Skidmore researchers earn engagement prize

Skidmore researchers earn engagement prize

Oct. 12, 2013

ny6 conference bus
An enthusiastic group ready for pre-dawn
departure

Nearly 100 students from seven colleges and universities attended the annual New York Six consortium’s undergraduate research conference, hosted at St. Lawrence University this year, in late September. And 25% of the students came from Skidmore—a testament to their collective enthusiasm for their work and for the sharing of their experiences and findings.

The other five member institutions were Clarkson, Union, Siena, Colgate, and SUNY-Potsdam. The conference included oral presentations and poster sessions in research fields from the sciences to the social sciences to the humanities (PDF of the program).

“Our students were really engaged because they know how worthwhile the experience is,” says chemistry professor Reba Howard, who attended with Jody-Ann Facey ’14 and Erika Riederer ’14. “Skidmore students really like talking about their research; they’re disappointed if people don’t ask them questions. And they’re eager to ask questions too. They understand it’s not good science if they don’t communicate it well.”

Bob Turner, a government professor and director of Skidmore’s Faculty-Student Summer Research Program, was impressed that all the students were on time—and mostly smiling—for the 5:30 a.m. bus departure from the Skidmore campus. And he adds, “I loved overhearing snippets from their conversations with their counterparts: ‘What kind of assay did you use? How do you control for pH in the soil? I love your experimental design.’ They weren’t so much students as fellow scholars admiring each other’s work.”

“The conference was amazing—an excellent opportunity to network with fellow undergraduate researchers,” says Nile Nair ’15. He produced a poster on his investigations into how the bacterium Bacillus halodurans encodes two distinct pathways for the synthesis of a genetic enzyme. This was Nair’s second consecutive summer with chemistry professor Kelly Sheppard, who he says is an “amazing mentor who encourages me to think outside the box when we encounter bumps along the way.”

ny6 group dining
A chance to relax and refuel—students enjoy
dinner at the NY6 conference

Angelo Gonzalez ’15 presented “Comida Latina: Spanning Cultures, Building Bridges,” which analyzes and builds the case for food as a significant contributor to the Latinization of American culture. He built the project’s Web site in collaboration with Spanish professor Viviana Rangil. At the conference, he says, “I talked with students who also had an interest in computer science, and we shared a lot of neat tips and tricks with each other. It was really nice to see students talking passionately about their research projects, and at the same time being interested in my food project as well.” (For more on Gonzalez’s work, click here.)

Turner reports that, even after their 15-hour day, including six hours on the road, the students exited the bus saying that the experience was “awesome.”

Skidmore’s conference participants:

Ariel Alperstein ’14, “Dual Pathway for Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus Asparaginyl-tRNA Formation,” with mentor Kelly Sheppard, assistant professor of chemistry

Mark Benhaim ’14 and Israel Da Silva ’15, “Expanding the Genetic Code With Pyroglutamate,” with mentor Kelly Sheppard, assistant professor of chemistry

Spencer Berstler ’15, “Synthetic Strategies in the Organic Chemistry Laboratory,” with mentor Kara Cetto Bales, senior teaching associate in chemistry

Emily Carbone ’14, “Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 1,” with mentor Sarita Lagalwar, assistant professor of neuroscience and Susan Kettering Williamson ’59 Professor of Neuroscience

Michael Coffel ’14 and Renee Schapiro ’15, “Hemispheric Specialization and Self-Relevant Stimuli Mediate Emotional Stroop Effects,” with mentor Denise Evert, associate professor of psychology

Jody-Ann Facey ’14, “Modulation of a Bacterial Proton-gated Ion Channel by 18-methoxycoronaridine,” with mentor Rebecca Howard, assistant professor of chemistry

Melanie Feen ’16, “Discriminating Nature of the Aspartyl-tRNA Synthetases from Three Human Pathogens,” with additional authors Denise Garofalo ’13 and Mohammed Islam ’15 and mentor Kelly Sheppard, assistant professor of chemistry

Olivia Frank ’16, “Understanding UPK: A Case Study in New York,” with mentor Hope Casto, assistant professor of education studies

Mohammed Islam ’15, “Discriminating Nature of the Aspartyl-tRNA Synthetases from Three Human Pathogens,” with mentor Kelly Sheppard, Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Elise Taverna ’14 and Sara Brandt ’14, “Non-Medical Use of Prescription Drugs among College Students,” with mentor Robert M. Hallock, visiting assistant professor of neuroscience

Angelo González ’15, “Comida Latina: Spanning Cultures, Building Bridges,” with mentor Viviana Rangil, associate professor of Spanish

Maura LaBrecque ’14, “Are All Artificial Sweeteners Created Equal? with mentor Robert M. Hallock, visiting assistant professor of neuroscience

William Miller ’15, “Synthesis of 3-Penten-2-One: Use in the Undergraduate Organic Chemistry Laboratory, with additional author Brian Geraghty ’14 and mentor Kara Cetto Bales, senior teaching associate in chemistry

Stefani Mladenova ’14, “Dual Routes for S. Aureus Asparaginyl-tRNA Formation,” with mentor Kelly Sheppard, assistant professor of chemistry

Nilendra Nair ’15, “Dual Routes for B. Halodurans Asparaginyl-tRNA Synthesis,” with mentor Kelly Sheppard, Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Erika Riederer ’14, “Alcohol Modulation of a Eukaryotic Ligand-Gated Ion Channel of Known Structure,” with mentor Reba Howard, assistant professor of chemistry

Kara Rode ’15, “The Role of Mediator in Transcription of Inducible Genes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae,” with mentor Randy Morse, a professor at the Wadsworth Center in Albany

Berke Tinaz ’16 and Camille Yongue ’14, “Experimental Manipulation of Primary Cell Wall and Morphological Plasticity in the Unicellular Green Alga Penium margaritaceum,” with additional author Julie Ochs ’14 and mentor David Domozych, professor of biology

Sibin Wang ’16, “Urine-based Diagnostic Assay for Malaria,” with mentor Kimberley Frederick, professor of chemistry

 

 

 

Tags: Admissions, Campus Life, Skidmore Faculty-Student Summer Research Program, New York Six, St. Lawrence University, undergrauate research, Bob Turner
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