Castleton has many undergraduate students doing work at the graduate level. Patrick Cote-Abel is one of them.
In May, he presented his paper titled “Poison in Paradise: Creosote Contamination in St. Marie’s, Idaho” to Ph.Ds. and graduate students at the Social Sciences and Behavioral Research conference in Atlantic City, and it won the “Best Paper Award.”
Cote-Abel is a double major in history and communication. His paper was written through research he conducted for his senior seminar on climate change with professor Sanjukta Ghosh.
“It was my first time being involved presenting a paper. It’s a media analysis of the coverage of an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) super fund site in a city in Idaho. The contamination of soil and ground water that could have caused adverse side effects that was not covered in the media,” Cote-Abel said.
The paper wasn’t all Cote-Abel did for the seminar. When Ghosh arranged for Bill McKibben, nationally recognized environmentalist, author, journalist and Right Livelihood Prize winner to speak on campus, Cote-Abel organized the details of McKibben’s visit.
“I had Patrick introduce him and that led to a whole host of things. That led him to become a part of the Sustainability Club,” Ghosh said.
The Atlantic City conference lasted for four days. On the last day, after seeing the presentations of Ph.Ds. and doctoral candidates, Cote-Abel and fellow CU student Karsen Woods presented their papers.
“It was really a fun experience all around. I didn’t know we were the only two undergrads there until the last day and I was wondering where everyone else was,” said Cote-Abel. “It was just a great experience. I wish every student on campus had the chance to go to a conference to present their work because it makes you believe in yourself and what you’re capable of.”
Woods presented her paper, titled “Media Images of Sexual Identity.” Her work has also been done through the mentorship of Ghosh in the form of an independent study that focuses on transfeminism and analyzing the media presentation of Caitlyn Jenner.
“This was a new phase of a new kind of objectification of the transgender body and suddenly from that the media’s tone had changed from ridiculing and objectification, to a sort of heroism. ‘Look at how brave this person is,’” Ghosh said.
According to Ghosh, Woods has also signed a contract to write a chapter in a feminist anthology titled “Women’s Rights and Popular Culture.” She was also very pleased to have been a part of the conference.
“It was a really amazing experience all around. It definitely forces me to think about my work at a higher level,” Woods said.