RCAH Students Win 2022 UURAF Award

April 11, 2022

This year, the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities (RCAH) at Michigan State University congratulated five RCAH students for winning the 2022 University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF) grand prize.

UURAF is held each spring, offering MSU students a unique educational opportunity to gain experience presenting their scholarship and creative activity, answering questions from audience members and guests, and receiving constructive feedback from judges.

This year’s RCAH UURAF winners were Aaliyah Buell 23’, Rachel Eyre 23’, Maegan Jankowski 22’, Celeste Rubino 22’, and Berkley Sorrells 22’.


RCAH Student Presentations

The Community Wellbeing Series: Maintaining Community Through Empowerment, and Cultural Representation
Presenter: Aaliyah Buell
Category: Visual & Performing Arts
Mentor: Kevin Brooks

The Community Wellbeing Series is a collaboration of RCAH community partners. This series offers strategies to acknowledge, support, and celebrate the reclamation of Black girls and women in history and culture, while providing approaches to improve the overall health and wellbeing of members of RCAH communities. This presentation will examine the role of representation in cultural empowerment that takes place through series events, while also reflecting on the methods of community engagement that have been used to produce such. Additionally, I elaborate on the ways in which the Community Wellbeing Series has not only withstood the influence of oppressive institutions, but also has generated a space that is powerful enough to work towards dismantling them.

Buell: “This research and my experience doing this work has been extremely fulfilling and it has helped connect me to my purpose. I love my job and I have learned more than words could ever express doing this work whether it be through experience, learning, or conducting research. All that I have learned has helped me to grow as a person. Receiving these awards has been very affirming, I love seeing others engage with the work we are doing with the series and I hope that we are able to continue empowering and uplifting communities through healing and transformation. My research hasn't changed, rather, it has evolved and continued to grow & develop as we continue to have events and further build community.”


Establishing a Multimedia & Archival Hub for the RCAH Center for Poetry
Presenters: Rachel Eyre, Celeste Rubino
Category: Humanities
Mentor: Lauren Russell, Laurie Hollinger

RCAH's Center for Poetry has the following mission: "to encourage the reading, writing, and discussion of poetry and to create awareness of the place and power of poetry in our everyday lives." Since 2007, the RCAH Center for Poetry has hosted guest poets and community events captured across a variety of mediums and platforms. This has fragmented our online resources and made it harder to find past event information. During COVID-19, the Center's community engagement has become more reliant on the internet, the lack of in-person events caused gaps in the Center's website to be more glaring. We have developed a platform of available poetry resources and a database archive for poetry readings and other events hosted by the Center. Using other poetry websites as examples, we focused on streamlining content and have created a database that consolidates event material to one multimedia events archive webpage. Here, audiences have access to all the published media on hosted events. We have also developed and expanded our resources page, giving our users access to writing resources organized geographically. We suggested contacting experts at MSU Libraries initially as a method of research on event archives. This quickly evolved into a collaboration with the Vincent Voice Library which will house recordings of RCAH Center for Poetry past and future events. Through our work, we have made poetry resources more accessible to local, national, and international communities, expanding the reach of the RCAH Center for Poetry' mission.

Eyre: “It has been an amazing experience working on this project with Celeste and our mentors Lauren and Laurie at the Center for Poetry this past semester. It really feels like we are doing something truly important to better preserve events and provide resources to poets for years to come. Working as a duo is what made this all possible. Having someone to bounce ideas off of and split the work between was vital to accomplishing the scope of the work.”

Rubino: “I would just like to say that without the help of Rachel on this project, I couldn't imagine finishing or completing anything that would be considered presentable in front of a jury of my peers and a volunteer judge for a research and arts forum. She has helped bring the story of the RCAH Center for Poetry to life and has helped me grow more confident in the skills I had formerly seen as flaws or distractions. As a team member of the Center, I think I can speak confidently on behalf of myself and the other interns, that she has brought value to the Center and qualities that while overlap have not been surpassed by the rest of this year's group.”


The Societal View of Heterosexual Men and Theatre in The United States; a Retrospective From the Twentieth Century Onward
Presenter: Maegan Jankowski
Category: Visual & Performing Arts
Mentor: Laura MacDonald

My research dives into why it is that heterosexual men should not like theatre by society's standards. Through examining the past history of men and theatre in the twentieth century onward, I look into why there was a cultural shift from men liking theatre to theatre being emasculating to enjoy. Through popular culture references of 'men liking theatre' being a silly quip in many movies and tv shows, my research dives into why there is such a stigma around men liking theatre, when so many predominantly male-viewing audience shows that feature obvious and obscure theatre references.

An Osteobiographical Analysis of Skeletal Remains and Beaded Artifact From Caesarea Maritima
Presenter: Maegan Jankowski
Category: Anthropology & Archeology
Mentor: Gabriel Wrobel

The aim for this study was to conduct an osteobiography of the incomplete skeletal remains that are the subject matter for this presentation. Through the bioarchaeological research that was conducted within lab, as well as thorough analysis of the material artifact that were included with the skeletal remains, the purpose of this project was to use several bioarchaeological methods in order to create a biography of the deceased through the analysis of the remains. With the additional knowledge of the roughly-estimated time period, The Crusades, the geographical region, Caesarea Martima, Israel, as well as detailed research that went into the study of the grave good, the study conducted creates a hypothesis of who this individual might have been back hundreds of years ago.

Jankowski: “In my research I looked at the decline of male Broadway viewers and how there has been a 15% decrease in viewership in the past 40 years, and how that compares to the history of men and theatre (especially in the 1950s), and how men liking theatre is often seen as a joke in popular culture, yet theatre references are included in predominately male viewership shows, so my research focuses on talking about men and their relationship with Broadway in order to hopefully change the narrative to dismantle the stigma in the future.

“I also won first place in the Anthropology and Archaeology section for my research with Professor Wrobel from the Anthropology department. I have been working with him in the bioarchaeology lab for almost a year now and I absolutely love the work I do! In the Bioarchaeology lab I do research on human skeletal remains, and for my research I conducted research on the skeletal remains of one individual in particular, to learn more who this individual was before their death.”


Documenting Community: 19th Century Signature Quilts as Material Culture
Presenter: Berkley Sorrells
Category: Humanities
Mentor: Marsha MacDowell

In 2020, the MSU Museum acquired a redwork signature quilt from 1892 connected to the historic St. Michael's All Angels Church in Cambridge Township, Lenawee County, Michigan. One of southern Michigan's oldest churches, Irish-born Episcopal Reverend William Lyster founded the congregation in 1858. The church is situated across from the restored Walker Tavern on the early Detroit-Chicago road and settler's route. The quilt comprises 30 squares, some with 20 or more embroidered signatures per block, accompanied by intricately 140 embroidered themed designs and patterns. Donated to the museum by descendants of Alfred Case, the namesake of Michigan State University's Case Hall, the quilt documents a richly connected group of historic families in southern Michigan. Conducting object-based research utilizing depositories of historical data like Ancestry, census records, plat maps, family and community histories, and with help from local historical specialists, we are able to further our understanding of the roles that religious institutions played in the history of southern Michigan's early settlers, such as serving as meeting sites for community members and activities, and supporting fundraising for community needs. Through this research, we are able to more holistically understand the role of material culture as a tool of community cohesion and building. It also sheds light on the roles that the Ladies' Aid Society of the St. Michael's All Angels Church played as principal fundraisers and record keepers within their community. Lastly, we can see how textile materials can be important documents alongside other written, photographic, and oral resources in understanding history.