William & Mary

Graduate researchers come together for 15th annual interdisciplinary symposium

  • Poster session:
    Poster session:  Students discuss research projects in the Sadler Center at the 15th annual Graduate Research Symposium.  Photo by Marisa Spyker
  • Poster session:
    Poster session:  Erin Schwartz, a William & Mary Ph.D student in anthropology, discusses her research on the architecture of Buffalo Forge's Mount Pleasant with fellow students.  Photo by Marisa Spyker
  • Poster session:
    Poster session:  A crowd gathers around to learn about one grad student's research project at the 15th annual Graduate Research Symposium.  Photo by Marisa Spyker
  • Poster session:
    Poster session:  Morgan Thompson, who's pursuing her M.A. in psychology at W&M, presents her research on incarcerated mothers.  Photo by Marisa Spyker
  • Promoting research:
    Promoting research:  Jenna Carlson Dietmeier is the chair of this year's Graduate Research Symposium and a Ph.D student in anthropology.  Photo by Marisa Spyker
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William & Mary’s annual Graduate Research Symposium celebrated its 15th year with gusto. More than 150 students from W&M and 16 visiting institutions, including Clemson and Boston University, presented their research at the March 18-19 event through oral presentations and poster sessions.

The symposium, held at the Sadler Center, draws graduate researchers from all 11 programs at W&M and encourages interaction among different disciplines. 

“What’s great about the symposium is that you can be very good at explaining your research at discipline-specific conferences, but this gives you a unique challenge to explain your research to those outside your field,” said Jenna Carlson Dietmeier, a Ph.D. student in anthropology and chair of this year’s Graduate Research Symposium. “As an attendee, it’s mind-blowing to see the breadth of topics presented each year.” 

The committee ensures that all students and attendees are exposed to different topics by grouping oral presentations thematically, rather than by discipline. The presentation “You Are What You Eat,” for example, encompassed research from grad students in psychology and American studies. 

In honor of its 15th year, the committee brought in a keynote speaker, creator of “PHD (Piled Higher and Deeper) Comics” Jorge Cham, on Thursday evening. It also, for the first time ever, named an overall top paper from all disciplines represented at the symposium, in addition to a number of other awards specific to the arts and sciences. 

“We saw this milestone as an opportunity to test new ideas we’ve been talking about for years, and it seems to have been a success,” said Dietmeier. “Hopefully we’ll be able to take these ideas, see what works, and continue making the symposium better each year.”  

List of Awards
The College of William & Mary Interdisciplinary Award for Excellence in Research

Understanding the genetic origins of breathing behavior in mammals
Andrew Kottick, Applied Science
Advisor: Christopher Del Negro 

Market Access International, Inc. Award for Excellence in Scholarship in the Humanities and Social Sciences

“Fond of Fine Linnen Cloth”: Cloth Fragments from a 19th-Century Hawaiian Community on Kaua’i Island, Hawai’i
Summer Moore, William & Mary, Anthropology
Advisor: Jennifer Kahn 

Northrop Grumman Corporation Award for Excellence in Scholarship in the Natural and Computational Sciences

Experimental Observation of the AC Zeeman Effect
Charles Fancher, William & Mary, Physics
Advisor: Seth Aubin 

William & Mary Awards for Excellence in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Renee M. Kingan, American Studies
Advisor: Hermine Pinson 

Nicole M. Penn, History
Advisor: Christopher Grasso 

William & Mary Honorable Mention

Janine Y. Boldt, American Studies
Advisor: Susan Webster 

William & Mary Award for Excellence in the Natural & Computational Sciences

Rony G. Kalfarisi, Physics
Advisor: Gina Hoatson 

William & Mary Honorable Mentions

Xin Wang, Physics
Advisor: Saskia Mordijck 

Shanhe Yi, Computer Science
Advisor: Qun Li 

Visiting Scholar Award for Excellence in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Anushree Vichare, Health Behavior and Policy, Virginia Commonwealth University
Advisor: Lindsay Sabik 

Visiting Scholar Honorable Mentions

Mandar Bodas, Health Behavior and Policy, Virginia Commonwealth University
Advisor: Tiffany Green 

Timothy Loh, Arab Studies, Georgetown University
Advisor: Sara Singha 

Visiting Scholar Award for Excellence in the Natural & Computational Sciences

Nicholas George, Applied Science, Virginia Commonwealth University
Advisor: Jeffrey Dupree 

Visiting Scholar Honorable Mention

Michael Anthony Carlo, Biology, Clemson University
Advisor: Michael Sears 

Carl J. Strikwerda Award for Excellence in the Humanities and Social Sciences (William & Mary)

Jeremy B. Abramowitz, Public Policy
Advisor: Sarah Stafford

Carl J. Strikwerda Awards for Excellence in the Natural and Computational Sciences (William & Mary)

Gerardo Ayala, Chemistry
Advisor: Robert Pike 

Ohad J. Paris, Biology
Advisor: Dan Cristol 

S. Laurie Sanderson Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Mentoring in the Humanities and Social Sciences (William & Mary)

Elizabeth A. Scholz, Anthropology
Advisor: Neil Norman 

S. Laurie Sanderson Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Mentoring in the Natural and Computational Sciences (William & Mary)

Cassandra E. Cook, Biology
Advisor: Randy Chambers 

Edmund J. Novak, Computer Science
PhD Advisor: Qun Li