Attendees check out some of the poster displays at Scranton's research fair

Students showcase research talents at this year's fair; winners announced

This year’s research fair was especially celebratory as it was the first time the fair has been held on campus in three years.
By: Amy Gruzesky

It doesn’t take place until April but planning and preparation for the campus’ annual Undergraduate Research Fair and Exhibition starts at the very beginning of the spring semester, in January, with students and faculty starting work on their projects, and organizers doing all of the “behind the scenes” tasks necessary to make each year’s event a success.

This year’s fair was especially celebratory because it was the first time the fair has been held on campus in three years. The 2020 and 2021 fairs were both held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic. One result is that now, in addition to the in-person, on-campus event, the campus has decided to continue to showcase the projects virtually for those who may be unable to attend, and they can also check out previous years’ submissions – garnering even more attention for the projects students work so hard on.

To see everything this year’s Undergraduate and Research Fair and Exhibition had to offer, click here.

A total of 112 students participated this year, entering 78 poster presentations, six oral presentations, six creative works, 12 visual arts projects and 28 exhibition participants which are not judged.

Participants this year displayed posters from a wide range of categories and a varied reach in subject matter and which benefitted local organizations and businesses. Subject areas included Nursing, Science, Social Sciences, Technology and Technology and Engineering.

IST students Alexander Hamilton, Trusha Patel, Demitri Reece, Keshi Patel worked on the “Dress for Success Inventory Management” project, which benefitted the non-profit Dress For Success, created a web-based inventory management application aimed at helping the organization manage their inventory with more efficiency and accuracy, and minimizing human error.

Other projects dealt with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic:

  • Nursing major Logan DeSanto researched “Stories from Nurses on the Front Lines of the Covid-19 Pandemic” which garnered her second place in her category. 
  • Human Development and Family Studies major Emily Pinto researched, “Family Routines During Covid-19.”
  • Biology major Alexandria DeWolfe and science major Marston Jamieson, studied “Plant Interactions Perceived as Stress Relieving During COVID-19 Pandemic” and won second place in the science category.
  • And, psychology major Rhiannon DePew’s “Incoming Pandemic” was an oral presentation that addressed the mental strain, including the increased suicide rate, caused by the pandemic.

In the Visual Arts category, students submitted colorful, creative art works featuring everything from landscapes to dragons to plant life. Submissions can be seen here.

This year’s winners and their submissions are:

Nursing: Health and Aging

1st Place: Olivia Maikranz -- The Effectiveness of Music-Based Interventions in Addition to Pharmacological Interventions To Manage Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia” (Advisor: Khalid Almasloukh)

2nd Place: Nicole Swanson -- Reducing Hypertension in Adults” (Advisor: Khalid Almasloukh)

Nursing: Injury and Disease

1st Place: Kayla Kozlowski -- Efficacy of Needle Exchange Programs” (Advisor: Khalid Almasloukh)

2nd Place: Logan DeSanto -- Stories from Nurses on the Front Lines of the COVID-19 Pandemic” (Advisor: Michael M. Evans)

Nursing: Prenatal and Pediatrics

1st Place: Megan Lucey -- Copper or Hormonal Intrauterine Device: Which Has Fewer Side Effect” (Advisor: Khalid Almasloukh)

2nd Place: Johnnah Carr -- The Impact of Breastfeeding on Infants Experiencing Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)” (Advisor: Khalid Almasloukh)


1st Place: Sarah D. Sherpinskas -- Using Brassica rapa mutants to measure the long-term effects of pollinator declines: First steps” (Advisor: Megan Van Etten)

2nd Place: Alexandria DeWolfe, Marston Jamieson -- Plant Interactions Perceived as Stress Relieving During COVID-19 Pandemic” (Advisor: Megan Van Etten)

Social Science

1st Place: Elizabeth Trojan -- Violence/Risk Assessments and Incarcerated Offenders: Examining the Reliability and Validity of the PCL-R” (Advisor: Renae McNair)

2nd Place: Kaylah Simmons -- The Psychological Influences Behind the Fear of Phone Detachment Among Teens Using the Nomophobia Questionnaire” (Advisor: Renae McNair)

Technology and Engineering

1st Place:  Timothy Nelson, Michael Border, Alexandria Trinovitch -- 3D-printed Spring-like Novel Bar Mechanism for Simplifying the Design of Robotic Grippers” (Advisor: Mizanoor Rahman)

2nd Place: Michael V Mancuso, Kyle Bosley, Ryan Blanchard -- The Truth Behind VPN: Is It Worth Your Money?” (Advisor: Marilee Mulvey)

Oral Presentations

1st Place: Marie LaRosa -- Relationship” (Advisor: Jody Griffith)

2nd Place: Angelo Corradino -- How Ace Attorney Uses Elements of the Graphic Novel” (Advisor: Kelley Wagers)

Visual Arts

1st Place: Maria Veniamin -- Making Purple” (Advisor: Corianne Thompson)

2nd Place: Amanda Delhagen -- Coming undone” (Advisor: Corianne Thompson)

University Libraries’ Undergraduate Research Award for Excellence in Information Literacy

1st Place:  Alexandria DeWolfe, Marston Jamieson -- “Plant Interactions Perceived as Stress Relieving During COVID-19 Pandemic” (Advisor: Megan Van Etten)

Runners Up:

Marceia Tanzini – “Scientific Motherhood” (Advisor: Kelley Wagers)
Marie LaRosa – “Relationship” (Advisor: Jody Griffith)

Aless Jellan Agojo -- “Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections Prevention in Older Adults” (Advisor: Khalid Almasloukh)
Elizabeth Trojan -- “Violence/Risk Assessments and Incarcerated Offenders: Examining the Reliability and Validity of the PCL-R” (Advisor: Renae McNair)
Kimberlyn Sanchez -- “Maternal Gatekeeping Shortly After Separation and Divorce” (Advisor: Ray Petren)
Claire Taylor -- “Food During Labor” (Advisor: Khalid Almasloukh)





Student project from Fall 2021 gets adopted by faculty this spring

Last fall, Maria Veniamin was given an assignment for Business Writing class: a business report on an organization and an issue they were having, and come up with a solution to that problem.

The assignment came just after Penn State had announced that in the following semester, the traditional week-long spring break would be replaced with three wellness days instead. 

"And my first thought to that news was, my community is going to be exhausted. And so I approached Dr. Tettenborn (associate professor of English) and I said, 'Dr. Tettenborn, I would like to write my report on a solution to the lack spring break that our campus will face next semester.'"

After receiving approval for her project, Veniamin prepared to hunker down in her room for a few days to do the research and work required for her project.

"I researched," she said. "I researched exhaustion in general.I researched exhaustion in the academic world. But I didn’t just research for students' exhaustion. I wrote this report for my community. My friends, my professors and the staff."

At the end of her research, the solution Veniamin came up with was to pair each wellness day with a light work day following it. Professors could teach class and make assignments, but they could not have any work due on the light work day, in order to allow everyone to have a restful night and make the best possible use of the wellness day.

She turned in her project and anxiously awaited her grade. When she received it, she was shocked.  "Not only had I gotten a 100 percent on my paper, but a note  had been left for me on the side." The note was from Tettenborn, and is said, “Maria, I really liked your solution. And I have shared your idea with my fellow faculty members. But don’t worry, I have kept you anonymous.”

The fall semester ended and as students returned for the spring semester and got back to classes and studying, Veniamin began to receive texts from her friends and fellow students telling her that their professors had included a light work week in their syllabi.

"What’s with that?" they asked her. "Do you know anything about that?"

"I mean, I might know a little about that," Veniamin giggled, as she retold the story, while keeping it quiet that the light work day had been her idea.

"But," she told the crowd at last week's Undergraduate Research Fair and Exhibition, "I tell you this story today not for what I did, but because of the passion that I had for my research. I know the students presenting today have [that same passion] for theirs. As undergraduate researchers, we are mainly focused on honing our researching skills. We are not professionals. But we are passionate. And as I look around this room today, I see who I so passionately wrote my research for."