Undergraduate Research Symposium winners announced

April 12, 2021

The Penn State Lehigh Valley (PSU-LV) 2021 Undergraduate Research Symposium was held April 5 to 9 and, for the first time, was conducted virtually. The symposium showcased high-quality undergraduate student-faculty collaborative research and scholarship in all fields of academic study. The event provided an opportunity to bring together college students, faculty, expert judges and the public at large to share in the experiences, knowledge and original thinking of students engaged in research scholarship. 

The symposium invited student presenters to pre-record their presentations for asynchronous viewing and Zoom Q&A sessions were held with 15 judges throughout the week. Winners were announced in a live Zoom presentation on Friday, April 9. The judges awarded first, second and third place honors to projects featured in the Arts, Humanities, Business, and Social and Behavioral Sciences, STEM and Information Literacy categories. 

Anita Yuskauskas, coordinator of health policy and administration at PSU-LV, delivered the keynote speaker presentation titled “Research as Prescribed Curiosity.” The presentation focused on the importance of curiosity and question-asking in research. Yuskauskas began her presentation by asking the audience to take the Britannica’s Curiosity Compass: Curiosity Types quiz. She then touched on the four different typologies of curiosity, how they have influenced great discoveries and how research shows that curiosity can add to the longevity and quality of life. 

“Curiosity and research have contributed to my own work in social and health policy, and I am intrigued by how curiosity influences current social activism, particularly in the Gen Z cohort,” said Yuskauskas.

Nineteen students submitted research projects. The projects that won include: 

ARTS, HUMANITIES, BUSINESS, AND SOCIAL & BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES - These awards recognize excellence in poster content, poster display, oral presentation, creativity, and critical thought in the arts, humanities, business, and social & behavioral sciences subject areas. 

  • First place – Mahnoor Malik, “Impact of stress on behaviors related to COVID-19 exposure and other health risks” (Faculty mentor: Nicole Ryerson) 

  • Second place – Alejandra Pena, “What happens when we believe the conspiracies?: The relationship between conspiracy theories and COVID-19 attitudes” (Faculty mentor: Nicole Ryerson) 

  • Third place – Chris Fiegel and Riley Koch, “Narcissism and alcohol use: a correlational study of archival neurophysiological data” (Faculty mentor: Nicole Ryerson) 

STEM - These awards recognize excellence in poster content, poster display, oral presentation, creativity, and critical thought in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics subject areas. 

  • First place – Francis Kuklis & Abigayle Ward, “Green thumbs on the red planet: geochemical processes applied to developing viable agriculture soil from martian regolith” (Faculty mentor: Daniel Jackson and Karen Kackley) 

  • Second place – Angelica Pirog, “Modeling the changes and differences in the rate of COVID infection” (Faculty mentor: Todd Retzlaff) 

  • Third place – Joshua Misiti & Boaz Mokaya, “Utilizing MATLAB to model solar cell output” (Faculty mentor: Harold Scholz) 

EXCELLENCE IN INFORMATION LITERACY - These University Libraries Undergraduate Research Awards recognize scholarly work based on a foundation of careful background research and literature review. The awards are given to entries that demonstrate excellence in information literacy through the following areas: research process and strategies, source selection, source integration, citations, and social, ethical, or economic considerations in accessing information. 

  • First place - Francis Kuklis & Abigayle Ward, “Green thumbs on the red planet: geochemical processes applied to developing viable agriculture soil from martian regolith” (Faculty mentor: Daniel Jackson and Karen Kackley) 

  • Second place – Mahnoor Malik, “Impact of stress on behaviors related to COVID-19 exposure and other health risks” (Faculty mentor: Nicole Ryerson) 

  • Third place – Chris Fiegel and Riley Koch, “Narcissism and alcohol use: a correlational study of archival neurophysiological data” (Faculty mentor: Nicole Ryerson) 

This year’s Undergraduate Research Symposium planning team consisted of Michelle Kaschak (chair), Larry Musolino, Nicole Ryerson and Jeffrey Stone. The winners will present their work at the annual Penn State Regional Undergraduate Research Symposium, which will be held at Penn State Scranton from April 19 to 22 as a virtual event. 

 

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Last Updated April 12, 2021