Over 300 students participated in The College of Staten Island’s Tenth Annual Undergraduate Conference on Research, Scholarship, and Performance. The conference provides students with the opportunity to display and present their research projects to the CSI community. Along with poster presentations, this year’s conference also featured paper presentations, where students discussed their research projects in a classroom and responded to questions afterward. During the conference, student art exhibits were open to the public, as well as musical performances by graduating seniors, the Jazz Ensemble, Gospel Choir, Rock Club, and other groups. The event was held in 1P, CSI’s Center for the Arts, and took place between 1:30pm and 4:30pm on Thursday, April 14.
Dr. Eun Park, CSI’s Dean of Research and Graduate Studies, explained the importance of the Undergraduate Research Conference (URC) to CSI Today: “The URC provides a valuable educational experience for undergraduate students through participation in various forms of projects and research. The research projects feature the high-quality interaction and work of students with faculty mentors. Those students who are exposed to the URC with research projects are in a better position, and are prepared and equipped for graduate study and research work if they decide to pursue graduate studies and degrees. The experience will be greatly beneficial for them.”
Sophomore Kaitlin Kelly researched the cytochrome 2E1 (Cyp2E1) activity in different substrates in mice with Dr. Jimmie Fata. She explains, “Cytochromes are found in hepatocytes, cells from the main tissue of the liver. We exposed the hepatocytes to different environments in order to determine the optimal conditions for growth. Our results showed that the level of enzyme activity of Cyp2E1 increased significantly using Matrigel as substrate when compared to collagen type I or plastic. These results suggest that Matrigel is an effective way to maintain the optimal cytochrome activity in mouse primary hepatocyte cultures.” Kelly joined Dr. Fata’s lab in January.
Valerie DeAngelo, a senior studying Electrical Engineering, created a tunable laser control board. In her presentation, she explained that “a tunable laser is a laser that’s wavelength can be tuned to different values. The control board will allow the laser to be controlled and monitored. The tunable laser and the computer are connected to the board. A computer program sends commands to control the laser through an RS-232 connection. If the transmission from the computer fails or the tunable laser fails, different LED lights will light up and switches will close fixing the issue.”
The conference featured research projects in a variety of disciplines, including Biology, Chemistry, History, Psychology, Astronomy, Engineering, Mathematics, Education, and Political Science. Its aim is to acknowledge the collaborative efforts of students and faculty advisers conducting research, as well as to honor the achievements made by the presenters. Dr. Ann Lubrano, Acting Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies and Academic Programs, told CSI Today, “The URC is an outstanding opportunity for CSI students to showcase the work they have been engaged in under the guidance of faculty mentors. The conference represents the breadth of experiences and disciplines at the College presented in a manner that prepares the students for professional participation. There are poster presentations of scientific research, dramatic presentations, musical and dance performances, conference-style paper presentations, and art and sculpture exhibits. The Conference is a wonderful occasion for personal and professional development for CSI students.”
Student participants value the experience of presenting their research to the college community. “Presenting at the Undergraduate Research Conference was a great experience,” said DeAngelo. “It gave me the opportunity to share what I have been working on with students and professors from all different backgrounds. It also forced me to learn how to explain my project in multiple ways so that everybody could understand it.”
Kelly agreed, “It was a wonderful experience to present and share my research with other students and faculty. It was nice to see so many students take pride in their hard work. The Conference was also a great opportunity to learn what other research is being done.”