By Nancy Elias
Wednesday, April 16, marked the fourth annual Undergraduate Research Day sponsored by the Office of the Chancellor and the Honors College. If you walked around the Essex room that day, you would find yourself surrounded by rows of displayed poster boards and a myriad of students, faculty, and staff. Your inability to maneuver your way through the crowd due to the density of projects and people is the experience which personified the enthusiasm of students and faculty on this day of learning and sharing.
A group of Rutgers-Newark students, Aditi Jain, Acia Robertson, Rosanna Sanchez, and Jeetanjali Sawh, were one of three group participants at the event, presenting their research on “Comparing Pre-Natal Care in Nicaragua to Different Regions in the United States.” The group visited Nicaragua this past January to explore maternal health, and to ask questions to the local women about health care in their country. Their experience served to many effects from research, to intrapersonal communication and allowed the group to compare maternal care in Nicaragua with that within the United States.
“We have more money and technology here in the US, but our technology doesn’t predict care for women. They get so much more care there,” said Sanchez, a Biology major. For her, the experience was both humbling and eye-opening.
Students not only used Undergraduate Research Day to present their findings, but the event itself also helped the group, as well as the rest of the student participants develop a wide range of skills.
“This was my first research project and it made me comfortable with not only collecting data but with presenting what I’ve learned to an audience as well,” said Sawh, a Psychology and Biology double major.
“As a pre-health student, one thing I will take away is that they treat their patients how they would treat their family, and I hope to one day achieve that level of intimacy with patients of my own,” said Robertson.
Alongside students presenting and observing the event, the Essex room in the Paul Robeson Campus Center was filled with various faculty and staff.
“It’s great to see that every single year [the event] gets bigger and bigger,” said John Gunkel, Vice-Chancellor for Academic Programs and Services.
“I love learning the breadth of what our students do,” said Sheri-Ann Butterfield, Associate Professor of Sociology. “I love them seeing them educate faculty, students and staff. It’s so inspiring and it reminds me why I do my work…Their passion validates my work,” she added.
“The most important thing is that we welcome all undergraduate research to this event,” said Kinna Perry, Director of the Honors College and founder of Undergraduate Research Day. “Being involved will connect students to faculty and prep them for graduate school work. When I speak to alumni, they say that this is one of the best experiences they had, looking back.”
This is the fourth year Undergraduate Research Day has taken place at Rutgers-Newark. All students are welcome to display their work, and this year they displayed 75 individual projects and 3 group projects.
“It’s a pleasure for me to see this event being held, or else people wouldn’t have the opportunity to see what students are doing.” She added, “These projects display what our students have been pouring their hearts into over the academic year and longer.”