By TYLER ELLYSON
KEARNEY – The World Theatre is an “awesome” part of the Kearney community, according to Ryan Range.
“I’ve enjoyed many movies there. I love the place,” said Range, a junior at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. That makes sense for someone majoring in multimedia production with a film studies minor.
Others, though, may not be as familiar with the 93-year-old building that once served as a vaudeville theater.
It was the perfect topic when Range enrolled in UNK’s Summer Student Research Program. Under the mentorship of associate communication professor Jacob Rosdail, Range set out to produce a documentary highlighting The World Theatre’s history and the community effort that’s helped the nonprofit, volunteer-run movie house survive.
“One of the things professor Rosdail likes to do with his documentaries is take something historical and provide a current context,” Range said. “We ended up looking more at the community aspect of the theater and how people once again had to rally around the theater to keep it alive during the coronavirus pandemic.”
The downtown theater reopened in June 2012 after three years of renovation work and a communitywide fundraising campaign launched by Kearney native and Hollywood screenwriter Jon Bokenkamp.
Range’s documentary, “When The World Closed,” focuses on this effort, as well as current improvements to the theater’s balcony, stage and dressing room areas and lobby. He also looks at the innovative steps taken to generate theater revenue during the ongoing pandemic – first by selling curbside concessions, then by opening a pop-up drive-in at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds.
Range, a native of Monroe, started filming the documentary in May and completed an initial draft in early August. He plans to make revisions before submitting the 10-minute documentary to the Omaha Film Festival.
The research project gave him an opportunity to utilize a variety of videography skills he’s acquired at UNK while creating something he can share with a larger audience.
“It was really nice to just dive in and apply techniques I’ve learned in class but haven’t really had a chance to use extensively,” he said.
Range was one of nearly 30 undergraduate and graduate students who presented their research projects Thursday during UNK’s Fall Research Symposium. The event showcases creative and scholarly work from across UNK’s three academic colleges and celebrates the accomplishments of students and faculty mentors.
“I am continually amazed at the quality of these research projects, many of which were completed during the pandemic. The dedication and fortitude of our students is humbling and motivating,” said Matt Bice, associate dean of graduate studies and director of undergraduate research and creative activity at UNK.
Typically organized as an in-person event, the Fall Research Symposium was altered this year for safety protocols. Students presented in two groups, with each presentation viewed live on Zoom. Questions were submitted through a chat feature. Students also shared their research information on Canvas, the university’s online learning management system.
The presentations covered a wide range of topics, from poetry and musical arrangement to video game development, disinfectants and coffee consumption.
“These projects are a true reflection of the diverse faculty and students we have,” Bice said. “The combination of quality and diversity makes this event even more important for our campus.”
Preeti Timalsina, a UNK senior from Kathmandu, Nepal, was both nervous and excited to present her research on parental control apps, which are designed to protect children from the “dark side of the internet.”
The information technology major examined 15 apps for Android devices to determine whether they complied with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.
“The results I found were pretty interesting and scary,” she said.
“I was really surprised,” Timalsina said. “Some of the companies don’t have proper privacy policies, and some of them are contradicting their own statements.”
“Everybody wants to be on the internet, especially the younger generation, but it can be risky,” she said.
Timalsina was mentored by Angela Hollman, an associate professor in the department of cyber systems. She also completed her project through UNK’s Summer Student Research Program. Her previous research focused on cloud computing, but this experience opened her eyes to another side of technology.
“I didn’t know I loved this type of research so much,” Timalsina said. “This opportunity really gave me an idea of what I can do in the future.”