SURF Symposium Showcases Wide Range of Undergraduate Research

News Story categories: Academics
Daniel Sugano ‘24 presents his research in the Copley Science Center

Randolph-Macon College held its 25th annual SURF (Schapiro Undergraduate Research Fellowship) Symposium on Aug. 4, 2023. SURF offers students the opportunity to conduct intensive professional research during the summer under the close mentorship of faculty; the symposium provides the chance for students to share findings from their research in oral and poster presentations.

The SURF program was founded in 1995 to encompass all disciplines, and has been supported through a generous endowment by Ben Schapiro ’64 and his wife Peggy, as well as other donors. The fellowship provides students with a stipend and housing on campus during the summer.

Provost Alisa J. Rosenthal addressed the crowd of students, faculty, staff, family, and friends gathered for the presentations, citing the SURF program as one of the signature experiences at Randolph-Macon College. She also reflected on how the process of conducting undergraduate research prepares graduates for whatever their next step may be.

“SURF pays off,” said Rosenthal. “Not only if you publish, not only if you go to grad school, not only if you go to med school or law school, or whatever your bright futures hold. It pays off in your preparation after college for anything you want to do. The kinds of skills, the kinds of commitments, the kinds of mentorship, and the kinds of support that you have had, those are what situate you for success.”

Students presented on a wide range of topics, from assessing mental health among military personnel, to analyzing meter in Latin poetry, to studying the effects of malnutrition on the patterns of T-cells. See below for a full list of the 2023 SURF presentations:

·         Synthesis of Dicyanoazulene: A New Guest for a Self-Assembling Metal-Organic Cube. William Adair ‘24 and Dr. John Thoburn, Department of Chemistry.

·         An Examination of short-term Neurotoxic Effects of Maternal Deprivation, a Form of Early Life Stress, on BDNF Expression within the Brain of C57/Bl6J Male Mice. Caroline Campbell ‘25 and Dr. Kim Gerecke, Department of Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience.

·         Microwave-Assisted Synthesis of Ni3P Nanoparticles as an Electrocatalyst for the Hydrogen Evolution Reaction. Matteo DeLuca ‘26 and Dr. April Mattei, Department of Chemistry.

·         “Lost Causes”: White Supremacists, Racial Politics, and the Ideological Utility of the Classical Past in the United States. Grace Figueroa ’24 and Dr. Evie Terrono, Department of Art History.

·         A Modular Approach to Solubilizing Supramolecular Cages via PEGylation of Pyridyl Imine Components. Michael Gessler ‘24 and Dr. John Thoburn, Department of Chemistry.

·         Malnutrition’s effects on the Migration Efficiencies and Patterns of Naïve CD4+ and CD8+ T Cells. Jacob Hanes ‘26 and Dr. Melanie Gubbels Bupp, Department of Biology.

·         A Metrical Deep Dive into Lucan’s Pharsalia. Aryn Hanna ‘24 and Dr. Bartolo Natoli, Department of Classics.

·         Investigation into the Synthesis of Cobalt and Cobalt-Nickel Phosphide Nanoparticles via Microwave Irradiation. Savanna Hart ‘26 and Dr. April Mattei, Department of Chemistry.

·         The Apple, the Tree, or the Fall: Investigating Adverse Childhood Experiences, Parental Modeling, and the Alcohol-Use Habits of College Students. Morgan Hoyt ‘24 and Dr. Alyssa Mikytuck, Department of Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience.

·         Synthesis of a New Crown Ether, Faced–capped M4L4 Metallocage. Kemp Jones ‘25 and Dr. John Thoburn, Department of Chemistry.

·         An Examination of the Short-term Deleterious Effects of Maternal Deprivation on BDNF Levels in the Brain of C57/bl6J Female Mice. Haley Krol ‘24 and Dr. Kim Gerecke, Department of Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience.

·         The Synthesis and Characterization of Piano-Stool Ruthenium(II) Phosphine Complexes: Structures and Cytotoxic Studies. Isabella McNulty ‘25 and Dr. Serge Schreiner, Department of Chemistry.

·         Inter and Intra-categorical Features of Motivation in L2 Spanish: A Quantitative Analysis of Student Incentive. Olivia Murray ‘24 and Dr. Laurie Massery, Department of Modern Languages.

·         Investigating Zydeco and Stand Still as Transcriptional Targets of Frazzled in the Drosophila melanogaster Ovary. Rhegan Murray ‘25 and Dr. Kate Laws, Department of Biology.

·         Beetles on the Brink: Assessing Chesapeake Bay Beach Habitat for a Federally Threatened Species in Decline. Emily Pineda ‘2 and Dr. Michael Fenster, Department of Environmental Studies.

·         Malnutrition’s Effects on Naïve T Cell Migration Patterns. Clayton Phillips ‘25 and Dr. Melanie Gubbels Bupp, Department of Biology.

·         Mental Health Among Military Personnel and the Influence of Militaristic Discipline and Protocol. Mae Rohlk ‘24 and Dr. Brittany Freelin, Departments of Sociology and Anthropology, and Criminology.

·         Progress in Developing an Efficient Hydrosilylation Catalyst. Kelly Rogers ‘25 and Dr. Serge Schreiner, Department of Chemistry.

·         Coordination Cages and the Transportation of Naphthalene Using Two Different Aqueous Solutions. Kristina Sandiford ‘24 and Dr. John D. Thoburn, Department of Chemistry.

·         What Makes a Good Mom? Changes in Brain Gene Expression in Response to Pups. Tanya Sancen ’24 and Dr. Kimberly Cox, Department of Biology.

·         TikTok Marketing: Effects of Paid, Owned and Earned Media (POEM) on Opening Box Office for Movies. Daniel Sugano ‘24 and Dr. Inigo Arroniz, Department of Economics and Business.

·         Can Barbie Beat Ken? Women’s Electoral Success in Paraguay. Eleanor Swager ‘25 and Dr. Brian Turner, Department of Political Science.

·         Detecting Exoplanets with the Keeble Telescope. Aubrianne Thoms ‘25 and Dr. Michael Rodruck, Department of Physics, Engineering, and Astrophysics.

·         SURFing Neurobiological Complexity: Comparison of Statistical Modeling to Classical Statistics in the Neurobiology of Cancer. Savana Watts ‘24 and Dr. Massimo Bardi, Department of Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience.

·         Reactions of Pyruvic Acid in Aqueous Droplets. Olivia Zabko ‘26 and Dr. Rebecca Michelsen, Department of Chemistry.