Fish, wine, and social media: Hazleton virtual research fair winners announced

HAZLETON, Pa. — Wine, fish, and excessive use of social media were a few of the topics that earned students top honors in Penn State Hazleton's first-ever virtual Undergraduate Research Fair.

The winners were recently announced following a nearly week-long judging period.

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, this year's fair shifted from its usual face-to-face format to a virtual setting. Students created posters for their projects and uploaded them to Canvas for review. They were also given the option to record an oral presentation through Zoom.

Understanding that the transition to a virtual format may have kept students from having access to all the campus resources they might typically use, several first-place awards were issued, said Ellen Raineri, assistant teaching professor of business and chair of this year’s event.

Despite the unexpected adjustment to a virtual environment due to the pandemic, Raineri believes the fair was a success because it gave students an outlet to present their research while ensuring the safety of everyone involved.

"Students who engaged in research throughout the semester had the opportunity to display their research in a platform that closely emulated the face-to-face research fair," Raineri said. "The virtual research fair provided spectators and judges with the convenience of being able to view posters from their homes and at any time of the day."

In all, six of the seven projects submitted were named winners.

Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences:

Science, Engineering, Technology and Math (STEM):

In addition, three winners were selected for the University Libraries' Undergraduate Research Award: Excellence in Information Literacy:

  • First place: Nicole Fisher, “A Behavioral Economic Demand Analysis of Breastfeeding.”
  • Second place: Ashley Morales, “DNA Barcoding and Fish Identification: Testing Feasibility for Flathead Catfish Diet Analysis.”
  • Jasmel Ramos Martinez, “Excessive Social Media Use and Delay Discounting in College Students: Role of Gender.”