Campus event features student research projects

John Balchak and John Balchak

MESA Program Director Rafael Alvarez helped organize the Sixth Annual Research Symposium held on May 6 in the Gorton Quad, which featured undergraduate student research by more than 250 presenters.

He estimates that there were 70 poster presentations and 30 oral presentations, as well as performances, art displays and a communication showcase.

“Something like this is kinda common in a university,” Alvarez said. “I think, as a community college, we are the only community college that has such an event. They might have parts of this but not something like this.”

The communication showcase, held in D-121a/b, included several PowerPoint presentations such as Amanda Hanna’s entitled “Detrimental Effects of Social Networking Sites.” Hanna cited a recent study that showed those who spend a lot of time browsing the net and social networking sites have high risk of depression.

Political Science major Crystal Browning spoke about student activism and presented the story of the Serbian youth movement Otpor from the University of Belgrade.

Political Science major Crystal Browning spoke about student activism. She presented the story of the Serbian youth movement Otpor from the University of Belgrade, which practiced nonviolent resistance to try to overthrow the former Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic.

“Between 1999 and 2000, 10,000 to 12,000 people were killed in a single year, in a single country,” Browning said. “It was done in what was viewed as an ethnic cleansing. (Otpur) started as a small group of students and they used small techniques and nonviolent protest to get their message across … By gaining society’s acceptance through humor and sarcasm, they were able to get the whole nation behind them.”

City College math professor Misael Camarena mentored Juan Torres, Elizabeth Villasenor and Yessica Green in their poster presentation on the developmental disorder autism.

They included statistics from a 2006 Harvard School of Public Health report which revealed autism’s costs in the United States of over $90 billion annually and over $3.2 million during the average autistic persons lifespan.

The eclectic poster displays ranged from diabetes to cannibalism, smoking prevention to installing a wood floor. Projects on domestic violence and HIV-AIDS contained gripping photos and statistics that brought the full impact of the subject to each viewer. Bio-tech major George Mohr’s presentation on the ancient Aztec plant amaranth included a bag of tiny seeds, which he offered to those who were interested in growing the multi-use crop.

City College professor George Jessup is a member of the symposium’s organizing committee and mathematics mentor. While browsing the poster boards, Jessup spoke about this year’s offering.

“This is the biggest turnout ever,” Jessup said. “We had to turn down some lesser presentations. This was a good year and students need do more research without relying too much on the Internet.”

The performance and spoken word presentations brought an entertaining element to the day. Art, dance, martial arts and poetry were all represented with expert demonstrations by students exhibiting their talent.

The spoken word canopy hosted superb poetry such as “Girls are Smart but Boys are Sly” by Elizabeth Pantoja, “True Beauty” by Sarita Tolbert and “These Old Shoes” by Brittany Heath. Singer Sophia played guitar to accompany her strong voice in a song that brought the event to a close.

“I know that President Burgess is very proud to support this,” Alvarez said. “We refer to this as a signature event for City College and that’s because it really highlights student learning. (The students) are passionate about what they studied, what they researched and learned. I think that really comes across.”