Gannon Students Present Research To Lawmakers, Others in Harrisburg

Posted: May 31, 2017

The opportunity to conduct research is a powerful motivation for many students to come to Gannon University, but the opportunity to present that research makes the experience even more valuable.

In late April, several Gannon students presented their research at the 15th annual Undergraduate Research at the Capitol-Pennsylvania Poster Conference in Harrisburg. The event brings undergraduates from Pennsylvania colleges and universities to the Pennsylvania Capitol Building to showcase their research talents to the Commonwealth's legislators and other officials.

Biology major Jared Wilczynski presented a poster entitled Monitoring Predation on Aquatic Invasive Species Using DNA in the Feces of Piscivorous Fish, research for which Kelly Grant, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology, was principal investigator. Wilczynski received the Award for Academic Excellence in Biology at the annual Founders Day Convocation earlier this month.

Kyle Rodewald, a philosophy major who will be attending Duquesne University School of Law in the fall, used the 2016 election as the source for Plato vs. Democracy; Philosophy Divided. Rodewald also met with Ryan Bizzarro, member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives representing the 3rd District. Collaborating with Rodewald were Aaron Kerr, Ph.D., assistant professor of philosophy, and Dominic Prianti, instructor of philosophy.

The largest group of students attending the event presented High Altitude Ballooning Exploration, research that encompasses two projects. One was an ongoing project funded by NASA and the Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium to send a student-designed instrument package to near space aboard a high-altitude balloon. The other project is part of a coordinated effort by a select group of 52 colleges and universities nationwide and three from Pennsylvania to conduct balloon flights from about 25 locations to record and live-stream the solar eclipse in August.

The team of undergraduate students led by Wookwon Lee, Ph.D., associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Nick Conklin, Ph.D., associate professor of physics, was composed of biology major Lauren Reilly and Kaitlyn Babiarz, Alejandro Ferrero, Stephen Karpinsky, Maia MacKellar and Donovan Starks, all electrical and computer engineering majors.

Speaking of the day at the Capitol, MacKellar said, "It was definitely interesting and a good experience to present our project to people who aren't involved in our technical world, and to explain to them what we're doing and have them get as excited about it as we are. Presenting the information was fun, but the bonding on the trip was a great opportunity to feel closer as a team."