2021 Summer Researchers Address World Problems

Do masks hurt athletic performance? How worried are New Yorkers about boarding crowded subways and buses? What are some ways people can foster community during these uncertain times?

Students doing summer research in 2021 want answers to the many questions raised during the COVID-19 pandemic. Projects this year also address pressing societal issues such as crime prevention and the environment.

Fortunately, the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines this spring allowed many projects in the Jasper Summer Research Scholars program to be completed on campus. On September 30 at 4 p.m. in Kelly Commons, students will present their research findings in person to faculty and students.

  • Crime Prevention

    police department van in front of precinct
    O'Malley School of Business
    Alba Marsela 22 is studying how certain U.S. economic policies from the past 25 years prevent crime, and whether these policies benefit or hinder the nation’s criminal justice system. With assistance from economics and finance professor Natalia Boliari, Ph.D., Marsela is using O’Malley Library resources to study policy documents and reports from the National Institute for Justice and the Urban Institute Research Center, as well as other government and non-government organizations. Marsela is an economics major and global studies co-major.
  • New York City Transit

    subway pulling into outdoor train station on sunny day
    School of Engineering

    Civil engineering Christian DeNave ’22 is researching how COVID-19 has impacted people’s willingness to use New York City transit and their reliance on its buses and trains. Under the guidance of professor Matthew Volovski, Ph.D., DeNave is surveying residents on how their transit use has changed since the pandemic began. He modeled his research after a similar study conducted by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), which collected data on the social inequities that exist in the city, and whether transit concerns vary by New York City neighborhood and demographic group.

  • Face Coverings During Exercise

    young woman runs on treadmill wearing face covering
    School of Education & Health
    Mask requirements in gyms and other public spaces inspired exercise science major Rachel Criss 23 to study the potential impact of face coverings on athletic performance. Earlier this summer, Criss and Kinesiology professor Lisa Toscano, Ed.D., invited 11 participants to endure a physical test measuring their cardiovascular fitness. For both trials held in Draddy Gymnasium, they logged the distance each participant was able to run while wearing a mask and without. Their trials also collected each participant’s resting, exercise and recovery heart rates, and their level of perceived exertion. The research will conclude with an analysis of the data Criss and Toscano collected on site.
  • Public Art for Community

    two young women standing in front of mural on sunny day
    School of Liberal Arts

    Isabelle Gutierrez 23 is interviewing residents of Serviam Gardens, a nearby low income senior living community, and Concourse House, a homeless shelter also in the Bronx, about public artwork currently on display there. Gutierrez, an English major, is seeking to discover the ways in which art created by the residents  rather than by a well-known artist who was commissioned for the project — has created a sense of community, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Guterrez’s summer research adviser is art history professor Marisa Lerer, Ph.D.

  • A Greener Way to Create Nylon

    man with blond hair performing experiment in science lab
    School of Science
    Environmental science major Nicholas Malgioglio 23 spent his summer in Hayden Hall, where he was in the lab testing a more environmentally conscious method for producing nylon, a material used in carpets and clothing, among other goods. Malgioglio is using oil derived from waste resources by biology major Melanie Yunga 23, who is researching how to make soap from plant compost. His adviser on this project is Julian Silverman, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry.
By Christine Loughran