Montclair State Hosts 7th Annual Student Research Symposium and First-Ever TechLaunch Competition

More than 300 students shared results of interdisciplinary research projects

Release Date: April 23, 2013

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.

The Symposium highlighted the promise of interdisciplinary study, by inviting student scholars to explore topics from multiple perspectives gained through interdisciplinary research and collaboration.

On the same day, the College of Science and Mathematics hosted a separate event: the first-ever TechLaunch Future Scientist Award competition.

The campus’s University Hall was the venue for the daylong, University-wide event, which gave students a unique opportunity to share their research with their peers, the academic community, the larger community, as well as family and friends through poster displays as well as oral and multimedia presentations.

“This event represents the energy, creativity and hard work of which our students are capable under the mentorship of our faculty,” says University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Willard Gingerich. “Students from disciplines across the University came together to discuss and share their research on common issues.”

Oral presenters took part in themed panels throughout the day, speaking on a rich array of topics covering everything from issues in jurisprudence to chemistry advances.

The symposium concluded at 5 p.m. with the presentation of awards for the best graduate and undergraduate posters and presentations. “The Awards Subcommittee of the Symposium Steering Committee, which consists of faculty from across the colleges and schools, presented $2000 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. Shaikh shares her award with co-authors Marguerite Bonadies, Talia Philippsborn, Diana Cabezas, Drew Heimlich, Joseph Nwokocha, Ksenia Lebedeva and Anderson Mata. Ryan Nie, a graduate student in the Department of Exercise Science t focusing on Biomechanics and Jessica McCabe, a senior majoring in sociology and women’s and gender studies, 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 overseen by psychology professor Deborah Ragin. “The recognition of our team’s interdisciplinary research project, ‘How healthy is your community? The role of access and economics on perceptions of health,’ has motivated us to expand our study and apply our findings for making positive changes for our communities.”

Shaikh was further recognized for a poster presentation co-authored with Umme Habiba, Nozrin Laskar and MeyLyn Vasquez on “Potential usages of tea polyphenols in controlling endospore germination in Bacillus cereus, B. magatenum, and B. subtilis.” She was the winner of a separate TechLaunch Future Scientist Award competition hosted by the College of Science and Mathematics. At the private event, Mario Casabona, CEO of TechLaunch, New Jersey’s investor-led technology accelerator, presented Shaikh with the $1,000 TechLaunch Future Scientist Award 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 her M.S. 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.”

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