College Students Present Research Projects at Liberty Science Center

By Briana Vannozzi

Projects range from the abstract to the practical.

Nearly three dozen undergraduates from New Jersey’s 14 independent colleges presented research projects at the Liberty Science Center.

“We started the undergraduate research symposium so that students looking at the sciences and considering anything in the STEM field would have an opportunity to get hands on explore what that meant to be involved,” said Independent College Fund of New Jersey Development Officer Maryalice Breuninger.

Students had to get through a competitive application process to earn a spot. And secure funding through the symposium to carry out their ideas. They’ve got 20 minutes with each round of judges to make their pitch.

“We turned regular kitchen oil into bio diesel we were hoping could run into a car,” said Grace Bailey, junior at the College of Saint Elizabeth.

Bailey is hoping her project will help fuel the future of transportation.

“So far we’ve concluded that grape seed oil was the best bio diesel and we looked further into it and discovered it’s linoleic and has multiple double bonds and it’s the best way to go,” she said.

And one for home use, senior Divya Thakur found Listerine was more effective at killing bacteria and resisting isolates than just brushing alone.

“So if you’re constrained on time, go for Listerine. You’re pretty much killing a good amount of bacteria,” Thakur said.

Students have spent anywhere from a semester to two years researching these projects. For many it’s not so much about the prize, but about getting their work recognized and the possibility of getting it published.

“I actually talked to Listerine about it and they were very much happy. And I’m still in the process of talking to them and they said they would like to see pictures that I took and my results as well,” Thakur said.

This is Mitch Parker’s second go at the symposium. He studied how infection affects fertility at the genetic level on the male reproductive system.

“We basically looked at 12 different rats. Half of them were infected and half of them were a control group, so they were non-infected, and we found all these different genetic regulators called micro RNAs and we found all of their levels went down and looking online at other publications I found these micro RNAs are also responsible for testicular cancer,” said Parker, a senior at Monmouth University.

Judges will select five projects to continue their research.