Penn State Altoona students take part in annual undergraduate research fair

Eric Crisp

Engineering student Eric Crisp explains his research on the thermodynamic study of liquid and gel fuels to William White.

Credit: Penn State

Penn State Altoona presented its 15th annual Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Fair (URCAF) Saturday, April 8 on campus.

The fair is a chance for students to share their research projects and other creative activities with friends and family members as well as faculty, fellow students, and staff. Sixty-seven students took part by offering oral presentations, poster presentations and performances in 10 categories including arts and humanities, business, engineering, information technology and performing arts.

"The Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Fair is truly a time of celebration," stated Laura Rotunno, URCAF coordinator. "Presenting students get to talk about their main interests -- interests that they may very well pursue in their further education and careers. They get to talk about their dreams and what consumes their days to people who are really interested. It’s an electric atmosphere because of all this intellectual energy. Faculty, too, get the thrill of seeing how polished and professional their students are becoming, a thrill that reinvigorates their own teaching and research."

Angela Spagnoli, a senior environmental studies major, has participated in the fair for three years, winning first place in her category each year. "As a student immersed in research, my professors have offered me every opportunity to prepare for my future through conducting research. The fair gives young researchers a chance to share their dedication and hard work on projects they have grown incredibly passionate about. It's just one more step toward creating a future we dream of, and Penn State Altoona gives us the tools we need to achieve them."

The Undergraduate Research And Creative Activities Fair is funded by the Penn State Altoona Honors Program. First-, second-, and third-place winners receive a monetary award. Winners of each category are listed below.

Performance & Exhibition Winners

1st place: Emily Beam – “Da Vinci at the HeART of Anatomy”

2nd place: Aaron James & Leila McCrumb – Performance of Act II Scene I from Same Time Next Year

3rd place: Ger Ogot – “Doubting Thomas”

Oral Presentation Winners

Computing and Information Technology   

1st place: Andrew Kurtz, Joseph Pfeffer, & Hannah Roddy – “Desktop Visualization Evaluation”

2nd place: Jessica Seifer & Michelle Colucci – “Security Risk Analysis Internet of Everything Dashboard”

3rd place: Andrew Kurtz, Joseph Gualdoni, & Ilva Myzyri – “The Step”

Arts & Humanities

1st place: Henry Baust – “The Art That Dignifies You: Medieval Martial Arts and Modern Reconstruction”

2nd place: Olivia Wertz – “Temporary Roadblocks: How Mental Illness Disrupts the Characters’ Coming of Age in The Bell Jar and The Catcher in the Rye”

3rd place: Jacquelyn Tew – “Victorian Tea Set”

Poster Presentation Winners

Engineering and Computing and Information Technology

1st place: Stephen Moxim & Curtis Bell – “Opportunities in Nanowire Production through Impure Aluminum Oxide Templates”

2nd place: Evan English & Dan Stacey – “A New Framework for Business Applications of Cloud Computing”

3rd place: Matt Littler & Eric Crisp – “Investigation of Cylindrical Coefficient of Restitution (CCOR) and Dynamic Stiffness of Baseballs”

Physical Sciences

1st place: Angela Spagnoli – “The Use of LiDAR Data Sets and Stochastic Depression Analysis to Predict the Locations of Vernal Pools”

2nd place: Nathan Moyer – “Collection of water quality data, Juniata River watershed, Blair County Pennsylvania”

3rd place: James Pence & Kevin Zhang – “Preparation of Dilignol Model Compounds”

 Social and Behavioral Sciences

1st place: Sierra Satterfield – “Application of the Death Penalty Among Racial Minorities in the United States”

2nd place: Victoria Denz – “Combating Proactive Interference in Visuospatial Working Memory”

3rd place: Aaron Artz – “Occupation and the Death Penalty”

Health, Life & Behavioral Sciences

1st place: Sydney Fochler – “Effects of Exercise on Anxiety Behaviors in Zebrafish”

2nd place: Tracie Cobb Irvin & Victoria Gould – “Assessing Spatial Learning and Memory in Small Squamate Reptiles”

3rd place: Rebecca Luft – “The influence of fish odor on the dispersal behavior of an invasive snail”


1st place: Jacob Vaughn -- “Conservation and Perception of Pennsylvania Snakes: Juniata Valley Audubon Society and Shaver's Creek Environmental Center, Petersburg, PA”

2nd place: Jonathan Willett -- “Rethinking a Security System to Prevent the Hacking of Your Car

3rd place: Kayla Holliday “Corrections, Gender, and Rehabilitation: State Correctional Institute Rockview.”

The University Libraries Award for Information Literacy: 
Sierra Satterfield – “Application of the Death Penalty Among Racial Minorities in the United States"