMSU since the end of face-to-face instruction this semester. Thanks to technology, and a group of determined science faculty and students, an academic tradition at SMSU is continuing.

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