Updated: Apr 23, 2019
By Claire Wallace
Students of the University of Texas at Tyler were able to experience the interdisciplinary fields of research as they attended the fourth annual Lyceum on April 19 in the University Center.
“I think the Lyceum offers a really awesome opportunity to a lot of individuals to share what they’re learning,” Gavin Downing, a senior political science major said. “I think it’s a great way to show how interdisciplinary the Honors Program is, but also how interdisciplinary UT Tyler can be. I think that’s really awesome because it creates connectivity amongst people and it shows how beautiful and amazing research can be from a variety of different perspectives.”
The Lyceum is hosted by the Honors Program and is the largest showcase of student research in East Texas. All students on campus can participate by entering a poster, an oral presentation or a creative project.
“It is a chance for Honors to lead the way in demonstrating to the whole campus...the value of undergraduate and graduate research,” Executive Director of Special Academic Programs Paul Streufert said.
For Downing, the Lyceum brings together many “like-minded” people who have a love for learning - not just in their own field, but in others.
“I think that notion of progressing to be better, to improve ourselves...and the world around us, I think is a very just and important contribution that we should continue to make, and I think UT Tyler is starting off really strong by having something that promotes that interest,” Downing said.
Presenting in the Lyceum is a graduation requirement for Honors students. These students can spend up to four semesters researching and working with faculty to produce results they can present.
“It’s nice to kind of see the scope of all the practices and see all your friends that you started with in freshman year present over their research and kinda see where their path took them,” Gentry Shelton, an Honors nursing major, said. “You get so caught up in your path and what you’ve got to get done, you don’t always have the time to stop and look and see what everyone else has done.”
Shelton presented a poster of the differences between men and women after cardiac rehabilitation. Downing did an oral presentation over people of color’s identity in hip-hop music using Kendrick Lamar’s album, “Damn.” For both of these students, this wasn’t just research; it was a passion project.
“For me to be able to present this is to show people this is something I truly care about, this is something I believe in, and I want to share it with you,” Downing said. “This is something I’m sharing with you. This isn’t just mine, this is ours.”
Biology student and Honors Program senior Kinza Ashraf presented research over freshwater mussel conservation in Texas. She had been working on this research project since her sophomore year, and, after having to completely redo it due to unclear graph results, was able to present a poster over her results. “I had no idea what I was doing at the beginning, and now I can talk about it, and to me, that’s wild because I had no idea this even existed,” Ashraf said. “So if somebody else can get that experience out of it, I would be happy.”
Streufert was “completely thrilled” with the student participation in the Lyceum. Last year, the Lyceum had 98 presenters. This year, it hosted 158 research projects.
“We don’t want this just to be for honors,” Streufert said. “We want this to be for everybody.”
Streufert hopes the Lyceum will eventually cover the entire third floor of the University Center and continue to attract campus-wide research. In the future, Streufert wants to invite other regional schools like Stephen F. Austin and Tyler Junior College to participate as well.