Fordham Holds 12th Annual Research Symposium


Students presented their research through oral and poster presentations. (Julia Comerford/ The Fordham Ram)

By Eliot Schiaparelli

On Wednesday, April 10, Fordham held its 12th annual Undergraduate Research Symposium. Students presented over 100 projects in a wide array of areas not limited to science. Students studied “Social Media Usage and Well Being,” “Superbugs: Bacterial Antibiotic Resistance” and “Grip Strength Differences Between Athletes and Non-Athletes,” to name a few.

According to Maura Mast, Ph.D, dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill, research has grown exponentially at Fordham since the first symposium 12 years ago. She said there were only about 30 presenters the first time the university held the event.

“The FCRH Undergraduate Research Symposium has always been a highlight of the year and this year was no exception,” said Mast. “We featured the work of over 300 students who collaborated with over 70 faculty in fields such as Biology, Chemistry, Art History, Psychology, Anthropology, Theology, and Linguistics, and more! I always learn something new at the Symposium and I’m so impressed with the energy and intelligence that Fordham students bring to this work.”

For students who chose to conduct oral presentations, there were breakout sessions at the beginning of the day. Following lunch and those presentations were several speakers including Mast and Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the university.

For those who chose to present posters on their project, both McGinley Second and McGinley Ballroom were filled with their work.
Mast and Rachel Annunziato, Ph.D, associate dean for strategic initiatives at Fordham College at Rose Hill wrote a letter in the symposium’s program. They thanked those in attendance and celebrated Fordham’s Undergraduate Research Program.

“FCRH students are presenting their work across the country and around the world, most recently in France, Germany and Spain,” they wrote. “On campus, students are now part of a community bonded by a deep interest in big questions and the relentless pursuit of knowledge.”

They said the university now has over $1.5 million in research funding for students and faculty, a research seminar titled “Foundations in Research Engagement” and over 100 publications co-authored by students and their faculty mentors.

Annunziato said she thought the day was wonderful for both students and their mentors.

“There was so much excitement in the air and a very strong turnout; I was so grateful for all the support our student researchers received,” she said. “A few students mentioned to me how the Symposium shows that research is ‘cool’ and I love hearing things like that.”

Joanna Moles, FCRH ’21, presented on “Epigenetics and Addiction” with a group.

“It was a really unique opportunity to not only share my group’s work but also to see the work of my fellow students,” she said. “Seeing all the original ideas and research made me realize how intelligent, innovative and dedicated our student body at Fordham is.”

Catherine Aumiller, FCRH ’19, presented a poster on college students attitudes toward American English dialects. It was titled, “What Do College Students Think of American English Dialects? A Survey Based Approach.”

“Presenting my findings to the diverse array of people that were at the symposium was a fun challenge that forced me to think about how my research fits into real life,” said Aumiller. “I loved having discussions with people wherein we worked to connect my research to what they already knew about the topic.”

Annunziato said students are well prepared to talk about their projects.

“For students who choose to deliver talks, we send them instructions in advance as well as assign a moderator to each panel who provides advice. For students who select a poster presentation, we also send out guidelines,” she said. “I hold a workshop on giving conference talks and creating posters before the Symposium.”

Colleen Cochran, FCRH ’21, gave an oral presentation titled, “Characterizing Summer Diurnal Patterns of Photosynthesis on American Beachgrass.”

“It was a wonderful experience to be able to share my research with the Fordham community and my peers,” said Cochran. “The event is a wonderful day of celebration and support.”

Annunziato also said each year she tries to implement feedback from the year before in order to make the symposium better.

“I am eager to encourage more students who are completing theses or independent studies to present at the Symposium,” she said. “I think some may not feel their work is ready but this is such a great venue to gain practice giving a presentation and to receive supportive feedback. I also am interested in forming a committee of students who might like to work with me on Symposium planning.”