Student Scientists Wow at Posterpalooza

By Jorja Rose '18

 Mary Roth '18 points to a graph displaying the results of her neurobiology experiment.

Mary Roth '18 points to a graph displaying the results of her neurobiology experiment.

Friday’s end-of-term science and math fest, Posterpalooza, was a resounding success.  As the smell of Ramunto’s pizza wafted through the halls of Dickinson, friends and teachers crowded around the many posters produced through this term’s projects and experiments.  Math and science students, and even some math and science dabblers, stood proudly before their displays, eager to explain their methods and findings to onlookers.  

Shana Crawford and Emma Salazar, who head up the discipline as the Math & Science SEPC representatives, gave their input on the occasion.

“I think it’s a really great time to see what everyone’s doing in science,” said Salazar.  “Sometimes we have students in science workshop, but this is really the time where everyone gets to share their work.”  

 Students, staff, and faculty crowd the Dickinson hallway.

Students, staff, and faculty crowd the Dickinson hallway.

Crawford noted that, although she has never participated in Posterpalooza, she has attended every single one during her time at Bennington.  “That’s a testimony,” she said.  “It’s so fun.  It’s such a party.”  

A party indeed.  The reading room tables were packed with pizza boxes and also some homemade treats -- notably, fresh bread from Tim Schroeder and John Bullock’s famous vindaloo.  David Norman’s ice cream, prepared in a vat of liquid nitrogen, would become a spectacle later in the afternoon.  But even this array of delicacies could not distract from what Dickinson’s community members were there to celebrate: the hands-on practice that typifies science at Bennington, and the astounding dedication of students and teachers to the scientific method.  

 Alexander Ging '19 presents his Geographic Information Response poster to Dr. Betsy Sherman.

Alexander Ging '19 presents his Geographic Information Response poster to Dr. Betsy Sherman.

“I like the society, the community of student scholars and faculty,” said Dr. Betsy Sherman, whose neuroscience class yielded an entire hallway of posters, most containing images of insect nervous systems.  “It’s kind of our version of a performance.  And I also like looking at the variety of questions that are engaging students.”  

Asked what makes a good poster, Sherman responded, “It’s different from a paper in that it’s got to grab someone visually.  The layout is important, and there needs to be as little text as possible.”  

 Mary Roth '18 shows off her poster, while Amanda Bacon, '19, stands by.  

Mary Roth '18 shows off her poster, while Amanda Bacon, '19, stands by.  

Some students emphasized Posterpalooza’s high stakes and the pressure to make a poster coherent enough to avoid scrutiny from teachers.  Dylan O’Hara, who’s participated in the event several times, put it this way: “It’s important to have Posterpalooza so that we can get beat up by professors.”  In agreement, Mary Roth, who was also presenting her umpteenth poster, added, “That seems to be the point.”  

Others commented on the power of Posterpalooza to initiate students into the scientific discipline.   “This is my first time presenting,” said Samantha Bell, whose poster deals with the psychological impacts of internet usage.  “I’m a Dickinson girl now.”  

 Dani Robbins '18 explains her poster to Olivia Judson, '17, while Chloe Amos, '17.5, munches on some pizza. 

Dani Robbins '18 explains her poster to Olivia Judson, '17, while Chloe Amos, '17.5, munches on some pizza. 

Biology veteran Olivia Judson, who graduated last spring and now works in Alumni Relations, dropped by her old haunts to take it all in.  She called Posterpalooza a “real life experience.”  “I think I gained the ability to present my work to a varied audience.  Now I’m on the other side, and it’s so great that students get to present to me.”

If you missed it, these posters will be on display in Dickinson until the end of term.