Students Present Original Research at 23rd Annual Benedictine College Discovery Day

Students Present Original Research at 23rd Annual Benedictine College Discovery Day

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Benedictine College students presented the results of their original research on more than 80 topics at the school’s 23rd annual Discovery Day on Wednesday, April 11. Each year, the college cancels classes to allow for a day of extra-curricular learning as hundreds of students give presentations on subjects including music, engineering, economics, history, theology, biology, chemistry, theater, language, dance, sociology, psychology, computer programming and philosophy.

Dr. Michael Dolski with Benedictine FacultyIn addition to student academic presentations, the day included a keynote address from Dr. Michael Dolski, a historian with the Department of Defense, POW/MIA Accounting Agency. His job is to help locate, recover, identify and repatriate the remains of U.S. military personnel who have fallen from World War II to the present. He said there are currently 82,368 unresolved cases. These are people who are listed as missing in action, killed in action and body not recovered, or prisoner of war and not returned.

“In some cases, these losses happened decades ago, but for the families, the pain has not ceased,” he said. “This can be a very emotional process.”

“What makes the POW/MIA Accounting Agency interesting for Discovery Day is that their work is cross-disciplined,” said Dr. Julia Bowen, Discovery Program co-chair and professor in the Benedictine College English Department. “It is historians and scientists working independently and then coming together to compare their findings.”

Dolski mentioned the collaborative approach versus the unilateral approach to research and tied it directly to Discovery Day.

“What we’ve done these last few years is fundamentally restructure our approach to research,” he said. “Our projects are very collaborative and really benefit from the different expertise of individuals who are focused on these projects. Benedictine College’s Discovery Program prepares students for lifelong learning by engaging them in interdisciplinary Discovery Projects, and I think that really forms the core of our mission. I work alongside odontologists, anthropologist, archeologists, strategic planners, public affairs officers, military personnel, gravediggers and DNA analysts. We rely heavily on the multidisciplinary collaborative approach.”

He told the gathered students that workplace professionalism today demands an open mind, team identity and willingness to work towards common goals; all skills enhanced through Benedictine College’s Discovery Program.

For this year’s Discovery Day, nearly 200 students collaborated with 22 academic departments and more than 50 faculty members on research outside of the regular classroom curriculum. The 82 projects included studies of plant and animal life in the area, an experiment to test the effect of classroom pets on the socio-emotional development of pre-K students, a look at the collection of Japanese prints at Mount St. Scholastica Monastery, an economic study of a new movie theater in Atchison, a demonstration of the artistic possibilities of sand casting techniques, a look at tribal division within the Cherokee Nation, a demonstration of a vortex chiller tube, a study of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Hatshepsut, the recreation of a Civil War era ball, and much, much more.

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas.  The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide.  It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.