Creative Inquiry and Honors Day Posted on September 1st, 2009 by

Gustavus student Josh Knutson presents his research at the Celebration of Creative Inquiry. (Photo by Tom Roster)

Gustavus student Josh Knutson presents his research at the Celebration of Creative Inquiry. (Photo by Tom Roster)

By Maren Balk ’09

Discovering the unknown and questioning established theories are part of life on a college campus.

As each academic year draws to close, Gustavus celebrates the learning and discovery that has occurred. Presentations and awards honoring student excellence are part of the annual springtime Creative Inquiry and Honors Day celebrations, held May 1 and 2, 2009.

These two events highlight the diverse ways in which students are exposed to research as part of the liberal arts experience at Gustavus.
Students’ dedication to their learning shines on these two days.

The more than 100 research and creative projects presented during the two-hour Celebration of Creative Inquiry vary in disciplines and largely emerge from classroom or lab work. Some of the 2009 presentations were:

  • The Impact of Text Messaging on Relationships by Becky Carlson, Kate Nelson, and Megan Taylor (Psychology)
  • Credit Availability: Key to Fighting Recession by Ignacio Belmonte (Economics and Management)
  • Development of Heart-cutting 3-Dimensional High Performance Liquid Chromatography for the Analysis of Trisclosan in Surface Waters by Jeremy Bedard (Chemistry)
  • Expanded Student Recycling Program by Matthew Wasson (Communication Studies)
  • Settling the Chaotic Classroom by Nikki Rusinko and Jenna Zimmer (Education)
  • Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria by Samantha Broderius, Carrie Johnson, and William Schultze (Health and Exercise Science)
  • Comparing anxiety aspects between junior and senior nursing students by Rachel Ogilvie and Christine Reimer (Nursing)
  • A Binding Culture by Rhea Muchalla (Philosophy)
  • What Makes An Action Political? A Case Study of Consciousness-Raising by Laura Danielson (Political Science)

The student presentations were chosen for presentation based on the following criteria:

  • Asks a question that has not been asked before;
  • Attempts to fill a gap in knowledge, information, or art;
  • Provides new ideas or imagination;
  • Offers students independent choices; and
  • Includes a substantial component of critical reflection.

The next day, Honors Day, annually recognizes many accomplished students. The highlight of the day was the Honors Convocation, during which students received congratulations on their excellence through various awards and inductions. At the convocation, inductees into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic honors society, were announced along with the Guild of St. Ansgar, named in honor of the first Christian missionary to Scandinavia. Also, 15 junior women were named to the Guild of St. Lucia, which honors junior women who have achieved academic, leadership, and service excellence.

Bestowing honors continued with three awards given annually to faculty and staff members. Virgil Jones, of the diversity center, received the Theodore E. Conrad Faculty/Staff Achievement Award, which alternates between faculty and staff each year. Martin Lang, assistant professor of communication studies and a 1995 Gustavus graduate, was presented with the 2009 Swensen and Bunn Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence. The Gustavus Faculty Scholarly Accomplishment Award was presented to two faculty members, Eric Carlson, professor of history, and Barbara Fister, librarian.

There was also an Honors Day Recital that featured four outstanding instrumentalists and vocalists, chosen through a special audition. Erik Mahon, trumpet, Karly Slivik, vocalist, Mark Wamma, violin, and Hannah Wunsch, vocalist, represented excellence in musical study and performance in the Honors Day Recital.

Also recognized were various student organizations and events that represent excellence in service, community, awareness, and action on campus. All of these awards recognized academic, extra-curricular, and leadership


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