by Craig McElwee, Contributing Writer

Pop quiz: where can you hear a presentation about national policy options for nuclear weapons threats against the United States followed by a study on how using emoticons affects you on a psychological level? Surprisingly enough, it is not just the President’s twitter feed.

Asbury’s second annual SEARCH Symposium is under way, where undergraduate students of all majors compete with one another by posing an original hypothesis followed by writing an essay and creating a formal presentation to be critiqued by a panel of judges, all for the chance to win a $600 grand prize.

Asbury Senior and Communications Major Rebecca Frazer is showcasing her research on American nuclear weapons policy in the modern world. “I was already writing a major research paper for my political science Senior Capstone class, and my professor encouraged me to enter my project into SEARCH,” Frazer said.

Entering Kinlaw’s main lobby during the event proves just how special it is, as the students use the menagerie of subject matter to their advantage to draw in the biggest audiences.  In addition to all of the research that the presentation requires, participants must also design a professionally crafted poster to visually sell the topic they have worked on.

Asbury Senior and Psychology Major Kayla Sheeran is presenting a much more light-hearted exhibition. “I’m studying the use of emoticons and texting, and how it associates with people’s personalities and positive and negative emotion. I was surprised with some people, how many they used. Some were up in the 40s range,” said Sheeran.

While the symposium does present prizes to the top three presentations, students are not required to compete for the prize in order to participate. “The competitive aspect of SEARCH is an important process for students,” said Asbury Associate Professor of Psychology and SEARCH Co-Facilitator Janet Dean. “We know that competition spurs us toward excellence, and we are called to pursue excellence in all that we do.”

When asked what the most difficult part of the entire process has been, Frazer said “[it] has definitely been source management. My project ended up citing about twenty references. It can be challenging to stay organized and cite each source correctly, but it’s great practice for professional and/or graduate-level work.”

This year’s initiative is keeping students busy as they wrap up their academic year, and for some, their entire careers as undergraduates. “I think going in, the word research, it doesn’t always sound like fun. But it was kind of neat to see all this work I put into it and then seeing the results that came out of it,” said Sheeran.

For more information on this year’s SEARCH Symposium, visit: