The room buzzed with activity—students, faculty, and even some parents attending the annual Student Expo in Slep’s multipurpose room. Rows of posters with subjects ranging from environmental studies to engineering snaked through the room; the students who created those posters were poised, ready to explain their work to interested visitors. In the adjacent Fireside Room students and faculty gave presentations on Education Abroad trips, such as one to Costa Rica students took in May 2019.
Organizer of the Student Expo Beth Seymour (Associate Teaching Professor, Anthropology, Communications, History, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Coordinator, Education Abroad) is very pleased with the involvement in this year’s Expo. In addition to the two dozen posters, she says, “we have more art involvement—several Ivyside Pride [the campus dance troupe] as well as a couple of art projects.” In a new feature, “Lara LaDage [Associate Professor, Biology] brought the idea of lightning talks—‘data blitzes’—where students rotated their 3–5 minute talks.”
A sampling across the spectrum of presentations:
Under advisor Syed Rizvi, Associate Professor, Information Sciences and Technology, Shakir Campbell and Kieran Alden worked to create an app that can recognize repackaged apps on Android phones. A repackaged app is “a modified application for the Android market that have been repackaged for malicious intent,” as their poster says. The new app will allow users to find malware in apps before they are downloaded and have an opportunity to damage the phone. Their work earned them a trip to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) meeting in July where they presented their paper on the apps project. Campbell says, “It was a great experience to be able to travel oversees and experience the culture. There were many presenters and researchers that we got to network with and get to know personally. I was able to learn a lot about various cyber security technologies and coding implementations. Overall it was a great experience and I’m looking forward to the next one.”
Israel Tucker focused her research on a current social and—she admits—“very charged topic” in the elementary school classroom with a poster titled “Forced Migration and Human Rights: Approaching Global Issues with Young Children in Classroom Settings” (advisors Jutta Gsoels-Lorensen, Associate Professor, German, English, and Comparative Literature, and and Freyca Calderon-Berumen, Assistant Professor, Elementary and Early Childhood Education). Tucker explains, “Forced migration gets put to the side, even in Altoona. They should be learning about it.” Her approach to teaching includes using picture books; some examples were included in her display: Alvaro F. Villa’s Flood, the story of a family forced to move after a devastating flood; Four Feet Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed, about two Afghani girls in a Pakistani refugee camp; and Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel, Leslie Connor’s tale of an Irish migrant coming to the United States in the 1800s.
Four students stood around a poster titled “Environmental Studies 100: Visions of Nature,” which focused on an immersive course 16 students took over the summer that included class time first in Altoona and then in Hawai’i. Brandon Maruna said he really appreciated the service opportunity the class provided, where the students helped plant native trees and worked to restore a fishpond. Mindy Spence said a highlight was seeing nesting albatrosses during a hike at Ka’ena Point Natural Area Reserve. “The babies just sit there.” Andrew Culp mentioned the telescopes on top of Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano and a very good place for astronomers, and the present conflict between native Hawai’ians and scientists who want to add yet another telescope. (A full-length article on the Hawai’i class will appear in the next issue of Ivy Leaf.)
In the Fireside Room, Andi Regalbuto discussed how her artistic path developed over the course of her college studies in the Visual Arts Program. She became a photographer, but adds herself as part of the composition. Her work won her the Kenneth M. Kuhn Memorial Award for Visual Arts. She intends to go to graduate school to study art therapy.