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Three students participate in summer research internships through Morrisville State College

Franci Valenzano, Public Relations

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Chapman, Kenneth P

It wasn’t the usual summer for Margaret Collins. The Morrisville State College student took a break from her part-time job scooping ice cream and bagging sugary confections to learn about chloride mass balance in lakes.

For 10 weeks, Collins, an individual studies student, was immersed in a paid research internship that measured chloride levels in Cazenovia Lake.

It was a rewarding tradeoff for the Morrisville resident, one of 66 SUNY students selected to participate in summer research internships in Neuroscience, Energy & the Environment (STEM), through the SUNY Networks of Excellence.

The program, administered by the Research Foundation for SUNY, involves students conducting research alongside faculty members to gain hands-on experience in their fields of study. Students received a stipend for their participation.

Collins teamed up with Nathan “Gabe” Armatas, former MSC assistant professor of chemistry, from Skaneateles, who rose to the volunteer opportunity to mentor her through their project titled, “Mass Balance Assessment of Chloride in Cazenovia Lake Watershed Using STELLA and Modelling Software.”

Also selected from MSC was Jacob Keefner, an engineering student from Valley Falls. Keefner and Alexander Adhyatman, a physics and mathematics major from Stony Brook University, worked with Matthew Civiletti, of Cazenovia, MSC assistant professor of physics, on a project titled, “Modern Constraints on Single-field Inflation Models in Light of Planck 2015 and BICEP2.”

Their project focused on cosmology (how the universe evolves over time on a large-scale) and inflation research.

“The SUNY Networks of Excellence allow us to offer students unique opportunities to be on the cutting edge of new research and innovation. The research these students are a part of has the potential to transform highly specialized fields. These unique summer internships prepare SUNY students for college and career success,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher.

“Working together with faculty on a research project can be a life-changing opportunity for students—opening their eyes to new fields, new ideas, and the potential for discovery,” said Alexander N. Cartwright, SUNY provost and executive vice chancellor, and interim president of the Research Foundation for SUNY. “The summer research programs offered through the networks are part of SUNY’s applied learning commitment, preparing students for success in today’s global economy.”

They also offered a chance for Collins, Keefner and Adhyatman, to broaden their horizons outside of the classroom.

“Dr. Civiletti presented this (internship program) in class and it seemed like a great opportunity to expand my education,” Keefner said.  “It opened up a lot of new interests and things I would not have been exposed to otherwise.”

“This research program was a way for me to gain insight into what I may be doing in the future as a career,” Adhyatman said.

As for Collins, “It was a test to see if I wanted to pursue research and hard science,” she said.

Students spent a portion of their time working independently on their projects and the rest meeting with faculty who mentored them throughout the program.

“The important aspect of student research is it is independent, flexible and self-driven,” Armatas said.

“It was fantastic working with Dr. Armatas,” Collins said. “Every question I had, he helped me find the answers.”

In addition to assistance from professors, students relied on research and other sources, including valuable laboratory lessons.

“I already had a guide when it came to performing filtrations,” Collins said. “We had done this in one of our labs so I had the background knowledge and skills to be able to do it.”

Students agree the summer program augmented their educational experience in multiple ways.

“This was a great opportunity for me,” Collins said. “Anyone who has a chance to do an internship should do one. It was a chance for me to get a taste of what I could do and what my experience could evolve into.”

“This involved a lot of critical analysis and immersed me into the field and helped me grow as a physicist,” Adhyatman said.

It also helped to enhance their resumes. “I want to build up a good research resume for grad school,” Adhyatman said.

Professors also benefited from the experience.

“Problem-solving is something I try to emphasize in the classroom, because any real-world application of physics requires this skill,” Civiletti said. “This program helped me learn to teach this skill more effectively, which I can apply to the classroom and to research.”

Student participants are required to complete program surveys and submit a final report and may be invited to present or speak about their experience at various events

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Morrisville State College
Three students participate in summer research internships through Morrisville State College