Penn State Brandywine hosts annual student research showcase

Corey Young

Senior psychology major Corey Young, who was part of the five-student team that won this year's Social Science and Humanities Research Award, presented the group's work at EURECA along with her fellow team members. 

Credit: Michael McDade

MEDIA, Pa. -- Each year, Penn State Brandywine celebrates students’ accomplishments during its Exhibition of Undergraduate Research Enterprise and Creative Accomplishment (EURECA). This research showcase event allows undergrads to present their research and creative endeavors to the campus community and outside guests after several months of hard work.

This year's EURECA featured 15 poster presentations from students in academic programs such as psychology, human development and family studies, engineering and business. Students are also able to give video and computer presentations, short readings, artistic displays and performances.

“Projects showcased in EURECA can be a traditional research project, an enterprise project, which involves a scholarly project in which theories or concepts are applied, or a creative accomplishment, which could range from performance art to creative writing,” said Assistant Professor of Communication and Undergraduate Research Committee member Hans Schmidt. “Our students have so much to offer, and everyone has the potential to develop their interests into a project that could, eventually, be presented at EURECA.”

This year, there was a tie for the Social Science and Humanities Research Award, which recognizes a social science and humanities project that holds importance in the field of study and has a potential impact on the public.

Chelsea Dwyer was presented the honor for her poster presentation, titled “Social Stigmas Associated with Alcohol Use Disorder.”

Her faculty adviser, Instructor in Psychology Joshua Marquit, explained that they collected data from 136 students using an online questionnaire and found that “participants, especially non-drinkers, highly stigmatized the personal character of individuals that abuse alcohol and see them as weak-willed, weak, disgusting, unintelligent and incapable of recovering from their problematic drinking behavior,” he said.

Marquit went on to explain that these stigmas could prevent individuals that abuse alcohol from seeking the help they need and that this research is essential in discovering the factors that may contribute to the development of the social stigmas.

Students Corey Young, Antonio Nicosia, Brian Fairfield, Lori Ezzedine and Guy Mauro were also presented the Social Science and Humanities Research Award for their research, “Effects of Singing on Melodic Interval Perception.”

The students, along with their faculty adviser Assistant Professor of Psychology Evan Bradley, are working to discover the the relationship between language learning and music perception, which could change the approach to language education.

“Previous research shows that musicians perceive sound differently when compared to people who don’t play an instrument. Sometimes that impacts the way they perceive languages, especially tonal languages,” Bradley said.

“Significant findings may permit interventions in how we teach tonal languages to non-native speaking students,” added senior psychology major Young.

Breath Hand received the STEM Research Award for her study, “Penn State Brandywine Tree Removal Eco-Services Impact Survey.” This award honors a project that is in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering or mathematics and possibly holds significance to the general public.

Hand’s faculty adviser, Professor of Earth Science Laura Guertin, said that Hand measured trees on campus that were targeted to be cut down during the construction of the campus’s first residence hall and new student union building to determine the eco-health they provided to the environment. She even calculated tree ages to see if the eco-health benefits of the different species of trees changed with their age.

“Most people look at trees for their visual beauty across a landscape, but don’t always think about their eco-health benefits, such as how they improve air quality, store carbon dioxide or filter stormwater,” Guertin said. “Getting a snapshot of our own campus environment is important for us as we move forward with our campus growth.”

The Enterprise Award, which recognizes an endeavor from any field, was presented to Steven Di Pietro and Christine Nisch for their project, “Tyler Arboretum Social Media Marketing Plan.”

The duo’s faculty adviser, Instructor in Marketing Lori Elias, said that the team assessed Tyler Arboretum’s performance goals, client base and competitors and identified gaps in the organization’s social media marketing. They then made recommendations for improvement. Students Molly Nichols, Kailin Vollmuth, Ed Nevins and Marissa Giangiordano were also essential members of the team, but did not present at EURECA with Di Pietro and Nisch.

“This was a semester-long project, and every activity in and out of class was based on gathering research, trying new media, meeting with the client, thinking in new ways, preparing professional documents and finally providing a suggested integrated campaign,” Elias said.

Penn State Brandywine has been hosting EURECA for more than a decade and remains committed to providing its undergraduates the opportunity to conduct research in their respective fields of study.