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HORIZONS

for Undergraduate and Graduate Research

SUMMER 2020


provost’s COLUMN Even as everyone around the world is dealing with COVID-19, we continue to forge ahead as an academic community. Innovation remains essential and is the result of bright minds using science to tackle difficult challenges. In searching for innovative solutions, researchers build upon previous study to help answer critical questions and make needed progress. Research highlighted in this issue of Hofstra Horizons is a sampling of innovative research projects presented by our impressive and accomplished students at undergraduate and graduate research events on campus. Many of the featured projects have also been presented at state, national, and international conferences. The diverse research agenda highlighted includes public health, social media, alcohol, copolymers, and stomach cancer. I applaud the work of our graduate and undergraduate students as well as the inspiring work of our mentor faculty. Together, they are change agents, helping create innovative solutions and needed change.

HORIZONS

for Undergraduate and Graduate Research

Table of Contents

4-21 Q&A................................. 22-37 Student Profiles...............

Front cover photo taken by Laurie Elkowitz

We wish our students and faculty continued success. Stay well.

Herman A. Berliner, PhD

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Undergraduate Research Day Fall 2019


editor’s NOTE Changing Times For years, Hofstra Horizons has presented the research efforts of undergraduate students who participated in one of two undergraduate Research Day events annually. Students gathered to share research developed, in and out of class, and presented at professional conferences. These research efforts became the catalyst for graduate studies in areas such as medicine, engineering, sustainability, and mathematics.

Elfreda V. Blue, PhD Vice Provost for Graduate and Undergraduate Studies Office of the Provost Hofstra University Hempstead, NY 11549 516-463-6974

The 2019-20 issue of Hofstra Horizons marks a change of focus to include graduate as well as undergraduate research, which reflects the larger University-wide commitment to research. Whether undergraduate honors or graduate thesis, doctoral dissertation, or laboratory research in the natural and social sciences, students’ work aptly represents their efforts as competent and confident researchers, poised to make substantial contributions to their discipline. Research projects presented in this issue in no way represent the entirety of student research at Hofstra. This year, the spring 2020 semester was interrupted by the coronavirus, which pushed the University to remote learning. As a result, experiments were stalled, interviews were cancelled, and some research projects had to be adjusted in order to manage new circumstances. We salute all those students who forged ahead, in spite of the difficulties they encountered. The cover art reflects a sustainability research project designed to solve a real-world problem. Researchers developed a methodology for rapid development of suspended footbridges. Some other projects in this issue reflect biological and chemical engineering experiments, a study of the reparations Law 70 of the Colombian Constitution from 1993, and sediment grain size analysis on Long Island marsh cores. Our hats are off to each of the students whose work is included in this issue.

It has been almost two years since the last publication of Hofstra Horizons for Undergraduate and Graduate Research. This past fall, Dr. Elfreda Blue, vice provost for graduate and undergraduate studies, came to me and asked if I wanted to tackle bringing this publication back to life. I enthusiastically jumped at the opportunity and channeled my 17-year-old self, as editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper. While this is not quite the same thing, the act of seeking out students, interviewing them, and writing articles brought me great satisfaction this year. Hearing their enthusiasm for their work and their obvious dedication was inspiring. I am thrilled to share this experience with one of our talented journalism students, Letisha Dass. You will see that many of the articles in this publication were written by Letisha. She is an outstanding student in The Lawrence Herbert School of Communication’s Journalism program and I am confident she will be a successful professional journalist one day. Early on, Vice Provost Blue and I decided we wanted to highlight graduate student research, in addition to undergraduate students. All of the students highlighted in this magazine are remarkable and their work will certainly have lasting effects not only at Hofstra University but in our larger community and their respective fields of study. While this year certainly brought unique challenges, as we battled the COVID-19 virus, our students kept working hard and continuing their research remotely. This is an incredible achievement and I am confident you will applaud their work after reading this magazine.

Suzanne Pike, MPA

Associate Provost for Academic Affairs Office of the Provost Hofstra University Hempstead, NY 11549 516-463-5400


Student PROFILES

A Methodology for Rapid Development of Suspended Footbridges Two Hofstra students majoring in mechanical engineering with aerospace concentrations recently began working with Dr. Edward Segal, an assistant professor in Engineering who specializes in civil and environmental engineering. Dr. Segal developed the concept and methodology for how to create a rescue footbridge that could be deployed from one side of an area to another during an emergency situation. However, he wanted students to produce the product. Although not civil engineers, students Nicholas Belitsis, a junior from Great Neck, NY, and Laurie Elkowitz, a junior from Levittown, NY, jumped at the chance to diversify their knowledge base and gain an overall understanding of the engineering design process. Nicholas and Laurie immediately began to develop a prototype and designed a 10-meter suspended footbridge. To support the development, the students received funding from Thornton Tomasetti, a global engineering design firm, and the Fred DeMatteis School of Engineering & Applied Science Dean’s office. Laurie and Nicholas chose the equipment and components of the bridge based on strength and durability. They spent a lot of time researching the components, many of which they had to design themselves. Their biggest concern was safety because the footbridge was meant to be used during rescue situations or where a walking network was damaged. Ultimately, they designed the bridge with a factor of safety, meaning that in order for the bridge to safely support 200 pounds, it was designed to hold 800-1000 pounds. They used materials that were lightweight, so the bridge could be carried and deployed rapidly; always keeping in mind that the footbridge needed to be able to retain strength if it got wet and needed to be used multiple times.

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Drone technology was a key aspect of this design. A drone is used for the deployment of the footbridge. If the user is at a crossing, the drone flies to the other side to find an anchorage, like a tree. The drone flies around the tree and deploys a pilot line that is wrapped around the tree. From that line the user can pull across the rest of the bridge.

They used materials that were lightweight, so the bridge could be carried and deployed rapidly; always keeping in mind that the footbridge needed to be able to retain strength if it got wet and needed to be used multiple times.

Hofstra HORIZONS for Undergraduate and Graduate Research t SUMMER 2020


Student PROFILES

Laurie and Nicholas are currently working on how the concept can be improved. The current bridge is a little difficult to walk on and they are considering an inlay/ walkway that may be placed in it after it is deployed. Presently, the bridge is designed for a fixed distance or span, so the students are also considering adjustability. Both students are concerned about the maneuverability of the drone. Unless you are an experienced drone user or pilot, the drone can be difficult to maneuver around objects. Ultimately, the footbridge needs to be designed to be able to use different anchorages like hooks, shipping containers, or the trunk of an emergency vehicle, not just a tree. The students are keeping busy writing a publication for the Structural Engineering International Journal and presenting the project to local and international engineering firms. Laurie and Nicholas are hoping that the firms will fund future research. They are eager to get more presentation experience and are preparing a conference paper for a footbridge conference to be held in Madrid, Spain in September 2020.

Nicholas Belitsis

Laurie Elkowitz

This project would not have been possible without the support and guidance from Dr. Segal. He taught Laurie and Nicholas how research takes place, the proper steps, and how to properly write papers. When they ran into problems, he was always available to help them find solutions. Yet, Dr. Segal gave them a lot of freedom in their approach and design and it was this creativity that allowed them to succeed.

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Nicholas hopes to go into the engineering industry after graduation and put his skills to work right away. Laurie will pursue graduate work and a PhD in Aerospace Engineering. She has her eyes set on Duke, Notre Dame, MIT, and Stanford.

Hofstra HORIZONS for Undergraduate and Graduate Research t SUMMER 2020


Student PROFILES

The Flaws Within the Effectiveness of Law 70 for Afro-Colombian Populations Michelle Boo, a senior majoring in psychology from Mt. Kisco, NY, had the unique opportunity to take a seniorlevel seminar course during her junior year. This seminar course, taught by Professor Benita Sampedro, not only provided Michelle the opportunity to complete a minor in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, but to dive deep into parts of Colombian history that directly impacted her family.

Michelle Boo

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She chose to study Law 70 of the Colombian Constitution from 1993, a reparations law intended to protect black and indigenous communities.

Michelle’s family is from a large area in the Pacific Water Basin of Colombia known as Chocó. Her family was one of many who were displaced from their land due to civil wars since the 1800s. She chose to study Law 70 of the Colombian Constitution from 1993, a reparations law intended to protect black and indigenous communities. Using various sources including the actual law from the constitution, Michelle analyzed how and why this law was a failure and how it compared to other similar laws and policies, including the Mexican Constitution of 1917. She learned that Law 70 had many loopholes that ultimately did not protect black and indigenous people. Specifically, because the black community in Chocó is historically displaced they could be refused land that they were promised in Law 70. Michelle is very grateful for Professor Sampedro’s research support and credits the professor for inspiring her choice of a minor. Michelle wants to continue with this research and looks forward to exploring how other countries have gone about reparation laws. She plans on continuing her studies after graduation with the pursuit of a PhD in Latin Caribbean History Studies. She is considering Stony Brook University, NYU, or CUNY.

Hofstra HORIZONS for Undergraduate and Graduate Research t SUMMER 2020


Student PROFILES

Analysis of Stomach Cancer Gene Expression Data with Lattice Upstream Targeting and D-Basis Algorithms Justin Cabot-Miller, a North Kingstown, Rhode Island native, is a graduating senior with a dual major in mathematics and computer science and minors in linguistics and cognitive science. Justin has been actively working on an impressive piece of research alongside another Hofstra mathematics student, Lisa Schmelkin, supervisors Dr. Kira Adaricheva, associate professor of Mathematics, and Dr. Oren Segal, assistant professor of Computer Science, and collaborators Dr. Robert Lucito, associate professor from the Zucker School of Medicine, and Dr. J.B. Nation, professor from the Department of Mathematics at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.

The primary goal of the research is to better predict stomach cancer based on a patient’s genetic and clinical profile. Specifically, how to predict the survival rate and recurrence of cancer in patients based on the expression or under expression of their genes. Justin explains that this research is centered on working with doctors and applying algorithms to real data sets and/or current patients in hospitals in an attempt to personalize their treatment. Justin sees this research expanding and hopes that by developing a general case algorithm, other things like weather, medical data, or text data can be analyzed. This project has spanned two years and Justin spent time testing the algorithms for bugs and making sure it worked as intended. He further helped test the algorithm on real data (i.e., subsets of patients) to determine which genes are relevant to survival or cancer occurrence. The project then moved to a stage where the team developed a unique statistic for the research and tested theoretical properties of the algorithm. For example, how would it work with manufactured “fake” data vs. real data? Right now, the team is looking at a different theoretical pathway algorithm

Justin Cabot-Miller to determine at what threshold you can begin to analyze real data and make valid predictions. Justin has presented different stages of this research at two Hofstra Undergraduate Research Days. He recently attended the Information Technology in Industry Conference in Australia where he presented this work to data mining and data analysis professors and experts. In 2019, the poster was accepted at the Gordons Research Conference, “Human Genetics and Genomics” held in New Hampshire, which will lead to a new paper for publication in a medical journal. In 2018, the team published an article “The D-basis Algorithm for Association Rules of High Confidence” in the Information Technology in Industry Journal. Justin was also a student presenter at an American Mathematical Society (AMS) conference held at Hofstra University.

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Justin plans to attend New York University for a MS in Data Science beginning in the fall.

Hofstra HORIZONS for Undergraduate and Graduate Research t SUMMER 2020


Student PROFILES

Alexander Lord:

Teacher beliefs about web-based homework and mathematics Written by: Letisha Dass

Alexander Lord “They provide resources for students outside of class that they may not have access to,” said Lord. “The online homework can provide hints and immediate feedback to the students.”

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Alexander Lord is a graduate student in Hofstra’s Learning and Teaching doctoral program. His dissertation was on web-based homework (WBH) systems, such as WebAssign and DeltaMath, which teachers use to distribute homework. One main focus of the study was to understand teachers’ reactions to WBH systems and its effects. The WBH systems allows students to do homework at their own pace and time. “They provide resources for students outside of class that they may not have access to,” said Lord. The online homework can provide hints and immediate feedback to the students. In a survey, 236 secondary teachers rated the effectiveness of the system on a scale. The questions were based on two categories: level of math course as higher or lower, and level of student achievement as higher or lower. The survey’s results showed that teachers believed students that are either in lower level math courses or are lower achieving math students tend to benefit more from the WBH systems than higher achieving and higher leveled math students. These results were independent from factors such as age, gender, education, and experience. The research showed that teachers believed that WBH systems could possibly close the achievement gap between higher and lower achieving and course leveled students because it would provide the lower course leveled and achieving student the resources needed to effectively learn mathematics. Future research could quantitatively take Lord’s research one step further, and compare secondary students’ test scores using WBH systems to those using other homework formats. This could potentially determine the level of impact WBH systems have on students’ mathematic achievement.

Hofstra HORIZONS for Undergraduate and Graduate Research t SUMMER 2020


Student PROFILES

Joseph Mancuso:

The Synthesis and Characterization of Polyvinyl Pyrrolidone-Polyvinyl Alcohol Copolymers and Blends “The driving force [of] this project is to be able to make new types of materials that we can use in everyday products that can be biodegradable,” said Mancuso. Written by: Letisha Dass Joseph Mancuso, was recently awarded the very prestigious Barry Golwater Scholarship and Excellence in Foundation award for his undergraduate research. Joseph, a junior biochemistry major, has conducted an experiment that chemically modified a polymer known as polyvinyl pyrrolidone-polyvinyl acetate (PVP-PVAc), which is found ubiquitously in cosmetic products such as hair gel. Cosmetic products are some of the most commonly detected sources of pollution in wastewater, thus the production of new biodegradable polymers and the processing of currently existing cosmetics is critical. Polyvinyl alcohol is much more biodegradable than polyvinyl acetate. This means it can be degraded faster

Joseph Mancuso by natural microbes and reduce the pollution caused by cosmetic products. Because of this known property, Mancuso sought to enhance the biodegradability of PVP-PVAc by modifying it to its more biodegradable analog, polyvinyl pyrrolidone-polyvinyl alcohol (PVPPVOH). Mancuso was excited about this new polymer. “This material is going to be the springboard for a slew of other products having to do with creating new biodegradable polymers,” he said. Mancuso believes that this new material can assist in easing the pollution caused by plastic and cosmetic products. “The driving force [of] this project is to be able to make new types of materials that we can use in everyday products that can be biodegradable,” said Mancuso. The idea for this project came from Mancuso’s organic chemistry course. In this course, Mancuso learned about the reactions that were required to make this new material. He has had many successes in the field with the guidance and close friendship of Dr. Ronald D’Amelia, adjunct professor of Chemistry. “It is more of a peer to peer interaction with Dr. D’Amelia,” said Mancuso.

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Mancuso has presented at Hofstra’s Undergraduate Research Day since he was a sophomore and at several American Chemical Society (ACS) meetings across the nation. After graduation, Mancuso hopes to continue his education in graduate school and gain a PhD in organic chemistry. From there he plans to use his knowledge to develop different types of pharmaceutical drugs to help patients with diseases such as cancer, which stems from his own familial experience with cancer.

Hofstra HORIZONS for Undergraduate and Graduate Research t SUMMER 2020


Student PROFILES

Las dictaduras en America Latina y la perdida de la inocencia Ellary Mischel, a senior from Melville, NY, is majoring in psychology and Spanish and has always been interested in Latin American dictatorships. Working closely with Professor Benita Sampedro, Ellary is pursuing a minor in Latin American and Caribbean Studies and has taken several classes with Sampedro as honors options. Professor Sampedro encouraged Ellary’s research and her presentation at the fall 2019 Undergraduate Research Day.

Ellary Mischel

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Ellary’s interest in Latin American dictatorships stems from intrigue and an eagerness to learn. Her research “Las dictaduras en America Latina y la perdida de la inocencia” is based on the portrayal of Latin American and Caribbean military dictatorships in film. Ellary viewed five films: El silencio de Neto, Voces inocentes, La fiesta del chivo, Nostalgia de la luz, and La historia oficial. She discovered that the loss of innocence in children was a common theme amongst all the films. Several of the filmmakers chose children to be the narrators of their films and Ellary believes this was done to get the viewer to pay more attention, increase awareness, and make the viewer more empathetic. During the spring semester, Ellary will be enrolled in the Latin American and Caribbean Studies seminar course and will explore this research further. Her ultimate goal is to attend graduate school for clinical psychology or Spanish education.

Hofstra HORIZONS for Undergraduate and Graduate Research t SUMMER 2020


Student PROFILES

Colleen O’Brien:

Social media misinformation of tinnitus’ impact on individual beliefs and healthcare choices “We live in a time where everybody is always talking about fake news, and it’s very easy to spread anything you want on the internet. It can be benign, but when it comes to healthcare and health conditions, you have to take it a lot more seriously,” said O’Brien. Written by: Letisha Dass As a graduate student, Colleen O’Brien participated in the Long Island Doctor of Audiology Consortium program. The Long Island Doctor of Audiology Consortium is a doctorate program with Hofstra University, St. John’s University, and Adelphi University. At Hofstra, O’Brien worked with Dr. Aniruddha Deshpande, Hofstra assistant professor of audiology, on research about the condition of tinnitus and the misinformation online about it. “We live in a time where everybody is always talking about fake news, and it’s very easy to spread anything you want on the internet. It can be benign, but when it comes to healthcare and health conditions, you have to take it a lot more seriously,” said O’Brien. She believes that the internet has become our health practitioner and physician. O’Brien and Dr. Deshpande looked at how individuals with and without tinnitus responded to online information about the condition

Colleen O’Brien independent of it being true or false. First, O’Brien and Dr. Deshpande searched for any forms of information of tinnitus on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. “We realized that there was a lot of misinformation about the condition online,” said O’Brien. Any suggestions about a cure for tinnitus are false because there is currently no cure. During the experimental part of the research, O’Brien and Dr. Deshpande had participants with and without tinnitus watch both misinformed and credible YouTube videos, and rate the authenticity of the videos. Next, the participants received an explanation of tinnitus and were asked to re-watch and re-rate each video. “Our main take away is that educating patients and educating individuals is very effective in minimizing their belief in misinformation,” said O’Brien. In November 2019, O’Brien and Dr. Deshpande presented this research in a one-hour seminar at the

American Speech-Language-HearingAssociation (ASHA) Convention. The seminar was then selected to be a part of the “Selections from ASHA Convention” series. O’Brien has worked alongside Dr. Deshpande for three years. She has also co-authored on research with Dr. Deshpande’s wife, Dr. Shruti Balvalli Deshpande, a communication sciences and disorders assistant professor at St. John’s University. Many of these researches have focused on tinnitus and its representation on social media.

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“As a doctoral student, [the professors] have provided me with exceptional opportunities to conduct, analyze, and publish our research. They have been outstanding mentors. I have learned so much about working in research and academia, and these experiences have encouraged me to pursue a PhD in audiology in the future,” said O’Brien.

Hofstra HORIZONS for Undergraduate and Graduate Research t SUMMER 2020


Student PROFILES

Dr. Magally Prosper:

Is learning the business of medicine necessary for our future doctors? Written by: Letisha Dass

Dr. Magally Prosper is a graduate student in Hofstra’s health professions pedagogy and leadership master’s program, assistant clinical professor, and on the curriculum committee at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, as well as a pediatrician at Camkids Pediatrics, a private practice in Cambria Heights, NY. She is back in school to receive formal education training. It is a change to her career path where, hopefully, she could be a teacher for future medical students, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants in her retirement.

Magally Prosper The whole aspect of running a practice is that you have to know how to manage staff and equipment, how to buy vaccines, and billing, coding, and insurance.

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In her current research, Dr. Prosper examined the business of medicine and if business should be a mandated course in medical schools. Her research looked into the views of practitioners via a survey and how they learned about the business that goes beyond their own field. As a mentor, Dr. Prosper would show her residents the business aspects of the profession as well. In her research, she found that there is no formal business training on how to run a practice or hospital. The whole aspect of running a practice is that you have to know how to manage staff and equipment, how to buy vaccines, and billing, coding, and insurance. “If you do not know it, then how can the patients know?” The research takes the question of curriculum further and asks participants what type of format the curriculum should be taught in. Should it be a workshop or an online module? “The majority of schools do not have the curriculum, so you are left to learn from your supervisor, teaching you what they know, even if they are not very versed in the topic,” said Dr. Prosper. This research has been an ongoing study. Dr. Prosper was able to present the abstract as a “Cool Idea” at the 2018 Innovations in Medical Education Conference in California. The study was widely accepted at the conference. She hopes to have her work published one day. Right now, she is starting the application process for publication.

Hofstra HORIZONS for Undergraduate and Graduate Research t SUMMER 2020


Student PROFILES

Aleksandra Radeva:

Bulgaria’s Minority Inclusion Policy Faces Challenges

“Why are these policies failing even though there is a lot of support [financially], and otherwise [by] the European Union, it’s been pushed as an agenda item,” said Radeva.

Written by: Letisha Dass Aleksandra Radeva, who graduated in December with a major in political science and global studies, evaluated Bulgaria’s inclusion policy for the Roma people. Being a Bulgarian national herself, Radeva witnessed the disparity between the policy’s goal and reality. Over 12-months of study, Radeva conducted in-field research in Bulgaria by interviewing nongovernment organizations members, political leaders, representatives of the Roma communities, and scholars. In a second part of the study, Radeva reviewed literature to better understand why the integration policy was not producing its intended results. “Why are these policies failing even though there is a lot of support [financially], and otherwise [by] the European Union, it’s been pushed as an agenda item,” said Radeva.

Aleksandra Radeva In her research, Radeva found three major sources for the policy failure. The first source was the implementation gap. This is “the mismatch between policy intentions and the policy goals and reality. National policy is not translated well onto the local level due to the lack of proper communication between the national and local governments; and the lack of sufficient financial and institutional support in the implementation process,” said Radeva. The second source was the lack of Roma representation in the policymaking. “Currently, in the Bulgarian National Assembly, there are no Roma representatives and we are speaking of five to ten percent of the Bulgarian population that is not represented politically,” said Radeva. Finally, the third major source was how deeply rooted discrimination towards the Roma is embedded within society. “We see a very high intolerance towards the Roma. The public is becoming [less] accepting of their way of life. It escalates to protests against the Roma. Because of that, many political officials are reluctant to act on the commitments of the national government on Roma integration. It is out of fear that they are going to lose their seat in the following election cycle,” said Radeva.

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Radeva believes this study can go in several different directions. One prospective study is how poor integration might pose a threat to national security as a destabilizing factor. After graduation, Radeva is pursuing Optional Practical Training, which allows foreign students like her to complement their studies with a year of working in the United States. She looks forward to going to graduate school one day and getting a job at the United Nations.

Hofstra HORIZONS for Undergraduate and Graduate Research t SUMMER 2020


Student PROFILES

Amanda Ramlakhan and Jillian Henrique:

Can Plant-Based Diets Slow the Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease in Women? Jillian Henrique (l) and Amanda Ramlakhan (r)

“Essentially, we saw that there was a major link between plant-based diets and treatment of chronic diseases. We wanted to look further into that ... “

Community Health majors, Amanda Ramlakhan, a senior, and Jillian Henrique, a junior, conducted a literary review to propose methods and possible data analysis to test whether or not a plant-based diet may be beneficial for female patients with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). “Essentially, we saw that there was a major link between plant-based diets and treatment of chronic diseases. We wanted to look further into that because we saw cardiovascular, osteoporosis, and diabetes all being treated with plant-based diets were at least halted to some extent. [However,] we did not find anything that stated that it actually helps Alzheimer’s disease. That is where we found a little hole in the data,” said Henrique.

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In their proposed method, early diagnosed female participants from an AD clinic between the ages of 45 and 50 will be interviewed about their lifestyle. They will undergo multiple tests like a PET scan to analyze Tau Protein and Amyloid deposits. These tests will occur over the span of a year while they are implementing a plant-based diet. While this method may appear feasible, Ramlakhan and Henrique have acknowledged possible issues for this experiment, such as the different rates of AD progression in each patient. The differences in AD progression would make it difficult to see the results of the plant-based

Hofstra HORIZONS for Undergraduate and Graduate Research t SUMMER 2020

Written by: Letisha Dass

diet. If this study proves to be beneficial, Ramlakhan and Henrique would like to broaden the study to include men and patients whose diagnosis is in more advanced stages of the disease. Although this study was for a class, it does hold a personal interest for Henrique. Her father, who survived a stroke, has adopted a plant-based diet. The diet has aided him in beating the odds of experiencing another stroke. What drew and interested Ramlakhan to the study was the gap in research concerning AD and plant-based diets. Henrique hopes to go to graduate school for public health and to further understand the spread of chronic diseases. Ramlakhan has chosen to continue her own path in the medical field through PA school.


Student PROFILES

Raina Singh:

Suppressor Analysis Reveals a Key Residue in the C-terminal domain of TatB2 Raina and her team discovered mutations in the twin-arginine pathway known to transport folded proteins from the cytoplasm into a cell’s outer membranes. Written by: Letisha Dass It may seem unusual for a business management major to be conducting microbiology research but for Raina Singh, originally from India and most recently, Levittown, NY, this is a logical step in her career plan. Raina, a business management December 2019 graduate who earned two minors in biology and biochemistry will be attending Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine in the fall of 2020. She hopes to continue researching microbiology in dental school, specifically bacteria in the oral cavity and how it spreads to the heart. However, it is Raina’s knowledge of

business management that will support her plan to open two dental clinics in the future, one in the U.S. and the other in India. Raina knew she would learn dental medicine in dental school, so as an undergraduate student at Hofstra University she decided to learn business skills. Dr. Rigel, associate professor of Biology, sparked Raina’s interest in microbiology when she took a course with him. She has discovered that she is particularly interested in the practical use of microbiology in medicine and dental fields. After taking a course with him, Raina asked to be a part of Dr. Rigel’s research team. He gave her an opportunity to not only think about and discuss the research with him but to make mistakes with the research as well. Raina appreciates the time he takes to discuss the errors and the process, and how as a researcher she can learn how to combat the errors.

Raina Singh Raina and her team discovered mutations in the twin-arginine pathway known to transport folded proteins from the cytoplasm into a cell’s outer membranes. There are many different proteins that can be transported, but the major difference is that they are all in a folded state. She performed the selection to find suppressors or any other mutation that would make that pathway work better. Raina was able to find the suppressors, perform different tests on them, and find two classes of suppressors. Some of the differences she found were in the pathology of the cells of the suppressors. This research allows for a better understanding of the functionality of gram-negative bacteria and can be applied to how to target cells better for antibiotic use.

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This study has been running for several years and ultimately because this pathway is present in many bacteria types, understanding the functionality of how all these classes of bacteria work will help in marketing for antibiotics and other therapeutics.

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Student PROFILES

Sediment Grain Size Analysis on Long Island Marsh Cores After a class visit from The Nature Conservancy to Dr. Christina Farmer’s Geology 135 – Sedimentation course, the students decided to take advantage of the unique opportunity to get their hands dirty by analyzing sediment for pollution from four Long Island marshes. Faith Renner, a junior from Souderton, PA, who is double majoring in environmental resources and drama, explained why this project was not only a learning experience but why she was particularly passionate about it at the fall 2019 Undergraduate Research Day. Dr. Nicole Maher, a senior coastal ecologist and her team from The Nature Conservancy were able to extract 24 sediment cores from four different Long Island marsh locations, Lawrence Marsh, Bass Creek, North Green Sedge, and Pelham Bay. The students from the Sedimentation course chose to compare two samples, one that was from a polluted area and one that was not. Specifically, they chose to analyze a sample from Lawrence Marsh, located on the south shore of Nassau County. This area is polluted from a sewage treatment plant that has caused overnitrogenation, impacting how plants grow and how the marsh sediments are held together. The second sample was from Bass Creek, a protected estuary located on the east end of Long Island. A new and unique approach was performed. Dr. Maher took the samples to a hospital and had them CT-scanned under a lung setting to assess the density of the layers and grain size of the material. The group then compared those CT scan results with the manual data collected and it proved that the CT scan was an efficient use of analysis (i.e., it produced very similar results). Faith and her classmates then hand-sieved eight of the marsh core samples and analyzed them for their ratio of coarse to fine sediment, how the grain size varied between layers due to storms and how the different organisms and plants held the sediments together.

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Dr. Farmer and Faith explained that the second stage of the research occurred this past spring when the students used a muffle furnace, which is like a really hot oven. The furnace burns off organic material, so inorganic minerals can be analyzed. This will provide more accurate data on the weights of the sediments, so their ratio will more accurately match those of the CT scans without the influence of the weight of any remaining roots or grasses in the samples. Currently, Lawrence Marsh is receiving treatment for the pollution and the outsource pipe from the sewage

Faith and her classmates then hand-sieved eight of the marsh core samples and analyzed them for their ratio of coarse to fine sediment, how the grain size varied between layers due to storms and how the different organisms and plants held the sediments together. Hofstra HORIZONS for Undergraduate and Graduate Research t SUMMER 2020


Student PROFILES

treatment plant is moving into the ocean. The marsh should be analyzed in five to ten years to determine if it is sounder and the sediment more structurally stable. Faith continued her individual work of sieving through core samples this past spring. She compared her results to the CT scan results and manually confirmed the scans. Faith explained how Hofstra’s Sedimentology Lab in the Geology Department has been a centerpiece of this research, as it is well-equipped with sieves, ovens, and scales. The project has also been given access to a muffle furnace in collaboration with the Town of Hempstead Department of Conservation in Lido Beach.

Faith Renner

To get to analyze outside world material was very stimulating for Faith. She loves being able to make connections with professionals working in the field who share her passions and interests. She is thankful to Professor Farmer who gave her the opportunity to get her hands directly on the material. Dr. Farmer continually takes time out her day to speak with Faith about the project methodology, how to organize aspects of the project, how to avoid contamination, and how to maintain scientific integrity. Faith appreciates how Dr. Farmer does not just tell her how to do things but works with her on building procedures. This research was published as an extended abstract on Long Island Geologists’ website and has been presented by Faith to other students in the Geology, Environment & Sustainability Department. Additionally, Faith received a $1,000 scholarship from the American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG) for an essay she wrote about her decision to be a geologist. Faith plans to use the funds to continue her undergraduate education in preparation for graduate school. She hopes to become a college professor one day.

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Hofstra HORIZONS for Undergraduate and Graduate Research t SUMMER 2020


Student PROFILES

Gina Sipley:

What do passive online participants do with their information? Written by: Letisha Dass

Gina Sipley

“All of these people are often considered unimportant because they do not comment, like, or share. They are often greatly worthy of study because that means they are readers,” said Sipley.

Gina Sipley is an education and literacy studies graduate student at Hofstra University and a tenured professor of literacy and women’s studies at Nassau Community College (NCC). Her dissertation looks at the passive online participation in large Facebook groups. It is a qualitative study that evaluates subjects who did not actively like, dislike, or comment on posts, but instead “lurked” on the social media site. “Everybody is a lurker,” said Sipley. “It is a really common practice that everyone engages in.” These lurkers are usually not counted in many studies because their data is hard to track. “All of these people are often considered unimportant because they do not comment, like, or share. They are often greatly worthy of study because that means they are readers,” said Sipley. Because these lurkers are readers, Sipley tried to understand through her research what these passive users were doing with the information they read and how it shows up in other spaces. In reference to the 2016 presidential election, Sipley found that readers did not amplify the information but only took it in. To find an answer to these two questions, Sipley reached out to neighborhood Facebook groups as a form of crowdsourcing and social mapping. “Facebook is an aging platform that many over the age of 35 use, so in thinking about the literacy practices of a larger group of people and an older group of people, this is the place for the study to be done,” said Sipley.

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These Facebook groups create a community where people are able to discuss, share thoughts and opinions, and critically analyze information, which is generally what teachers seek from their students, but it is accomplished in an outside environment. Although she is using Facebook to gain information from social media users, Sipley is not using any Facebook produced data to help support her research. Sipley found that the most common reasons people lurk were to learn technology, self-diagnose medical conditions, and learn new languages. To help her dive more deeply into this research and produce qualitative data, Sipley has taken a sabbatical from NCC to finish this dissertation for her PhD. She hopes to find ways to track lurkers and bring a call to action to qualitative assessment in the future.

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Student PROFILES

Fatima Sonday:

Media Negatively Impacts American Society through Disproportionate Coverage of Islam Written by: Letisha Dass

Fatima Sonday is a sophomore majoring in sociology. In her project, she addresses how media has a tendency to reinforce negative opinions concerning the Islamic religion. The media has a tendency to disproportionately focus on the negative aspects of Islam, instead of the positives, giving rise to widespread hatred. Merriam-Webster defines islamophobia as the “irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against Islam or people who practice Islam.” Sonday, who is Muslim, reflects on her own personal experience with the negative attitudes. Specifically, she mentions the New York City subway as a place where she personally experienced islamophobia or discrimination. During high school, Sonday was the human rights president at her school. Sonday added secondary data analysis that focused on negativity towards Islam to add further proof of her own experiences.

In the secondary data analysis, Sonday used a Pew Research Center study titled “The Impact of Prejudice Media Coverage from the Perspective of an American Muslim.” She was able to lend further proof to her argument about how as the years continue, more American Muslims feel that media marginalizes Islam by continuously portraying the religion as violent. This point was supported with the popular TV adult comedy Family Guy. In the episode “Turban Cowboy,” the show presents a violent portrayal of a Muslim man who is willing to kill someone based on a preferred skin color. This project came to fruition during a sociology class on race and ethnicity with Dr. Navid Ghani. During the class, there was an assignment to analyze how social media affects society. Sonday decided to take the assignment a step further by analyzing social media’s impact on Islam. Dr. Ghani was intrigued by Sonday’s choice

Fatima Sonday for the project and supported her in presenting the project on Undergraduate Research Day. Sonday states that this topic was chosen because “no one understands the extent that it affects people.” Islamaphobia is “overlooked as another thing we have to solve ... it is too complex to have one solution,” said Sonday. Fatima remains undecided about her career path but recently finished an internship with the Central American Refugee Center in Hempstead where she tutored immigrants to help them pass their United States citizenship tests. Additionally, Fatima recently received the Natalie Allon Award in Sociology. According to the Hofstra University website, this is “a scholarship awarded to qualified, deserving undergraduate students majoring in Sociology, and selected on the basis of academic excellence and financial need.”

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Hofstra HORIZONS for Undergraduate and Graduate Research t SUMMER 2020


Student PROFILES

Lydia Williams:

Social Media Impact on Adolescent Black Girls “Earning my doctorate was just a goal I have always had since I was young.”

Lydia Williams Written by: Letisha Dass Lydia Williams, a graduate student in Hofstra’s teaching and learning doctoral program has a strong background in education and adolescents. She has been in the field of education for 15 years. Williams spent 13 years as an elementary school teacher, eight years working in Brooklyn public schools, and now almost seven years working in Hempstead schools. Her path to achieving her PhD has been a life-long goal. “Earning my doctorate was just a goal I have always had since I was young,” said Williams.

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In her dissertation, Williams qualitatively analyzed the impact of social media on the peer relationships and identity expressions of adolescent black females. Unlike Williams’ research, most studies were quantitative and focused on a wider demographic. Williams’ decision to focus on black females stems from her experiences and that of her two daughters who are also black. For one of her daughters, who is an adolescent in high school, life is heavily influenced by social media.

“One of my daughters began high school the same year that I began my doctoral program. Social media was obviously becoming a bigger part of her life; and as I saw all the things she was going through as an adolescent, it made me really curious as to how it affected all adolescent girls and black girls specifically,” said Williams The social media platform Williams’ research specifically analyzed was Instagram. Williams used her personal Instagram account to reach out to potential participants who would allow her to view their accounts for review. Williams was able to choose six young black females in high school who were in their senior year. Three of the girls were from New York City schools and three were from suburban schools on Long Island. Williams found that the pressures of social media forced her subjects to create two main types of accounts that many adolescents also use. They had a main Instagram account and then they had “finsta” accounts. A finsta is a fake Instagram account that many adolescents and young adults use to be more candid about themselves to their close followers. She saw her subjects show a more vulnerable persona of themselves that was the opposite of their peer valued, appearance-related main Instagram accounts. Williams noticed the positive impact of these secondary

Hofstra HORIZONS for Undergraduate and Graduate Research t SUMMER 2020

accounts. “It helped give them a voice. They were able to express an awareness of themselves and ownership of who they are,” said Williams. However, social media has “unsocial effects” on adolescent communication skills. Many adolescents would rather post a vulnerable post on their finsta page, where their close friends would likely only view it, instead of having a conversation. Williams’ participants agreed that social media’s appearance-related pressures were more overwhelming for black females than other races. Although black females were at the front lines of trends, they were still not acknowledged by other groups for their contributions and have chosen to engage in self-validation to gain the deserved recognition they seek. Williams suggested that in the future, social media platforms should take away the public view of quantitative features, such as likes and number of followers, to remove the competitive pressures and comparisons that they create. Adolescents should be more engaged in face-to-face socializing and be limited in the amount of time they spend on social media each day. Finally, parents should be a part of their child’s social media platforms to monitor and learn the platforms and better guide their children.


Student PROFILES

Authern Xu:

Study on the Political Climate’s Effect on the Mental Health of LGBTQ+ Community Written by: Letisha Dass

“I decided to look into this specific population because it is my community.” said Xu.

Authern Xu, a graduate student in Hofstra’s mental health counseling program and a data analyst at Family Integrated Consulting and Resources, examined whether or not the political climate has an impact on the mental health of people who identify as LGBTQ+ through a survey and literary review. Family Integrated Consulting and Resources is a nonprofit organization that designs programs to educate teachers on social and emotional health, and how to provide trauma informed care during times of crisis. Her position as a data analyst allows her to study trauma and its effects.

The minority stress theory, which describes the stress levels that minorities tend to feel, is one of the reasons why Xu started this research, especially since, according to the Human Rights Campaign; the current White House administration has used rhetoric that openly criticizes the LGBTQ+ community. “I decided to look into this specific population because it is my community,” said Xu Xu reached out to Facebook groups of queer counseling centers around the New York City area, from colleges such as Columbia, NYU, and from upstate New York. The demographic of the study is undergraduate and graduate students. In her research, she found that there has been no recent study since 2017 that examined how the political climate is impacting minorities.

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Xu received Hofstra University’s LGBTQ+ Research Initiative Grant. She was able to receive the full award for her study. Xu’s research was recently accepted into New York State Mental Health Counseling for a presentation. She credits Dr. Genevieve Webber, an associate professor of counseling and mental health professions, for her understanding and guidance throughout this research. “She makes research an adventure,” said Xu.

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Q&A

Justin Castellano

Year: Senior, graduating May 2020 Major: Health Science Hometown: Denville, New Jersey Describe your research project

My research project is based primarily on how sleep patterns affect the dietary choices of college students. The hypothesis is based on the idea that better sleeping habits would promote better eating habits. This means that if college students sleep the appropriate amount each night, they would be more likely to eat a healthier diet.

How did you become interested in this topic? What inspired you?

I became interested in this topic about a year and a half ago at a time in my life when I became interested in healthier eating and dieting to lose weight and live a healthier life. I began focusing on my sleeping habits, which provided me with the energy and willingness I was lacking to make healthy food choices. Thus, I wanted to find out if this was something that worked only for me or if it was a consistent theme among other students.

What professor are you working with and how have they supported you?

I have been working closely with Dr. Corinne Kyriacou on this research. She has been an enormous help in constructing my research questions, finding participants for the study, distributing my questionnaire, and developing a deeper understanding for what research truly means. Dr. Kyriacou has been essential in the development of this research and encouraging me to continue, even in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Where do you see this research going in the future?

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That is something that I have not given much thought to until now, but I do hope to continue this research in the future. I believe that there is a lot to be said for the effects of sleep quality and quantity on dietary habits of college students. I hope that this research might lead to program development to encourage students to stay away from unhealthy, processed food options and look for healthier alternatives. I would also hope to see Hofstra promote healthier options in the dining areas across campus.

What career or educational plans do you have for after graduation?

Once I graduate from Hofstra, I hope to pursue a medical career. In the next few months, I am going to spend most of my time preparing to take the MCAT examination, as well as participate in a research project, if the pandemic allows. I would then go on to continue my education at a college of osteopathic medicine. My ultimate career goal is to become a pediatric oncologist to help children and their families through one of the most difficult times in their lives. I have always wanted to be a doctor to support people in any way that I can.

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Q&A

Brandon Crofts

Year: Senior Major: Mathematics Hometown: Lynbrook, NY

Describe your research project For my research project, I examined the sequence generated when the three variables of the equation a^2+2bc = 0 need to be in the range of integers between [-n,n]. This sequence was previously generated in a laborious and inefficient manner and my project was to create a more efficient algorithm to generate the sequence. I was able to compute the first 1,000,000 terms in a little over a minute of my computing, while the first 256 terms were all that were known before I began. I was also able to write a general algorithm to replicate this process for the equation a^2+pbc = 0, where the user chooses a prime p.

How did you become interested in this topic? What inspired you? Dr. Eric Rowland in the Mathematics department was the person who introduced me to the topic. He had encountered this question before, and did not see the project to completion in previous semesters. What intrigued me about the problem was that the question was open: we genuinely weren’t sure if we could write a new algorithm to generate this sequence in a faster manner. This was truly a math research question to me, if I could solve it, then I know I am a true mathematician.

What professor are you working with and how have they supported you? Dr. Rowland has served as my research advisor for the 2019-2020 school year. He has made himself as available as I need him to be, all while letting me have space to be creative, make mistakes, try new techniques, and learn about this sequence of numbers in an experimental manner. Dr. Rowland pushed me this year to do my best work to date, and for that I am extremely grateful.

Where do you see this research going in the future? Moving forward, I plan to contribute to the Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences (OEIS). I plan to contribute to two existing sequences, and write one or two of my own. I also plan to submit a revised form of my thesis to undergraduate research journals.

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What career or educational plans do you have for after graduation? After graduation, I plan on pursuing my MA in Math Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. I intend to pursue an advanced degree in addition to my MA. I hope to be a high school math teacher, and eventually become a member of educational leadership.

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Q&A

Deandra Denton

Year: Senior • Major: Public Policy and Public Service and Sociology Hometown: Village of Hempstead, NY Describe your research project

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In my research, I analyzed the fiscal health of the Village of Hempstead (VOH) in relation to neighborhood revitalization. Fiscal health is a key consideration for governments looking to develop their economic sustainability and capacity to pay for services and infrastructure. The process of neighborhood revitalization will require financial resources that VOH’s government does not readily have. To better understand VOH’s fiscal health, I reviewed its budget, expenditures, and tax base. I found that VOH’s fiscal health relies mostly on residential property taxes. High property taxes have a huge bearing on homeowners and has unfortunately resulted in VOH residents foreclosing on their homes. Additionally, VOH’s fiscal health is affected by the distribution of sales tax. In comparison to the other forms of government, VOH collects the least in sales tax revenue. The distribution of sales tax revenue in Nassau County is also based on population, and I determined that VOH’s population is undercounted by the United States census. Thirty percent of VOH’s residents are noncitizens of the United States and recent reports indicate that undocumented immigrants fear deportation by participating in the census. Anxiety and apprehension towards the census ultimately yield to an inaccurate reporting of the community. These factors make it evident that VOH does not receive its fair share of sales tax revenue, which hinders the fiscal health of the community. The purpose of my thesis was to evaluate options that VOH could take to improve its fiscal health. I concluded my thesis by proposing a two-pronged approach for improving VOH’s fiscal health. First, there needs to a reconciliation of offering commercial tax breaks without burdening homeowners with high property taxes. Considering that Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs) are established by state law, I suggested that both state and local policymakers work collaboratively to revise the criteria for IDAs to offer tax abatements. Second, I believe that sales tax revenue should be addressed by VOH government working with both Nassau County and Town of Hempstead to modify the current sales tax sharing agreement — which determines the percentage of revenue distributed to each level of government — before bringing it to the New York State Comptroller for approval.

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How did you become interested in this topic? What inspired you? Growing up in VOH and being involved in the local community inspired me to research this particular topic. I was determined to analyze how VOH’s government could improve its financial resources to increase residents’ access to opportunities and advance the community’s long-term economic wellbeing. I wanted to see how we could use various mechanisms to create equitable opportunities for minority communities. By comparing VOH to neighboring communities, I developed a greater sense of the social and economic injustices happening in my community.

What professor are you working with and how have they supported you? I worked primarily with Professor Craig Burnett from the Political Science department. Professor Burnett offered guidance on how to effectively present my policy recommendations. My thesis will be presented to state and local government leaders. Professor Burnett was also instrumental in helping me craft specific questions for each government official that I interviewed. Professor Burnett helped me to have targeted conversations with the interviewees and draw critical points from each conversation.

Where do you see this research going in the future? I see this research being used as a means of advocacy for the Village of Hempstead. I hope that state and local leaders will use the research to discuss different initiatives and policy tools that can be implemented to meet community needs and improve VOH’s fiscal health.

What career or educational plans do you have for after graduation? After graduation, I will be attending Hofstra’s School of Law to pursue a Juris Doctorate degree with plans to work with a law firm or government agency that specializes in community and economic development.


Q&A

Ron Dias

Year: Senior Major: Electrical Engineering Hometown: Hicksville, New York. Describe your research project

A Light Plate Apparatus (LPA) is an open source tool for “optogenetics and other photobiology experiments.” It’s allows for 24 LEDs to be controlled independently and makes them easily programmable. Optogenetic systems enable unmatched precision for controlling molecular biological processes but require the use of specialized electrical and optical hardware. An open-source hardware platform, the LPA is designed and capable of delivering two independent light signals from standard LEDs illuminating wells of a 24-well culture plate. This arrangement allows cells to be illuminated with quantifiable levels of specific wavelengths and to study the corresponding optogenetic process responses. My work involved building an LPA system in conjunction with research to be conducted at Cornell.

How did you become interested in this topic? What inspired you?

Dr. Edward Currie inspired me to work on this project. He said it was challenging, but a great experience. Part of why I love engineering is that there is an immense sense of satisfaction when it all comes together and works. So, I guess solving problems or puzzles interests me. Also, the whole idea of optogenetics is cool in itself.

What professor are you working with and how have they supported you?

In this project, I am working with Dr. Currie. He’s a great mentor and he’s incredibly smart. You always have access to him 24/7, if you need him. He’s incredibly good at explaining difficult electrical engineering concepts in simple ways. He’s more than a professor, he is a role model and man of great character.

Where do you see this research going in the future?

The LPA significantly reduces the cost of optogenetics, so it opens the doors for more optogenetic experiments. It is a small, but significant stepping stone to advancing optogenetic experiments.

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What career or educational plans do you have for after graduation?

I really want to get into Artificial Intelligence/Augmented Reality (AI/AR) helmet design. With the advances in the Jetson Nano, it becomes possible to bring AI to a smaller form factor like a helmet. It sounds silly, but like Iron Man’s helmet. I hope to get an engineering job in research and development.

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Q&A

Nicole Duda

Year: Senior Major: Bioengineering with an emphasis in Biomechanics Minor: Mathematics Hometown: Hackettstown, NJ Describe your research project My research focuses on the decellularization of cardiac valves, or more simply put, removing the DNA and cellular material from a heart valve sample. The novel method used is a conjunction of chemical and mechanical decellularization methods – a chemical detergent is used, and the sample is also hit with ultrasonic pulses at a low frequency. This causes the cellular material to be removed from the sample, while leaving behind a mechanically intact extracellular matrix. A completely decellularized sample leaves behind a “blank” scaffold. This scaffold can be reseeded with a patient’s own cells, and later implanted back into the body, for patients with cardiovascular diseases.

How did you become interested in this topic? What inspired you? I picked up this project, which was started by previous students of Dr. Sleiman Ghorayeb. I have always been interested in the possibilities of tissue-engineering, and this project is crucial because of the current need for a better heart valve replacement. Cardiovascular disease is a major cause of death in the world, and there are many downsides to current valve replacement options.

What professor are you working with and how have they supported you? Over my four years at Hofstra, I have taken four courses with Dr. Ghorayeb. He is a professor who inspired me with the importance of his former and current research increasing my love for innovation and engineering with each course I took. I approached him about being a part of his research team, and he gladly invited me to join him on the valve decellularization project. Dr. Ghorayeb has helped me inside and outside of class, by helping me create my course schedules and assisting me with my job search. Working alongside Dr. Ghorayeb has taught me to work diligently, think critically, and apply creative solutions to any problem I encounter.

Where do you see this research going in the future?

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Due to unforeseen circumstances, our research was abruptly halted, so I hope to be able to continue working on this project during the summer. Because we concluded that the decellularization method used is effective, the next step is to take the scaffolds and reseed them with a host’s own cells. This type of tissue engineering is the future of organ transplants and will change the way valve replacements are done in the future.

What career or educational plans do you have for after graduation? Currently, I am applying for biomedical engineering and research technician positions at medical device and pharmaceutical companies. In the meantime, I am working at a nursing care facility back home in New Jersey, where I am helping with the ongoing pandemic.

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Q&A

Nidhi Gandhi

Year: Junior Major: Writing Studies and English-Creative Writing and Literature Minor: Film Studies • Hometown: Floral Park, Queens, NY Describe your research project I noticed how some college professors were open to accepting the personal voices of students by allowing looser writing structures, while others required students to adopt an academic voice and follow a rigid structure for written assignments. Professors’ expectations of students’ writing vary widely within and across disciplines. I’m trying to figure out exactly what professors expect in formally written assignments and what students struggle with most when it comes to writing. I want to know how the perceptions of Standard English differ by using surveys and interviews of faculty and students in writing intensive classes across disciplines.

How did you become interested in this topic? What inspired you? I became interested in this topic by sheer observation. When I came to Hofstra, I took WSC 001 with Professor Patricia Cregan Navarra. She taught me to be bold when it comes to writing and has inspired me in numerous ways. When I took her class, she gave us permission to lose the “academic voice” and write academic essays in our own voice. I started to notice all the different expectations professors have about formally written assignments. I talked to Andrea (my sponsor) and some of the people that I currently work with at the Writing Center about this disparity. I wondered why in some disciplines, we could be more informal and write in a personal voice but in other disciplines, we had to be super formal and follow a rigid structure of writing. I wanted to know what students were struggling with and what professors wanted from assignments. Before I knew it, I was doing an empirical study (something I had never done or even dreamed of doing).

What professor are you working with and how have they supported you? I am working with Dr. Andrea Rosso Efthymiou, who I met when I took her class, Practicum in Writing Center Pedagogy, to learn the skills needed to become a tutor at the Writing Center. Andrea has been one of the

most supportive professors I have had at Hofstra. When I started this study, I didn’t know what it was, what I wanted it to be, or even how to begin. Andrea is THE REASON why I even have things to write on my résumé. She helped me write my proposal for the Naylor Workshop in Pennsylvania, where I got to meet so many great professors and students from around the world who helped me draft my survey questions. Andrea also helped me write my IRB application, which I knew absolutely nothing about. Through her support, I was able to go to the Mid-Atlantic Writing Center Association Conference, where I got to present my project and was able to get experience in creating a formal presentation. She answered my many questions on how to distribute my survey, how to conduct an interview, and through her, I met some of the greatest people who are currently working with me at the Writing Center.

Where do you see this research going in the future? Right now, I am still getting survey responses and conducting interviews. I hope to publish what I learn and maybe do a cross-institutional study with another professor I met at the Naylor Workshop, if we are able to do it in spite of the coronavirus.

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What career or educational plans do you have for after graduation? I want to be a writer, so right now I am looking at MFA programs in creative writing. But I’m open to anything and everything. I don’t want to plan anything because plans never work out for me. I love writing stories, playwriting, and screenplays, so if I’m able to do that, that’s a happy life.

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Q&A

Michelle Geng Year: Sophomore • Major: Community Health Hometown: Great Neck Describe your research project My research project is a survey that will attempt to figure out if there is a correlation between people’s knowledge of sunscreen and the use of it. My question is how can we increase sunscreen use through educating the public? The goal of the survey I created is to pinpoint why people who wear sunscreen wear it and why others do not.

How did you become interested in this topic? What inspired you? I’ve been fascinated with dermatology, the branch of medicine that deals with the skin, for quite a while. I’m also interested in how people make healthy choices in their daily lives. Why is brushing our teeth a common part of one’s daily routine, while applying sunscreen is not? How is sunscreen, known to prevent cancer, not in people’s everyday routine? Why are other beauty products, such as those meant to prevent signs of aging, receiving more attention than sunscreen? The reason this confuses me is because the sun’s UV rays account for the majority of the signs of aging of the skin and sunscreen could help prevent exposure.

What professor are you working with and how have they supported you?

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I work with Professor Corinne Kyriacou. She is an amazing researcher. I believe that the title of “researcher” holds more weight than people think. In her class (HPR 073) we learned exactly how good researchers conduct themselves. But even after learning how social desirability, sampling, and bias works in research, I still wasn’t able to create my survey perfectly. That’s where Professor Kyriacou’s support, knowledge, and experience came in. She gave me feedback on the perspectives I had missed and the ones I had gotten right. Her feedback definitely gave me those light bulb moments of acceptance, instead of feeling that my survey wasn’t perfect.

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Where do you see this research going in the future? The U.S. FDA’s regulations on sunscreen are very outdated compared to other countries. In my survey, I ask what encourages or discourages sunscreen use. I want to know if the issue people have with sunscreen is its physical effects, such as changing the shade or texture of their skin. If so, the solution could be to use UV filters that prevent such effects. Unfortunately, that is where the FDA needs to update its standards. It could guide companies when they are formulating sunscreens to find ways to remove the things people dislike. However, if the issue is knowledge of sunscreen’s benefits, then the solution would have to be promoting the benefits. Of course, that wouldn’t be easy either. As a health professional, I would prefer people use sunscreen as a means of protecting their health, not just their beauty. Ultimately, I hope that this research helps figure out what the next step is in increasing sunscreen use. More studies should be conducted to determine if a participant’s willingness to wear sunscreen changes depending on the physical effects they experience. A deeper dive into how specific knowledge of sunscreen’s benefits changes a participant’s perspective on using it.

What career or educational plans do you have for after graduation? I am definitely interested in the field of health care. Although I am interested in many areas of the field, I would like to one day go to medical school and possibly become a dermatologist. After taking some courses in Health Science/Community Health, I have broadened my perspective on how I can help people. I want to become a doctor to be able to help prevent people from facing poor medical situations. I am also considering getting my master’s degree in either Health Administration or Public Health. And of course, I also plan to continue research.


Q&A

Dara Gleeson Year: Senior • Major: Community Health Minors: Psychology and Civic Engagement Hometown: Plainview, NY Describe your research project This study assessed undergraduate student knowledge of emergency preparedness, specifically in the case of an active shooter situation. It also looked at student perceptions of campus safety at Hofstra University. In addition, the study gauged student perception of public safety policies and identified safety improvements that students believe should be made at Hofstra.

How did you become interested in this topic? What inspired you? I became interested in this topic because of the prevalence of school shootings in this country. I was surprised to find that there was a lack of information or previous studies specifically focused on safety on college campuses. Also missing was the assessment of whether college students would be prepared in the event of a shooting on campus. I thought that evaluating student perceptions of safety would determine if improvements should be made to the current safety policies at Hofstra. It could also help ensure that students feel safe and can experience a school environment that is enriching, positive, and fosters a sense of community and learning.

What professor are you working with and how have they supported you? I worked with Dr. Martine Hackett on this research project because she served as the chair of the committee for my Undergraduate Departmental Honors Thesis project. I was very fortunate to work with Dr. Hackett because she provided constant support and guidance throughout the process and was always open to sharing her suggestions and offering feedback, while I was conducting my research. It is wonderful to work with a professor whose work and research you admire, and to be able to have her assistance.

Where do you see this research going in the future? I believe that the results from my study can influence future recommendations and policies that can be implemented by the Department of Public Safety at Hofstra. The study results indicated that students do not understand campus emergency procedures and they would not be prepared if an active shooter was on campus. The results suggested that while students feel safe on campus in general, they believe that improvements should be made to campus safety procedures. I think a similar university-wide study should be conducted at Hofstra using a greater sample size and surveying more students.

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What career or educational plans do you have for after graduation? After I graduate from Hofstra in spring 2020, I will be attending the Yale School of Public Health to pursue my master’s degree in Public Health. I am looking forward to a career dedicated to improving health outcomes for all people. I want to continue learning more and enhancing my passion for public health.

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Q&A

Amani Henderson

Year: Sophomore • Major: Health Science Hometown: Troy, NY Describe your research project The purpose of my research was to investigate if perceived stigmas surrounding mental illness among faculty members at universities determine if individuals will seek care. Several full-time faculty members working at Hofstra University were recruited to complete an online pilot survey that I created. The data that was collected from this survey was used to analyze whether or not faculty members perceive any stigmas surrounding mental health, the perceptions that faculty members at Hofstra University have toward mental health services, and if there needs to be more effort put forth by Hofstra University to support faculty members’ mental health needs.

How did you become interested in this topic? What inspired you? I was initially interested in researching how much the student counseling center and mental health services are used by students at Hofstra University. While analyzing previous studies, I realized that there is a lot of research on the topic of students and counseling resources. I chose faculty members as my target population so I could determine if older adults are impacted by mental health stigmas the same way young adults are. With my research, I am hoping to have an impact on the Hofstra community. We may gain better insight into the faculty members at Hofstra and if they suffering from mental health stigmas, as well as if they are being provided enough mental health resources by the University. Making sure that the people around us feel supported and heard is really important to me.

What professor are you working with and how have they supported you? Dr. Corinne Kyriacou has been an instrumental part of this research. She has supervised this research every step of the way and helped me understand the whole research process. She helped me recruit participants for this study and got the survey out to the right people. I am very grateful for all of her guidance.

Where do you see this research going in the future?

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Hopefully, with the data collected from this research, the science community can gain a better understanding of perceived stigmas that faculty members deal with and how that affects their decision to seek help. Having this research conducted on a larger scale in the future could create useful generalizations about employees working at universities and their perceptions about mental health resources. Executing this research at other universities could be an effective measure for assessing the satisfaction that employees have with the mental health resources that are made available to them by the university.

What career or educational plans do you have for after graduation? After graduation, I plan on going to graduate school to become a physician assistant. I am interested in the field of rheumatology, as well as women’s health.

Hofstra HORIZONS for Undergraduate and Graduate Research t SUMMER 2020


Q&A

Imani Hinson

Year: Senior Major: History and Social Studies Education Hometown: Columbia, MD Describe your research project My research project focuses on reparations policy for African Americans. The research takes a look at state government, federal government, and private institutions and what they have done to implement reparations for slavery. The research looks into the history of reparations policy in the United States and talks about ways in which it could be implemented today using different locales in the United States as examples.

How did you become interested in this topic? What inspired you? I became interested in this topic after the 1619 Project was introduced and Hofstra held an event on campus to recognize the anniversary. The 1619 Project is an ongoing project developed by The New York Times Magazine in 2019 with the goal of re-examining the legacy of slavery in the United States and timed for the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans to North America. The Center for Civic Engagement at Hofstra invited Dr. Ron Daniels to speak about reparations and the way forward. He spoke about how other groups of individuals wronged by the U.S. have received reparations but African Americans have not. This inspired me to do the research.

What professor are you working with and how have they supported you? I am working with Dr. Meena Bose. She has helped tremendously in explaining policy processes as well as making sure that my research gives fair points of view for all sides on the topic.

Where do you see this research going in the future? I hope to explore this research further while in graduate school. Hopefully, I can bring it to the attention of politicians, lobbyists, or other policy makers who can make reparations attainable.

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What career or educational plans do you have for after graduation? I will be going to graduate school at Brooklyn College, studying History and working at a high school in Brooklyn.

Hofstra HORIZONS for Undergraduate and Graduate Research t SUMMER 2020


Q&A

Steven LaRussa Year: Senior • Major: Public Policy and Public Service Hometown: Middle Village, NY Describe your research project

For my study, I created a report, profile, and questionnaire to test how the political beliefs of professors influenced the willingness of college students to enroll in their courses and share their political beliefs. Specifically, this study examined the root of poor civil discourse on college campuses. It looked at whether it is the challenge of political beliefs that students are opposed to or the beliefs themselves. For this study, undergraduate students at Hofstra University were shown a Course and Teacher Rating report of a highly rated professor and asked how likely they were to take that class. Then, they were shown a Rate My Professor profile, created for this study. Sample Professor Profile • Politically neutral and does not challenge students on their beliefs (control) • Neutral but challenges students on beliefs • Liberal and does not challenge • Liberal with challenge • Conservative and does not challenge • Conservative with challenge

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Students were asked again how likely they were to enroll in the course with the professor described by both the report and the profile. Finally, they were asked questions regarding how they would participate or share their political beliefs in a course with the described professor. The results of the study suggest that undergraduate students are more likely to participate in a classroom with a neutral professor who does not challenge them to discuss politics. However, students did not avoid political beliefs of professors or challenge them uniformly. Some students may just be opposed to taking classes with professors who display liberal views and challenge students with opposing views. Although not as significant, a similar trend was revealed in the participation responses given. Students participated in class the least with a liberal professor who challenged them,

Hofstra HORIZONS for Undergraduate and Graduate Research t SUMMER 2020

especially when they felt their grades were at risk. As a policy recommendation to encourage vibrant political discourse on college campuses, I advocate for a stronger civics education in K-12 grades, supplemented by a deliberate effort on the part of public universities to invest in civil political discourse programs.

How did you become interested in this topic? What inspired you?

I became interested in this project after hearing from many of my peers who held back their political beliefs in college classes. I was troubled because they were not getting the chance to engage in debate and think critically about the important issues facing our world. I was inspired to work on this project because of two trends I felt my project could address. The first is the issue of political partisanship based on loyalty to one party because of negative feelings for the other. The second is what I call the college paradox, where campuses are supposed to be places where students can share diverse ideas, yet they seem to create an environment that suppresses different viewpoints.

What professor are you working with and how have they supported you?

I worked with Professor Craig Burnett. Professor Burnett was excited about my project and helped to guide me in my background research, my design, my results, and my eventual policy proposal. It was rewarding to have a professor who kept my original vision for the project but also helped enhance the project to make it the best it could be. The final result of our collaboration embodied both our curiosity and our vision for a better political future.

Where do you see this research going in the future?

I see my research being replicated and adapted on college campuses across the country. I hope that my study and future studies will create initiatives that open college students up to different points of view and help them to be better citizens.

What career or educational plans do you have for after graduation? After college, I plan to work for a semester in politics. Then, I will go to law school.


Q&A

Anne R. Limowski and Jacqueline K. Krychiw Year: Fifth year PhD students • Major: Clinical Psychology Hometown: Anne R. Limowski - Long Island, NY Hometown: Jacqueline K. Krychiw – Union, NJ Describe your research project The Anxiety and Depression Clinic at Hofstra conducts research on the nature and treatment of anxiety and depression. We recently produced a free self-help resource for individuals distressed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We are all experiencing a great deal of fear and anxiety related to the uncertainty about our health, our employment, and our livelihoods, as well as sadness related to loss of our loved ones, our routines, and our sense of normalcy. Given the countless ways the pandemic has disrupted our lives and threatened our wellbeing, these emotional experiences are completely understandable. Since it (unfortunately) appears this situation will be around for a long time, our guide offers ways to manage these unpleasant realities using principles derived from cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). CBT is an evidence-based treatment for a variety of conditions, but the research is perhaps most robust in its support as a treatment for anxiety and depression. The document can be found here: http://psychrescue-covid19.com/

How did you become interested in this topic? What inspired you? Our clinic specializes in the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders, so we routinely meet with patients who struggle with problems of this nature. The principles we use in our work treating clinical disorders can also be extremely helpful for general mood management of related subclinical problems. We noticed that once social distancing measures went into effect in our area, COVID-related concerns were prominent in our psychotherapy sessions. There are web pages and news articles suggesting how to manage a range of concerns, but we thought it was important for these concerns to be compiled in one place. Finally, we thought it was important that our suggestions be evidence-based. So, we brainstormed problems that came up frequently in our sessions (e.g., faulty risk perception, increased feelings of helplessness, loss of meaning) and identified ways to deal with each of these problems in more helpful, science-based ways.

What professor are you working with and how have they supported you? We have worked closely with Dr. William C. Sanderson throughout our graduate careers. Anne says, “In addition to attending his classes, he has supervised my clinical training experiences and my research projects. I consider myself extremely lucky to have benefitted from his wisdom and expertise over the last five years. On a more personal level, he’s also extremely down to earth, supportive, and responsive.” Jacqueline agrees, “I would just like to echo Anne that he is absolutely wonderful to work with on both a professional and personal level. Notably, Dr. Sanderson is not my primary adviser at Hofstra University, and yet, he has been exceedingly supportive in regards to both my clinical and research endeavors. As the director of our clinical program, he has many responsibilities; however, he is always extremely responsive, helpful, and approachable.”

Where do you see this research going in the future? We are currently preparing an overview of our self-help guide for publication in an academic journal. In addition, we are offering two 60-minute online consultation sessions for individuals struggling with emotional distress related to the pandemic. We are collecting data about levels of psychological distress before and after these sessions. The data collected could be used in future research projects.

What career or educational plans do you have for after graduation? Anne says she “will be spending the next year completing a predoctoral clinical internship, and then I will most likely pursue a postdoctoral training position. My long-term career goal is to work somewhere where I can continue to balance clinical work and research.”

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Jacqueline says she is “very excited to spend the next year completing a predoctoral clinical internship at the Northport, VA Medical Center. The following year, I will also most likely pursue a postdoctoral training position. As most of my clinical and research activities to date have been related to suicide prevention, my long-term career goal is to work somewhere that would allow me to continue this passion.”

Hofstra HORIZONS for Undergraduate and Graduate Research t SUMMER 2020


Q&A

Dylan Persaud

Year: Sophomore • Major: Biochemistry Hometown: Oceanside, NY Describe your research project

In our lab, we combine two different fields of chemistry: organic chemistry and biochemistry. First, we synthesize new molecules of interest. Second, we use these molecules to study biological systems of importance. For example, we are currently studying bioremediation, which is the use of microorganisms to break down pollutants. The Long Island Sound has been a dumping ground for many chemical byproducts produced by factories. This has led to a significant amount of contaminants in the environment of these waste sites. One contaminant of concern is polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Our current research is working to modify enzymes to be used in bacteria that can successfully break down PCBs.

How did you become interested in this topic? What inspired you?

Biochemistry was always a topic that intrigued me. I realized I wanted to switch my major from chemistry to biochemistry after meeting Dr. Kara Jaremko, my major advisor and Principal Investigator. Thanks to a reference; I ended up getting an email from Dr. Jaremko about working in her lab. One enthusiastic response and one week later, my lab mates and I were meeting Dr. Jaremko on Friday mornings to start learning about protoanemonin, PCB’s, DLH, and previous research. At first, the scientific terms and unfamiliar concepts left me feeling a bit lost and dejected. But Dr. Jaremko assured me that despite the difficulty of the concepts, we would understand it eventually. She believed in our abilities. Ever since, I’ve been determined to learn more and put my best work forward for the benefit of the project and our lab.

What professor are you working with and how have they supported you?

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Dr. Jaremko has been supportive throughout the entire research process, but has also pushed my peers and me to do our best work in and out of the lab. She always emphasizes that if we have important assignments or assessments coming up, we should prioritize our academic success over the lab’s success for that time. Her understanding, compassion, and guidance have made my lab experience more enriching. She also teaches us about time management, planning, and having experimental foresight, which has also helped me in my daily life. I believe Dr. Jaremko is a trailblazer in science at Hofstra and an inspiration to me!

Where do you see this research going in the future?

In spite of the health crisis we’re faced with right now as a society, I would argue that taking care of our planet is one of the most pertinent issues we must address in the years to come. When labs finally open back up, this project will continue as we try to improve this enzyme, so that it ultimately can be used in bacteria as a viable solution to PCB contaminants.

What career or educational plans do you have for after graduation?

After I complete my undergraduate degree, I plan to apply for and attend medical school. I’m interested in becoming a doctor of either emergency medicine, cardiology, or pediatric surgery. Those are my top three choices, but only time will tell!

Hofstra HORIZONS for Undergraduate and Graduate Research t SUMMER 2020


Q&A

David Shaker

Year: Junior • Major: Chemistry Hometown: Baldwin, NY Describe your research project

My research is based on Haloalkane Dehalogenases. Industrial production of chemicals and medicine often involves toxic reagents, one of the most toxic classes of these being haloalkanes. Haloalkanes are highly toxic and carcinogenic and include some well known compounds such as DDT and Mustard Gas. Haloalkane Dehalogenases react with haloalkanes to form alcohols, which can be safely disposed of. I am specifically working with the Haloalkane Dehalogenase DccA; this enzyme is known for its broad substrate specificity and is an enzyme that my professor, Dr. Emily Mundorff, has researched for a long time. For this semester and last semester, I have been working with the software CaverDock, which allows us to study the process of haloalkane ligands moving through the wild type DccA enzyme and mutants that experimental data has shown to be more effective at the dehalogenation of commonly used industrial reagents. Currently, my research has shown what makes our mutant enzymes more effective at this; the mutations we have made cause haloalkanes to bind more favorably to the enzyme so that it is easier for the enzyme to act on the haloalkane. As the semester closes, I am creating several different mutations to the wild type enzyme to determine which further mutations can increase the effectiveness of the enzyme.

How did you become interested in this topic? What inspired you? As a sophomore looking through every professor’s research in the Chemistry department, I came across Dr. Mundorff who, at the time, was working in the lab with these enzymes. I was taken on to assist in the testing of the screening process that determines which mutant’s enzymes are most potent. During the summer Dr. Mundroff read an article about the tool CaverDock, which she sent to me, and I became very interested in the software as I have always preferred computational chemistry. In the fall, we began to do research with CaverDock, and the more I used the tool the more interested I became. In the spring, when the option of doing research in the lab was open again, I wanted to continue this computational research.

What professor are you working with and how have they supported you? I am currently working with Dr. Mundorff. She has supported me through our weekly meetings where we discuss potential next steps and can compare computational data with the experimental data that she has acquired over various years of research on this enzyme.

Where do you see this research going in the future?

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Many of the mutants that I am attempting to create are not showing a significant computed increase in effectiveness. The mutations that we know to increase the efficacy of our enzyme have shown increased computational activity; this data allows previous research to be published and presumably would end this research project. If I were to continue research on Haloalkane Dehalogenases in the fall semester, I would test a few mutations I found particularly interesting in the laboratory.

What career or educational plans do you have for after graduation? While I am currently considering various employment options after I graduate next spring, the option that I am currently most interested in would be in toxicology, which involves determining the presence and amounts of various compounds, particularly drug compounds, in the public water and sewage of a community. This acts as a measure of the community’s public health.

Hofstra HORIZONS for Undergraduate and Graduate Research t SUMMER 2020


Q&A

Vanessa Wong

Year: Junior Major: Biomedical Engineering Hometown: Queens, New York Describe your research project The goal of our project is to prepare umbilical cord tissue so that it can be used as an alternative source of vascular grafts. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. In order to treat CAD, a coronary artery bypass is performed to redirect blood flow around blocked arteries; however, existing small-diameter bypass grafts are often susceptible to complications such as clotting, collapse, or thickening of the vessel wall. Our research is focused on using arteries isolated from umbilical cords (which are composed of two arteries and one vein) as potential bypass grafts due to their similarity in mechanical properties to those of vessels in the human body. By removing the cellular material from the umbilical arteries in a process called decellularization, we essentially clean the tissue for use. In order to prevent the complication of clotting, the lumen of the umbilical artery needs to be covered with a dense layer of endothelial cells. We experimented with different treatments that would promote cell adhesion and were able to successfully adhere cells to small 2D sheets of umbilical artery during last summer’s ASPiRe research program. Our current goal is to refine a practical and reliable technique for seeding (placing) cells into 4-5 centimeter segments of whole umbilical arteries. This has presented us with many challenges because seeding cells into a smalldiameter 3D construct is no easy task.

How did you become interested in this topic? What inspired you?

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This specific project was inspired by Dean Sina Rabbany. Since we were already working with human umbilical vein endothelial cells, he suggested that we try working with actual umbilical cords and provided us with the cords needed for our experiments. As we explored the potential of umbilical cords, we were introduced to an area of research of cardiovascular tissue engineering concerned with developing alternative vascular grafts. This work was consistent with one of my main motivations for getting involved with research, which is that research does not just produce advanced technology that is inaccessible to the general public. We can also repurpose existing materials and make technology that is accessible. Umbilical cords are a widely available source of vessels, but they are currently under used. Developing a viable graft from umbilical arteries would present a low-cost solution to bypass grafts, making the procedure more accessible and less invasive for patients.

What professor are you working with and how have they supported you? I am working with Dr. Nick Merna. He has allowed me to mature as a scientist, a student, and an individual. From the beginning, he has been a constant, reliable source of support. In addition to always welcoming novel ideas, he consistently prioritizes our opinions and thoughts throughout the

Hofstra HORIZONS for Undergraduate and Graduate Research t SUMMER 2020


Q&A

whole process. I credit much of my growth to his mentoring style. Although we are assistants, we do not just collect data, we also participate in research from the ground up. This includes doing our own literature searches, troubleshooting protocols, writing manuscripts, and even identifying the sellers for the equipment we will need. At one point, we even learned about the different classifications for the types of screws and barbs we would use to cannulate our vessel. As a result, we have developed flexible ways of thinking and we have learned to deal with failure. In addition to cultivating our independence as researchers, he has also taught us how to mentor others. This past January, I helped conduct interviews for the new research assistants who will succeed us after graduation. Throughout the whole training process, Dr. Merna put us in charge of coordinating with and training the new assistants. He respected our opinions about how they should be taught. Overall, research has always been a trial in terms of learning how to work with others and organizing time efficiently in order to balance school work and research. Dr. Merna always stresses that you get as much work done as the effort you put in. I wholly agree. While it has been difficult to juggle all of my responsibilities, with every extra hour I put into conducting literature searches or other experiments, I saw that my dedication and effort paid off.

Where do you see this research going in the future? Due to the interruption from COVID-19, and the ever-evolving nature of our project, there are several goals we will not be able to achieve before graduation. One of these is the conditioning of cells in the graft. This refers to the application of fluid shear stress to the cells in order to elicit certain phenotypes and prime them for physiological blood flow. Our goal is to implant a recellularized umbilical artery graft into a rat model for in vivo testing. Should these tests be successful, they will encourage more investigation into the viability of using umbilical cords as coronary artery bypass grafts. Our hope is that one day the public will recognize the potential in this source of grafts and that it will be approved for clinical use.

What career or educational plans do you have for after graduation? I plan to attend medical school after graduation. Research has provided me with many tools that I will take with me into my medical career. For one, as a future physician, accessibility will remain a key part of my mission from a technological standpoint as well as a sociological one. In terms of more general skills, learning how to understand scientific literature and conduct my own research has provided me with the ability to communicate complex ideas. As a physician, I hope to be able to put into use the skills and experience I have gained from mentoring new assistants and to be a mentor to future pre-medicine students.

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This work was consistent with one of my main motivations for getting involved with research, which is that research does not just produce advanced technology that is inaccessible to the general public. We can also repurpose existing materials and make technology that is accessible.

Hofstra HORIZONS for Undergraduate and Graduate Research t SUMMER 2020


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Hofstra Horizons for Undergraduate and Graduate Research - Summer 2020  

Hofstra Horizons for Undergraduate and Graduate Research - Summer 2020  

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