Projects put capstones on undergraduate studies

December 05, 2011

Seniors pulled from hobbies, interests and career goals to create topics for their capstone presentations and papers, the culminating project of their undergraduate curriculum.

English major Priyanka Sengupta of Ellicott City, Md., whose presentation was titled, “Horrific Words: Fear in Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King,” has enjoyed Gothic literature since her days in the “Horror Fiction” first-year seminar course.

For Sengupta, the stage was set for her senior seminar presentation on the works of Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King.

“I actually ordered this gloomy weather,” she quipped during her presentation on a cold and cloudy day. “It cost $500.”

Austin Westermann, a Communication major of Setauket, N.Y., plans to become an entrepreneur in the fashion industry after graduation. Her study examined the factors that influence the retail buying process, including background music, display, interaction and atmosphere.

Fellow communication major James Eu of Reston, Va., also has entrepreneurial hopes: to own a franchise of restaurants. He looked at expectations about food and how this influences perception of taste.

Eu fed pizza from the dining hall to different groups of people, telling one group that they were consuming “fresh, authentic ingredients that had never been frozen.” As he hypothesized, the positive expectations led to the better ratings in the survey.

English major Seth Marple of Bel Air, Md., drew from his time in the outdoors for his study on “Nature Writing: An Approach to Understanding Self.” Marple, during his many summers canoeing the rivers of Canada and northern Minnesota, found himself reading nature literature, some of which really resonated with him. He set about exploring the reasons why.

Students in the Sociology department also presented papers, including “Can Work and Play Make the Grade?” “The Father, Son and The Holy Influence,” and “Skin Deep: Exploring Race, Grade Point Average and Campus Comfort.”

Other English presentations examined “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” obituaries, recruitment literature, novels by Jane Austen, and Latin American literature.