An “Enthralling” Experience: Biology Students Reflect on Presenting at the Sigma Xi Conference

On November 10-12, six Biology students and their mentor Dr. Jodi Evans attended the Sigma Xi Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. Students share their reflections on the conference.

students at biology conference

The Sigma Xi Student Research Conference was a great learning experience from start to finish. We first heard about the conference in the spring and decided we would work towards submitting an abstract for consideration. We did not know at that moment what we were getting ourselves into. We spent countless days over the summer performing many tests to get data for which to write an abstract.

Our hard work paid off when we received the email notifying us that our abstract was accepted into the conference. However, that only opened up a new challenge for us to face. We now had to raise enough money to get to North Carolina.

The entire experience gave us the accomplishment of seeing our work through to the end. Every step along the way, from culturing the cells over the summer to hosting bake sales in the Public Square lobby, and then finally to presenting our research in front of the judges, taught us that all of our efforts brought us to that moment. It was the culmination of almost a year’s worth of work, and we got further than we thought we ever could a year ago. Even though we didn’t come home with a medal, we learned that we could accomplish anything if we put our minds to it. And as cliché as that sounds, sometimes that’s all you need to be successful.

Anthony Morante, senior Biology major from West Babylon, NY.

My experience attending the Sigma Xi Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, was nothing short of enthralling. After a little over a year of engaging in highly specific biomedical research, crunching data for hours, and fundraising for the trip, my fellow researchers and I had been excitedly anticipating this conference for a long time. It was the perfect opportunity to share our research with others who felt just as passionate about the sciences as we did.

The most rewarding part of attending this conference was hearing from other scientists about their own remarkable research and findings. We got the chance to learn so much about topics ranging from climate change to animal behavior studies to immunology, all while socializing and networking with scientists and researchers that will someday change the world.

It was impossible not to be humbled by an opportunity like this. My passion for science was inflamed, and my excitement for a career in biomedical research swelled. Upon arriving back home in New York, fresh off of this infectious excitement, my sights sharpened more than ever on enrolling in an institute for my master’s and doctorate in Immunology. I’m so grateful for this experience, and it will remain as one of the most rewarding opportunities my time at Molloy has offered me.

Anthony Ricigliano, senior Biology major on the pre-medical track from Massapequa, NY.

biology students posing with skeleton

Over the weekend of November 10-12, I was honored to go and present my research on mesenchymal progenitor cells and their influence on macrophage phagocytosis through secreted factors and direct contact but with opposing regulation. This entire research experience has been one of the best experiences of my life. All of our hard work was really shown first when we were accepted to the conference and then when judges and peers from all across the country listened to what we did and enjoyed it. Being in that environment was a once in a lifetime experience. It really brought everything we had been doing for the past year to light as something more than just another project. In addition, raising the money for this trip really inspired me as I watched so many family, friends, peers, and faculty support us. I am happy I was able to be a part of it and enjoyed telling everyone about our project at MACUB at the Sigma Xi conference. I also look forward to presenting to the entire BCES department.

I’m grateful to my peers and mentor who I have had the pleasure of working with and getting to know throughout the duration of this project. They are part of what made it such a great experience. I would like to thank everyone for their support.  I will always treasure this opportunity I was given, and it will help me become a better scientist, worker, and person as a whole.

Rachel Rex, senior Biology major on the pre-veterinarian medicine track.

biology students and mentor

First, I would like to start by expressing how proud I am of my colleagues – and myself, of course – who worked so hard over the last year. It all began with long nights of research followed by long weeks of lab work that perpetuated into the summer months and all culminated into a grand final masterpiece. The number of hours that we dedicated to research, lab work, data analysis, and fundraising efforts were more than worth it.

While at the conference we met a plethora of other young researchers who came from vastly different places and backgrounds, all congregating in one city in North Carolina to nerd out together. It was very interesting to talk to these other researchers and find out where they came from, what inspired their work, and how they’re going to proceed in the future. We could also see, first hand, how well received our research was, which made us all feel elated to say the least.

Additionally, we were presenting among both high school and graduate students in addition to fellow undergraduates. Being between these two ages we could vividly see where we came from and what we will progress into one day. It was really exciting to see how much we accomplished at an undergraduate level and how much we can seek to accomplish as we move into graduate schools.

None of this could have been done without my peers and our absolutely fantastic mentor Dr. Evans. She provided us with more wisdom, time and energy than was ever required of her, but really helped us to succeed nonetheless. I am grateful I came to work with a group of such brilliant minds.

Jillian Weiss, senior Biology major on the pre-medical track.

biology students at conference

This past November I had the wonderful honor and privilege to represent the Molloy College BCES program at the Sigma Xi Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. I found myself surrounded by five peers competing in a highly-accredited undergraduate research competition. We had poured our blood, sweat, and tears in the lab to further research in the world of science. We had all worked extremely hard over the past year, including the summer, to pursue our research. I was also fortunate enough to receive a state grant through the CSTEP program.

When we decided to attend this conference, we knew we had a lot of work ahead of us in order to raise the funds to support our journey. From having bake and apparel sales to hosting a bowling fundraiser to creating a GoFundMe page, we had a fun time reaching our end goal. It is my hope and aspiration to further inspire other underclassmen to get pumped about research and immerse themselves in all the endless possibilities Molloy has to offer them. I am sad that my time at Molloy is quickly coming to an end. However, I am extremely fortunate and grateful for this wonderful experience, including the memories and friendships that I have made along the way.

Christie Catterson, senior Biology major with a double minor in Chemistry and Psychology on the pre-medical track.

biology students in front of poster

Images courtesy of Anthony Ricigliano and Christie Catterson. 

Euroweek: The Opportunity of a Lifetime

From May first through fifth, eight Molloy students and two Business faculty, Meryl Rosenblatt and Kisha Chandler, attended the 2017 Euroweek Conference & Competition in Coimbria, Portugal. We asked some students to share their experiences from the conference.

To be perfectly honest, I’ve never been in a more diverse, welcoming, or fun environment than the Euroweek conference. We started back in January when we met our international teammates, and we were assigned our project topics. From there we worked together with our colleagues from other countries to compose research papers and a presentation that we delivered at the actual conference.

Aside from all of the aspects of business that I had to study up on for this trip, I learned a lot about working with people from other countries. We had to be respectful of each other’s cultures, and learn from each other’s differences and experiences. We learned to how to laugh at our own quirks and habits. And we made connections that I know will last a lifetime. Because of Euroweek, I have friends throughout the globe. And I’m proud to say that, so far, I’ve been keeping in contact with them and staying close!

I think Euroweek is one of the most unique experiences available to students, and I highly encourage anyone who wants to travel to experience different cultures to go on this trip. It is truly special.

Chloe Chappa, sophomore Molloy/CAP21 Theatre Arts major from Oxford, Conn.

Euroweek is an incredible undertaking, bringing students together from many countries throughout Europe. I was honored to represent Molloy College, the only American college present, with my classmates. Preparing for Euroweek, I was amazed, thinking about the possibilities that my development team’s business project could have. I was fascinated by how the team’s different academic disciplines united to create something truly amazing. Upon arriving in Portugal, my classmates and I were greeted by cool breezes, sweeping hills, and celebrating university students, which made for a beautiful setting to begin a new journey together. At one point, a student let me try on his long black cloak, allowing me to partake in praxe or university tradition. I was excited to meet my team partners for the first time in person after working with them over Skype for many weeks. We supported each other throughout the conference, and my final “Cheers” with them to celebrate our time together is still vivid in my mind. Euroweek inspired me to think about industry, innovation, and creativity in new ways, and the friendships that I made during these days are everlasting. One memory that I will continue to cherish is dancing in traditional Greek style at Global Village, an international buffet followed by a party, with new friends. The remarkable food and the welcoming atmosphere were just what I needed. At the conference’s conclusion, I felt blessed to win “Best Business Idea” to the cheers of the assembly and leave Portugal with expanded horizons.

John D. Cronin, senior Business major from Bellmore, New York

Along with students from Belgium and Italy, John Cronin and I won the “Best Business Idea” award at Euroweek. Our project was a collaborative effort by students from three different countries to provide affordable 3D printed prosthetic arms to African children in the ECOWAS region of Western Africa. The research and business model we proposed allows for an affordable, high quality alternative of the traditional prosthetic limb to be made available in the target countries.

By attending this conference and formulating this project with peers from other countries, I learned the positive and negatives associated with teamwork. It was more difficult collaborating through different time zones with individuals of varying cultural backgrounds. Moreover, the entirety was done in English, which is a secondary language at best for every country in attendance. In our project, this led to miscommunications as well as a need for an extensive editing process. On the positive side, we had key access to alternative resources, as well as differing points of view in research. This allowed us to have a more complete paper and have the greater potential for success in our start-up.

The conference was one of the best experiences of my life. I was able to meet peers from countries across Europe and establish contacts that will last me a lifetime. In my opinion, attending Euroweek is an essential aspect of the college experience and the opportunity to study abroad should be taken advantage of by as many students as possible.

Gabe D’Orsi, sophomore Biology major from Massapequa, New York

Euroweek was a life-changing experience that one could only begin to describe through the emotions I felt that week. From the excitement, stress, and determination that followed me and my team throughout the competition, I found a drive in me that I did not know existed. I never would have imagined a business conference would change my life the way that it did. I was emerged in the culture of Portugal while meeting people from across Europe who had one goal in mind: Innovation. I learned from the experiences of students from Austria to Finland that this was not a competition but a cultivation of ideas yearning to be spilled out into the world. Not only getting to know the students in a professional manner but also relating to them outside of the work we did made Euroweek an intimate yet competitive atmosphere that pushed everyone to succeed. Through the countless number of sleepless nights, Euroweek created a family and a sense of unity with an extremely diverse group of people I could never have imagined possible. While those nights were stressful, I would re-live them a thousand times over.

Marsha Verghese, freshman Business major from Floral Park, New York

Researching the Creative Aspect of Understanding Existentialism

By Lori McAndrew and Bari Glickman 

CMHC blog image HPW

We can’t believe we are already considered “second years” in the Graduate Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. So far our program director, Dr. Kestemberg, and faculty members, such as Dr. Wood, have given us a personalized learning experience that continues to support us in becoming the best counselors in training we can be.

When Dr. Wood announced in class last year that she was looking for two students to work with her on a research project for an upcoming conference and on-going research continuing into Fall 2016, we both knew it would be a unique opportunity. We are happy to share: It has been! This work has allowed each of us to enrich our learning experience in our chosen career, exposing us to new and unfamiliar territory within our master’s program. In addition, the chance to work with our professor in a more intimate setting has enhanced what we are already learning in the classroom setting.

We met several times in the Fall 2015 semester and brainstormed about various topics and ideas. Through a collaborative team effort, we decided to look at the creative aspect of learning and understanding the concept of existentialism. Existentialism is a counseling approach that empowers clients to make meaning of their life experiences and emphasizes the existence of the individual person as having free will in making decisions in their life in relationship to themselves and others. In the classroom, some existential topics in regards to counseling that we had learned about had been complicated for us and our fellow students, so coming up with a creative solution and researching it to hopefully help other graduate students understand and appreciate Victor Frankl’s existential theory was an exciting prospect!

We learned through our research that most young clinicians do not have experience with utilizing existential concepts in their practice and that there is a belief that existentialism “does not easily fit into a therapist’s toolbox” (Shumaker, 2008, p.377). This led us to develop our theory that using music might help to support the learning of the existential concepts, allowing these concepts to be more tangible and relatable, and in return, help them improve their application of existential concepts with clients in the clinical realm.

It was a team effort creating a diagram which was designed to show the inter-connection of existential core concepts. We then began to build a music catalog that would help exemplify these concepts. We spent several hours listening to music, reading lyrics and categorizing the songs into the existential concepts. This was ultimately transferred to a flash drive that we used as a handout for our poster presentation.

One of the most exciting moments occurred when a conference participant made a special effort to come see our poster presentation. Knowing that the project we are working on is as interesting to others as it is to us provided us with a feeling of confidence and success. This, coupled with the guidance that our professor provided us, helped to put our nerves at ease and enabled us to discuss our poster with confidence and enthusiasm.

We are in the process of developing goals to move forward with our research. One of our goals is to test pilot this research with the new cohort of students in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Master’s program that started this fall. We are looking to have our research published in the Journal of Creative Counseling and ultimately present our research at future conferences.

As the first cohort in Molloy College Master’s Program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, we have a great deal of enthusiasm and excitement. The comradery we share as a cohort allows us to be a community of learners, a group that supports each other in our studies and celebrates each other in our accomplishments.