Research Month is an annual opportunity for St. John’s University students and faculty to share their diligence, hard work, and passion for a vast array of scholarly pursuits, and showcase their proficiency in expanding the knowledge base of the University—and this year was no exception, despite its virtual setting.
Held in April, Research Month featured many online events and presentations that allowed for the same level of interaction as its in-person counterpart, such as lectures, roundtable discussions, and poster presentations. Topics discussed included the history of student activism at St. John’s and research in a COVID-19 environment. The annual Grants Reception and Student Research Conference were also encompassed within Research Month.
“Each year, Research Month provides a glimpse into the considerable intellectual capital possessed by our exceptional faculty and students,” noted Simon G. Møller, Ph.D., Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. “This year was no exception, and I applaud the organizers and all involved for seamlessly converting this traditionally in-person event to a virtual one, with no loss of the engagement and interactivity for which Research Month is known.”
On the Staten Island, NY, campus, the Mentored Research Forum celebrated students’ exceptional academic achievements and the faculty engagement that helps make them possible, noted Robert Fanuzzi, Ph.D., Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of English.
“Featuring Ozanam Scholars, as well as students pursuing independent projects and collaborative research with their professors, our Mentored Research Forum shows the difference that faculty mentorship makes for St. John’s students and the dedication of our Staten Island faculty to provide it,” Dr. Fanuzzi noted. The campus also held an Interdisciplinary Research Forum that brought faculty together to share their work.
Several student poster projects dealt with various aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including community health outcomes, mental health issues arising from the pandemic, the effect of COVID-19 on everyday life, and risky choices made in this era.
Jared Littman, Director, Office of Grants and Sponsored Research, said, “Our first virtual Research Month was more successful than I anticipated. There was an incredible turnout of student participation with their research poster presentations as well for the student conference which encompassed the oral presentations. The many other events such as the workshops throughout the month and faculty/administrator presentations were informative and well attended. I’m so grateful to the Research Month committee, all the various departments, and of course, our students, who made this such a wonderful and beneficial experience for the University community.”
Mr. Littman noted that more than 60 St. John’s faculty members secured grants from external bodies, and 15 faculty members received internal grants from the University. He recognized several faculty members who received substantial funding for their research, including Yong Yu, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biological Sciences and Director of Graduate Studies, who received a substantial National Institutes of Health Research Project Grant that yielded over $1.3 million.
Francis T. Fallon, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Philosophy, St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, was awarded nearly $175,000 from the Templeton World Charity Foundation as part of their Accelerating Research on Consciousness initiative.
Discussing the concept of interdisciplinary research, Dr. Fallon said, “Conceptual innovation traverses disciplinary boundaries. Insight, not just technological development, can change methodology. The telescope was a leap, but so was the introduction of double blinding in experimental work with human subjects.”
Christina Quartararo, Executive Director, Office of International Education: Inbound Programs, also received special recognition from Mr. Littman, who noted she has been the recipient of multiple federal grants. “Cultivating relationships with international partners has been a major achievement and an integral part of our grant success,” Mr. Littman stressed.
Since she arrived at St. John’s, Ms. Quartararo has worked with colleagues to bring several grant-funded international student and professional exchange programs to the University, including: the PDPI Brazil English Teachers Program; the Fulbright English for Graduate Studies Program; the Friends of Fulbright: Argentina program; and the Fulbright Pre-Departure Orientation: Western Hemisphere.
Ms. Quartararo said, “Over the last 10 years, I’ve attended this reception many times and listened in awe to so many colleagues talk about research to advance important drugs or programs that have a direct impact on the lives of children in our community.”