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Biophysics Student Earns Top Honors at Statewide Research Conference
Kassidy Lundy ’16, a physics major in the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S), was recently awarded first prize for her poster presentation at the 24th Annual Collegiate Science & Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) Statewide Student Conference, held in Lake George in April.
Over 200 students representing more than 40 colleges and universities across New York State presented their research during the daylong symposium. Lundy’s poster, “Exploring Kupffer’s Vesicle through Self Propelled Particle Simulations” stood out among the ranks, earning her top honors in the engineering, material science and physical science category.
Through her poster and oral presentation, Lundy was able to successfully showcase her research, which seeks to explain shape changes observed in vital developmental organs within Zebrafish embryos, using the self-propelled particle model’s use of velocity, confinement and the dynamics of particle interactions.
Lisa Manning, associate professor of physics and Lundy’s faculty mentor, says that the award is true reflection of the cutting-edge research she has done as an exceptional undergraduate.
“Kassidy is an outstanding researcher who is using tools from physics to understand problems in biology, specifically the origins of congenital disease,” says Manning, who uses physics-based statistical mechanics models to study non-equilibrium collective behavior in both biological and non-biological systems. “She is very smart, and also very good at knowing when to forge ahead on her own and when to pause and ask for help. I think those skills will help her be successful in her future endeavors.”
Founded in 1986, CSTEP prepares students for successful careers in medicine, law, education, technology, engineering, healthcare, accounting and more. CSTEP is active in more than 50 colleges and universities across New York State, and supports students who are among underrepresented populations in STEM and pre-licensure fields. At Syracuse, CSTEP is housed in the School of Education.
The communications team caught up with Lundy just after Commencement to get her reflections on the experience.
What inspired you to follow this particular area of research?
I was inspired to pursue biophysics after attending a Syracuse University colloquium given by my current research advisor, Lisa Manning. With my prior interest in organic systems I was intrigued by Dr. Manning’s simulation of biological systems by way of physical models. I was further inspired to follow this area of research through the course exposure I acquired as a biophysics major.
What was your reaction when you were announced the winner?
When I was announced the winner of the statewide competition, I felt very honored to be recognized for my dedication to my research. I appreciated realizing that my hard work and devotion could be celebrated by judges that I had never met before.
What are your plans after graduation?
In the fall I will begin working with Dr. Ozgur Sahin in the “Bridge to the Ph.D.” program at Columbia University. I aim to continue studying and researching biophysics on my way to hopefully earning a Ph.D. in the field and pursuing a career in academia.
What advice would you impart to future students working to earn a degree in biophysics?
I would advise students to not be afraid to explore biophysics outside of their classroom. Being that this discipline is a relatively novel approach to science, I believe that if students rely on their biology and physics textbooks to understand biophysics, they will not fully understand how the two sciences meet. Seeking interesting research opportunities that marry the two fields is always the best first step.