Montclair State Hosts Student Research Symposium and TechLaunch Competition

More than 300 students share results of interdisciplinary research projects

Photo: Mike Peters

Student Research Symposium participant Serina Hernandez explains her research to Josh Weston, honorary chairman of Automatic Data Processing, Inc.

The Montclair State University Seventh Annual Student Research Symposium, “Promoting Collaboration across Disciplines,” held on April 20, 2013, celebrated the outstanding scholarship and research presentations of more than 300 graduate and undergraduate students from each of the University’s six colleges and schools.

On the same day, the College of Science and Mathematics hosted the first-ever TechLaunch Future Scientist Award competition. The symposium invited student scholars to explore topics from multiple perspectives gained through interdisciplinary research and collaboration. “This event represents the energy, creativity and hard work of which our students are capable under the mentorship of our faculty,” says Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Willard Gingerich.

Participating students, faculty and guests filled University Hall during the daylong event, which gave students a unique opportunity to share their research with their peers, the academic community, family and friends and the larger community through poster displays as well as oral and multimedia presentations.

Throughout the day, presenters participated in themed panels, speaking on topics ranging from issues in jurisprudence to chemistry advances. More than 70 students and their faculty mentors were on hand to answer questions during poster presentation sessions.

The symposium concluded at 5 p.m. with the presentation of awards for the best graduate and undergraduate interdisciplinary posters and presentations. “The Symposium Awards Committee, which consists of faculty from across the colleges and schools, presented $2,000 in total awards to four recipients,” says Matthew Shurts, associate professor of counseling and educational leadership and chair of this year’s symposium.

MS candidate, Tanya Sulikowski and Nadia Shaikh, ’13 each received a $500 award for their oral presentations. Ryan Nie, a graduate student in the Department of Exercise Science and Physical Education focusing on biomechanics and Jessica McCabe, a senior majoring in both sociology and women’s and gender studies, each received $500 prizes for their poster presentations.

“I am thinking about pursuing a PhD in sociology and felt it was necessary to dive into the research process as an undergrad,” says McCabe. “I feel wonderful to have been recognized for my hard work.” Under the guidance of Professor Sangeeta Parashar, McCabe explored “Religion, women’s empowerment, and health/health-seeking behavior in India: A comparison of Muslim and Hindu women.”

“The experience of presenting our research and seeing the audience’s interest reflect back the same passion we have for our research was memorable,” says Nadia Shaikh, whose winning presentation was coauthored by fellow students Marguerite Bonadies, Talia Philippsborn, Diana Cabezas, Drew Heimlich, Joseph Nwokocha, Ksenia Lebedeva and Anderson Mata and overseen by psychology professor Deborah Ragin.

Shaikh was further recognized for a poster presentation co-authored with Umme Habiba, Nozrin Laskar and MeyLyn Vasquez and guided by Professor Lee Lee. She was the winner of the first-ever TechLaunch Future Scientist Award competition. At the private event hosted by the College of Science and Mathematics, Mario Casabona, CEO of TechLaunch, New Jersey’s investor-led technology accelerator, presented Shaikh with the $1,000 prize. Two of the judges offered $500 each in addition to the TechLaunch award so that two more excellent presenters GeorgeMarie Chalet and William Burke -- could be rewarded.

“I think it’s terrific that Montclair State has made interdisciplinary research the focus of the symposium,” says oral presentation winner Sulikowski, who is working towards an MS in ecology and evolution. “Any type of research that makes connections to other disciplines is the most valuable. I am honored to be a part of an academic institution that highlights these types of partnerships.”

View photos from the event at Flickr.com.

Read the press release