Mercy College, in collaboration with Manhattanville College, offered a full day of undergraduate research presentations, capped by a keynote address by an internationally renowned microbiologist, at the 10th Annual Westchester Undergraduate Research Conference (WURC).
The WURC conference was created a decade ago as a Mercy-based event, thanks to the efforts and energies of Mercy faculty members, including Kimberly A. Rapoza, Ph.D., associate professor of Psychology and director of Mercy’s McNair Program. Soon after, Manhattanville College joined Mercy as a partner in sponsoring the event, and the two colleges have since taken turns hosting the annual event.
The April 30 event featured the work of students from 12 local colleges, contributing 55 posters and 12 oral platform presentations. The conference, which shifted to a virtual platform in 2020, offered live portions broadcast on Zoom and recorded sessions for anytime viewing.
Poster sessions featured studies in biology, psychology, history, neuroscience, technology and criminal justice. Twelve oral platform presentations were streamed live, covering topics ranging from micro-aggression in multi-racial settings to misinformation on social media. Both presentation platforms afforded participants an opportunity to ask questions and offer comments.
Dr. Christopher Pappas, professor of Biology at Manhattanville, this year’s official host, gave welcoming remarks and introduced the keynote speaker, Dr. Arnau Casanovas-Massana. “When we moved online, more distant colleges, like the University of Buffalo, were able to join us,” said Pappas. Participants and mentors persevered in spite of limited access to lab spaces and other challenges of virtual learning and research, he said, adding, “Today is a day to celebrate what you’ve accomplished over the past year.”
Rapoza played a key leadership role in raising the profile of undergraduate research in the region, and Virginia Lee Curtis, Research and Grants Coordinator in the Office of the Provost, were acknowledged for providing significant support with technological and logistical challenges.
All poster and oral presentations can be viewed online at https://mercy.digication.com/westchester-undergraduate-research-conference-2021/welcome-to-wurc.