April 23, 2020 : By Jacob Couch - Liberty University News Service
Liberty University’s annual Research Week, held April 13-17, moved to a virtual format for the first time due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions.
While some Virginia colleges decided to cancel their annual research symposiums altogether and some simplified their events by just having students submit their work, staff at Liberty’s Center for Research & Scholarship wanted to provide a full experience and follow through with presenting awards.
“We were able to convert our week to a digital format and keep it as a competitive event, where all presentations were judged by faculty and awards were given out,” said Darren Wu, associate director for the center. “We wanted to support our students and give them a chance to present their hard work.”
Wu said the decision was made with input from the students. When all Liberty classes were moved online in compliance with state COVID-19 laws, the center created an online poll to gauge students’ level of interest in carrying on with the event virtually — and an overwhelming majority of students requested it.
“Research Week 2020 was a tremendous success due to the growing interest of our student body in research, scholarship, and creative activity,” Wu said. “We had a total of 160 presentations (videos and other media) submitted by graduate and undergraduate students representing 12 different schools and colleges and 65 different majors/programs this year.”
Wu said that every category was well represented by both undergraduate and graduate students: Poster, Oral, Juried Arts, Three-Minute Thesis, and Performing Arts.
Students submitted their work online and it was judged by 50 faculty judge volunteers (see list of first-place winners below). Wu has been working with the Jerry Falwell Library to post videos of the presentations, with the students’ permission, to the Scholars Crossing site, the university’s institutional repository.
“We are grateful for the support of our volunteer faculty judges, including several senior academic leaders, which demonstrates the institutions’ commitment to investing in our students and their academic achievements,” Wu said.
Due to this year’s outstanding participation, in spite of students being scattered due to COVID-19 concerns, he said that next year’s event will likely be even larger.
“We anticipate expanding Research Week 2021 based on being able to offer this fully digital venue this year,” Wu said. “For example, students in Liberty University Online Programs have always been able to participate in the oral presentation category, but we will likely open up poster presentations to online students based on our learning experience this year.”
Wu is grateful that Liberty’s administration has remained steadfast throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in helping students continue to pursue academic excellence.
“Liberty University is a great Christian institution capable of adjusting to challenges quickly in order to continue encouraging our students to excel in their academics.”
(View the full list of winners)