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Graduate students present research, more at all-day conference

February 19, 2019
<p>The Graduate Academic Conference was held at the MSU Union.&nbsp;</p>

The Graduate Academic Conference was held at the MSU Union. 

Photo by Ray Pringle | The State News

A variety of research presentations — featuring topics ranging from right-wing extremism in relation to soccer games to diabetic retinopathy and how it affects vision — professional workshops and shortened thesis presentations made up the all-day 11th annual Graduate Academic Conference.

With a theme of "bridging the gap between theory and application," the Council of Graduate Students, or COGS — the graduate student government at Michigan State — hosted the conference Saturday at the Union. 

The presentations took up half of the day, and were divided into categories, such as sustainability and healthy societies. Three presentations were assigned to the various categories and were judged based on the quality of the presentation. The challenge was for the graduate students to make their work research easy to understand for those who don’t have a deep understanding of the specific subject.

Second-year German studies student Tianyi Kou spoke about violence and “hooliganism” in German football fandoms. Her presentation focused on issues of right-wing extremism in relation to football games. According to her research, national pride in Germany is frowned upon, but during the 2006 World Cup, which Germany hosted, she noticed how people rose up in support of their team — a form of national pride.

“It’s getting to a point that you cannot ignore it,” Kou said. She heavily emphasized cases where the right-wing football groups in Germany are rebranding Nazi phrases and words into their speeches and paraphernalia.

In another realm of topics, third-year medical student Lauren Kiryakoza gave a presentation on one of the current medical issues she is currently testing. Her research focuses on diabetic retinopathy and how it affects vision.

“I think this discussion is really pertinent to everyone's life, and even more so now as the demographic kind of changes on who is affected by diabetes,” she said, adding that those who don’t suffer from diabetes most likely know someone who does because the disease affects millions of people worldwide.

“It's fun to talk about my research, I think the most challenging part was making it so that it's not so technical and frankly, boring ... so trying to transform the language into something understandable was hard, but it was fun,” Kiryakoza added.

During the next part of the afternoon, Fabian Koark gave a speech in his role as keynote speaker. He provided information for making the most of one’s skill set to break into the industry they want. Koark currently works as a consultant for INVENSITY Inc. in Detroit. 

“Be adventurous, take responsibility early, always try to find a challenge that’s a little bit too big for you,” Koark said during his speech.

Poster presentations were also available throughout the afternoon. This way, students who did not participate in the formal presentations were able to provide more in-depth information about their research. Myna bird migration, online engagement and joint therapy were just a few of the poster presentations on display. 

The final portion of the day consisted of a segment called the three-minute thesis, or 3MT, where students gave three-minute explanations of their research. The 3MT portion was set as a competition, with the winner being granted the opportunity to compete in the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools in March. Azrina Azrina, a Comparative Medicine and Integrative Biology graduate student, was the first-place winner of the competition. 

Gloria Nzeka serves as the recording secretary for COGS and the coordinator for the conference. She is also a student in the journalism graduate program. Her goal in forming the conference was to help bridge the gap among students at the graduate level.

“The reason why we have this conference, primarily, is to create an environment where graduate students, regardless of their background, can come together and exchange ideas," Nzeka said. "So it's all about creating a network for people to share what they've been studying and discovering."

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