Session showcased work of 100 undergraduate summer research award recipients
The Office of Research hosted a bustle of students, faculty and staff at its Annual Undergraduate Research Poster Session on September 23 in the Student Center Atrium.
The showcase featured the work of 2020 and 2021 Undergraduate Summer Research Award (USRA) programs – approximately 100 Cleveland State undergraduate students, including McNair scholars – who shared their research through creative means, discussions and (of course) print poster displays.
The program provides undergraduate students an engaged learning experience through intellectual inquiry, faculty mentoring and a connected environment that fosters student involvement. The event, in turn, provides those students the chance to discuss their research with the CSU community.
There were nearly 65 unique presentations across five colleges, with deep-dives into facets of everything from cycle cell regulation, e-coli and absinthe, to augmented reality devices, cystic fibrosis and the language and culture of Cleveland’s Hispanic community.
Ever wanted to learn about turning waste to energy through the catalytic gasification of household recyclables? Curious about the resiliency of urban forestry and tree growth subject to environmental variability? Prevention of mild cognitive decline in aging senior citizens? Predictors of well-being during pervasive stress and social isolation?
The audience learned all that and more.
The 2021 Poster Session was a treasure trove of knowledge, showcasing students’ benefit from their summer research experience and charting a myriad of potential new career paths and skills.
For the audience-at-large, thorough-yet-concise presentations and engaged presenters channeled something students were calling “elevator speech TEDx Talks” and “educational speed-dating.”
CSU President Harlan Sands was on hand for the event, every bit as impressed as the audience flanking him at the rows of poster installations.
“Undergraduate research is what we’re all about here at Cleveland State,” Sands said.
“To see what our undergraduates can do; this can lead to graduate work and ultimately employment – not to mention the possibility of solving the world’s problems.”
Sands added that much of the work he was taking in was “on a graduate level,” and that both the initiative and depth-of-study of students, all supported by CSU faculty, “really makes me proud.”
Taylor Stergar, a CSU psychology major and pre-med student from North Olmsted was flanked by two of her presentations: one on the psychiatric status effects on COVID-19 safety behaviors and vaccine perceptions; the other on psychotropic medication class effects.
Stergar said that there were some surprises in her research, namely that there was “such a low percentage of people engaging in safety behaviors. I expected the statistics to be much higher overall,” as it relates to the novel coronavirus.
“I’ve never been to something like this before,” Stergar added, gesturing to the event housed in the student center. “It’s really cool and a good way to meet people, and also to show them what I’ve been working on all summer.”
Janell Craig, a marketing major from Cleveland, walked onlookers through her examination of the roles culture, personality, customer loyalty and marketing efforts impact consumer sustainability efforts. It’s far more complicated than people simply liking their plastic shopping bags.
“We focused mostly on grocery retail sector,” Craig said. “The biggest surprise in the research, was the notion of collectivism versus individualistic cultures, and that plays heavily into resistance especially in issues with an environmental focus.”
Early childhood education majors Katelyn Zeitz of Wadsworth and Amanda Mohan of Brunswick were eager to discuss the particulars of their research “Children’s Perceptions of Resettled Refugee Parents’ Parenting Practices.”
Buttressed by the data and support of Dr. Grace Hui-Chen Huang and Dr. Eddie T. C. Lam of CSU’s College of Education and Human Services, Zeitz and Mohan agreed that the research is “likely to go on into 2022, if not beyond.”
“For me, the biggest surprise in our data was the difference between the immigrant and refugee parents within themselves,” Zeitz said.
“I thought there would be a difference between combined data held against our own society’s norms, but as it turned out, the data indicated that immigrant parents had higher expectations overall for their children than refugee parents did for theirs.”
Mohan, whose father was born in Banat between central and eastern Europe, was surprised to discover that mothers and fathers were holding their sons and daughters to the exact same standards.
“I expected sons to be held to a higher standard than daughters,” Mohan said.
“As the daughter of a refugee myself, there’s this idea that sons and men are the breadwinners, the heads of household. And so, I figured education would be prioritized to them over daughters. But that simply wasn’t the case in our study,” she added.
As it turned out, student researchers Zeitz and Mohan, pictured along with faculty mentors Dr. Eddie Lam and Dr. Grace Huang, won the Best Poster Award for Undergrad Research. Congratulations to the team!