Nov. 11, 2021

By Michelle Tong

On Friday, October 29, 2021, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese gathered together in East Pyne 010 for the inaugural SPO Research Day. This event highlighted current and ongoing research projects as well as creative and literary endeavors by Spanish and Portuguese faculty, lecturers and students.

Pedro Meira Monteiro discusses with panel during Research Day
Photo by Michelle Tong

SPO research day was organized by a team of graduate students in the department: Alejandro Martínez, Oriele Benavides, Renee Congdon, Yangyou Fang and Rodney Lebrón Rivera.

Martínez reflected on how the idea for the event was developed: “It occurred to me that it would be interesting to hold an internal conference in the department where faculty, lecturers, grad students and concentrators could present their work.”

He added, “My goal was for us to get to know each other better as a department by learning about the interests of our different members and thus increasing the possibility of us collaborating more with each other.”

The event featured over twenty presenters divided among seven panels during the course of the day. Presentations featured a wide range of topics including politics and translation, to history and poetry.

Panel during SPO research day
Photo by Yangyou Fang

“The wide participation of the community gave a broad picture of the department as a collective body that I had never experienced before,” said Benavides. “This kind of "collage" of interest that was drawn after a whole day of presentations transmitted the enthusiastic sense of diversity and deepness of the work that is being made by my colleagues.”

The format of the event not only provided the opportunity for those in the audience to get a glimpse of the work by the members of the department, but it also allowed for the chance to openly ask questions and discuss the various research topics that were presented.

Lebrón highlighted that, “the aspect of the event that impressed me the most was the diversity of participants and spectators in the symposium. I believe that the intersection between lecturers, faculty, and graduate students in the same space should be replicated more often, especially in other future SPO activities.”

Panel during SPO research day
Photo by Yangyou Fang

Fang noted, “I really enjoyed the intellectual interactivity that the Research Day brought. For the first time, I got to learn in much more depth the research/teaching projects of members of the department. All of us are working on creative and innovative things but rarely get the opportunity to share and learn from each other. I really think the day brought this community together and closer.”

Following the success of this year’s inaugural event, the organizers hope that SPO Research Day will become an annual event that will continue to bring together the department and foster collaboration and community among the students and faculty.

“For next year, our hope is to achieve the same level of success and participation that we were able to achieve this year,” said Congdon. “Additionally, I would love to encourage more undergraduate concentrators in SPO to participate in the event next year, so that we can really see the range of all of the different members of our department, in their various levels of formation.”

SPO Research Day organizing committee
SPO Research Day was organized by (from left to right): Alejandro Martínez, Renee Congdon, Oriele Benavides, Rodney Lebrón Rivera and Yangyou Fang.

Martínez concluded, “The event exceeded my expectations. It was very stimulating to see such diverse presentations and to learn more about what different members of the department do. From research on "Focalizing Ser", to collaborative works of poetic creation and translation to the first inquiries of future doctoral dissertations, there were almost twelve hours of academic and emotional enthusiasm.”

View more photos from the event on the department's Facebook page.