Bulletin News

'Transformations' to Showcase Scholarship


SUNY Cortland will continue to spotlight student academics with “Transformations: A Student Research and Creativity Conference,” featuring dozens of student presentations and a poster session on Friday, April 19.

The 17th annual event takes place from 12:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Sperry Center. Regular classes across campus will continue during the conference. The event is free and open to the public. Complimentary refreshments will be served from 1:30 to 3 p.m. in the Sperry Center first-floor food service area.

“SUNY Cortland has identified transformational education as a strategic priority,” said Bruce Mattingly, dean of arts and sciences and Transformations Committee chair. “This year’s event will again highlight students from across the College who have had transformational experiences through their work with faculty on research and creative activity in a variety of settings: the laboratory, the studio, in the field or in the community.”

In 2011, a special planning committee re-named and reorganized the then 15-year-old event called Scholars’ Day to reflect the College’s strategic priorities, which also include academic excellence. As revised, the 17th annual event will focus on student work but also will feature faculty who have worked with students as research mentors. In fact, such partnerships between professors and students majoring in their disciplines are a fairly common practice at the College so a strong faculty presence is certain.

Robert McMurray '67
Robert McMurray '67

This year, the conference encompasses 80 different lectures, demonstrations and poster sessions offered by undergraduate and graduate students with their faculty mentors. The subject matter covers a wide array of academic disciplines at SUNY Cortland.

Among the many topics this year are: social media marketing and the Empire State Marathon; the effects of caffeine and creatine on physical and mental performance; the effects of exercise on long-term memory; presentations by the SUNY Cortland writing contest award winners; “The ties that blind”: the fog of the American dream; whether women in European politics are just “binders full of women”; a historical construction of Lincoln; anxiety as a factor in academics and quality of life; and, insights into the challenges schools have of teaching the invisible population of migratory students.

Robert G. McMurray ’67, an exercise science scholar who is nationally recognized for his research on childhood obesity, will deliver the keynote address at 12:30 p.m. in the Sperry Center, Room 105. McMurray, a professor emeritus in the Exercise and Sport Science Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will discuss “Childhood Obesity: The Curse of Modern Societies.”

Childhood obesity is a major public health concern with no easy solutions to date, according to him. For example, school-based programs generally have failed to rescue many children from a lifetime of ill health.

“However, the school can provide a central location for other programs,” McMurray said. “To foster activity in youth we also need to look beyond schools for safe places to play: neighborhood play areas, increased walking and bike paths and community programs beyond soccer, baseball and basketball.”

 Such programs should emphasize activity over winning, he said.

“We must realize that one size does not fit all and special programs targeting the obese are needed. Finally, parental support is extremely important.”

Before retiring after 33 years of service, McMurray held the Smith-Gunter Endowed Professor of Exercise and Sport Science and had appointments in the School of Allied Health and the Department of Nutrition. 

McMurray has written many refereed articles, research abstracts, book chapters and one book. Part of a research team that obtained $30 million in grant funding, he was recognized by the American College of Sports Medicine, the North Carolina Governor’s Council on Health and Fitness and the Southeast Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine for his research on childhood obesity.

McMurray has participated in post-doctoral research experiences at the Institute of Environmental Stress in Santa Barbara, Calif.; The Metabolic Ward at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, England; and the Pediatrics Clinical Research Center at the University of California’s Irvine Medical Center.

He received his B.S.E. in physical education from SUNY Cortland, his M.A. in physical education from Ball State University and his Ph.D. in human performance from Indiana University.

Besides Mattingly, the Transformations Committee includes: David Berger, professor of psychology; Phil Buckenmeyer, associate professor and chair of kinesiology; Patricia Conklin, associate professor of biological sciences; Daniel Harms, instructional services librarian at Memorial Library; David Miller, distinguished teaching professor of geography; Lisa Mostert, instructional support assistant with Campus Technology Services; Charlotte Pass, associate professor of literacy; and Kevin Pristash, associate director of college union and conferences.

“Transformations” is supported by the President’s Office, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Office and the Auxiliary Services Corporation. The Student Alumni Association provides volunteers for “Transformations.”

For more information, including the complete schedule of events, visit the “Transformations” Web page at cortland.edu/transformations or contact Mattingly at 607-753-4312