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Students Share Knowledge and Present Solutions on Cabrini Day

Posted on 11/21/2022 2:56:03 PM

Students celebrated Cabrini Day by sharing their knowledge and research projects with the Cabrini community on Tuesday, November 15, inside Dixon Center. The annual celebration, which champions Mother Cabrini’s vision for empowerment through education, centered on this year’s theme, “Humans in Their Environment: Points of Impact, Resilience, and Justice.”

“Cabrini Day is a wonderful day when we can come together to learn from one another through the lens of a common theme that we approach in interdisciplinary ways,” said Michelle Filling-Brown, PhD, Dean, Academic Affairs. “I was impressed by our students' confidence and courage to present their research projects during the morning poster session and enjoyed having the opportunity to speak with students about their future aspirations in relation to their chosen project.”

More than 70 undergraduate students presented work throughout the morning on topics ranging from hearing loss, overcrowding, and HIV awareness, to the environmental impacts of industrialization and fast fashion.

It’s no secret college students tend to sacrifice sleep to make time for schoolwork and socializing with friends, but Health Science student Yeredith Cruz (ʼ24)—who shared her project “Falling Asleep in Lecture? Time to Change Your Sleep Schedule”—said she was surprised to learn how much the light from our device screens can interrupt sleep patterns.

Troy Scott (ʼ23), a Communication student, shared his research on how overcrowding in cities like Philadelphia can negatively impact the mental health of children and their families. Graphic Design students like Diana Guerrero (ʼ25) shared their findings on posters digitally designed for the event. Guerrero looked into how the “fast fashion” industry, popular for its inexpensive garments, harms the environment by proliferating synthetic materials at enormous scale.

“I’m really grateful to have the opportunity to show this…and talk about topics that people are not aware of,” Guerrero said. “It’s really nice that we have this day to just spread information to everyone.”

While many presenters shed light on particular issues impacting the environment and those who inhabit it, some students presented potential solutions to those problems.

Some attendees who spoke to Biology student Kendrick Key (ʼ25) throughout the morning confessed doubts that they would understand the content of his poster titled “Engineering Vibrio natriegens to Promote Carbon Sequestration.”

But, Key’s explanation was straightforward: to solve the problem of carbon emissions, the world can’t afford to wait millennia while enough trees are planted to grow and reclaim that carbon from the atmosphere.

“Photosynthesis takes in carbon dioxide,” Key said. “Trees use photosynthesis, but what are other organisms that use photosynthesis as well?”

One such organism is phytoplankton which lives near the ocean’s surface. Key’s project detailed an experiment to engineer a certain type of bacteria that will circulate nutrients from the bottom of the ocean up to the surface to accelerate the growth of phytoplankton, thus enabling more carbon to be “eaten” from the air.

“I think it’s very powerful when you can break down something that seems so complex and bring it down to a level where people can understand,” Key said. “A lot of people came in confused and they left amazed.”

The morning research presentations culminated in a keynote address from Carrie Nielsen, PhD, Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Science, whose presentation, “Getting The Lead Out: What the Fight Against Leaded Gasoline Can Teach Us About Today's Struggles for Environmental Justice,” provided students with a professional example of impactful research.

“I appreciated that our own talented faculty member Dr. Carrie Nielsen served as our keynote speaker and that students could see the passion of her research project in relation to their own environment,” said Filling-Brown.