Morristown, N.J. (February 18, 2016) – Three CSE students will present their original research at the Independent College Fund of New Jersey Research Symposium on March 7, 2016. Divya Thakur, '16, is a biology major with a minor in chemistry; Grace Bailey, '17, is a chemistry major; and Amanda Inacio, '16, is a psychology major.
The goal of the research symposium is to attract and retain students in the STEM fields through hands-on, inquiry-based experiences. To compete in this event requires that students complete original research under the guidance of a professor.
"We have a strong program in the sciences," says Dr. Helen Streubert, president of the College. "These three students are an example of the caliber of young women and men we are attracting to CSE. We are very proud of their accomplishments."
Springfield, N.J., resident Divya Thakur aims to be a dentist. Her research looks at the bacteria present in one's mouth after using a mouthwash that claims 99 percent germ-killing efficiency. She is seeking to identify the remaining bacteria by conducting metabolic tests and determine if they could cause any other diseases.
Divya received the Novartis Science Scholarship to conduct her research. She has spent her last three summers shadowing dentists, including alumna Allison Adams, '85, D.M.D., and is waiting to hear from schools of dentistry for the next step of her journey.
"I like science because it explains everything," says Divya. "I also want to know how to develop a dental practice, which I began to learn during my shadowing experiences."
Dr. Donna Howell, biology program chair and professor, is Divya's mentor on this research project. She says, "Divya has been working very hard on her honors research project. She came up with the initial idea for her project on her own and was successful in obtaining the Novartis Science Scholarship. Many times people do not understand the time commitment and perseverance required for scientific bench research. Divya has done an exemplary job."
Grace Bailey of Vernon, N.J., wants to become a forensic scientist, preferably for the FBI. A soccer injury that sidelined her this season gave her the time needed for her research. Her project involves biodiesel fuels; to create an efficient and equally combustible fuel from common oils and determine the most ecologically friendly without losing efficiency.
Grace is the only junior student among the three being sent to the symposium and came highly recommended by Dr. Kimberley Grant, chemistry program chair and professor. Her mentor and sponsor is Dr. Peter Dobbelaar, assistant professor of chemistry.
"Grace's research project provides her with the opportunity to conduct advanced experiments and to interpret the results," says Dr. Dobbelaar. "In addition to gaining experience with new lab techniques, Grace is also learning that scientific research can be a lengthy process."
Grace received a grant from ICFNJ to do this research.
"I want to intern next summer in Cincinnati at the FBI Forensics labs," she says. "I think this research symposium will help my application get noticed!"
Amanda Inacio of West Orange, N.J., will use her psychology undergraduate degree, '16, and her justice administration graduate degree, '17, to become a behavior analyst. Her research looks at temptation among college-age students based on the location of the college.
Her study is using social media such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, as well as email in which those attending college are asked to anonymously complete a survey about their behavior on campus. She is then comparing those results with the location of colleges, in different types of settings, such as city vs. suburban and congested vs. quiet. She has compiled her data and is working on her results.
"I am developing research skills that I know will be very useful in the future," says Amanda.
Dr. Chloe Bland, professor of psychology, is her mentor for this project.
"Amanda developed an interest in this topic two years ago in her Research Methods and Statistics I class," says Dr. Bland. "She revised her research question for her current study in reaction to surprising results from a pilot study she conducted. This is an essential part of the scientific process. The support Amanda received from ICFNJ has given her hands-on experience at a level that is often reserved for graduate students."