Under normal circumstances, this spring would have seen students busy finishing up months of undergraduate research at Hampden-Sydney—completing their projects in the laboratories of Gilmer Hall, the studios of Brinkley, or deep in the stacks of Bortz Library. But these are not normal circumstances. Instead, students and faculty have found themselves behind computer screens perfecting their work from afar. On April 21 and 22, students across disciplines, from rhetoric and the sciences to history and the arts, presented their research and final projects via live conference call in what was to become the first virtual Student Research Symposium.
Director of Undergraduate Research, Dr. Michael Wolyniak recalls, “When we found out that a face-to-face symposium would not be possible this year, we wanted to create a way for our honors senior capstone students, departmental distinction candidates, and other students to showcase their independent work over the course of the academic year.” Wolyniak describes how he and H-SC staff cooperatively put together a program that provided students with live, 30-minute time blocks over a two-day period on the Zoom platform. Wolyniak was impressed at the students' willingness to adapt to the virtual format within a compressed schedule.
“I thought that the virtual symposium was very successful, despite our limitations,” says philosophy and theatre major Robert Morris ’20. In his presentation titled “The Theatre of a Thousand Faces,” Robert used his philosophy background to analyze the purpose and role of theatre in society. “Being a theatre person, I have a certain affinity for live performance, so I was saddened that I was unable to give my talk in the format I had planned,” says Robert. “But I thought that the College, and particularly Dr. Wolyniak, did an exceptional job reacting to changing circumstances.”