Over 50 student presenters shared their research projects from every corner of the curriculum at Drew’s annual Day of Scholars event last Friday. The Ehinger Center was packed with viewers celebrating presenters’ dedication to their work and learning what it means to do undergraduate research.
As evidenced by their thorough presentations, participants at Day of Scholars gained valuable knowledge and skills that will help them succeed in their future careers. Day of Scholars represents the culmination of a year’s worth of intellectual inquiry, a direct result of the unique research opportunities that Drew offers to its students.
During the event, students, faculty and family members examined posters describing the presenters’ research that were displayed throughout The Space and The 1867 Lounge. Presenters explained their methodology, data and conclusions and answered questions about their projects.
Although most of the posters featured scientific research, areas in the humanities and social sciences were also represented at Day of Scholars. Project topics ranged from antibiotics and tardigrades to fencing statistics and South Korean democracy.
According to Dr. Brianne Barker, who organized Day of Scholars this year, this cross-curricular focus is a hallmark of the event.
“Sometimes students imagine work that they’re doing in their biology lab, and they don’t think about what types of research might be happening elsewhere around campus, so I like that we celebrate all of that together,” Barker said. She hopes to expand the focus of Day of Scholars to include more creative works from disciplines such as art and music in future years.
Presenter Breezy Van Patten (‘25) discussed their research on how a branch of mathematics called knot theory could be used to make post-quantum cryptography more secure. After reading a book on knot theory from Dr. Seth Harris, Van Patten was inspired to explore the applications of mathematics.
“A lot of the time, we look at math and we just see it as ew, math, what does it have to do with me? But through this project, I’ve come to understand that math has a variety of applications in the physical sciences, in physics and chemistry and biology, but also as a way for people in everyday life to apply it to their own types of problems,” Van Patten said.
They believe that this type of interdisciplinary perspective is vital for success in many careers, as having a limited source of information impedes one’s ability to move forward.
Presenter Charlotte Clements (‘23) observed how individual history affects the behavior of cats in different environments at an animal shelter, where she works as a veterinary technician. She discovered that stray cats perform better in community rooms and owner-surrendered cats perform better in cages.
“This research will help us better choose who can be transitioned into a community room and who would benefit from that in terms of their welfare, as it will decrease their stress behaviors,” Clements said.
Clements plans on becoming a shelter veterinarian, and she believes that this research project will help her advocate for animal welfare. “Where [animals] are living really impacts the stress that they experience,” she said.
Work like Van Patten’s and Clements’ serves as an inspiration for Drew students looking to start pursuing research next semester. The presentations at Day of Scholars are testaments to the fact that impactful research can be done at Drew even as an undergraduate. If you would like to learn more about undergraduate research at Drew, you can email Barker at email@example.com.
Featured image courtesy of Abigail Goldman.
Abigail is a freshman majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology.