The event gives Montana Western students, many of them nearing graduation, the opportunity to share their research, senior theses, and internship experiences with the Dillon community.
Some students, like Baleigh Doyle, shared their work in oral presentations. Her talk, “Modeling Shopping Mall Incidents with a Three-Month Moving Average,” focused on security incidents in shopping malls and what time of year they occur most frequently.
Other students displayed their work in posters which they stood beside to take questions and elaborate on in a session following the lectures.
The University of Montana Western focuses on experiential learning, giving students real-world experience in their chosen field, and the symposium was a great way to celebrate all the outstanding accomplishments these students have made during their time at the university.
Sierra Bignell was able to intern for hospitals in the Dominican Republic and assisted in the delivery of several babies.
Sarah Benjamin worked at an animal rehabilitation center in Canada helping pets receive aqua therapy, exercise, massage, and laser treatments. While there, she witnessed one dog regain feeling in a limb damaged in a car accident.
Biology Major Bowden Colt Godfrey interned on the Missouri River in Northeastern Montana, studying the critically endangered pallid sturgeon, helping gather data which will potentially help save the species from extinction.
The keynote speaker for the event was Biology Professor Ragan Callaway from the University of Montana. He concluded the festivities on Friday night with a presentation about invasive plant species.
His talk explored the question: “Do communities of organisms simply function as independent competing populations that happen to be mixed together, or do adaptation and evolution produce some degree of integration and interdependence among organisms?”
His research has been conducted for years and involves botanists from all over the world.
For each of the University of Montana Western student participants, the symposium served as a celebration and culmination of years of hard work, dedication, and service.