Senior Scholars Show Their Stuff

Alex Sweger and Christina Los were among more than 100 seniors presenting their research during Senior Scholars Day this spring. Research topics ranged from wolf spiders and sea urchins, to Andy Warhol photographs and marketing to the subconcious mind.

For Hannah Spinner ’10, April was a busy month. On April 13, she traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in “Posters on the Hill,” a competitive annual event that showcases high-quality undergraduate research on Capitol Hill. The next day she left Susquehanna to speak at the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) in Missoula, Mont. By April 20, the biology and French major was back on campus presenting her research as part of Susquehanna’s annual Senior Scholars Day.

Her research with sea urchins was conducted with adviser Jan Reichard-Brown, associate professor of health care studies and biology, to discover whether the banned drug thalidomide would have reproductive consequences if used by males.

“Each conference had a different feel to it,” Spinner says. “At the Posters on the Hill conference, I was talking largely to legislators and their staffers, so I had to accurately convey my research project to a nonscientific audience,” she says. “At NCUR, my audience was mostly other science majors. Presenting at SU felt like a homecoming, and I was able to talk with my classmates and professors about my project.”

Spinner joined more than 100 of her classmates for Senior Scholars Day, an event that allows seniors from all disciplines to present their work to the Susquehanna community.

Psychology major Christina Los ’10 also presented her research at both NCUR and Senior Scholars Day. She researched the effects that self-identifying as a morning person or an evening person has on cognitive function during those times of the day. Her results were surprising. Self-classified evening people performed better in the morning than the evening, but morning people performed at the same level during both times.

“I think it’s important to share information with our peers,” Los says of Senior Scholars Day. “It helps show the underclassmen what they can look forward to and may even motivate or inspire them to start their own project.”

Communications major Siri Heian ’10 looked to Susquehanna students for her research topic, “Marketing to the Inner Workings of the Consumer’s Mind.” Guided by the research of Gerald Zaltman, the Joseph C. Wilson professor of business administration, emeritus, at Harvard Business School, Heian studied what Susquehanna students most closely associate with the need to achieve, based on Zaltman’s ideas about the effects advertising has on the subconscious mind.

Another student who used Susquehanna resources for her research was Alycia Piazza ’10, an art history major who studied the university’s permanent collection of Andy Warhol photographs, donated to the Lore Degenstein Gallery from the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts.

Piazza began her research in the fall of 2009 during an independent study of Warhol’s photographic subjects. She decided to take the study a step further and make the research the topic of her senior thesis. “To have the opportunity to work directly with the art was an impor-tant experience for me as an art history major,” Piazza says. “To present all of my research and hard work to my peers [at Senior Scholars Day] is something I am very proud of and will never forget.”


Contributing writers to the People & Places section are Heather Cobun ‘10; Gerald S. Cohen, associate vice president for communications and chief communications officer; Stephanie Hines ‘04; and Charlotte Lotz ‘12.

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