Caldwell, N.J., April 30, 2021 – Caldwell’s Research and Creative Arts Day featured 132 projects from undergraduate and graduate students across academic disciplines. The theme for this year’s event was a quote from St. Francis of Assisi: “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you’re doing the impossible.”
Caldwell University President Matthew Whelan, Ed.D., applauded the students, faculty, staff and alumni for their contributions to the special day. “You are involved in something quite magical and that is the creation of new knowledge.” He spoke of the obstacles physicist Marie Curie faced and how she became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize and then the first person to win two Nobel Prizes. He said Curie started by doing what was necessary, then did what was possible and suddenly was doing the impossible.
Dr. Ellina Chernobilsky, acting vice president for academic affairs, said the day is a “great opportunity to celebrate our work as a community.” She encouraged everyone to attend the presentations, give students feedback and “learn a little bit more about the kind of work that happens in Caldwell’s labs and studios, music rooms and the library.”
The keynote address, “Research: A Door to Discovery,” was given by Dr. Barbara Detrick ’65, a professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She spoke of the contributions of the immunology field today, specifically immunotherapy for cancer and the development of COVID-19 vaccines. She encouraged students to follow their dreams despite the challenges they may face– a message which coincided with the motto of the day and the event’s opening song “To Dream the Impossible Dream,” which was performed by the Music Theatre Ensemble directed by Dr. Laura Greenwald. Natural Sciences professor, Dr. Darryl Aucoin said he looks forward to Dr. Detrick visiting the students on campus in the fall.
Dr. Agnes Berki, professor of biology, chaired the event. She led a team that included the Academic Research Committee, administration, staff and faculty. The volunteer student organizers—including Carolyn Hidalgo, Yaman Thapa, Prassanni Shrestha and Kushal Bhandari–contributed to the day’s success.
First and second place winners for each category were announced at Honors Convocation that evening. .
In the category of Business, Education and Technology, the first place winner was Sophie Hicks for her presentation on “Racial Disparities in Healthcare and the Role of Medical Education.” The second place award was given to Carenne Etienne for her presentation on “The MedFriend App.”
In the category of Cancer Biology, the first place winner was Enis Asani for his presentation on “InVitro Study of Bee Propolis on Tongue Cancer Cell Death.” The second place award was given to Raul Gonzalez for his presentation on “Tea Tree and Alma Natural Products Inhibited Tongue Cancer Cell Growth.”
In the category of Creative Art and Music, the first place winner was Shreesa Shrestha for her presentation on “Mental Health and College Age Students.” The second place award was given to Deanne Murray for her presentation on “Starlight.”
In the category of English and History, the first place winner was Ellen Presti for her presentation on “A Life Journey with Autism.”
“Receiving this award meant a lot to me. It was definitely unexpected,” Presti said while reflecting on how she lives with Aspergers and Autism. “The project was really just for fun and so that I could enlighten people more.”
The second place award was given to Anne Ilardi for her presentation on “Children’s Literature- It Needs Diversity.”
In the category of Honors Project, the first place winner was Avilasha Joshi for her presentation on “Beneath the Acne Scars: Poetry as an Attempt at Neutralizing Acne Vulgaris.” The second place award was given to Akash Pariyar for his presentation on “Understanding the Leave Vote for Brexit.”
In the category of Microbiology, the first place winner was Nicole Montero for her presentation on “The Effects of Oregano Oil on Escherichia coli. Staphylococcus aureus, Trichophyton rubrum, and Candida albicans.” The second place award was given to Ashley Ovalle and Jules Wesler for their presentation on “Green Tea and Brown Algae as a Natural Oral Disease Prevention in Dogs.” Berki shared that as Ovalle and Wesler worked to find ways to prevent tooth decay in pets, specifically dogs, they found extremely effective natural products that could achieve that goal.“We couldn’t be more grateful to be given the opportunity to conduct this research project,” Ovalle and Wesler shared. “Thank you so much to our amazing professors who have helped us throughout this entire process. We are both so honored to receive this award and cannot think of a better way to end our senior year at Caldwell.”
In the category of Nursing-Child Care and COVID-19, the first place winner was Marissa Laterza for her presentation on “The Impact of COVID-19 on Children with Obesity and Exercise Interventions.” The second place award was given to Osasha London for a presentation on “The Effects of COVID-19 Quarantine on Children’s Mental Health.”
In the category of Nursing- COVID-19 and Health Issues, the first place winner was Kayla Nisevic for her presentation on “The Effect of COVID-19 on Infant and Child Routine Vaccinations.” The second place award was given to Connie Naturale for her presentation on “Importance of Dentistry during COVID.”
In the category of Nursing- COVID-19 Impact on the Nursing Profession, the first place winner was Christabel Osai-Du for her presentation on “Effects of COVID-19 on Nurses- Immunosuppression has been Linked to Stress and Mental Health Problems.” The second place award was given to Nasiba Malikova for her presentation on “The Effect of Emotional Freedom Techniques in Alleviating Stress Among Nurses Working during the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
In the category of Nursing- COVID-19, Minorities, Addictions, and Violence, the first place winner was Antonia Duzic for her presentation on “Managing Alcoholism during COVID-19.” The second place award was given to Daisy Ogbonna for her presentation on “The War on Two Fronts: The Mental Health of Black Women Amidst the Effects of COVID-19.”
In the category of Nursing- Improving Care by Support of Nurses, the first place winner was Cecelia McCann for her presentation on “Plain Language Emergency Alerts in Healthcare Facilities.” The second place award was given to Olivia Turner for her presentation on “ADN versus BSN Nursing Degrees.”
In the category of Nursing- Improving Care for the Elderly and Diseased, the first place winner was Lissette Loyd for her presentation on “Rehospitalization in African Americans.” The second place award was given to Donna-Lee Graham for her presentation on “Health Care Disparities Among African American Women and Breast Cancer.”
In the category of Nursing- Pregnancy, Child Birth and Child Care Issues, the first place winner was Stephanie Zaldivar for her presentation on “Maternal Fetal Attachment In-Utero.” The second place award was given to Natalie Marks Saint-Preux for her presentation on “Improving Mother Baby Bonding in Women with Postpartum Depression.”
In the category of Psychology, the first place winner was Carolyn Lindner for her presentation on “Effects of Extraversion and Locus of Control on Levels of Depression During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” The second place award was given to Savanna Daquila for her presentation on “I’ll Rescue You! Examining the Relationships Between Live-Action Media and Body Image.”
Marchelle Boyd, a nurse at RWJ University Hospital and a graduate student in the Master of Science in Nursing program, presented her research on “Exploring the Factors Behind Maternal Mortality in African American Women.” She was inspired to do the project after reading an article her mom sent her showing that New Jersey ranked 47th out of 50 states with the worst maternal mortality rates. With further research Boyd learned that Black women have the highest maternal mortality rates in the United States and in New Jersey. “As a Black woman and nurse I felt an obligation to help spread awareness on this issue. This could be me or one of my loved ones, so I just wanted to do my part to help provide information education and prevention,” said Boyd, who has worked on the front lines serving COVID patients. She received her BSN from Caldwell, is the first graduate assistant in the School of Nursing and Public Health and has been working as a teaching assistant in the nursing labs this academic year.
Undergraduate nursing students Ryan Rutano, Michael Lake and Samantha Guerra, members of Dr. Meghan Ryan’s nursing research class, presented their research on “Nursing Burnout Affected by State Mandated Patient Ratios Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Rutano said they chose the topic because it focuses on two major issues: “unsafe nurse-to-patient ratios that can decrease patient care due (to) nurses juggling between patients; also, the issue of the pandemic seeing nurses struggle even more due to the pressure of COVID-19.” Based on their findings, they urged safer ratios for nurses in New Jersey.
Yaman Thapa, a chemistry major, did a project outside her academic discipline for fun. She authored an illustrated children’s book, “Tea Boy,” the story of an orphan boy, Kunzang, who was adopted by a yeti and runs a little tea shop in the lap of the Himalayas. Along with his pet yak, Bobo, he goes on several adventures and meets exciting tourists from all around the world.
“I wrote the book to express moral concepts in a way that can be read, understood and enjoyed by people of all ages, even kids, while taking the readers on an amazing adventure! I usually write short fiction and nonfiction. I wanted to try doing something different. This book is meant to make the readers laugh, cry, smile and think.”
The Caldwell Research and Creative Arts Day provided an excellent opportunity for students to share their creativity and hard work, digging into research even when they found themselves working to overcome difficult odds. As Dr. Whelan encouraged the campus community, “Use these moments of motivation; use these moments to tell someone else ‘you can do it’—to bring someone else into the wonderful world of knowledge creation.”