DUNMORE, Pa. — This spring, Penn State Scranton will once again showcase the wide-ranging scholarly and creative talents of its students at the annual Undergraduate Research Fair and Exhibition.
Scheduled for the week of April 5-9, the research fair will once again be presented as an Online Web Showcase due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As always, it will include judged poster projects and oral presentations representing a vast array of research interests from across the academic spectrum. And, the Art & Creative Exhibition component will return after not being a part of last year’s virtual event.
Students can register for the fair now through March 12 at this link. From there, projects must be submitted by March 19.
This year’s Undergraduate Research coordinator is Assistant Teaching Professor of English Kara Stone.
“I am very excited about the opportunity to serve as the coordinator this year. I’ve been involved with the fair for the past few years and it has been one of my most rewarding experiences on campus,” Stone said.
“Presenting the fair virtually again this year gives everyone the opportunity to present since the schedule is more flexible," added Stone. "There was a great response from students and faculty last year when we switched from in-person to virtual and I am hopeful for the same response this year. We know that there is so much great work being done on campus and this is a great opportunity for students to highlight their achievements."
In addition to Stone, this year’s fair committee members are Associate Professor of Chemistry Jiyoung Jung, Head Librarian Jennie Knies, Assistant Professor of Corporate Communication Xialing Lin, Instructor in Nursing Mary Beth Mecca, Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies Raymond Petren, Lecturer in Art Corianne Thompson, Assistant Professor of Biology Megan Van Etten, Associate Professor of English Kelley Wagers and Associate Professor of Mathematics Taoye Zhang. Heba Elrawashdy is serving as the committee’s student representative.
“I think it's important to have this opportunity to not only share my work with others, but also see the work other students do."
— Megan Lucey, sophomore in nursing
Meanwhile, the committee is again working closely with Director of Information Technology Marilee Mulvey, Web Designer Shannon Williams and Academic Affairs Administrative Support Assistant Suzanne Morgan on developing and maintaining the fair’s website.
“Marilee, Shannon and Suzanne have been instrumental in the fair's success, and the entire IT team needs to be recognized for their commitment to making this year's fair an engaging and meaningful experience for the students,” Stone said. “I can't say enough good things about the IT staff. Without them, there wouldn't be a virtual fair.”
Among the students looking forward to the fair is senior business marketing/management major Lauren Sciabbarrasi, who has been participating since her freshman year.
This year, Sciabbarrasi plans to submit two projects: an oral presentation titled “Origami: The Art of Mathematics,” for which she investigated the relationship between computational geometry and the art of origami; and a photo essay capturing the campus softball team’s practices in response to COVID-19. The latter project originated last fall in the Small Group Communication course taught by Lecturer in Communication Arts and Sciences James Hart.
“I am so grateful that I was introduced to undergraduate research during my freshman year of college. While at first it was a requirement for a course I was in, I quickly grew to love the research process,” Sciabbarrasi said. “Research allows me to take a deep dive into topics, ideas and theories that I find intriguing, innovative and inspiring, and allows me to add my voice to a conversation that I find valuable.
"I never thought of myself as a creative person, but I found undergraduate research to be a perfect creative outlet for me. In my research, I typically take a ‘hard’ discipline (math, science, tech) and connect it to something more abstract (art, poetry, theory). For me, it’s like painting abstract art," said Sciabbarrasi.
“Research allows me to take a deep dive into topics, ideas and theories that I find intriguing, innovative and inspiring, and allows me to add my voice to a conversation that I find valuable."
— Lauren Sciabbarrasi, senior in business marketing/management
Sophomore nursing student Megan Lucey submitted three projects to the fair last year, including research on the impact artificial organ technology can have on patients suffering from organ failure, and an oral presentation about isolated tribes coexisting with modern society. This year, she plans on submitting another group project, as well as some research she conducted for a nursing informatics course.
“Participating in the research fair is gratifying for me because it allows me to share the work I do with a larger audience. Getting to hear varying perspectives on my work allows me to do better on future projects because I have more feedback,” Lucey said.
“I think it's important to have this opportunity to not only share my work with others, but also see the work other students do. Seeing other projects broadens my perspective and can be a great educational experience," said Lucey.
Stone advised students to work closely with their faculty advisors to make sure their work is ready for submission. And, they should also consider attending the Designing Your Poster workshop being presented by the Library and the Writing Center from noon to 1 p.m. on March 2 at the following Zoom link: https://psu.zoom.us/j/97841318134.
In addition, the committee is looking for faculty and staff members to judge fair entries. Those interested can complete the online judging form at this link.
Stone said she’s happy to work at a campus that takes undergraduate scholarship seriously and gives students a high-profile platform to demonstrate their knowledge.
“It’s important for our campus to offer students the chance to engage in presenting their research and creative accomplishments because so many times we become trapped in our own work and forget to celebrate the accomplishments of others,” Stone said. “There is so much great work happening on the undergraduate level at Penn State Scranton that it would be a missed opportunity not to encourage our students and faculty to showcase these accomplishments.”
For more information on the Undergraduate Research Fair and Exhibition, email Stone at [email protected].