Montclair State Holds Student Research Symposium and TechLaunch Competition

Photo: Mike Peters

Myla Ramirez presents her research, "The Effects of Land Use on Water Quality of the Passaic River through Coliform Bacteria Levels."

Montclair State University’s Eighth Annual Student Research Symposium, “Promoting Collaboration across Disciplines,” held on April 12, 2014, celebrated the outstanding scholarship and research of more than 400 graduate and undergraduate students from each of the University’s six colleges and schools.

“Presentation topics spanned the gamut of curriculum areas, giving insight and lending testimony to what students are exploring through their studies,” says Linda Davidson, assistant dean of the College of the Arts and chair of the Symposium Organizing Committee. “In a sense, the program, as a whole, may be regarded as providing a great ‘snapshot’ of a segment of University learning outcomes over the past academic year.”

More than 250 poster, oral and multimedia projects were presented at the daylong event, held in University Hall. “The Symposium is special for many reasons,” notes Davidson. “It is the only university event which showcases the scholarly achievements of undergraduate and graduate students from across the University, representing all six colleges and schools.”

At the conclusion of the program, the top entries in four catagories each received $500 awards with Sharmin Uddin receiving the award for Best Oral/Mulitmedia Presentation (Undergraduate). Her project was “Does administering different degrees of calorie restriction biweekly improve dietary adherence: A mathematical approach,” advised by Professor Diana Thomas.

Kelly Triece received the award for Best Oral/Multimedia Presentation (Graduate) for “Examining wildlife habitats associated with road mortality hotspots in New Jersey.” Her coauthors are Natalie Sherwood, Meiyin Wu, Gretchen Fowles and Brian Zarate, and her faculty advisor is Professor Meiyin Wu.

The winner of the Best Poster (Undergraduate) category was Anthony Strobolakos, with coauthors Dajana Borova, Alvin Mercado, Mollie Rosenkrantz and Fady Sidhom. The presentation title was “Molecular detection of Ranavirus in the northeastern US: The largest Ranavirus screen in North America,” and the faculty advisor on the project is Professor Kirsten Monsen-Collar.

Robert Moore received the award for Best Poster (Graduate) for “What predicts visceral adipose tissue: Trunk shape or trunk size?” His coauthors were Diana Thomas, Steven Heymsfield, Manfred Mueller, Anja Bosy-Westphal and Courtney Peterson, and Professor Thomas is the faculty advisor.

On the same day, the College of Science and Mathematics hosted the second TechLaunch Future Scientist Award competition. Twelve students from the College were invited to present their research to a panel of judges with the top two receiving monetary awards donated by members of the College of Science and Mathematics Advisory Counsel.

The first place award ($1,000) went to Rabih Balilli from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. His research topic was “A computational evaluation of the steric and electronic contributions to the stability of the structures of a- and β-D-Glucopyanose part 4: Energy versus Geometry for a- and β-D-Glucopyanose in aqueous solution.” Balilli’s faculty advisor on the project is Professor Marc Kasner.

Second place ($500) went to Shivani Patel from the Department of Biology and Molecular Biology. Her topic was “The inhibitory effects of EGCG and EGCG-stearate on Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV-1) in cultured human epithelial A549 cells.” Professors Lee H. Lee and Sandra Adams are her faulty advisors.

“We’ve been told by our colleagues in industry that universities are great at producing scientists but they often arrive on the job under-prepared to fully engage in the critical area of communication,” notes College of Science and Mathematics Dean Robert Prezant. “The TechLaunch Future Scientist competition offers a unique program among science and math student research symposia where students demonstrate their prowess in verbal communication thus lending perspective to this need in today's industry, government and academic worlds.”

Both of the TechLaunch Future Scientist Award-winners this year are in the College of Science and Mathematics’ Science Honors Innovation Program (SHIP), the highly selective program that provides the opportunity for exceptional science students to participate in two-year, intensive research programs mentored by College faculty.