Kean Research Days is an annual event that celebrates the culmination of both creative and research-based experiences and endeavors through a series of events spanning two days. This is an event that is campus-wide with the goal of bringing together both students and faculty from all sectors at Kean.
The intent of Research Days is to shine light on the research and creative work and projects of both the students and faculty of Kean. This event, which took place on Tuesday, April 24 and Wednesday, April 25, consisted of multiple presentations from both staff and visiting parties, friendly competitions, including a 3-Minute Thesis Competition, poster presentations, and memorized oral presentations.
Research Days provided an excellent platform for both students and faculty to be brought together as one to both display their individual creative and studious findings. In addition to the examination of projects and data, the event aims to create lasting connections in both the campus and professional communities.
This experience is oriented for students to have the opportunity to formally present findings in a professional and large-scale environment, helping one adjust to the fast incoming responsibilities and experiences in the “real world”. In doing so, each individual involved can both appreciate and compare those choosing to display their work at Research Days.
Last year, a total of 485 Kean students and staff participated, including over 200 unique posters from the Kean Union Campus alone.
The event was first launched in 2009 in an attempt to bring the countless examples of unrecognized work by Kean students to the forefront. Instead of projects being viewed solely by professors for a grade, Research Days aimed to change that stigma and allowed students for a decade to display their hard work for all of campus to see.
Research Days has allowed for students to add extra incentive to their projects and works, knowing that there is potential for hundreds of people to examine their findings. Both students and staff participating in Research Days are asked to bring their very best to the table, as the event is high volume and sees both individuals involved directly with Kean to those that are just popping in for a look at what the event has to offer.
Alongside showcasing the research projects of those that participated, Research Days also offers a Career Day sector.
Career Day offers the opportunity for students to come speak to representatives from over 50 different workplaces, corporations, and other organizations. Said representatives offer critical networking opportunities for students, along with resume critiquing and information on prospective job and career opportunities.
Those that attended included Wawa, Verizon, Wegmans, PA State Police, NJDOC, Cintas, the Kean Office of Admissions, Asbury Park Department of Education, and dozens more to name a few.
Cait McCready, a representative from Cintas and a personal friend, spoke about the importance of taking advantage of days like Career Day.
"We mainly get recruits from events like these or [from] online applications." She stated. "[Cintas] partners up with schools such as Kean and offers ample opportunities to both students and alumni."
She also touched upon the essential task of networking.
"It's important to network, give out resumes. Making a face-to-face connection is invaluable."
Besides Career Day, Research Days also had the aforementioned awards ceremony.
The awards ceremony presented awards for the best Faculty Research Mentor, Undergraduate Student Research, Research Days Cover Design, and 3-Minute Thesis Awards.
Dr. Maria Shumsakya was awarded the best Faculty Research Mentor for her contributions in preparing her students for research internships, interviews, and developing resumes and professional portfolios.
As for Undergraduate Student Researcher of the Year, Sarah Mack secured that award by maintaining a fantastic 3.95 GPA, placing her in the top 1 percent of students at Kean.
Mack has also contributed to several research projects, poster competitions, and even spent time in Cambodia, Guatemala, the Bahamas, and China studying public health in relation to the environment.
The Cover Design Contest had first through third place prizes for participants. Michelle Barrueto held the top spot, earning the right to have her design serve as the official cover for Research Days this year.
Fellow Cougar's Byte Graphic Design Specialist Omar Inca placed second in the contest with an equally as impressive display. In third place was Ray Hogrelius.
The 3-Minute Thesis Competition also had three placers. Winning was another fellow CLS member, Manuel Cervantes, for his presentation on exploring the sensory preferences of adults with substance use disorder.
Placing second was Michele Puopolo, whilst the People's Choice Award went to Meagan Koch.
Their presentations focusing on Occupational Therapy and subcategories within received high praise from both scholars and faculty.
In comparison to last year, this year saw 113 posters, and over 200 Kean students participated.
The content of these posters and their conjoined projects varied greatly. Some of the standouts included a weather report from Revolutionary times, model structures, facial recognition apps, DNA analysis of a newly-found species, and how social media has skewed face-to-face communication.
The amount of time and effort needed to collect both the data and put together the aesthetic does not go unnoticed. Each and every project presented at Research Days involved extensive research and data collecting procedures.
Finally, the tenth rendition of this event had an informative keynote presentation.
The speaker, Dr. Marvin Andujar, is a 2012 Kean Alum, an assistant professor for the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and Director of the Neuro-Medicine Interaction Lab at the University of South Florida.
Andujar has been nationally recognized for his works which include founding the Brain-Computer Interface initiative at the University of Florida and co-funding the world's first Brain-Drone Race, funded by Intel.
His work has been featured in over 500 media outlets, including the New York Times, AP, and Discovery Channel.
The keynote speech and presentation focused on the 'infinite possibilities' that the human brain offers in drone usage, as well as the brain's ability to act as a "third arm."
The combination of information and analysis in a professional environment is the key to what brings students and staff together at Research Days.
Kean's Tenth Annual Research Days saw many Kean students make valuable connections with potential employers, create and display several wonderful and insightful research projects, and allowed both faculty and students to be recognized for their immense hard work.
Countless students, faculty, and behind-the-scene individuals worked for hours on end to make all of the important events and content run seamlessly.
Being one of the most successful Research Days to date, Kean is looking forward to the continued success and wealth of opportunity that this event has to offer each year.