Worcester State University’s sixth annual Celebration of Scholarship and Creativity started the morning of April 24 with presentations covering the potential development of green spaces in Worcester, readings from emerging young women writers, climate change’s impacts on Antarctica’s ice, and an analysis of farmers’ market customers.
At mid-day, the inaugural Robert K. O’Brien Next Big Idea Contest for young entrepreneurs, which attracted seven entries, got underway in Seven Hills Lounge of Wasylean Hall. O’Brien, who served as one of the judges, explained, “I came forward in September and met with some other alumni about this idea, and we created a fund supported by graduates of Worcester State to fund anyone associated with Worcester State with a business idea…on terms that aren’t shark-like. That idea has really taken hold.”
Gavin Hazard-Johnson and Kevin Chandler gave the first presentation on their proposed company, FitListIt.com, a website that would enable visitors to learn about and chose local fitness clubs, personal trainers and fitness advice tailored to their personal preferences as well as post reviews. It would start in Worcester and eventually branch out to metro Boston.
“We are removing the veil,” Hazard-Johnson said. “We want people to be confident in these services and spark really good change in fitness.”
The other contestants were Jory Courtney for Fresh Folds Delivery Laundry Service, Adam Straughn for The Echo Locator, Derek Canton for G1G, Kristin Morrison for Biffies Cookies Bar, Michael Baker for History Inc., and Phil Iaccarino for JFM Care Centres. The winner will be announced in early May.
O’Brien was one of the judges, along with Kim Harmon ’95, founder and CEO of Life Enterprises; Craig Boviard ’77, president of Built-Rite Tool & Die Inc./Reliance Engineering; David Rumrill, a senior vice president at Morgan Stanley; and Patrick Donlon, a portfolio management associate at Morgan Stanley.
The Blue Lounge and North/South Auditorium came alive from 1 to 3 p.m. as students and faculty presented more than 125 research and creativity posters, including:
- Three faculty and four students from our business, computer science and communication programs are working with local businesses to improve communication among themselves, local residents and the WSU community.
- Graduate nursing student Lisa Chan presented her research on contents and labels of household and personal care products and awareness about what’s in them. Her findings will help nurses improve the environmental health literacy of their patients.
- Our business students were talking about their work out in the community helping the SHINE Initiative and Central Mass. Suicide Prevention Coalition, raising hunger awareness through their Art-Can-Texture program, running an “Entrepreneur-Shop” for local business owners, continuing the Country Kettle Small Business Consulting Project, and teaching financial literacy to local high school students.
- Our physical and earth sciences students put together presentations about their research on ways cemetery landscaping can help carbon sequestration, the availability and quality of playground spaces in Worcester, whether local farmers’ markets really sell locally grown produce and more.
- Shila Waritu, a graduate student in the nonprofit management program who is from Nairobi, Kenya, presented her research on American’s misperceptions about Africa. “With so many NGOs (non-governmental organizations) in Africa, starting with these misperceptions doesn’t help,” she said. Her research is part of a creation of the Dignify Africa movement that she and nonprofit management program coordinator and Associate Professor of Urban Studies Shiko Gathuo, Ph.D., started. Its goal is to raise awareness about the normalcy and positive things happening in Africa.
- Psychology students Michelle Henault, Sara Murphy and Amberly Bliss presented their baseline research on Worcester Art Museum visitors’ viewing of the Old Masters Gallery. The art in the gallery is displayed in a traditional linear format. The students found that, on average, visitors spent three minutes, 30 seconds in the gallery and viewed seven of the 20 paintings, which is about 12 percent below the museum average. The gallery will be renovated over the summer, and a new group of psychology students will continue the study. “It will be exciting to see how people are going to respond to the changes,” Murphy said.
Meanwhile, presentations on the problems of privileging marriage in public policy and NAFTA and the Zapatistas were held elsewhere on campus.
After the poster session, Biology Professor and Department Chair Ellen Fynan, Ph.D., announced the winners of the Biology, Biotechnology and Chemistry
2013 Undergraduate Research Poster Presentation Competition:
Biology 1st Place Kimberly Mohareb and Michelle Wheeler
“THE EFFECT OF BISPHENOL-A ON GUT MICROBIOTA”
Biology 2nd Place Derek LaPlaca
“IDENTIFICATION OF A XENOPUS PANNEXIN-1 GENE IN XENOPUS EMBRYOS”
Biology 3rd Place Isaac Appiah
“OOCYTE MATURATION: THE EFFECTS BISPHENOL A (BPA) HAS ON THE PROCESS”
Biotechnology 1st Place Caitlin Kearns and Kelsey Jarvis
“CHARACTERIZATION OF TRANSPOSON INSERTION MUTATION in AGROBACTERIUM TUMEFACIENS STRAIN C58”
Biotechnology 2nd Place Nipulkumar Patel
“A SCANNING ELECTRON MICROSCOPE STUDY OF A PEACOCK FEATHER”
Chemistry 1st Place Tiffany Hatstat and Travis Holbrook
“TRACE METAL IMPACT ON MIDDLE RIVER (WORCESTER, MA, USA) SEDIMENTS FROM THE ELECTROPLATING INDUSTRY”
Chemistry 2nd Place Lewis Steen and Edward Poku
Chemistry 3rd Place Pablo Larrea
“PHOTOCHEMICAL ACTIVITY OF COUMARIN”
“Ab initio SIMULATIONS of Ni ATOMS ADSORBED TO A CARBON SURFACE”
First-place awards were funded by Imogele Aisiku ’92, M.D. Second- and third-place awards were funded by Biology Professor Maureen Shamgochian ’80, Ph.D., and her husband, Edward.
In their capstones, four Visual and Performing Arts seniors brought all their knowledge and training to bear, and presented their projects at an opening reception in the Mary Dolphin Cosgrove Art Gallery. The body of work by seniors John Balco, Tessa Demers, Rachel Lubanko and Jessica Gain represents the growth and flavor their artwork gained in their four years in the VPA program. The works offer a variety of media such as oil on canvas; multimedia; hand-made paper and wire; mixed media; wood and tissue paper; bones, paper, wax, leather; sandstone; Canson paper and more. The exhibit remains open until May 9 and opens again on May 18 for commencement.
Afterward, VPA music and theatre seniors presented their capstones in the Fuller Theater. Music concentrator Caitlyn MacKenna combined her concentration in music and minor in business administration in a presentation that reviewed how her studies, internships and opportunities led her in the direction of choosing a career path. Joseph Nawn presented a short, original play that he wrote, directed and performed in, which was connected to his history studies of the connection of dictatorship and democracy in WWII. Darrell Ginese presented the staged reading of an excerpt from his original play that features the inter-relationship of a dysfunctional blue-collar family. Last, Ann Eggleston performed three piano solos, one piece in a quartet with VPA students and Professor Christie Nigro, accompanied by several of her paintings that were inspired by the music.
Rachel Faugno and Lyn Branscomb contributed to this article.
Celebration of Scholarship and Creativity to Feature Nearly 125 Projects
This year’s Celebration of Scholarship and Creativity on Wednesday, April 24 promises to be bigger and better than ever, with nearly 125 presentations from across disciplines in the arts, . . .