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Student Research Symposium Examines Mission-Related Issues

Posted on 5/26/2021 1:02:05 PM

More than 100 undergraduate and graduate students presented compelling research and analysis during the 15th annual Arts, Research & Scholarship Symposium on Tuesday, May 4. The all-day symposium was hosted virtually for the first time and included an afternoon hybrid (virtual and in-person) session spotlighting Cabrini’s Pierce Fellows. The symposium was organized by Sheryl Fuller-Espie, PhD, Professor of Biology, and Michelle Szpara, PhD, Professor of Graduate Education, and Coordinator for the Master of Education in Teaching and Learning.

“To all the students presenting today, I am so proud of your scholarly and creative accomplishments,” said Chioma Ugochukwu, PhD, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, during an introduction to the undergraduate session. “Undergraduate research is considered a high-impact practice because of the life-changing effect it has on student learning and development.”

In more than 20 virtual breakout rooms, including both poster and oral presentations, students shared analyses on far-ranging subjects pertinent to each of Cabrini’s four schools, such as the socioeconomic impacts of the American Revolution, binge drinking among college students, the power of certain music genres to change moods, and COVID-19’s effects on student motivation. View the full program of student presentations.

An afternoon session featuring nine Cabrini Pierce Fellows focused on the students’ service to combat hunger and food insecurity. The Pierce Fellows carry out this work through the Wolfington Center. The Center’s Director, Ray Ward, PhD, said the Pierce Fellows’ efforts and research offer “tremendous insights” into food insecurity and ways to alleviate it.

“The way we solve these problems is by empowering the people closest to these issues,” he said.

Pierce Fellow Fabiola Alfred (ΚΌ21), a Political Science and Philosophy major, helped create the first community garden at the Coordinated Homeless Outreach Center (CHOC) in Norristown. She collected data about the dietary intake of many people at the shelter and sought to offer them healthier foods.

The Pierce Fellows also supported a food recovery program on campus in April and were joined in their efforts by Pennsylvania State Rep. Jennifer O’Mara.

During an introduction to the evening session highlighting graduate research, Beverly Bryde, PhD, Dean, School of Education, compared Mother Cabrini’s extensive work with hospitals, orphanages, and schools to the student research dedicated to improving those same institutions.

“These topics you’re researching are very much related to social justice,” she said.

Specifically, the graduate research examined variants in SARS-CoV-2 strains, support systems in higher education for students with Down Syndrome, and the effects of trauma on African American males, among many other topics. The full program includes all graduate research topics.

“In the times we are experiencing, the value of your voices is extremely important,” Bryde said. “Your research actually marks a moment in time. You can’t do this research unless you’re passionate about it, because it’s hard work. It often takes courage to present some of these topics and show some of the injustices in our society.”