2011 Student Research Showcase

2011 Student Research Showcase

Student Research Showcase

On April 29th, students representing a wide range of Earth Institute programs presented their work to an audience of friends, family and faculty advisors in Lerner Hall. The Student Research Showcase, which included the work of 54 undergraduates and graduates, featured 39 different presentations in all.  Following the student presentations, the audience participated in an informal reception during which students addressed specific questions and discussed their research projects in greater depth. Ellen Ward, a physics major, Class of 2013 at Columbia, whose research assistantship for the Earth Institute resulted in a project she presented, Reconstructing the History of the North African Monsoon over the Last 15,000 Years Using Marine Sediments, saw the day’s event as one of the very positive aspects of the Earth Institute experiences: “The Earth Institute provides opportunities for natural scientists to interact with social scientists. The poster session is a good example of this.”

The Student Showcase is not only an impressive exhibit of what younger scholars are capable of, but it is an exercise which is also valuable for their professional development. The presentations were grouped into 6 subject areas:  Health, Community & Sustainable Development, Biodiversity, Earth Science, Development, Soil and Water and included work done on four continents as well as the world’s major oceans. Topics included titles such as Assessing the impacts of American crocodile reproductive dynamics on population persistence and inter-specific coexistence with Cuban crocodiles in Cuba,  An evaluation of the information and decision-support needs of nurses and midwives working in Millennium Village health facilities using socio-technical methods, and. The Politics of Informal Settlement Development in Cape Town, South Africa, to name a few.  According to one of the graduate presenters of the day, Mitsue Yamamoto, “Going to these events is very inspirational. You get to see all the research that is going on and it makes you want to explore new areas of research yourself.” Yamamoto, who is about to be receiving her Master of Science in Advanced Generalist Practice and Programming (with a minor in International Social Welfare) at the School of Social Work, presented on work that she did with an Earth Institute Travel Grant. Her presentation is called Community Development in Gumulira Millennium Village.

Ten Columbia Schools were represented including Columbia College, Barnard College, the School of Social Work, the Columbia School of Nursing, the Mailman School of Public Health, the School of International and Public Affairs, the School of Continuing Education, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the School of General Studies. Participating in the event were a wide range of departments and programs including  doctoral programs at the School of Nursing and the Mailman School of Public Health, the undergraduate concentration in Sustainable Development, the Earth and Environmental Engineering program at the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; recipients of the Earth Institute Travel Grant, Research Assistantships, the Millennium Village Internship; and other Earth Institute internship programs, some of whom were students in non-related degree programs including undergraduate programs in English and Comparative Literature and Astrophysics.

The video of all speakers at the Student Research Showcase as well as their research slides will be available on the Earth Institute web site. The site, which can be found at  will also include a downloadable PDF document of the written versions of many of the presentations.

As the poster-session easels are put away until next year, requisite preparatory sessions are underway for this summer’s Millennium Village Interns who are being launched into the field for another season of field research. This summer’s work will inevitably become part of the core of next year’s Student Research Showcase, which, is bound to be even more diverse, if the research topics are any indication. 

To view the 2011 Student Research Showcase, please visit: