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Celebration of Learning 2023 Oral Presentations IV

2:30-3:45 p.m.


Featured presentation

Olin Auditorium (Session Room A)

Madi Greenwood '26
Graham Hunt '26
Emmet Johnson '26
Hannah McKoon '26

→ First-Year Students Doing Research!

Madi Greenwood, Graham Hunt, Emmet Johnson, Hannah McKoon
Clockwise from top left: Madi Greenwood, Graham Hunt, Emmet Johnson, Hannah McKoon

Presented by Madi Greenwood '26, Graham Hunt '26, Emmet Johnson '26 and Hannah McKoon '26
Student presentation

Olin Auditorium (Session Room A)

This presentation features four first-year students who took part in research projects during their first year at Augustana. 

Madi Greenwood and Graham Hunt participated in the First Year Global program in Ecuador to study environmental justice with Dr. Mariano Magalhães. Emmet Johnson and Hannah McKoon traveled to the American Southwest with Dr. Jeffrey Strasser and Dr. Jenny Arkle where they gained hands-on field experience in the Mojave Desert. 

The students will share their experiences conducting research as first-year students, the challenges they encountered as well as the personal and academic benefits of engaging in research.



Lindberg 205 (Session Room B)

Chair: Dr. Eric Stewart
Angela Ruehle
Maggie Kane
Trey Graff
Gabrielle Goritz
Abbie Larson

→ Religious Ritual and Mental Health: A Comprehensive Intersection (Ruehle)

Presented by Angela Ruehle; advisor Dr. Eric Stewart

Lindberg 205 (Session Room B)

The goal of this project is to determine, analyze, and explore the relationship between religious ritual and mental health.  This project will tie in ideas from both Neuroscience and Religion to create a comprehensive intersection of the two that focuses on both the chemical impacts of religion on the brain, as well as the ways in which this affects a person's mental health. In a time of increasing awareness of mental health and related psychological struggles, this topic is increasingly important. The research presented and the implications that come with the argument comes a culmination of my studies of Religion and Neuroscience. By examining what a religious ritual is, the groundwork for this research can be laid. In understanding what religious rituals are, it can then be determined how they affect the mental health of the various individuals that will be examined here. The overall conclusion of the above research shows that there is a positive correlation between the presence of religious rituals in one's life and their overall mental health. Concluding this is based upon research on both the neurological and biological signs of mental health as well as the varying religious rituals that affect them. Knowing this correlation, it can be said that attending or participating in a religious ritual can increase your mental health.

→ The Impact of Religious and Spiritual Abuse on Survivors (Kane)

Presented by Margaret Kane; advisor Dr. Eric Stewart

Lindberg 205 (Session Room B)

Religious abuse is something that, although has been present within religious groups for many years, research and awareness of this topic has not been addressed until fairly recently. Because of this gap of knowledge within the field, it has been difficult for survivors to recognize the abuse they endure. For this project I will be looking at what religious and spiritual abuse can be defined as, and the different ways abusers use religion as forms of abuse. Within my research I am focusing on survivors who come from specifically Fundamentalist Baptist and Funadamentalist Latter Day Saints groups. On top of this, I will investigate ways in which the abuse has impacted survivors in their own personal and spiritual life. Do survivors turn back into their faith after experiencing abuse? Does the abuse they endure push them away from religion as a whole? Where does religious abuse drive survivors in relation to their own faith? I will round out this project with ways in which we can support survivors of religious abuse and how we can break the cycles of abuse we see within these churches and groups. It is important to not only acknowledge the abuse a person endures, but to also make an effort to support them through their healing process. 

→ Contemplation and Capitalism: An Analysis of the Retrieval of Thomas Merton's Contemplative Ideas (Graff)

Presented by Trey Graf; advisor Dr. Eric Stewart

Lindberg 205 (Session Room B)

This essay will investigate the relationship between Christian contemplation and Craig
Martin's Capitalizing Religion: Ideology and the Opiate of the Bourgeoisie. It will operate
around Thomas Merton's works as a paradigm for Christian action and contemplation. Merton,
one of the most influential and well-known spiritual writers of the twentieth century, was a
devout practitioner of organized religion and a Trappist monk. However, his works are being
employed in a discourse that more closely resembles the "spiritual but not religious" (SBNR)
rhetoric of today that Martin examines. Furthermore, Merton's ideas fall within what Martin calls
the "self-help" or "spirituality" genre which focuses on inward-directed spiritual growth targeted
primarily at middle to upper-class readers. In short, Thomas Merton's work and the popularity of
Christian contemplation, in general, will only work in a consumerist society such as the United
States. This project is structured through my own personal narrative and addresses core
insecurities felt throughout my vocational discernment. As the project develops I will analyze
Merton's ideas through Martin's lens and then finally apply them to theorize what meaningful
church leadership looks like.

→ Catholicism & Oral Birth Control (Goritz)

Presented by Gabrielle Goritz; advisor Dr. Eric Stewart

Lindberg 205 (Session Room B)

Throughout the 20th century, the Catholic Church has maintained its negative stance on birth control. Despite this clear teaching, numerous American lay people, non-ordained members of the Church, partake in oral birth control. This presentation strives to understand the history of birth control in the Catholic Church. Overall, based on the research, it has been found that there has been opposition within Catholic laity towards the teaching of The Pill since it was introduced. The amount of Catholics who disagree remains fairly stagnant, which is contrary to the hypothesis that there has been disagreement developed fairly recently. This research leaves the question: what does it mean to be a Catholic?

→ Living and Dying (Larson)

Presented by Abigail Larson; advisor Dr. Eric Stewart

Lindberg 205 (Session Room B)

In writing this paper, I hoped to find ways that the living could learn to live more fully and better prepare themselves for when they experience death. I hoped that I could find a way to encourage others to live life in a way that makes them aware of their mortality without having to nearly experience death themselves. Through the examination of three memoirs: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, and The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs, I found ideas that one could introduce in their own lives to embrace life more and cope with their own mortality better. These ideas include taking time to understand what matters most to oneself, removing the blame surrounding death and allowing space to mourn however it is needed, and continuing to live despite pain and difficulty. While I find these ideas helpful, I don't know if there is a way for anyone to be completely prepared for death when it arrives.


Communication Studies; Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Old Main 223 (Session Room C)

Chair: Dr. David Snowball
Noor Ul Ain
Kristin Rundle, Allie Rial, Celeaciya Olvera and Lily Smith
Dr. Jessica Nodulman

→ Research on NGOs in Pakistan (Ul Ain)

Presented by Noor Ul Ain; advisor Dr. Umme Al-Wazedi
Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Old Main 223 (Session Room C)

This project aims to do on-site research on the Non-Profit sector in Pakistan. There are many NGOs in Pakistan, but how successful are they? What kind of steps are needed to establish and run an NGO given the national and international politics related to Non-Profit work? I want to look into the different types of Non-Profit organizations in Pakistan, the way they are established and run, and finally, the kind of work they are doing and the people they are serving. I researched 5 Non-Profit organizations in different cities of Pakistan and reached out to their CEOs to request interviews. The findings will be shared on the Celebration of Learning Day and culminate into my Senior Inquiry project for WGSS. Additionally, this research will act as a foundation for my goals of establishing an NGO that provides shelter and job opportunities to Pakistani women.

→ A Decade of Women in Subordinate Roles (Rundle, Rial, Olvera, Smith)

Presented by Kristin Rundle, Allie Rial, Celeaciya Olvera and Lily Smith; advisor Dr. David Snowball
Communication Studies

Old Main 223 (Session Room C)

While in Dr. Snowball's class, we learned that advertising has a distorted mirror effect, meaning that us as consumers are meant to be able to see ourselves as the people in these advertisements. This becomes problematic when thinking about the way women are often portrayed in advertising. We studied if women are shown in subordinate roles in advertisements. We asked three research questions, and coded ads from  a decade of advertisements in women's magazines to develop our hypothesis. 


Music, Fryxell Geology Museum

Hanson 102 (Session Room D)

Chair: Dr. Robert Elfine
Jared Reiling
Jacob Loitz
Bailey Willis

→ Electronic Realization of Harry Partch's Music (Reiling)

Presented by Jared Reiling; advisor Dr. Robert Elfline
Hanson 102 (Session Room D)

As music majors, we have always been told the "rules" of music: tonality, modulation, voicing, etc. Western art music follows a set of laws that govern the way the music functions using the 12 pitches in the octave. Why are musicians limited to 12 pitches in an octave? Microtonal composer Harry Partch discards the structure of Western art music and redivides the octave into 43 pitches. With more notes, Partch explores microtonality and builds new instruments for his pieces using his 43-note scale. Unfortunately, few of these instruments exist which makes performing his music difficult. Computer software is the future of performing his music without using the rare instruments he designed. Through the electronic medium, Harry Partch's music becomes more accessible to perform and gifts the audience with a unique musical perspective.

→ Exploring Synthetic Reeds for Saxophone: A Qualitative Study (Loitz)

Presented by Jacob Loitz; advisor Dr. Randall Hall

Hanson 102 (Session Room D)

Synthetic reeds have become more popular and more available than ever before for saxophonists. Historically, saxophonists have only played on cane reeds even into the current age.  Because synthetic reeds are still relatively new, there has yet to be a study on the performance of synthetic reeds compared to each other and to cane reeds. Additionally, there has not been a definitive study done by professional saxophonists on the quality of synthetic reeds.

This research will be the first research done on synthetic reeds that directly addresses issues that saxophonists want to have answers to. It is highly qualitative, so the assessment of the reeds was in our professional opinion. Our assessments of the main brand synthetic reeds will act as a starting point for saxophonists on the beginning of their journey into synthetic reeds. It'll show them what qualities are present in every reed, and give saxophonists selecting a synthetic reed the best possible chance for success.

→ Augustana College Fryxell Geology Museum: Who Owns What (Willis)

Presented by Bailey Willis; advisor Dr. Kelsey Arkle
Fryxell Geology Museum

Hanson 102 (Session Room D)

Augustana College Fryxell Geology Museum, located in Rock Island, Illinois, was founded in the late 1880's, and currently in 2023 contains over 20,000 rocks, mineral and fossil specimens. Current specimens are recorded in duplicate, in an electronic database and in a card catalogue, along with information related to the specimen, that gets updated as the collection changes. It is important to record all the information tied to a specimen, as information may be used in scientific studies. For this study, a key entry was the specimen’s provenance, or original locality, which is used to tie a specimen to different formations, time periods, ecological groups, and other spatial relationships. Provenance of artifacts can be an important factor in discussions surrounding reparations for cultures from which artifacts were removed without the community's consent. In the United States, colonizers took many Native American artifacts as colonization and the idea of 'manifest destiny' propelled exploration and takeover of western land. During this time the government displaced many Native Americans. What becomes difficult is when information of ownership becomes jumbled and when legal acquisition goes against or questions the voices of Native American rights, which became apparent in some arguments surrounding the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). Recent discussions have now extended past artifacts into collected fossils, attempting to evaluate a variety of topics related to ethics in paleontology, including ownership. Because Augustana has a large collection – 20,000 rocks, mineral and fossil specimens – it is important to understand what material we have in our collection to be aware of where our specimens come from as these discussions continue.



Old Main 117 (Session Room E)

Chair: Dr. Lendol Calder
Maja Johnson
Katharine Kanwischer
Jack Beemsterboer
Mari Kelley

→ The Consequences of Utopia (Johnson)

Presented by Maja Johnson; advisor Dr. Brian Leech
Old Main 117 (Session Room E)

This digital exhibit explores the lives and migration journeys of the followers of Erik Jansson, the founder of the Bishop Hill Colony, and the impact immigration has had on their descendants.  Jansson and his followers immigrated to the United States from Sweden in 1845, settling in rural, western Illinois. While Jansson is, of course, a key player in the story of this religious commune, the stories of those who joined him on his transatlantic journey provide a more realistic picture of immigration in the 1840s. My goal with this exhibition is to present the experiences of the real people behind the Bishop Hill Colony and the hardships they faced. I also aim to present the generational impacts of religiously motivated migration through the stories of the descendants of the colonists. The digital format of this exhibit is intended to make the story of this colony accessible to a wider audience.

→ Saviors of the Hearts and Souls: An In Depth Look at the Stories of Rescues During the Holocaust (Kanwischer)

Presented by Katharine Kanwischer; advisor Dr. Brian Leech
Old Main 117 (Session Room E)

This project is all about researching how different stories in History are portrayed.  Particularly those that pertain to such events like the Holocaust.  My main idea is to study how these portrayals effect our understanding of such events and why it's important these events are correctly told.

→ The Fallout of Disco Demolition: How a White Sox promotion challenged the transgressive gender norms of the discotheque (Beemsterboer)

Presented by Jack Beemsterboer; advisor Dr. Brian Leech
Old Main 117 (Session Room E)

This project examines the motivations of the infamous Disco Demolition Night of 1979, arguing that this event was motivated by homophobic sentiment and fears of a new, flamboyant expression of masculinity. Disco Demolition Night was a promotional event hosted at the old White Sox Stadium, Comiskey Park, by controversial radio jock Steve Dahl. Fans who brought a disco record were given a discounted ticket price. Between games, thousands of records were detonated on the field, and mobs of rioting fans stormed the field, forcing the White Sox to concede the game. Utilizing newspaper articles, surviving radio broadcasts, song lyrics, and an autobiographical account of Disco Demolition Night, this project will demonstrate that Steve Dahl's anti-disco movement was driven by antigay prejudice and by heterosexual fears of an evolving form of masculinity.

→ Bonaire's Wild Donkey Population: Reclassification of an Invasive Species (Kelley)

Presented by Mari Kelley; advisor Dr. Brian Leech
Old Main 117 (Session Room E)

Bonaire is an island located about 60 miles off the coast of Venezuela, and much of the island's ecology has changed due to colonization. The country is a municipality of the Netherlands and, brought by European colonists, donkeys have decimated much of the native plant population over 500 years. The Donkey Sanctuary of Bonaire was founded as a solution to the issues posed by wild herds of donkeys. The sanctuary began work in 1993 with approval from Bonaire's government, and almost 30 years later, in 2022, they house close to 800 donkeys. Despite the sanctuary's goals to give donkeys a protected life on the island, some are fighting for the release of the donkeys back into the wild. These animals have been living on Bonaire for nearly 500 years, raising questions of how to deal with invasions, especially ones that happened centuries ago. Many locals on the island believe donkeys are naturalized but not invasive. Despite their persistence on the island for centuries, the Bonairian government, the National Parks Foundation, and the donkey sanctuary classify the donkeys as invasive. I argue that donkeys do not qualify as strictly naturalized or invasive species due to the harm they caused to the ecology of the island. Donkeys on Bonaire should be reclassified as an intervasive species, a species with too much history to Bonarians to be fully invasive today, and one that causes too much damage to the island's native ecology to be naturalized. Steps must be taken to mitigate the impact on the island and its reef system due to years of supporting a large donkey population. This research adds to the conversation around non-native livestock species introduced by colonization in order to provide a full story that captures the complexities of culture on a small Caribbean island.


Tourism Development and Design Thinking in Bishop Hill, IL. and LeClaire, IA

Old Main 132 (Session Room G)

Chair: Dr. Adam Kaul
Emma Rautiainen, Clara Nicolai, Thao Le, Hilde Lanting, Lilley Anderson, Samantha Buelvas, Quinn Fabish, Cami Flores, Quincy Gibeau, Sarah Hornacek, Jennifer Larsson, Ashlyn Mathers, Joe Morgano, Gavin Nicoson, Olivia Penniston, Olivia Pigliacelli, Luke Prescott, Jenna Revell, Paula Paredes Rodriguez, Trystyn Schoonover, Gigi Scimeca, Henry Sothern, Ingrid Stromsten, Jacob Vernikoff, Val Zlotnikova


The Mad Writers in the Attic: Creative Writers Reading

Black Box, Brunner Theatre Center (Session Room H)

Meghan De Young, Kaitlin Jacobson, Sloane McIlrath, Htoo Htoo, Zachary Misner, Lauren Clarke, Blake Traylor, Margaret Talbott, Carly Davis, Natalia Matlag; advisor Kelly Daniels

Come enjoy readings by the creative writing seniors as they round out their year. Works will include poetry, flash fiction, and more.