The Ramaley Research Celebration sees 15th year

Gabriel Hathaway, features reporter

The Ramaley Research Celebration commemorated its 15th anniversary virtually last week. Named after Winona State University’s 14th president, Judith Ramaley, the event reflects Ramaley’s ardent support for undergraduate research.

Prior to the virtual event, a number of Winona State leaders commented on the Ramaley Research Celebration in pre-recorded video messages. One of which was Winona State President, Dr. Scott Olson, who welcomed and thanked participants of the Ramaley Research Celebration in a short video.

“Research is so important to the life of a university, it’s really right at the heart of what universities do,” Olson said. “And it’s part of the heart of what Winona State does because as you know part of our mission, part of our motto, is improving our world, and that is done through the seeking out and acquisition of new knowledge through research and scholarship.”

Thomas Nalli is a professor in the chemistry department and has been a chair on the Ramaley Research Celebration planning committee for 10 years. Nalli commented how the Ramaley Research Celebration is open to undergraduate research from all departments.

“Our definition of research includes creative projects in the arts. We use the Council of Undergraduate Research’s definition of research, and so that’s not just science or social science. That also includes scholarly projects, visual arts, performing arts or English composition. We invite that as well,” Nalli said.

This year the Ramaley Research Celebration commemorated research from 12 different departments at Winona State. Research ranged from various different sciences, to psychology, computer science, English and more.

Himanshu Bhushan is a second-year student and computer science major at Winona State. Bhushan along with assistance from Dr. Ming Ma, a faculty mentor for the event, researched a technique for automatic polyp detection using deep learning to help prevent gastric cancer.

Bhushan, using a total of 758 images of polyps, tested the automatic detection system. 606 images were used as training for the system, and the remaining 152 were used to test the system’s accuracy. The automatic detection system is 85-95 percent accurate according to Bhushan, but in the future he looks to improve that.

“I think it [Ramaley Research Celebration] is a good event. It encourages people to do research, and I would love to keep doing research and hopefully get it published,” Bhushan said.

Another participant at the Ramaley Research Celebration was fourth-year student Molly Hedrich. Hedrich is the president of the Psychology Club and she researched COVID-19’s effects on people and how a person’s resilience and positive affect can help them counteract those negative effects. Hedrich defined resilience as ‘the ability to recover from or adjust to misfortune or traumatic emotional experiences.’

“We are experiencing depression and anxiety at very high alarming rates right now, but two key elements or factors that can be used as a barrier to protect ourselves against these symptoms are resilience and positive affect, which is simply feeling positive or feeling happy,” Hedrich said.

Hedrich found that COVID created a great opportunity for her to conduct psychological research. Interested in resilience, Hedrich surveyed 121 college women on how COVID has affected them and how resiliency could help. Hedrich commented a few ways people could foster resilience and positive affect.

“One thing I think we could do is, educate people what resilience is and how it can be learned,” Hedrich said. “A second thing is cognitive reappraisal, that is defined as just thinking of a situation differently. Finally, just being intentional with our days.”

Hedrich brought up how the Ramaley Research Celebration helped her.

“One of the biggest challenges I’ve always had is just public speaking and being able to educate people, so this [Ramaley Research Celebration] really helped me learn to make those connections and advocate for my research and myself,” Hedrich said.

Nalli commented how the Ramaley Research Celebration will most likely be back in person next spring.