Rarely do research projects such as A Novel Regularization for Higher Accuracy in the Solution of the 3-Dimensional Stokes Flow and How Social Media Affects Short-Term Memory in Young Adults appear in the same venue, but those and many other weighty topics were on display recently at Farmingdale State College.  

The College’s inaugural IGNITE Symposium, held on March 31, illuminated some of the sophisticated and eclectic research, community service, and internships in which students are involved. 

“We’ve done versions of this before, but this is the first version we’ve had for all students,” said Dylan Gafarian, Acting Director of the RAM program. About 80 posters showcasing student projects were submitted for the event, with over 100 students participating. A panel of faculty members evaluated all of the presentations. Some of the research projects were still in the proposal stage, while others had been completed. 

“The IGNITE Symposium did exactly what we hoped it would; it ignited a spark at this institution that I have not seen the likes of since before the pandemic,” Gafarian continued. “More than 200 students, faculty, staff, and guests, came to FSC to reinforce our commitment to undergraduate research, applied learning, and civic engagement. The event has been so rewarding to plan and watch grow. I know next year will be even larger.”

Three students earned special recognition, one each in the categories of internships, research, and community service:

Oscar Bonilla: Analyzation and Optimization of the LArASIC P5B Chip Data.
Dariana Palacios:  A Filamentous Cyanobacterium from a Desiccated Stream in the Anza Borrego Desert is Identified by Whole Genome Sequencing as Limnoraphis cf. robusta.
Brendan Jaghab: The Relationship Between Morbid Curiosity, Anxiety, and Voluntary Exposure to Negative Stimuli: An Exploration of Horror Fandom and Clinical Implications.
Six students were invited to be Sparkspeakers, an FSC version of the TedTalk, during which they discussed their research subjects. One student, Dominique Duliepre, ’23, an Electrical Engineering Technology major, discussed his work at Brookhaven National Laboratory, which in part involved analyzing different liquids.

“It’s a way to celebrate our students; I was thrilled at the idea,” of a symposium, Senior Vice President and Provost Dr. Laura Joseph said in her welcome remarks. “Too often faculty and students stay in academic silos and rarely get to share their work. This brings theory into practice.”

Joseph urged students to continue their quest for knowledge. “I hope we have ignited your passion,” she said. “To see you graduate and go on to become productive citizens and come back is our greatest reward.”

Personal experience sometimes inspired research. Kinza Yasmin,’25, a Bioscience major from Ronkonkoma, did preliminary research for a study on the effects of commuting on college students’ academic performance, inspired by her 30-minute one-way commute to campus.

She found one study that showed the longer the commute, the greater the negative impact on academics, Yasmin said. She is proposing a study that investigates the impact of commuting distances at all of the four-year SUNY colleges.

One way to address the stress and frustration that commuter students often feel is by forming groups on campus where they can support their peers and exchange suggestions to make their commutes easier, Yasmin added.

The IGNITE students are on target to fulfill FSC’s mission to not just prepare polished professionals, but caring citizens as well, said Dr. Yetunde Odugbesan-Omede, FSC’s Acting Director of the Office of Community and Civic Engagement and Professor of Global Affairs and Politics, in her keynote address.

“We are in a space of privilege and it is an honor to teach young people who are well-rounded and able to produce innovations every year,” Odugbesan-Omede said. “The posters are just the tip of the iceberg. Many are doing more than just being students.”

The College has a duty and a responsibility to graduate “the best of the best” who represent their communities and speak for those who can’t, she continued. “We want to ignite a passion for scholarship, innovation, give back, and push forward…

“Know that your work means something and will pay off,” she added. “We are proud of you. Anytime you have ideas that make the world better, we champion you.”

In another study, two students examined ways to better regulate insulin levels in people with type 2 diabetes, whose numbers are rapidly increasing. Gisela Henriquez, ’23, a Bioscience major from Elmont and Charanjit Singh ’24, a Science, Technology, and Society major from Hempstead, analyzed data from experiments their instructor performed with mice in a lab during the pandemic to determine how drugs that inhibit DPP-4 enzymes affect the insulin levels of those with type 2 diabetes. 

DPP-4 cells are in the liver and pancreas as well as several other organs. They can upset the body’s glucose balance and decrease the body’s sensitivity to insulin. The less DPP-4, the more insulin the body produces, which is beneficial. Drugs that inhibit DPP-4 help the body absorb other type 2 diabetes medications, explained Singh. The experiment showed the benefits of DPP-4 inhibitors.

The positive results from this study could lead to an investigation of other inhibitors to evaluate their effectiveness, he added.

Also displaying their work were members of the five-student team that participated in November at the Associated Schools of Construction Project Competition. Teams are required to produce proposals in different categories within about 12 hours. Despite competing for the first time with a team smaller than most of the other schools and fewer resources, FSC placed second out of 30 schools in the design-build category with its design of a rail maintenance facility. The students were: Susan Ehrler, ’24, Roslyn Heights; Tahj Michael Gibbons, ’24, Queens; Katherine J. Bonilla, ’24, Hicksville; Gabriela Marisol Carpio, ’24, East Meadow; and Trevor D’Andrade, ’22, Jamaica. “It was like giving birth,” Ehrler joked.

Always a fan of zoology, Mishal Syed, ’25, a Bioscience major from Garden City Park, researched whether zoos are an ethical way to preserve an endangered species. “Zoos are a big part of our culture,” Syed noted. She focused on Siberian tigers; while a more in-depth project would involve comparing wild tigers in Russia with those in zoos, Syed relied on documented research that showed the animals’ lifespan is greater in the wild than in zoos. “In the wild, they can participate in the food chain,” she said.

Not often does the whole campus have the opportunity to see the extent of the work in which students are involved, and events like IGNITE benefit the presenters and the campus at large. “You bust your butt, but don’t often get to show others what you have been doing,” explained Gafarian. “It’s a chance to brag a little bit.”

Enjoy the IGNITE Research Symposium in photos.