URC prepares students for what’s next


C:\fakepath\URC 3 Raj crop.jpgThe 13th Annual Undergraduate Research Conference (URC) will feature 65 presentations that represent the work of 120 students, as MCLA showcases their talent and dedication to their fields of study on this day-long event, held each spring.

This year, the campus will set aside Thursday, April 23, to celebrate students’ achievements as they share their research through posters, oral presentations and special sessions.

While some of the research will highlight scientific endeavors – such as work by psychology major Amanda Meczywor ’15 and a technology-based biology project by Daniel Heinen ’18 – history and philosophy double major Rajnikant Ishmael ’15 (top right), an immigrant from Guyana from Schenectady, N.Y., will focus on two distinct topics – “Terrorism” and “Abraham Lincoln.”

While he asserts that Lincoln’s compassion is utilitarian, Ishmael said his examination of terrorism is his most daring work thus far because it criticizes the way terrorism is viewed by both scholars and politicians.

“The presentation itself is important, but the Q&A that follows is really what encourages growth. Since I have researched as best I can and know a few things, questions will challenge me to give an insightful answer that is not a simple regurgitation of the literatures,” Ishmael explained.

C:\fakepath\URC 1 Amanda.jpgLike Ishmael, Meczywor (second from top), of Adams, Mass., is presenting two projects this year.

The first is a poster presentation that I completed with a group in a research seminar. It is a study we conducted looking deeper into the connection between social support and self-esteem, and how technology – as a new medium for giving and receiving social support – can impact self-esteem,” Meczywor explained.

Her second project is a paper presentation.

Meczywor explained, “As a part of my senior thesis, I conducted a study on the connection between relationship status and satisfaction, self-esteem and concern for body image. Individuals between the ages of 18 and 25 were asked to complete an online survey to collect data for the study. Over 200 individuals participated.” 

Heinen (third from top), of Little Falls, N.Y., merged technology and biology into a modern learning platform for his project.

C:\fakepath\URC 2 Daniel.jpgHe is working on an educational mobile application for smart phone and tablet devices, using augmented reality technology to allow anatomy and physiology students to explore and study the human body.

“This app allows students to scan an image with a smart phone or tablet camera and use it for a tracking base. This then allows them to see detailed 3D models on the screen that appear to be part of the real world,” Heinen said.  

Next spring, along with biology professor Dr. Sarah Herrick, he plans bring this application to the classroom in a beta trial. “My goal is to create a free, open source, and an innovative digital learning platform.”

After studying author John Milton and doing research on the role of women during the 17th century, Allie Jackson ’15 of Pittsfield, Mass. (bottom right), will present “Milton and Misogyny? A Critical Analysis of Milton’s View of Women through His Portrayal of Eve in ‘Paradise Lost.’”

C:\fakepath\URC 4 Allie crop.jpg“Many scholars have criticized the way Milton depicts Eve in his famous epic, seeing her character as a reflection of his personal misogynistic perspective,” Jackson explained. “Although at times Eve does appear to be naive and vain, she is also strong and courageous. Milton gives her an immense amount of power, particularly at the end of the work.”

All four students plan to continue their studies in graduate school.

Jackson said, “Even though I may never find myself doing a presentation just like this one again, what I have learned from the preparation and presentation process are transferrable skills that will always stay with me.”

“This research opportunity has helped me develop a new appreciation and passion for psychology,” Meczywor explained. “It is amazing to see the results of all the time and hard work I've put in for the past seven months. I get so excited when analyzing and interpreting the data, because it is coming from a study I created.”

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