Three Roanoke College students share their experience about their work on a research collaborative

by Marcus Stewart on December 13, 2015

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Pictured above: Anna Denisch (top), Rebecca Conter (left) and Emma Clarke (right)

The MARCUS conference (Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference for Undergraduate Scholarship), is an annual conference where students can present their research to other students, professors, and the public. In 2015, the conference was held at Randolph College on October 10th. The conference is multidisciplinary where students can share a topic using knowledge and methods from a variety of fields.

Anna Denisch, ’16, Rebecca Conter, ’17, and Emma Clarke, ’18, another group of students from Dr. Poli and Dr. Stoneman’s Dragon Research Collaborative, attended the MARCUS conference in October 2015. Anna Denisch worked under the education department and spent her time researching dragon lore and writing a children’s book that explains the myths. Rebecca Conter worked with the Virginia Museum of Natural History studying Paleobotany to later develop activity pages to help children learn about Paleobotany. Emma Clarke spent her time on the project studying Lepidodendron fossils and dragon myths.

Rebecca really enjoyed working with Dr. Poli and the “Dragon research team”.

“It’s a very rewarding experience. Dr. Poli and “Team Dragon” (as we call the Collaborative), push me to expand my knowledge and grow independently. The whole team serves as a support system for one-another. Every week, we bounce ideas back-and-forth, looking for ways to overcome obstacles and expand our horizons”

Anna’s favorite moment doing research was when the research group travelled to Beckley, West Virginia

“We went to the quarry where the fossils that are essentially the backbone of the whole project are found. These tree fossils show bark that looks a lot like how dragon scales are portrayed in art about dragons. It was a lot of fun to go with the group and be able to dig around the site looking for the fossils. The best part: we got to keep whatever we found. I now have dragons in my room, it’s pretty amazing.”

All three students encourage getting involved in research:

Emma: Research is a great resume builder as well as a way to get to know more people on campus.

Anna: I would say go for it! But I would also encourage caution and slowness. When you start a research project, it is so easy to come up with a million ideas of all the different things you want to do. I’m telling you now, you can’t. Yes it’s a good idea to have ideas, but with time constraints you really need to pick one or two solid ideas (that hopefully overlap) and just run with those. You may think you have all the free time in the world when a semester and research start, but trust me, by midterms you’re going to be glad that you’ve only got one or two projects to work on for your research.

Rebecca: Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Talk to your professors. Explore your options. You have no idea how good it gets until you dive-in!

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