Student scholarship on display at Lehigh Valley Undergraduate Research Symposium


CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — Penn State Lehigh Valley once again demonstrated its deep commitment to scholarship at the campus’ annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, held April 4-8.

After going virtual last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the symposium has returned to its traditional in-person format. This year, there were six poster presentations in the areas of STEM and the arts, humanities, business, and social and behavioral sciences.

The symposium ended on Friday, April 8 with student groups presenting their research to the campus community, as well as family and friends. Faculty and staff judges handed out first-place awards to four presentations, and the day also included a captivating keynote from Penn State Schuylkill Associate Professor of Psychology and Acting Director of Academic Affairs Cory Scherer, who presented the lecture, “Sex Differences in Jealousy: A Tale of Undergraduate Research.”

Chancellor Tina Q. Richardson praised the students for investing so much time and energy in their respective projects, all of which were carried out with the help of faculty mentors.

“As Chancellor, few people know how much I love research. When I was a faculty member, I was always engaged in research, but now I can support research in all its forms,” said Richardson. “For you students, undergraduate research allows you to scratch the itch of your intellectual curiosity and see where it goes. You are at the forefront of expanding your knowledge, and I find that very exciting. And I hope you can take that passion with you every step of your journey.

The four winning entries were:

  • STEM: “Investigating Support Options Not Included in Transverse Beam Loading Simulation”: Student Presenters, Tobey Field, Ethan Davies, and Fouad Awwad; faculty mentor, Tracey Carbonetto.
  • Arts: “Invasive Species: The Importance of Scientific Illustrations”: Student Facilitator, Delilah Jabbour; faculty mentor, Elizabeth Flaherty.
  • Humanities, business and social and behavioral sciences: “Let’s Talk About Sex Work”: student presenters, Hannah Irwin, Drew Bartos, Fernando Gaton Bido, Hailee Foster and Makayla Wilkins; faculty mentor, David Livet.
  • Excellence in Information Literacy: “Effects of Stress on Memory for Social Content”: student presenters, Justin Lebon and Hannah Irwin; faculty mentor, Liver.

The other poster presentations were:

  • “Exploring the ability of heparin to reduce stress fiber formation in endothelial cells exposed to TNF-a”: student presenters, Ali Naqvi and Rory Rafferty; faculty mentor, Jacqueline McLaughlin.
  • “Does depression and/or anxiety have an impact on students’ academic performance? ”: student leader, Samantha Meeker; faculty mentor, Teri Kistler.

“All the posters were phenomenal, so it wasn’t easy on the judges at all,” said McLaughlin, who served on the undergraduate search committee this year with faculty members Todd Retzlaff, Nicole Ryerson and Jeffrey Stone.

Winner or loser, the students underlined the satisfaction they had in pursuing and completing their research projects.

“I love that you can take your own initiative and do a project that fits your own interests instead of what’s required in our courses,” said Lebon, a psychology major.

“It was a lot of fun, and I’m really glad I did it,” added Meeker, a rehabilitation and social services major. “It was a lot more work than I expected, and it definitely takes a lot of dedication to do these research projects. But it will give me a good basis for higher education.


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