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Research Month Highlights Student and Faculty Scholarship

Thursday, May 4, 2017

St. John’s annual Research Month activities in April showcased the breadth and quality of student and faculty scholarship across the University.

The Queens  campus hosted a wide variety of activities throughout the month, including lectures, poster sessions, and oral presentations. On the Staten Island campus, oral presentations and performances took place from April 10 to 24.

At Research Month’s largest event, the poster session in Taffner Field House on April 20, Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., President of St. John’s, welcomed several hundred students and faculty. “Three years ago, I came to St. John’s, in April 2014, to be introduced as the next president of this great University,” said Dr. Gempesaw. “The one and only student event I was taken to on my tour, and had the opportunity to meet with so many outstanding students, was the research poster session.”

Dr. Gempesaw went on to congratulate participants for their commitment, hard work, and dedication to creating scholarly work, which yielded 160 posters this year.  “Here at St. John’s,” he said, “it is our priority to develop a collaborative spirit of inquiry and discovery between students and faculty.”

“When we work together,” noted Robert A. Mangione, Ed.D., ‘77P, ‘79GP, ‘93PD, ‘99Ed.D., Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, “our academic research projects can effect positive change even beyond the University’s gates.”

The Excitement of Research

“Research Month is so important because it formally prepares students to find answers,” noted psychology major Danika Charles ’17C, who tested the validity and reliability of the sense of humor scale developed in 2010 by renowned psychologist Paul McGee. “The work prepared me to write scientific papers; it also made me more ambitious.”

The posters described projects including studies on human trafficking, caffeine consumption and the risk of stroke in women, sickle cell anemia and its prevalence in the African American community, and bipolar disorder and gender correlations.

School psychology major Karley Gabriel ’19G used a questionnaire over social media platforms to interview 520 participants in her research on anger mood induction. “Our results varied greatly among men and women,” she said. “That’s the exciting thing about conducting your own research, you never know what you’ll learn.”

“Students are thirsty for cutting-edge knowledge,” said Raymond A. DiGiuseppe, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology. Dr. DiGiuseppe mentored 14 students ranging from undergraduates to Ph.D. candidates. “As a result, they help faculty do a better job.”

The 20th Annual Faculty Book Authors Reception took place on April 6 at the University’s Institute for Writing Studies. This year, St. John’s saluted 35 faculty who authored a total of 39 books, up from 19 books and authors last year.

The public lecture, “Big Data and Your Health,” was delivered in the D’Angelo Center on April 18 by Giancarlo Crocetti, Ph.D., an Associate Director and Data Scientist for the IT Research and Development department at Boehringer Ingelheim, as well as an Adjunct Professor at St. John’s. Dr. Crocetti, who teaches data mining, shared his expertise on digital technologies with an audience of more than 70 students, faculty, staff, administrators, and other guests. “‘Digital health’ is around the corner,” he noted, “and it will generate data on patients leading to treatments for chronic diseases.”  

Students Thrive through Research   

At the University’s 28th Annual Grants Reception, also held on April 18 in the D’Angelo Center, Simon Geir Møller, Ph.D., Senior Vice Provost and Professor, Biological Sciences, offered special congratulations to Kathryn T. Hutchinson, Ph.D., Vice President for the Division of Student Affairs, and Rachel Zufferey, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Biological Sciences, for their continuous and successful efforts in securing substantial research grants for the University going back as far as 2009.

“From test tubes to student success measures, research is thriving at St. John’s,” said Dr. Møller, “and that speaks volumes to the diverse research culture here, where students and faculty are focusing on many forms of scholarly work.”

Up from 35 last year, 48 students and faculty delivered oral presentations on April 20, which were divided into categories ranging from “Explorations of Economic Justice” to “Women’s Rights and Representations,” and from “Exploring New Techniques in Chemical Synthesis” to “Religious Identity, Freedom, and Action.”

Ozanam Scholar and environmental studies major Haley Manchon ’17C focused on “Global Problems, Local Solutions” in her research about public health intervention in Ecuador, which she visited for nearly three weeks in her junior year on a service trip. “Environmental degradation affects the indigenous Shuar people,” said Haley. “As part of my research, I devised an educational plan for young children to learn to boil water to prevent the spread of disease.” 

At Staten Island, more than 100 students participated in Research Month activities, a 25 percent increase over last year. “We owe this growing engagement with Research Month on the Staten Island campus to a simple fact: research brings students and faculty together and commits everyone to student success—our number one priority,” said Robert Fanuzzi, Ph.D., Associate Provost for Academic Affairs. “Research Month is really the fruit of our commitment to this priority from the start of the academic year to its end.”