This month, the work of NJIT’s top student researchers was put on display at the 2018 Knox Student Research Showcase, “A Glimpse Into the Future”. 

The showcase, which annually honors outstanding research done at NJIT by its graduate and undergraduate students, awarded Najmaddin Akhundov first place among this year’s graduate researchers for developing a computational model to track and control invasive species that threaten the environment.

Akhundov, a mechanical and industrial engineering Ph.D. student, gave a presentation that demonstrated his model’s ability to successfully measure the growth and spread dynamics of sericea (Lespedeza cuneata), a drought-resistant invasive plant threatening the Great Plains of North America.

“We can use our model to generate managerial insights for how to best control invasive species, which are very common in the U.S. and causes huge environmental damage,” said Akhundov. “All of the efforts put into this research really paid off today but to be honest, there were many great research projects presented here and I think I am lucky to take first place.”

Najmaddin Akhundov presents his first-prize graduate student researcher medal at the 2018 Knox Student Research Showcase.

Akhundov was among 38 distinguished NJIT students at this year’s event who showcased their research projects through poster presentation and discussion — highlighting topics ranging from NASA-related research of the sun’s solar flares, to research investigating new potential scaffold material for bone tissue engineering. 

Civil Engineering student, Rachel Werner, presents infrastructure funding alternatives to supplement the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) in New Jersey.

The showcase’s judges, comprised of 22 NJIT faculty members, also awarded Faustin Arevalo first prize among undergraduate students. Arevalo, a junior chemical engineering student, was awarded for exploring the use of pharmaceutical nanotechnology to improve the water-solubility and delivery of Biopharmaceutics Classification System (BCS) class II drugs.

Chemical engineering student Faustin Arevalo was awarded first prize among undergraduate students.

“It was such a surprise finding out that I won, but this award now confirms to me the value of perseverance,” said Arevalo. “I want to use this platform to let other underrepresented students know they can also succeed in STEM research through hard work and perseverance.”

Graduate student runner-up honors went to Sherry Chhabra, a doctoral student in applied physics, for her study of radio emissions that are associated with energetic phenomenon on the sun, such as solar flares and Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs).

NJIT Provost and Senior Executive Vice President Fadi P. Deek awards graduate student Sherry Chhabra.

Runner-up among undergraduate student researchers was Amir Elzomor, a junior neurobiology student who recently published a comprehensive educationalguide to cardiovascular genomics. His work will be featured at the National Teaching Institute (NTI) conference of the American Critical Care Nursing (ACCN) in Boston this May.

“The Dana Knox Student Research Showcase continues our tradition of honoring excellence in student research,” stated NJIT Provost and Senior Executive Vice President Fadi P. Deek. “The students whose work has been chosen for today’s event are congratulated for the quality and passion for discovery.”

The Knox Student Research Showcase began in 2005 as “Provost’s Student Research Day” to highlight the impact of student research at NJIT. In 2008, the event was renamed after its distinguished founder, Dana Knox (1955-2008), a professor of chemical engineering who was designated as Master Teacher at NJIT in recognition of sustained excellence in teaching in 2002.