Bloomfield College student wins national undergraduate research conference award

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Fate King ’22, a Bloomfield College McNair scholar and honors program member, was recently recognized as the recipient of the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) award at the organization’s 2022 National Conference on Undergraduate Research ( NCUR) for his presentation in the Natural and Physical Sciences titled Twinkle, Twinkle, Variable Star, How I wonder how far away you are.

King, who is on track to graduate with a biology degree from Bloomfield in May, was mentored by physics professor Demetris Nicolaides, Ph.D. of the College’s Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, as together they sought to “make a scholarly or artistic contribution to knowledge”, the goal of undergraduate research as defined by the Council. The award, which ran for two years, followed co-publication of research in a peer-reviewed journal publicationthe Journal of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (JAAVS0).

“Destiny’s research has focused on variable stars – whose brightness varies periodically as they expand and contract – with the aim of refining the method of measuring cosmic distances. Precise galactic distances and receding velocities ultimately help scientists more accurately determine the expansion of the universe. To my knowledge, this is the first time a Bloomfield College student has won an NCUR award, certainly in the science field,” Nicolaides said. “Also, being published in a peer-reviewed publication as an undergraduate student is quite an achievement. We are very proud of Destiny and know that she will continue to innovate and impress us as she pursues her higher education in the future.

The 2022 conference, held virtually, attracted more than 3,200 students, faculty and administrators from around the world, from all types of higher education institutions and all disciplines. Over 2,500 students presented their research through posters, live oral presentations, visual arts and performances.

“I heard about the lecture from Professor Nicolaides, and he encouraged me to submit the application abstract and later the video for the competition, the first steps in the process,” said King, a County of Gloucester. “It took several months before I learned that I was a finalist. At the conference awards ceremony, I finally learned that I was one of two winners in the physics and astronomy division. I am delighted that my hard work has been recognized as having value, and I am very grateful to everyone who has helped me along the way.

In communicating with King about his research submission, the CUR Executive Board wrote, “Your submission has been rigorously reviewed by experts in your discipline, so you should be very proud of this achievement. ! Your abstract demonstrates a unique contribution to your field of study, and we are pleased to offer you the opportunity to present your work to your peers, faculty, and staff across the country.

The McNair Scholars program, of which King is a student member, is funded by a TRIO grant from the U.S. Department of Education and works to prepare first-generation and income-eligible participants, as well as historically underrepresented students, for doctoral-level studies. It offers undergraduate research opportunities, academic advising, graduate preparation workshops, and other educational seminars to help McNair Scholars acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to pursue and complete a doctorate. The ultimate mission of the project is for the participants to serve as teachers to help diversify the Academy.

CUR’s mission is to support and promote high-quality supervised undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative inquiry. It provides support and professional development opportunities for faculty, staff, administrators and students. NCUR Iis recognized as the largest symposium of its kind in the world.

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