The class of 2023’s research SOARs during annual showcase

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Dr. Ann McKee, this year’s SOAR guest speaker, lectured on “The Inconvenient Truth About Football.” (Courtesy / Saint Anselm College)

James Maloney , Crier Staff

Members of the class of 2023 presented their research over the past year at the annual Showcasing Our Art and Research event, otherwise known as SOAR. 

Preceding the event was a presentation by the event’s distinguished speaker, Dr. Ann McKee. She is the Director of Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) Center.

Dr. McKee’s discussion, titled “The Inconvenient Truth about Football”, explored the neurological implications of repetitive head injury in not only football but included other sports and situations with a high susceptibility for head injury. Examples of this consisted of soccer, hokey, boxing, and military personnel. She specifically pointed out differences between a normal human brain and a brain with CTE. People with CTE experience changes in personality, mood, behavior, and many other symptoms. She used multiple examples and variations of the differing levels of trauma. The focus of her research serves to find a way to diagnose CTE as soon as possible. 

The event later transitioned to the poster session. The accumulation of a year’s work, and for some more, was showcased in poster format. From behavioral understandings to threshold data, the event was an extraordinary collection of Anselmian progress in the sciences. Dr. Adam Wenzel said, “I think that SOAR day, so to speak, and the distinguished speaker is my favorite part of the academic year”. 

Dr. Victoria Dabona specifically pointed out how this is a major point for students as they make their way into the real world. “With the students we have on campus and the way we teach here we allow students to hone in on the process of picking and choosing courses. There are no two students that take the same path which allows for so much creativity and ingenuity. This allows for an event like this to show such wide variations of studies and experience. While there is no perfect project, I would say each and everyone is so well developed. It’s amazing to see the wide scope that all the students do.” 

To seniors the experience was surreal. Elisha Langevin said, “It feels amazing to see all of your hard work come together and be able to share it in the community and it feels great”. 

Colleen Chen, a Neuroscience major, said, “I feel very at home. The asking of different questions, the acquisition of knowledge, the inquiry and curiosity. I’m ready to take on the world and I’m ready for my next research project.”

Victoria Chambers said, “Now that I’m here, I’m excited and proud to be presenting. When you’re doing a big research project it may not go the way you expect it too but whatever happens might be even more interesting than it would have been without those barriers”.  

The presentation on such long and labor intensive projects can be intimidating to say the least but students highlighted the positivity that came through that day. 

Hayden Rogers said, “A lot of people came here with an intent to learn and as a presenter that made my life a lot easier. I didn’t feel like I was trying to impress anybody, and I did my project justice”. 

Kelsey Sparuk said, “I was nervous at the start. As I went on, I got more confident and was able to fully tell my results. My research is still in the works and there are some other students who will continue it.”

With this being a major benchmark for Anselmians, some students are looking towards the future. Szymon (Shim) Frye said, “Getting your ideas out there is important. All projects and all research are never done, especially if it drives you and really motivates you, you should keep looking into it.”

Alannah Corcoran said, “I like seeing how all this work is changing and impacting the Saint Anselm community. I’m going to be handing off my research to two other students next year.”  Grace Martin said, “It feels good being able to present something that I’ve put so much time and effort into. I’m continuing my research by working with Professor Brady”. 

Chloe Scharffenberg commented, “I definitely have a sense of relief. I’m glad to have done this with my roommate beside me. For the future I’ll be working with the company that has been affiliated with my research. So, it all worked out in my favor”. 

With no two Anselmian journeys being the same, there is only one thing that is certain. The demonstration of academic excellence at SOAR Day showed how far these seniors will go as they continue to work in the sciences. 

SOAR attendees ask a presenter questions about a research poster. (Courtesy / @saintanselm)