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Robyn Rafferty Mathias Student Conference Winners Announced

Winners across arts, social sciences, humanities, and sciences

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For thirty-one years, the Robyn Rafferty Mathias Student Research Conference has been offering students a competitive forum to present their scholarly and creative works to faculty, judges, and peers.

Last year, the conference planning was moving ahead as usual when the global COVID-19 pandemic began, and organizers had to move quickly to adapt the conference to the virtual space. Despite the challenges, more than 60 students presented their work to more than 700 virtual attendees.

Conference organizers designed this year’s event to build on last year’s success. They added introductory remarks and a lunchtime plenary session. They also carefully considered the best ways to address ongoing challenges emanating from the pandemic. Instead of the usual sections for poster presentations and panel discussions, this conference asked students to indicate whether their work was a work in progress (“workshop”) or finished research. This allowed guests and judges to give appropriate feedback to the students whose work may not have had the usual amount of exposure and critique.The conference kicked off with a statement by Núria Vilanova, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies. The lunchtime plenary session began with a warm welcome from College of Arts and Sciences Interim Dean Max Paul Friedman (History). The session was moderated by Kim Blankenship, Associate Dean and Professor of Sociology, and featured Kathleen Holton (Public Health), Phil Johnson (Physics), Tim Doud (Studio Art), and Zoë Charlton (Studio Art) as panelists. They discussed the many forms of research and how to navigate challenges in the research process. The conference closed with Craig Hinkley from WhiteHat Security, a 2021 Mathias Conference Sponsor, to discuss how research plays a critical role in decision-making for careers, businesses, and more.

The conference was sponsored in part by a generous grant from the late AU trustee and alumna Robyn Rafferty Mathias, as well as by the NASA District of Columbia Space Grant Consortium and WhiteHat Security.

The 2021 winners are as follows:

Undergraduate Humanities Workshop

Isaiah Washington

Sophomore, Literature and Political Science

Our Black Ophelias and Poseidons: Identifying an Aquatic Sovereign State for the Black Community in Film
Advisor: Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Graduate Humanities Workshop

Taylor Morris

MA: Art History

Confronting the Woman Question: Käthe Kollwitz’s Nieder mit den Abtreibung-Paragraphen (Down with the Abortion Paragraphs), the KPD, and the Abortion Debate in Weimar Germany
Advisor: Juliet Bellow

Undergraduate Social Sciences Workshop

Alena Quinn

Senior, Psychology

Facial processing in pediatric social anxiety disorder: exploring neural responses across differing negative emotions
Advisor: Laurie Bayet

Graduate Social Sciences Workshop

Katherine Casey

PhD: Behavior Cognition and Neuroscience

Neonatal imitation of caregivers at home: A feasibility pilot
Advisor: Laurie Bayet

Undergraduate Sciences Workshop

Lexie Rista and Archibald Latham

Junior, Computer Science and Sophomore, Computer Science

Using Machine Learning to Uncover the Hidden Information in Images
Advisor: Leah Ding

Graduate Sciences Workshop

Huong Doan

MS: Data Science

Evaluating Data Poisoning Attack on Machine Learning Models
Advisor: Leah Ding

Undergraduate Humanities Final Work

Dominique Dempsey

Senior, International Relations and Dance

Dancing Through Colorism: Finding Empowerment Through Movement
Advisor: Britta J. Peterson

Graduate Humanities Final Work

Keira McCarthy

MA: Art History

Deceptively Traditional: The Illusory Radicalism of the Cyborg in Contemporary East Asian Media
Advisor: Ying-chen Peng

Undergraduate Social Sciences Final Work

Coura Fall

Junior, Political Science and International Studies

Images of Integration: The Clash of Black Bodies with White Spaces
Advisor: Celine-Marie Pascale

Graduate Social Sciences Final Work

Daniel Jenks, Jessica Chaikof, Stevon Felton, and Isabella Goris

MA: Sociology Research and Practice

Trauma Exposure and Mental Health Outcomes of Unaccompanied Central American Youth in the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Area
Advisor: Ernesto Castañeda

Undergraduate Sciences Final Work

Evan Steinberg

Senior, Statistics and Political Science

Accuracy of an iPhone app in detecting radiographic breast findings in low-income countries
Advisor: Elizabeth Malloy

Graduate Sciences Final Work

Harmain Rafi

PhD: Behavior, Cognition, and Neuroscience

Characterizing Novel Carbon Fiber Multi Array Electrode using Fast Scan Cyclic Voltammetry
Advisor: Alexander Zestos

Dominique Dempsey

Senior, International Relations and Dance

Dancing Through Colorism: Finding Empowerment Through Movement
Advisor: Britta J. Peterson