“It should look beautiful,” says Natural Sciences Professor Agnes Berki, Ph.D. to students and faculty as they develop posters for their research projects. “The poster presentation is a story of your project,” says Berki, who as chair of the Academic Research Committee is leading students and faculty in preparation for Caldwell’s fifth annual Research and Creative Arts Day to be held on Wednesday, April 27 beginning at noon with an opening ceremony followed by the presentations.
The event will feature over 100 presentations across academic disciplines with over 50 judges. Berki is making sure the faculty and students who have worked hard on their professional research have the chance to let their projects shine. Sometimes they have great research but do not know how to package it up, so she mentors them on how to give the poster some “bling” and “pizzazz,” everything from the design to the balancing of images and the text to where the information should be placed on the poster to draw in the viewer’s eyes.
Berki journeys with her mentees and celebrates each and every accomplishment including conceiving an attention-grabbing title for the project, describing what inspired the research, the purpose, hypothesis, materials, methods, results and conclusions. “Professional development is the reward,” explained Berki.
“I know how much honing presentation skills will help them later in their lives. That’s why I do it,” said Berki who prior to her higher education career worked in research labs including the National Institute for Health. “The more effective the University can be in this type of communication, the better. It can lead to collaborations and furthering the prestige of Caldwell,” said Berki. Each year, she and other science faculty members mentor their students to compete outside of the University too, including–in forums like the Independent Colleges and Universities of New Jersey Annual Undergraduate Research and the William Paterson Undergraduate Research symposiums.
A student who has benefited from faculty mentorship is senior Hrishita Badu. This year she will be presenting her Honors Project on “China’s Interest in Post-Withdrawal Afghanistan”. She is grateful to her advisors Department of History and Political Science professors Dr. Domenic Maffei and Dr. Benjamin Lammers for their support. “As a result of my honors project, I know the ins and outs of doing research. Both advisors helped me throughout,” said Badu.
Research and Creative Arts Day is one of Badu’s favorite campus events. “I see all the work of the faculty, staff, and students.” Her junior year she presented on “An Approach to Study Nepal-India Border Dispute through Indian Foreign Policy.” “Dr. Berki was always encouraging and pushed the students to strive for excellence,” said Badu. As a result of her junior year presentation, Badu was invited to present at the Georgia Political Science Association conference in Savannah, Georgia last November. She is grateful for her undergraduate research experiences which she knows will be of value when she is a graduate student in the fall at the University of Chicago studying international relations.
In preparation for this year’s Research and Creative Arts Day, Berki guided Sport Management professor Neil Malvone and his students in a project on “Sports Leadership-Born or Made?”
“I have been very fortunate to have Dr. Berki mentor and guide me through the research poster preparation process. She personifies the collegiality found amongst the faculty here at Caldwell. That collegiality inspires us to new heights every day for our students and our campus,” said Malvone.
Berki and her team of Natural Sciences faculty, Dr. Darryl Aucoin, Dr. Marjorie Squires and Dr. Xiaolei Gao as well as other members on the committee are looking forward to this year’s in-person research day after holding last year’s virtually. Alumni have been impressed with the professionalism of previous events.
“My role as a faculty member, as a scholar, is to share my talents with students. That’s my calling,” said Berki. She finds encouraging students essential in her work and nearly as important as imparting the critical analysis and knowledge she has honed throughout her scientific and university career. “I strive to see the potential in each and every student and to help them to grow professionally, especially at this important stage as they are beginning to become young adults– to help them to grow into what God has called them to become.”
The keynote speaker, Dr. Niamh O’Hara, CEO of Biotia Inc., will present at noon.
The undergraduate session begins at 1:30 p.m. The master’s and doctoral students present their projects beginning at 4:30 p.m.