Faculty and students celebrate expanding scope of research with REDay
April 28th, 2011
SMITHFIELD, R.I. - Peering at millennia-old cells through a powerful microscope; plugging volumes of data into prototype statistical models; teasing out the critical components of a business case study - all in a day's work for Bryant faculty and students.
But such research often occurs in the margins of the day, in solitude or among small teams. Outcomes of the work often are reserved for an audience of journal readers.
Bryant's inaugural Research and Engagement Day (REDay) set out to change that. On April 20, the University suspended classes and extracurricular activities through 5 p.m. in order to showcase the many ways the Bryant community generates new knowledge.
In 212 presentations, the Bryant community learned about the University's expanding scope of research in business, humanities, social and biological sciences, and pedagogy. More than 300 faculty and students shared their findings, participated in panel discussions, presented senior theses and honors capstones, and offered poster sessions on a variety of topics, including:
- new directions in environmental research;
- emerging Web technologies;
- issues in health care;
- connections between health and happiness;
- biochemistry and proteomics;
- global economies in transition;
- the financial impact of natural disasters;
- current issues in supply chain management;
- the link between CEO compensation and corporate performance.
In addition, representatives of 17 companies from Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts attended REDay to receive global business plans prepared for their firms by seniors in Bryant's International Business Program. (Afterward, one corporate executive quipped that he had circled the names of a dozen seniors he was prepared to hire.)
"I don't think you can find another university that cancels daytime classes in order to set aside an entire day to explore the level of engagement we have with 'the business of knowledge,'" said Carol DeMoranville, Ph.D., professor of marketing and chair of the REDay Committee. "This event was more successful than we ever imagined."
Bryant University President Ronald K. Machtley agreed, using words like "spectacular" and "intellectually first-rate" to describe the event.
First-year student Nicole Schwab of Hawthorne, N.Y., was among the presenters. With first-year student Andrew Lafortune of Tewksbury, Mass., and Richard Glass, associate professor of computer and information services, Schwab spent a semester conducting research to explore how personality affects Facebook use and grades. "REDay was a great experience," Schwab said. "It was so rewarding to see faculty and students at our presentation. They were engaged in what we were discussing" and asked a lot of questions about the team's work.
REday grew out of several separate but similar campus events, including Faculty Research Day during winter break, an Honors Thesis Colloquium in the spring, and informal research presentations through the academic year. "A group of faculty and administrators started talking about bringing these events together so that a wider audience could benefit," said DeMoranville.
The faculty at large loved the idea, especially because it presented opportunities to showcase student engagement and collaboration. "Engaged learning is part of the Bryant DNA. We didn't limit presentations to 'traditional' research," said DeMoranville. "We recognize that learning occurs in many ways, both in the classroom and outside the classroom," she said, and it was important to represent the gamut of learning throughout the event.