Michigan State hosted its seventh annual Diversity Research Showcase featuring MSU undergraduate student work on issues relating to diversity that advance inclusion. The event, which was done in partnership with 10 different MSU associations, was part of the university's week-long Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration.
The showcase featured more than 35 presentations by over 50 students from 10 different MSU colleges. Attendees and presenters could attend in person at the MSU Union or online.
“One of our goals today is creating a platform for students to be able to share their equity and justice related research projects,” showcase co-coordinator Erika Crews said. “This event also serves as an opportunity for students to dip their toes into what presenting at a research conference could be like before they take that larger platform.”
There were three ways students could share their presentations to the public and judges: through an asynchronous online format, oral presentations and in person with handmade poster boards.
Psychology junior Daviona Cross was one of the students who brought a handmade poster. Cross' project focused on racial prejudice and discrimination toward African Americans in the healthcare system. She said this event helped her realize the importance of what she’s researching and could help people realize the importance of these issues.
“Events like this don’t come around so often, so it’s important to take advantage of them when they do come around,” Cross said. “I believe my poster tells a very telling story, and a sad one at that, so I felt it to be important that this work gets done and showcased."
Cross, along with her mentors, conducted research and interviewed the women to learn about their treatment. The project itself included 10 transcribed interviews and examined their experiences with racial discrimination, which included being treated unfairly and not taken seriously when receiving healthcare.
Cross said she hopes her project highlights the experience of African Americans in the healthcare system, and makes a call to action to ensure they receive proper care. She believes events like this that raise awareness can make that possible.
Mechanical engineering senior Charlie Meilinger also presented, with his poster focusing on soft bioelectronics as neural interfaces as part of a research project focusing on neuromuscular disorders and the wide-range of diseases that affect the nervous system.
Meilinger's poster presented research he’s done in the lab and the data he's extracted from those experiments. The project's main goal was to share how Meilinger and his mentor created a new, flexible high-density array that creates a less invasive nature for patients and includes diverse skin types, like hairy, smooth, and wrinkled skin.
“One great thing about showcases like this, is that you get other peoples' input and ideas about what you’re working on,” Meilinger said. “Someone walked up to me and implied that we should conduct this type of research on darker pigment skin to find the result. Honestly it’s a great idea and it’s something that we’re going to have to look into.”
It’s presentations like Cross' and Meilinger's that excite Crews, as she said that getting to see the continuation of students' research is exciting and important.
“I'm excited and grateful for all of the people that pulled together to make this happen, and I’m especially grateful for all the students that have come out and presented their work,” Crews said. “This event would be impossible without our partners and undergraduate research, the volunteers that attended, and the faculty and staff who came across campus to judge and to be here to support our students.”
Crews hopes that in the future, the showcase continues to succeed and grow.
“We want to be able to get the word out to further expose students to the opportunity to present their work and create a broader platform for diversity, equity and justice type affiliated research,” Crews said. “This event used to only have around 20 presentations, but now we’re almost to 40, and I believe we can get there next year given how supportive this community has been.”
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