Hunter Hosts First Undergraduate Research Conference

In my four years at Hunter, many new things have come about — turnstiles, the renovation of the Thomas Hunter Building, the (almost completed) construction on the Library, and now the first ever Undergraduate Research Conference.

March 20-21 marked the inaugural undergraduate research conference held at Hunter College. The event was sponsored by Hunter Science and Math Opportunities Network (SciMON), the Hunter Undergraduate Research Initiative, and the Hunter Undergraduate Student Government. A collection of keynote speakers, student presentations and poster sessions were held both in the West Lobby, and in the North building third floor cafeteria.

I leaped at the chance to witness the conference in action, RSVP-ing ahead of time on the links provided on the Hunter main page (entering myself into a raffle for some goodies was a great incentive). I ran into Andrew Marcus, a junior at Macaulay at Hunter, who was presenting a poster in the West Lobby about diamond-like carbon films (a.k.a super-strong-almost-frictionless-protective-films) under the mentorship of Professor Steve Greenbaum.

After the conference was over, Marcus said, “It was really exciting and fun to present my research at Hunter’s first Undergraduate Research Conference. This was my first time participating in a conference, so everything was new to me, but I put a lot of time into my work and poster and that enabled me to be able to discuss my work with many different people and answer most of their questions.I was actually surprised by the turnout, more people came to see the posters than I expected, and everyone seemed engaged and interested. I think this was a great event for Hunter because it allowed students to actually show others the work that we spend many hours on each week in the lab, which most people do not see or realize, and this conference really showcased the best that Hunter has to offer students who are motivated and passionate about science. ”

Jane Selegean was another presenter, with three psychology posters in the second session on March 20th. Under the advisement of Victoria Luine, the John P. McNulty Scholar and Thomas Hunter Honors College junior presented research ranging from the effects of shale drilling on the Pennsylvania Dairy Industry, to drug addiction, to tumor control after radiotherapy.

“It was awesome to see my two years of work culminate at such a milestone event at Hunter,” Selegean said. “The support I got from my scholarship program and my research mentors was amazing. I was able to present at my first conference at my own campus, so that was really special. A lot of my current and former professors were there and were really interested to see the variety of the research I was doing.”

When asked how she got interested in the seemingly disparate hydrofracture public health research, Selegean regaled how the beginning of an acquaintance with Dr. Finkel. “She started this new field of research in understanding the public health effects of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), and we focused on Pennsylvania since it is a major dairy state and close to NY. We used animal data instead of human data since the practice is only 5-10 years old and animals have shorter reproductive cycles and it is more likely to see an effect within the dairy industry than any other population of the state.”

I wandered upstairs to the student cafeteria, and sat in on a panel of professors discussing the benefits of performing research, and the benefits of the SciMON website. Although less attended than the poster sessions downstairs, it was a taste of just how much attention the set up and other keynote speakers were garnering. With talks ranging on Grad school prep, to STEM Careers, to oral presentations, the Conference highlighted the wide range of undergraduate research and network available at Hunter.

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