Merrimack’s Annual Research & Creative Conference Showcases Cutting-Edge Warrior Scholarship

More than 200 students representing all five schools proudly presented at locations across campus research work and projects across various disciplines.
Photo of a student showcasing a poster outlining their senior research project to two people.
The Research and Creative Achievement Conference (RCAC) highlights original studies, writings, data collection, hypotheses and conclusions by Merrimack's upperclassmen.

More than 200 students showcased research projects and creative works from over the past year during Merrimack College’s annual Research and Creative Achievement Conference (RCAC) on May 2.

The event opened with the Department of Visual & Performing Arts’ Student Exhibition in the Rogers Center. The McCoy Gallery showcased sculpture, sheet music and audio recordings of original music, short animation and live-action films, graphic designs and children’s books.

Kristina McCarthy ’24, a music and communications double-major, tracked how Merrimack College’s theater and performing arts program fared financially in the post-pandemic world. Declan Hurley ’24, a U.S. history major with a minor in graphic design, sought to blend his two passions by drafting four potential alternatives of the Massachusetts state flag.

“Early on, I had four designs that I thought were it but I realized I had to research further into American Indian culture,” he said. “I had to start from scratch, and I learned a lot about the people who used to inhabit this land.”

The RCAC poster session, held in the Sakowich Center’s Multipurpose Room, sees undergraduate and graduate students presenting and outlining original research work conducted during the academic year.

Benjamin Berube M’24, currently enrolled in Merrimack’s athletic training graduate program, discussed his use of low-level laser therapy during clinical rotations at Harvard and Holy Cross. Across the room, Caroline Applin ’24, a marketing major, outlined the ins and outs of Starbucks’ ubiquitous brand identity along with her classmates James Comeau ’24, Mike McLaughlin ’24 and Tyler Mitchell ’24.

“We’ve seen no (TV) commercials at all for Starbucks unless it’s in the UK,” she said of the inspiration behind the research. “They only market on social media, and I was confused why they were still the top coffee brand and have such a great brand identity.”

In the School of Arts and Sciences corner, Liz Johnson ’24, a social justice major with a minor in political science, studied the effects of harmful diet cultures on social media users. Also, Alania DiBlasi’s M’24 master’s of social work capstone focused on the self-efficiency and confidence levels of fellow recent social work graduates.

“It was inspired by my internship at Blueskies Behavioral Health Services,” she explained. “I was talking to my supervisor and we found that there were common trends with interns not feeling super confident in the field, especially with talking to clients about complex trauma situations. We were speaking about things she could implement to help these interns.”

Finally, in the late afternoon, students in the School of Engineering & Computational Sciences presented their work at Merrimack’s East Campus buildings.

Over at 510 Turnpike St., Rachel Kunz ’24, Matthew Gilliand ’24 and Caroline Collins ’24 – all data science majors – discussed their project looking for correlations between physical activity, cigarette smoking and depression in adults living with HIV. Next door, at 530 Turnpike St., Arden Dioslaki ’24, a civil engineering major, showed off her catalog of sediment thickness in various states across the U.S.

“We can use this information in studying earthquake ground motions and developing models on how sedimentary basins affect (them),” she stated.

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