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Undergraduate and graduate projects highlighted at Research and Creative Arts Day

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Caldwell, N.J., May 1, 2017 – Caldwell University hosted Research and Creative Arts Day, featuring innovative projects by students, faculty and staff.

The day was aimed at highlighting Caldwell undergraduate and graduate student research and promoting STEAM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math. “We had a great turnout and great intensity. It was a chance for our students to get feedback, hone their communications skills and learn how to field questions from different audiences,” said Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Agnes Berki, who chaired the taskforce that organized the event.

Biology student Veronica Guirguis showcased her project, “The Future of Cancer Care: Virtual Reality,” which demonstrated how virtual reality could help to educate patients about treatments, could be used as a therapy to lessen pain and suffering, and could give them a chance to visit the “most amazing parts of the world.” She appreciated being able to “raise awareness and the potential of using” virtual therapy.

Stephanie Silva, a senior nursing major, presented the project “Who you gonna call? Rapid response teams,” which compared staff-initiated versus family-initiated response during a decline in health. She was delighted that nurses from her clinical site, Morristown Medical Center, came to view the research. She appreciated the feedback from those who saw her poster. “They had really good questions and made me think differently about my research. It was a great experience.”

Naissa Piverger, Melaine Betancur and Nicholette Worgs, public health educator majors, presented their research, “Utilizing Telemedicine to impact the older adult population.” Thanks to a Verizon technology grant, they taught seniors at their internship site, Marian Manor, how to use mobile devices to monitor and track their health status.

Manoucheka Jean, a nursing student,  who displayed her project, “The importance of a comprehensive patient education program in patients diagnosed with heart failure”  said the conference was a good opportunity to practice public speaking.

Chelsie Deusa, a communications and media studies and political science major, presented her scholars project work, “Northern Ireland: Divided by Religion.” She felt “proud and accomplished” to showcase it since she had put so much time into the work.

The keynote presentation was given by Dr. Jill Bargonett, a leading molecular biologist, breast cancer researcher and professor of biological sciences at Hunter College. In a lively, interactive format, she spoke on “Choreographing Genomics and Cancer Biology into Understanding.” A former dancer, she showed biological processes through dance.

Bargonetti is widely published; she and her team have made significant advances in research that looks at protein diversity in cells with the kind of genetic mutations linked to “triple negative” breast cancer.

Cosmo Cirillo, a doctoral student in the educational leadership program, was a member of a team that studied “Korean students’ views on caring teachers”. He said it was a great experience to have visitors come up to the booth “and test you on your knowledge” of an interesting project.  Vanessa Cirillo, another doctoral student on the team, said, “You don’t know how much you know about your research until you have to answer questions.”

Statewide honors

Some of the projects displayed had received statewide recognition this year. Science students Deborah Balthazar and Amanda Surujnauth received the first-place Outstanding Poster Presentation award for their project “What Is on Your Toothbrush? Are You Brushing with Fecal Matter?” at the Independent College Fund of New Jersey’s Undergraduate Research Symposium in March.

Pre-med post-baccalaureate student and alumna Jessica Binkiewicz was among the 2017 class of the Governor’s STEM Scholars honored by the New Jersey Legislature in Trenton on March 23. Her research project was titled “Thieves’ and Pulling Essential Oils Are Effective Antibacterial Agents against the Bacterium Escherichia coli.” During the school yearBinkiewicz led a research team of three high school students on the project—one from Wayne Hills High School and two from Paterson Charter High School for Science and Technology.

Research and Creative Arts Day was organized by the Research Task Force created by Dr. Barbara Chesler, vice president for Academic Affairs.  The Research Task Force is comprised of faculty members Dr. Karla Batres, Dr. Ellina Chernobilsky, Dr. Thomson Ling, Dr. Jennifer Noonan, Dr. Kenneth Reeve, Dr. Meghan Ryan, Dr. Rosa Sanchez, Dr. Theodora Sirota, Dr. Marnie Sperling, Dr. Sara Tedrick Parikh, Dr. Rebecca Vega, Dr. Jason Vladescu and Berki. Also on the task force is Retention Specialist Maureen McNish and student Bipkin Koirala, a senior math and art major. Student volunteers who ushered at the event included: Amelia Biswas, Anika Sanjana, Prithy Adhikary, Shreyoshi Hossain, Michelle Eng, Ngima Sherpa, Anamika Sharma, Usha Katuwal, and Romina Ghale. The judges were greeted and registered by staff volunteers Christine Szeluga, Diana Lee, Alison Self, and Elaine Maliszewski.