Bloomfield College Student Wins National Conference on Undergraduate Research Award

Destiny King

Destiny King ’22, a Bloomfield College McNair Scholar and a member of the Honors Program, was recently recognized as a Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) award winner at the organization’s 2022 National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) for her presentation in the natural and physical sciences entitled Twinkle, Twinkle, Variable Star, How I Wonder How Far You Are.

King, who is on track to graduate with a biology degree from Bloomfield this May, was mentored by Professor of Physics Demetris Nicolaides, Ph.D. from the College’s Division of Natural Science and Mathematics, as together they sought to “make a scholarly or artistic contribution to knowledge,” the goal of undergraduate student research as defined by the Council. The award, two years in the making, followed co-publication of the research in a refereed publication, the Journal of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (JAAVS0).

“Destiny’s research looked at variable stars – whose brightness varies periodically as they expand and contract – with the goal to refine the method of measuring cosmic distances. Accurate galactic distances and recession speeds ultimately help scientists to determine more precisely the expansion of the universe. To my knowledge, this is the first time a Bloomfield College student has won a NCUR award, for certain in the sciences,” said Nicolaides. “Also, being published in a refereed publication as an undergraduate student is quite an achievement. We are very proud of Destiny, and know that she will continue to innovate and impress us as she pursues graduate studies in the future.”

The 2022 conference, held virtually, attracted more than 3,200 students, faculty and administrators from across the globe, from all higher education institution types and from across all disciplines. More than 2,500 students presented their research through posters, live oral presentations, visual arts and performances.

“I heard about the conference from Professor Nicolaides, and he encouraged me to submit the application abstract and later the video for the competition, the first steps in the process,” said King, who hails from Gloucester County. “It was several more months before I learned I was a finalist. During the conference’s award ceremony, I finally learned that I was one of the two winners in the division of physics and astronomy. I am thrilled that my hard work has been recognized to have value, and I am very grateful to all who helped me along the way.”

In communicating with King about her research submission, the CUR Executive Council wrote, “Your submission underwent a rigorous review by experts in your discipline, so you should be very proud of this accomplishment! Your abstract demonstrates a unique contribution to your field of study, and we are glad to offer you the opportunity to present your work to your peers, faculty, and staff from all over the nation.”

The McNair Scholars Program, of which King is a student member, is funded by a TRIO grant from the U.S. Department of Education, and works to prepare first-generation and income-eligible participants, and historically underrepresented students, for doctoral-level study. It provides undergraduate research opportunities, academic advisement, graduate school preparation workshops and other educational seminars to support McNair scholars in gaining the necessary skills and knowledge to pursue and complete a Ph.D. The ultimate mission of the project is for participants to serve as faculty to assist in diversifying the Academy.

The CUR mission is to support and promote high-quality mentored undergraduate research, scholarship and creative inquiry. It provides support and professional development opportunities for faculty, staff, administrators, and students. NCUR is recognized as the largest symposium of its kind in the world.

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