By Aedan Perry & Henry Fisher | May 1, 2023
The University at Albany held its first Showcase Day this past Thursday, April 27. Over 1,500 students participated in the event, presenting over 900 research works and various performances taking place throughout the day, according to UAlbany's website. Students were encouraged to attend, and were given the day off classes to do so.
Lecture Center Concourse during UAlbany’s Showcase Day.
Photo Credit: Aedan Perry / the ASP
The Lecture Center Concourse served as a major hub for the entire event, and featured over 250 posters on display. The display was broken into four sessions, each lasting two hours and, together, lasting the entire duration of the event. After the showcase neared its end, the concourse also hosted a closing ceremony.
In addition to the poster display on the main concourse, many of the lecture halls, as well as the libraries and other academic buildings featured panels and conferences. One such event was the English department’s Undergraduate Research & Writing Conference, which took place in LC 3B. Each panel had a different mix of works, though each one had a general topic area.
“Dramatic Dislocations: Gender, Sexuality, & Class” panel, featuring (from left to right) Logan Carey, Aung Min Khant Thu, Michaela Adam, and Grace Wright. Furthest to the right was the faculty moderator, Eric Keenaghan.
Photo Credit: Henry Fisher / the ASP
Panel five, for example, was focused on “Dramatic Dislocations: Gender, Sexuality, & Class,” and featured an honors thesis by Logan Carey, two papers from Writing & Critical Inquiry by Aung Min Khant Thu and Michaela Adam, as well as a paper from Critical Approaches to
Gender & Sexuality in Literature by Grace Wright.
Other panel topics included, but were not limited to, “Unhealthy Stakes in Poetry, Fiction, and Visual Culture” in panel four, “On Being American: Types, Images, Identities” in panel six, and “Past, Present, and Futuristic Mediations” in panel seven. Media analysis and discussion ranged from books, poems and personal narratives to movies, TV shows, and musicals.
This was not the English department’s first foray into such a showcase event, as the department holds its own annual undergraduate conference.
“The English department has had an undergraduate conference for about eight years,” Professor Richard Barney said in an interview with the ASP. “I’ve been running them ever since I became honors director, as part of my job.”
The 2023 Undergraduate Research & Writing Conference was the fourth event organized by Professor Barney, with a brief “blip” in the event’s presence during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Every year, I have much the same feeling. When it’s done, I’m tired, but [I get] just a sense of being genuinely impressed at what our undergraduates do in the English major. The quality of what they do, the quality of the presentation – and not just the ideas – the creativity, it all just shines. We’ve all had this moment to be together, to really experience just how good it was. Even though we’re getting fatigued toward the end of the semester, we really do get to feel good about what we’ve been able to do,” Barney said.
Showcase Day not only celebrated scholastic achievement, but performing arts as well, as the Performing Arts Center was open for performances by several ensembles and individuals throughout the day, and the UAlbany Spirit Band gave the last musical performance of the day above the lecture center.
UAlbany hosted the event, but they weren’t alone in participating. In addition to participants from various UAlbany colleges, the event also featured contributions from the College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering (CNSE), which is part of the SUNY Polytechnic Institute across the street – though CNSE is slated to soon merge with UAlbany.
Aside from being a celebration, parts of the event served as a competition. 16 winners of the School of Public Health’s poster contest were rewarded with scholarships that, combined, totaled $3,000. In addition, there were further departmental awards, alongside people’s choice awards voted on by attendees, where the winners are yet to be announced.
The halls and presentation venues were packed with students and community members, and people took advantage of a day off of classes to support their fellow students.