Distinguished Biopsychologist to Speak at 23rd Annual Student Research Symposium

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

PHILADELPHIA (April 3, 2012) – The Saint Joseph’s University Chapter of Sigma Xi, the scientific research society, is hosting the 23rd annual student research symposium on Friday, April 13. Gordon M. Burghardt, Ph.D., professor of psychology, ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Tennessee, will join the SJU community as keynote speaker and recipient of this year’s Christopher Clavius, S.J. Award, an honor that recognizes inspirational and groundbreaking scientists and researchers. In his presentation titled “The Origins and Biology of Play,” Burghardt will discuss his work on the controversial and oft-overlooked subject of play behavior among vertebrate species.

“As one of the most respected comparative psychologists around, Burghardt is particularly deserving of the Christopher Clavius, S.J. Award,” says Matthew Anderson, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology and president of SJU’s Sigma Xi chapter. “His research interests involve the interplay between genetics and early environmental influences on developing behavioral and sensory processes, and in particular have focused on the evolution of playfulness, chemoreception in snakes, heritability of learned behavior and predatory behaviors.”

A renowned scholar, Burghardt has penned over 160 articles, holds numerous fellowships, is finishing a six-year term as editor of the Journal of Comparative Psychology and has received awards and grants from organizations that include the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

The symposium also gives undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to present their own research in mathematics, computer science, engineering and the natural and social sciences, and to view the work of their peers. More than100 students from across the region’s colleges and universities are expected to attend.

“The symposium is an excellent venue for students to gain experience presenting their research in a professional manner, and also allows for networking opportunities with others in their discipline and beyond,” says Anderson.

The keynote address is free and open to the public and will take place at 5 p.m. in the Wolfington Teletorium, located in Mandeville Hall. A public reception for Burghardt will follow in Mandeville Hall’s Tower Foyer. Students will present their research from 6:45- 8:15 p.m. in the Campion Student Center. For additional information, please visit http://www.sju.edu/academics/cas/resources/srs/keynote.html.


Founded in 1851 in the Jesuit tradition of academic excellence, Saint Joseph’s University is a top-ranked Catholic University that provides a rigorous, student-centered education. With a total enrollment of 8,500 undergraduate and graduate students, SJU offers a wide-array of academic programs designed so that each graduate enters the world with a competitive resume and global perspective. This is achieved through intense academic study led by thought-leading faculty scholars, a comprehensive campus experience and robust study abroad, service-learning, internship and co-op programs. Upon graduation, nearly 100 percent of students are employed, pursuing advanced degrees or volunteering in prestigious service programs. A member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, SJU offers 20 Division I intercollegiate men’s and women’s sports. SJU alumni – over 60,000 strong - provide a powerful network that spans the globe.

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