April 25, 2024

Nearly 130 students presented research, music and artwork at Susquehanna’s Senior Scholars Day, an event where students showcase the culmination of their years of study and honor the professors who acted as their mentors. The event continues a tradition spanning more than 50 years.

“On Senior Scholars Day, we lift up one of the most important characteristics of Susquehanna, which is that is that our students have the opportunity to present project as the synthesis of the work that they have done within their majors and alongside their professors,” said University President Jonathan Green. “This event is a great signal to prospective students about the value of a Susquehanna education, and I thank our senior scholars for being ideal exemplars of that.”

Physics major assesses wind tunnel efficiency

Sylvan Huber-Feely '24 Sylvan Huber-Feely ’24Sylvan Huber-Feely ’24, a physics major and mathematics minor from Sewanee, Tennessee, sought to determine the efficiency of a wind tunnel that was built on campus nearly 20 years ago. The goal of Huber-Feely’s project was to determine if the wind tunnel would benefit from the addition of a Venturi cone, a device that helps control the flow of air.

“Before making changes, I found the wind tunnel consistently provided good conditions for testing high-speed airflow, with air moving faster than in the updated system. However, the airflow wasn’t always steady, which caused turbulence,” Huber-Feely explained. “My research suggests that while adding the cone improved overall performance, it also slowed down the airflow.

“This means both options — with and without the cone — are good for different types of testing,” he said. “We can use the cone for bigger models and take it out for smaller ones that require faster testing speeds.”

Huber-Feely’s research on Susquehanna’s wind tunnel lays the groundwork for future student research in physics and paired perfectly with his longtime interest in motorsports, specifically Formula 1. A student in Susquehanna’s 3+2 engineering program and an ROTC cadet, Huber-Feely plans to defer his enrollment in Washington University in St. Louis’ engineering program until after he has served his military service. He will be commissioned in May into active-duty field artillery with a branch detail to military intelligence. After completing the program, Huber-Feely hopes to begin a career with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory or Lockheed Martin.

Economics major examines factors influencing rookie NFL salaries

Brian Strother '24 Brian Strother ’24Have you ever wondered how National Football League teams determine how much to pay their players? Brian Strother ’24, an economics major from Levittown, Pennsylvania, set out to determine just that by looking into what variables may have an impact on the first-year income of 2022 NFL draftees.

“I originally wanted to look at how injuries affect salaries, but as I did more research, I realized there were more significant factors at play,” Strother said.

Strother examined pick number, height, weight, age, games played, years as a starter, injury count, and rushing attempts, yards and touchdowns for several hundred defensive and offensive players and quarterbacks.

He also looked at receptions, solo tackles, interceptions and sacks for defensive players; receptions for offensive players; and pass attempts, passing yards, touchdowns and interceptions for quarterbacks.

Not surprisingly, he found that the lower the player’s pick number the higher that player’s salary. He also found that years played as a starter (in college) significantly impacted a player’s NFL salary — by $4.7 million for defensive players, $4 million for offensive players and $8.4 million for quarterbacks.

In the case of quarterbacks, years played as a starter, combined with value added by rushing attempts and value lost by the player’s pick number, accounted for 99% of the player’s salary, with the remainder determined by other factors.

Strother, a former high school football player, said his research deepened his interest in data analytics, a career he plans to pursue upon graduation.

Student uses radar to uncover Susquehanna’s lost building

Yazmin O'Neal-Sloane '24 with Ahmed Lachhab, associate professor of earth & environmental sciences. Yazmin O'Neal-Sloane ’24 with Ahmed Lachhab, associate professor of earth & environmental sciences.Yazmin O’Neal-Sloane ’24, an earth & environmental sciences major from Carlisle, Pennsylvania, dug into Susquehanna’s history when she used ground-penetrating radar to search for remnants of Gustavus Adolphus Hall. The building once stood on the land between Bogar and Selinsgrove halls — and its remains now lie below it after the building was destroyed by fire in 1964.

“I wanted the opportunity to learn how to use ground-penetrating radar, and this idea appealed to me because it allowed me to explore some of the history of Susquehanna,” she said.

O’Neal-Sloane began her research with an interview with Donald Housley, professor emeritus of history at Susquehanna University, who shared the details of the Nov. 9, 1964, fire. It is believed to have started in the basement of the building due to faulty wiring. Firefighters, assisted by the students themselves, fought the blaze for more than three hours until fire ultimately broke through the building’s roof.

Using ground-penetrating radar, O’Neal-Sloane discovered the entire south wall of the building, remnants of the stair foundation and fragments of a protruding entrance — all buried about 30 inches below the ground’s surface.

Weather was O’Neal-Sloane’s biggest challenge.

“The GPR is very sensitive to water and moisture,” she said. “Even leaves can present a problem, so it took some time to find a day in February in which weather conditions allowed us to do the work.”

Having grown up in the Cumberland Valley, O’Neal-Sloane said she was always interested in understanding the water systems around her and how the surrounding mountains were formed. She hopes to pursue a career with Pennsylvania’s departments of forestry or agriculture.

History major studies Gettysburg’s Civil War monuments

James Welsh '24 James Welsh ’24Gettysburg National Military Park is home to more than 1,300 monuments commemorating the pivotal Civil War battle. James Welsh ’24, a history major from Hackettstown, New Jersey, set out to determine the meaning behind when the U.S. chose to start erecting those monuments.

Funding for Gettysburg’s monuments began through grassroots fund-raising, Welsh said. Later, individual states that fought in the battle contributed $1,000 per regiment — a formula that naturally determined larger monuments for states with greater representation at the battle.

The majority of the monuments at Gettysburg were placed between the 1880s and 1920s. Welsh compared this to Revolutionary War monuments and found that the majority of those were also erected during the same years.

“Prior to the Civil War, few monuments were built to commemorate the past,” Welsh said. “The rise of Union and Confederate organizations from the 1880s to the 1920s allowed for the dedication of Gettysburg monuments, providing future Americans with the symbolic sources needed to learn and understand the history — not only of Gettysburg but of the way historic preservation plays a role in American history.”

Following graduation, Welsh has plans to work at Waterloo Village Historic Site, Stanhope, New Jersey, with an ultimate goal to return to Gettysburg National Military Park as a historian.

How humor impacts mental health

Pat Cross '24 Pat Cross ’24Gallows humor is the use of “dark” jokes to alleviate the pressure in a likely already difficult situation. Pat Cross ’24, a psychology major from Middletown, New Jersey, wanted to find out how humor impacts mental health.

“Humor serves as a powerful tool, bringing people together, offering an emotional release in times of stress and even aiding in coping with difficult situations,” he said. “We wanted to know whether those experiencing poorer mental health lean toward darker humor as a coping mechanism, while those with better mental health gravitate toward lighter, more carefree jokes.”

Cross and his co-researchers drafted their own dark and light jokes. Though they found no significant interaction between self-reported mental health status and humor choice, they did find that overall, those who reported poor mental health tended to like light and dark humor.

“I think that just tells us that humor in general can be a helpful coping tool when facing the trials of life,” Cross said.

Cross plans to attend graduate school after graduation on his way to a career in organizational psychology.