Student Research Shines at Annual Summer Fellows Symposium

The 20th symposium took place on Friday, July 20, with 66 students from the classes of 2019 and 2020 presenting their research.

The day began with 22 poster displays in Myrin Library that brought faculty, staff, parents and guests to hear about topics from the impact of ocean drilling and Chinese stock market regulations to the experience of rookies in Major League Baseball.

In the 41 classroom presentations that followed, one student presented on female comedy in history and practice. The presentation included a two-woman comedy skit written and developed with the student research. Inspired by names like Phyllis Diller and Lucille Ball, Claire Hughes ’20 talked about the importance of “women making their own way in comedy”.

As contemporary inspiration, Hughes discussed the importance of the Australian Hannah Gadsby’s show Nanette. As a result of her summer fellows research she described gaining the personal goal of “making comedy with a purpose” not just for comedy’s sake.

Another student researcher sought to understand machine counting of impact cratering. Micah Alma Cloward ’20 needed to learn a new computer language, Interactive Data Leveraging, in order to do his research. He then created a working program and smoothing algorithm to count and measure craters on the moon’s surface. Of the challenging experience, he said the most surprising result was “how many craters there are on the moon.”

The research and resulting presentations also included a standing room only talk about a student developed website to assist first-generation immigrants seeking college acceptance.   Chelsey Thomas ’19 created “A Mile in My Shoes” for the web in order to provide and distill helpful information for college-bound students who are, or who are the children of, immigrants.  Of her future goal for the site, Thomas said she envisions a team updating it with colleges and universities using it to share information.

Many of the students conducted work off campus in addition to their campus based research.  Bridget Rauh ’19 worked with Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurses and is volunteering with St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia to conduct her research on patient safety in the NICU. Compiling a wealth of data on the dangers to babies in the NICU, she identified patterns and trends that emerged, including the correlation between staffing and patient safety as well as the importance of simple things like hand-washing. As she continues her research, Rauh seeks to answer more questions surrounding different methods hospitals use to increase patient safety for these youngest patients.

The summer fellows worked with faculty mentors and conducted research both inside and outside the classroom. Many of the student fellows said they will continue their research through the coming academic year. —By Monique Kelly