SUNY Cortland students worked tirelessly during the 2017-18 school year, conducting research in a wide range of academic disciplines.
More than 100 students presented their results at “Transformations: A Student Research and Creativity Conference” held in Old Main on Friday, April 13.
One student, junior sport management major Eva Kristof of Pleasanton, Calif., traveled halfway around the world to complete her project.
In March, Kristof joined a Clemson University-based program that sent students from around the country to the Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. Kristof met with members of the International Paralympic Committee, Paralympic athletes and event organizers, learning about how the games are managed.
Kristof’s “Transformations” presentation detailed the history of adaptive sports for people with disabilities and how the opportunities for those athletes continues to grow. The movement began when 16 servicemen and women injured in World War II competed in archery at the opening of the 1948 Olympic Games in London, England. The 2018 PyeongChang Paralympic Games featured 569 athletes from 49 nations competing in 80 medal-awarding events, including alpine and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, biathlon, ice hockey and wheelchair curling. The 2018 biathlon was open to athletes with visual impairments, as they used rifles that have a sound component to indicate the accuracy of their aim.
Comparatively, the inaugural Winter Paralympic Games held in Sweden in 1976 had just 53 athletes competing in two sports, alpine and cross-country skiing.
Kristof’s interest in adaptive sports is personal. She has a cousin with a disability who became involved in adaptive sports at a recreational level and interned last summer with the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago, Ill.
As a member of SUNY Cortland’s women’s ice hockey team, Kristof also has an affinity for winter sports. Seeing world-class athletes in person at the Paralympic Games gave her new insight into the possibilities of adaptive sports for all types of athletes.
“I really learned a lot more about how much more is out there rather than the little bubble I was used to,” Kristof said. “The level that these athletes compete at is absolutely outstanding. I was working at my internship with more recreational adaptive sports so it was a lower level. Getting to see athletes compete at another level really opened my eyes and it has me pursuing another internship working with athletes competing at an elite level.”
Kristof’s Korean experience was only the beginning. She’s soon heading off to an internship with U.S. Paralympics in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Susan MacLaury ’68 delivered the Transformations keynote address, “Creativity: Lessons Learned Over Three Careers,” in Old Main Brown Auditorium. MacLaury, an Emmy and Oscar-winning executive producer, is the co-founder and executive director of the non-profit film production company Shine Global, Inc. She had previously spent decades in social work and as an associate professor of health at Kean University.
Ten students who received 2017 Undergraduate Research Council Summer Research Fellowships also presented at Transformations. Their research ranged from biological sciences to mathematics to kinesiology and exercise science.