Abington Undergraduate Research Fair a ‘Triumph’ for Students

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ABINGTON, PA – Penn State Abington hosted its annual ACURA – Abington College Undergraduate Research Activities – competition and fair last week and, for the second year, it was held virtually.

“Despite a pandemic, 37 of our students, under the mentorship of 22 dedicated faculty, presented 26 research projects in our online research fair. It wasn’t easy with the social distancing requirements, the remote meetings via Zoom and some of our students in teams as far apart as Texas, California and even Asia, ”said Ann Schmiedekamp, ​​professor. of physics and coordinator of ACURA.

“This year’s fair was a triumph of student learners who overcame more than average hurdles to investigate their research questions,” she said.

The goal of undergraduate research is to develop critical thinking and creativity among Abington university students. ACURA offers up to three semesters of collaboration between faculty and students so that they can explore their interests through scientific experimentation, inquiry-based research, or creative work. Students earn credits for ACURA and participate in the annual research competition.

See videos of ACURA 2021 projects here.

This year’s winners are:

Arts and Humanities Division

  • First place:
    • “Khrushchev 1956: Fighting Stalin’s Ghost” by Peter Stiles (Faculty Mentor: Roy Robson)
  • The second place:
    • “Legacies of Medieval Herbal Thinking in a 17th Century Manuscript: An Exploration of the History Behind Agrimony’s Connection to Herbal Science and Medicine” by Paula Kim (mentors: Marissa Nicosia, Christina Riehman-Murphy, Heather Froelich)
  • Information Literacy Award:
    • “Legacies of Medieval Herbal Thinking in a 17th century manuscript: An Exploration of the History Behind Agrimony’s Connection to Herbal Science and Medicine” by Paula Kim (mentors: Marissa Nicosia, Christina Riehman-Murphy, Heather Froelich)
    • “All About Rosewater” by Harshika Thard (Faculty Mentors: Marissa Nicosia, Christina Riehman-Murphy, Heather Froelich)

Science and Engineering Division

  • First place:
    • “Prototype studies of small spacecraft: assembly of a Raspberry-Pi model and testing of classified flight computers in space” by Lingqi Li, Hongyi Jiang, Anastasiya Orchakova, Maria Herranz (faculty mentor: Masataka Okutsu )
  • Second place (tie):
    • “Review of Monocular Slamming Techniques for Building 3D Maps” by Poojith Kotikalapudi (Faculty Mentor: Vinayak Elangovan)
    • “Understanding Emotion Recognition” by Kavan Adeshara (Faculty Mentor: Vinayak Elangovan)
    • “Erratic Vela Pulsar Activity” by Avinash Sookram and Kevin Claros (Faculty Mentors: Carl Schmiedekamp, ​​Ann Schmiedekamp)
  • Honorable mention:
    • “Influence of Physical Activity Levels and Sleep Habits on Psychological Inventories in College-Aged Women” by Evelyn Glukhovskiy and Rochaelle Gill (faculty mentors: Steve Bloomer, Megan Gillen, Diane Rosenbaum)
  • Information Literacy Award:
    • “Review of the Effects of Gamma Radiation Irradiation on 2D Materials by Vitaliy Mykhnyak” (Faculty Mentor: Burcu Ozden)
    • “Testing the Mechanical Properties of a 3D Printed Prosthetic Sleeve” by Ruthanna McMurtrie, Ian McGorrey, Renaijah Purvis, Kevin Shen (Faculty Mentor: Mukul Talaty)

“This year’s fair was a triumph of student learners who overcame more than average hurdles to investigate their research questions.

—Ann Schmiedekamp, ​​professor of physics, Penn State Abington

Social Sciences Division

  • First place:
    • “Black Women’s Experiences of Colorism” by Brianna Carroll and Falande Decaze (Faculty Mentor: Elizabeth Hughes)
  • The second place:
    • “Autism, Anime, and Facial Emotion Recognition” by Bridger Standiford (Faculty Mentor: Kevin Hsu)
  • Honorable mention:
    • “Who’s on Top? Autonomy and Control in Online Sex Work” by Brianna Carroll (Faculty Mentor: Beth Montemurro)
  • Information Literacy Award:
    • “A Review of Potential Correlations Between Weight Status: Perceived Family Weight Status, Depression, and Anxiety” by Paige Sfida (Faculty Mentor: Diane Rosenbaum)
    • “Social Justice Activities in After-School Time Programs and the Impact on Urban Youth” by Alexa Pagan (Faculty Mentors: Katrina Black Reed and Jacob Benfield)

Three Abington student projects were recognized at the Penn State Eastern Regional Undergraduate Research Symposium 2021:

  • Gain second place In the category of physical sciences, information sciences, engineering:
    • Lingqi Li, “Preliminary Thermal Validation Tests for Education Class CubeSats and Space-Classified Flight Computer Tests” (Faculty Mentor Masataka Okutsu)
  • Tied for second place in the social and health sciences category:
    • Bridger Standiford, “Recognizing Autism, Anime, and Facial Emotions” (Faculty Mentor Kevin Hsu)
    • Mark Chudnovski, “Are there any benefits of looping in undergraduate math courses?” (faculty mentors Rachael Brown and Michael Bernstein)

About Penn State Abington

Penn State Abington provides affordable, accessible, high-impact education that results in the success of a diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st century public higher education at a world-class research university. With approximately 3,700 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers bachelor’s degrees in 23 major subjects, undergraduate research, the Schreyer Honor Program, NCAA Division III athletics, and more.


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