About a dozen research papers were submitted last month for the annual Student Colloquium. Since 1991, undergraduate students have been given the opportunity to submit their work in this competition.
"The purpose of it was to encourage top level scholarship of our students and to provide a way for them to get experience in presenting their work and in acknowledging that work with an award," Library Director Tamie Willis said.
This year's first place winner was senior biochemistry major, Lindsey Addington. Addington's paper summarized the research project she had participated in this past summer at Pepperdine University called Research Experience for Undergraduates. The program is funded by the National Science Foundation.
Addington's paper titled, "Relationship Between Spatial Learning Deficits and Levels of Phosphorylated and Total CaMKII in Rat Hippocampus Following Traumatic Brain Injury" has previously earned other awards. This time Addington was awarded $500 for her first place award.
Second place winner was junior Daniel McCormack. McCormack, a history and political science double major, earned first place last year with his research paper about President Reagan's speech in 1986.
McCormack submitted a paper this year titled, "The Electoral Puppetmaster: Continual Compromise in Alexander Hamilton's Debacle of 1800."
McCormack wrote the research paper to fulfill an assignment of one of his courses.
"I was in a class about the American Revolutionary period, and a lot of literature about the election of 1800, especially about the Jefferson side, so I wanted to explore the other side of that," McCormack said.
McCormack was awarded $200 for second place.
Junior Mechanical Engineering major Travis Bow won third place for the submission of his paper titled, "Methodological Naturalism as a Primary Characteristic of Science." The paper was written for Bible Science, and Bow took home $100 for the third place.
The prize money and the luncheon are paid for by Oklahoma Christian. All of the papers submitted to the colloquium are bound and kept in the Tom and Ada Beam Library.
Willis said the colloquium encourages good use of the many different resources offered through the library like interlibrary loans and databases.
Part of Willis' duty as director of the colloquium is to communicate to the participants as well as to the judges. Willis also selects the panel of judges each year.
A faculty member from each of Oklahoma Christian University's three different colleges is selected to serve on the panel.
According to Willis, faculty members serve as judges to keep the colloquium internal.
"Part of it is for our faculty—for them to see what is being done in other departments," Willis said. "That gives them an opportunity to see what our students are doing."
After Willis received the submitted research papers, an anonymous copy of the research papers went to each judge. An evaluation form of ten criterion was filled out for each paper by all three judges.
After each judge read the papers, the judges met to discuss the three topics. Professor of Language and Literature Cami Agan has been a judge of the student colloquium a few times. She said selecting the top three can be difficult.
"Sometimes there are 4 or 5 that are really strong, and you have to make arguments for why this person versus that person," Agan said.
Even though judging can be difficult, Agan enjoys it. She has not only been a judge for the colloquium, but she also submitted a research paper during her senior year at the university. Agan's research paper on Beowulf earned her the first place award of the first Student Research Colloquium.
After the judging and the winners were selected, a luncheon was held. All Oklahoma Christian faculty members were invited to attend the luncheon.
"We have had great support from the faculty at the luncheons," Willis said. "We usually have a good turn out."
The top three winners and their guests also attended the luncheon.
During the luncheon, the three students made a 15 minute presentation about their paper. The students presented in alphabetical order, sharing with the audience a summary of their thesis and the main points of their research paper.
Professor of history John Maple has served as a judge for the colloquium in the past. "The colloquium is one more way to recognize and encourage students to do research," Maple said. "Part of going to a university is being in the classroom listening to professors, taking notes, taking exams – all of that sort of thing, – and that is a valid way to learn. There is indeed a great deal of transmission of information that's going to happen in that way, but it's also a crucial part of the education process that students learn how to do research in their given field."
The colloquium is a good competition available to undergraduate students at Oklahoma Christian.
"I think it legitimizes the scholarly work that the students do, and it really shows them what their peers are doing, at least with the three winners they get to hear, very often people from other disciplines and the kind of work they are doing," Agan said. "It also validates OC as an academic institution."
This sentiment is echoed by Maple who sees great potential in the winners of the colloquium.
"I'm always impressed with the work of the students at the colloquium," Maple said. "The three people, who present regardless of the discipline they are from, always have done first rate work – work that could go to any national student conference and be right there with the best."