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Howard Community College Releases Journal of Research in Progress, Volume 4

JRIP Volume 4 Front Cover

May 7 marks the digital release of this year’s Journal of Research in Progress (JRIP), HCC’s peer-reviewed student academic research publication. The 9 papers selected for the latest of JRIP’s 4 volumes represent the work of 16 student researchers and 12 research mentors. The projects come out of several disciplines including the biological and physical sciences, mathematics, social sciences, and arts and humanities.

JRIP had submissions this year not only from students pursuing laboratory-based research through HCC’s Undergraduate Research in Science (URSC) Program, but also students engaged in faculty-mentored research through the Mathematics Division, Honors Capstone Program, and individual and course-based projects.

It is also the third year that the JRIP editorial team has collaborated with Visual Arts faculty members to encourage student submissions of original artwork inspired by the various projects.

“We strive to provide and promote opportunities to our students beyond the studio classroom,” says Visual Arts faculty member and JRIP collaborator, Professor Steven Silberg. “Working with JRIP has allowed our students to learn a little bit about the artist/client relationship and apply the creative process from research and ideation through review and critique to a real world style experience.”

May Palace, an HCC student whose artwork will be featured on the cover of Volume 4, shares, “I really got to exercise some creativity, while conveying some larger idea with the piece. Picking the research project and then being sort-of ‘beholden’ to the details of the science while collaborating with the scientists themselves was really fun for me, especially with a science background.”

JRIP Volume 4 is virtually available on our website. Read on for a sampling of the research projects featured in JRIP Volume 4.

Surface Water Quality for Copper and Manganese Around the HCC Campus

Student researcher and Phi Theta Kappa member Vincent Carmody had previously taken a couple of chemistry classes and wanted to pursue something further in this subject. He and fellow group member Tuan Mai investigated the concentration of copper and manganese in surface waters around HCC using atomic absorption spectrometry and other analytical chemistry techniques.

Their work in particular was affected by COVID safety precautions. “Researching in the pandemic wasn't easy because for almost 5 months, we couldn't go on campus,” states Carmody. In the end, Carmody and Mai were able to collect enough data to gain a better understanding of the copper and manganese surface water concentrations at four different locations on campus.

Molecular Mechanisms for Circadian Rhythms in the Tobacco Hornworm (Manduca sexta)

Tobacco Hornworm research at HCC is alive and well with a number of faculty mentors and student researchers investigating various aspects of this organism’s feeding behavior over the years. Mary Green, a Schoenbrodt Scholar who was recently voted Student of the Year by the Science, Engineering, and Technology Division, was drawn to this research project for its genetics-related subject matter.

Green and her labmate Jennifer Jun were able to work in the SET building’s research lab once every two weeks in the Fall 2020 semester despite limited campus access. Green found regular Zoom meetings and readily available mentor feedback facilitated through Google docs to be instrumental in meeting goals and staying on track. About the writing process, Green had to say, “I found having as many people as possible read the paper before submission (especially people who were not as familiar with the topic) was extremely they gave great feedback and suggestions.”

Reducing Error in Quantum Computing with Improved Circuit Design Methods

First inspired by a providential meeting with an IBM employee who introduced her to quantum computing at a Society of Physics Students conference, Zobia Khan was able to learn more about the subject at HCC along with fellow student Alexander Jones thanks to a weekly quantum computing seminar offered by Physics faculty member, Dr. Alex Barr. The three eventually began work on a project investigating the effects of quantum computing components on the accuracy and efficacy of computational algorithms.

Both Khan and Jones have set their sights on continuing research at UMBC and Oregon State University, their respective transfer institutions. “HCC is a great place to begin your research so pick a topic in which you are genuinely interested,” Khan advises. Jones adds: “Develop a healthy relationship with your faculty mentor, don't be afraid to ask questions (even the stupid ones), and have fun with it! It's easy to feel overwhelmed by it all, but the mentors at Howard [are] fantastic resources for guiding you through the process.”

The Impact of Women’s Auxiliary Services on Great Britain and the United States during World War II

Dual-enrolled Schoenbrodt Scholar Azra Ozturk was able to leverage primary source-based research she’d previously done for a World History course Honors project (and presented at last year’s HCC’s Honors Conference, now, the Scholars Symposium) for her JRIP paper on women’s contributions to the military effort during World War II.

Ozturk shared, “being able to intensely focus on your topic with a mentor is great preparation for future steps in your career and may spark interest in specific academic pathways.” Taking her own words to heart, Ozturk is looking forward to being a History major at the University of Maryland at College Park this fall. “This opportunity in JRIP definitely opened my eyes to the possibilities in research and I certainly hope to pursue research further in my academic career.”

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