Nine MCLA Students Attend the 2019 COPLAC Conference at Keene State College


NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — Nine Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) students had the opportunity to present scholarly and creative work at the 2019 Northeast Regional Undergraduate Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity (URSCA) Conference of COPLAC, the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges. The students traveled to Keene State College on Friday, Nov. 8 and Saturday, Nov. 9 with MCLA professors Dr. Jenna Grace Sciuto, associate professor of English and chair of undergraduate research, and Dr. Anna Jaysane-Darr, assistant professor of anthropology and associate chair of undergraduate research.

“This conference offers our students a venue to showcase their brilliant work beyond the MCLA community, and provides them with a unique opportunity to network with students and faculty members from other regional COPLAC institutions,” said Sciuto.

Each year, the College’s Undergraduate Research Program sponsors the attendance of MCLA students at the conference. The trip gives them an opportunity to discuss their work with their peers and faculty members from other institutions. This year, Keene State College participated and hosted six other COPLAC schools.

MCLA students participated in a wide range of study areas, including literary criticism and creative writing, art, biology, physics, and sociology.

Emery Bibbins, a studio art major, exhibited “Emissary of the Void,” the first issue in a series of comics tackling recovery and living with mental illness, and Eleanor von Huene exhibited “Computer, 2019,” an examination of how people, namely members of generation Z, interact, relax, and engage with each other.

Physics/education double major Christopher Gamble presented a poster on “Characterization of the Muon through Application of Python Data Analysis.” Biology student Paige Williams gave an oral presentation on “Cardiovascular Response to Moderate Exercise in Exercisers and Non-Exercisers.” 

English majors Don’Jea Smith, Jacob Valenti, and Allison O'Keefe each presented a series of poems, “Here,” “Sonnets of the Body,” and “Nuclear Kitchens,” respectively.

Iris McPherson, a senior majoring in sociology, presented her work “Cultural Negotiation of Natural Disasters and Colonial Consequences in Hawai'i.” English/arts management double major Destiny Rivera tackled “Colorism in ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’ and the Present Day.”

Sciuto said most of the students who attended the conference had previously presented at the Undergraduate Research Conference at MCLA, but that it is not a prerequisite. Any MCLA student who is interested in presenting can submit an abstract for next year’s conference to the Undergraduate Research Program.