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Students from five colleges will showcase their research on April 22

READING, Pa. — Undergraduate research is alive and well at the colleges and universities that compose the Higher Education Council of Berks County (HECBC). More than 200 undergraduate students from five Berks County universities and colleges and beyond will showcase their research at the 18th annual Undergraduate Research and Creativity Conference on Saturday, April 22, at Penn State Berks.

Check-in and registration begin at 8:30 a.m. in the Perkins Student Center lobby, the keynote speaker will give an address at 9 a.m., and sessions will run from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. In total, 300 faculty members, students and guests are expected to attend.

Held on Earth Day, this year’s theme is sustainability.

Research topics include:

  •   Holocaust in the Ukraine
  •   Crack Cocaine Use and Motherhood: A Balancing Act
  •   Supply Chain Logistics
  •   Hydraulic Fracturing
  •   Chemical and Microbial Composition of the Tulpehocken
  •   Environmental Deterioration
  •   Gender’s Role in Tattoo Placement
  •   Cancer Cells and their Response to Estrogen
  •   Law Enforcement and Physical Appearance
  •   Technology for Children with Autism

Research topics are presented as academic paper presentations and academic posters. There will also be performances of music, theater, film and poetry, and exhibits of art and photography.

The keynote speaker is Alanna Kaiser, a Penn State senior, who will give a presentation titled “Student Power and Stakeholder Engagement: The Path to Positive Change” after a welcome address by Chancellor R. Keith Hillkirk in the Perkins Student Center Auditorium. Kaiser is a recipient of the University’s 2016 Rock Ethics Institute Stand Up Award, which honors undergraduate students who have demonstrated courage, fortitude, and ethical leadership by taking a stand for a person, a cause, or a belief. She was chosen for her dedication to sustainability, social justice and ethical leadership in promoting productive dialog between students, faculty, and University administrators on the ethics of climate change and fossil fuel divestment.

At the age of 15, Kaiser co-founded the student organization Fossil Free PSU. She is a Schreyer Honors Scholar majoring in Community, Environment, and Development, who emphasizes divestment as an opportunity for Penn State to uphold its tradition of leadership by using its resources and power to address large social and environmental issues.

Recently, Kaiser spent a semester abroad in East Africa, where she completed a directed research project and explored the effects of climate change on various tribal communities in Tanzania. For her, this experience brought to light the disparities that exist between those who are most responsible for causing climate change and those who face the most immediate and severe impacts of the phenomenon.

Drawing those connections between the tangible effects of climate change and Penn State’s responsibility to be a global leader has served as a source of motivation for Kaiser in her work with Fossil Free PSU. She plans to continue building relationships, creating dialogue, and seeking localized ways to create positive social and environmental change, both in the university setting and beyond.

The conference is presented by the five colleges that compose the Higher Education Council of Berks County (HECBC): Albright College, Alvernia University, Kutztown University, Penn State Berks and Reading Area Community College. 

For more information on the conference, visit sites.psu.edu/hecbc. Questions should be directed to Tami Mysliwiec, conference coordinator and associate professor of biology at Penn State Berks, at 610-396-6274 or via email at thm2@psu.edu.