By Aneesh Karuppur (III)
On April 15, the sixth annual Pingry Research Exhibit, organized by Dr. Colleen Kirkhart this year, featured student-led and student-performed research and engineering projects. New this year were the humanities and social sciences exhibits, which added to the already existing sciences, technology, and engineering exhibits. Overall, the event was a big hit for all, and many visiting scientists were impressed with the sheer amount of novel ideas Pingry students and faculty have come up with this past year.
Kelli Gomez (VI), the head of Journal Club, opened the exhibit with a keynote describing new developments in research on pain management and her own personal connection to this topic after witnessing her mother’s difficult battle with pain following a car accident. Afterwards, parents, siblings, teachers, and students were invited to tour the various exhibits on display in the hallways and classrooms around the school.
The Independent Research Team (IRT) groups, composed of small 4-5 person teams that work on original research projects in various areas of the sciences, sometimes in conjunction with college researchers, shared the results they have gathered in the past year. In addition to presenting posters, several teams also had interactive activities for the visitors, such as showing them how to use an in-house-assembled microscope that tracks algae movements in three dimensions, how to dye fish using tapioca pearls with different color stains, and how to differentiate fruit fly traits under a microscope. Students Modeling a Research Topic (SMART) Team displayed a 3-D printed model of the protein they would be presenting at a national conference, and FYI Sci ran several kid-friendly demonstrations about basic science concepts and played science-related movies. Journal Club, which helps prepare students and faculty to present and discuss research papers every Thursday morning at 7:30, had a few of their past student presenters explain their papers to visitors. AP Biology classes presented their Masters projects in the upper halls of the exhibit, and Research Classes displayed their projects in the lower halls of the exhibit.
Humanities IRT presented their research on various topics like looking at evolutionary biology through the lens of children’s stories, the evolution of Communism, Game Theory, economic self-interest, altruistic punishment, and an analysis of William Faulkner’s writings.
In the technology and engineering section, Computer Science classes used the Student Technology and Publishing Center to demonstrate their programs, which included complex concepts like Artificial Intelligence and Neural Nets. In the Hyde and Watson Gymnasium, the Robotics club set up their numerous championship-winning robots next to a drone built by the IRT Swarm Robotics team.
To close this busy and exciting day, Brooke Conti ’09 delivered a keynote discussing the importance of basic research on the lab bench and how it has helped her in pursuing her doctorate degree at Rockefeller University.
In total, the over twenty exhibits about a range of interesting topics inspired many great minds, young and old alike. It is clear indeed that research exhibit will continue to showcase the ingenuity of Pingry students and faculty in the coming years.