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Undergrads showcase semester projects in art and research

Published: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 10:56 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Doug Oleson – doleson@shawmedi)
Abby Jeppson, Rita Shadle, and Molly Lamansky of NIU Deaf Pride pose outside the Glass Gallery of the Holmes Student Center on Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day.

DeKALB – What factors motivate a state to reduce its nuclear weaponry?

Jeanna Ballard was surprised by the answers when researching the project, “Unwanted Attention: The Determinants of Nuclear Reversal,” she submitted for Northern Illinois University’s fifth annual Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day April 22. The Gilberts native, a political science senior, was one of 300 NIU undergraduates who worked on 196 projects in such subjects as business, technology, visual arts and liberal arts.

What probably surprised Ballard the most in her year-long research, she said, was finding that several countries are more concerned with how the world perceives them than with their own security. She doesn’t understand why a country would give up something that took so much time and expense to develop.

“It doesn’t make sense to me,” she said.

Stephanie Zobac, assistant director of the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning at NIU, said the purpose of the event was to showcase the research undergraduates have been working on during the school year.

“It’s good for personal and professional reasons,” she said.

First-place finishers received $200; second, $150; third, $100; honorable mention, $50; and people’s choice, $50. More than 80 NIU professors judged the entries.

Ballard’s adviser, Robert Brathwaite, said she did an excellent job and called her one of the finest students he’s ever had.

An expert in international relations, Brathwaite said he lets students choose a subject that interests them and helps them develop it.

At the same time as the research and artistry showcase in the Duke Ellington Ballroom, the first Community Engagement Showcase was held in the nearby Glass Gallery Lounge. Although it wasn’t judged, Zobac said the showcase was a way to recognize student services to the community.

DeKalb junior Molly Lamansky, for instance, is treasurer of NIU Deaf Pride, part of the Disability Resource Center, which teaches sign language to teachers at Little Friends in Naperville.

“It’s a fun language to learn,” she said.

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