Carnegie Mellon University
May 13, 2015

Meeting of the Minds Turns 20

Meeting of the Minds Turns 20

English Student Lauren Berry poses with her poster at Meeting of the MindsEnglish Student Lauren Berry poses with her poster at Meeting of the Minds

Thanksgiving break during her sophomore year at Carnegie Mellon, Abby Botnick sits in a movie theater with her younger sister. And she’s furious. She’s watching “Step Up Revolution,” a movie about a dance troupe that is protesting the commercialization of Miami by dancing on its buildings.

“I love the dancing, but I hate the acting and I hate the plot. It makes me so frustrated. I don’t understand why there isn’t a movie that just tells the plot through dance,” Botnick says to her sister.

“Well, then do it,” her sister replies.

Stephanie Wallach, assistant vice provost for undergraduate education, loves these moments. She has an entire system in place, in fact, for these very ideas. Her office offers grants and fellowships to keep CMU undergraduates moving forward in their research and bringing their ideas to life—allowing them to showcase their original work alongside many of their brightest and most creative peers at Meeting of the Minds, a university-wide research symposium.

This year’s May 6 finale marked the 20th anniversary of Meeting of the Minds, which has mushroomed from its initial 157 presenters in 1995 to more than 450 participants.

The Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences was well-represented at the event, with projects ranging from “#InstaCuba: Viewing Cuban Identity Through the Tourist Filter” to “Infants’ Understanding of Newton’s Third Law.”

“The breadth and quality of student work from Dietrich College continues to astonish me every year,” said Tim Haggerty, director of the Humanities Scholars Program who oversees judging for the Dietrich College Meeting of the Mind award categories. “Our students make discoveries and connections in their undergraduate careers and then have the opportunity to apply their insights in their own creative work, humanistic inquiry, or analysis in the social sciences.  Meeting of the Minds just exemplifies the university at its best.”

2015 Dietrich College Award Winners

Award for Artistic Excellence

Rene Cuenca (Humanities and Arts)
“Sustainability in Architecture: ‘Developing’ Solutions for the Developed World”

Kevin Karol (Computer Science and Arts)
“The Consultants”

Alexander Petti  (Science and Arts)
“Guts: A New Musical”

Veda Sun (Art)
“Mixing Genres; The New Landscape”

Crystal Yip (Art)
“The Princess Puppet Theater: Feast”

Dietrich Humanities Award

Laura Berry (English)
“Translucently, the Orange Sleeps Again”

Braden Kelner (English)
“What Keeps Us Going: An Exploration of Experiences at the East End Cooperative Ministry”

Rubini Naidu (Psychology)
“Examination of Cultural Diversity and Progression Through Photographs of Tamil Nadu, India”

Veda Sun (Art)
“The Princess Puppet Theater: Feast”

Jasmine Xie (English, Philosophy)
“Developing and Deconstructing Gender: Nonbinary Individuals and Their Search for Identity”

Psychology Department Competition

First Prize:
John Ra (Biology and Psychology)
“Volunteerism and Health in Older Adults”

Statistics Competition

Oral Presentations:

First Prize:                
Julian Zhou (Statistics)
“Identifying Schizophrenia Risk Genes and Sub-Networks Using Dawn Framework”

Second Prize:                
Joseph Pane (Statistics)
“Hitting the Wall: Mixture Models of Long Distance Running Trajectories”

Poster Presentations:

First Prize:                
Eric Alpert (Mathematical Sciences, Statistics) & Ronald Yurko (Statistics)
“Classifying Kepler Objects of Interest”

Second Prize:                
Elizabeth Chang (Statistics, English), Izaia Haynes (Statistics), Elissa Maercklein (Business Administration, Statistics), Henry Neale (Dietrich College Interdisciplinary, Business Administration), Tias Sen (Statistics)
“CMU Freshmen Meal Plan Satisfaction”

Third Prize:                
Stephanie Rifai (Statistics, Social & Decision Sciences)
“Self-Esteem, Brand Loyalty, and Consumer Willingness to Pay: An Examination of ‘Average Women’ Campaigning”

Undergraduate Economics Award

Brent Heard (Economics, Philosophy)
“An Econometric Estimation of Deadweight Loss in Pennsylvania’s Water Market”

Related Links
Meeting of the Minds
Carnegie Mellon Today Story on 20th Anniversary
Department of English Photos

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By: Jennie Dorris and Shilo Rea