Students at the MCPHS Research & Scholarship Showcase
Student Success | 4/25/2024

Graduate Students Showcase Research Projects for MCPHS Community

By Jennifer Persons

Students at the MCPHS Research & Scholarship Showcase

The annual Research & Scholarship Showcase featured projects from graduate students across two MCPHS campuses and six different fields of study.

Nearly 50 students from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) displayed their scholarly work at this year’s Research & Scholarship Showcase. The annual interprofessional event highlights research and scholarship projects from graduate students on the University’s Worcester and Manchester, N.H. campuses.

“It’s a nice way to mark the end of the year and round out our academic careers,” said Alexandra Duddy, DPT ’24. “We get to show off all our hard work to our classmates and professors.”

More than 150 students, faculty, administrators, and staff filled the Lincoln Ballroom on the Worcester campus to view the projects. The event featured nearly 50 projects from New England School of Acupuncture (NESA), the School of Medical Imaging and Therapeutics, the School of Optometry, the School of Pharmacy – Worcester/Manchester, the School of Physical Therapy, and the School of Physician Assistant Studies – Manchester/Worcester.

Some projects, like Zubia Haque’s, Doctor of Optometry ’26, originated from clinical experiences.

“The patient came in for a routine eye exam, and we found a posterior vitreous detachment in the back of his eye,” she explained, adding this condition created a “floater” that caused a dark spot in the patient’s vision. “It’s part of the normal aging process, but it was the first time I’d seen it in person.”

Other projects were grounded in community outreach. Jenna Mangan, PharmD ’25, worked with several classmates to develop a plan to address mental health issues among adolescents in Worcester.

“We’ve been working on this project all semester for our Health Program Planning course,” Mangan said. “We took a step back, looked at the city as a whole, and determined where we, as pharmacy students, could help people across the city,”

In Manchester, Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) student Ditya Belwal wanted to inform community members about new guidelines for breast cancer screenings.

“Experts now recommend mammograms starting at age 40, and there’s research to support these guidelines are saving lives,” said Belwal, ’24, who shared this information with dozens of people at a health fair at a YMCA. “We talked to people about the new guidelines and gave them numbers and addresses of places offering free mammograms.”

William Martin, a Master of Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine student, conducted a literature review of more than 18,000 scholarly articles on acupuncture services in hospitals.

“I’ve noticed there are discrepancies with how acupuncture is implemented in hospitals, and nothing comprehensive has been done,” said Martin, ’25, who was also invited to present his findings at a hospital in Maine. “I learned more about my field and how I can change it for the better.”

For many students, including Duddy and her project partners, the showcase marked the beginning of the end of their time at MCPHS.

“We’ve been working on this for two years, and it’s been a great hands-on experience,” said Rachel Ciulla, DPT ’24. “It was an opportunity to see exactly what we learned about in action and be able to contribute to research in our field, which is a good feeling.”

These projects also showed other MCPHS students the quality experiences that come from engaging in scholarly work.

“Stay up to date with topics you’re interested in and see if anything sparks an idea,” Belwal said. “Research is only going to help you in your studies.”

Martin, the acupuncture student, reinforces those sentiments.

“If there’s any inkling inside of you that wants to do research, go for it,” Martin said. “Now is the time to do it, when you are in a supportive environment with faculty guiding you.”