Abington undergraduate research fair a 'triumph' for students

April 23, 2021

ABINGTON, Pa. — Penn State Abington staged its annual ACURA — Abington College Undergraduate Research Activities — competition and fair last week, and for the second year it was held virtually.

“Despite a pandemic, 37 of our students, under the mentorship of 22 dedicated faculty members, presented 26 research projects in our online research fair. It wasn't easy with social distancing requirements, meetings done remotely via Zoom, and some of our students on teams as distant as Texas, California, and even Asia,” said Ann Schmiedekamp, professor of physics and ACURA coordinator.

“This year's fair was a triumph of student learners who surmounted more than the average obstacles to investigate their research questions,” she said. 

The purpose of undergraduate research is to develop critical thinking and creativity in Abington student scholars. ACURA provides up to three semesters of collaboration between faculty and students so they can explore their interests through scientific experimentation, inquiry-based research, or creative works. Students earn credit for ACURA and participate in the annual research competition.

View videos of the 2021 ACURA projects here.

This year’s winners are:

Division of Arts and Humanities

  • First place:
    • "Khrushchev 1956: Combating Stalin’s Ghost" by Peter Stiles (faculty mentor: Roy Robson)
  • Second place:
    • "Legacies of Medieval Herbal Thinking in a 17th Century Manuscript: An Exploration of the History Behind Agrimony’s Connection to Herbal Science and Medicine" by Paula Kim (faculty mentors: Marissa Nicosia, Christina Riehman-Murphy, Heather Froelich)
  • Information Literacy awards:
    • "Legacies of Medieval Herbal Thinking in a 17th century manuscript: An Exploration of the History Behind Agrimony’s Connection to Herbal Science and Medicine" by Paula Kim (faculty mentors: Marissa Nicosia, Christina Riehman-Murphy, Heather Froelich)
    • "All About Rose Water" by Harshika Thard (faculty mentors: Marissa Nicosia, Christina Riehman-Murphy, Heather Froelich)

Division of Science and Engineering

  • First place:
    • "Prototype Studies of Small Spacecraft: Assembly of Raspberry-Pi Model and Testing of Space-Rated Flight Computers" by Lingqi Li, Hongyi Jiang, Anastasiya Orchakova, Maria Herranz  (faculty mentor: Masataka Okutsu)
  • Second place (tie):
    • "Review of Monocular Slam Techniques for 3D Map Construction" by Poojith Kotikalapudi  (faculty mentor: Vinayak Elangovan)
    • "Understanding Emotion Recognition" by Kavan Adeshara (faculty mentor: Vinayak Elangovan)
    • "Erratic Activity of the Vela Pulsar" by Avinash Sookram and Kevin Claros (faculty mentors: Carl Schmiedekamp, Ann Schmiedekamp)
  • Honorable Mention:
    • "Influence of Physical Activity Levels and Sleep Habits on Psychological Inventories in College-Aged Women" by Evelyn Glukhovskiy and Rochaelle Gill (faculty mentors: Steve Bloomer, Megan Gillen, Diane Rosenbaum)
  • Information literacy awards:
    • "Review of Gamma Ray Irradiation Effects on 2D Materials by Vitaliy Mykhnyak" (faculty mentor: Burcu Ozden)
    • "Testing the Mechanical Properties of a 3D Printed Lower Extremity Prosthetic Socket" by Ruthanna McMurtrie, Ian McGorrey, Renaijah Purvis, Kevin Shen (faculty mentor: Mukul Talaty)

“This year's fair was a triumph of student learners who surmounted more than the average obstacles to investigate their research questions.”

—Ann Schmiedekamp, professor of physics, Penn State Abington

Division of Social Sciences

  • First place:
    • "Black Women's Experiences of Colorism" by Brianna Carroll and Falande Decaze (faculty mentor: Elizabeth Hughes)
  • Second place:
    • "Autism, Anime and Facial Emotion Recognition" by Bridger Standiford (faculty mentor: Kevin Hsu)
  • Honorable Mention:
    • "Who's on Top? Autonomy and Control in Online Sex Work" by Brianna Carroll (faculty mentor: Beth Montemurro)
  • Information literacy awards:
    • "An Examination of Potential Weight Status Correlates: Perceived Familial Weight Status, Depression, and Anxiety" by Paige Sfida (faculty mentor: Diane Rosenbaum)
    • "Social Justice activities in out-of-school time programs and the impact on urban youth" by Alexa Pagan (faculty mentors: Katrina Black Reed and Jacob Benfield)

Three projects by Abington students were awarded honors at the Penn State Eastern Regional Undergraduate Research Symposium 2021:

  • Earning second place In the category of physical sciences, information sciences, engineering:
    • Lingqi Li,  "Preliminary Thermal Validation Tests for Education-Class CubeSats and Testing of Space-Rated Flight Computers" (faculty mentor Masataka Okutsu)
  • Tied for second place in the category of social sciences and health:
    • Bridger Standiford, "Autism, Anime, and Facial Emotion Recognition" (faculty mentor Kevin Hsu)
    • Mark Chudnovski, "Does looping in undergraduate math courses have any advantages?" (faculty mentors Rachael Brown and Michael Bernstein)

About Penn State Abington

Penn State Abington provides an affordable, accessible and high-impact education resulting in the success of a diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st-century public higher education within a world-class research university. With about 3,700 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers baccalaureate degrees in 23 majors, undergraduate research, the Schreyer honors program, NCAA Division III athletics, and more. 

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated May 10, 2021