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Only an Undergraduate?’ Student Impresses Bangkok Conference

By Mike Killeen, CSB/SJU assistant director of media relations

A student from the College of Saint Benedict has earned a rave review for her research.

CSB StudentSarah Vanneste, a senior, was the only undergraduate student to present her research at the "Localization and Translation Thailand" conference Dec. 1-3 in Bangkok. She left a strong impression on the participants.

Professor Duangtip Surintatip, faculty of language studies, Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok - the most selective and prestigious university in Thailand - sent an enthusiastic review of Vanneste's research in an e-mail to Sanford Moskowitz, assistant professor of management at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University and Vanneste's adviser.

"I write to commend your student, Sarah, for her excellent presentation at the Localization conference in Bangkok. I was surprised to find out that she is only an undergraduate," Surintatip wrote. "The scope and depth of her thesis is of doctoral quality, and I thought that she was a Ph.D. candidate. Her public speaking ability was also exceptional and she fielded every question with all the confidence in the world. You should be proud of your student, if only my graduate students were half as good."

Vanneste was able to address the international business community in Thailand through contacts she made while presenting her research at the Berkeley Globalization Conference in August at the University of California-Berkeley.

"I applaud Sarah's singular accomplishments at the Berkeley and Bangkok conferences," Moskowitz said. "I am most proud of her energy, intelligence and creativity. Sarah is a prime example of the level of research and international involvement and professional collaboration that can be achieved by our management students here at CSB and SJU."

"This is an exceptional story of achievement by a CSB student on an international level," said Wendy Klepetar, professor of management and chair of the management department at CSB and SJU. "It is especially impressive that one of our undergraduates was perceived as reporting on her Ph.D. thesis! I think it really shows the incredible talent of our students, and of Dr. Moskowitz's inspirational mentoring."

In her presentation in Bangkok, Vanneste spoke about the model of the high-growth business cluster that she had developed and then discussed the implications of her model in creating a dynamic cluster around the high-profile services industry in Thailand.

Vanneste's presentation is a part of her honors thesis, "High Technology Clusters in the Age of Globalization," in which she compares and contrasts the rise and evolution of cutting edge industrial clusters in the U.S., United Kingdom, China and Brazil. She explores the optimal conditions for advanced clusters to take root and flourish in different countries as well as what factors hinder clusters from reaching their potential. Vanneste studies the impact of high-technology clusters on the economic growth and competitiveness of regions and nations.

She has been working closely with Moskowitz, and her work will be incorporated into Moskowitz's forthcoming book, Advanced Materials Innovation: The Management of Technology for the 21st Century (John Wiley & Sons).

Vanneste received $2,300 in funding from the CSB Student Senate, the CSB President's Office and the CSB/SJU management department to attend the Bangkok conference.

"These events in which I was fortunate enough to be a part of were simply priceless experiences for me as an undergraduate student and soon-to-be professional woman," Vanneste said. "I wish to thank the CSB Student Senate, CSB President MaryAnn Baenninger, the Undergraduate Research program at CSB and SJU, the department of management and my advising professor, Sanford Moskowitz, for all their help and encouragement to have made this opportunity a reality."

(Posted Feb. 11, 2010)