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Steve Catania (grey sweatshirt) pulls down the "throwing arm" of the trebuchet he designed with the assistance of two WIU friends.(Feb. 2006)
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WIU Undergraduate Research Day April 16

March 21, 2008

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MACOMB, IL - - Western Illinois University's Centennial Honors College will host the Sixth Annual Undergraduate Research Day Wednesday, April 16 in the University Union.

The Undergraduate Research Day provides a showcase for students to present posters and make podium presentations of their researched work and give performances of creative works, said William Knox, Honors College director.

The day will begin at 11 a.m. with a 30-minute presentation by 2006 history alumnus Steve Catania titled "Undergraduate Research: A Retrospective," in the University Union Fox Room.

A welcome and remarks by Western Illinois President Al Goldfarb, WIU Provost and Academic Vice President Jack Thomas, Knox and Catania will begin at noon in the Union Grand Ballroom.

The presentation of student projects will run from 12:30-3:30 p.m. Poster presentations will be set up in the Union Grand Ballroom. Podium presentations will be in the Union Capitol Rooms and the Fox Room and performance presentations will be held in the Union Prairie Lounge.

Catania is a first-year doctoral student at Loyola University Chicago studying early modern England and researching disease and veteran benefits. After graduating from Western, he earned his M.A. degree with a focus on medieval history and museum studies from the University of Chicago (2007).

Catania is a recognized leader in undergraduate research at Western, turning a personal interest about social cohesion in medieval armies into an interdisciplinary project under the direction history Associate Professor Lee Brice. After considerable research and a successful grant proposal, Catania, with help from physics and engineering friends, constructed a one-third scale model siege engine, called a trebuchet, as part of his Honors curriculum project. Medieval warriors used trebuchets to hurl large rocks and other heavy items into castles and fortifications during sieges. He gave two public demonstrations of the trebuchet, and it was featured as an example of undergraduate research at an Illinois Deans Council meeting on campus.

The summer before his senior year Catania traveled to Greece where he began work on a cemetery and battlefield comparative study, as well as research on how the ancient Greeks buried their dead and how they commemorated fallen soldiers on the battlefield. When he returned home, he conducted parallel research in Washington, D.C. and the surrounding area to determine what similarities existed in American practices. In his senior year, after conducting more research on ancient and early modern siege technology, Cantania also constructed a ballista and started the creation of a cannon.

Catania was a peer mentor in Western's First Year Experience (FYE) program's history classes; served as president the history curriculum club Associated Students of History, Phi Alpha Theta history honor society as well as the fencing and badminton clubs; and was actively involved with Western's All Volunteer Effort (WAVE), Relay for Life and the Salvation Army. He was a Presidential Scholar and Centennial Honors Scholar; and he received the Charles Sadler Memorial History scholarship, the Lowell Grabill Undergraduate Research Paper Award and the Phi Alpha Theta Thomas S. Morgan Memorial Scholarship Award.

Catania graduated with highest academic distinction (Summa Cum Laude) as the College of Arts and Sciences Scholar, the History Departmental Scholar and an Honors Scholar.

For more information about Western's Undergraduate Research Day, visit

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