Students return victorious from Undergraduate Research Symposium

sciencePhoto courtesy of Spark451.


By Kaidi Ilves

Students from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Florham and Metropolitan campuses recently participated in the 10th annual Undergraduate Research Symposium in Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Science at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J. Two FDU students took home first place prizes.

“These symposiums are organized to give students in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields an opportunity to hone their research skills, and present their work. The goal is to give them an edge in searching for jobs, or continuing their education in graduate or professional programs that are research intensive,” says Gloria Anderle, chair of the department of chemistry and pharmaceutical science in Becton College of Arts and Sciences at the Florham Campus.

More than 140 undergraduate students and 55 faculty members from 35 colleges in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut created posters about their research for this year’s symposium. Research topics ranged from biochemistry, physiology, cell and molecular biology and genetics to ecology and evolution, nanochemistry, general and materials chemistry.

The students had an opportunity to present their findings and defend their work in front of a panel of judges. Each poster was assigned into a category by the symposium organizers. FDU participated in nine of the 13 judging categories.

Griffin Talik, a junior majoring in biology won first place in the Behavior Session with his research in comparing wildcat and domestic cat (Felis Catus) behavior through a taxonomic approach. “The symposium was quite large, and a lot of people asked me about my research,” says Talik. “I enjoyed being able to share my findings and methods with others passionate about research. It was a truly fun event.” Talik was advised by Brian Olechnowski, assistant professor of biology, in Becton College.

Daniel Ruvolo, a senior majoring in biology won first place in the Physiology and Toxicology Session with his research focusing on the changes to resting and digestive metabolism associated with the aestivation in the Chacoan Horned Frog. He says, “I was confident about my project and presentation but I wasn’t expecting to win — there were a lot of interesting and strong projects. This was such a great experience, and it feels fantastic to have won. I highly encourage all students to get involved with research.” Ruvolo’s adviser was Joseph Agugliaro, assistant professor of biology, in Becton College.

“Each year, the competition gets more challenging. Our students competed against research institutions and larger schools with more resources,” Anderle says. “It truly is a grand accomplishment for our students to have won.” 

Metropolitan Campus student participants, from University College Arts • Sciences • Professional Studies, include: Paulina Cotzomi, Isabella Nemeh, Bernieve Dabady, Eugene Kang, Mikel Romero, Brittany Handzo, Jeff Courter, Mayte Rodriguez, Sharon Motatey, and Molly Mancuso. The Becton College students who attended are: Amy Defnet, William Hoffman, Melissa Orlando, Alex Smith, Mary Soorial, Nicole Umberto and Mounah Wehbeh.

Defnet, Ruvolo, Orlando, Smith, and Soorial were part of FDU’s Novo Nordisk Summer Research Program, which provides up to eight Florham Campus undergraduate students with mentored research opportunities in the fields of biology, biochemistry, chemistry, computer science, and mathematics.

News coverage on the symposium:

STEM students present research at symposium,” The Record, 04/10/2016