Twenty-four Worcester State College students working with faculty sponsors from five departments participated in the 16th Annual Massachusetts Undergraduate Research Conference, held at UMass Amherst on April 23, 2010.
The research projects were ambitious and varied, and included, among others: using ArcGIS programming to help a local organization develop self-employment for ex-felons; testing cleaning products advertised as “green” to determine how eco-friendly they actually were; investigating conceptions of lust in fourteenth-century literature; identifying problems with the current UN definition of genocide; using computer modeling to explore hydrogen-bonding formations; and mapping part of the genome of Drosophila Erecta.
Students had worked one-on-one or in small groups with their faculty sponsors, partnered with local service-learning and community-based initiatives, and participated in both national and international research projects.
Maureen Carroll and Nick Charette: “Worcester Gets Greasy: Clean Energy and a Clean Start” (Stephen Healy, Geography)
Emily Dennstedt: “RhoA/ROCK signaling is essential for multiple aspects of VEGF-mediated angiogenesis? (Brad Bryan, Biology)
Hannah Gunnell: “Power and the Sin of Lust in Fourteenth Century Literature” (MaryLynn Saul, English)
Sam Kirsch: “Death By Your Hand: Personal Responsibility and the Death Penalty” (Henry Theriault, Philosophy)
Michael Murphy: “Defining Genocide: The Problem of Intent in the U.N. Genocide Definition” (Henry Theriault, Philosophy)
Katharine Masterjohn: (“Pharmacological Inhibition of Rho-kinase Signaling Enhances Cisplatin Resistance in Neuroblastoma Cells” (Brad Bryan, Biology)
Alissa Routhier, Julie Bollinger, Edwin Macharia, and Thao Ngo: “Annotation of Three Fosmids on the Drosophila Erecta 3L Chromosome Reveals Conserved Genes” (Daron Barnard, Molecular Biology)
Kweku Acquah: “Stabilization Studies of Metal-Chelating Complexes via Computational Methods” (Eihab Jaber, Chemistry)
Ada Dyrmishi: “Molecular Modeling of Catalytic Ozone Destruction by the Hydroxyl Radical” (Eihab Jaber, Chemistry)
Nicole Hanna: “Metal Chelate Molecular Modeling of N,N’-di-2-picolyl-1,3-Propanediamine Structures” (Eihab Jaber, Chemistry)
Kevin Karanja: “Hydrogen Bonding Formations via Cyanuric Acid/Melamine Complexes” (Eihab Jaber, Chemistry)
Kenneth Kirangi, Christina Lovell & Eihab Jaber: “A Computational Study on the Formation of Carbon Monoxide Polymeric Chains” (Eihab Jaber, Chemistry)
Ryan Knihtila: “Relative Stability of Trigonal Bipyramidal Phosphorous via Electronegativity Selection” (Eihab Jaber, Chemistry)
Ericca Lucht: “Confirmation Analysis of Heme in Hemoglobin via Computation Methods” (Eihab Jaber, Biochemistry)
Patricia McNamara: “Ab Initio Study of Hydrogen-bond Energies of Hydrogen (bifluoride)” (Eihab Jaber, Chemistry)
Margaret Nguyen: “Thermodynamics of the Bifurcated Hydrogen Bonding Formations of Guanine-Dimers and Ionic Effects” (Eihab Jaber, Chemistry)
Jason Welsh: “Stratospheric Ozone Destruction via Bromine Nitrate – A Molecular Modeling Study” (Eihab Jaber, Chemistry)
Stephen Glynn: “Synthesis of Greener Polymers” (Margaret Kerr, Chemistry)
Bradford Spencer: “How Environmentally Friendly are Green Cleaners?” (Meghna Dilip, Chemistry)
Keith Dusoe, who was to present a poster on “Phase Diagrams of Various Salt-Salt Aqueous Biphasic Systems” (Meghna Dilip, Chemistry), had a car accident and was unable to attend the conference. Fortunately he was not badly hurt, and was able to present his research at Worcester State’s own Celebration of Scholarship and Creativity the following week.
All the presenters were well-prepared, introducing their research articulately and responding readily to questions about their methods, their results, and the implications of their work. Their degree of preparation reflected their own enthusiasm and commitment and their faculty mentoring. Graduating seniors looked ahead to summer research fellowships or internships and to graduate study. Some, like Ryan Knihtila, Ericca Lucht, and Margaret Nguyen, were participating in the conference for the second consecutive year, and many were looking forward to developing their research further next year.
Eihab Jaber of the Chemistry Department once again sponsored the largest number of student presentations, 10 in all, and with Margaret Kerr and Meghna Dilip also sponsoring presentations, Chemistry had the broadest faculty and student involvement, with a total of 14 students participating.
Submitted by Josna Rege, Department of English, WSC Campus Coordinator, Massachusetts Statewide Undergraduate Research Conference
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