Quest to feature centuries-long range of human inquiry

Just as student scientists from the “year 1543” will argue whether the Earth is at the center of the universe, Quest—SUNY Oswego’s annual daylong celebration of student and faculty scholarship and research—will be at the center of the campus universe on April 13.

Jeanette Wagner presenting poster session.Quest also will feature the award-winning director of the film “Fuel” as keynote speaker, a first-of-its-kind presentation on Native American heritage, a study of media bias in the last presidential election and many more feasts for the intellect, spanning the history of science, research around the globe and scores of scholarly student and faculty talks.

Quest actively encourages and celebrates student research, faculty oversight and, frequently, faculty-student partnerships, said Jack Gelfand, director of research administration and development.

“What Quest does is it creates a focus for all of our student research projects, to make them part of campus life,” Gelfand said. “That’s different from a lot of other colleges and universities. At other schools, certainly research universities, there may be many more student projects, but they tend to be individual projects that don’t contribute to the intellectual life of the institution as a whole. With Quest, everybody owns these efforts.”

Period debate

Among the confirmed features for 2011 Quest—with many more still in the works:

* A session on “The History of Science and Scientific Research” will include a period debate on whether the Earth is the center of the universe. Participants in costume will ponder the findings of Nicolas Copernicus in his book “On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres.” Using only the limited data available in 1543, four students in astrophysics classes will discuss whether or not it is reasonable to believe the sun stands still while the Earth revolves. Oswego Faculty Fellow Shashi Kanbur is among the organizers.

* Josh Tickell, whose film “Fuel” won the 2008 Sundance Festival’s Audience Award for Best Documentary, will make a presentation at 1 p.m. in the Campus Center auditorium, followed at 2 by a screening of the film, as part of a Sustainability Symposium to bridge Quest with the second annual Sustainability Fair, 4 to 8 p.m. in the Campus Center arena. Tickell, a Californian who operates the GreenPlanet3D production company with his wife, Rebecca Harrell Tickell, holds an undergraduate degree in sustainable living from the New College of Florida and an MFA in film from Florida State University.

* Stephanie Hallinan and Khrystyne Schinkel, students of Douglas Pippin, visiting assistant professor of anthropology, will discuss their study of a Loyalist settlement on Exuma in the Bahamas—an island nation Britain received in exchange for Florida after the 1783 Treaty of Versailles.

* Kanbur, with his wife, Cleane Medeiros, adjunct professor of biological sciences, will key a segment of faculty and student presentations on scientific research generated by SUNY Oswego’s collaboration with universities in Brazil, through the college’s Global Laboratory project and coursework/travel opportunities for students and faculty.

* Kevin White, assistant professor of Native American and American studies in the anthropology department, will lead a faculty-student effort to spotlight Native American heritage.

* Jennifer Knapp, assistant professor of communication, will lead six groups of students in presentations about the “soft” skills of organizational communication: teamwork, approachability, humor and emotional intellect, etiquette, networking and flexibility.

* Master of arts in teaching candidates will make presentations on Islamic, Celtic, Indian, Chinese and Aboriginal artwork.

* Students Kaline Mulvihill and Kaitlin Provost will present research they’re doing with Arvind Diddi, assistant professor in the journalism program, for a scholarly study titled “News Media Bias in the 2008 Presidential Race and Framing of the Iraq War Issue.” (View video.)

For more information, including a schedule and room assignments, check out or the Quest News page.

PHOTO CAPTION: Scholarship in action—Jeanette Wagner, then a SUNY Oswego geology senior explains her and Lindsay Williams’ research of landforms in the southeastern Adirondacks, during a past Quest poster session. This year’s Quest is April 13, celebrating the scholarship and research of faculty and students. For a schedule and room assignments, check out

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(Posted: Mar 18, 2011)

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