University Libraries Research Awards honor 100 students from 19 campuses

The 2021 awards, given for excellence in information literacy, recognized individuals participating in 82 unique research projects.
decorative graphic with words Undergraduate Research Award Excellence in Information Literacy
Credit: Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State University Libraries presented its fourth annual Undergraduate Research Award: Excellence in Information Literacy honors at the end of the spring 2021 semester to 100 students at nearly all undergraduate Penn State campuses. Awards recognized 96 current undergraduate students and recent graduates, four graduate students, plus two additional College of Medicine students and two collaborating faculty members participating in campus-wide virtual research exhibition events. 

“The Undergraduate Research Award is one way the University Libraries recognizes outstanding undergraduate scholarly communications,” said Hailley Fargo, student engagement coordinator and organizer of the award program. “Our exhibitions across the commonwealth allow us to learn more about undergraduate research, celebrate those students who can tell us all about their research process and understand their role in the scholarly conversation. For the second consecutive year, as our research exhibitions were held online, the University Libraries played a role in supporting these events and continuing to present these awards."

University Libraries faculty librarians follow a unified set of judging and learning outcomes criteria for participants University-wide as they assess student research posters and presentations. Judges from the University Libraries considered or discussed with participants:

  • the research process, strategies and selection of sources to support the research;
  • source integration to understand the scholarly conversation on the topic and to help influence the direction of the research project;
  • attribution and consistent citations for quotes, tables, graphs, photographs and other content used in the poster that are not the student's own work; and
  • an understanding of their information privilege and how that informs their research and their role in the information economy.

Following are the 2021 Undergraduate Research Award recipients. Honorees are listed according to the campus event in which they participated.

Penn State Abington

Paula Kim, sophomore, business, “Legacies of Medieval Herbal Thinking in a 17th-Century Manuscript: An Exploration of the History Behind Agrimony’s Connection to Herbal Science and Medicine,” Arts and Humanities Division.

Ian McGorrey, sophomore, engineering; Ruthanna McMurtrie, first-year student, engineering; Re’naijah Purvis, sophomore, vertebrate physiology; and Kevin Shen, first-year student; “Testing the Mechanical Properties of a 3D Printed Lower Extremity Prosthetic Socket,” with Ruthanna McMurtrie, Re’naijah Purvis and Kevin Shen; Science and Engineering Division.

Vitaliy Mykhnyak, sophomore, nuclear engineering, “Review of Gamma Ray Irradiation Effects on 2D Materials,” Science and Engineering Division.

Paige Sfida, senior, psychological and social sciences, “An Examination of Potential Weight Status Correlates: Perceived Familial Weight Status, Depression and Anxiety,” Social Sciences Division.

Harshika Thard, sophomore, biology, “All about Rose Water,” Arts and Humanities Division.

Penn State Altoona

Emily Beam, senior, biology and visual art studies, “Visceral Reactions,” first place (tie).

Rachel Kosaka, psychology, and Mykala McGill, sophomore, criminal justice, “Public Support for School Security Measures: An Analysis of Public Perceptions of School Security Measures and their Regional Variants among Pennsylvania Residents,” second place.

Rich Patterson, senior, nursing, “Better Together: The Effects of Peer Tutoring on Test Anxiety in Undergraduate Nursing Students,” first place (tie).

Penn State Beaver

Emily Bonzo, senior, communication, and Amanda Scholl, senior, communication, “Exploring the Relationship Between the Locus of Control and People’s Willingness to Take COVID-19-related Risks,” with Amanda Scholl, honorable mention.

Nicholas Cain, senior, communication, “A Look at COVID Stress and Alcohol Consumption,” honorable mention.

Ryan Jones, senior, communication, and Nathan Sheriff, senior, communication, “The Fear of Missing Out and the Relationship to Social Media Presence and Anxiety,” with Nathan Sheriff, honorable mention.

Malaysia Wallace, senior, communication, “Everyday Discrimination,” honorable mention.

Penn State Behrend

Grace Blackford, senior, project and supply chain management and management information systems, “Analysis of Automation in the Fast Fashion Supply Chain."

Marissa Litzenberg, senior, history and political science, “The Forgotten Labor: Tracing United Kingdom Immigration Law and Sentiment from Enoch Powell to Brexit."

Penn State Berks

Kaitlyn Lowery, junior, applied psychology, “Teachers’ Perspectives of Children with ADHD,” Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Division.

Kaitlyn Pasquarella, senior, life science, “Synthesis and Characterization of Acetaminophen in an Undergraduate Laboratory,” Science Division.

Serenah Pauliuc, junior, mechanical engineering, “Effect of Moisture on the Tensile Properties of Composites with Bio-based Fibers and Matrix,” Engineering, Business and Computing Division.

Penn State Brandywine

Danielle Guth, senior, psychology, “The Prevalence of ACES in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Population,” first place.

Penn State Fayette

Casey Falcon, sophomore, criminal justice, and Haley Miller, sophomore, associate in physical therapy, “Penn State Fayette Athletics: Covid-19’s Influence on Student Athletics and SAGE Program,” first place.

Penn State Greater Allegheny

Lindsey Dermotta, junior, business administration, “Art Re-creation Challenge,” honorable mention.

Alexandra Florescu Eubank, senior, biobehavioral health, “Diabetes Biomarker A1C Levels Negatively Correlate with Cognitive Performance Tests Used to Diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease,” honorable mention.

Curran McCune, sophomore, aerospace engineering, “Is Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ Morally Justified?” honorable mention.

Leann Piekut, sophomore, elementary education and recreation, parks and tourism management; “Successful Student Engagement,” first place.

Neila Raveen, junior, biobehavioral health, “The Long-Term Cognitive Effects of COVID-19,” second place.

Haley Snyder, senior, psychology, “Depression and Dating: Self-Reports,” honorable mention.

Alisha Tarver, senior, communications, “The Untold History of Pittsburgh Broadcasting,” honorable mention.

Ke’ira Williams, senior, biobehavioral health, “Black Mental Health Barriers,” first place.

Penn State Harrisburg

Sibgha Amin, senior, biology, and Arisha Tariq, sophomore, biology – genetics and developmental biology, “Annotation of the Coding Sequence of the Mipp2 Gene in Drosophila Pseudoobscura,” with Arisha Tariqu, research award.

Taylor Aves, graduate student, applied behavior analysis, “A Behavioral Conceptualization of Suicide and Suicide Prevention,” honorable mention – graduate student.

Hart Bullock, graduate student, communications, “When at Home: A Phenomenological Study of Zoom Class Experience,” research award – graduate student.

Brieanna Carr, junior, human development and family studies, “COVID-19 Impacted Learning,” research award.

Aleksandra Dimova, graduate student, environmental engineering, Penn State graduate Rachel Smolinski and Professor Jennifer Sliko, Department of Geosciences, “Long-Term Effectiveness of Stream Restoration Activities in the Lititz Run Watershed,” research award – graduate student.

Nicole Lookfong, junior, genetics and developmental biology, Penn State College of Medicine students Bailey Keller and Angela Snyder and Dr. Yuval Silberman, “Fear memory retention requires adrb2-crf signaling interactions,” research award.

Samantha Nelson, graduate student, community psychology and social change, “Loyal, Kind, and True? Examining Distinctions in the ‘Warmth’ Dimension of the Stereotype Content Model,” research award – graduate student.

Logan Vogelsong, sophomore, chemical engineering, “A Density-Functional Theory Study of the Adsorption of Mercury on Ice Surface,” honorable mention.

Penn State Hazleton

Christopher Digon, senior, engineering, alternative energy and power generation option, and Colin Knoll, senior, engineering, alternative energy and power generation option, “Amanyara Villas Solar Array: Solar Array Design Located in the Turks and Caicos,” with Colin Knoll, second place.

Abigail Martinez, junior, letters, arts and sciences; “Addressing Issues of LatinX Identity in LatinX Art in Social Media,” first place.

Christian, Smith, sophomore, broadcast journalism, “Sports in Africa,” third place.

Penn State Lehigh Valley

Chris Fiegel, senior, psychology, “Narcissism and Alcohol Use: A correlational Study of Archival Neurophysiological Data,” with Fall 2020 psychology graduate Riley Koch, third place.

Francis Kuklis, senior, geosciences, and Abigayle Ward, senior, chemistry, “Green Thumbs on the Red Planet: Geochemical Processes Applied to Developing Viable Agriculture Soil From Martian Regolith,” first place.

Mahnoor Malik, sophomore, biology, “Impact of stress on behaviors related to COVID-19 exposure and other health risks,” second place.

Penn State Mont Alto

Jessica Irvin, junior, nursing; Tamia Lopez, junior, nursing; and Sarah McElwain, junior, nursing; “The Relationship Between Breastfeeding and Postpartum Psychiatric Issues,” first place.

Penn State New Kensington

Matthew Heavner, junior, communications, “The Star-Spangled Media?”

Samantha Kravits, senior, psychology, “Do Race and Gender Matter? A Systematic Review of Binge Drinking Behaviors."

Michel Nafash, sophomore, biobehavioral health, “Vitamin D Deficiency and Bone Health.”

Penn State Schuylkill

Jeffrey Alloway, sophomore, meteorology and atmospheric science, “Comparing Viewpoints of the Burning of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania by the Confederates During the U.S. Civil War,” second place.

Corinne Ellis, junior, corporate communication, “Socially Constructing America: A Rhetorical Analysis of Trump’s and Biden’s Facebook Posts During 2020 Election,” winner.

Penn State Scranton

Micah Cameron, senior, English, “Left Behind: How Pennsylvania Providers of Home and Community Based Services to Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities are Overregulated and Underfunded,” first place oral presentation.

Julia Fessenden, senior, English, “‘Being Related Doesn’t Make Us Family’: An Examination of Found Family in All For the Game and The Raven Cycle,” runner-up oral presentation.

Megan Lucey, sophomore, nursing, “The Future of Wearable Healthcare Technology,” nursing category poster.

Parth Patel junior, information sciences and technology, and Trusha Patel, sophomore, information sciences and technology, “The No-Code Application Development The Next Big Thing?” technology category poster.

Lauren Sciabbarrasi, senior, business, “Origami: The Art of Mathematical Reconfiguration,” first place oral presentation.

Jamise Sealey, sophomore, Spanish language and literature, and Shea Tyler, sophomore, psychology, “Helping ELL Students: A Preliminary Solution,” with Shea Tyler, runner-up oral presentation.

Christian Toussaint, senior, science, “Comparing ACL and Achilles Injuries in the Sports World,” science category poster.

Rachel Veniamin, junior, English, “Filling in the Blank: A Taxonomy of the Dashes in ‘The Roaring Girl,’” runner up oral presentation.

Erika Wheeler, senior, psychology, “Loneliness and Video Chats During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” social science category poster.

Penn State Shenango

Johnathan Brown, senior, human development and family studies, “The U.S. Has a Lack of Recess Policies and a Lack of Good Ones,” honorable mention.

Michael Horstman, sophomore, criminal justice, “Abnormal Psychology Related to Extremism and Terrorism,” honorable mention.

Cheyenne Richards, senior, nursing, “Smoking Cessation for Patients Diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD),” honorable mention.

Chelsea Spatara, first-year student, biology, “Conservation for Endangered Species in Zoos,” honorable mention.

Fath Stevenson, senior, communication, “Crisis in Humanities,” honorable mention.

Penn State University Park

Haojun Li, senior, computer science, “Twenty Years Projections of Plasmodium falciparum R561H Frequencies in Rwanda,” John Sr. and Kimlyn Patishnock honorable mention.

Erica Mi, sophomore, bachelor of science in information sciences and technology (integration and application), bachelor of arts in telecommunications, “Supporting COVID-19 Supply Allocation through Visual Analytics,” John Sr. and Kimlyn Patishnock second place.

Taylor Pust, senior, biology and psychology, “Histological analysis of cellular components for in vitro thrombus formation using Chandler loop and Carstairs’ stain,” John Sr. and Kimlyn Patishnock first place.

Jiffer Razon, sophomore, chemical engineering, “Progress on Characteristically Induced Proton-Irradiated 2DMs: A Compassed Review,” John Sr. and Kimlyn Patishnock honorable mention.

Grey Rochon, junior, psychology, sociology and history; “Codependency and Relationship Dimensions,” John Sr. and Kimlyn Patishnock grand prize.

LuzKarla Rodriguez, senior, veterinary and biomedical sciences, “Defining the Epidemiology, Clinical Presentation and Diagnostics for Acute Canine Anaplasmosis, an Increasingly Prevalent Tick-borne Disease in Pennsylvania,” John Sr. and Kimlyn Patishnock honorable mention.

Maria Schultheis, junior, animal science, “The Future of Photovoltaic Technology: Using Amino Acids as Molecular Electronics,” John Sr. and Kimlyn Patishnock honorable mention.

Shane Ward, senior, biomedical engineering, “Effects of VAD-Induced Shear Rates on Platelet Adhesion,” John Sr. and Kimlyn Patishnock third place.

Anna Wickenheisser, junior, biobehavioral health, “No association between carrying the Dopamine Transporter (DAT) 9 Allele and Alcohol Consumption in College Students,” John Sr. and Kimlyn Patishnock honorable mention.

Penn State Wilkes-Barre

Sidney Buckman, Penn State Altoona student, “How Wild Birds are Influenced by Physical Traits,” third place.

Abigail Burtuska, sophomore; community, environment and development; “Methods and Goals of Environmental Organizations,” second place.

Alexandria deWolfe, sophomore, biology, “Evaluating the OFT as an Extension of Darwin’s Theories: A Study of Foraging Trends in PA Wintering Birds,” first place.

Jared Haldeman, Penn State New Kensington senior, project and supply chain management; Catherine Hicklin, Penn State Altoona senior, business management and marketing; and Sam Matous, Penn State Beaver senior, project and supply chain management; “Cryptocurrency and Sustainability,” third place.

Zachary Humenick, “‘Dieselgate’ — The Volkswagen Emissions Scandal,” second place.

Ismar Franqui Segarra, junior, applied psychology, “Influence of Social Media on Self-Esteem,” second place.

Penn State York

Isabel Barbera, senior, English, “The Unseen Potential Behind the Graphic Novel,” third place (tie).

Amy Bishay, first-year student, psychology, “What do Penn State York Students Think About Homelessness?”, third place (tie).

Hunter Haggett, sophomore, biology, and William C. Roe, senior, biology, “Using Bioinformatic Approaches to Assess Homology and Map Protein Domains of Putative Spider Circadian Rhythm Genes,” with William C. Roe, first place.

Kara James, senior, communication arts and sciences, “The Ways Youth Sports Address Gender Issues in Student Athletes,” second place (tie).

Huntur Woodard, senior, biology, “The Impact of Wildfire on the Lizard Malaria Parasite, Plasmodium Mexicanum,” second place (tie).