Alumni Blog

Caselli ’21 selected to represent Villanova at Big East Research Symposium

Posted April 27th, 2024

Jake Caselli ’21 is no stranger to academic accolades. As a senior at St. Augustine, he was selected as a National Merit Scholarship winner amongst approximately 1.6 million deserving students who also entered the competitive program in hopes of earning the highly coveted distinction.
Fast forward to the present day and Jake (pictured far left) is now an Undergraduate Research Fellow at Villanova University where he has again earned national recognition. He was selected to represent Villanova and present his research on Neurophysiological Correlates of Cognitive Control at the Big East Undergraduate Research Symposium held at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Learn more about Jake’s experience below through an article courtesy of Villanova University (
Six Villanova Undergraduates Participate in Third Annual BIG EAST Undergraduate Research Symposium

NEW YORK, N.Y. (April 4, 2024) – Six Villanova University Undergraduate Research Fellows were selected to participate in the third annual BIG EAST Undergraduate Research Symposium held at Madison Square Garden on March 16, 2024. Student researchers from all 11 conference institutions across disciplines showcased their work in the competition, which was held in conjunction with the BIG EAST Men’s Basketball Conference Championship.

“The unique opportunities provided by participating in undergraduate research lay a crucial foundation for the next generation of scholars and innovators,” said Catherine Stecyk, Director of the Center for Research and Fellowships (CRF). “CRF proudly sponsors Villanova’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship and other programs that encourage these projects in collaboration with University faculty mentors. The accomplishments of Jake, Jenelle, Shealyn, Peter, Emma and Mikaela highlight the value of these programs.”

A total of 55 undergraduate student teams consisting of one or two individuals presented their research to judges, who ranked them on a variety of factors such as visual quality content, introduction, results and discussion, presentation style and responses to questions. Villanova’s representatives were selected by a team of judges following participation in the University’s CRF-sponsored Undergraduate Research Symposium last fall, using similar criteria to the BIG EAST to rank poster abstracts.

Below are the Villanova students who participated in the BIG EAST Symposium, along with their poster titles and faculty mentors:

Jake Caselli

Faculty Mentor: Grant Berry, PhD
Title: Does Perception Match Performance? Neurophysiological Correlates of Cognitive Control

Jenelle Maldonado
Faculty Mentor: Kelly Hambleton, PhD
Title: Refining Masses and Radii in Eclipsing Binary Systems for the Purpose of Calibrating the Asteroseismic Scaling Relations

Shealyn Murphy
Faculty Mentor: Isabel Hong, PhD
Title: Quantifying paleotsunami intensity using sediment deposits found at Willapa Bay, WA, USA

Peter Scarperi

Faculty Mentor: Meredith McKenzie Greenle, PhD, RN, ANP-BC, CNE
Title: Caring Beyond Cure: Perspectives of Pediatric Oncology Nurses on Palliative and End of Life Care

Emma Spangler and Mikaela Anthony

Faculty Mentor: Steven Goldsmith, PhD
Title: Understanding the Degradation, Toxicity, and Environmental Impact of Macroplastics in Streams