College hosts Undergraduate Research Symposium

College hosts Undergraduate Research Symposium

April 14, 2016

Maryville College will highlight and celebrate student scholarship in its first-ever Undergraduate Research Symposium scheduled for Fri., April 22.

From 2 until 4 p.m., more than 35 students from all eight academic divisions will present original research, case studies and creative projects in various locations on the campus.

The public is invited to attend.

A complete listing of participating students, their presentation titles and locations is available on the College's website, but a sampling of titles includes “9/11, A Biography,” “The Economics of Immigration,” “Conveen: Crowdsourced Event Mapping,” “Production of phenolic compounds by brettanomyces during fermentation,” “American Typographic History Set in Motion” and “Bilinguals and Monolinguals: Attentional Blink and Working Memory Dual Task Effect.”

Requirement since 1947

“Undergraduate research has been a distinctive feature of the MC curriculum since 1947, when we added to graduation requirements a two-semester, faculty-supervised independent study,” explained Dr. Barbara Wells, vice president and academic dean. “Although the name for it has changed over the years — Special Studies, Independent Study, Senior Thesis, Senior Study — the required project is a common experience binding alumni whose graduations span almost 70 years.”

With the Senior Study requirement, a student chooses a topic related to his or her major, usually in the junior year. Supervised by a Maryville College faculty member, the study can take the form of literary, scientific or historical investigation; laboratory, studio or field work; an interpretive effort; or a creative activity. The study carries a total of six credit hours.

According to the College’s current catalog, “the Senior Study requirement allows the student to exercise bold initiative and design, plan and complete a substantial piece of work, while gaining the confidence and pride that comes from accomplishment.”

Graduates find it worthwhile

Wells admitted that, initially, some students are intimidated by the requirement.

“But what we know is that graduates, looking back, consider it to be one of their most valuable experiences at the College,” she added. “In a recent survey of young alumni, more than 82 percent reported that completing independent research at the College was a ‘very important’ or ‘important’ factor in their career success.”

In addition to Senior Studies, presentations of scholarly work completed by sophomores and juniors in collaboration with faculty and fellow classmates will be included in the April 22 symposium.

By hosting the event, Maryville College joins other college and university members of the Council on Undergraduate Research in promoting the importance of “high-quality undergraduate student-faculty collaborative research and scholarship” throughout the month of April.

Outdoor classroom dedicated

At 4:30 p.m., college administrators and faculty will dedicate the outdoor classroom behind Sutton Science Center in honor of Andrew Taylor O’Neil, a member of the Class of 2013 who died in 2014.

Constructed in June 2015 during the College’s annual Kin Takahashi Week, the classroom has a covered blackboard on the lowest of three graveled tiers, each bearing picnic tables.

According to Barbara O’Neil, Andrew’s mother, the classroom pays tribute to two of her son’s passions: the outdoors and teaching. Andrew, who majored in biology at the College and continued his education at Clemson University, had plans to teach science.


Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the Fall 2017 semester is 1,181.