UD’s Hanson lands internship at Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research

April 16, 2013 under CANR News

UD student Sierra Hanson interns at Tri-State Bird Rescue and ResearchUniversity of Delaware student Sierra Hanson likes to vary her interests each semester and now, having volunteered at and secured a summer internship with Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research, that interest is birds.

Hanson, a junior majoring in wildlife conservation in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said that while last spring she was interested in herpetology — doing a lot of hands-on work in her class with salamanders, snakes and turtles — she is now in full bird mode. “Birds are definitely right up there in my interests, it really just depends on what I’m doing at the moment,” said Hanson.

Volunteering for Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research since last fall, Hanson — who is also an Ag Ambassador, a Blue Hen Ambassador and a founding member of the Entomology Club at UD — said that she is at the Newark center most Saturdays and Sundays from 1-6 p.m. Hanson admits that while she hasn’t “been volunteering there for very long, I still feel like I know my way around because I’ve been there so frequently.”

While on the job, Hanson does a lot of husbandry work, cleaning up cages and scrubbing down equipment, but she also gets to do many activities directly with the birds.

Among the more memorable experiences for Hanson were when she got to handle a red-shouldered hawk, and when she traveled into Pennsylvania to rescue an owl that had lodged itself in the chimney of a house.

“I took all my gear out there and I caught their screech owl. They had made it seem like it was a great horned owl so I was really prepared for this giant monster, and then there’s just like this little tiny owl,” said Hanson. “There was nothing wrong with him but we took him back [to the organization’s center] and made sure he was all good because in a chimney he could have inhaled ash and his whole plumage could have been messed up. We gave him the once over, he was good and I brought him back to that neighborhood that week and released him.”

Hanson was also recently trained as a bird care assistant, so she is now able to tube feed the birds and administer medication to those in need.

Even when she is doing the husbandry work, Hanson said she likes it because she knows “even if I’m only mopping floors one week, I’ve indirectly helped that bird to get back on the wing.”

Her favorite part of the job is when she gets to help release a bird that has been in the rescue center. “We released an eagle in January and that was just really cool to put the eagle down in the field and then watch it fly away,” said Hanson. “It’s kind of bittersweet because you’re like, ‘Oh, I loved you, but now you’re better and you can go and fly and that’s great.’ But I think that’s the best part, just making a difference and making the birds able to go back out into the wild and live their full lives.”

Hanson is also learning her fair share about birds, specifically that old sayings and habits may not always be correct. For instance, Hanson said that the phrase “eats like a bird” is misleading as it implies that birds eat very little when “in reality, birds eat a ton. They have to expend a lot of energy when they’re flying.”

Hanson said that with hatching season right around the corner, usually lasting from late spring to late summer, she will get to see firsthand how much they eat as there will be baby birds who must be fed every 20 minutes.

She also has come to realize through her work that when she and her mother used to feed ducks at the local library, they may not having been helping the ducks as much as they thought. While feeding the ducks was fun she now understands one “should never feed ducks bread because it’s really unhealthy for them.”

The amount of care that goes into an animal rehabilitation center was also eye opening for Hanson. “You just don’t realize the wide variety of foods that the birds eat and then also the different types of care that you have to give them while they’re in human custody and are being rehabilitated.”

She said that it’s not just Tri-State but other rehabilitation centers that need all sorts of help and various donations to keep them going. “A lot of different work and different donations go into these places, so they really do need as much help as we can give them.”

For UD students interested in volunteering, Hanson said that she would recommend it. “I wish I had started when I was a freshman or a sophomore because I’m a junior now and I’m getting a lot of experience. I wish that I had started earlier just so I could be further into the process at this point,” said Hanson.

She noted that the center is only about four miles from the UD main campus, off Possum Park Road near the Paper Mill Road intersection, so students can reach it easily.

Article by Adam Thomas

Photos by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.


Grad students work with distribution center to lower electric bill

December 20, 2012 under CANR News

UD Grad students help D&S lower lighting billUniversity of Delaware graduate students Monali Phukan and Qiang Li worked this semester at a warehouse owned by D&S Warehousing Inc., a full service distribution center in the Newark area, in an effort to solve a logistical problem for the company.

After discussing options with Stephen Dawson, president of D&S, the two decided to look at the lighting system in one of the warehouses with a goal of creating a model to show how the company could lower that building’s monthly electric bill while at the same time increasing luminosity.

The project was part of a class taught by Kent Messer, associate professor in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics.

Phukan explained how she and Li, who are both master’s degree students in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, went about the project. “First we found out the current layout of the lights. That told us the type of lights used and how they were placed,” said Phukan, explaining that they turned off all the lights in the warehouse to gauge the brightness discrepancies between two different types of lights used there — T12 and T5 fluorescent lights.

“T12 uses 200 watts and T5 uses 216 watts. It might look like T12 is better than T5. However, the brightness experiment told us that T5 is twice as bright as a T12, which meant, we could provide 2.2 footcandles of light — as recommended by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) — using fewer T5s,” said Phukan.

Under the current setup, the warehouse’s electric bill is roughly $4,000 a month, about 30 percent of which is used up on lighting. Using the numbers crunched by Phukan and Li, the warehouse’s lighting bill would be reduced to $562 a month, a savings of nearly $800.

The annual savings in one 175,000-square-foot building is $9,600 per year.

In addition to lowering the monthly bill, utilizing the lights in this manner would also improve the lighting in the warehouse, making it easier for workers to see and to operate their equipment.

Dawson said that he had total faith in the numbers presented to him by the students because, unlike someone trying to sell him a product, the only motive the students had was to get a good grade. “The benefit of having UD students come out is it’s totally unbiased,” said Dawson. “There’s no agenda for these students other than doing well in school and understanding what they’re doing.”

He also noted that he was thrilled to see UD students engaged in the Newark community, taking the lessons they learned in the classroom and applying them to real world situations. “I think that this is a model of what should be done at the University. Getting people out into the environment, letting them do something that is real and concrete,” said Dawson. “This is something that’s tangible, that’s actually going to happen. This is not just theory; the work that they did was real work and it’s going to have real value.”

Steve Dawson with the studentsDawson stressed that the project centered on a real business issue that will result in real dollar savings.

While he raved about how the students’ research was going to help his company save on its monthly electric bill, Dawson was quick to point out that the study would have an equal impact in another vital area: employee safety.

“The benefits that aren’t showing up in here is that it’s going to increase safety and it’s going to reduce damage, and those are big concerns in warehousing and distribution,” said Dawson.

This isn’t the first time a student from Messer’s class has taken the knowledge learned in the classroom and applied it to the local community. In 2011, Priyanka Jain, helped the city of Newark optimize its trash collection routes.

Messer said that it is ultimately up to his students to decide what they are going to do with their final project but that he is always thrilled when they go out and help the local community. “In my classes, I encourage my students to extend their academic knowledge to address real world challenges,” he said.  Monali and Charlie’s work is an excellent example of situations that are beneficial for all involved.”

He added, “This example demonstrates the promise of UD and local business working together to both enhance the educational experience and improve the local economy. Not only does the proposed solution save D&S money, but the solution also is environmentally friendly as it will reduce its electricity consumption and help improve worker safety. It has been gratifying to see the excitement of the students be matched by the enthusiasm of D&S.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Photos by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.


Professors, students travel to UFLA; interns selected for collaborative work

April 24, 2012 under CANR News

Three professors and two graduate students from the University of Delaware spent spring break in Brazil, visiting the University Federal de Lavras (UFLA) campus, strengthening the academic and cultural bonds between the two universities and taking in the sites and sounds of the South American nation.

In addition, four UD College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) undergraduate students have been selected for an opportunity to develop international teaching modules in conjunction with professors and students at UFLA and UD, and to visit this University in 2013.

About the UFLA trip

During the spring break trip, the UD delegation spent its time meeting with faculty from UFLA, touring the facilities, teaching classes and taking trips to remote locations ranging from waterfalls to biodiesel factories. They were escorted by Eduardo Alves and Antonia dos Reis Figueira, both professors of plant pathology at UFLA.

Greg Shriver, assistant professor in CANR’s Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology, said he found it to be a very informative trip and found that much of the research being conducted by entomologists at UFLA is similar to research under way at UD.

Talking with Jùlio Louzada, the head of UFLA’s applied ecology department, Shriver said, “They actually have a forest fragmentation study going on in and around Lavras, which is a lot like the study we have going on in and around Newark.”

Shriver and Zach Ladin, a CANR doctoral student, were able to visit part of the Cerrado, a vast tropical savannah ecoregion near the UFLA campus where the study is taking place, and said that the two universities hope to collaborate on their studies regarding dung beetles.

Nicole Donofrio, assistant professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, said she was impressed by the campus, noting that “the academic buildings are gorgeous and equipped with an impressive array of new research equipment,” and added that the trip was crucial in providing strong connections between the two universities for the coming years.

“One of the goals was to make more connections and try to find additional links for people to have ‘sandwich students’ here in the next two years,” Donofrio said. Sandwich students refers to a program established between the universities in which UFLA doctoral students spend one year studying at UD that is “sandwiched” between their studies at UFLA.

Donofrio and Emily Alff, a CANR master’s student, taught a class on fungal transformation for the UFLA students. Alff said that being on the UFLA campus was a tremendous experience. “All the research they do is so applied,” she said. “It really makes you think about the bigger picture of research as a whole.” She added that the food and climate were perfect, saying, “Brazil is just a gorgeous country.”

Tom Powers, assistant professor of philosophy in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and director of UD’s Center for Science, Ethics and Public Policy, said he was impressed by a UFLA practice in which they try to “leave nothing behind.”

Powers joined Donofrio and Alff on a visit to UFLA’s model biodiesel and bioethanol plant, located on the campus. “They use the water from the roof and the parking lot to run a lot of the processes,” he said, adding, “They use everything from, or have the potential to use everything from, fish guts to waste from sugar cane and castor beans. So, in terms of using all of these materials for the production of biofuels, it’s really astounding. And then what they don’t make into biodiesel they make into soap and everything else. They’re really trying to find some use for every byproduct in the production process.”

About the Brazil internships

Four CANR student interns have been chosen for an opportunity to conduct research and teach courses at UFLA.

The four interns who have been chosen for the project are:

  • Sarah Thorne, a junior;
  • Sara Laskowski, a junior;
  • Jacqueline Hoban, a freshman; and
  • Melanie Allen, a junior.

The internship will run from April 2012 through June 2013, with the interns supervised by UD faculty teams.

Hoban said she is looking forward to getting to travel to Brazil, and “excited about getting to work with a lot of interesting people and learning about a wide variety of research topics.” Hoban said that the internship “appealed to me not only because of the exciting travel opportunity, but also because it seemed like a really interesting way to apply the material that I have been studying in class.  The project gives me a different perspective on the subjects that I am interested in learning about. It also opens my mind to the educational aspect of my fields of study.”

Hoban added, “Everyone on the team seems like they have a lot of passion for their research and I cannot wait to work with them.”

The project is led by a faculty team from CANR and CAS and is intended to help build longstanding academic programs and research partnerships with UFLA that will enhance the international nature of curricula in areas of common interest, such as food security, bioenergy animal agriculture and biodiversity.

The project will also aim to stimulate creative thinking in the students who participate about how to develop innovative solutions to complex global agricultural and environmental problems.

There will be a curriculum enhancement portion of the internship, where students will assist faculty on both a part time and eventually a full time basis, and an experiential learning aspect, where the students will travel to Brazil for up to four weeks with UD faculty.

The interns will be responsible for developing a minimum of two teaching modules per course, and the modules will consist of PowerPoint presentations or other innovative learning methods that provide detailed information on the course topics developed by the interns and their faculty advisers.

This new research and teaching project is supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s International Science and Education Program.

Article by Adam Thomas

This article can also be viewed on UDaily


Fabi crowned 2012 Delaware Dairy Princess

April 24, 2012 under CANR News

Amanda Fabi has been named the 2012 Delaware Dairy Princess, an honor befitting a student who spends her time working at the UDairy Creamery and milking cows on the University of Delaware’s Newark farm.

Fabi, who majors in pre-veterinary animal bioscience in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, had to compete against someone very close to home to earn the crown: her sister, Megan. Of vying with her sister for the top prize, Fabi said that there wasn’t so much a sibling rivalry as there was a sibling cooperation. “We were each others support system,” said Fabi. “We helped each other get ready, so it was cool.”

The Felton Delaware native served as the Delaware Dairy Princess alternate last year, and said that the experience helped prepare her as she competed for the Dairy Princess crown. The competition had three categories, with the participants having to do a skit which promoted the dairy industry, followed by an interview and an impromptu question.

Fabi said that she lucked out on the question portion of the competition, as her question was about hormones in milk, a topic she was familiar with having done her freshman research paper on the subject.

As the Delaware Dairy Princess, Fabi was awarded $1,000 to go along with the title and she said that her duties will include going to different events “such as the state fair or to day camps for little kids or elementary schools and basically promoting the dairy industry and explaining to kids exactly where their food comes from when they buy it from the store.”

Fabi said that the summer is a busy time as she has to talk to many 4-H camps and spend lots of time at the Delaware State Fair. There is also Governors Day, where she said she gets to “walk around with the Governor and Miss Delaware and we get our own body guards, it’s pretty cool, you feel important for the day.”

Of her time working at the UDairy Creamery, Fabi said that she loves all the new flavors that the Creamery comes up with, as well as being involved from the start—with the milking of the cows—to the finish, actually getting to sell the ice cream, epitomizing the UDairy slogan “from the cow to the cone.” She says that she is “old fashioned” when it comes to her ice cream flavor selection, with her favorite being butter pecan.

When she is done at UD, Fabi said that she wants to be an animal virologist. “It sounds weird but I like diseases and learning about them and how to prevent them,” said Fabi.

As for studying at UD, Fabi said that she enjoys the “family atmosphere” of her major. “The people within our major are so close and it’s basically like a family,” said Fabi. “We help each other study for exams and for things like organic chemistry, and we can always go to each other and get help with projects and it’s just really nice.”

Article by Adam Thomas


UD senior set to Open Food Cart Business

April 9, 2012 under CANR News

Having secured a space at the Delaware Tire Center across from the University of Delaware’s south Newark campus, UD senior Leigh Ann Tona will be serving up sandwiches to members of the UD and Newark community from her “I Don’t Give a Fork” food cart. If you’re looking for utensils to eat your tasty meal, however, you’re going to have to bring your own.

“I Don’t Give a Fork” will serve up delicious sandwiches, wraps and paninis, all foods designed for patrons to eat with their hands. The business is part of the UDSeed Project, an innovative web platform launched by UD’s Entrepreneurial Studies Program that enables alumni, faculty, staff and community members to participate in the inspiring work that UD students do every day.

Tona, a management major with an entrepreneurial studies minor, said that she got the idea for the food cart when her hometown friend told her about how she worked on a food truck during the summer. Once she heard about the food truck, Tona said that she thought it sounded like a pretty “low cost start up business” that she wanted to explore.

Having wanted to own her own business since she was 13, Tona said that she is excited that an idea hatched in her entrepreneurship classroom has blossomed into an actual business. “It sort of went from being a joking around idea to a project for a class to me saying, ‘you know what, I’ve always wanted to do this so, might as well.’”

As for the attention-grabbing name, Tona said that she and her roommates sat around when they were bored throwing around names just for fun, and that her roommate actually came up with the “I Don’t Give a Fork” moniker. When asked about royalties, Tona said, “She gets free sandwiches for life.”

With regards to the menu, Tona explains that she will serve breakfast sandwiches, such as egg and bacon, egg and cheese, and egg and sausage, in the morning and deli sandwiches at lunch. She will also have a rotating “specialty menu” which will change based on the popularity of certain items.

The specialty menu will include things like “The Mac and Cheesesteak” which, she explained, is exactly as it sounds, a cheesesteak sandwich smothered with macaroni and cheese. She also envisions a sandwich called “The Freshmen Fifteen,” which will be a sandwich stuffed with items like mozzarella sticks, French fries and chicken.

Having worked at the UDairy Creamery for over a year, Tona said she often over hears patrons complain about the lack of food options on the south Newark campus and that they usually order something from Main Street. Tona said that this gets pricey, as a ten-dollar order can quickly turn into a fifteen-dollar order with tip and a delivery charge. “I’m hoping that people will prefer to walk an extra 5 minutes to get a sandwich than pay an extra 5 dollars for delivery,” said Tona.

With her soft opening scheduled for mid-August, Tona said that she plans to open for business in September, with a grand opening taking place when all the students have returned. She is planning on being open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 3 or 4 p.m. and on weekends for special occasions, like football games and other sporting events.

For more information on “I Don’t Give a Fork,” visit the website or Facebook page.

To read about other UDSeed Projects, check out the article on UDaily.

Article by Adam Thomas


UD students raise food items and sculptures for the Food Bank

March 14, 2012 under CANR News

Medical Technology Club


Student groups gathered in the Townsend Hall Commons on Tuesday, March 13, to participate in BlueHensCAN, a creative way to collect much-needed food items and create a spirited competition among UD students in an effort to benefit the Food Bank of Delaware.

UD student teams that registered for BlueHensCAN held food drives and then competed against one another by creating sculptures out of the food items they collected. The teams had the opportunity to work on their structures all day on Tuesday in the Townsend Hall Commons, with judging taking place at 4:30 p.m.

The Medical Technology Club was able to raise 604 pounds for the Food Bank of Delaware, while the NTDT Club raised 148 pounds.

In the end, the NTDT Club took home the awards for “The Best Use of the Food Bank’s Most Needed Items” and the “Best Meal.” While the Medical Technology Club received the “Best Use of Labels” and the “Best in Show” awards.

There is still a chance for the participating clubs to win the “People’s Choice” award, with voting taking place on the CANR Facebook Page until 4:30 p.m., Friday, March 16. The winner will be determined by the group with the most “likes” on their sculpture’s photo.

The team that wins the “People’s Choice” award will receive an ice cream social for their entire group at the UDairy Creamery.


Ashley Fry Prepares for Career in Higher Education

March 6, 2012 under CANR News

As an undergraduate at the University of Delaware, Ashley Fry said that she wanted to study statistics in the Department of Food and Resource Economics in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) because of the plethora of career opportunities it would provide.

Now, as a master’s student studying counseling in higher education in the College of Education and Human Development and working as a graduate assistant in the CANR Office of Academic Programs and Student Services, Fry said that she has her career choice set on working in higher education.

Fry, who graduated in 2010 and also minored in math and business administration, said she hadn’t figured out what she wanted to do with her future until her senior year as an undergraduate, and that the activities in which she participated outside of the classroom fostered her interest in working in higher education.

“I was really involved on-campus as an undergraduate student,” said Fry, who worked in the Admissions office, as a Blue Hen Ambassador tour guide, as a student admissions officer during her senior year, as a new student orientation leader for two summers, and as an Ag Ambassador.

Convinced that she wanted to make a career in higher education, Fry started looking into graduate programs that were related to the field.

She credits Kimberly Yackoski, assistant dean of student services in CANR, and Latoya Watson, undergraduate services coordinator in CANR, for guiding her to graduate school for studies in university administration.

Yackoski suggested that Fry do a discovery learning experience—a requirement for all undergraduate students—in her office.

The experience went so well that Yackoski asked Fry if she would be interested in continuing in the office as a graduate assistant.

“Ashley epitomizes the perfect colleague,” said Yackoski.  “She’s got an amazing work ethic, is forward thinking, and thoughtfully juggles all the roles we play in the office each and every day.”

Said Fry, “I got really lucky that I got to essentially blend my new experiences in my grad program and apply them to the office here, in the college that I had already had such a strong feeling for.”

Talking about her day-to-day routine, Fry said that her main role in the CANR office is that of academic advisement and support. Working in the office has taught her to balance a lot of different projects at the same time, something that she relishes. “On any given day, I could be meeting with a student, I could be in a meeting with people from this office (CANR) or other offices around campus, I could be doing a presentation, or I could be sitting here answering emails.”

Fry said one of her goals in the office is to strengthen the partnership between CANR and the University’s Career Services Center.  “I think that they offer so many wonderful services for students that I really want to make sure that we’re promoting to our students to take advantage of.”

If class and working at CANR weren’t enough of a workload for Fry, she also has an internship at the counseling center as part of her graduate program where she mainly does career-based counseling for clients. So a typical day for her can involve any mix of class, work at the counseling center or work at CANR. “I’m just going back and forth all the time,” she said.

As she prepares to graduate in May with a master’s degree in counseling in higher education, Fry said she is looking forward to starting her professional career, but will also miss CANR, a college with which she had strong ties since before she even stepped foot on campus as a freshman.

“Being a prospective student in high school, I remember calling up my future adviser, Dr. (Tom) Ilvento,” said Fry. “And Dr. (Steve) Hastings was the first person I met here so, even from just being a high school prospective student, I started building relationships with people in the college which have only strengthened and become more meaningful to me through my undergraduate experience and beyond. I’m just really thankful for everything they’ve done for me.”

Article by Adam Thomas


UD students invited to join BlueHensCAN competition, assist Food Bank

February 13, 2012 under CANR News, Events

University of Delaware students who want to earn service hours and prizes through teamwork, creativity and competition while working to make a difference in the community are invited to become part of the BlueHensCAN effort to benefit the Food Bank of Delaware.

Delawareans continue to struggle with the current economic situation. Higher prices have left thousands with the difficult decision – pay the rent or mortgage or buy a bag of groceries. Food drive donations are down while demand is up.

In an effort to help stock the shelves and ensure that hungry Delawareans have access to healthy foods, the Food Bank of Delaware proposes to assist with the creation and facilitation of BlueHensCAN, a creative way to collect much-needed food and create a spirited competition among UD students.

UD student team that register for BlueHensCAN will hold food drives and compete to create sculptures and structures out of the food items collected.

The food drives will take place through Monday, March 12, and all structures will be built at the Trabant University Center during the day on Tuesday, March 13. Judging will take place that evening and awards will be given at an event open to the entire UD community from 6:30-8:30 p.m., March 13.

In addition to prizes, team members can earn service hours for their involvement in BlueHensCAN. Maintain a log of your time on the project and the contest sponsors will sign off on that log during the awards reception. Hours count as service to the Food Bank of Delaware.

Student teams do not have to be comprised of an official UD Greek chapter, registered student organization, athletic team, etc. While participation from the aforementioned groups is encouraged, any assembly of students wishing to create a team is welcome to participate. Official UD student groups may form several teams internally.

For guidelines, rules or requirements, or to register a team, visit the BlueHensCAN website.

Interested teams must register by Thursday, March 1. Questions regarding the competition may be directed to Katy O’Connell, communications manager, UD College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, at kvo@udel.edu or (302) 831-1355.


Senior Thesis Awards enable students to focus on research over Winter Session

January 31, 2012 under CANR News

John Paul Harris, a University of Delaware senior, has spent UD’s Winter Session in the lab, testing the capability of the common, edible, oyster mushroom to remove harmful bacteria such as E. coli from water. He hopes his research will lead to a cheaper, greener way for cattle farmers in his hometown of Exmore, Va., to treat waste water and storm water to meet EPA standards.

Harris, a plant and soil sciences major and Honors Program student, is one of 23 recipients of Winter Session Senior Thesis Awards from the University’s Undergraduate Research Program. The $700 grants have enabled these students to pursue research full-time during Winter Session, Jan. 3-Feb. 4.

“University of Delaware students pursuing a senior thesis have the opportunity to immerse themselves in their scholarship,” says Lynnette Overby, director of UD’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Experiential Learning.

“Under the direction of committed faculty mentors, experiments are completed, chapters are written, and interviews are analyzed. These four weeks provide the time for students to work full time on a capstone activity that will lead to solutions of important disciplinary problems and launch their future as scholars and problem solvers,” Overby says.

After Harris completes his bachelor of science degree, he has his sights set on a doctorate and further exploration of the “treasure trove” of biological processes he says the microbial world can provide humankind.

“My goal in pursuing my Ph.D in microbiology is to elucidate the value of microbes through extensive research into their practical applications and subsequent employment in technology,” notes Harris, who is working under the guidance of Prof. Anastasia Chirnside. “The research I have done so far at the University of Delaware has let me begin doing just that.”

In another lab on campus, psychology major Lisa Dokovna, from Princeton Junction, N.J., is doing research on fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. She got involved in undergraduate research her sophomore year, working in Prof. Mark Stanton’s Developmental Behavioral Neuroscience lab.

Moderate to severe cognitive impairments can occur in children whose mothers consumed alcohol while pregnant. Dokovna wants to understand how such cognitive impairments occur and develop interventions to amelioriate them.

“My experience has motivated me to apply to graduate school to continue research and pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience,” Dokovna says.

Shane Palkovitz, an English major and Honors Program student from Lincoln University, Pa., is in South Africa interviewing individuals who have been displaced from Zimbabwe. His adviser is McKay Jenkins, Cornelius A. Tilghman Professor of English.

One interviewee, who was forced off her family farm in Zimbabwe in 2002, told Palkovitz: “When they took our farm, we left the country. My grandmother would not come. Because of border restrictions, when she was sick, she could not get the medicine she needed, and she died alone on that side.”

Palkovitz says that although a number of factual publications exist on human displacement, his goal is “to add the human element to the statistics.”

“The hope of this research is to give a voice to those who wish to share their stories of displacement,” Palkovitz says. “It has been both an adventure and an honor getting to meet and interview so many amazing people.”

Article by Tracey Bryant

Photos by Evan Krape

This article can also be viewed on UDaily