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COVID-19 Will Not Be Stopping Simpson University’s 11th Annual Research Symposium

By Tom Higdon

Photo Credit: Tom Higdon

Even a global pandemic won’t stop Simpson University’s Annual Research Symposium to take place for its 11th time. This year's theme: relationship.

The Symposium has been a piece of University Academic culture since 2011. It was then that Dr. John Ayabe, the current History Department Chair, had an idea for his history students. “There was no opportunity for these students to present the work they were doing,” said Ayabe, “I was planning to create a session where history majors could present their senior theses.”

Once word got around to the other departments though, what was birthed as a small gathering of history majors quickly grew into a campus wide event. Students from all departments could come together to present research projects that they had worked on throughout the semester. The first Symposium would give way to another 10 events in subsequent years. All culminating in this year’s Symposium.

While the event comes in the middle of the CoronaVirus Pandemic, Ayabe says that it will still continue with some minor changes in format. All presentations will be done through zoom as well as live streamed and archived on the Symposium website.

Mathew Mendoza, a senior Psychology major at Simpson who presented in last year's symposium, says he remembers the experience fondly despite some stress over presenting his research to a crowd.

“It looks great on a resume and it felt really cool to be in that environment with everyone talking presenting all the work they had done,” said Mendoza.

Mendoza was given a group research project for his Human Sexuality class and was asked by his professor to present that project at the symposium. He says that while he had a touch of nerves the day of, he felt a sense of accomplishment once all was said and done and he wasn't alone.

According to the 2020 Symposium program over 70 students including Mendoza participated in the event. Ayabe believes that those 70 students as well as the ones planning to participate this year will get to feel themselves gain valuable experience. “You see this maturing of the student when they are able to share what they know in front of an audience,” said Ayabe, “It’s one of the highlights of the year for me.”

For those who may be on the fence about participation, Ayabe had some encouraging words. “I have yet to meet a participant who said, ‘I wish I hadn’t done that,’ in fact it's quite the opposite,” said Ayabe.

The deadline for applicants to submit their proposals is February 15. Both Ayabe and Mendoza say they look forward to seeing what Simpson students are able to show off this year.

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