Purdue University Northwest’s Days of Discovery showcase student and faculty research presentations

Purdue University Northwest’s Days of Discovery showcase student and faculty research presentations

Each year, thousands of students attend Purdue University Northwest to further their educations, develop themselves, and launch successful careers. Education is central at PNW – but it is not the university’s only objective, as they staunchly pursue and promote multidisciplinary research.

Purdue University Northwest Days of Discovery 2023 (Westville)

Purdue University Northwest Days of Discovery 2023 (Westville) 32 Photos
Purdue University Northwest Days of Discovery 2023 (Westville)Purdue University Northwest Days of Discovery 2023 (Westville)Purdue University Northwest Days of Discovery 2023 (Westville)Purdue University Northwest Days of Discovery 2023 (Westville)

This week PNW showcased just that by hosting its annual Days of Discovery event, where students and faculty presented and explored nearly 200 research and scholarly activities from all of PNW’s colleges and disciplines. Activities took place across both the Westville and Hammond campuses, starting on Tuesday with a plenary speaker, oral presentations, and poster presentations. Presenters were challenged to dive deep into their selected topic, craft, and argument, and defend their research.

“Scholarship is an important part of our institution, and I don’t think we’ve done enough to make everyone around us aware of what our faculty, and more importantly, our students are doing,” said Chris Holford, provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs at Purdue Northwest. “They’re engaged in the real world, applied types of projects that are really meaningful to both our community and Northwest Indiana in general.”

Projects covered everything from plant growth strategies, economic development, market analysis, and even the impact of kindness. Heather Augustyn, a lecturer in the English and world languages department, gave a presentation focused on a topic from a new book she wrote called “Rude Girls: Women in 2 Tone and One Step Beyond,” the product of three and a half years of research and interviews of women in the ska revival in the UK during the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Augustyn, a fan and historian of ska, started with a question – why do there seem to be so few women in this era of music, which “championed the unity of races but not necessarily the unity of sexes.”

“That was my curiosity – why?” she said. “I interviewed these women, heard their stories, and found out that there were more women involved in this era than I thought, but they didn’t get the attention that they deserved.”

Michael Zimmer, associate professor in the department of biological sciences and faculty fellow for undergraduate research, helped coordinate the event and explained where some of the inspiration to host it originated.

“It’s one thing to work with faculty, to engage with them and engage in authentic research and ask authentic questions, but need to bring it full circle,” he said. “It’s not just about spending time in a lab or library, you have to share that information. It’s not enough to just engage, you have to let others know what you’ve been doing and we can do that here at Days of Discovery.”

For some students, the event was the first time they challenged themselves to complete and present original research. Kale Wilk, a graduate student who also works as PNW's communications specialist, was one such example. He explored public media, and how their productions navigate and potentially uphold a capitalistic mass media landscape.

“This has made me a better grad student, absolutely,” Wilk said. “It’s taught me valuable lessons about what I need to do better next time like what the workload will look like, how I structure the research time, and how to look for what’s truly important to include.”

John Pavolka, a College of Business student, crafted a presentation on the top five Fortune 500 companies and their impact on the United States. He left the event echoing thoughts similar to Wilk’s.

“It was a little stressful at first, trying to tie everything together and present it in a unique way,” he said. “I will say, despite it being difficult, I definitely grew from it. I’d never done a presentation like this at Purdue Northwest, or presented in front of a ton of people. It branched me out a little bit, but I’m looking forward to doing it again.”

Provost Holford toured the exhibition hall, speaking with the students and learning more about each presentation.

“I’m very excited, and what I’m targeting is to talk with all of our students,” he said. “These are students that have worked a semester or a year on a project that they’re very proud of. One of the important things for our institution is to have our students engaged in meaningful activities, outside the university, and scholarship is one of the ways that they can contribute.”

To learn more about Purdue University Northwest, visit www.pnw.edu