Seniors and juniors from across all schools at Fairfield University, from psychology to engineering, showcased their semester long research at Fairfield’s 17th Annual Research and Creative Accomplishments Symposium. Held from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Barone Campus Center, students set up displays of their research and findings for viewing by any passersby who took an interest.

The event is a collaboration between the Symposium, the Scientific Research Honor Society Sigma Xi and the Senior Nursing Program’s Capstone Presentations, showcasing research done independently by students as well as in collaboration with mentors within the Fairfield faculty.

The Symposium features the work and research of nearly 500 undergraduate and graduate students from almost every different department and major on campus, according to Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Mary Frances Malone.

According to Dr. John R. Miecznikowski, director of the Sigma Xi presentations and an associate professor of chemistry, Sigma Xi began scheduling it’s poster presentations on the same date as the Annual Research Symposium in April 2011 and has continued to do so. Dr. Miecznikowski reports that, “Students presented posters from the departments of biology, chemistry and biochemistry, mathematics, physics, and psychology and the School of Engineering,” adding that, “Overall, 121 students presented at Sigma Xi and there were at least 16 students who presented at least two posters.”

Senior nursing students were tasked with identifying an issue or problem within the hospital department they work in as part of their clinical study. After finding a problem, they set about to help address and potentially solve the issue in question.

For Stephanie Piccolo ‘17, that meant finding ways to raise awareness about and prevent accidental falls for patients.

“You’d find that a lot of patients would forget the physical state they were in or that they didn’t want to have to call for help,” said Piccolo. “People could get tangled up in the wires or equipment they were attached to and end up seriously hurting themselves.”

Her solution comes in the form of table cards placed at the patient’s bedside, which read “Call Don’t Fall,” reminding patients to seek aid from a nurse or other hospital staff.

Piccolo believes the Capstone Presentations are a great opportunity for nursing students to actively contribute and help patients experience higher quality care during their stay at a hospital. She received resources and help brainstorming ideas during her project from her clinical instructor and Associate Professor of Nursing Dr. Cynthia Bautista.

Dr. Bautista finds the project excellent for nurses to engage in and improve the care they provide for their patients.

“It’s important for senior nursing students to identify and address issues they find in their final clinical, something we hope they will continue to do even after graduating,” said


Other students in Sigma Xi, like Andrew Tavcar ‘17, have been developing and researching their projects and designs for two semesters. Tavcar and fellow engineering majors Kyle Dube ‘17, Kerin Nussbaum ‘17, and Michael Wright ‘17, designed and tested video tracking of moving objects for applications in security, traffic control, medical imaging and video communication.

“We spent a lot of time developing ways to track the object and the end result was an algorithm that helped track the object and analyzes what is seen in the frames,” said Tavcar. “It was a lot of work.”

Non-engineering students, such as Michael Smith ‘17, Victoria Jedson ‘17, and Ruben Neves ‘17, took the time to research Granny Smith and Red Delicious apples and studied the different polymers and oligomers that make up the substance of the fruit. The biology students wanted to study and research the effects of these compounds on human health as part of their Chemical Instrumentation Laboratory course.

According to Smith, the poster his group presented shows three semesters worth of work. While difficult for non-biology students to understand, the group gave a presentation at a symposium in California earlier in the month to fellow researchers and professional in their field.

Other groups of students, such as psychology majors Margaret Elliot ‘17, Rachel Kink ‘18, Tori Reed ‘17, Kayla Roballey ‘17 and Samantha Silva ‘17 and graduate student Joanna Frydrych, became interested in participating in and requested to be a part of a faculty member’s supervised research team. Working under Associate Professor of Psychology Dr. Margaret McClure, the group studied childhood trauma and its relation to domestic violence in college students.

For Reed, who wishes to be a child psychologist, the chance to apply practical knowledge and skills learned in the classroom in the field was good experience for the future.

In the symposium, I presented research regarding childhood trauma, trait anxiety and adult attachment as predictors of intimate partner violence in college students. While this is not something that I wish to pursue further in my career specifically, it does overlap a lot,” said Reed.

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