On May 22, 2017, the Graduate Student Society (GSS) held the first ever student-led graduate research conference. Under the title Graduate Students at the Frontiers of Academic Research, current masters and Ph.D. students from across departments and faculties were invited to present their academic work to a wide audience. The cross-departmental conference aimed to give graduate students the opportunity to present their research to a wide audience and to enhance the interdisciplinary dialogue on campus.
From a pool of 40 applicants from the faculties of Arts and Sciences, Health Sciences, Engineering and Architecture, Medicine, and Agricultural and Food Sciences, 11 students were selected to participate: Elias Ghoussoub (FM), Katia Cheaito (FM), Nour El-Arnaout and Amena El Harakeh (FHS), Catherine Batruni (FAS), Vanessa Breeding (FAS), Patrick Haddad (FAS), Nadim Haidar (FAS), Matthew Cronin (FAS), Lea Zeinoun (FHS), Julia Wajdi El Zini (FAS), and Rana Tarabay (FEA).
After a welcoming address from Janina Santer, GSS Vice President, Dr. Syrine Hout, professor of English and Comparative Literature at the Department of English at AUB, officially opened the conference with a keynote speech which focused on the importance of the interdisciplinarity of research, and of comparative literature and comparative cultural criticism in particular.
Following the keynote speech, the participants presented on their various topics, and each presentation was followed by a question and answer session. The presenters were evaluated by a jury composed of AUB faculty members and PhD students based on pre-set criteria. Jury members were: Dr. Judy Makhoul (FHS), Dr. Bilal Kaafarani (FAS), Pamela Klasova (PhD candidate in Arabic and Islamic Studies), Sara Abu Diab (PhD student in Physics), and Mounir Mahmalat (PhD candidate in Economics).
The two most highly evaluated presenters were awarded first and second prize with an imbursement of $500 and $250, respectively, generously donated by the Office of the Provost. Rana Tarabay won first prize for her presentation on Quantifying Driving Stress Using a Driving Simulator and Physiological Measurements, and Matthew Cronin won second prize for his presentation on The Global War of Terrorism: The Discursive (de)Construction of Conflict.
After the announcement of the results, closing remarks were provided by Leila Talhouk, GSS President, who reaffirmed the significant role of interdisciplinary dialogue in widening and deepening one's understanding in their own field, and in contextualizing their research questions in a more informed and meaningful manner.
Thanks to the support of the Graduate Council, the GSS hopes that the Graduate Research Conference will be an annual event, thus giving AUB graduate students the platform to present their research and engage with students across different fields.