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Student Researchers Excel at Kean Research Days

Student research projects, including The Psychopathology of Batman and Do People Take the Fastest Route?, were the highlight of Kean Research Days, a two-day celebration of discovery and academic accomplishment held last week across the University.

Some 1,076 students and 155 faculty took part in the 11th annual Kean USA Research Days in the STEM building and Downs Hall on Kean’s Union campus, with another 400 students participating in Research Days at Wenzhou-Kean University (WKU) in China.

Kean students presented research posters and oral presentations, and exhibited board games and interactive exhibits, gaining experience and skills they can carry into their careers. Research Days also featured faculty research presentations, a musical performance, and a keynote address by international artist Paula Gaetano Adi, a faculty member at the Rhode Island School of Design, who spoke on the integration of technology and art.

“Each year, it gets better and better, not only the extent of engagement of students, faculty and staff, but the quality of the presentations and the posters,” said Jeffrey H. Toney, Ph.D., provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Many of our students will use the same presentations and posters to share at professional meetings across the region and beyond.”

The impact of Research Days went beyond the student-researchers who took part. Many students, faculty and staff browsed through the displays, or watched as presentations from WKU were streamed live into Downs Hall.

“Demonstrating research activity that advances fields of study and helps create our future is what distinguishes the finest universities from the rest,” Toney said. “Research Days is one example of how, under President Farahi's leadership, we have created a culture of discovery on campus that offers opportunities for our students to explore and grow.”

The research projects spanned subject areas from history to nursing to mathematical sciences.

Computer science majors Matthew Seeselberg and Isabel Morais, both seniors, researched the topic, Do People Take the Fastest Route? when using a GPS. For Seeselberg, the question came from real life. “I spend a lot of time traveling to school,” the Edison resident said, adding that he hopes to go into the automotive industry.

Morais was honored with the Research Days’ Undergraduate Researcher of the Year Award. The Union resident has already accepted a position with the Ford Motor Company in Michigan.

Psychology major Christopher Frias, a senior heading to graduate school at New York University, researched how brand names affected fragrance perception. To do so, he bought Wal-Mart cologne and assembled 100 students for a study, telling half of them the fragrance came from Wal-Mart, and the other half that it was Armani. The Armani group said they would pay an average $61 for the cologne, while the other group valued it at $28.

“I definitely enjoyed doing it,” Frias said. “I was always interested in doing research but didn’t know how to go about it. I learned so much.”

Research Days also included the presentation of awards. Faculty Research Mentor of the Year was Ching-Yu Huang, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the School of Computer Science. Senior Alexus Haynes-Albert, a graphic design: interactive advertising major, won for the program book design cover. Honorable mentions went to senior Nathanael Jenkins, a graphic design: interactive, print and screen major; and senior Arlenis Roberts, an industrial design major.