RCAC Showcases Breadth of Merrimack College’s Community of Scholars

The public was invited to learn about the latest original research conducted by members of the Merrimack community.
Merrimack College celebrated the academic work of its students, faculty and staff at the annual Research and Creative Achievement Conference held on May 2.

Nearly 240 students presented their academic achievements to the public during Merrimack College’s Research and Creative Achievement Conference held on May 2. Posters outlining original studies, writings, data collection, hypotheses and conclusions lined the Multipurpose Room at the Sakowich Campus Center.

Among the student presenters was Noël Riley ’22, M’23, who will receive her graduate degree in athletic training. She profiled her work tending to a college soccer player who injured her toe. Through the course of care, it was discovered the patient had broken and dislocated her toe and underwent external fixation surgery to stabilize the joint.

“I helped with pain modulation with ice and massage,” Riley explained. “I realized she needed to go to an MRI because she wasn’t improving. I have never seen an injury like that before or the treatment, and to see how it was handled from the beginning was very interesting.”

Mysia Perry M’23, currently finishing her second year in Merrimack’s higher education graduate program, examined the importance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in higher education.

“HBCUs provide a holistic model for education through its Greek life, networking opportunities and development of the student as an individual,” she said. “They are typically mindful of social justice issues and it’s tied to all aspects of student life. And it’s not only for Black students – HBCUs offer a positive experience for all students that keep them fully engaged and prepared for life outside of college.”

At the Center for Innovation and Research, engineering students presented their capstone projects to a collection of peers, professors and family members.

Civil engineering students Paul Cromwick ’23, Robert Danehy ’23, Jaden Kamm ’23, and Daniel Lignos ’23, and Ashley Ryan ’23 presented their plans for a hypothetical extension to the Blue Line T station at Park Street in Boston. Meanwhile, Yash Nandwana ’23 of the mechanical engineering program, showed off his computerized drink dispenser and mixer.

“I was incredibly impressed with the depth of work presented by our students and I am grateful to the faculty who guided them,” said John “Sean” Condon, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “The RCAC is a testament to our strength in student-led research and creative endeavors.”

The celebration of Merrimack’s community of scholars kicked off earlier in the afternoon with the 20th annual Tolle Lege reception. Over 140 published pieces written by more than 80 faculty members, students and alumni were inducted into the collection of published Merrimack authors. At the reception in the McQuade library, one professor from each of the College’s five schools was invited to speak about their work.

Ruth McKenzie of the Winston School of Education and Social Policy, wrote four research articles in the past year on cognitive aging. Her work focuses on 700 pairs of male twins who served in the military during the Vietnam War. The study originally began in the early 2000s when the subjects’ average age was 55 years old.

While researching, McKenzie said she realized “how important all of the other domains of health and quality of life are, especially how they impact and how they are affected by cognition.

“I’ve done some work with physical functioning and physical activity” she continued. “But I’ve also recognized that social connections are really important as are the pursuit of meaningful activities.”

Gwyne White, representing the School of Liberal Arts, discussed her research in an urban middle school as part of a three-year, social-emotional learning intervention.

“We suggested the mechanism of change was through discipline,” she explained. “You could see that as the school shifted from a mindset of punishment – ‘you are a bad kid, we are failing, you are failing us’ – to, ‘we’re going to help you achieve, we’re going to work together, we’re going to learn and grow,’ then you’ll see this pattern of change in academic grades.”

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