Minds @ Work on May the Fourth: Celebrating all forms of creativity and research

“Do young infants react with surprise, curiosity & puzzlement when viewing optical illusions?” – Christina Krause, Danielle Longo, Faculty Mentor Sarah Shuwairi

Students and faculty of diverse majors gathered at venues all over the SUNY New Paltz campus on May 4 to celebrate thesis and capstone work produced throughout the 2017-18 academic year.

“Minds @ Work” day is one of the busiest and happiest on the academic calendar, as students across the disciplines share the outcomes of high-impact learning experiences conducted in the classroom, the arts studio, the laboratory and the workplace.

“The student work that we are seeing here and across campus today – Honors theses, Engineering Senior Design Expo, Celebration of Writing, BFA exhibitions – makes us very proud,” said President Donald P. Christian. “We are especially pleased and proud when you venture out of the classroom or directed laboratory or studio and into the unscripted intellectual landscape of independent or collaborative research and creative activity.”

“Use of Advanced Dimensional Analysis for Wool Fiber Grading” – Bryan Feigel, Tyler Rihm, Faculty Mentor Jared Nelson

The main event was the 24th annual Student Research Symposium, which this year saw presentations of original scholarship by 119 students representing 21 majors.

Many of the research experiences presented at the Symposium are made possible by the College’s Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities (RSCA) program. RSCA helps students obtain funding and collaborate with faculty members to engage with projects that prepare them for what comes next, whether that be graduate study and more research, or employment in fields where completion of an undergraduate research project is seen as evidence of problem solving and other high-demand skills.

“The best piece of advice I could give to anyone would be to find something you’re interested in, so that you’ll be motivated to put forth the effort in conducting the research. It’s very rewarding.” – Nicholas Primavera ’18g (Psychology)

Katherine Dobosh ’18 (Biology; Psychology), took advantage of the opportunity to collect and study paramecium samples at a number of local ponds.

“This project started out with fieldwork, but there was also a lot of lab work, which meant I got to experience different aspects of biology and research,” Dobosh said. “I’m planning on going to medical school, and I’m really interested in genetics, so this project will be beneficial when I’m doing the clinical work and laboratory work that goes into actually treating patients.”

“Investigating Paramecium caudatum susceptibility to Holospora undulata Infection” – Winiffer D. Conce Alberto, Faculty Mentor Lydia Bright

Graduate student Nicholas Primavera ’18g (Psychology) created a project that allowed him to combine his interest in evolutionary psychology with his work as a volunteer firefighter in the Town of Milton, N.Y.

“This was the first major project that I came up with and ran by myself, and it was actually not as difficult as I expected,” Primavera said. “The best piece of advice I could give to anyone would be to find something you’re interested in, so that you’ll be motivated to put forth the effort in conducting the research. It’s very rewarding.”

As in years past, the Symposium also included a moment of recognition for the contributions of faculty mentors who challenge and support students through their research experiences. The RSCA advisory board awarded Faculty Mentor Awards to Reena Dahle, assistant professor in the Division of Engineering Programs and Vanessa Plumly, lecturer and German coordinator in the Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures.

Student and faculty attendees also expressed special gratitude to Maureen Morrow, professor of biology, who has led the RSCA since 2006 and will step down from that role at the end of the academic year.

Learn more online about undergraduate research opportunities at SUNY New Paltz.