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Image of Research competition challenges ISU students to think creatively about research

Gina Hunter
Director at the Office of Student Research Gina Hunter said Illinois State defines research broadly to include every discipline.

The Office of Student Research asked Illinois State University students to capture one compelling image that would creatively reveal research topics they’ve explored, and these students will present their work at the upcoming Image of Research competition on Wednesday, Feb. 9.

One of the common misconceptions surrounding research is that it's solely focused on lab work, survey-based research or other experimental measures. But research can take a variety of different forms, and the Image of Research competition demonstrates that point by presenting visually creative research projects.

Illinois State University students that are actively involved in research have the opportunity to participate in the competition hosted by the Office of Student Research. To compete, students must create or capture one representative image of their research and submit it along with a brief explanation of how the image represents their findings.

Director at the Office of Student Research Gina Hunter said Illinois State defines research broadly to include every discipline.

“We allow the disciplines to define what research looks like in their discipline. So, it’s not just lab, or survey, or some of those experimental things we think about. I think there’s a lot of humanities and art research happening as well that we don’t often see. I think that this competition highlights some of those other areas,” Hunter said.

Hunter said students who become involved in activities beyond the classroom, such as studying abroad, completing service-learning projects, or completing student research, tend to be more satisfied with their undergraduate or graduate experience.

Additionally, Hunter said these students statistically learn more and will benefit from a career-preparation perspective, such as having the opportunity to add their involvement to a resume for graduate school programs and potential future employers.

Not only do students have the ability to prepare and display a visual representation of their work, but the Image of Research competition gives Illinois State faculty and staff the opportunity to go beyond their departments to learn what other students are discovering.

“We kind of work in our silos, we know our own students, but we may not know the work that’s happening down the hall or in another building. Students are doing really exciting work on our campus, and I think we need to celebrate that work,” Hunter said. “This is a really accessible and interesting way for students to share their work and for us to commemorate the hard work that they’re doing.”

Winners will be determined by jurors who will judge each image and its accompanying text. Contestants will be judged on the originality of the image, its visual appeal and how well it represents the research a student is completing.

The Image of Research competition runs from 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 9, at University Galleries. Awards will begin at 5:15 p.m., so anyone hoping to vote in the People’s Choice category must do so before 5 p.m.

The competition is open to the public, and masks are required.

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Jordan Mead is a reporting intern at WGLT. She joined the station in 2021.
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