At the Colby Liberal Arts Symposium May 1, students and faculty buzzed from one room to another, choosing among 298 oral presentations and more than 200 poster presentations. Presenters—many of whom dressed up for the occasion—clicked their way through PowerPoints, explained data graphs, and answered complex questions from peers and professors. A large room packed with posters hummed as visitors inquired about research presented in that format.

The event featured the work of more than 600 Colby students, breaking a record for the number of students presenting research at Colby in a single day.

While this was the first year the symposium took this format, it began in 2000 as the Colby Undergraduate Research Symposium as part of a National Science Foundation grant. Over the years participation grew steadily to feature the work of hundreds of students from all divisions of the College.

This year, for the first time, the faculty voted to clear the schedule by suspending all classes and other activities to give students the entire day to present their work—and to attend presentations by their peers. To kick off the symposium, students in the arts and humanities presented poetry, dance, music, and more from 6 to 9 p.m. the night before in the Bixler Art and Music Center and the Colby College Museum of Art.

At the final session of the day, which included six previously selected student presentations, President William D. Adams and Vice President for Academic Affairs Lori Kletzer both expressed their feelings about the day with one word: “Wow!” Said Adams, “We’ve been talking about this for a year, and while we had high expectations, this certainly exceeded mine, and I think others’ as well.”

A full schedule listing the titles of all presentations is online at colby.edu/clas.

[This story was updated April 8, 2015, to reflect the number of students who presented at CLAS.
An earlier version listed the number of presentations, 975, rather than the number of students.
Some students presented on more than one project.]

Watch a short video and scroll through images to get a sense of the energy of the day.