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Student Research & Community Engagement Symposium 2011

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Nearly 400 UMass Lowell students showcased their innovative research and presented posters at the 14th Annual Student Research and Community Engagement Symposium on April 25, 2011. Undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and post-doctoral students (from all of the colleges) involved in research, including those who volunteer and take part in a service-learning project, participated in this year’s event, making it the “most inclusive event on campus for students.”

If you missed the event or just want to take another look at the diverse student research projects, video interviews from the event are featured below. The videos comprise only a small sample of our talented students who shared their research, what they enjoy most about their education and the faculty at UMass Lowell, and future plans; several of the students to graduate in May will continue on at the University to earn another degree, while others plan to pursue research opportunities in the job market.

All of the student research abstracts can be viewed in the Abstract Booklet (pdf).

To learn more about this year's event, please read the eNews story.

Student Research Videos

Sethumadhavan Ravichandran is a graduate student in the Polymer Science Program within the College of Sciences’ Chemistry Department. He and his interdisciplinary team designed and developed a novel, safer and "greener" flame retardant material using a renewable waste product obtained during cashew nut processing. Their project won the 2011 EPA People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) top honor award. Sethumadhavan in part credits the University's strong collaborations and partnerships for winning the award. Sethumadhavan was excited to join UMass Lowell after earning his bachelor's degree in India because he says the University is "known for" and "very good at actually getting a product out of something" and bringing it to the market: "How many people in the chemistry or sciences department [elsewhere] work on something and then that never sees the light of the day." At UMass Lowell, students are given an opportunity to take research "to the next level where you can actually make something real out of it." (Abstract #ENG31)

Timothy Connelly earned his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering at UMass Lowell and immediately entered the school’s five-year, accelerated master's program. “It is turning into more like six years, just because sometimes the research takes a little bit longer,” he says. But Timothy is excited to be working on baseball bat research, designing a faster and more cost-effective baseball bat. His final design will be tested for durability and performance and subsequently the mass production of the baseball bat will begin. Timothy also is enjoying his education experience: "I've been at UMass Lowell for the whole time and it's been really good." (Abstract #ENG13)

Diane Shugrue is an art undergraduate student who showcased her unique fashion sense and creativity in her research project that uses the tradition of sewing coupled with the contemporary non-textile material plastic. Diane designed and developed garments for an American wedding party. Her creations are constructed with recycled plastics, mainly from discarded bags. “I’ve got a background in sewing,” she says. “So I had the knowledge, and then it was just a matter of putting my creativity into the designs.” Diane says that being a non-traditional student is “definitely different” than if she were a twenty year-old student, but she has really enjoyed her experience at UMass Lowell: “The faculty is just fantastic. Just, fantastic!” (Abstract #ART7)


Eric Nagy is an undergraduate physics student who has enjoyed the challenges and opportunities of research and his group’s project, which is to design a chemical gas sensor for defense applications that is a more cost-effective solution to current gas sensing technologies. Eric calls his UMass Lowell education and research experience “enriching,” and says it has involved "a lot of experimentalism." Two semesters of his junior year included "really intense advanced laboratory," in which he learned "how to write technical reports really well." And in his junior and senior years he "worked side-by-side with graduate students most of the time" and sums up the experience like this: "It is really kind of high-level, theoretical, rigorous work and they expect a lot out of you, but it's rewarding." Eric graduates in May and plans to venture into neuroscience and dynamic complex systems and says, "All the background in physics will help me greatly.” (Abstract #SCI16)

Laura Donigian is a physical therapy doctoral student in the School of Health and Environment. She and her research group conducted a case study to determine the association between changes in psychological and physiological biomarkers of stress and performance in a student, track athlete during a non-competitive and competitive season. Laura started her education at UMass Lowell back in 2004 as an undergraduate student and has stayed because she says her education experience at the University has been "great." Laura has been especially pleased about her opportunities for research and says the faculty in her program are “very active in physical therapy itself" and "very experienced," and that she values their “feedback and the currentness of what’s going on” in the field now. Laura graduates in May and plans to practice physical therapy and outpatient clinic with neurologically based patients. (Abstract #SHE14)

Elizabeth Farmosa transferred to UMass Lowell and completed the Music Department’s sound recording technology degree in three years. She is an honors student, and her presentation at this event is part of her senior research. Elizabeth began looking at the “development of piano sonatas over time” during a music history class. "I became interested in the sonata form and liked how it came together,” she says. "So I decided to look at it more in-depth.” Elizabeth's research paper will show the development and standardization of sonata form while proving how these composers were influential. Elizabeth plays the viola. She is excited to graduate this May. (Abstract #MU1)

Jennifer Gonzales is a clinical laboratory & nutritional sciences undergraduate student. Her junior year research, "The Effect of Endocrine Disruptors on Weight," covers the topic of environmental toxins in the body that change and disrupt the way our body functions and subsequently cause endocrine disorders and weight gain. Jennifer says her project will help with future research goals, starting with an animal study this summer. Jennifer sums up her education at UMass Lowell in one word: “Amazing.” She has "learned a lot" since freshman year and says she appreciates the professors because they show her that they care about her and the education and knowledge she is receiving: “Each time that I feel stuck and need help, I come to them and I always leave satisfied.” Jennifer plans to attend graduate school to become a dietician and work with people with eating disorders. (Abstract #SHE2)


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