Second Annual CUNY BA Student Showcase

Second Annual CUNY BA Student Showcase

CUNY BA was thrilled to host our second annual Student Showcase virtually in May 2021, with presentations by Anna Tsomo Leidecker (Health & Wellness Equity, Brooklyn College ‘21), Wali Ullah (Political Behavior and Analysis, City College ’21), Holland Brown (Computational Cognitive Science, Baruch College ‘22), and Loreta Avdiu (Cognition, Language, and Identity, Hunter College ‘22). Brittany Rodriguez (Neuroscience, Brooklyn College ’22) attended the event and offers her reflections below. Click here for a video recording of the 2021 Showcase.

On May 18, 2021, four CUNY BA students presented their projects and discussed research that spanned a variety of topics important to them. However, one common admirable thread that ran through every presentation was the idea of humanity.

Anna Tsomo Leidecker’s (Health & Wellness Equity, Brooklyn College ‘21) project inspires environmental justice and addresses food insecurity. Anna collaborated with a community organization in Brownsville, Brooklyn, to set up a solar-powered community fridge which offers fresh foods to those in need. The fridge runs on the motto of, “Take what you need, give what you can,” and offers a tangible way for the neighborhood locals to support one another and bring sustainable infrastructure to the community.

Meanwhile, Wali Ullah (Political Behavior and Analysis, City College ’21)​ advocated for adjunct faculty on college campuses, citing data on hiring trends, types of support that universities can provide to adjuncts, and student educational success in support of his research on the destabilization of the academic profession. He focused on the continuing decisions to cut higher education costs by increasingly relying on adjuncts, a form of  “gig labor,” rather than supporting all faculty by offering adjuncts the benefits, compensation, and longevity deserving of these hardworking professors.

At the crossroads of scientific and artistic research, Holland Brown (Computational Cognitive Science, Baruch College ‘22) presented the results of musical influence on cognitive processing. She offered insight into the sensory processing systems involved in interpreting music, and showed how our perceptions and interpretations can be guided by the auditory cues we receive. Interestingly, she explained how studies on the integration of visual and auditory stimuli show that our understanding of our experiences may not be reflective of the environment around us. Her initial research has opened doors into learning about the brain by studying music and, alternatively, learning about music by studying the brain.

Finally, Loreta Avdiu (Cognition, Language, and Identity, Hunter College ‘22) presented research that may prove beneficial for bilingual individuals. She conducted a study in which participants journaled in both English and Spanish, and found that participants who journaled in their native language were more likely to experience decreased somatization, such as anxiety. Her results generated a hypothesis that an individual dealing with traumatic events both large and small may benefit by writing or speaking about them in their native language in order to increase emotional encoding and processing. Her work offers simple methodologies for complex emotions, and aims to heal the mind along with the body.

All of the presenters offered incredible insight into multifaceted topics. More than that, each and every presentation not only gave unique perspectives on research new and old, but also focused largely on the local community. While these students represent just a small sample of hardworking individuals, their innovative ideas will benefit all of society.