"Research can create something incredible, and working towards a goal for a project that people care about can make perusing for a book in the library seem like a little adventure.” — Zachary Stockmal
Zachary Stockmal is an Interactive Digital Media major at the Westphal College of Media Arts and Design from the graduating class of 2016. Up until the summer of 2013, he did not have any undergraduate research experience, yet today, research has become an integral part of his life. He began his research experience with the STAR Scholars program, and currently his research has expanded to be featured on numerous websites within the Philadelphia community. Zach’s undergraduate research involves collecting photographs and old documents about historical artifacts, and creating 3D models based on the information he collects to represent the historical artifact. His personal goal is “to become more involved with a field that will focus on getting that information out to people.”
Through the STAR Scholars Program, Zach worked with Dr. Glen Muschio (Digital Media, Westphal College of Media Arts & Design) to create a 3-dimensional model of a historic barn located on the Perkins-Dennis Farm (Susquehanna County, PA) using historical architectural information, archaeological evidence and photographs. Established in 1793 by a free African American, this farm was the oldest piece of privately owned property in African American hands. Zach’s 3D barn model marks the beginning phase of a virtual interactive environment that is being created to interpret and make accessible this historical and archaeological landscape. Zach’s work product has been featured on the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum, and he has had the opportunity to present his research at the National Constitution Center (Philadelphia, PA) and at the 2014 Colonial Academic Alliance Undergraduate Research Conference (Towson, MD).
As a result of his research experience, Zach changed his major from Game Art & Production to Interactive Digital Media, as he realized his passion for making information accessible to wider audiences. About research, Zach claims that “doing research allows you the opportunity to look into things like psychology, sociology, and history while still pertaining to something of worth towards your major.” Zach looks forward to continuing his research endeavors.
Veronika Legkobitova is a Mechanical Engineering Major in the College of Engineering. She is a former STAR Scholar and active student-researcher. She plans to work with biomechanics and her ultimate goal is to pursue robotics in medicine.
Veronika participated in two research projects with the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania. One project involves a manikin prototype for CPR training. The other investigates the effect of the foramen magnum on traumatic brain injury predictions. The project includes using finites element modeling to stimulate traumatic brain injury events. She worked towards creating a more accurate model by testing how the boundary conditions at the foramen magnum, in the skull, affected brain strain.
Veronika has been accepted to present her research at a number of undergraduate research conferences, including the 2013 National Collegiate Research Conference (hosted by the Harvard College Undergraduate Research Association), the National Conference on Undergraduate Research 2013 (hosted by the Council of Undergraduate Research), and the 2013 CUR Posters on the Hill session.
“I have the coolest form of arrested development. Every child at some point wants to dig dinosaurs, work with dinosaurs, or in my generation, visit Jurassic Park. I never had to grow up! I get to work with dinosaurs every day.”
- Aja Carter
Aja Carter is a Biology major specializing in Paleobiology going into her senior year at Drexel. She began her research experience during her freshman year with the STAR Scholars program, but her paleo-career began in kindergarten. Aja told her mother, teacher and librarian that she was going to be a paleontologist, but little did they know that at the age of thirteen she would be volunteering at the Academy of Natural Sciences. Today, she is still volunteering there preparing fossils and teaching visitors. Aja has gone on to gain field paleontology experience in Montana and New Jersey and present her research at nine research conferences. Research has become an integral part of her life and she can be found doing it year round.
Aja has conducted all of her research on an extinct form of crocodile; Hyposaurus rogersii. This is a gavial type crocodile that is found in New Jersey. Her research began with identifying the specimen and the project taught her the cranial anatomy of an extant alligator. She then went on to compare this to extant crocodiles, extinct crocodiles and gavial braincases. This next step in her research taught her comparative cranial anatomy. Aja’s next project was to provide a description of the specimen. This is a very common project in paleontology. In her last project with the specimen she recreated the rest of the skull. The specimen only had the braincase portions preserved and researchers were curious as to the rest of the face. Through maya and traditional paleontology techniques, Aja and her fellow researchers created portions of the skull that were missing.
Today, Aja is conducting research with ichnofossils (trackways) and their makers. The majority of Aja’s research has been with paleoneurology in the extinct crocodile, but she hopes to go on to graduate school and study Biomechanics with a focus in Locomotion of Sauropods, the long-neck, long-tailed dinosaurs. Her ultimate career goals include working in applied research and later return to academia and teach. Even in her free time, Aja can be found working in the lab, preparing fossils or having in-depth discussions with the bones.