Honors Program students lead in research presentations at VCHC Spring Conference

Marymount University Honors Program students and program director, Stacy Lopresti-Goodman


Marymount University was represented with the largest group of Honors Program students at the 2021 Virginias Collegiate Honors Council (VCHC) Spring Conference.

During the event on April 10, 70 students from 18 Virginia Honors Programs gathered virtually to present scholarly work. Marymount had the largest cohort with 13 students showcasing 14 research presentations. 

“I was very impressed with the quality of work our students presented this year,” said Stacy Lopresti-Goodman, Professor of Psychology and Honors Program Director at Marymount University. “Our students not only jumped at the opportunity to present their research, but fully immersed themselves in the experience.”

The annual conference offers students within Honors Programs at West Virginia and Virginia institutions the opportunity to present scholarly work and research to fellow students and faculty. These presentations include Honors projects, independent undergraduate research or original work, such as dance or poetry.

Senior Jasmine Roy presents her research at the VCHC Conference

Marymount senior Jasmine Roy hosted an icebreaker session among students, and presented her work, “Understanding the Complexity of Retinitis Pigmentosa and the Hope for Gene Therapy.” The topic of retinitis pigmentosa, a group of rare, genetic disorders that involve a breakdown and loss of cells in the retina, has become a personal research mission.

“Retinitis pigmentosa is a disease that runs within my family. It caused my father and his two older siblings to go blind. Since I have a familial connection with this disease, I wanted to try and gather more knowledge about it,” Roy explained. “It was really exciting to be able to show others how Marymount can successfully conduct research and I was proud to represent the Honors Program.”

For junior Katie McShea, it was her second time presenting at the VCHC. She initially participated in the Conference as a freshman in 2019. This year, she collaborated with Dr. Deana Jaber, Associate Professor of Chemistry at Marymount University, on a case study surrounding the issues of PFAS compounds, which are man-made chemicals manufactured in industries across the world. McShea’s work is titled “The Effect of a Chemistry Case Study on Students’ Understanding of Chemical Bonds.”

“Our case study utilized the story of PFAS compounds to help students understand important chemistry topics, such as chemical bonds, electronegativity, atomic radius, bond length and more,” McShea explained. “The main findings from our research were that our case study was effective in helping chemistry students learn about chemical bonds, with an average 67.8 percent increase of student understanding for each topic.”

Marymount continued to shine at the Conference as Lopresti-Goodman was elected as the 2021-2022 VCHC Vice President, and McShea was voted Student Vice President. 

“I was honored to be nominated and humbled that my VCHC peers think highly enough of me to entrust me with this role,” Lopresti-Goodman said. “My responsibilities will include cohosting bi-weekly VCHC executive meetings, organizing and hosting the fall conference planning meeting and organizing and co-chairing the spring research conference.” 

The upcoming fall conference will be hosted by Marymount University at the Ballston Center in September. 

“I think it will be a wonderful opportunity for my Honors colleagues who work at two-year schools to learn more about Marymount and our Honors Program, which may help us recruit more Honors transfer students,” Lopresti-Goodman said. “I also am excited to work alongside Katie organizing workshops on diversity and inclusion in Honors, student leadership and preventing burnout for both the Honors faculty and students.”

“I am excited to become more involved in the planning process for the conference and hope to create activities and events that can provide the participants with both fun and enriching experiences,” McShea added.

Here is a full list of Marymount students who participated in the 2021 VCHC Spring Conference:

  • Noemi Cerritos Gatto, “Literacy Development in Preschoolers with Educational Apps”
  • Myah Cordrey, “Systematic Literature Review of the Anti-Vaccine Movement and Childhood Vaccinations”
  • Caitlyn Dunn, “Motivation and Coaching Style Within Collegiate Athletes: An Intervention-Based Approach”
  • Madeleine Heick, “Translation, Language Standardization and Globalization”
  • Madeleine Heick, “How We Learn Languages”
  • Deianeira Hoffenden, “Are Humans Meant to Be Monogamous?”
  • Sandy Kindschi, “Workaholism – Causes, Effects and What to Do”
  • Taylor Love, “Onset and Degree of Sport Specialization in Relation to Injury Risk”
  • Catherine Maresca, “Social Media and Political Knowledge”
  • Katie McShea, “The Effect of a Chemistry Case Study on Students’ Understanding of Chemical Bonds”
  • Isabella Ochalik, “The Effect of Food Insecurity and Malnutrition on Children’s Health During the Critical Period of Development”
  • Jasmine Roy, “Understanding the Complexity of Retinitis Pigmentosa and the Hope for Gene Therapy”
  • Kathryn Ryan, “An Investigation into Low-Concentration Antibiotic Exposure and Resistance”
  • Isabel Trojillo, “Nutrition Practices in the HealthCare Industry: Identifying Barriers, Innovative Programs, and a Call to Nurses”