UB holds 14th annual Celebration of Student Academic Excellence

Students present and discuss research projects


Hundreds gathered in the Center for the Arts for UB’s 14th annual Celebration of Student Academic Excellence on Thursday. The event featured undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of disciplines presenting posters that highlighted their research and creative projects. An awards ceremony hosted by President Satish Tripathi and Vice President for Student Life A. Scott Weber followed.

“[These students] have demonstrated outstanding achievement in the classroom and beyond,” Weber said as he announced the recipients of the SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Student Excellence.

Senior computer science major Devashish Agarwal, recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award, said he felt a great amount of “pride” and “humility” winning the award.

“Some of the best people of the university get nominated for [the award], and I am glad I was able to represent the university at the SUNY level,” Agarwal said.

Senior chemistry major Alex D’Arpino said it was a “huge honor” to receive the Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

“The email notification that I was selected to be a fellow came in at about 1:30 a.m. in the morning,” D’Arpino said. “It was tough celebrating by myself when my whole apartment was asleep.”

D’Arpino will receive up to a combined $138,000 in total aid from the award to help finance his graduate studies.

Third-year counseling psychology Ph.D student Monica Johnson received an Award of Distinction for her research on African-American women in academia.

Her research revealed a link between African-American women who are more aligned to the dominant culture and have a higher level of religious commitment with stronger academic skills. The results add to the “current and contradictory” research involving factors that influence college success for African-American women, according to Johnson.

“African-American women are the most educated group by minority status, however not a lot of research goes into what proponents make that so,” Johnson said.

Johnson said it felt “awesome” to receive an Award of Distinction.

Hiu Ying Or, a junior nursing major, completed two research projects which she presented at the poster celebration. Her first project, “Effects of an Email Delivered Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia in College Students with Insomnia,” tried to see if email therapy could work as well as in-person therapy to combat sleep deprivation in college students.

The study revealed that after the online intervention, college students’ sleep quality, sleep hygiene and sleep attitudes improved daytime sleepiness.

“We found out it’s just as effective as in-person, and it’s also cost-effective and able to reach out to a bigger audience. It’s a great method to help with insomnia,” Or said.

For her second project, Or used the same data to see how alcohol consumption impacts students’ sleep patterns. The study found an association with alcohol consumption and poor sleep hygiene as well as morning sleepiness.

Or said completing two large research projects as a nursing student was time consuming, but it was worth the extra effort because she is “really passionate” about research.

“Research is something very interesting and not a lot of [undergraduates] know about it,” Or said. “It’s a very big accomplishment, because we do spend a lot of time in the research setting, so to be able to find the results and present them to a large audience is like the joy of spreading knowledge.”

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