Trinity Students Display Summer Research at Annual Symposium

Students Conducted Research with Professors from Wide Range of Disciplines

​Hartford, Connecticut, October 10, 2017 – Trinity College students who conducted research over the summer recently had the chance to share some of their findings in a symposium that was open to the entire campus community. The posters displayed in Mather Hall on September 26 as part of the Thirteenth Annual Summer Research Symposium represented the collaborative work of students and faculty from Trinity’s departments of biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, environmental science, mathematics, neuroscience, physics, and psychology.

Kun Chen ’18 and Fabiana Guajardo ’20 presented their work at Trinity’s Summer Research Symposium. Photo by Noelle Lucien ’20.
Kun Chen ’18 and Fabiana Guajardo ’20, who worked in Professor of Engineering Taikang Ning’s lab, conducted research on the topic, “Automatic Detection of Heart Sounds with Clicks and Murmurs.” Guajardo said, “We created an algorithm using ‘MATLAB,’ a math and engineering computer program that’s able to detect heart sounds with clicks and murmurs.”

Chen explained that the goal of their work is to create an electric stethoscope that can register heartbeats and graph them. Chen said, “This tool would be able to make a graph of the sounds, and rather than just depending on hearing the sounds, you could see them, too. This tool could detect very close noise distinctions—such as closing of the valves—that a doctor may not be able to detect just through hearing.”

Chen and Guajardo also wrote a paper on their research which they will present this fall in Shanghai, China, at the 10th International Congress on Image and Signal Processing, BioMedical Engineering and Informatics. Ning said, “It’s quite an achievement for undergraduates to publish a technical paper in a selective conference.”

​Julia R. Clapis ’18 displayed her research at the symposium. Photo by Noelle Lucien ’20
Julia R. Clapis ’18 presented a poster that displayed her work, “Effect of Supported Bilayer Composition on Function in Microfluidic Devices,” which she conducted with Assistant Professor of Chemistry Michelle L. Kovarik last summer. Kovarik and her students are trying to measure single cells one at a time using tiny channels to contain the cells and their contents. To keep the cells from sticking to the channel, the students coat the channels with lipid bilayers, which are thin fatty layers similar to the outside of a cell. Clapis is trying to determine the best lipids to use for this application. Clapis said that there were many steps to her research process. “I approached this in two ways: First by studying the effect that the purity of the lipid has on the bilayer effectiveness; and also by studying the effect of net charge of the bilayer,” she said. Clapis and her fellow research students are the only students at a primarily undergraduate institution doing these kinds of single-cell experiments.

Science Center Director Alison Draper said that after all the summer research is displayed, the abstracts get posted to the Trinity archives. Draper encourages her first-year students to come to this symposium in order to see the research other students are doing. “They are amazed by the amount of content and results they are finding,” Draper said. “They never believe that they will be able to do this in the future. However, by the next year, they are also standing in that same position presenting their findings.”

Draper said that the summer symposium is a smaller version of the larger research symposium held in May. “We realized that it would be good to have a time for students to discuss their summer research without having to wait almost a year,” Draper said. In the May symposium, any students who did research during the previous year, including updated results on their summer research, may present their findings.

For more information about Trinity’s Interdisciplinary Science Center, click here.

Written by Dana Martin ’18


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