With the first-ever “Research Days” — a series of presentations by administrators, faculty members and students scheduled from April 25-27 — Binghamton University is hoping to attract students interested in joining scholarly initiatives on campus.
A central event on Wednesday will feature several keynote speakers, including BU President Harvey Stenger, distinguished history professor Thomas Dublin, distinguished chemistry professor Omowunmi Sadik and Robert Dextre, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering. Other top administrators like Interim Provost Jean-Pierre Mileur and Bahgat Sammakia, interim vice president for research, will also speak on Wednesday.
Donald Loewen, vice provost for undergraduate research, and Janice McDonald, director of the Undergraduate Research Center, organized the event.
At 1:30 p.m., before the keynote speakers, 32 BU students who are actively involved in research projects will present, according to McDonald. The students applied online through the event’s website, and their poster presentations will outline their proposals, hypotheses and conclusions for future research.
Loewen said he is hoping underclassmen will take advantage of the University’s offerings.
“It’s an ideal opportunity for freshmen and sophomores who want to know more about new possibilities and accomplishments of fellow students on campus,” he said.
While “research” is a term typically associated with a particular academic discipline, Loewen said “Research Days” was organized with the expectation that students involved in any area of study could participate.
Academic disciplines represented at the event will include art history, biochemistry, clinical psychology, nursing and political science.
Josh Gathany, a junior, is showcasing his interdisciplinary research.
“I sought to do this research at BU because, although I’m a philosophy major and a religious studies minor, my interests do not cleanly fit into any major in the humanities,” Gathany said. “That is to say, I wanted to conduct some cool interdisciplinary research that would not otherwise be possible.”
Other presenters include Dana Hall, a freshman majoring in psychology who will discuss her research on aging stereotypes, and Christina Abate, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering who will present on sustainable energy.
Students like Chris Paquette and Joe Perez-Rogers, both seniors majoring in bioengineering, said students are not aware of the campus research opportunities.
“I think that the students need to show initiative in terms of getting involved in research,” Perez-Rogers said. “However, once that interest is shown to professors, the opportunity for students to get involved and become active members in research teams with professors and graduate students is nearly endless, there is so much opportunity.”
Paquette and Perez-Rogers have been working for two years with bioengineering professor Walker Land on a research project that examines recurrence risks for cancer patients and chemotherapy treatment options.
“A lot of people may not realize that we have some really cool projects we’re working on and are at the cutting edge of research,” Paquette said.
The University has invited various local schools and opened the event to the public in hopes of reaching a broader audience.
Aaron Katzman, a senior majoring in integrative neuroscience who will present at Wednesday’s event, said he is excited about the opportunity to share his work with the greater public. Katzman is involved in research focused on improving Parkinson’s disease treatment by reducing the negative side effects.
“It’s cool that I’ll be presenting at my University with other students and faculty around,” Katzman said. “It’s cool to be able to sort of let them know what we’re doing, because a lot of the time I think that the research doesn’t really get out to public; a lot of the time science stays within the scientific community.”
McDonald said this is an amazing opportunity for undergraduate students to get involved in research endeavors prior to graduate school.
“It shows that a student has focus, discipline, and that they’ve accomplished something and stuck to it; this sort of thing is a truly beneficial experience,” she said. “If they want to go on to graduate school, they’re going to have to have done research, and many jobs require research.”