Oakland University Hosts 25th Meeting of Minds Conference

Meeting of Minds (MOM) came to Oakland University for it’s 25th year. The undergraduate research conference was held on Friday, May 12. OU was able to participate in the event as the host.

“Though an anniversary, my Southern roots want to call it the 25th jubilee,” said Robby Stewart, a professor of psychology and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “This is a celebration, not just an anniversary.”

Beginning in 1933, MOM began as a cooperation between University of Michigan- Flint and University of Michigan- Dearborn. Oakland University was invited to join in 1995 and has now hosted the 25th event on its own campus.

MOM invites students from the three universities to present their scholarly and creative ventures through oral and poster presentations.

The day began at 8:30 a.m. with a continental breakfast and ended at 4 p.m., only breaking at noon for an hour-long lunch, musical performance of a piece from Roland Dyens and a student success story from Andrea Kozak, an associate professor of psychology at Oakland University. While Kozak could not be present to speak herself, her presentation was given nonetheless through email transcript and a stand-in speaker.

Concurrent presentations began at 9:30 a.m. Students presented posters in Fireside Lounge while others gave oral presentations in various classrooms of South Foundation Hall. There was a total of 133 presentations over the conference’s course.

From a literary nonfiction panel discussing Ouija boards, milk-carton children and epigraphs of gravestones, oral PowerPoint presentations of growing radical Islamic attacks and Islamophobia and a poster presentations of narcissism and a podcast on feminism, the topics and disciplines of MOM were unlimited.

Inspiration was as limitless as the topics at MOM. Some students recalled trains of creative thought and expanded upon them for their presentation, where others drew inspiration from mere interest and devoted their time to research.

“I’ll have an idea or a theme in mind and I take notes on my phone,” said Paige Lalain, author of “Sleeping Place” and panelist in the literary nonfiction panel. “I’ll have a flash of memory and think ‘how could this be thematically relevant?’”

Overall, MOM created an environment that supported student endeavors and encouraged research, presentation and, especially, made a safe space to learn.

“I am presenting my capstone project,” Jeff Waters, a women and gender studies major, said. “It is a chance to present your research to an understanding audience. They choose to see your presentation, so people are interested in what you’re talking about.”

Education during this process doesn’t stop with research, either. Students are given the chance to learn about data gathering and presenting as well.

“This taught me about research,” said Catherine Barrey, a women and gender studies major. “I learned about surveying and how to handle situations where your participant really doesn’t want to help you.”

In this milestone year, the goals of appreciating student achievement have remained the same.

“This is a celebration of student achievement and accomplishment,” Stewart said. “This isn’t just a research project.”