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32nd Annual Robyn Rafferty Mathias Student Research Conference

Mathias Student Research Conference Save the Date: Saturday, March 19, 2022

The College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) is pleased to announce the 32nd Anniversary of the Annual Robyn Rafferty Mathias Student Research Conference, a forum for CAS students to present original scholarly and creative works before colleagues, faculty, and friends, will take place at the Katzen Arts Center on March 19, 2022.

This event is sponsored in part by a generous grant from AU trustee and alumna Robyn Rafferty Mathias as well as by the NASA District of Columbia Space Grant Consortium.

2021 Award Winners

Undergraduate Humanities Workshop: Isaiah Washington

Sophomore, Literature
Our Black Ophelias and Poseidons: Identifying an Aquatic Sovereign State for the Black Community in Film
Advisor: Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Graduate Humanities Workshop: Taylor Morris

MA: Art History
Confronting the Woman Question: Käthe Kollwitz’s Nieder mit den Abtreibung-Paragraphen (Down with the Abortion Paragraphs), the KPD, and the Abortion Debate in Weimar Germany
Advisor: Juliet Bellow

Undergraduate Social Sciences Workshop: Alena Quinn

Senior, Psychology
Facial Processing in Pediatric Social Anxiety Disorder: Exploring Neural Responses across Differing Negative Emotions
Advisor: Laurie Bayet

Graduate Social Sciences Workshop: Katherine Casey

PhD: Behavior Cognition and Neuroscience
Neonatal Imitation of Caregivers at Home: A Feasibility Pilot
Advisor: Laurie Bayet

Undergraduate Sciences Workshop:
Archibald Latham & Lexie Rista

Sophomore, Computer Science, and Junior, Computer Science
Using Machine Learning to Uncover the Hidden Information in Images
Advisor: Leah Ding

Graduate Sciences Workshop: Huong Doan

MS: Data Science
Evaluating Data Poisoning Attack on Machine Learning Models
Advisor: Leah Ding

Undergraduate Humanities Final Work: Dominique Dempsey

Senior, International Relations and Dance
Dancing Through Colorism: Finding Empowerment through Movement
Advisor: Britta J. Peterson

Graduate Humanities Final Work: Keira McCarthy

MA: Art History
Deceptively Traditional: The Illusory Radicalism of the Cyborg in Contemporary East Asian Media
Advisor: Ying-chen Peng

Undergraduate Social Sciences Final Work: Coura Fall

Junior, Political Science and International Studies
Images of Integration: The Clash of Black Bodies with White Spaces
Advisor: Celine-Marie Pascale

Graduate Social Sciences Final Work:
Daniel Jenks, Jessica Chaikof, Stevon Felton, Isabella Goris

MA: Sociology Research and Practice
Trauma Exposure and Mental Health Outcomes of Unaccompanied Central American Youth in the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Area
Advisor: Ernesto Castañeda

Undergraduate Sciences Final Work: Evan Steinberg

Senior, Statistics
Accuracy of an iPhone app in detecting radiographic breast findings in low-income countries
Advisor: Elizabeth Malloy

Graduate Sciences Final Work: Harmain Rafi

PhD: Doctoral Behavior, Cognition, and Neuroscience
Characterizing Novel Carbon Fiber Multi Array Electrode Using Fast Scan Cyclic Voltammetry
Advisor: Alexander Zestos


If you would like to request disability-related accommodation or accessibility information, please contact the Accessibility needs can also be articulated in each of the registration forms.

Info for Student Presenters


Students from all disciplines of CAS are encouraged to participate. Students in other AU schools may submit work that was completed in a CAS course.


Each presentation will be juried by a group of AU Community Judges. Top presenters will be awarded a Certificate signed by the CAS Dean, as well as the a credited opportunity to showcase their work

2021 Student Resources and Conference Guidelines

Student Presentation Guidelines

The 2021 convening will take place virtually. All presentations will follow the general format of a slideshow. It is estimated that you will be allotted 10-15 minutes to present your work, followed by a 3-5 minute audience Q&A facilitated by a faculty/staff moderator. You will meet with your session’s moderator in the weeks leading up to the conference to ensure they get a sense of how best to curate your session.

Your presentation should follow the format laid out in your abstract or project description. If your presentation requires discipline-specific delivery systems (i.e. performance, slideshow presentation, etc.) then please make sure to communicate specific needs to your moderator in advance. Regardless of your discipline, you need to be able to clearly discuss the objectives and importance of your work to an interdisciplinary group of judges and audience members.

Your presentation will be judged on its intellectual and/or creative ambition and the strength of your arguments, examples and conclusions. Judges will evaluate whether your project is engaging and how successful you were in achieving your goals. Also considering the diverse and interdisciplinary nature of the attendees, you will be judged on your ability to make your work accessible to a general audience, to explain unfamiliar terms, and avoid jargon.

Presenting Finished/Final Research vs. Unfinished/Work-in-Progress

When submitting to the Call for Abstracts, students will be asked to designate their work as either “finished research” or a presentation of “work that is in progress”. The purpose of this designation is to frame how your audience and judges can best support the current state of your work.

  • Finished Research/Presentation of Final Work: the student is expecting to defend their work as a presentation of new research/material that is in contribution to a larger conversation within their discipline.
  • Workshop/Presentation of Work-in-Progress: the student is expecting to present the current state of their work in order to enter a dialogue with their audience, receive feedback and questions that will help move the work forward.

Suggested Presentation Format

  • The first several minutes of your presentation should provide an analytical overview in which you describe what makes your project/performance unique or how your work addresses matters of social, intellectual, or artistic significance. Your analytical overview will be judged on intellectual and creative ambition, placement of your work in the context of your field, and your ability to qualify claims and address likely objections.
  • The second part of your presentation should be a strong example, sample of work or actual performance. The content of your examples and/or performance will be judged for whether it is engaging, formally interesting, and delivers on the claims made in the analytical overview.
  • The presentation itself will be judged on your ability to explain unfamiliar terms, your ability to ensure audience comprehension and to generate audience interest.


Contact the 2021 organizing committee:

  • Chelsey Anderson
  • Kathryn Walters-Conte
  • Madeline Cloud
  • Helen Jackson
  • Joo Hyun Lee
Mathias Student Award Winners

2021 Mathias Student Research Conference Winners Announced

Winners across arts, social sciences, humanities, and sciences

Read More


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