More than 125 Hamilton students conducted research with faculty this summer, and the results of that work were on display in poster sessions held during Fallcoming. Some student researchers in the sciences and the Levitt Public Affairs Center talked with student writer Dana Blatte ’26 about what they learned.

Research Outcomes

Lia Cagnetta ’24
Levitt Research
Major: Environmental Studies

Building Climate Change Resiliency in Boston and Copenhagen
To compare green infrastructure projects in Boston and Copenhagen, environmental studies major Lia Cagnetta ’24 interviewed 14 experts in stormwater management, climate adaptation, and urban planning. She determined that collaboration at an institutional and community level is vital for transformative urban planning. This year, Cagnetta will bring her findings local to address flooding around Sauquoit Creek, which affects the southern part of Oneida County.

Sarah DeSanto ’25 and Jennifer Gidicsin ’25
Levitt Research

Relating Heavy Metal Presence in the Connecticut River to Socioeconomic Status
The Connecticut River runs lengthwise through the entire state of Connecticut, which environmental studies major Sarah DeSanto ’25 and neuroscience major Jennifer Gidicsin ’25 call home. Working with Assistant Professor of Chemistry Carolyn Hutchinson, the students collected weekly mussel samples to detect heavy metals in Hartford, Middletown, Haddam, and Glastonbury. To their surprise, they learned of higher chromium and cadmium concentrations in towns of higher socioeconomic status. Now the pair will use their samples to investigate the source of their unexpected findings.

Santiago Chamorro ’25
Levitt Research
Majors: Creative Writing, Japanese

Engaging Children Through A Love of Literature
“I think if you love reading, there’s a good chance you’re going to love writing as well,” said Santiago Chamorro ’25. This summer, he turned from penning autobiographical stories to Shaken, a fictionalized version of the April 2014 Nicaragua earthquake. From writing, illustrating, and designing Shaken, Chamorro learned that the writing process often refuses to stick to a schedule. With support from the Levitt Center, he intends to publish 40 copies, allowing community members to hold his work in their own hands.

Christian McCann ’25
Summer Physics Research
Major: World Politics

The Physicists’ War
According to Christian McCann ’25, “There’s no universal approach to how you research something.” This summer, his interests in world politics and physics led him to examine the relationship between physics and social hierarchies through the lens of WWII and its aftermath.  For example, J. Robert Oppenheimer's Communist ties were kept secret until the completion of the Manhattan project, and Germany's classification of quantum mechanics as “Jewish physics” prevented their nuclear ambitions from being successful.  After McCann’s 50-60 hours of work and visits to archives in Utica and beyond, his material will eventually be found in a textbook authored by Associate Professor of Physics Kate Smith and integrated into her course Nuclear Weapons in World War II.

Maya Gustavson ’25
Summer Biology Research
Major: Biology

Increasing Seedling Success in Roger’s Glen
Maya Gustavson ’25 didn’t expect to spend her summer constructing metal cages. The barriers, however, were necessary to increase survival of bitternut hickory seeds in Roger’s Glen by restricting, and in some cases eliminating, access for small mammals. Gustavson learned the programming language R to process her preliminary data, but she isn’t done yet. “You can always do more with your experiment,” said Gustavson on refining her research for her senior thesis in biology.

James Frazier ’24, Iris Izydorczak ’25, Emily Weinstein ’24, and Ivan Wu ’25
Summer Computer Science Research

Google Drive, But Better
James Frazier ’24, Iris Izydorczak ’25, Emily Weinstein ’24, and Ivan Wu ’25 are on a mission to outperform Google Drive. “Google Drive and a lot of the large-scale systems we have in place as the standard are inadequate for what we really need,” Weinstein said. “What we created in such a short amount of time proved more capable of handling requests than Google Drive, which has been around for a while.” Led by Assistant Professor of Computer Science Sarah Morrison-Smith, the team created DriveGroups to give Google Drive users more control over sharing their files with groups. More features are in development, though they hope to open source publish DriveGroups in the spring, making it available to the world.

Grisha Hatavets ’25
Summer Mathematics Research
Majors: Mathematics, Computer Science

Grooming Hamilton’s Nordic Ski Trails
Ever wondered how Hamilton’s Nordic Trails are groomed? Turns out, the process receives a helping hand from mathematics. Grisha Hatavets ’25 developed an objective function, translated the model into Python, and solved it to minimize the total distance needed to groom the ski trails on campus. The groomers estimate his 10.75-mile solution will save 50% of the three to four hours needed to maintain the trails in the past. This winter, break out the skis and test Hatavets’ research for yourself.

Related Stories

Students in Prof. Max Majireck's chemistry lab

Combating Heart Disease Through Chemistry

Life-threatening diseases could become easier to detect thanks to a Hamilton student-faculty research team and its partnership with an internationally recognized biomedical research institute here in Utica.

A musician singing and playing guitar in a subway entrance.

Underground Sound

In the stagnant air of subway stations, unnoticed by countless commuters, the sounds of street musicians ornament the harsh rumble of passing trains. Some of these performers go viral for their abilities; many more remain unseen and unheard. But how exactly do they contribute to the fabric of the communities they inhabit?

From left to right: Bri Padilla ’25, Will Burns ’24, Naima Akter ’24, Prof. Natalie Nannas, and Kayli Franco ’25 in the biology research lab.

Nannas, Students Replicate Genetic Anomalies

Genetic inheritance might seem straightforward enough. Middle schoolers around the country learn the formulaic predictions of Punnett Squares, and for the most part, the science appears cut-and-dry. Chromosomes passed on through sperm or eggs have a 50-50 shot at inheritance. Right?

Help us provide an accessible education, offer innovative resources and programs, and foster intellectual exploration.

Site Search