The Charger Blog

Winter Graduates Reflect on Sharing Passion for Research and Discovery with University Community

Meet several new graduates of the University’s Honors Program who recently shared their thesis projects with the University community. They will be recognized as part of this month’s Virtual Winter Commencement.

January 19, 2021

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Image of Gianna Quaglieri ’21’s presentation.
A slide from Gianna Quaglieri ’21’s presentation.

When Jaelynne Moore ’21 spent a summer serving as an environmental education intern at the Seacoast Science Center in Rye, New Hampshire, she became interested in finding ways to combine her passions for marine biology and education. She was especially interested in the Center’s training program, which ultimately inspired her Honors thesis project.

Moore, who completed her bachelor’s and graduated from the University’s Honors Program at the end of the fall semester, administered pretest surveys to summer camp staff before their staff training began. She then followed up with a mid-summer survey and a final survey at the end of the program. She compared the responses to track changes in staff members’ knowledge, endeavoring to learn what does and does not work when training staff and developing programming.

For comparison, Moore also conducted interviews with other marine education facilities on the east coast to better understand their staff training and educational programming. She found many similarities among marine education facilities and recommended collaboration among facilities to enable them to strengthen their programming.

“My research revealed an overall increase in the knowledge of summer camp staff on various marine-related topics,” said Moore, who will be recognized during the University’s Virtual Winter Commencement on Jan. 23. “It also highlighted what staff found to be most useful in their training and work experience. From this, I made recommendations for marine science facilities to consider incorporating into their staff training to strengthen their programs and enable staff to get the most out of their experience.”

Image of Jaelynne Moore ’21.
Jaelynne Moore ’21.
‘The results were very interesting’

Moore, who worked under the guidance of Karin Jakubowski, Ph.D., was one of more than a dozen students who recently shared their research with the University community during the University’s Honors thesis symposium. Students presented their work on a variety of topics, including mental health, forensic genetic genealogy, and diversity of fish populations.

Michael Lanzaro ’21 explored predictors of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) in undergraduate students, as he discovered that it is prevalent on college campuses. He was interested in studying GAD because he found that it is poorly understood and often treated as an outcome, rather than as a complex issue that can be predicted.

Using data he collected while working on his Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship in 2019, he explored demographic variables and endeavored to identify predictors of GAD.

“The results were very interesting,” said Lanzaro, who majored in psychology and minored in biology. “Our findings reveal that biological sex is a significant predictor of generalized anxiety disorder symptoms. I learned that this crosses many more subject areas than previously thought. Future research must be conducted to find out more about why women are experiencing higher rates of anxiety during their undergraduate years.”

‘Neuroscience will only enhance the U.S. court system’

Lanzaro’s classmate, Gianna Quaglieri ’21, also explored the brain as part of her thesis. Specifically, she focused on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain condition associated with repeated head trauma.

Image of Michael Lanzaro ’21.
Michael Lanzaro ’21.

While watching “Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez,” a Netflix docuseries about the former NFL star and convicted killer, Quaglieri was interested in learning more about CTE as a criminal defense. Since Hernandez had exhibited symptoms of CTE following head injuries sustained during his football career, she wondered why the condition of his brain and his mental health were not given more consideration during sentencing.

Quaglieri focused on how neuroscience can be used to ensure appropriate sentencing and how CTE could be considered as a brain disease in criminal proceedings. As part of her research, she explored personal accounts of CTE and the history of the use of neuroscience in the courtroom.

“My research revealed that the United States court system acknowledges that the brain can affect our behavioral actions,” said Quaglieri, who completed her bachelor’s degree in legal studies at the end of the fall semester. “I learned that neuroscience will only enhance the U.S. court system. Concussions are no joke and should be taken seriously.”