August 07, 2015, BY Matt Hughes

The annual Susquehanna Valley Undergraduate Research Symposium provides an opportunity for students at Bucknell University and surrounding institutions to show off all they've learned and done in the past year.

Now in its fifth year, the symposium is a joint venture between Bucknell, Bloomsburg University, Susquehanna University and Geisinger Health System, and this year was hosted on Bucknell's campus for the first time. Half of the symposium's 100-plus participants — the most ever — were Bucknell students, who took home three out of four top oral presentation prizes: Kelly Bridgham '17 won in clinical research, Xiaoying Pu '17 in natural science and engineering, and Yujie Yang '16 in social science, arts and humanities. Amanda Fazio '16 and Tamara Hijazi '17 also won prizes for their research posters in the biological science and social science, arts and humanities categories.

Here is a look at what just a few Bucknell students have learned this year:


Max Ferrer '17

Max Ferrer '17, history and philosophy

Who did you work with?

Professor John Hunter, comparative humanities

What did you do?

"I looked at processes of identity creation and the performance of those processes online. I started by looking at popular data, everything from Forbes and Time to Cosmopolitan and Seventeen, and how they were telling people to represent themselves online. Every one of the magazines told readers to change their online representations in some way, be it their privacy settings, what they post, even when to post to get the most followers. However, they all also promoted some sense of authenticity: You have to be yourself. Then I moved to scholarly sources and read about theories of identity creation and self-representation, and what it all boiled down to is that identity is social. I can create an identity for myself, but others will judge me based on what I'm wearing, what I'm saying.

"Finally, I did a survey of Bucknell students' opinions about how they present themselves. I found that 90 percent of students believed they were the same person online as offline, but later on admitted to behavior that would contradict that claim. They deleted pictures their friends had taken of them and posts that weren't getting positive attention. They were editing themselves, but they still believed themselves to be authentic to some core of themselves."

What did you learn from the project?

"Another student asked me today if I've changed how I act based on these findings. I have. I'm more self-reflective. I try to understand myself in terms of my actions as opposed to some perceived essence of who I am. Authentic doesn't mean who you think yourself to be; it means you are what you do."


David Peyman '18

David Peyman '18, computer science and engineering

Who did you work with?

Professor Richard Kozick '86, electrical and computer engineering, and Andrew Michael, Geisinger Autism and Developmental Medicine Institute (ADMI)

What did you do?

"Over the past few years we've had advancements in the way we're able to extract data from the brain, and we're able to see how the brain behaves when given a certain task. We're developing software that can display brain networks captured by functional MRI in an intuitive and seamless fashion. It shows how a certain part of the brain fires up and stimulates other parts of the brain in relation to a certain task, such as looking at an object. It will allow researchers to visualize how the brain functions, and specifically how the brain patterns of people with autism spectrum disorders differ from those of other individuals."

What did you learn from the project?

"I've gotten a lot better at programming, but I've also learned a lot about how the brain works and how researchers analyze the brain."


Tong Tong '17

Tong Tong '17, English and comparative humanities

Who did you work with?

Professor Katie Faull, German studies and comparative humanities

What did you do?

"I did research about translation activities in the 1980s in China. The reason I picked the 1980s is that it was right after the Cultural Revolution. During the Cultural Revolution most Chinese traditions were destroyed, so intellectuals were quite desperately looking for something to take hold of to reconstruct Chinese culture, and translation was quite vibrant. I constructed two databases based on the journal Shijie Wenxue, or World Literature, a journal with more than 100 years of history. I have more than 800 records accounting for every article it published during the 1980s. I made word maps of writers and countries mentioned."

What did you learn from the project?

"There are no definite classics, because people and the time define what is classic. The most popular writer mentioned is Studs Terkel. He wrote nonfiction about American workers, and traveled to China several times to interview Chinese workers. No one in the United States would think he was the biggest writer of the time." 


Mona Mohammed '16 and Ray Abbiatici '17

Mona Mohammed '16, civil and environmental engineering and women's and gender studies, and Ray Abbiatici '17, civil and environmental engineering

Who did you work with?

Professor Deborah Sills, civil and environmental engineering

What did you do?

Abbiatici: "We spent our summer mapping where manure is being generated and applied in a region of Pennsylvania that is covered by Geisinger. This started as a study done by Geisinger in 2009, and we're updating their research to test correlations between where swine and cattle manure are being applied and skin and soft tissue infection. Geisinger has found in past research that locations where it is being applied have been connected to skin and soft tissue infections, primarily the MRSA virus. We travelled to 28 counties in Pennsylvania and collected documentation about cattle feeding operations, how much manure they're generating and where they're sending that manure to be applied."

What did you learn from the project?

Mohammed: "When I decided I wanted to do environmental engineering, I never thought I'd wake up one morning and realize I have to figure out where manure is going, but it's been really interesting. I was shocked when I learned that Pennsylvania is responsible for more than 50 percent of the nutrients going into the Chesapeake Bay."


Suné Swart '17

Suné Swart '17, computer science and engineering

Who did you work with?

Professor Tom Beasley, classics and ancient Mediterranean Studies, and Digital Scholarship Coordinator Diane Jakacki

What did you do?

"We created a web application called Visualizing Networks in the Ancient Mediterranean. It allows you to visualize different kinds of networks between cities in the ancient world. You can specify a center city and a year, and it will display economic, religious and political connections. Then you can see evidence for the connection. If it's a literary connection, for example, you can see the text that tells you about the connection."

What did you learn from the project?

"Other than learning about ancient Greece, I've applied a lot of the things I learned in computer science at Bucknell. Everything I've learned has a behind-the-scenes application."


Rebecca Procopio '16

Rebecca Procopio '16, animal behavior

Who did you work with?

Brenda Finucane, Geisinger ADMI

What did you do?

"I did research on 22q deletions and duplications, which are copy number variations that have been linked to autism. It's one of the most common copy number variations that we see in clinical populations. It has highly variable symptoms, and the variability makes it difficult to offer young children who are diagnosed clear prognostic guidance for their future. We know from our research at ADMI that we can explain some of the variability through family background genetics, so we recruited families who had kids with 22q, and used online surveys to measure social ability and schizotopy traits. We asked mothers to take the surveys themselves, and then to report on their children using the same surveys. Essentially we used the parents as a baseline for how we expected the kids to be, and then we measured the difference between the two."

What did you learn from the project?

"We found a significant difference between the how the kids and parents performed, but that they were still correlated. That means we may be able to refine treatment based on what we know about how social abilities are connected in mothers and their children."

Featured News


Close

Places I've Been

The following links are virtual breadcrumbs marking the 27 most recent pages you have visited in Bucknell.edu. If you want to remember a specific page forever click the pin in the top right corner and we will be sure not to replace it. Close this message.