The fourth annual Fordham College at Rose Hill Undergraduate Research Symposium drew a record number of presenters to the McGinley Center on April 27.
One hundred ninety three students from 25 academic disciplines presided over lectures and poster boards spread throughout the student center’s ballroom, commons and lounges.
Sophomores, juniors and seniors who have conducted original research with faculty mentors in the humanities, sciences and social sciences presented their findings in a setting that, while focused on academics, had a congratulatory feel to it.
In addition to hosting the greatest number of presenters in the event’s history—48 more than last year—organizers had another reason to celebrate: The debut of FURJ: The Fordham Undergraduate Research Journal.
Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the University, praised attendees for discovering the joy of inquiry, investigation and original research.
“When we were trying to convince you to come to Fordham, I said that one of our greatest ambitions is to ruin our students for life. This afternoon, you are proof that we are succeeding,” he said.
By “ruined for life,” Father McShane was referencing the Jesuit desire to implant a lifelong restlessness in students so that they never stop asking questions, to inculcate a self-reflective challenge so that graduates never pull back from asking, “Why not me?”
“It is a glorious spring day at Rose Hill. After a miserable, long snowy then rainy winter, your classmates are sunbathing on Edwards Parade,” Father McShane continued. “And you? You are here. You have been ruined for life.”
Michael Latham, Ph.D., dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill, called the symposium a tangible example of how students asking fundamental questions speak to the heart of what the University should be concerned with.
“What does a good society look like? How has our past shaped us? How has our expression in art and literature given us a sense of meaning, and how should that affect how we answer moral questions? How can we help unlock some of the secrets of nature to ensure that humans live longer, better, healthier lives? How can we approach some of the most pressing environmental problems?” he asked.
“As you look at the huge diversity of topics presented here, you will see that we are not conducting armchair exercises in speculation. We’re asking questions that have direct relevance on some of the vital issues of our time.”
Asmaou Diallo, a senior chemistry major, presented “Synthesis of [18F]FP-DTBZ for PET Imaging Studies in Diabetes,” which she worked on last summer with a professor of diagnostic radiology at the Yale University School of Medicine.
“Our goal was to find a better way to diagnose type 2 diabetes earlier. We are trying to synthesize a specific molecule that has potential to be highly valuable in that diagnosis,” Diallo said.
“Most of the work I did focused on the chemistry of synthesizing these reactions. I also learned about the purification process and high-performance liquid chromatography; my mentor insisted that I learn this because it is one of the best ways to purify something,” she said.
This summer, Diallo will conduct research in the biomedical imaging department at New York University.
Tyler Boston, a senior economics and philosophy double major, presented “Evaluating the Effectiveness of Subsidized Training Programs for Low-Income Women in New Delhi, India: A Randomized Experiment.”
This summer, he will travel to New Delhi to conduct field experiments and collect survey data about the effectiveness of vocational training programs for low-income women.
“This is a valuable experience for me because I will be pursuing a doctorate in economics, and this gives me hands-on experience as well as the theoretical background for developmental economics,” Boston said.
He learned about survey design, program evaluation and poverty measurement from his mentor, Subha Mani, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics, who will be accompanying him on the trip.