Michael Kleeman speaks during a panel at the opening session of the research symposium.
Michael Kleeman speaks during a panel at the Research Symposium. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Research Symposium brings people, information together

Apr 4, 2022
Alyson Shields

Students, faculty and guests joined together for Brenau University’s annual Research Symposium on Friday, March 25, to present, share and engage in varying types of research. The event, held in a hybrid format at the Brenau Downtown Center and via Zoom, included about 60 presentations.

“We’re trying to create this experience where the students are going to know what they’re getting into when they start going out and spreading the Brenau wealth around,” Research and Instruction Librarian Micki Waldrop said. “When they come here, they get to present oral presentations, they can do posters, and we do have some presentations of other types, like dance or theatrical movement.”

Waldrop said students and faculty benefit from getting to share research at the symposium. 

“It serves as a way to work with our students so they get the feel of what it’s like to collaborate with faculty on this kind of high-level research,” she said. “The faculty get to present the subjects they have been working on as well, and sometimes it serves as a way to workshop an idea.”

Madison Freeman presents her research on ecological thought in art.
Madison Freeman presents her research on ecological thought in art.

Madison Freeman, a senior with a double major in dance and English, presented her research on ecological thought in art, specifically dance, titled The Ecocritical Artist: Inspiring Interconnectivity Through Dance. The topic also reflected her senior thesis project for dance.

Freeman previously presented at the symposium during her freshman and junior years.

“All three years I’ve participated, it’s definitely helped me to become more comfortable with speaking and presenting research,” she said. “And it’s also pushed me to delve further into topics that I’m learning in classes or outside of classes, and pursue new fields of interest to gather research.”

The symposium was open to all types of research, including arts like dance, theater and fashion; media and entertainment; history; and psychology and other sciences. 

Michael Kleeman, associate professor of interior design, gave a presentation titled Atlanta’s ‘White City’ – The Impact of the World’s Columbian Exposition on Atlanta’s Urban Core about how Atlanta developed at the turn of the 20th century and how early tall building development influenced this. He appreciated that he could share architectural history with the Brenau community. 

“It’s always good for colleagues to know where you are and where your wheelhouse is, because you don’t know where unexpected partnerships might come from,” Kleeman said.

A poster presentation at the Research Symposium.
A poster presentation at the Research Symposium. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Valerie Trull, project director and adjunct professor at the University of Alabama School of Social Work, has worked as a researcher in several areas including criminal justice and human trafficking. She said she took part in Brenau’s symposium to encourage students to engage in research early in their academic careers.

“It’s really important for everyone to understand the value of research, and many undergraduate students don’t know they can actually get involved in research,” Trull said. “So, any chance to help by sharing my experience is a great opportunity.”

The symposium ended Friday afternoon with an awards ceremony at which the following were recognized:

  • Undergraduate: Taylor Love, Comparison of Usage and Success for Common Examples of Media Manipulation; and Madison Freeman, The Ecocritical Artist: Inspiring Interconnectivity Through Dance.
  • Graduate: Kaleigh Camp, Brieanna Hill, Krista Smith and Jorge Lopez, Examining Working Memory Functioning Using Electroencephalograms in Young Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; and Samuel Nelson, Josie Rabbitt, Sarah Dundas and Anita Aghadiuno Amene, Risk Factors of Depression in Mothers of Young Children.