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Villanova University Students Participate in Inaugural BIG EAST Undergraduate Research Poster Symposium

David Gao '22 CLAS presents his research
David Gao '22 CLAS presents his research during the inaugural BIG EAST Undergraduate Poster Symposium.

VILLANOVA, Pa.—Five Villanova University students participated in the inaugural BIG EAST Undergraduate Research Poster Symposium on Saturday, March 12 in New York City. The event took place at Madison Square Garden prior to the Championship game of the BIG EAST Men’s Basketball Tournament. All 11 Conference institutions, with a total of 54 students, were represented and faced off in an academic competition featuring research projects ranging across a variety of disciplines.

Undergraduate student teams of one or two individuals presented their research to judges, who ranked them on a variety of factors including: visual quality content, introduction, results & discussion, presentation style and responses to questions.

Villanova’s representation was determined at the annual Student Research Symposium in November 2021. Beginning with more than 100 student posters, a team of faculty and staff judges selected 12 semifinalists. A final selection committee chose five winners and five honorable mentions from the semifinalists. The five winners moved on to represent Villanova in the BIG EAST symposium.

“This event proved that Villanovans are among the very best, both on and off the court,” said Mike Westrate, PhD, Assistant Vice Provost for Graduate Education & Research. “These five students presented some of the fantastic research being done here on campus, and they represented the University exceptionally well. The fact that our faculty form partnerships with undergraduates in world-class research is something that we should be showcasing everywhere.”

A list of Villanova’s winners that participated in the BIG EAST event with their poster titles can be found below..


Grace Chiodo, '22 CLAS
Calibrating DESI Tully-Fisher Measurements with SDSS MaNGA

Margaret Dugoni, ’23 COE
Improving Gene Therapy Treatments via Inhibition of IRF1

Megan Fitzpatrick, ’23 COE
Enhancing the Anion-Exchange Capacity of Biochar for Nitrate Removal from Groundwater

David Gao, ’22 CLAS
Sleep Better; Breath Better

Mai Khuc, ’22 COE
Cost Estimation Tools for Data Center Two-Phase Cooling with Vapor Recompression-based Heat Recovery

More information about the BIG EAST research symposium can be found here. For a full list of participants and abstracts of the posters, visit

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges—the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. Ranked among the nation’s top universities, Villanova supports its students’ intellectual growth and prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit