Undergraduate research events showcase student excellence

Amy Gruzesky
April 22, 2021

ABINGTON, Pa. — Students involved in undergraduate research projects at Penn State Scranton and other regional University campuses and local universities had a chance to present their research projects during two annual academic events this month, both of which were held virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Penn State Scranton’s annual Undergraduate Research Fair and Exhibition again was held as a virtual web showcase for the second year. Any undergraduate student was able to submit their scholarly research and creative works through oral presentations, poster displays, gallery exhibits or artistic performances.

There were seven research categories: Nursing: Health and Aging; Nursing: Injury and Disease; Nursing: Prenatal and Pediatrics; Science; Social Science; Technology; Oral Presentations; and the University Libraries Information Literacy Awards.

The Undergraduate Research Fair and Exhibition officially took place April 5 through 9, but anyone interested in seeing the projects can still do so via the event’s website at https://sites.psu.edu/ugrwebshowcase2021/.

The 10th annual Northeast Regional Undergraduate Research Symposium was virtually hosted by Penn State Scranton April 19-22, culminating in a live event on Thursday, April 22 – Earth Day.

Students from the Abington, Brandywine, Hazleton, Lehigh Valley, Schuylkill and Scranton Penn State campuses participated, as did students from Keystone College, Marywood University and the University of Scranton. Participation in that event was by invitation only, with the invite coming from each participating school’s research advisers.

Research projects in the areas of Arts and Humanities; Biological Sciences and Health; Physical Sciences, Information Sciences and Engineering; and Social Sciences and Business were highlighted.

Gregory Jenkins, professor of meteorology and atmospheric science, geography and African studies at Penn State, University Park, was the guest speaker.

“Today is Earth Day,” he said at the beginning of his presentation. “We have a real responsibility to protect what we have.”

Jenkins gave a comprehensive overview on global environmental issues from the human race’s ever-increasing production of waste; the impacts of garbage dumps on communities; global warming; air pollution; micro-plastics and beach/ocean pollution; and the COVID-19 pandemic; and how these problems correlate with environmental justice, social justice, and health and mortality rates in poor communities around the globe.

He also talked about the qualities that make for a successful researcher, including open-mindedness, passion, humility, a willingness to fail and try again, being an authentic learner and researcher, and having a life-long mentor.

Jacqueline Shea McLaughlin, associate professor of biology at Penn State Lehigh Valley, told the students, “Your research matters; you have to use your voice. Today, you students have presented your research — it should never leave your heart, your mind or your voice.”

Marwan Wafa, Penn State Scranton chancellor, congratulated all of the participants and their faculty members.

“Research can provide you with opportunities that are critical to you gaining knowledge … and can help you clarify your choice of a degree program,” he said. “I wish you all the best, and I believe you are all winners.”

Those who may have not had a chance to see the symposium can view the projects at https://sites.psu.edu/symposiumshowcase21/.

Students who won in their categories at both events are below.

Penn State Scranton’s Undergraduate Research Fair and Exhibition Web Showcase

Category 1 – Nursing: Health and Aging

  • First Place:  Megan Lucey, “The Future of Wearable Healthcare Technology”
    • Faculty adviser: Michael Evans
  • Second Place:  Francesca Rizzo, “Changing the BMI Scales”
    • Faculty adviser: Milton Evans

Category 2 – Nursing:  Injury and Disease

  • First Place:  Nicola Giordano, “Sleep Your Way to Better Health”
    • Faculty adviser: Milton Evans
  • Second Place:  Emily Scarfo, “The Effectiveness of a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner”
    • Faculty adviser: Milton Evans

Category 3 – Nursing:  Prenatal and Pediatrics

  • First Place:  Ashley Lapiers, “Outcomes of Breathing Techniques During Labor”
    • Faculty adviser: Milton Evans
  • Second Place:  Heather Slimak, “Effect of a COVID-19 Environment on Childhood Obesity”
    • Faculty adviser: Milton Evans

Category 4 – Science

  • First Place:  Patrick Dougherty, “Methane:  Biosignature of Extraterrestrial Life on Planets Orbiting M Dwarf Star”
    • Faculty adviser: Asif ud-Doula
  • Second Place:  Aditya Chakrabarti, “Exploring the Relationship Between the Mass and the Radius of White Dwarves”
    • Faculty adviser: Agnes Kim

Category 5 – Social Science

  • First Place:  Erika Wheeler, “Loneliness and Video Chats During the COVID-19 Pandemic”
    • Faculty adviser: Laura Nathans
  • Second Place:  Emily Mattes, “Compare and Contrast of Perceived Resilience Among Individuals Who Have Experienced Trauma Either Directly or Indirectly Through Sexual Violence”
    • Faculty adviser: Renae McNair

Category 6 – Technology

  • First Place:  Xinyi Chen, Kaizheng Wang, “Stock Price Analysis Using Markov Chain”
    • Faculty adviser: Taoye Zhang
  • Second Place:  William Blaum, Jason Wells, and Tarangkumar Patel, “Lawn and Order”
    • Faculty Adviser: Alan Peslak

Category 7 – Oral Presentations

  • First Place:  Micah Cameron, “Left Behind:  How Pennsylvania Providers of Home and Community-Based Services to Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities are Overregulated and Underfunded”
    • Faculty Adviser: Ana Cooke
  • Second Place:  Shea Tyler and Jamise Sealey, “Helping ELL Students:  A Preliminary Solution”
    • Faculty adviser: Jody Griffith

University Libraries’ Information Literacy Awards

Undergraduate Research Award for Excellence in Information Literacy

  • Megan Lucey, “The Future of Wearable Healthcare Technology”
    • Faculty adviser: Michael Evans
  • Christian Toussaint, “Comparing ACL and Achilles Injuries in the Sports World”
  • Erika Wheeler, “Loneliness and Video Chats During the COVID-19 Pandemic”
    • Faculty adviser: Laura Nathans
  • Parth Patel and Trusha Patel, “Is the No-Code Application Development the Next Big Thing?”
    • Faculty adviser:  Marilee Mulvey

University Libraries Information Literacy Excellence – Oral Presentations

Panel 1:  Healing Arts
  • Session 1, First Place:  Lauren Sciabbarrasi, “Origami:  The Art of Mathematical Reconfiguration”
    • Faculty adviser:  James Hart
  • Session 1:  Runner-Up:  Julia Fessenden, “Being Related Doesn’t Make Us Family:  An Examination of Found Family in All For the Game and The Raven Cycle”
    • Faculty adviser: Kelley Wagers
  • Panel 2:  Literacy and Imagination
  • Session 2, First Place:  Micah Cameron, “Left Behind: How Pennsylvania Providers of Home- and Community-Based Services to Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities are Overregulated and Underfunded”
    • Faculty adviser: Ana Cooke
  • Session 2, Runner-Up:  Rachel Veniamin, “Filling in the Blank:  A Taxonomy of the Dashes in The Roaring Girl by Rachel Veniamin”
    • Faculty adviser: Claire Mary Louise Bourne
  • Session 2, Runner-Up:  Shea Tyler and Jamise Sealey, “Helping ELL Students: A Preliminary Solution”
    • Faculty adviser: Jody Griffith

Winners for the Eastern Regional Research Symposium

Arts and Humanities

  • First Place:  Jeffrey Alloway, Penn State Schuylkill: “ Comparing Viewpoints of the Burning of Chambersburg, PA by the Confederates During the U.S. Civil War
    • Faculty adviser: Harold Aurand Jr.
  • Second Place:  Corinne Ellis, Penn State Schuylkill: “Socially Constructing America:  A Rhetorical Analysis of Trump’s and Biden’s Facebook Posts During the 2020 Election”
    • Faculty adviser: Valerie Lynn Schrader

Biological Sciences and Health

  • First Place:  Emily Scarfo, Penn State Scranton:  “The Effectiveness of a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner”
    • Faculty adviser: Milton Evans
  • Second Place:  Hannah Longacre, Marywood University:  “Unmasking the Psychology of Recognizing Emotions of People Wearing Masks”
    • Faculty adviser: Vjayachandra Ramachandra

Social Sciences and Business

  • First Place:  Danielle Guth, Penn State Brandywine, “The Prevalence of ACES in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Population”
    • Faculty adviser: Daniela Martin
  • Second Place (tie):  Bridger Standiford, Penn State Abington:  “Autism, Anime, and Facial Emotion Recognition”
    • Faculty adviser: Kevin Hsu
  • Mark Chudnovski, Penn State Abington: “Does Looping in Undergraduate Math Courses Have Any Advantages?”
    • Faculty advisers: Rachel Brown and Michael Bernstein

Physical Sciences, Information Sciences, Engineering

  • First Place:  Joshua Misiti and Boaz Mokaya, Penn State Lehigh Valley:  “Utilizing MATLAB to Model Solar Cell Output”
    • Faculty adviser: Harold Scholz
  • Second Place: Lingqi Li, Penn State Abington:  “Preliminary Thermal Validation Tests for Education-Class CubeSats and Testing of Space-Rated Flight Computers”
    • Faculty adviser: Masataka Okutsu
Last Updated April 26, 2021