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Students Spend Summer Focused on Research Projects with Faculty Mentors

GENESEO, N.Y. – The opportunity for undergraduate students to participate in research has become an important part of Geneseo’s academic culture. Although many student participate in research during the academic year, summer is also a busy undergraduate research period. More than 60 students have been on campus this summer working in labs and elsewhere with their faculty mentors, thanks to support from the Geneseo Foundation in cooperation with the SUNY Research Council.

Faculty members from the Department of Physics and Astronomy are among those working with students this summer, and the department recently conducted an undergraduate research poster session to discuss their work. Among presenters were Kristen Churnetski, a junior from Rochester, N.Y., and Laura Kowalski, a sophomore from Youngstown, N.Y., who have been using images generated from the Hubble space telescope to look for planetary nebulae in nearby galaxies, which display as “green peas” on their screen.

“It’s tedious work but being involved with this research has been a rewarding experience,” said Churnetski. “It’s great seeing the results of our efforts.”

Churnetski and Kowalski have been working under the direction of Anne Pellerin, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Geneseo, with assistance from Francesca Annnibali from the National Institute of Astrophysics in Rome.

“It would be wonderful to have some time with one of the large telescopes to continue our search,” said Kowalski. “The data we’re gathering could be the foundation of a future academic paper.”

Other departments sponsoring undergraduate researchers this summer include biology, geological sciences, geography, mathematics, music, School of Education, anthropology, history and English.

Photo: Kristen Churnetski (left) and Laura Kowalski discuss their search for “green peas” (planetary nebulae) from Hubble space telescope images. They presented their findings during an undergraduate poster session as part of their summer research experience on campus.


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