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Student, James Fink, using microscope

Student, James Fink, using microscope


Do you know what a tardigrade is and how it acclimates to temperature? A group of students in Biology II can explain it all. During the spring semester, they conducted original research about tardigrades and they are presenting their findings with their classmates and professors this week during Virtual STEM 2020, May The Fourth Be With You.

Student, James Fink, using microscopeJames Fink, a Science major with a concentration in Biology (shown at microscope), John Drazba, Biotechnology major, and Krishna Paul, Biotechnology major, delved into their research. James explained why the group chose to study tardigrades. “We were aware of the popularity that tardigrades hold in the modern scientific scene, but they are made out to be nearly ‘indestructible,’” said James, who plans on studying Evolutionary Biology, earning his Ph.D., and teaching at the university level in the future. “Of course, after discovering that they were  ‘destructible’ in some sense, we set out to see if we could change this by improving on their only weakness. It was our curiosity of knowing if we could improve on a ‘near-perfect’ organism that attributed directly to our question and our hypothesis which resulted in our later conclusion and possible discoveries.”

Other topics that students in Biology 142, Nutrition 161, the College Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP), and The Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) examined include acid rain/pond ecosystems, essential oils/bacterial growth, and biofilms/coffee.

Sandy de Waal Malefyt, an Adjunct Faculty Member in the Division of Math, Science, Technology and Health who teaches Biology courses at the College, said that by setting out to prove their hypotheses through original research, students are growing as scientists.

“Original student research is valuable because students experience the essence of science, the scientific method, on a personal level which deepens their appreciation for past discoveries and connects them to others in their future field.”

John, who plans on pursuing Biology Research for his career, added that the research he and his group conducted throughout the semester opened his eyes to the process. “I learned that research is just that; it’s not a clear-cut path to a solution, there’s re-evaluation and reconsideration after the data starts coming in, which ultimately ends in a refocus and redirection.”

SUNY Schenectady scientists, professors, and mentors, as well as scientists from Regeneron, GE, Rise High, and AMRI, have been invited to lend their scientific view to enhance the student learning experience during Virtual STEM 2020.

Dr. Lorena Harris, Director of the College’s CSTEP and LSAMP programs, noted that there are great benefits to having her students conduct original research. “Critical thinking, reviewing, and revising are fundamental to scientific growth,” she said. “Academic feedback on the students’ research projects allows them to develop into better scientists and build a virtual learning community together.”