Quest, SUNY Oswego’s annual celebration of scholarly and creative activities, will bring a day filled with learning on Wednesday, April 17, with presenters lined up to talk about their experiences, experiments, projects and more.

Daytime classes will be canceled for April 17, with students, faculty and staff encouraged to check out the variety of presentations, performances and posters and support participants running from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. An evening poster presentation on Tuesday, April 16, at SUNY Oswego’s Syracuse Campus, gets the ball rolling.

A highlight of April 17 activities is keynote speaker and SUNY Oswego alumnus Aunrée Houston, currently the vice president of project management and digital production operations at Paramount Global, from 1 to 2 p.m. in the Marano Campus Center auditorium. His presentation is titled “From 2000 to the AI-based Renaissance.” 

Houston said his presentation will be about artificial intelligence (AI) and its evolution.

“The presentation provides a walk-through of my career from 2000 to now, with a splash of my time at Oswego State,” Houston said. “We’ll also explore AI and some of its influence in marketing, psychology and content creation.”

With artificial intelligence continually evolving and becoming more common in the world, Houston said it's important for people to find ways to be a part of it.

Improving AI experience

“Specifically with AI, there are many opportunities for us to lean in and pour into it, whether that’s hydrating AI with data to exploring and researching how to better the AI experience,” Houston said. “I’m looking for the topic to spark engagement and conversations.”

Houston said that he is excited about AI’s influence on process automation.

“As a marketing and creative operations executive, most of my work is based in systems and how to do things faster and more efficiently,” Houston said. “I’m interested in what AI will bring to the table and the potential enhancements.”

There are many opportunities that artificial intelligence presents, both within technology and throughout other aspects of life.

“There’s an opportunity for AI to contribute to making a better, more diverse, more inclusive world, starting with the information ingested,” Houston said.

Houston also said that he wants to make AI more inclusive by feeding information about the black and black queer experience, and looks forward to introducing stories from different cultures.

“There is an opportunity to hydrate AI with different stories and experiences to diversify the data and ensure inclusion,” Houston said.

Houston said there are many other stories to hear about, and that stories within the black queer community are important.

“I think that there’s an opportunity to make sure that unique individual stories are baked into our search engines and databases, ensuring that users can source information that reflects their experiences, culture and identity. There are also many challenges and fears, which we will dive into as well,” Houston said.

Quest activities

Quest was first established in 1980, with 77 presentations occurring. In 1982, classes were canceled for Quest for the first time, allowing students to present their research and support their presenting colleagues.

Distinguished Service Professor of Chemistry Kestas Bendinskas, the director of Quest, is very excited about this event.

“There’s going to be an event at the library in which we will celebrate [the] achievements of faculty who publish papers and books, so they will be acknowledged for that work at that event,” Kestas said of the Display to Archives celebration that will begin at 8 a.m.

Bendinskas encouraged people to come to the poster sessions at the university’s Syracuse Campus from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on April 16.

“I really want everybody to come to poster sessions because that way they can see a variety of projects from a variety of fields,” Bendinskas said. “It’s great to visit oral presentations, but you can get the field only for one particular field that you’re attending. If you go to a poster event, then you get exposed to a variety of departments.”

Poster presentations on the main campus on Quest day are another annual highlight, running 2 to 3 p.m. in the Deborah F. Stanley Arena and Convocation Hall.

Bendinskas said that the types of breakout presentations people can expect vary in academic areas.

“There are panels, for example, for presentations of business students,” Bendinskas said. “For artists, there [is] studio work, and for musicians, there are performances. For many other fields, such as astronomy, physics or geological sciences, there are student talks and posters.”

Bendinskas looks forward to other visitors going to the Quest events.

“We invited high school counselors and their students to attend so that they can learn about [the] good work that Oswego students and faculty are doing,” Bendinskas said.

Amid all the opportunities to learn, Bendinskas also wants people to enjoy the events.

“Go for it, enjoy it, and collect great memories from it,” Bendinskas said. “I wanted to quote our keynote speaker right now, who said ‘Quest is legendary, a celebration of talent and innovation which I always admired.’ That’s a former student who’s right now a major figure in the field. It positively influenced his outlook, so hopefully you will get the same if you attend and participate.”

For more information and updates, visit the Quest website,

-- Written by Ryan Ravenell of the Class of 2024