Undergrad Students Present Research at 11th Annual Poster Session

News Story: May 1, 2010
Seniors Corrine Boisvert and Emily Sala talked with CAS Dean Dr. Claire Paolini about their dolphin research during the event. To view all of the research projects, click here.
Sacred Heart University’s 11th Annual Undergraduate Research Poster and Showcase Session on April 30 featured about 70 students presenting more than three dozen projects, many with tongue-twisting titles of multi-syllabic words that were all made clear by the student presenters’ explanations of their work.

The students’ projects were judged on the quality of their poster content and their ability to answer questions related to their research and findings. Among the projects that were awarded a rating of outstanding, that is those receiving a score of 95 or higher, were Varenicline Attenuates Prodromal Olfactory Deficits in Toxin Induced Rat Model of Parkinson’s Disease; Peripheral Apomorphine Administration influences the Alloparental Care of Virgin Male Prairie Voles (Microtus ochrogaster), and Modeling Marine Mammal Movement for the U.S. Navy.

Marlina Slamet, a physics professor and chair of the poster session, said the students’ projects covered a wide range of subject matter and represented 12 different disciplines, more than in past years, including for the first time, one from the University’s Nursing Department.

Juliana Dafonseca, 19, of Rockaway, New Jersey, a sophomore nursing student, created a gaming station that taught some classmates about proper wound care technique via a video game while others learned it strictly from their textbooks. “I didn’t have a large enough sample size to prove its statistical significance but I was trying to prove that engaged learning helps reinforce textbook learning,” Dafonseca said. Her findings seemed to suggest that, she said.

Christopher Stevens, 21, a senior from Danbury, Conn. majoring in computer science and information technology, wrote 80 pages of code and spent about 100 hours coding to create a proof of concept for a computer game with research partner Laura Aman, 21, of Larchmont, New York, also a CSIT major. Senior psychology majors Emily Sala, 22, from Ridgefield, Conn. and Corrine Boisvert, 21, from Wallingford, Conn., swam with Atlantic spotted dolphins as part of their research.
Biology major Colin Smith, right, talks about his research on the rat model of Parkinson's Disease with Provost Dr. Tom Forget.
Junior Colin Smith, 21, a biology major from Framingham, Mass., who worked on the rat model of Parkinson’s disease, said the research that students conduct can have real-life application. Additionally, Smith said he learned from his research that he wants his medical career to successfully blend the scientific process with clinical work.

“I’d like to do something in translational medicine, from bench to bedside. Sometimes the physician becomes too detached from the formulation of the treatment plan,” Smith said.

Jonas Zdanys, associate vice president for Academic Affairs, said the students’ work has wider and broader application. “The quality of these projects is just superb. The projects are as good as any I’ve seen anywhere. A number are cutting edge and we are certainly proud of these students and their faculty advisors,” Zdanys said.
“’Winners’ is an odd term when you look at this level of excellence,” said Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Thomas Forget. “You have begun to learn the joy of discovery,” he said, adding that they have also likely learned about the ‘labor’ in their labors of love.

Slamet and co-chair Keri Matthews said the poster session fosters critical thinking skills in devising a research plan, discipline in executing the plan and care in analyzing the results of that inquiry.

“This is an opportunity to have our brightest people shine,” said Claire Paolini, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, which presents the session.

Some students were awarded a stipend for their projects. Others received some funding to cover travel or research supplies.

Awards were distributed to students whose posters placed in the top 25 of the entries. Awards were also given to the top three of 17 entries in the Writing Across the Curriculum competition. Jason Molitierno, an assistant professor of mathematics, and chair of the contest, said  it should not be considered incongruous to have a math teacher in charge of a writing competition. “Good writing is prevalent in all disciplines,” he said.

For a more detailed look at this year's research projects, please visit the Poster Session website by clicking here.

2010 Winners of the Undergraduate Research Poster Session:

1) Single-author: poster

#9, Jo Marie Kasinak, Project Lim-Molecular: Conservation and Genetic Analysis of the Population(s?) of Horseshoe crabs in Long Island Sound, Outstanding Achievement Award

#11, Colin Smith, Varenicline Attenuates Prodromal Olfactory Deficits in Toxin Induced Rat Model of Parkinson’s Disease, Outstanding Achievement Award

#13, Kaitlyn Williams , Genetic Characterization of the Role of DNA Mismatch Repair in Protecting E. coli Against A:TG:C Mutations Induced by Sodium Nitrite, Outstanding Achievement Award

#24, Kalani Efstathiou, Proofs That Really Count, Outstanding Achievement Award

2) Double-author poster

#4, Michael Bellio and Ashleigh Milardo, Peripheral Apomorphine Administration influences the Alloparental Care of Virgin Male Prairie Voles (Microtus ochrogaster), Outstanding Achievement Award

# 30, Regan Kelly and Lisa Moffett, Modeling Marine Mammal Movement for the U.S. Navy, Outstanding Achievement Award

3) Three-or-more-author poster

# 31, Regan Kelly, Lillie Nguyen and Peter Villavecchia, Reward and acute locomotor-activating effects of stimulant drugs on male rats with and without early life stress experience, Outstanding Achievement Award

# 26, Andrew Bessette, Krista Bacci and Aubrey Kogut, Effects of chronic stimulant drug exposure on female rats with or without early life stress, Outstanding Achievement Award

#33, Peter Villavecchia, Regan Kelly, Krista Bacci, Edward Fifield, Corrine Boisvert, and Alison Carpenter, The effects of chronic stress exposure on behavioral despair parameters in male and female rats, Excellent Achievement Award

2009-10 Writing Across the Curriculum Winners:

First Prize:  Heather Falsetti – “Is Religion Necessary or Superfluous?”
Second Prize:  Michael Fazzino – “Millard Fillmore: Inspired Life, Uninspired Presidency
Third Prize:  Jaclyn Cotreau – “Cervical Cord Neurapraxia with Transient Paraplegia in a 17 year old Multi-Sport High School Athlete”

Honorable Mention:
Teddy Christian – “John Adams: The Man, The Founding Father, The First Vice President, and the Second President”
Allison Colombi – “Type I Chiari Malformation in a 22 Year Old Male Collegiate Football Player”
Emma DiLoreto – “Grade I Isthmic Spondylolisthesis in a 17 Year Old Multi-Sport Athlete with S1 Segment Lumbarization and Pars Defect”
Kyle Evans – “The Presidency of Martin Van Buren”
Heather Falsetti – “James Monroe, The Fifth President”
Heather Falsetti – “What is the appropriate role for women in Christianity?”
Joshua Bryan Harrison – “Home: A Moment of Self-Realization”
Nicholas Kapoor – “Grover Cleveland: A Foundation for Modernity”
Tim McNeil – “Realities of Prison Rape”
Zachary Pelletier – “The Effect that Light Intensities Have on Transpiration Rates in Rhododendrons”
Liam Roecklein – “The Last of a Dying Breed: The Life of John Quincy Adams”
Thomas Streko – “Management of a 20 year old Male Division I Volleyball player’s Grade 1 Inversion Ankle Sprain with Von Willebrand’s Disease”
Virginia Weinman – “Miranda Rights”
Michael Wilcoxson – “A Criminal Analysis of the War in Iraq”