Twelve Students Present Research at Annual COPLAC Conference

COPLAC student presenters

Students presenting research at the recent COPLAC conference were (front row, l to r): Colleen Steward; Callista Fiegl; Tess Ramos-Dries; and Zoe Marr. Second row (l to r): Michelle Leip; Emma Gerrol; Giovanna Donahue; and Forest Swaciak. Third row (l to r): Raina Salvatore; Meghan Murphy and Jeff Doser. Fourth row (l to r): Marcus Converse and Cole Woodcox, COPLAC director.

GENESEO, N.Y. – Twelve SUNY Geneseo students presented their research projects Oct. 13-14 at the Council of Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) Northeast Undergraduate Research Conference in Pennsylvania.

Mansfield University in Mansfield hosted the conference, where more than 100 students from COPLAC schools featured their research in the humanities, arts, social sciences and natural sciences. The students discussed their work with other presenters and faculty in their discipline from other COPLAC colleges.

“My involvement in the COPLAC NEURSCA showed me the advantage of a public liberal arts education and the strength of being well rounded,” said Colleen Steward, a junior biochemistry major from Gowanda, N.Y. “We are developing skills that relate to other people that expand us, and how we think as human beings. It was encouraging and uplifting to see other student projects in action.”


Steward’s presentation was titled “Identifying Reproducible Methods for Microalgae Biofuel Production.” After graduating, she plans to attend graduate school and pursue a career as a biomedical researcher. Her faculty sponsor was Barnabas Gikonyo, director of Geneseo’s introductory chemistry labs.

Forest Swaciak, a senior geography major from Franklinville, N.Y., said the conference was helpful in the development of networking and public speaking skills.

“It really helped me become more comfortable in articulating my project,” he said. “I feel that professors from other schools will serve as great future contacts for the development of the project. It also was interesting how the humanities and science commingled at the conference.”

Swaciak’s presentation was titled “Potential Climatic Impact of Bioengineered Crop Albedo Change in the United States.” He plans to work for the U.S. Forest Service after graduation. His faculty sponsor was Stephen Tulowiecki, assistant professor of geography.

Other conference presenters with project titles, future plans and faculty sponsors included:

  • Giovanna Donahue, a senior sociology major and sociology and sociomedical sciences minor from Rochester, N.Y. The Difference in Emotional Effects Elicited by Communal Meditation Compared to Solitary Meditation. She is interested in working for the FBI and is considering pursuing a master’s degree in criminal or forensic psychology. Faculty sponsor: Steve Derne, professor of sociology.
  • Jeff Doser, a senior biology and mathematics double major from Penfield, N.Y. Analysis of seasonal temporal variation of soundscapes in western New York. He plans on attending graduate school and performing research in the field of soundscape ecology. Faculty sponsor: Kristina Hannam, associate professor of biology.
  • Callista Fiegl, a senior journalism and media major from Springwater, N.Y. Our Inherent Flaws: The Harmful Stereotypes Western News Reporting Propagates about Muslims. She plans to go to France to teach English as a second language and continue her schooling. Faculty sponsor: Atsushi Tajima, associate professor of communication.
  • Emma Gerrol, a senior psychology and sociology major from Delmar, N.Y. The Ability of Group Meditation to Facilitate Emotions. She plans on pursuing a master’s degree in social work after graduation. Faculty sponsor: Seve Derne, professor of sociology.
  • Michelle Leip, a chemistry major from Cortlandt Manor, N.Y. Investigation of Charge Transfer Capabilities of Plasmonic Cu2-xS Nanoparticles. She plans on attending graduate school after graduating. Faculty sponsor: Rabeka Alam, assistant professor of chemistry.
  • Zoe Marr and Marcus Converse, Zoe is a senior chemistry major from Woodstock, N.Y. and Marcus is a senior physics major from Ithaca, N.Y. Biodiesel production from chlorella; a closer look. Both Zoe and Marcus are considering graduate school. Faculty sponsor: Barnabas Gikonyo, director of Geneseo’s introductory chemistry labs.
  • Meghan Murphy, a senior communication major with anthropology and women’s and gender studies minors from Bayport, N.Y. The Reflection of Color: The Cross-Cultural Use of Complexion-Altering Products. She is considering pursuing a master’s degree in social works. Faculty sponsor: Atsushi Tajima, associate professor of communication.
  • Tess Ramos-Dries, a senior psychology major from Queens, N.Y. Amnestic Heterosexism and Bystander Responses to Anti-Gay Bullying. Tess plans on becoming a speech therapist. Faculty sponsor: Jenny Katz, professor of psychology.
  • Raina Salvatore, a junior English/art history major from Fresh Meadows, N.Y.  Rape Culture and the Rape of the Europa. She plans on pursuing a master’s degree in social work after graduation. Faculty sponsor: Alla Myzelev, assistant professor of art history.

News release written by College Communications intern Kitrick McCoy.


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