Student Research Takes Center Stage during Capstone

April 24, 2014

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The annual Capstone Festival — when high-achieving Mary Baldwin students present senior, honors, and special undergraduate projects — returns May 8, highlighting the quality and diversity of research, scholarship, and creative activities on campus.

A record number of 46 students will give multimedia presentations, deliver papers, and present posters, as nominated by their professors.

Though the topics of presentation are wide-ranging, some common themes are science, healthcare, and literature. Demonstrating the strength of Mary Baldwin’s science program are eight poster presentations, which examine issues including the removal of an endocrine-disrupting compound from waterways; the use of caffeine and ADHD medications among college students; gender bias in criminal sanctioning; low-cost fabrication of flexible memristors; and interactions between peptide molecules and DNA, as well as antimicrobial proteins and DNA.

The literary topics range from individual student analyses of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Mexican writer Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo, and As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner; to how effective marketing has made commercial successes of recent novels; and to representations of the Frankenstein story in film.

Students explore the state of healthcare, both nationally and internationally, by asking questions about the effect of healthcare professionals’ nonverbal communication upon patient anxiety; the quality of inpatient care among the elderly; improving children’s health through women’s education in Sub-Saharan Africa; the socio-economic impact of HIV/AIDS on Indian women; and the benefits of patient-centered medical homes.

History, studio art, criminal justice, economics, sociology, international relations, and politics are also well-represented among the Capstone presentations.

The tradition of Mary Baldwin’s Capstone Festival dates back to the 19th century, when all final examinations were held in public, and members of the Board of Trustees and townspeople attended. Today, Capstone underscores Mary Baldwin’s unique commitment to undergraduate research, which is required of each student, by showcasing the best efforts of the college’s top scholars.