People standing at the MCPHS Student Research Conference.
Student Success | 4/23/2024

‘A Fantastic Opportunity’: MCPHS Celebrates Student Research and Innovation

By Maaha Rafique

People standing at the MCPHS Student Research Conference.

The annual Student Research Conference returned for its fifth year, featuring 150 projects on various topics from artificial intelligence to mental health.

Mental health, artificial intelligence, and more were topics of interest at the 5th annual Student Research Conference at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS).

The Center for Research and Discovery hosted the event, which took place on Saturday, April 6. Throughout the White and Matricaria buildings on the Boston campus, students displayed posters showcasing their research while alumni, staff, and faculty attended and observed. Students from Manchester and Worcester attended both in person and virtually. In total, students presented more than 150 research projects that germinated from coursework and research at Boston-area hospitals or labs.

Anjanetta Erilus
Anjanetta Erilus, BS ’25, researched intervention possibilities to treat mental health in young adults who have experienced loss. “Depression is a big social stigma that people tend to brush off, especially after a loss, and I think we should talk about it more,” she said.

The conference's theme this year, “Healthcare Assemble,” was carefully chosen to underscore the pivotal role of healthcare professionals, who are often referred to as “superheroes.” Events kicked off with a keynote speech on AI in healthcare by Nikhil Sahni, author of an article on artificial intelligence in US healthcare published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Following his speech, students had the opportunity to ask questions about the future of AI and its practical applications in health.

Shaohui Zheng
Shaohui Zheng, BS ’24, researched the effectiveness of deucravacitinib for treating psoriasis, a common skin disease. He was inspired by witnessing how the condition affects someone he knows. “I chose to work on this because my girlfriend has this disease,” he said.

During the opening remarks, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Caroline Zeind gave a brief overview of the Center for Research and Discovery's accomplishments since its establishment in 2018, including its facilitation of research grants and other support for student projects.

“It's amazing to see what we have accomplished in a little over five years, and I am sure the center will continue to flourish,” Zeind said.

Mira Chothani
Mira Chothani, PharmD ’26, delved into the current state of AI in the pharmaceutical industry, including challenges and future potential. After driving in from the Worcester campus, she attended the morning keynote speech on AI. “It was great to hear about the quantitative evidence,” she said.

Delia Anderson, Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences, also spoke about how the event has continued year after year due to successful collaboration between students and staff.

“For students, this conference provides a fantastic opportunity to learn from peers, network, and gain information,” she said.

Lena Thai
Lena Thai, BS ’24, was inspired by her experience as a first-generation college student to research mental health among this population. She collected data from students around the country using a survey. “I found that first-generation students scored a lot higher in terms of anxiety and depression scores,” she said. “I’d like to see institutions take this data into account when it comes to supporting all of their students.”

Faculty served as evaluators for student projects, asking questions and discussing topics to assign each endeavor an overall score and give feedback. Other events during the day included oral presentations from students and a panel with young alumni.