Caldwell, N.J., Aug. 6, 2020 – Caldwell University science students took home a number of awards from the New Jersey Academy of Science (NJAS) virtual research competition in July.
Shweta Sapkota ’20 won first place in the 2021 senior academy health or medicine category. She was also awarded a grant from the Independent College Fund of New Jersey (ICFNJ) for her research. Sapkota, who received a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in chemistry from Caldwell on May 17, is grateful to the ICFNJ and her professors. “I cannot thank the university enough for providing students like me with an appropriate platform and all the required materials to broadcast our talent in the form of research projects.”
Sapkota discovered her interest in working with cells and microorganisms when she was a student in Caldwell’s science department. The courses and clinical lab experiences prepared her for her current work as a medical technician in a microbiology lab with Quest Diagnostics. “I was trained to use most of the equipment used in the real world.”
In the ecology, environmental or marine science category, Sudeep Khadka ’21, a biology major, came in second, and Madison Perry ’21 , also a biology major, received the third-place award. Students Venisse Abanilla, Kriti Sitaula, Yaman Thapa and Saliha Ulgur earned honorable mentions.
The NJAS is a nonprofit organization with a mission to preserve and promote the advancement of STEM-related fields in the New Jersey scientific community.
William Velhagen, Ph.D., associate dean of Caldwell’s School of Natural Sciences, says he is delighted that Caldwell University was well represented among the awardees. “The success of our students is a testament to their intelligence and hard work and to the excellent mentorship by our faculty.”
The faculty members are very proud of the students. “It was a privilege to witness the unfolding of the students’ research and how they mastered the scientific method while developing valuable professional and excellent presentation skills,” says Agnes Berki, associate professor in the School of Natural Sciences.
Students had the chance to network and to share scientific ideas. More than 100 high school, undergraduate and graduate students participated in the event. They were given the opportunity to present original scientific research, to compete to have their research abstracts published and to participate at a higher level.
The Department of Natural Sciences was renamed the School of Natural Sciences effective July 1; it has become one of the largest academic units at Caldwell. Velhagen says he and his colleagues are proud that growing numbers of science majors have been accepted into internships and into Ph.D. and health profession programs at prestigious institutions. “Students and faculty have also been awarded several grants to conduct research and to support scholars. I am grateful to the university cabinet for recognizing the accomplishments of our faculty and students.”