Northeast URSCA 2023

Welcome to the 2023 Northeast Regional Undergraduate Research, Scholarly, and Creative Activity  Conference! We’re thrilled to have a wide variety of topics and themes represented here. Thank you to Ramapo College of New Jersey for hosting this year's event.

The schedule for the 27-28 October conference is found below. You can also peruse the presenters listed alphabetically or by institution by using the following links:

View sessions by speaker's last name here.
View sessions by Institution


Friday, October 27, 2023

3:30-5:00 pm - Registration & Presentation Placement
Trustees Pavilion Lobby

4:00-4:45 pm - Snack and Campus Walking Tour
Trustees Pavilion Lobby

5:00-6:00 pm - Poster Session and Visual Art Exhibition
Trustees Pavilion Rooms 1 & 2

Poster Presentations:

Thermodynamic viability of using a gold-based catalyst to produce hydrogen gas

Mahad Ali, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

Faculty Mentor: Yavuz Ceylan


Most of the world’s energy is produced via carbon-based fossil fuels. This is unsustainable in the long term due to the inevitable depletion of natural resources and the environmental harm caused during production. A promising alternative to carbon-based fossil fuels is the use of hydrogen-based fuel. However, current methods of producing fuel from hydrogen are inadequate as they need an undesirable amount of energy and do not supply ample benefits to justify the complete transition from carbon to hydrogen fuels. This project looks to investigate a novel method of producing hydrogen fuel using a gold atom-based catalyst, where dimeric gold catalyst was designed under the light of super-atom concept. Our catalyst demonstrated great thermodynamic parameters, which are supported by the optimized geometrical structures. The preliminary findings are promising and further analysis on kinetic parameters will be conducted.

Mahad Ali is from Pittsfield, Massachusetts and is a fourth year Biology Major with a Pre-Medical Professions concentration. Ali is planning to attend medical school after graduation.

Systematic Review of SARS-CoV-2 Infection on Pediatric Neurological Function

Caroline Clarke, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Faculty Mentor: Naseem Choudhury


In the last three years since the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers seem to be consistently uncovering consequential information surrounding possible long-term consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Scientists have been learning more about post-viral syndromes and have been searching for treatments to sicknesses like myalgic encephalomyelitis, Epstein Barr, and Guillain-Barre syndrome. Similar to those afflictions, a significant number of adults who experienced COVID-19 have complained about post-viral illness and symptoms that impair daily functioning; now coined Long COVID. With many pieces of the puzzle still missing in terms of predicting long-term health outcomes following COVID-19 infection (especially in repeated infections) we are left to wonder how this virus may affect youth development. I will review the neurological consequences from infection in utero to toddler age, effects on the brain and nervous system in adolescents, and general post-infection symptoms and illness in minors.

Caroline Clarke is a Psychology major with minors in Neuroscience and Public Health from Wayne, New Jersey. After graduation, she hopes to pursue an MD-PhD to research psychoneuroimmunology; specifically, how early childhood trauma can lead to manifestations of physical diseases and harmful health outcomes.

Comsol Multiphysics Modeling for Thermally Efficient Windows

Agrim Gupta, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Faculty Mentor: Daniela Buna


Our everyday decisions affect energy consumption, cost of living, and global climate change. One significant venue of energy consumption and rising costs in the US is the heating and cooling of residential and commercial buildings  Efforts have been made to bring down consumption by manufacturing thermally efficient windows and utilizing efficient solar films. The work presented here is a preliminary study investigating the feasibility of modeling complex window/solar film systems with Comsol multi-physics. The goal of the work is to find ways to optimize existing systems as well as investigate new combinations of geometries and materials to increase the efficiency of these windows. The preliminary work also includes research on physical constants for solar films needed for the Comsol model, research on the dependence of thermal conductivity with pressure for a variety of gasses, etc.

Agrim Gupta is from Montville, New Jersey. He studies Engineering Physics.

Perceptions of Deliberate Facial Expressions in People with Parkinson’s Disease

Aurora Mastro, Keene State College

Faculty Mentor: Harlan Fichtenholtz


Facial masking is a common motor symptom of Parkinson's Disease seen through a decrease in genuine, spontaneous facial expression. Facial masking influences the quality of interpersonal communication and thus quality of life. The intentional production of a Duchenne smile can be used as a tool to properly convey the genuine emotion patients wish to express. This study aims to determine if the Duchenne smiles produced by PD patients are perceived similarly to those of neurotypical peers - providing insight into the emotional consequences resulting from the inability to present the proper genuine emotion. Participants were shown a series of static images of positive facial expressions, consisting of two blocks, PD patients and neurotypical adults. Each expression was rated based on two dimensions: how happy was the person and how genuine was the expression. The facial stimuli will be compiled into a normed database of PD patients creating deliberate emotional expressions.

Aurora Mastro is a junior neuroscience major, president of women’s rugby, and student researcher from Keene State College. She plans to join the Peace Corps for medical humanitarian missions after graduation, pursue her M.D., and join Doctors Without Borders.

The Art of Communication with AI: Unlocking the Power of Generative Language Models

Tina Nosrati, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Faculty Mentor: Ali  Al-Juboori


The increasing popularity of generative AI models has led to a new research trend focused on improving collaboration with these models and optimizing their results. With generative models able to solve problems, how should we interact with their applications, like ChatGPT and Bard, so that we get the best results? In our research, we focused on prompt engineering, one of the trends in this area. A systematic literature review framework was used to gather and analyze the most recent papers introducing Prompt Engineering tools. In this study, we also examine how PE tools can improve human interaction with language models through prompts and provide accurate and relevant results. Besides presenting the logic behind each of these methodologies, we will provide a number of examples illustrating how these methods can be applied to our everyday use cases.

Tina Nosrati is a Computer Science major and an international student from Iran. Post-graduation plans include pursuing a PhD in Computer Science, with  areas of research in language models and human-AI interaction.

Hungry for Change: A Multi-Dimensional Analysis of Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa

Sarah Panicucci & Alexey Maydanov, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Faculty Mentor: Fariba Nosrati


Food security has long been a pressing issue in Sub-Saharan countries. Despite various proposed approaches over the years, conditions have only marginally improved. The current trend is even more concerning, as undernourishment is increasing, indicating a decline in food security. This research aims to examine undernourishment as a crucial indicator of food security, conducting a multidimensional analysis of the factors that influence it. Exploratory analysis was performed on publicly available data to understand trends related to food security, followed by a cluster analysis to group countries into high and low food availability categories. Hypothesis testing was conducted to compare these clusters. Additionally, a predictive model was developed to determine the key factors that influence food security. The results indicate that food availability alone is insufficient to resolve food insecurity. Instead, factors such as food utilization, management, and distribution play a more significant role in addressing this issue.

Alexey Maydanov is a Business Management major with minors in Business Analytics and Finance, from Paramus, New Jersey. His postgraduate plans include furthering his education by attending the MBA program at the Ramapo College of New Jersey.

Sarah Panicucci is a Marketing major with a minor in Business Analytics, from Ringwood, New Jersey. Her postgraduate plans involve pursuing an MBA while continuing her career in marketing.

Space: Geography and Companies

Kiely Paris-Rodriguez, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Faculty Mentor: Jeremy Teigen


Space is the next frontier. Until recently, interest in space has purely been scientific or militaristic via satellites. The environment of space meant space travel was logistically inefficient and current technology deficient. Now, burgeoning technology created by millionaire-owned space agencies are rendering the previous obstacles of space obsolete. With geographical issues negligible, the unharvested resources of space represent economic potential. The focus of space exploration is shifting from militaristic and scientific to economic, ushering in a second era of colonialism akin to the first with one exception. This research examines how space colonialism may indicate a larger shift from national sovereignty to corporate sovereignty as space expansion is spurred by economic gain.

Kiely Paris-Rodriguez is from Mahwah, New Jersey and is a political science-space psychology double major. After graduation, she intends to attend graduate school.

Electrophysiological Differences in Auditory Processing Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) in Adults with High and Low Self-Reported Deficits of Attention

Danielle Rosengrant & Suzanne Zaugg, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Faculty Mentor: Naseem Choudhur


ADHD and other related attentional disorders are some of the most common forms of developmental learning disorders affecting children, often persisting into adolescence and adulthood. Previous research has shown that difficulties in attentional processing, like those seen in patients with attention deficit disorders, are linked to disruption or atypical activation of cortical neuronal networks. Electroencephalogram (EEG) and event-related potentials (ERPs), including mismatch negativity (MMN) and the P300, reflect the patterns of early neuronal activity characterizing the processes of attention and working memory. The overall objective of study is to examine the characteristics, including peak amplitude and latency, of endogenous (MMN) and early attention related (P3a/P3b) ERPs in an oddball auditory processing task in adults with varying levels of attentional deficits. Preliminary results suggest decreased P300 amplitudes in adults with high self-reported deficits of attention, potentially indicating a difficulty in allocating proper attentional resources to appropriate auditory stimuli.

Danielle Rosengrant is a senior biology major with a minor in neuroscience from Mine Hill, New Jersey. Her current post-graduation plans include attending medical school and continuing with her research.                                                                                                                  

Suzanne Zaugg is a senior double-majoring in psychology and neuroscience. She is from Millstone Township, New Jersey. Post graduation plans include continuing her education further by going to Physician Assistant (PA) school.

Understanding the Epidemic of Mass Shootings Through American Gun Culture & The Second Amendment

Jae'l Rumph, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Faculty Mentor: Sanghamitra Padhy


The US has the highest rate of mass shootings in the world and is experiencing an upsurge in violent mass shootings annually, with some of the most fatal mass shootings having occurred within the last decade. There is a connection between the gun culture in America and the current gun laws that work hand in hand to sustain the problem.

Jae’l Rumph of Paterson, New Jersey is a Law and Society major with a minor in Crime and Justice Studies and a concentration in Criminal Justice. After graduation, Rumph aspires to obtain her masters degree in Forensic Science.

Examining the Role of ATF1, ATF2 & IAH1 in the Production of the Banana Aromatic, Isoamyl Acetate

Jenna Vesey, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Joost Monen


Yeast’s critical role in beer fermentation involves producing alcohol and a variety of aromatic compounds, giving characteristic flavors to differing beer styles. While most ales utilize one species of yeast (S. cerevisiae), brewers have artificially selected them over generations of brewing, producing various strains with unique but largely uncharacterized genetic backgrounds. Our research investigates various strains and their ability to produce a specific aromatic compound, isoamyl acetate, a desirable “banana aroma” in certain beer styles. By comparing strains with varying degrees of these banana/fruity notes, we examine genes (ATF1, ATF2, and IAH1) that code for enzymes involved in isoamyl acetate synthesis to better understand the exact role that they play. Our data indicate that neither ATF1, ATF2, nor IAH1 expression are solely responsible for driving isoamyl acetate production, but their relative gene expression to one another leads to the desired banana note found in certain beers.

Jenna Vesey is a bioinformatics major from Springfield Township, New Jersey. Vesey is a senior and plans to go to graduate school after college.

Visual Art Presentations:

Nate Nics, Keep Ya Head Up King

J.C. Innocent, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

Faculty Mentor: Melanie Mowinski


Both artworks, “Nate Nics” and “Keep Ya Head Up King,” were inspired by rap songs tackling the general culture of the rap genre. "The Hills," written by Nate Nics, inspired me as an artist to look deeper into the relationships that I create along my path to greatness. Because when greatness is achieved by an artist they usually are alone at the top. "Fire Squad" by J. Cole has had a profound impact on how I view the rap culture and artists working together. After listening to both songs repeatedly I have concluded that competition between artists should not exist to defeat one another but instead force each other to do our best and potentially out of competition would come collaboration. I believe it is best explained in the outro of "Fire Squad": “It's for all the kings; 'Cause deep down I know every pore just wanna be loved.”

Jean-Charles (J.C.) Innocent is a Haitian-American visual artist from Boston, Massachusetts who creates artworks through the digital medium under the pseudonym Insomnia. He utilizes symbolism through body language and facial expressions, clothing, jewelry, and tattoos to tackle themes and issues concerning identity, race, and mental health. See more via

Care is Resistance

Annabelle Koutroubas, Keene State College

Faculty Mentor: Emily Lambert


"Care is Resistance" is a collection of works of various media - charcoal, fiber, and ink - that relate to the topic of care as resistance. Through these works, I posit that care is resistance in the face of a capitalist society that exploits humans and nature and cultivates a throw away culture. As textile history is loosely tied to gender, class, and racial issues, I explore opportunities for political resistance through the use of textiles. The main mode of resistance I have explored is visible mending. In addition to the works I share, I will present a small artist book that examines textile history and expresses my philosophy on visible mending as an act of care to spite a capitalist society that leeches care out of the world.

Annabelle Koutroubas is from Antrim, New Hampshire and is working on a major is Studio Art and a minor is Sustainability. Koutroubas' current post-graduation plans are to join the work force in the sustainability field while producing bodies of work that can later be explored in graduate school.

Portrait of Self

Alexa Michalski, Eastern Connecticut State University

Faculty Mentor: Afarin Rahmanifar


My ambition for this project was to do a deep dive into the idea of a self-portrait. I constructed this piece not just to illustrate what’s on my surface, but also to look further into my own personal characteristics. I wanted to push my technical boundaries with this project. In the past, I established and utilized realism in my art. For this project I wanted to combine multiple mediums and explore a new style to call my own. The double exposure effect of my figures expresses different sides of my character, as does the colors of paint I chose. I used multiple colors of stain to bring out the natural beauty of the wood and emphasize the detail of the carving. This, along with the expressive charcoal line work allowed me to capture a double exposure effect that equivalently combines two-dimensional and three-dimensional media.

Alexa Michalski is from Brooklyn, Connecticut and is majoring in Art.

The Strings of Self Discovery: The Constant Journey of Adaption and Self Discovery / Ay Mbrirr Yu Mam Lor Suma Bopa: Yon Bu Jeka, Buma Faral Di Aw Purrr Ham Suma Bopa

Maia Rice & Mariama Bayo, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

Faculty Mentor: Melanie Mowinski


"The Strings of Self Discovery/ Ay Mbrirr Yu Mam Lor Suma Bopa" was part of a larger piece titled “What We Carry” which brought together the Newcomer community with multidisciplinary artists from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in order to create a visual representation of the immigrant experience. The stories of moving to America from Gambia, told by Mariama Bayo, and the crocheting art style, taught by Maia Rice, were used to create a collaborative piece. This piece involves a crocheted person who stands at a little over 6 feet tall, 3.5 multicolored rugs, clothing from Mariama’s childhood, and a banner with a poem. Each rug is made with certain colors that represent the tribes Mariama’s family belongs to in Gambia.

Maia Rice is from Hudson, New York. She is studying Psychology with a concentration in Behavioral Analysis, Fine and Performing Arts with a concentration in Music, and is also getting a minor in Biology and Music Production.

Cities Divided

Mabel Saccomanno, Eastern Connecticut State University

Faculty Mentor: Tao Chen


"Cities Divided" is a typographic poster design that explores the ways the American highway construction initiative, which began in the 1940’s and extended into the 1970’s, acted to reinforce and worsen existing racial inequities. By quite literally dividing cities, razing community infrastructure in black and brown neighborhoods, and enabling white car owners to commute between the suburbs and downtown, this initiative and the ensuing “motorized model” should not be underestimated as significant driving forces behind disparities that continue to impact us in the twenty-first century. For my visual interpretation, I chose to divide my composition with the harsh angles of intersecting interstate lanes, communicating the ways this infrastructure imposes both physical and metaphorical boundaries. Additionally, through both the aerial view and the use of curated color, the design alludes to the visual language of redlining maps, which worked in conjunction with the highway system to deepen racial segregation.

From North Windham, Connecticut, Mabel Saccomanno's major is Art.

Maladaptive Forest

Mia Schutz, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Faculty Mentor: Ann LePore


Maladaptive Forest uses both 2D and 3D animation to tell a fairy tale-inspired narrative about a goddess presiding over a forest. In this work, the characters are mainly 2D animated using shading to help blend with the 3D modeled background, using both classic and modern styles together. The main inspiration for creating this piece was to emulate the style of the movie "Klaus", which revolutionized the industry with a unique 2D/3D aesthetic. The work showcases an environmental message about deforestation; however later on a deeper message is revealed about using daydreams to escape reality. The artist was inspired by her own experience using stories to make life more interesting.

Mia Schutz lives in Metuchen, New Jersey and is a Visual Arts major with a concentration in Electronics Arts and Animation. She plans on getting into an animation studio after she graduates.

6:00 - 6:15 pm - Group Photo
Trustees Pavilion Lobby

6:15 - 7:15 pm - Welcoming Remarks & Dinner
- Cole Woodcox, Executive Director, COPLAC
- Cindy R. Jebb, President, Ramapo College of New Jersey
The Pavilion Cafe

7:15 - 7:35 pm - CantaNOVA Performance
The Pavilion Cafe

7:35 - 7:40 pm - Housekeeping Announcements
- Cole Woodcox
The Pavilion Cafe

Saturday, October 28, 2023

8:00 - 9:00 am - Buffet Breakfast
The Pavilion Cafe

9:00 - 10:05 am - Oral Presentation Session 1
Pavilion 1

“You Have Grown, Halfling”: Tolkien’s “The Scouring of the Shire” and Jackson’s The Return of the King

Paige Stegina, Eastern Connecticut State University

Faculty Mentor: Ken McNeil


In the movie adaptations of The Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson is praised for his faithfulness to the original work. I argue, however, that Jackson’s changes impact the story arc and message of the original. One of the most notable omissions, “The Scouring of the Shire,” is often seen as a digressive, disjointed addition to Return of the King. I argue that Tolkien was purposeful in his choices in this chapter, allowing the central focus of the story to remain with the Shire. Jackson’s exclusion of the chapter changes the overall message of the series, allowing the characters to return to a state of innocence after their adventures. Tolkien, however, brings a sense of realism to the story, which is essential to understanding Frodo’s character at the end. The omission of “The Scouring of the Shire” illustrates how Jackson dramatically altered Tolkien’s original vision of the story.

Paige Stegina is an English major from Deep River, Connecticut.

"One Wild and Precious Life": Reflections on Mary Oliver and One-Stroke

Lena Mardini, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Faculty Mentor: Lisa Cassidy


The long enduring Ming Dynasty was conquered by the Manchus in 1644, after the capture of Beijing. A full transition to the Qing dynasty would take decades to follow. Amongst the chaos, however, a thriving artistic revolution emerged. Many artists, such as Shih-tao, refused to accept new political leadership. Unable to express loyalty to the Ming dynasty, but unwilling to accept the new ruling class, Shih-tao became a reclusive Buddhist Monk. He developed an art style that was "implicit rejection of the new political order." Painters such as Shih-tao have been compared to European Romantic writers because of their focus on artistic naturalism. The widely prolific nature poet, Mary Oliver, is considered a modern-day Romantic poet due to use of naturalism stripped of formalist structure. In this paper I will argue that Mary Oliver's "The Summer Day" demonstrates Shih-tao's theories on original spontaneity.

Lena Mardini is a junior Philosophy and English and Literary Studies double major from Clinton, New Jersey. After graduating from Ramapo, she plans on continuing her education in an English Literature graduate program.


Matthew Lewellyn, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

Faculty Mentor: Caren Beilin

"Musings" is a modest collection of poems delving into the most quintessential aspect of human life–– love. What it means to love is one of the universe’s great anomalies, and it is one that can only be explored in a medium that restricts itself as much as the nature of love itself is restrictive (which is to say, not at all). Poetry as an unrestrictive medium has become the ideal vessel for this exploration, mirroring the boundary-defying nature of what it means to love. This compact collection embarks on a journey to explore the ecstasy and anguish of loving and being loved, the grief of love lost, and the unerring, beautiful necessity of opening one’s heart to the world. In each piece there is an attempt to unveil (or, perhaps cloud even further…) the illusive nature of the human heart.

Matthew Lewellyn is a writer from Saugerties, New York, currently majoring in English at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. After graduating college, he hopes to travel the world, writing every step along the way.

Matthew Lewellyn and Casey Vieira will also present a poem together between their individual readings.

The Grammar of Suicide

Casey Vieira, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

Faculty Mentor: Caren Beilin


“The Grammar of Suicide” is a creative non-fiction piece which investigates Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation as a treatment for depression and suicidality, written through the lens of a patient of such treatment. Suicidality—how it takes shape in mental health systems—is depicted in sharp, absurdist accounts of the treatment itself. The piece rests upon a central exploration of the use of grammatical tense in a suicide note as a post-mortem indicator of the nature of the death, in an effort to speak to notions of retrospect and survival. The text is colored-coded in such a manner as to reflect activist Mia Mingus’ infamous graph of the Medical Industrial Complex. “The Grammar of Suicide” positions grammatical systems as a means of meaning-making against the medical systems within which the meaning of one’s life and survival might be discovered.

Casey Vieira is an English major originally hailing from the Greater Boston area. She plans to continue publishing poetic work in literary journals throughout her undergraduate work, later attending graduate school in the New England area.

9:00 - 10:05 am - Oral Presentation Session 1
Pavilion 2

Memory, Justice, and Atrocities: The Legacy of War Crimes in Vietnam

Kate McClellan, Keene State College

Faculty Mentor: Heather Gigliello


The Vietnam War, and the atrocities that occurred within it, sent reverberating shocks throughout both societies that are still felt to this day. Through case studies of the My Lai massacre and the occupation of Hue, an atrocity narrative is established from which the legacy of War Crimes can be analyzed. Using American textbooks and Vietnamese museums the difficulty of memory is displayed in both societies as the lack of justice has both produced an atmosphere of willful amnesia and allowed for both governments in the present day to carry out similar crimes. Assisted by limited justice by both armed forces at the time, both the American and Vietnamese governments have perpetrated atrocities at Abu Ghraib prisons and against political adversaries. This legacy shows the importance in both societies of cultivating and preserving a narrative of the war that frames the crimes committed and seeks justice.

Kate McClellan is a second-year Holocaust and Genocide Studies major from Toledo, Ohio. After graduation, she plans to pursue graduate study in the field of transitional justice and conflict transformation.

Freedom for Sale: A Comparative Examination of the Relationship of Business and Politics in the United States and Great Britain During the Second Industrial Revolution

Lindsay Weaver, Eastern Connecticut State University

Faculty Mentor: Caitlin Carenen


This project aims to examine the relationship between business and politics in response to the advancements of the Second Industrial Revolution (SIR) in the United States and Great Britain, comparing responses in each nation. How did U.S. and British capitalists threaten freedoms of representative governments during the Second Industrial Revolution? Evidence from primary sources relating to laws at the time, as well as written accounts from laborers and politicians, suggest that capitalists used economic means to coerce government to prioritize desires of corporations over needs of constituents, thus violating inherent rights granted by Democracy. Behaviors exhibited by powerful corporations during the mid-to-late 19th century have resurfaced in today’s political world, with rapid technological developments and corporate influence over democratic processes. Dynamics established 150 years ago have set the foundations for today’s interactions between money and democratic functions, thus highlighting the need to examine the past to better understand the present.

Lindsay Weaver is from Newington, Connecticut and majors in History and Pre-Secondary Education Certification.

From Privatizing Space to Infinity and Beyond

Hannah Scroggins, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Faculty Mentor: Mihaela Serban


Historically, the U.S. has had a unique fascination with Outer Space. From the U.S.' scientific discovery to technological advancements during the Space Race, America's curiosity about space has propelled us into an age when celestial tourism is no longer a space enthusiast's fantasy. This essay provides an in-depth analysis of how the privatization of space is currently impeded by the antiquated Outer Space Treaty of 1967, and from a critical perspective, explores the connection between celestial tourism and capitalism, history, and Enlightenment philosophy on property ownership, with law at the forefront. An argument will be made that the privatization of the celestial tourism industry will not only enable more civilian tourists to access Outer Space, but it will also help humanity realize the best version of itself in today's technologically emergent world.

Hannah Scroggins is a Law and Society Major and Philosophy Minor. She has had the privilege of working as a Research Assistant, in which she analyzed court documents from over 70 U.S. criminal cases to identify how the use of Investigative Genetic Genealogy (IGG) has been argued and affirmed in criminal courts; she also takes great pride having served as a 2022 RCNJ Student Delegate at the 73rd Annual Student Conference on U.S. Affairs (SCUSA) at the United States Military Academy, West Point NY.

The Influence of Jamaican Immigration on Greater Hartford's Cultural and Political History

Eugene Bertrand, Eastern Connecticut State University

Faculty Mentor: Caitlin Carenen


This project helps to fill a void in the history of American immigration by focusing on a neglected group of immigrants within American immigration history: Jamaicans in Connecticut. This project examines the vital role immigrants have played in working toward equal rights and shaping communities in the northeast. These Jamaican immigrants faced segregation and racism and yet fully immersed themselves into Connecticut society and made significant and lasting contributions, both culturally and politically. This project argues, through an empirical examination of a multitude of primary sources and oral history interviews, that with a mission to unite West Indians and African Americans who shared similar spiritual beliefs to create a greater community, Jamaican immigrants successfully integrated into Connecticut and became a part of the Greater Hartford community by actively engaging in politics and creating new cultural communities through powerful and effective support networks that included social organizations and communities of faith.

Eugene Bertrand is from Meriden, Connecticut and majors in Elementary Education and History.

10:05 - 10:20 am - Break

10:20 - 11:25 am - Oral Presentation Session 2
Pavilion 1


Joseph Cucurullo, Keene State College

Faculty Mentor: Jo Dery


This film follows the story of two brothers Goro and Jiro samurai during the sengoku era of Japan and the conflict that arises when duty calls. The death of the Jinto causes a divide between the two brothers forcing them to meet in a clash of blades. For Jiro it is a fight for his life, for Goro it’s a fight to hold his honor.

Joseph Cucurullo is a senior film production major from Washington Township, New Jersey. He plans to graduate and continue to work on films either freelance or in the union.

Cross-cultural Synthesis: Soviet Romanticism and Azeri Tradition in the Music of Fikret Amirov

Aidan Reiss, Eastern Connecticut State University

Faculty Mentor: Okon Hwang


In the wake of increased political pressures, unstable global landscapes, and reemerging national identities, the twenty-six-year-old Azerbaijani composer Fikret Amirov endeavored in 1948 to stimulate the then nascent East-West synthesis movement, balancing stringent Soviet pedagogy with colloquial Azeri tradition. As a promising and eager ethnomusicologist, Amirov conducted several ethnographic campaigns throughout the Middle East, employing his discoveries to bring Western attention to Eastern ideas. This paper focuses on the variety of factors that allowed Amirov to redefine the composed traditions of Azerbaijan. By examining the writings of musicologists on the cultural, political, and academic traditions of Azerbaijan and the ethnomusicological efforts of Amirov himself, this research targets specifically his Piano Concerto on Arabian Themes, identifying how it simultaneously reaffirmed and redefined the traditional Western concerto form. Through musical analysis and historical socio-political research, the synthesis of said musical traditions will be effectively demonstrated, emphasizing the legacy of Amirov’s musical work.

Aidan Reiss is from Stafford Springs, Connecticut and majors in Music.

Impact of Population Aging on Macroeconomic Aggregates

Reo Sakida, State University of New York at Geneseo

Faculty Mentor: Mansokku Lee


This paper examines the impact of population aging on macroeconomic performance. Population aging is known to have detrimental effects on macroeconomic aggregates such as income, consumption, and saving. To identify these effects, we focus on the potential channels through which aging shocks may influence country-level economic outcomes. For the empirical investigation, we apply panel data regression techniques on internationally comparable macroeconomics. We provide empirical evidence that changes in the fraction of the population aged 60+/65+ can be closely associated with labor supply, labor productivity, and the marginal propensity to consume.

Reo Sakida, originally from Osaka, Japan, is currently completing his BA in Economics and will be joining Société Générale in Japan after graduation.

Gene Regulation by the ODD-1 Transcription Factor in C. elegans

Delcy Lopez Garcia, Eastern Connecticut State University

Faculty Mentor: Amy Groth


Mammals have 2 odd-skipped-related transcription factors (OSR1 and OSR2). These transcription factors are important for the development of numerous tissues, as well various cancers.  C. elegans has related odd-skipped transcription factors (odd-1 and odd-2).  Therefore, C. elegans is a good model organism to study human diseases like cancer. We are studying the up or downregulation of certain target genes by ODD-1. We are using a mutant strain that does not have a functional odd-1 gene and comparing that to the wildtype (non-mutant) strain.  After extracting RNA from each sample, RNA is converted to cDNA and qPCR is used to measure the expression of candidate target genes.  We have observed that odd-1 represses C48B4.11 and lst-1, and possibly activates set-26 and sel-11. Additional candidate genes are currently being tested.

Delcy Lopez Garcia is from Fuquay Varina, North Carolina and majors Health Sciences and Biology.

10:20 - 11:25 am - Oral Presentation Session 2
Pavilion 2

The Two Waldens: Henry David Thoreau’s American Transcendentalism and B. F. Skinner’s Radical Behaviorism

Samantha Vertucci, Eastern Connecticut State University

Faculty Mentor: James Diller


This paper examines similarities in the writings and ideas of Henry David Thoreau, a representative of the literary movement of American Transcendentalism, and B. F. Skinner, a representative of the psychological movement of radical behaviorism. We trace the influence of Transcendentalism on Skinner’s work and evaluate similarities and differences between the positions of these writers within the domains of environmental control, socialization, free will, and government. Both Thoreau and Skinner were concerned with creating a better world, but the scale of their approaches (individual or collective, respectively) differed.

Samantha Vertucci is from Deep River, Connecticut and majors in English.

The Invocation of Classical Deities in Medieval Literature

Mallory Warner, Keene State College

Faculty Mentor: Meriem Pagès


In the Middle Ages, there was a resurgence of interest in the classical tradition. Writers of the time had a particular fascination with the literature born from Ancient Greece and Rome. This resurgence of Greco-Roman mythology allowed for the use of ancient characters and imagery. Christian authors frequently adopted themes, names, and gods within their own writing. Hellinistic Greco-Roman characters were used to form messages regarding the vilified Muslim persons within these medieval stories. Often using these classical figures to associate a negative tone or message to the Muslim Saracens and their relationship with Christian characters. These gods and goddesses were frequently invoked in The Song of Roland, King of Tars and Le Morte D’Aurther. These deities and figures now became a tool to display a dark reflection of Christianity, portraying the Muslim faith as not only inherently Hellenistic but falsifying the religion all together.

Mallory Warner is a senior who is a dual major in English and History with a minor in Medieval and Early Modern Studies. She specializes in ancient Hellenistic religions and plans to pursue both a Master's and a PhD.

Free in Body and Spirit: Spectral Liberation of Objectified Peoples in Victorian and Neo-Victorian Literature

Marcus Grant, Eastern Connecticut State University

Faculty Mentor: Allison Speicher


Ghosts in Victorian literature have been derided as manifestations of conservatism, overlooking the frequent depiction of both specter and observer as belonging to two groups that were oppressed in Victorian society: women and children. By applying Bill Brown’s Thing Theory and sociological research to texts such as The Turn of the Screw (1898) by Henry James, I will explain how haunted persons and ghosts themselves are objectified, more likely to be heard dead than alive. I will also draw upon various Neo-Victorian texts, such as “The Accursed Inhabitants of the House of Bly” (1994) by Joyce Carol Oates, to bring attention to how this objectified haunting has transhistorical reach. In doing so, I unveil that the ghost characters of the nineteenth century reveal the symptoms of their oppression through their haunting and their hauntedness; in contemporary times, we see the hierarchies revealed in the Victorian era flipped in Neo-Victorian texts.

Marcus Grant is from Enfield, Connecticut and majors in English.

Language Skin

Benjamin Ross, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

Faculty Mentor: Caren Beilin


"Language Skin" is a reflection on self-identification as subjection to the institution of language. Further, it is a philosophical and spiritual inquiry into the way that dynamic lived experience perpetually stretches description. In this piece I consider identity on a collective scale as well as on an individual scale, specifically concerning gender identity and the often inexplicit language embedded performance of a social role.

Benjamin Ross is from Clinton, New York. They are studying Philosophy and after graduating, they plan on working on organic farms, travelling, and playing music.

11:25 am - 12:30 pm - Oral Presentation Session 3
Pavilion 1

The Role of Censorship in Information-Flow Theory and its Applicability in the Digital Age

Kane Waggoner, Eastern Connecticut State University

Faculty Mentor: Michelle Michael-Kang


Although information flow theory attempts to track how messages move from the media to the audience, it does not provide adequate explanation to mass media’s functions in the digital age, especially when considering today's youth, technology, and society. This gap is further exaggerated through the lack of understanding on how censorship alters this flow. This needs to be studied to comprehend how information is created, communicated, and received, and to grasp how state or corporatized censorship may affect this process. Through a thorough review of literature on communication processes in modern society, digital technology, and censorship, this study evaluates the effectiveness of information flow theory so that it may be better applied in future studies.

Kane Waggoner is a Communication and Theatre major from Andover, Connecticut.

Does Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Matter? Evidence from Nordic ADRs

Natsuki Takata, State University of New York at Geneseo

Faculty Mentor: Ken Pan


Non-U.S. firms choosing to cross-list their shares on the U.S. stock exchanges are called American Depositary Receipts (ADRs). Previous literature suggested that ADR firms listed under Level 2 and 3 types (rather than Level 1 and 144A types) are regarded as having better corporate governance because of the higher level of U.S. regulatory compliance. However, listing type as a sole measure may not be adequate. We propose Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) as an alternative measure. Using ESG, corporate governance, and financial data of Nordic ADRs from 2000 to 2021, we found that ADRs listed under Level 1 and 144A types exhibit better corporate governance. Moreover, we document that ADRs in energy, utility, and raw materials sectors have the highest ESG disclosure scores, and markets react positively to these firms’ ESG efforts. Overall, our results suggest that ESG is a more complete and comprehensive corporate governance measure.

Natuski Takata is a senior from Tokyo, Japan with double majors in business administration and sustainability studies. After graduation, she plans to start her first career as a Risk Advisor at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu LLC Tokyo office in Japan, focusing on identifying business risks, providing ESG and sustainability solutions, and helping shareholders to choose the companies that are doing ethically and morally good for the environment and society.

Leveraging Blockchain to Enhance ESG Reporting and Achieve Sustainable Development Goals

Shreya Ranjan, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Faculty Mentor: Nikhil Varma


Environmental, and Social Governance (ESG) reporting has gained prominence in recent years as sustainability priorities rise globally. However, current ESG practices suffer from issues related to transparency, traceability and data quality. The lack of standardization also makes it challenging to measure impact on sustainable development goals (SDGs). This study proposes to explore how emerging technologies like blockchain can be leveraged to strengthen ESG practices and further SDG accomplishment. Research will follow a mixed-methods approach including a systematic literature review, interviews with sustainability professionals, conceptual model development. expert review and case studies. In conclusion, this study aims to use blockchain to enhance global ESG reporting and accountability by developing a validated SDG-aligned model that address transparence and traceability issues, with the goal of promoting scaled adoption of blockchain for a more sustainable future.

Shreya Ranjan is an Information Technology Management senior from Edison, New Jersey. Ranjan is excited to embark on a career in the IT sector, most likely applying skills and expertise in technology management.

Impact of Coding on Preschoolers’ Math Abilities

Haley DelMonaco & Emberly Haughton, Eastern Connecticut State University

Faculty Mentor: Sudha Swaminathan


Programmable robots, such as Beebots, have made coding a developmentally appropriate exercise for preschoolers. While research with older children has supported coding for enhancing problem-solving and math abilities, few studies have examined their impact on preschoolers. We studied the impact of coding with Beebots on preschoolers’ math abilities. Forty-two preschoolers of mixed age, gender, SES, and bilingual status were distributed into control and experimental groups. All children’s math abilities were pre- and post- assessed with Tools for Early Assessment in Mathematics. The experimental group completed five progressively hard coding sessions. Results showed that all children demonstrated significant math growth, regardless of gender or SES. Older preschoolers performed better than younger children. Monolingual children performed significantly better than bilingual children. Closer examination of bilingual children’s demonstrated math competencies revealed their strength in silent, yet deep, abilities such as comparison and subitizing. Our findings suggest additional research focusing on bilingualism and early math.

Haley DelMonaco is from Stonington, Connecticut and majors in Education and Psychological Science.

Emberly Haughton is from Lebanon, Connecticut and majors in Early Childhood Education and Psychology.

11:25 am - 12:30 pm - Oral Presentation Session 3
Pavilion 2

Trance vs Meditation: Are they really that different?

Emily Penn, State University of New York at Geneseo

Faculty Mentor: Steve Derne


In Deep Listeners by Judith Becker, the author posits that trance and meditation are independent from each other. Most importantly, meditation is done in a state of wakefulness, but it can lead to deep relaxation and the stilling of the mind. Trance refers to a state of consciousness characterized by reduced awareness of the external world, while welcoming new emotions and feelings. However, both meditation and trance involve the stopping of inner conversation. Despite Becker’s hypothesis, I think trance and meditation are related. Judith Becker distinguishes their dissimilarities, but my experiences with power flow yoga show that they are not that different. Characteristics of trance and meditation do have similarities as they both have communal and solitary elements, bodily and emotional elements, all while stopping inner conversation.

Emily Penn is a psychology major/ sociomedical science minor from Orchard Park, New York. Penn is looking at the steps to become a Special Agent with the FBI.

Social Media, Body Image, and Self-Esteem: A Study On How to Press“Like” in Real Life

Sara Hosbach, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Faculty Mentor: Satarupa Dasgupta


As college students encounter a plethora of newfound responsibilities, the rise of social media has granted a space of connectedness and relaxation. However, the usage of such platforms resulted in the rise of photo editing apps and a standard of beauty that has become a means of comparison for users. Piling onto the academic and extracurricular priorities of college students, social media’s subliminal messaging regarding body image affects the perspective students hold for themselves. In order to analyze and understand the extent of these effects, mixed methodological research was conducted via secondary data analysis and surveying. Conclusions unveiled editing on social media intensifies comparisons among college students resulting in adverse effects such as lowering self-confidence, increased disordered eating and eating disorders, and greater consumerism. Additional research is needed to advise and monitor change as well as ensure improvements

Sara Hosbach is from Freehold, New Jersey and is majoring in communication artswith a concentration in global media and communication and a minor in international studies. After graduating, she hopes to work for a nongovernmental organization (NGO).

Black Women and the Media: A Review of Historical Narratives and Present-Day Consequences

Kevana Simpson, Eastern Connecticut State University

Faculty Mentor: Michelle Michael-Kang


For years, Black women have been facing various forms of discriminatory treatment. This is especially sustained through their representation in the media. This paper explores how Black women are historically portrayed in the media. Unfortunately, a lot of judgment comes from within the Black community as well, further enhancing colorism and stereotypes. Such portrayals have contributed to how Black women are treated beyond the screens, resulting in real-life consequences. Through a careful examination of literature, this paper also explores how these media representations affect Black women's mental health. This preliminary inquiry is crucial to examine how sustained historical narratives of Black women continue to affect their mental health in the modern society, regardless of their age. This paper concludes that Black women continue to struggle in a society that never began on their side, at the cost of their mental wellbeing.

From Windsor, Connecticut, Kevana Simpson's major is Communication.

Design of Catalogue for Exhibition yosooi no atae: A Gift of Attire

Vitheavy Barton, Keene State College

Faculty Mentor: Rodney Obien


This catalog supports the yosooi no atae exhibit, curated by Lucile Druet and Ayaka Iida, and organized by Rodney Obien and Jonathan Gitelson. Over four thousand Japanese vernacular photographs, collected by Obien, were sorted, scanned, digitally cleaned, and designed to fit within the printed catalog. Short essays were also written by Druet to highlight the importance of image captions and fashion in understanding history. The essays, table of contents, curatorial statement, curator biographies, and timeline infographic were all formatted for the ease of consumption by viewers. This catalog shows the importance of graphic design within academic spaces, and highlights Asian studies during a time we need it most. Inspiration for the catalog theme and color palette were pulled from the textiles and patterns found within the photographs. Similar to the feeling of observing an old family album, this catalog was designed to educate and create a sense of nostalgia.

Vitheavy Barton is a senior graphic design BFA major from Littleton, New Hampshire. Barton plans to find a design agency to join for freelance work.

11:25 am - 12:30 pm - Oral Presentation Session 3
Pavilion 3

Creative Collaboration as Means of Community Bridging

Erick Ramos Jacobo, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

Faculty Mentor: Lisa Donovan


This art-based study observed the ways in which artistic collaboration might serve as a framework for social-bridging between artists and Immigrant communities of the Berkshires. The Berkshires have been identified as the second most arts-vibrant medium-sized community in the US. Despite this, 83% of Immigrant residents feel a disconnect with the arts and culture assets that the region holds (Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation). This research was shared through a collaborative art show that brought together five multidisciplinary artists and five Newcomers on campus to explore the question: can bringing Immigrant people closer to practicing artists help them feel closer to the arts and culture sector of the region? We seek to understand the role of the arts in documenting experience.

Erick Ramos Jacobo is a senior arts management major living and working in North Adams, Massachusetts. He believes museums are incubators for creating healthy, vibrant, and equitable communities and plans to continue his work in social-practice in graduate school.

Projection Media Design for The Nether Theatrical Production

Ash Fischer, Eastern Connecticut State University

Faculty Mentor: Kristen Morgan


The projection media design for Eastern's March 2023 live theatre production of Jennifer Haley's The Nether served multiple functions. The play is a police procedural set in the near future, when humans live most of their lives in online realms. Primarily, the still and moving images projected onto the scenery highlighted the human emotions felt by the characters inhabiting the virtual world of the Nether. Projections also helped to distinguish the "real" world from the virtual world depicted in the play, communicating metaphorical concepts within the storyline to the audiences. I used video glitches and digitally manipulated imagery to signify how strange the Nether was, while more realistic and placid imagery served to settle the audience back into a false sense of reality in the "real" world. This oral presentation dives deeper into how these concepts were researched, created, and implemented in collaboration with the rest of the creative team.

Ash Fischer is from Vernon, Connecticut and majors in Theatre.

The Fallen Flower

Paige Pribilla, Keene State College

Faculty Mentor: Taylor Dunne


This project is a stop-motion animated film that involves techniques such as animating inanimate objects, adding digital effects, and creating depth in a flat space. To create my film, I used a computer to physically animate paper cut-out puppets. The film combines elements of digital effects and overlays them onto the footage. Animation is a versatile medium as you can make something inanimate, such as paper, come to life with the power of filmmaking. I really enjoy creating animated films because you have complete control over everything in the film. With animation, you are physically manipulating each frame on your own, creating a personal touch to animated films that live action films couldn’t fully achieve.

Paige Pribilla is a senior film productions major from Falmouth, Massacusetts. She plans to pursue graduate school with a focus on film animation.

Progressive Arabic Music: Subversive Attitudes and Musical Genres Surrounding the Islamosphere

Jacob Wurst, Eastern Connecticut State University

Faculty Mentor: Okon Hwang


In the 21st century’s social and political environment, negative stereotypes towards the Middle East and its peoples proliferate throughout the West. However, an “Arab Wave” of music grew popular in the wake of this post-9/11 world view, and significant focus fell upon its artists and the success their music garnered for varied sensibilities, not exclusively Arabic. It was this newfound attention to these cultures that allowed said artists to display that there is diversity in what they present; they look to subvert the long-held traditional values of their societies, turning to alternative genres such as dance pop, hip-hop, and rock ‘n’ roll. Through examination of Arabic examples of progressive-minded music, this presentation aims to illuminate the fast-growing scope of this new cultural avant-garde and to reflect how these techniques and genres present the states of minds of those surrounding their ethnic origins, despite their overarching social atmosphere of normative conservatism.

Jacob Wurst is from Mansfield, Connecticut and majors in Communication and Music.

12:30 - 1:30 pm - Concluding Remarks & Lunch
- Cole Woodcox
The Pavilion Cafe