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Gregory Phelan
Bowers Hall, Room 342
Phone: 607-753-4323
Fax: 607-753-5928

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Undergrads to Take Research to Albany

Three SUNY Cortland students will take research projects rooted in exercise science and biochemistry to New York state’s capital Tuesday, April 1, and join a State University of New York (SUNY) system-wide celebration of undergraduate research and creativity.

Seniors John Chodkowski, Josh Hammond and Samuel Lebowitz will represent the College at the third-year symposium, titled “Innovative Exploration Forum: Undergraduate Research in New York State’s Public Higher Education System.”

The event takes place at the New York State Legislative Office Building in Albany. It will highlight scholarly work from all 64 SUNY institutions, bringing together bright young researchers with SUNY administrators and state legislators.

Sponsored by the Undergraduate Academic Programs and Policies Committee of the SUNY Faculty Senate, the conference will feature roughly 100 student-produced poster displays covering a range of academic disciplines. Each research project was supervised by a SUNY faculty member.

The two SUNY Cortland projects were selected after a competitive, campus-wide review.

“(The research process) was a lot more than I expected when I started but it’s been just a great experience, both learning how to do the research and understanding how to read other research,” said Lebowitz, a kinesiology: fitness development major from Fayetteville, N.Y.

Lebowitz and Hammond, an exercise science major from Hyde Park, N.Y., developed a project on the topic “Foam rolling and static stretching’s effect on acute range of motion.” Chodkowski, a chemistry major from Westbury, N.Y., will present his research on “The perturbation of benthic microbial communities with microbiocide compound DBNPA.”

SUNY Cortland faculty members James Hokanson, an associate professor of kinesiology, and Jeffrey Werner, an assistant professor of chemistry, mentored the young researchers.

Chodkowski, who started his project with an undergraduate research fellowship following his sophomore year, plans to pursue a Ph.D. in a biochemistry-based program after graduation. He’s presented his work several times, both for doctoral program interviews and at the College’s “Transformations: A Student Research and Creativity Conference.”

The research he presents in Albany will consider the impact of a microbiocide sometimes associated with hydraulic fracturing. Hypothetically speaking, Chodkowski’s research seeks to explain the effects a chemical spill might have on the ecology of a lake.

He’s still waiting on metagenomic sequences, which should help determine species affected by the microbiocide.

“It will be a lot easier with metagenomic data to talk about which species were affected,” Chodkowski said. “We know that something happened; the next step is figuring out exactly what it was.”

Likewise, Hammond and Lebowitz haven’t given up on the research project they will present; Lebowitz said they are exploring opportunities to have their work published.

“Our study is an original study,” said Lebowitz, an aspiring professional in the strength and conditioning field. “What we found is that foam rolling does not increase range of motion greater than static stretching — on average, they’re about the same — but each modality increases range of motion to about the same degree.”

He said he expected the benefits of foam rolling, which utilizes a large foam cylinder in treating muscles, to outweigh those of static stretching, given that the latter often is associated with a decrease in muscular force. Given that personal preference, he isolated himself for a portion of the pair’s test so that he would not sway study participants.

Lebowitz’s own project changed his thinking slightly.

“If I had a time crunch, I would say foam roll before and loosen up the muscles,” he said. “And then afterwards, if you’re concerned about flexibility, I would static stretch.”

Neither Chodkowski’s microbiocide research nor the range of motion project undertaken by Hammond and Lebowitz were graduation requirements. However, all three undergraduates will benefit from the experiences long after their presentations in Albany.

“I think being able to show any kind of graduate school that you’ve done this research and you know how to interpret it and continue on, that’s a pretty valuable skill,” Lebowitz said.

Travel support for SUNY Cortland’s participants was provided by the College’s Undergraduate Research Council (URC). For more information, contact Christopher McRoberts, professor of geology and director of the URC, at 607-753-2925.