Undeterred by the move to remote education, Kean Research Days proceeded as scheduled, going live online April 28. In lieu of in-person festivities, a special guest speaker, the faculty research mentor and undergraduate researcher of the year, awards for event design, extensive poster and oral presentations and further information were each honored and detailed through a new page on the Kean University website.
Provost and Vice President for Research and Faculty Jeffrey H. Toney, Ph.D, introduced Research Days as a resounding statement of the university's commitment to research and disciplined study, noting that attendance has soared "from 90 students in 2009 to over 1,700 students this year." His words echo encouragement for students and the whole community moving forward, both through unprecedented crisis and through their lives as scholars and individuals: "Do not be derailed. Do not be afraid. You are equipped for the challenges ahead and I am confident that you will help lead the way."
Kean alum David Garcia (2014), working on a Ph.D in chemistry at Brown University following undergraduate degrees in chemistry and biology at Kean, was 2020's special guest speaker - and for good reason. Already an accomplished researcher through programs at Johns Hopkins and Brown as well as a fellowship recipient through the National Institutes of Health, Garcia is also a motivational speaker. His willpower and philosophy of self-discipline in the face of any challenge, including Moebius Syndrome, a unique neurological condition, is riveting and inspiring. In a video addressing Research Days viewers, Garcia offered some background on research experience and the opportunities culled from hard work at Kean and beyond; then, a challenge based on what he's overcome: Tell Me, What's Your Excuse? The message to the Kean research community, and Kean at large, at least in part: don't make excuses. There are opportunities knocking if you have the grip.
Associate professor with the Robert Busch School of Design, Michael Graves College Edward Johnston, MFA, M.Ed was honored as the Faculty Research Mentor of the Year for contributions to, among other things, the award-winning 360-VR experimental film project "Liberty Hall 360: Revolutionary Wedding" and a vast series of mentorship and collaboration in design. Senior honors history major Nicole Skalenko was presented the Undergraduate Research Award, recognition of an impressive wealth of research that has reached the historical community through conferences and publications.
Alysia Kane, a senior graphic design major (with a specialty in Interactive Print and Screen and a minor in art history), won the Research Days 2020 Cover Contest.
Faculty Presentations, including collaborations with students, followed. In videos outlining their research (with accompanied premises on the webpage for curious viewers), research teams in design, science, math and technology, psychology, management and marketing and other areas of expertise presented work with the same thorough hand one might expect from Research Days conducted in person.
Student presentations were subdivided into poster-based and oral presentations. Poster presentations were uploaded onto their own page with exceptional resolution, every detail of every study plain organized by school of study. In Kean fashion, there are hundreds: the collection of student research offerings as impressive as ever, in spite of the unforeseen circumstances.
Another testimony to the Kean research community's unyielding work ethic is the publication of dozens of oral presentations, which, subdivided into schools of study through the Research Days site, were offered through videos on YouTube (and gathered into separate playlists by area). These videos featured audio-visual presentations of studies alongside speakers, not dissimilar from in-person presentations.
On April 22, Wenzhou-Kean University had hosted its own Research Days event via live-stream. Over 1200 attended - an indication that the spirit of Kean's Research Days is shared by dedicated students and staff globally.
The enduring popularity and growth of the Research Days event, despite the challenge of the shift to remote education during the spring semester, reiterates the message to the community offered by the Provost's introduction: no crisis, big or small, in the present or the future, can interfere with the Kean community's determination to become forces for change in the classroom and the world.