About the Isaac Research Symposium
The purpose of the Elkin R. Isaac Student Research Symposium is to honor excellent student research, scholarship, and creative activity. The participants are nominated by their faculty sponsors after having participated in independent research that results in the significant synthesis of new knowledge. The research must have been performed under the direct supervision of an Albion College faculty member, or in a College-approved off-campus program.
Dr. Charlie Jacobs from the Biology Department planned and organized the first Albion College Student Research Symposium, which was held on April 20, 1990, and involved seven students making presentations describing their research projects. In 1993, a poster session was added, and by 1995, the number of student presenters had risen to 16. In 1997, the Isaac Endowed Lectureship became associated with the Albion College Student Research Symposium, and the Symposium name was changed to the Elkin Isaac Research Symposium.
By 1999, the Symposium had grown to the point that concurrent sessions were required for 62 platform and poster presentations. 1999 also saw the addition of the Symposium keynote address, which has featured Wade Davis, Stephen Jay Gould, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Kurt Vonnegut, Salman Rushdie, and Gloria Steinem. In 2000, the Research Symposium was first held on the same day as the College's Honors Convocation.
Hugh McDiarmid, ’84
2014 Elkin R. Isaac Alumni Lecture
“Michigan’s Clean Energy Success and Why Not Everyone Is Thrilled”
April 23, 2014
7:30 p.m., Towsley Lecture Hall/Norris 101
As communications director with the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC), Hugh McDiarmid, Jr., '84, works with more than 60 environmental, public health, and faith-based groups across the state dedicated to positive change through the political process. Based in Lansing, MEC works on issues such as clean energy, forest management, children’s health, environmental justice, transportation, climate change, and air pollution. Surrounded by the world's largest freshwater ecosystem, MEC is also heavily involved with issues affecting the health and preservation of the Great Lakes.
An English major at Albion, McDiarmid worked as a reporter and editor at the Roscommon Herald-News and the Grand Rapids-based Advance Newspapers before joining the Detroit Free Press in 1996. At the Free Press, McDiarmid won numerous state and national awards within news beats as varied as crime, politics, local government, and breaking news. He became the Free Press' environmental writer in 2003 where he broke news on issues including Great Lakes water pollution, lead poisoning in Michigan children, dioxin contamination downstream from Dow Chemical Co. in Midland, and efforts to protect public access to the Upper Peninsula's hardwood forests.
McDiarmid is a member of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council. He was a member of Albion's Delta Sigma Phi fraternity and active with Albion's club lacrosse team. McDiarmid lives in Farmington, where he keeps bees and plays goalie on a master's lacrosse team.
Read about McDiarmid’s lecture
Samata Singhi, ’05
2015 Elkin R. Isaac Alumni Lecture
“Paradigm Shifts in Health and Science”
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
7:30 p.m., Towsley Lecture Hall/Norris 101
As a child, Samata Singhi listened to her grandfather's stories about taking medical care to remote villages in their native India. Accompanying her physician parents to their immunization drives in city slums, she saw children suffering from malnutrition and dehydration. These experiences eventually inspired her to pursue a career in medicine and public health. Today her interests stretch across the whole spectrum of healthcare—from grassroots access to bedside practice to governmental policymaking.
While an Albion student, Singhi was elected to the cabinet of Student Senate, and helped found the International Student Union. Through her medical externships and volunteer work in India and the United States, she developed a greater understanding of the disparities of access and outcomes in healthcare, and presented these in her honors thesis at Albion. For her work, she received the Maurice L. Branch Award for outstanding research and scholarship in economics. She was also elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
After graduating from Albion summa cum laude with majors in chemistry and economics, she headed to the London School of Economics and Political Science where she earned a master's in international health policy and health economics. She then returned to the United States to pursue her medical degree at Case Western Reserve University. As a medical student, she conducted research in pediatric neurology at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore and at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, supported by fellowships from the Child Neurology Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
Singhi is currently chief resident for the Child Neurology Program at Boston Children's Hospital/Harvard Medical School. On completing her residency in 2016, she plans to pursue a career in academic medicine and continue to advocate for projects that promote effective and efficient medical care for all members of society.
Elkin R. Isaac Student Research Symposium
2015 Joseph S. Calvaruso Keynote Address
“Before It Strikes: Viral Forecasting for Pandemic Prevention”
April 22-23, 2015
For more than two decades, the Elkin R. Isaac Research Symposium has honored excellent student research, scholarship, and creative activity. The participants are nominated by their faculty sponsors after having participated in independent research that results in the significant synthesis of new knowledge. The research must have been performed under the direct supervision of an Albion College faculty member, or in a College-approved off-campus program.
View photos from the 2014 Isaac Symposium on Flickr, and watch recent Symposium videos on YouTube.