Human Rights Conference Focuses on Family Rights in 2014

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The Smutz-Ulmer family, pictured above, submitted their family photo to the Family of Webster Photo Project — a project which seeks to celebrate the importance and diversity of families around the world as part of Webster’s Year of International Human Rights.

Webster’s Institute for Human Rights & Humanitarian Studies will host its fifth annual Human Rights Conference on October 8 and 9 at the Webster Groves campus. The conference’s theme this year is “family rights,” and the event will bring scholars, students, and community members together to explore issues like family law, adolescent rights, intimate partner violence, and LGBTQ family rights.

Freedom to Marry campaign director Marc Solomon will bring the conference to a close on the 9th with his keynote speech titled “Securing Human Rights in America: Lessons from the Freedom to Marry Movement.” All events, including the keynote, are free and open to the public, but attendees are encouraged to register, as space is limited.

Kingston

Kingston

The Institute – which has chosen to highlight human rights issues like disability rights and refugee rights in years past – chose the theme of family rights for 2014 because, Institute Director Lindsey Kingston explains, “the concept of human rights is all about protecting human dignity and ensuring that people have the bare minimum requirements to live a decent life. For most of us, it’s hard to imagine that kind of existence without some form of family. That’s why the international community recognizes the family as a fundamental unit of society.”

The theme of family rights, Kingston said, pertains to human rights scholarship on several levels in that it “not only highlights the human rights issues that impact families around the world, but also emphasizes the fact that families come in all sorts of shapes and sizes – and all deserve the same level of respect.”

The conference will feature human rights experts from across academia and the non-profit world, and from around the country, including Jacqueline Bhabha of Harvard University’s Kennedy School for Law and Pamela Summers from NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri.

Several Webster faculty members will bring their areas of study to bear on the theme of family rights as well: Philosophy professor Kate Parsons will moderate a roundtable discussion, Kingston will present a talk on ”Invisible Families and the Right to a Nationality,” Anthropology professor Don Conway-Long will present on “Men, Masculinities, and the Family,” and Professional Counseling faculty members Hasmik Chakaryan and Stacy Henning will host a break-out session titled “Assisting Non-Traditional Families through Life Transitions.”

Chakaryan

Chakaryan

Chakaryan brings a unique global perspective to her and Henning’s discussion of the counselor’s role in helping non-traditional families. As a psycho-educational and psycho-social project founder and coordinator in East Europe for five years and as a counselor in the United States for the past 6 years, she said, she has worked with families from all backgrounds, races, ethnicities, religions, socio-economic statuses, and sexual orientations, and has seen firsthand “how families struggle with generational poverty, addictions, war trauma, natural disaster outcomes, and migration – and based on where they come from and what stigma is attached to them, they will either get a chance to survive or not.”

Thus “when it comes to family rights,” Chakaryan explains, “it is vital to consider the context in which the family exists. Tensions in families may stem from economic and financial problems, which may be normal for all families to go through, but where [the family] comes from may affect the intensity of the problems they are experiencing, and the chances for them to ever resolve those problems.”

Chakaryan said she is looking forward to being a conference participant as well as a presenter – “hearing other great speakers, learning more about what is going on all over the world, [and hearing] personal experiences of those who would want to share their stories.”

Her and Henning’s contribution to the conference, she said, is one small part of the event’s larger goal to “raise awareness for human rights and social justice not only on this campus, but worldwide.”

For a full schedule of conference events, online registration, and more information on the Institute for Human Rights & Humanitarian Studies, visit webster.edu/humanrights.

Cultural Connections: Aori Inoue’s American Experience

cultural connections biggerEach month, Global Thinking will feature a “Cultural Connections” guest post written and curated by a member of the Department of International Languages and Cultures. This month’s post spotlights Japanese teaching assistant Aori Inoue’s reflection on moving to the United States.

Aori Inoue

Aori Inoue is a teaching assistant in the Department of International Languages and Cultures at Webster University. She is from Kobe, Japan which is famous for its beef production. Aori is teaches several classes here at Webster, such as the Japanese workshops, Japanese language classes, a Japanese Mindset class that teaches Japanese culture, and a Japanese Mythology class. She loves St. Louis because there is such a high number of NPOs and volunteering opportunities ,and because St. Louis is so diverse. Aori’s favorite aspect of Webster University is the people; she feels that those who work and study here have beautiful minds and personalities.

 

***

When I first came to the United States it was as an exchange student at Texas A&M University in 2008. At that time I had no idea that St. Louis, Missouri would end up having such an important role in my life.

I remember my arrival clearly; I had a new and unforeseen adventure ahead of me. I was alone, sweating profusely as I carried my 75lb suitcase in search of a bus to take me to my one room dorm, which would be my home for the next year. I was thinking twice about having brought all of my Japanese sweets and in-case-of-homesickness comfort food. I managed to find a bus which would take me to the dorm. However, there was a problem: I had to stop in downtown Austin to switch busses.

Inoue (third from left) and friends at the Japanese Tea Ceremony event that Inoue organized on Webster's campus

Inoue (third from left) and friends at the Japanese Tea Ceremony event that Inoue organized on Webster’s campus

Everything was new to me, and everything was big – huge, rather. It was true – everything IS bigger in Texas: the highways, the buildings, the green areas, even the cars seemed unusually large to me compared to the compact, city-friendly sized cars of Japan. My first interaction came when what I can only judge as a homeless gentlemen bought me a Coke. “You need this,” he said, giving me a look of empathy and absolute compassion. It really took me by surprise; I didn’t know what to make of this generous act. I was touched at the heartfelt act. I think back on this day quite a bit.

After studying in Texas, I came St. Louis to study law. The Midwest is a bit different from other places I have been. Not everything is as big as in Texas, but everything is still very different from Japan. I was getting ready to return home to Japan when I received a work opportunity from Webster.

From this point on, due to my position, I had a unique opportunity to meet a wonderful array of diverse St. Louisans and non-St. Louisans who choose to call this city their home. This changed my perspective and I started to have a more positive outlook. I became aware of the many international festivals and restaurants that St. Louis has to offer and I came to know all of the unique neighborhoods of St. Louis as well.

Inoue (front) and friends at the Japanese Festival in the Missouri Botanical Gardens

Inoue (front) and friends at the Japanese Festival in the Missouri Botanical Gardens

The Japanese Festival at the Botanical Garden is one of my favorite events in St. Louis, and which makes me feel happy to be Japanese. It’s an event at which I can participate and express the pride I have in my country and culture. I enjoy seeing so many people take an interest in anime, the kimono show, and the Sumo performance, as well as the other events there. It has been exhilarating to see this city host such a large scale event featuring my country’s heritage. It was at this event that I had the opportunity to meet and connect with many Japanese-Americans and Japanese.

Being a TA at Webster has proved to be an interesting and great experience. I get to share many aspects of my country and culture as an instructor. I have had the lucky opportunity to host an event at Webster University featuring a Japanese dance group, a tea ceremony, and a Zen Meditation session. This year I will be hosting a Calligraphy and Japanese Buddhism horror story session.

Looking back on my first day in the US, I reflect on that first encounter with the homeless gentleman. I like to think it’s symbolic of my experiences here. It is not always those who seem to have the most who offer you the most memorable experiences. St. Louis may not be the most popular nor the most glamorous city in the US; however, it has ironically made me appreciate my culture – which has its virtues and flaws like anyone – more. I suppose it is true what they say: you never know what you have until you don’t have it anymore. I am happy to be able to share my culture and my language at Webster University. My time in St. Louis has brought me the most memorable and remarkable experiences of my life in the US.

Students play a fishing game at the Japanese Student Association's field day event on Sept. 26.

Students play a fishing game at the Japanese Student Association’s field day event on September 26, 2014. Inoue is a faculty sponsor of the JSA.

Global MA Spotlight: Bart Buckel

Bart Buckel

Each term, the College of Arts & Sciences highlights one of its Global MA students from the International Relations or International Nongovernmental Organizations programs.

Three cohorts of students in the Global MA in International Relations program embarked on a life-changing journey across 5 countries this August. Here, we catch up with Bart — a student in Cohort 3 — as he settles in to the first few weeks of his year abroad.

Bart Buckel was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Immediately following high school, he enlisted in the Marine Corps, graduating recruit training with a meritorious promotion in August 1989. After attending the School of Infantry, he deployed to the Middle East in late 1990 for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Upon graduating from Louisiana State University in 1994 with a BA in History, he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. He deployed to Iraq in 2004 before earning a MA in Security Studies from the Naval Postgraduate School in June 2008. After retiring from the Marine Corps with the rank of major in 2013, he worked at an engineering consulting firm in central Florida before moving back to Baton Rouge to spend time with family and volunteer at the VA Outpatient Clinic. He is the recipient of the Louisiana Veterans Honor Medal. Bart enjoys reading, history, philosophy, psychology, being outdoors and ice hockey. His current desire for the future is to have a family and work for an international organization in Europe for a few years before settling down.

Bart3

The view of Leiden looking north from Webster’s Living and Learning Center. The Molen de Valk windmill museum can be seen in the distance.

Where are you currently?

Leiden, The Netherlands.

What’s your next stop?

Geneva, Switzerland.

Why did you choose Webster’s Global MA program?

I knew I wanted to live and work in Europe for a couple years once I left the Marine Corps. I figured that working for an international organization of some type would be the most realistic way to make that happen, and a degree in international studies would only help toward that goal.  I came across Webster’s Global MA program while researching schools who accepted the GI Bill via the Department of Veterans Affairs website. In addition to the regular academic piece, the potential exposure to so many organizations and individuals across five countries over an 11-month period that the Global MA program provides seemed like a phenomenal opportunity… one that was too good to pass up.

GMAIR Cohort 3 members (from left): Amanda Schneider, Morgan Smith, Terrance Collier, and Bart Buckel enjoying the outdoor area of Leiden's Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde.  (Photo courtesy of Dana Coleby.)

GMAIR Cohort 3 members (from left): Amanda Schneider, Morgan Smith, Terrance Collier, and Bart Buckel enjoying the outdoor area of Leiden’s Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde. (Photo courtesy of Dana Coleby.)

Describe a memorable cultural experience that you’ve had these first few weeks of the program.

Being slightly hobbled before arriving in Leiden by aggravating an old ankle injury that has gotten in my way of really getting out there yet, nothing quite memorable has happened…yet. However, the Just Peace event is taking place in The Hague the weekend of 19-21 September.  My cohort mates and I will attend several events there.  I’m looking forward to that.

 

What has been your biggest challenge as you adapt to a new culture?

I thought I would be able to say language but, at least here in the Netherlands, nearly everyone speaks English…. just with a bit of an accent.

Bart Buckel with Amanda Schneider (GMAIR Cohort 3) before a joint presentation for their Introduction to International Relations Theory course.

Bart Buckel with Amanda Schneider (GMAIR Cohort 3) before a joint presentation for their Introduction to International Relations Theory course.

Academically speaking, share a moment/experience/knowledge gained in the Global MA program that has introduced you to a new idea/perspective.

Another benefit of this program is that there are local and other international students in the classes. It is of great value to hear things from their perspectives.  It really helps shed some light on how information we get back home is filtered and presented.

What are your plans for the future after you complete the GMAIR program?

As mentioned above, I would like to live and work in Europe with some type of international organization for a couple of years. Though I’m interested in such things as combatting trafficking in persons, empowerment of women, reducing poverty, and improving education, I couldn’t tell you which organization catches my eye the most at this point.  I’ve still got several months to figure that out.

Interview by Gracie Gralike.

Nurse Anesthesia Students Sweep Awards at American Association of Nurse Anesthetists Foundation Conference

Joseph Chamberlain and Amy Smith celebrate their first place win at the AANA conference poster presentation.

Joseph Chamberlain and Amy Smith celebrate their first place win at the AANA conference poster presentation.

Webster University’s Nurse Anesthesia program returns this week from the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists conference with an impressive slew of recognition for the work of its students: for the third year in a row, the program took first place in the conference’s State of Science poster session with Joseph Chamberlain and Amy Smith’s collaborative research project titled “The effect of 2,6 diisopropylphenol on the release of adenosine triphosphate in human erythrocytes.” Chamberlain and Smith’s research chair was Department of Biological Sciences professor Garrett Bergfeld.

Premis and Eller with Dr. Burns

Premis and Eller with Dr. Burns

Nurse Anesthesia students Jessica Premis and Sarah Eller won second place in the same research category for their project “The effect of ultrasound use on the placement of epidurals and combined spinal epidurals.” Premis and Eller worked with research chair Michael Burns.

 

Fontana and Henderson

Fontana and Henderson

Rose Fontana and Courtney Henderson won a $1,000 scholarship and the opportunity to give an honorary oral presentation of their work for their project on “The effects of intravenous acetaminophen on opioid medication requirements following cesarean delivery.” Fontana and Henderson also had Burns as their research chair.

Wooten with her survey research project

Wooten with her survey research project

Bethany Wooten’s research earned her a spot as a finalist in the survey category for her project “Methodological approaches to study anesthesiologists’ attitudes toward expansion of anesthesia services by advanced practice nurses in the Canadian healthcare system.” Wooten’s research chair was Department of Nurse Anesthesia faculty member Martina Steed.

 

Nurse Anesthesia Program Director Jill Stulce noted that each award is “no small feat, as approximately 150 posters are submitted for presentation” at the conference.

“We are elated,” Stulce said, “that our research efforts are gaining the recognition they deserve.”

“The students and faculty in our Nurse Anesthesia program are extraordinary,” said David Carl Wilson, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “I am proud of their accomplishments and the recognition that those accomplishments bring to the University.”

“The World According to Monsanto”: Le Centre Francophone brings the GMO debate to Webster

monsanto

With Monsanto’s world headquarters in St. Louis, Webster University’s home campus is situated in the geographical center of contemporary debate surrounding the agribusiness practices which Monsanto has come to represent around the globe. On September 10, at 7:30pm, Webster will bring the debate directly to Winifred Moore Auditorium for a screening of the French documentary Le monde selon Monsanto (“The World According to Monsanto”), followed by a discussion with Monsanto representatives and biological sciences professor Mary Preuss. Webster French professor and director of Le Centre Francophone Lionel Cuillé will moderate alongside Valérie Martin, a Webster student double majoring in biology and French. The event is free and open to the public.

Monsanto may call the United States home, but the influence of their products – primarily genetically-modified seeds and agricultural herbicides – and of their business model reaches much of the developed world. France, in particular, has responded to this influence with opposition and has acted accordingly; this spring, the French ministry of agriculture banned the sale, use, and cultivation of Monsanto’s genetically-engineered corn. Ultimately, the French government plans to fight for European Union legislation which bans genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) from the EU altogether, maintaining that GMO crops present unacceptable environmental risks.

Lionel Cuille photo

Dr. Lionel Cuillé

Cuillé – Webster’s Bruce and Jane Robert Endowed Professor of French and a native of France – explains that French citizens often view Monsanto as “a multinational corporation that coerces farmers into using their genetically modified seeds.” As a regular reader of Le Monde, a French newspaper and one of the most highly-respected periodicals in the world, Cuillé says he sees Monsanto vilified in the French press all the time. The reasons for such opposition are, he says, complex and historically-rooted – “a defiance,” for example, “against a monopoly that [the French believe] would force French farmers to play by rules of an all-powerful corporation, bringing them back to a new form of medieval feudalism.”

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“Facts all come with points of view – Facts don’t do what you want them to”: Dr. Christopher Parr Reflects on Ferguson

Photo courtesy of stlpublicradio.com

Webster students protest the death of Michael Brown at the Webster Groves campus on August 19. (Photo courtesy of stlpublicradio.com.)

Department of Religious Studies professor Dr. Christopher Parr joins Global Thinking for a guest post reflecting on the death of Mike Brown at the hands of a police officer in Ferguson, MO on August 9, 2014.

Dr. Chris Parr

Dr. Christopher Parr

Before anything else, and following the lead of Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol, it’s appropriate to express deepest condolences to the family of Michael Brown for the tragic loss of his life. When Captain Johnson, after being appointed by Governor Jay Nixon to lead the police response, began his introduction to the public with that compassionate thought, I was shocked to realize it was the first public gesture of commiseration with Michael’s family from any police leader – a full 5 days after Michael was shot. Why would such a simple human expression of concern, regret, empathy be such a long time coming?

In all the turmoil and conflicting stories that have jostled our days since August 9th, a few facts have remained unaltered: an 18 year old black male, unarmed and walking about a minute’s distance from his grandmother’s place, ended up shot dead in the street by six of the ten or more bullets fired at him by a white Ferguson police officer, where his body then lay for over four hours, uncovered for at least half of that time. The police officer has not been arrested, charged, or indicted for this shooting.

Complicated social issues such as policing and race relations strike some people as too difficult to address publicly. For me, this shooting and its aftermath appeared all too familiar, and not difficult to address at all. As soon as I heard the County Police Chief giving his hesitant half-coherent account of what had happened that Saturday, at odds in key places with what three other witnesses had already told reporters, I detected the predictable: police were laying the groundwork for an alternative narrative from that of witnesses to the shooting, one that would make the young black man the aggressor and the white officer the victim, despite the apparent murder that occurred.

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Samantha Ross Receives German American Heritage Society Scholarship

Student Samantha Ross while on her study abroad experience at Webster's campus in Vienna

Student Samantha Ross while on her study abroad experience at Webster’s campus in Vienna

Congratulations are in order for Webster University junior Samantha Ross, whose essay on the importance of learning German won her the German American Heritage Society of St. Louis’s annual scholarship. Ross, who is studying at Webster’s campus in Vienna this semester, says she will use the $1500 to off-set the costs of housing while abroad.

Ross was encouraged to apply for the GAHS scholarship by Webster University professor Paula Hanssen, who teaches courses in German and German Studies in the Department of International Languages and Cultures.  Ross says she was “completely surprised” by the award, and is “thankful for the opportunity” to receive financial assistance in support of her German education.

According to the organization’s website, The German American Heritage Society is “dedicated to the preservation of the history and culture of our German forebears and to the promulgation of cooperation and understanding between Germany and the United States.  An objective of the organization is the establishment of archives at the St. Louis Public Library documenting the history of German-oriented families settling in St. Louis and surrounding areas.” The GAHS offers a scholarship yearly to students who wish to travel abroad to further their understanding of German language and culture. Students interested in applying for future GAHS scholarships should contact Dr. Hanssen at hanssen@webster.edu.

Webster Psychology Professor Linda Woolf Honored with APA Presidential Citation

WoolfAward_pic web

Webster psychology professor Linda Woolf received a Presidential Citation from American Psychological Association (APA) President Nadine Kaslow at the organization’s annual convention in Washington, DC on August 9, 2014. The citation – a rare honor awarded to only about 50 out of 130,000 APA members yearly – commends Woolf for “educating current and future generations about human rights through her scholarly teaching and writing, and for assisting APA in drafting and adopting policy resolutions that prohibit human rights abuses and protect the welfare of individuals in U.S. custody, most notably the comprehensive 2013 policy that reconciled seven earlier APA policies.”

Kaslow personally presented Woolf with the citation at a surprise ceremony at the APA convention. Woolf says she was “quite stunned and honored” by the recognition.

Dr. Linda Woolf

Dr. Linda Woolf

Woolf’s work to reform APA policies regarding the human rights of those in U.S. custody was also recognized earlier this year in a personal letter from Kaslow and Norman B. Anderson, APA CEO. “The work you did,” Kaslow and Anderson wrote, “was that of a scholar and committed activist. You represent the very best in our Association.”

Woolf attended the APA Annual Convention with Webster colleague and fellow psychology professor Michael Hulsizer. Together with Kathleen Dockett, a retired psychology professor from the University of the District of Columbia, Woolf and Hulsizer participated in a symposium titled “Social Responsibility: An Ethical Imperative for the 21st Century.” The symposium discussed the connection between social justice and the field of psychology as well as the need to incorporate explorations of social justice issues in the psychology classroom.

Woolf and Hulsizer also made a poster presentation titled “Teaching the Psychology of Political Violence: Genocide, Torture, and Terror” that provided fellow educators with ideas and resources for tackling the subject of political violence with college students.

The theme of social responsibility echoes in the work for which Woolf received her presidential citation and in each of the presentations with which she was involved this year at the APA convention.

Dr. Mike Hulsizer

Dr. Mike Hulsizer

“As psychologists,” she explains, “we not only endeavor to teach the science of psychology but also how that knowledge can be used to make the world a better place–a more socially responsible place. Social responsibility is so key to our profession that it is one of the primary learning outcomes, as defined by the American Psychological Association, for the undergraduate psychology degree.”

The ways in which psychologists engage with “diversity concerns; environmental sustainability; awareness about social oppressions associated with minority statuses; applications of psychologically based interventions to public policy and global concerns; and civic engagement,” Woolf says, make them “uniquely poised to prepare students to be effective and socially responsible professionals and global citizens.”

To support their colleagues in doing so, Woolf, Hulsizer, and Docketts’ presentations “highlighted methods to teach and foster social responsibility in our students on three levels: extracurricular, curricular, and within the classroom.”

Woolf begins her 28th year teaching psychology at Webster this week, and her fall teaching schedule includes a course on genocide, a political psychology course, and a course themed around the ideas of love and hate, demonstrating her continued dedication to bringing issues of social justice and ethics into her own classroom.

11 months and 5 Countries in the Making: The College Celebrates its 2014 Global Master of Arts Graduates

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Global Master of Arts graduates at the 2014 Global Commencement ceremony in Washington, DC.

After spending the past year hopping between campuses and continents to earn their graduate degree, 31 students received their Global Master of Arts from the College of Arts & Sciences on Saturday, July 19 at the Global Commencement ceremony in Washington, DC. Four of those students are the first to earn the Global MA in International Nongovernmental Organizations – the College’s newest global program, piloted this year.

The 2014 Global Commencement ceremony is the first to take place in the United States, and it brought together international relations program directors and department heads from Webster’s campuses around the globe, as well as international relations faculty and College administrators from the home campus in St. Louis. Over 230 of the graduates’ family members and friends were also there to commend the class of 2014 for a degree well-earned.

Hannah Verity, Director of Global Programs for the College of Arts & Sciences, calls this graduating class a group of “truly outstanding scholars.”

“I have heard from multiple faculty who teach in the program that this year has had some of the brightest, most motivated students they have encountered yet,” Verity said, adding that her own observations have yielded the same impression.

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Chemistry Student’s Research Honored at Regional Symposium

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Chemistry student Zack Zurfluh-Cunningham (left) and classmate Devin Ericson with Zurfluh-Cunningham’s prize-winning undergraduate poster presentation.

Webster biology student Zack Zurfluh-Cunningham is taking his research out of the lab and on the road.

This summer, Zack and his undergraduate classmates Joseph Callahan and Devin Ericson joined chemistry professor Ryan Groeneman and researcher Eric Reinheimer on a trip to the 24th annual Midwest Organic Solid State Chemistry Symposium (MOSSCS), held at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, where they made a total of four presentations on their original research. Zurfluh-Cunningham won the prize for the best undergraduate poster presentation with his poster titled “Directing the Stereochemistry of a [2+2] Photoreaction within the Organic Solid State by Template Switching.” His work was recognized at the post-conference banquet, where he was presented with $100.

In his presentation, Zurfluh-Cunningham shared his research on how varying the template will control the stereochemistry of the photoproduct. If it sounds complicated, it’s because it is. But Zurfluh-Cunningham has a helpful analogy on hand: think of the reactant – the substance the researcher is trying to alter with the templates – as a cup of water.

“If you have a cup of water and heat it up,” he explained, “the water reacts one way by evaporating.  However, if you freeze that cup, the water reacts a different way by turning into ice. It’s still the same substance, just in a different form depending on what you applied to it.”

Dr. Ryan Groeneman

Dr. Ryan Groeneman

The results of his research are the fruit of collaborative efforts between he and Dr. Ryan Groeneman – efforts which Zurfluh-Cunningham describes as “mostly hands-on and experience oriented.” What he and Dr. Groeneman can accomplish together, he said, is greater than what either could do alone.

“The benefits of this type of collaboration is that we can do exceptional research,” he said. “When a professor works alone, he is limiting the amount of research he can accomplish in a given period of time. When a student works alone, they are limiting the type of research they can do due to their inexperience. However, when the two work together, there is more manpower to get work accomplished, and more knowledge and experience to keep the projects moving along.”

Dr. Groeneman said he is proud of the work his students have done and proud of their efforts to share their work in a professional context like the chemistry symposium. His students, he says, value the chance to do so:

“I think they really appreciate the opportunity to present research in a conference in the area that they study, and in front of fellow researchers who are well-versed in the area.”

Zurfluh-Cunningham agrees. While MOSSCS is the third convention at which he’s presented his research, it was the first convention where he found himself surrounded by fellow researchers who work in this specialized area of chemistry.

Devin Ericson and Zach Zurfluh-Cunningham

Zach Zurfluh-Cunningham (right) and Devin Ericson with a research presentation they gave at the Midwest Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society last fall. (Read more here.)

“Because of that,” Zurfluh-Cunningham said, “many of the scientists there knew exactly what we [the student presenters] were talking about, and even gave positive feedback.”

Of course, being recognized for the quality of his research is nice, too:

“[The award] has given me value as an up-and-coming scientist. By having my name on publications, and having awards like this as proof, I am displaying my experience in research and making myself a better candidate for careers once I graduate.”

Dr. Groeneman expressed gratitude for the support of the dean’s office in helping make this year’s symposium part of his students’ Webster experience.

“Thanks to Dean Wilson’s contribution,” Dr. Groeneman said, “these students were able to afford conference registration and lodging fees for the symposium without having to dip into their own pockets.”

In fact, Zurfluh-Cunningham plans to use his $100 award money toward the cost of traveling to present at another convention in Columbia, Missouri this fall.

A student in Webster’s dual-degree program with Washington University, Zurfluh-Cunningham finished his three years at Webster this spring and will begin taking classes in Washington University’s chemical engineering program in August. Thanks to his Webster education, he feels more than prepared to make the transition:

“Not many schools give students the opportunity to do undergraduate research.  The fact that I have over one and a half years of experience and three presentations under my belt is remarkable and has proven to be an immensely beneficial experience.”