28th annual Graduate Exhibition shines a spotlight on student research

 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The 28th annual Graduate Exhibition was held March 22 to 24 as Penn State celebrated 150 years of graduate education. The three-day event featured a blend of musical and theater performances, a visual arts display, and a research exhibition — while exploring the diverse academic pursuits of more than 300 of the University’s graduate students.

A record number of students participated in this year’s exhibition, representing nearly every area of graduate study offered by the University. On the last day of the program, exhibitors gathered in the HUB to reveal research findings to more than 150 judges, presenting theories on a range of topics — from astronomy and information technology to nutrition and linguistics.

Despite the varied interests and disciplines featured throughout the exhibition, the participants shared a common goal—putting their knowledge to use in both the classroom and real world to help people, improve communities and inspire change.

Current spoke with several students about their research, while perusing the exhibition last Sunday (March 24). The following is a snapshot of what we learned:

Prakash Arumugasamy: Astronomy

What happens to stars when they die? They turn into neutron stars, or pulsars, and astronomy student Prakash Arumugasamy is trying to learn more about their behavior.

In his studies, Arumugasamy used space telescopes orbiting the earth to observe the x-rays of two pulsars: a very old one of 166 million years and a younger one of 9,000 years. As he observed this phenomena, he noted that although the total energy available to a pulsar decreases with its age, the efficiency with which they convert this energy to x-rays increases. Arumugasamy said there is no explanation for this behavior.

He explains a major goal of his research is to get a better understanding of the physical characteristics of pulsars and what kind of evolutionary path they’re going to take.

“These are very exotic systems. The energetics are very distinct and extreme, with high gravity and magnetic fields. They form the perfect test beds,” he said. “That’s what the bigger scientific community is probably going to gain from this.”

Dunja Antunovic: Mass Communications

For hundreds of years, the Metropolitan Opera has used media technology to delight and inspire audiences. In 2006, the Met launched a new initiative to broadcast live opera performances in high definition (HD) in movie theaters around the world.

Will the Met’s 15 yearly “Live in HD” transmissions help rejuvenate public interest in the art and help attract a new, younger audience to the genre?

It’s worth further investigation, according to Dunja Antunovic, a graduate student in the College of Communications. Antunovic’s study on audience perceptions of the Live in HD performances revealed that local audience members responded positively to the new digital experience. In fact, the HD opera transmissions offered unique benefits to the audience by enabling them to watch interviews with performers, explore backstage and experience the intimacy of opera remotely. For a relatively low ticket price, the technology also enables performances to reach audiences in areas that are geographically isolated from larger opera houses.

“The Met’s 'Live in HD' cinematic experience challenges opera's reputation as a high culture art form, yet opens up a space where a wider range of audiences can engage with the genre,” said Antunovic. “Enabled by technology, this popularization could ultimately lead to a shift in opera's place in society.”

To read about more student research projects, read the full feature on Penn State Information Technology Services' Current magazine

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Last Updated April 05, 2013