Student Researchers Represent Moravian Well in Bluegrass State
Nine Students Presented at Undergraduate Research Conference in Kentucky
For nine Moravian College undergraduates, last month’s 2014 National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), the largest undergraduate interdisciplinary conference in the country, was an opportunity to display their academic and research achievements and discoveries. Most impressively, the student group also displayed a great amount of professionalism and civility, explained Biological Sciences Professor Cecilia M. Fox, who accompanied the undergraduates.
This year’s conference was held in Lexington, Kentucky, and drew nearly 4,000 students and faculty mentors from across the country, presenting their research and creative endeavors through posters, oral presentations and performances. While most presentations were well attended, a few Saturday-morning sessions drew sparse crowds.
According to Fox, Shauna Abdouche ’14 arrived early at her session to find a student presenter from the University of Arkansas with no audience. When the Moravian contingent dropped in to hear Abdouche present, they extended some Greyhound hospitality. (Click here for photographs.)
“Without hesitation, our students asked if the Arkansas student would present her research to them following Shauna,” Fox recalled. “She was so touched that we would want to hear about her research that she eagerly shared her work with us. Our students genuinely felt that, like them, she had prepared a seminar and should have the opportunity to share it with others. Our group asked her questions, and we had a wonderful conversation. I was so proud of them!”
Moravian’s students also represented themselves well in their respective academic settings. The student presenters included Michael Giacoumopoulos ’14, Rachel Johnson ’14, Alex Huynh ’14, Vincent Reed ’14, David Siepietowski ’15, Chelsea Mursch ’14, Sam Caulker ’16, Alicia Altemose ’14 and Abdouche. The students hail from a variety of disciplines, including biology, neuroscience, computer science and math, chemistry, environmental science and political science.
“These students did an amazing job presenting their work,” Fox said, noting how supportive they were of one another.
ABOVE: Alicia Altemose '14 (from left), Rachel Johnson' 14, Chelsea Mursch '14 and Shauna Abdouche '14 were among the more than 4,000 in attendance at the NCUR in April.
ABOVE: Vincent Reed ’14 (from left), David Siepietowski ’15 and Alex Huynh ’14 take a closer look at two of Kentucky's horses while visiting the state last month..
Siepietowski, a biology major, enjoyed the opportunity to hear about what other undergraduates are researching and studying. With his poster located in the middle of the presentation area, there was no shortage of passersby to converse with, he added.
Giacoumopoulos ’14 thanked his political science advisers for guiding him toward presenting at the NCUR, which offered a “great platform to deliver my thesis to interested parties,” he explained. The process and preparation for his oral presentation proved to be a great training ground for the political science major.
“I would say I learned how to deliver a vast amount of research into a 15-minute time frame,” he reasoned. “Time moves fast. Learning how to develop one's research and convey it in a concise manner is very important.”
The Moravian students did receive one advantage over others attending the conference: Fox, who earned her doctorate at the University of Kentucky, served as the consummate Bluegrass State chaperone and tour guide. Though the professor admits the trip was her first time driving a 15-passenger van. (“Let's just say, this alone gave us many comedic moments,” Fox laughed.)
The Greyhounds visited several local haunts, including Ramsey's, a chain of diners known for their famous Kentucky Hot Brown; Joe Bologna's, an Italian restaurant housed in a church; and stops at the Kentucky Horse Park and the Keeneland Race Track.
“I was able to introduce our students to some Kentucky favorites,” Fox said.
Giacoumopoulos described the Hot Brown sandwich as a tasty pile of turkey, ham, tomato and bacon, smothered in melted cheddar and Parmesan cheese. “Just looking at it gave me a heart attack,” he said, noting that he meant no offense to Kentucky food. “The dish was amazing!”
Additionally, Fox’s doctorate mentor, Don M. Gash, chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the University of Kentucky, met with Moravian’s science/premed majors, providing the group with a tour of the university’s research labs, MRI center, new hospital and even a cadaver lab.
Giacoumopoulos and Siepietowski came away impressed with Kentucky, an experience that grows fonder with each passing day.
“The food was wonderful and the people were so nice and accommodating,” Giacoumopoulos said. “I truly loved Kentucky.”
With time to reflect, Siepietowski appreciates the trip even more now. “We all had a great time there,” he said. “It was our last hoorah as a group, and it was a great bonding experience.”
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