10th Annual Research Days to Feature Record Number of Students


Two dynamic speakers – an expert on human-machine interaction and a robot-making animatronics guru – will join a record 810 student researchers at Kean University’s 10th annual Research Days later this month.

Kean alumnus Marvin Andujar, Ph.D., assistant professor and director of the Neuro-Machine Interaction Lab at the University of South Florida, will serve as the keynote speaker at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 24. That evening, Grant Imahara, the dynamic co-host of the Emmy Award-nominated TV series MythBusters and co-host of the NetFlix series White Rabbit Project, will present the third installation of Kean’s Distinguished Lecture Series at 4:30 p.m. Both lectures will be held at the STEM Auditorium.

“Research Days are a celebration of the ever-growing culture of creativity and innovation at Kean, and exemplify the University’s motto: Semper Discens, Always Learning,” said Jeffery Toney, Ph.D., Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. “These masters of machines will give our students a glimpse into the future.”

Andujar will address the importance of understanding the emotional and psychological responses that people have when using technology to complete a task. He will also discuss methods of controlling machines, including drones, with the human brain.

A former FX model-maker and animatronics engineer at George Lucas’s Industrial Light and Magic, Imahara is best known for bringing characters like R2D2 to the silver screen in Star Wars: Episodes 1-3 and for his work on The Lost World: Jurassic Park. He will bring the world of animatronics, special effects, pop culture and science alive as he shares what he has learned about engineering, model making and innovation in Hollywood.

In between the two featured speakers, 26 faculty and staff from a range of disciplines across every college will present their research and creative endeavors through a series of lectures and panels.

On April 25, the cohort of 810 students will deliver 94 oral presentations, 327 poster presentations, creative exhibits and panels throughout the day in the STEM building. Students from Wenzhou-Kean University will also be participating.

During Research Days, Kean will honor the Undergraduate Researcher of the Year, Sarah Mack, and Faculty Research Mentor of the Year Maria Shumskaya, Ph.D. A senior environmental biology major, Mack has worked on multiple research projects related to waste-to-energy technologies, soil quality and sustainable farming techniques in China, and remediation of phosphorus lakes. Shumskaya and her students are working to identify species of dead wood inhabitants in New Jersey.

In celebration of the 10th anniversary, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and the Robert Busch School of Design held a contest to design this year’s program cover. The winning cover design was created by senior interactive print and screen graphic student Michelle Barrueto, and will be unveiled at the event.

For a full schedule of Research Days events, visit www.kean.edu/researchdays. To register for the Distinguished Lecture Series, visit www.kean.edu/lecture-series. 

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