Students at the University of Wisconsin-Baraboo/Sauk County presented their semester-long research projects at Tuesday’s fall honors symposium.

Rosalia Garcia, Jessica Castle, Allanri Jooste, Paige Ringelstetter, Harley Soerfass and Susannah Burger presented on topics ranging from gender representation in children’s literature to Native American effigy burial mounds.

Their presentations were met with questions and suggestions from the faculty and community members gathered to listen.

“It’s the culmination of what they’ve been working on with their supervising professor throughout the entire semester and a chance for the honors community to find out what other people are researching,” said honors coordinator and associate professor of English Marc Seals.

Seals said he hopes the students will incorporate their presentations into display posters to be taken to an event celebrating undergraduate research next spring at the Wisconsin State Capitol.

Some people are surprised at the amount and caliber of the undergraduate research going on at the freshman/sophomore campus in Baraboo, Seals said. The opportunity to research gives honors students who transition to larger campuses an advantage based on their experience, he said.

“They have a leg up,” Seals said. “They’ve already done undergraduate research.”

Garcia, 21, who is in her first semester at the university, presented on detective stories in literature and film and how the role of a “sidekick narrator” has evolved into the femme fatale character. She was taking a class with Seals when she decided to try her hand at the research.

“I thought it was extremely interesting,” she said. “And I also like to challenge myself.”

Garcia said she was a little nervous about her presentation, but she enjoyed the experience and felt it went well.

Soerfass presented on Native American effigy burial mounds and their connection to different types of plant communities in Sauk County.

She said she chose to study in Baraboo because she liked the area and community.

“Once I got here, the classes were awesome, and the teachers were awesome,” she said of the university.

Soerfass is an honors symposium veteran. She’s in her fifth semester at the university, and Tuesday marked her third time presenting.

“It was an opportunity to do a project on the side that I found extremely interesting and in the subjects that I’m interested in,” she said of her decision to do research.

Her first presentation was in sociology, but she’s since been working in anthropology and archaeology.

Honors research provides an opportunity for networking and mentorship and builds confidence and reasoning skills, Soerfass said. She’s planning on a career in archaeology or with the FBI.

“It’s very gratifying to know that the stuff I’ve looked into for the whole semester was actually well-received and it piqued people’s curiosity,” she said, adding that she was happy to raise awareness of her topic.

Follow reporter Annie Getsinger on Twitter @WisKidReporter or send e-mail to

Reporter for Capital Newspapers

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