Simpson University Student Research Symposium Celebrates 10 Years of Scholarship

 By Hayley Wylie

REDDING, Calif. – The 10th annual Simpson University Student Research Symposium was held on Wednesday, March 11.

The symposium featured over 60 student participants, 40 different presentations, and one “live” painting done on-site throughout the day by Southern California artist Hyatt Moore.

Moore gave the symposium’s plenary address, titled ‘A Wonder,’ based on the symposium’s theme. He spoke on wonder in Einstein, wonder in the macro/micro, wonder in biblical literature, wonder in human beings, and wonder — how we get it and how we kill it.

During his message, Moore mentioned that the live painting he would be doing throughout the day – a portrait of Jesus from his painting titled “The Last Supper” — would include Simpson students’ fingerprints. “A fingerprint is an indicator that everyone is unique,” Moore shared.

He ended his message by encouraging listeners: “Let’s pay attention to the wonder around us.”

After his address, many students dispersed to the first session of the symposium — student presentations.

Amy Bernhard, a junior, read one of her short stories at the “Creating Wonder in the Literary Arts” section.

“It was such an amazing experience,” she said afterward. “I loved the interaction and discussion that the room held regarding our lives as stories.”

Connor Rowe, also a presenter and a senior at Simpson, gave a presentation on women during the French Revolution during the “Wonder of Gender in Historical Perspective” section.

“It’s a great opportunity to prove what I can do,” Rowe said when asked why he decided to present at the symposium this year.

Presenters weren’t the only ones enjoying themselves. Freshman Makayla Williams looked forward to going to different panels throughout the day.

“I think it’ll be interesting to see all the different perspectives of research that’s been done,” she said.

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Those attending the sessions included Redding City Council member Kristen Schreder, who attended a group presentation called “The Dignity Project” that took a comprehensive look at the problem of homelessness in Shasta County and offered a holistic approach to addressing the issue. Schreder commented during the Q&A session that followed each set of presentations.

“The students here asked the best questions I have been confronted with on this issue,” she said. “They were so thoughtful, and the report is incredibly thoughtful and has some really great ideas.”

She suggested the students reach out to any number of local nonprofits that could implement portions of their plan. “I really applaud your effort,” she said.

The day also included an egg-drop competition hosted by professor Michael Austin. Competitors created a contraption that would hold an egg in place – and keep it from breaking — as it was dropped from the third-floor Owen Center balcony.


With Hyatt Moore’s completed painting on display behind her, Simpson University alumna Lydia McGaffee shares about her research experience at Simpson and while studying abroad at a banquet following the Student Research Symposium,

After a day of presentations, discussions, and posters, an art exhibit and banquet was hosted for student presenters, facility mentors and administration. During this, Moore revealed his final painting, and the winners of the Stanley Clark Student Research awards were announced.

The award for Best Undergraduate Presentation went to Isabel Harris, Rebecca Carmona, Claire Cozby, Tayler Lennier and Jonathan Liu on the topic, “The Dignity Project.”

The award for Best Undergraduate Poster went to Baylee Wiechecki, Jessilyn Ellenson, Brooke Larson and Alexis Thompson, on the topic, “A Historical Western Conceptualization of Sexuality in the 20th Century in View of a Christian Perspective.”

The award for Best Undergraduate Paper went to Connor Rowe on the topic, “The Other Sex in the French Revolution.”

The award for Best Graduate Presentation went to Haley Muri, on the topic “Struggles that LGBTQ Families Face and How the Satir Model May Support.”

The awards for Best Graduate Paper and Best Graduate Poster went to Colleen House, on the topic, “Finding Wonder After Childhood Cancer.”

The banquet featured guest speaker Lydia McGaffee, a 2019 psychology graduate and winner of Best Undergraduate Paper during last year’s symposium. McGaffee is a director at Camp Hope and applying to graduate school in clinical psychology. She shared about the importance of her time at Simpson, particularly her study abroad semester in Oxford, where she discovered her focus of study of interest.

The symposium awards are named after former Simpson University Provost Stanley Clark, an enthusiastic supporter of the research symposium. Following his 2012 retirement, Dr. Clark and his wife, Susan, established The Clark Endowment for Student Research to support student scholarly activity.

The symposium is an annual event that began in 2011 as a faculty initiative to give students an opportunity to share their research outside the classroom. Divided into morning and afternoon sessions, the symposium is modeled after professional academic conferences.

Learn more about the symposium and read descriptions of all the presentations at

About the author: Hayley Wylie is an English major in her senior year at Simpson University. She is from Vacaville, Calif., and has served as editor-in-chief of The Slate, the university’s student newspaper.


Simpson University, founded in 1921, moved to Redding 30 years ago and will celebrate its centennial in 2021. In addition to offering 25 majors in its traditional undergraduate program, the university has graduated more than 4,000 North State adults from its ASPIRE degree-completion program, and nearly 3,000 from its School of Education. It has a No. 8-ranked School of Nursing, a seminary, and master’s programs in counseling psychology and organizational leadership. Simpson University is recognized nationally by Colleges of DistinctionSimpson has new athletics programs in track and field, swimming and diving, women’s wrestling, and men’s volleyball, as well as a bass fishing team. The university is also working to better serve transfer students from community colleges through its commitment to Associate Degree for Transfer agreements, and it is offering new scholarships.

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