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Undergraduate Research on Display

October 31, 2012 by Editor in On Campus with 0 Comments

By Ken Jubie ’04

The Maloney Great Room was buzzing with activity during Siena College’s inaugural Summer Research Symposium sponsored by the Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (CURCA). Students from the College’s schools of liberal arts, science and business, as well as the Siena College Institute for Artificial Intelligence and Office of Academic Community Engagement presented their work to the community.

“This event visually showcases faculty mentored student research conducted over the summer. It allows student researchers to engage in conversations about their work with their peers, faculty, staff and administrators,” said CURCA Director Cheryl Buff ’82, Ph.D. “Events like this will help us build a culture of undergraduate research and creative activity on campus.”

Senior Cassandra Jane Werking ’13 presented a project titled “Orsell Cook Brown: A Personal Lens into the 44th Volunteer Infantry of New York.” Werking’s research was supervised by her Honors Thesis Advisor and Associate Professor of History Bruce Eelman, Ph.D. “I thought it was great,” Werking said. “My ultimate goal is to pursue a Ph.D. in history and I hope that this undergraduate experience will help me do so.”

As part of her research, Werking transcribed and analyzed letters written during the Civil War by Orsell Cook Brown, the Quarter Master’s Assistant of the 44th Voluntary Infantry of New York. By studying the letters Brown wrote in 1863, Werking learned about his understanding of war, daily routines, career path, love for his family and anger he felt toward people who did not support the war effort.

Jessica Abel ’13 worked with Buff on a research project titled “The Fear of Missing Out.” They created a scale that assessed college students’ level of fear of missing out, which they defined as the uneasy and sometimes all-consuming feeling that a person’s peers are doing, know about or are in possession of more or something better. Abel and Buff analyzed the relationship of that fear to social media use. Abel will use her findings in her honors thesis and hopes to submit her paper to an international business conference next spring.

“Having the chance to present my paper at such a conference would be a significant academic achievement for me. At the conference, I would be able to build upon my presentation and networking skills,” Abel said. “The support that my faculty mentor provided to me throughout this experience was what made my summer truly great.” Abel said her summer research significantly improved her time management skills and expanded her knowledge of marketing and marketing research.

These are the types of experiences Siena’s new Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity provides for students. CURCA was created as a means to expand high impact practices that promote student engagement and innovative learning that leads to student achievement. CURCA is endowed through a $1.5 million pledge by the friars of Holy Name Province. Its goal is to increase the quantity and quality of faculty-student research through independent studies and summer projects.

For more information about Siena College’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity, visit

More Undergraduate Research Highlights

Ten Siena students created research projects that were selected for the second annual Upstate New York Undergraduate Research Conference.  On September 22, these students exhibited their projects in a group of 73 presentations from seven Upstate New York liberal arts colleges.

Mara Afzali ’14 – “Gender Identity, Physicality and Autonomy”

Karl Appel ’14 – “10 Weeks to TREC, The Next Generation”

Kayla Every ’14 – “The Marcellus Shale Environmental Review”

Frank Schroeder ’14 – “Taming Dynamic Data: Automating the Prediction of Political Violence; SCAPE: Siena College Automated Predictor of Extremism”

Francesca Romano ’14 – “Explicit Formulas for Multivariable Euler and Bernoulli Numbers”

Nicholas Stark ’15 – “How Business Can Participate in Human Development: Opportunities, Challenges and Exemplars”

Carl Tompkins ’14 – “SAWUS: Siena Automatic Wikipedia Update System”

Katherine Updike ’14 – “Isolation and Sequencing of the Chloroplast Genome of the Invasive Grass Phragmites australis and its Native Counterpart Phragmites australis subspecies americanus

Michael Wallace ’14 – “The Historical Roots and Application of Dispositions in Effective Pedagogy”

Cassandra Jane Werking ’13 – “Orsell Cook Brown: A Personal Lens into the 44th Volunteer Infantry of New York”

Alyssa Herrmann – “MAB-3 and DMD-3, two DM-domain transcription factors, direct the development of the somatic gonad in C. elegans males.”



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