X-SIG Presentations Showcase Summer Research

Students presented their summer research in the Science Center Atrium (Photo

Students presented their summer research in the Science Center Atrium (Photo Maddie Neiman/The Gettysburgian)

By Maddie Neiman, Features Editor

On Friday, October 19, the Cross-Disciplinary Science Institute (X-SIG) Program held its 6th annual poster presentation event in the Science Center Atrium.

Students in the Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Environmental Studies, Health Sciences, Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology departments showcased their summer research findings to a crowd of their peers, faculty members, and relatives visiting for Family Weekend.

Over 40 posters filled the lobby area of the Science Center, snaking around the staircase and even continuing on the second floor. Refreshments, including cookies and coffee, were offered for the student researchers and their audience.

During the summer of 2018, these students dedicated themselves to their scientific pursuits. Abigail Deaven ‘21, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major, said that she was working on her research approximately 40 hours per week.

Deaven, with partner Cara Hatzinger ‘21, worked under the advisement of Professor Nikki Shariat. At the X-SIG presentation, Deaven displayed her research on a poster entitled “Investigating Salmonella Diversity in the Susquehanna River Using CRISPR/SeroSeq.”

Speaking about her and Hatzinger’s investigation into which pathogens appear in major water sources, Deaven expressed her enthusiasm, saying, “It’s kind of shocking. We don’t think of [salmonella] as being in our water.”

Deaven plans to continue her research next summer.

Yan Zhou ‘20, Biology major, is also continuing her summer research project by working on it further this semester. Zhou, under the advisement of Professor Ryan Kerney, researched “Bacteria Diversity in the egg capsule of salamander embryos,” according to her poster.

Zhou appreciated the hands-on experience that the summer research program allowed her.

“Dr. Kerney always took us to the field,” she said. “We tried to find the salamanders there.”

Zhou is not the only one to appreciate working one-on-one with her professor. Mathematics and Computer Science major, Ryan Smolik ‘20, also found working with his advisor, Professor Todd Neller, to be beneficial.

“It was great to tap into [Professor Neller’s] wealth of resources and knowledge,” said Smolik.

Smolik showcased research that he, Connor Berson ‘21, and Jivan Kharel ‘21 completed in a poster entitled, “Efficient Solving of Birds of a Feather Puzzles.” Their research looked into features that impacted the solvability of a cards puzzle called Birds of a Feather.

Smolik believes that his research experience will help him find an internship, and he even admitted that he had an interview for an internship after the X-SIG event.

History and Physics major, Hayden Hall ‘19, also expressed that he thinks his summer research will assist him in his professional endeavors.

“It showed what working in a lab would look like,” Hall said, “or what working in conjunction with other researchers in the field would look like.”

Hall worked under the advisement of Professor Ryan Johnson on a Physics research project entitled “Analysis of Galactic Merger Dynamics in Phase Space.”

Even after a summer of research, Hall stated that there’s “always room to learn more.” Certainly, many of the students who participated in the X-SIG program will continue to work on their research or on other research opportunities in the future.

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Author: Maddie Neiman

Madeleine (Maddie) Neiman '21 is pursuing a double major in History and English (with a writing concentration) and a minor in German Studies at Gettysburg College. On campus, she is an executive member of Alpha Phi Omega, the national co-ed service fraternity, as well as an Ambassador for the Admissions Office and a Peer Learning Associate for the German Studies Department. A lover of traveling, Maddie has ventured to nine different countries and hopes to explore the globe further in the future. For updates and more, follow Maddie on Twitter @madsmaria.

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