Research News

Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Science Day 2012

Undergraduate student Sarah Hart presents her research to Aaron Bowman
Undergraduate student Sarah Hart presents her research to Aaron Bowman and others at VKC Science Day 2012. (Anne Rayner/Vanderbilt University)

Undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows on the cusp of research careers in developmental disabilities got a chance to shine Feb. 28 during the annual Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Science Day.

A record 123 of them presented research posters on topics ranging from molecular neuroscience to language acquisition. Ten winners each received a $250 cash prize and certificate.

“I was really impressed by the caliber of work coming from students — especially the undergraduates,” said Courtney Wright, a graduate student in special education whose poster on expressive language development in toddlers with Down syndrome was an award winner.

“The passion that everyone felt for their area of work was contagious. I left feeling very inspired,” she said.

“The energy at Science Day was striking,” added Amanda Miller, a postdoctoral fellow whose poster on vocabulary skills in children with reading disability also won an award. “Participants were eager to learn, share, and collaborate.”

In remarks that opened the day-long event at the Student Life Center, Vanderbilt Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Richard McCarty urged students to “invest your talents in the developmental disabilities field. It’s desperately needed.”

Before the poster sessions began, Nilanjan Sarkar, professor of Mechanical and Computer Engineering, and Zachary Warren, director of the Kennedy Center’s Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD), described the potential role for “social” robots in diagnosing and treating autism.

At the end of the day, Kennedy Center director Elisabeth Dykens returned to the theme of commitment and innovation. “Grit, passion, curiosity and drive” – those are the qualities that distinguish successful students and investigators alike, she said.

Learn more about Science Day.

For more information, contact Jan Rosemergy at (615) 322-8238.