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University's Academic Rigor on Display

Posted 04/03/2014
Posted by Meagan Fazio

Bridget Gromek, who will present at the NCUR, does research under the supportive eye of Professor of Chemistry Edward Gray.

Many eyes and ears will be trained on nine University of Hartford students today and tomorrow (April 3 and 4, 2014), as the students present their research at a highly selective conference of outstanding undergraduates from around the country.

Our students, all seniors in the University Honors Program, are attending the National Conference of Undergraduate Research (NCUR), in Lexington, Ky., where they will present eight papers (one is a joint presentation by two students).

This is the first year that University of Hartford students applied to present at the NCUR, which was established in 1987 to promote undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activity in all fields of study. It is especially notable that all eight presentations (100 percent) were accepted. NCUR’s usual acceptance rate is about 40 percent.

"The acceptance of every proposal demonstrates the excellence of our honors students, the rigor of their senior projects, and the quality of their mentoring by dedicated faculty," said Associate Professor Donald Jones, director of the University Honors Program.

The nine students’ papers represent work being done in the Barney School of Business, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Hartford Art School, and the College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions.

Don Fantozzi (right), another student presenter, updates his faculty mentor, Associate Professor of Politics and Government Michael Clancy, before the trip.

Students’ Excitement is Palpable

Our students were complimentary of both the opportunity to present and the University Honors Program as they prepared to leave for Lexington. “Being accepted to present at the NCUR conference is a huge honor for me, and really is a testament to the quality of the faculty here at UHart,” said Don Fantozzi, one of the student presenters. “This thesis is by far the biggest project that I have ever done, and I could have never gotten this far without the guidance I received from Professor Jones and Professor (Michael) Clancy (associate professor of politics and government).  

Stephanie Lessing, another student presenter, said “Working on my thesis with Dr. (Lillian) Kamal (assistant professor, Barney) has been the highlight of my college experience. She's always been the perfect balance of letting me take the direction I want and exploring my interests but having a very hands-on role when it comes to perfecting the presentation.”

Four additional NCUR presenters from the University are (l-r): Niki Kalmus, Rachel Dehnel, Taylor McCreery, and Stephanie Lessing.

Each student has been working closely with a faculty mentor and with Jones, who together taught the students how to write conference proposals and helped them prepare and refine their presentations. Our students applied to NCUR as part of a new initiative by Provost Sharon L. Vasquez and Interim Dean of Undergraduate Studies David Goldenberg to focus our best honors students on submitting papers to the conference

You will have an opportunity to hear our NCUR presenters discuss their experiences at the conference during the 2014 Undergraduate Research and Creativity Colloquium on Tuesday, April 8, at 12:30 p.m., in Room A of the Gray Conference Center (above the 1877 Club). In addition, two of the students will repeat their NCUR presentations.

The nine students, their presentations, and their faculty mentors are as follows:

Taylor Clark and Taylor McCreery — "University Park: An Opportunity to Link Town and Gown" ( Faculty mentor: Irina Naoumova) — Barney School of Business

Rachel Dehnel — "Playing the Past: How Video Games Can Preserve the Disappearing Cultures of the World" (Faculty mentor: Tom Bradley) — Hartford Art School

Don Fantozzi — "The Revolution Will Be Televised: Social Change and Technology" 
(Faculty mentor: Michael Clancy) — College of Arts and Sciences (A&S)

Bridget Gromek — "An Alterative Mechanism for the Kinetics of the Aqueous Formation of N-chloro-N-methylacetamide" (Faculty mentor: Edward Gray)
 — A&S and Hillyer College

Niki Kalmus — "Transparent or Opaque: Case Study for the Effectiveness of a Central, Transparent Development Aid Database System" (Faculty mentor: Jane Horvath) — A&S

Stephanie Lessing — "Quantitative Easing and Monetary Policies: Impact on Risk Culture and Economic Recovery" (Faculty mentor: Lillian Kamal) — Barney School of Business 

Amanda Schoen — "Savage and Strange: The Literary Landscapes of Castaway Novels" (Faculty mentor: Mark Blackwell) — A&S

Hannah Schultz — "Solving Behaviors for ‘Kiddos': Early Intervention and its Influence on Behavior Plans" (Faculty mentor: Sheetal Sood) — College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions