Undergraduate Research Symposium

Showcases New Jersey’s Best and Brightest Minds

Since it was established in 2012, the annual ICFNJ Undergraduate Research Symposium has given students at the Independent College Fund’s 14 member institutions the opportunity to conduct in-depth research on a wide variety of scientific topics.

The symposium challenges students at New Jersey’s independent colleges and universities to explore science and technology through hands-on, inquiry-based learning. Working closely with leading faculty on their campuses, students test innovative concepts, prepare poster presentations and defend their results to judges. The program was initiated as a way to deepen the engagement of students on campuses in STEM careers.

The students’ work is showcased at a forum held at the Liberty Science Center, where students have the unique opportunity to network with judges from New Jersey industry. “I felt as though I was interacting with the Albert Einsteins of the 21st century,” said one judge.

In addition, high school students attend the event to learn about research and serve as evaluators. Early involvement at the high school level helps to feed the talent pipeline and encourages promising students to consider in-state college options.


Throughout the Fall and into the early weeks of the Spring semester, students eager to bring innovation to current issues engaged in research.  To encourage independent research and continued engagement in STEM majors, ICUNJ offered select students up to $1000 for resources, stipend and other associated expenses and an opportunity to participate in its annual Undergraduate Research Symposium. The Symposium kicked off April 4th with past student participants sharing lessons learned as they continued through advanced degrees and onto employment. Our thanks go out to Olivia Blondheim, ’18, Drew University; Flobater Fawargi, ’21, Monmouth University; and Theresa M. Kucinaki, ’16, Drew University for sharing their appreciation for the undergraduate experience and the value of mentorship, making career course adjustments and building strong communication skills. Twenty-one student projects were reviewed by virtual panels of industry professionals, research faculty and Board of Advisors members over the next three days. Research ranged from testing a new and facile route to build the aflatoxin core to exploring the production of a more water soluble form of melanin to food intake and body weight impact during time restricted feeding. These topics were covered by the top performers earning high marks in communication, use of presentation resources, and research ownership. Congratulations to top scorers Shanid Shrestha, ’22, Caldwell University; Daniella Marrero, ’22. Caldwell University; and George Afoakwah, ’23, Rider University respectfully.