Undergraduate Research Awards
Summer 2022 Dyson College Student-Faculty Undergraduate Research Initiatives Awardees
Adam M. Al-Hatlani
Faculty Mentor: Inbal Abergil
Project Title: Bodies at Work
Bodies of Work is a project that explores and documents the lives of sex workers in the LGBTQI+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer, Intersex, Plus) community, specifically members who identify as people of color. The central focus on members of color comes from fetishization and body image and how it ties into the industry they work in. A shared experience that people of color face is an idealization of their bodies through the White gaze. The intention behind this project is to explore how the fetishization of these workers’ bodies works in correlation with their industry and explore the psychological effects it has on them throughout their lives.
Dante D. Dallago
Faculty Mentor: Emily E. Welty
Project Title: Food for Thought – Conflict at the Holiday Dinner Table
This project will consist of a written full length play. I will be creating this play through the investigative theatre method – a style of theatre based in creative inquiry. The content of the play will focus on familial dynamics through the ritual of holiday gatherings around meals. Specifically, looking at when multiple generations of families come together at a table. Holidays tend to be a recognizable cultural symbol in the family, so such family holiday meals become a highlight and flashpoint of culture and conversation.
Faculty Mentor: Joshua E. Cohen
Project Title: In The Search for Late Cretaceous Coprolites and the Determination of Diets in a Terrestrial Ecosystem
One tenant of vertebrate paleontology is to work to improve the fossil records. Terrestrial ecosystems in North America throughout the Cretaceous period are one such record that requires additional attention. The Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolution was a period when ecosystems reformed and angiosperms dominated flora, resulting in the emergence of modem fauna. The evolution of fauna is very important for the research I am planning on conducting. Coprolites are the fossilized feces of animals that lived millions of years ago. They are trace fossils, meaning they do not preserve parts of the animal’s actual body, but instead offer clues about an animal’s diet. I propose to reconstruct Late Cretaceous food webs using coprolites as a proxy for diet. In order to do this, I will collect coprolites from the sites and then analyze them based on morphology, perform CT scans to see what they consumed, and masss spectrometry to look for biomarkers.
Dyson | Biology
Faculty Mentor: Joshua E. Cohen
Project Title: Understanding Faunal Dynamics and Variation During the Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolution
One of the long-term goals in paleontology is towards advancing fossil records. One period of time where the fossil record is poorly resolved is in terrestrial ecosystems amid the Cretaceous period in North America. The Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolution was a time where ecosystems restructured and angiosperms dominated flora leading to the rise of modern fauna. Origins of the Eutherian mammals located in North America are of significant interest as of late. According to the molecular clock hypothesis, modern placental mammals evolved during this time interval. Taking a closer look into the Late Cretaceous might provide a solution to the disparity between molecular and morphological data. Fieldwork can provide vital information that can fill up gaps within the fossil record.
Dyson| Film and Screen Studies
Faculty Mentor: Jillian McDonald
Project Title: The Displaced Generations – A Documentary Short Film About Ukranian Refugees and Their Children
Due to the Ukrainian War, over a million refugees have crossed the border into neighboring European countries. This violent and abrupt end to normalcy forced the displaced Ukrainian people to seek a new place to continue their lives after their homes and livelihoods were destroyed. My biggest concern lies with the children whose lives were changed so drastically by the events occurring around them. I would like to inquire about their experiences fleeing the war, but most importantly, I would like to ask them how they define “home”. While researchers in Australia have taken interest in how children define “home” after a separation or divorce, this idea has not been studied in the context of a refugee crisis. I would like to shed light on this question as well as provide an opportunity for the victims of war to share their stories.
Chris M. Rafaniello
Dyson| Environmental Science
Faculty Mentor: Wei Fang
Project Title: Temporal Dynamics of Trapa Distribution and Habitat Degradation in the Hudson River
The large invasion of non-native vegetation into ecosystems highly contribute to negative environmental changes (Parker et al. 1999; Ehrenfeld 2003; Fang, 2005). However, the magnitude and exact means of the environment degradation it brings is not fully understood (Fang and Wang, 2011; Fang and Wang, 2020). With proper understanding of invasive plant growth greater measures of eliminating and preventing the interference of ecosystem restoration by any number of ways. Firstly, biodiversity can be threatened, as well as introduce inhabitants to new diseases while largely effecting water quality and animals which rely on consistent environmental conditions. The research will attempt to look at our local issues of invasive Trapa Natans and its negative relationship to the restorative Vallisnera Americana and use the findings to further the exploration of invasive vegetation.
Madison A. Turunen
Dyson | History & Peace and Justice Studies
Faculty Mentor: Maria T. Iacullo-Bird
Project Title: COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter Movement Oral History Project
The intention behind this project is to document the historical pattern of epidemics and social unrest in the context of Pace University’s community and Lower Manhattan. By documenting the events while they are still a part of daily life allows history to be written and shaped while the memories are fresh, untouched by time and changed circumstances. Further, oral history allows historians to place personal life narratives at the forefront of documentation. This is important because history is often written regarding the experiences of the affluent members of society, the sensationalism of the media, and following government agendas and decisions. Oral history documents a collection of individuals’ unique experiences to create an understanding of the whole event. Each interview is an hour to an hour and a half long, giving insights into personal interactions and reactions to Covid-19 and the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Kalina M. Walaski
Dyson | Peace and Justice Studies & Acting
Faculty Mentor: Emily E. Welty
Project Title: Investigative Theatre as Pedagogy
This piece will take a deep look at how occasions that are meant to be joyful, often become fraught with conflict. The second part of this project will be a pedagogical reflection on how investigative research works as a research tool and a pedagogical tool. During the spring 2022 semester, I took Dr. Welty’s Activist as Artist, Artist as Activist class and in the class we focused on how art might be used as a peacebuilding practice and we looked at investigative and documentary theatre as avenues to do this. This made me wonder how making theatrical pieces based on direct interviews works as a pedagogical tool that helps us to better understand social justice on a grassroots level.