Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Symposium exhibits student’s summer research

WILL SCHREIBER ’14
CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Students streamed to the ninth annual Summer Science Symposium on Thursday, held in the Washington Room, led by an abiding passion for knowledge, an opportunity for uplifting social interaction, and a strong smell of pizza. There, smartly-dressed and well-coiffed presenters detailed the projects that occupied their summer months. The room was cacophonous, as hundreds of students mingled to discuss the fruits of their labors. The proverbial fruit salad of scientific endeavor was in attendance: biology, chemistry, neuroscience, and more.

As the students swarmed into the room, professors stood at the fringes like proud parents, nodding with satisfaction and looking on as their progeny fulfilled their promise. Among the ranks of the academic dons were Professors Brindle, Curran, Dunlap, Draper, Masino, Parr, Schneider, and Swart. Their students, mentees and lab assistants continued in the great tradition of the scientific method, eagerly explaining their results to laymen and eggheads alike. The locomotive known as scientific inquiry, it appeared, was in no danger of stopping.

The symposium was infused with such fervor that any attempt at perfecting a description would be inadequate. Posters were orbited by half-moons of saucer-eyed students, mouths agape, enthralled by the presenter’s words. Whether the topic was zebra fish, beetle embryos, amine creation, or autistic mice, the fluidity and ease with which these student-scientists spoke was an immobilizer stronger than Medusa’s. Perhaps the best testament to the crowd’s rapture was the food table, which went seemingly untouched throughout common hour. As the event wore on, hundreds of individually wrapped morsels of Dove chocolate went neglected and untold quantities of toothsome pizza pies steamed their way to frigidity, as people were too busy cramming their minds to have time to cram their faces.

All told, the atmosphere was not unlike a Parisian coffee shop of the early 1900s. The air itself was dense with the sheer volume of ideas and theories posited by the room’s denizens. 

The spirit was at once jovial and solemn: people were armed with a purpose, but weren’t too stuffy for a joke or two. Voices echoing through the chamber were characterized by confidence and glee, as if those speaking were children pontificating on the subject of their birthday presents. Those exiting the affair were marked by the posture characteristic of the enriched: backs arched, chins up, eyes fierce with inspiration.

The Science Symposium is a vital example of the scalding intellectual embers that exist at Trinity College. The future of science is proceeding at this very moment: in the basement of the Life Science Commons, on the third floor of the Clement Chemistry building, amidst the quadrangles and sidewalks on which our beloved squirrels roam. The heroes involved in these efforts are clad not in spandex but in cotton lab coats, not in capes but in plastic goggles, not in boots but in lab-safe footwear. They are remaking not only the world, but the very nature of the school at which they operate. Trinity may be known as a liberal arts school, but peel back its thin skin of humanities and you will find a beating heart, a glistening kidney, and an intricate small intestine: all powered by science.

While the Symposium ended on that beautiful Thursday afternoon, its spirit lives on – in the professors who presided, in the students who attended, and in the students who presented. These young men and women are the future, and nothing could be so reassuring as that.

Our world may face grave problems, but we can be confident that bright, eager minds will continue to work on the solutions.

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