Skip Navigation
Falvey Memorial Library
You are exploring: Home > Blogs

Lessons Learned From a Robotic Snake Jaw: Meet Lauren Garofalo and Samantha Sandler, 2020 Falvey Scholars

By Shawn Proctor

This is part 3 of a 6-part series featuring the 2020 Falvey Scholars. Read more about them each Tuesday and Thursday, and in the upcoming issue of Mosaic, the library’s bi-annual publication.

Villanova “Wild Facts”

Lauren Garofalo ’20 (Mechanical Engineering)
Hometown: Egg Harbor Township, N.J.
Additional Honors: Magna Cum Laude, Kevin R. Scott ’85 Memorial Scholarship, Boeing Summer Business Institute Scholarship, Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, Drexel GAANN Fellowship,
Samantha Sandler ’20 (Mechanical Engineering)
Hometown: Long Island, N.Y.
Additional Honors: Magna Cum Laude, Dean’s Award Recipient for Meritorious Service, Dr. Neville Distinguished Student Award, Tau Beta Pi Honor Society, Pi Tau Sigma Honor Society

Faculty Mentor:
Deeksha Seth, PhD, Assistant Teaching Professor
Research: “Evaluation of a Snake Jaw Robot to Teach Integrated Biology, Mathematics, and Engineering”

In Their Own Words

Their research:

Lauren Garofalo: We tested the effectiveness of robots as educational tools to teach integrated science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects, ignite students’ interests in STEM and studying STEM in college, and increasing students’ feelings of belongingness within the STEM fields.
Samantha Sandler: Robots are a great educational medium because their integrated nature incorporate all features critical to design. The integrated aspects of design tend to spur the students’ ability to recognize the integrated nature of the subject matter itself. In the case of the snake jaw robot, the focus was the functionality of the quadrate bone, but the students recognized connections to degrees of freedom, angles of rotation, and forces.
By presenting a snake jaw robot and snake jaw video presentations, we were able to evaluate the performance of robotics compared to conventional educational techniques. The results of our study were that the robot performed significantly better in its ability to increase interest in STEM and recognize connections between natural phenomenon and engineering.
Falvey’s Impact on Their Work:
Lauren: Library staff helped me find the resources we needed to supplement preliminary research regarding state of the art of robotics as educational tools. The resources and databases helped us perform statistical analysis of our data. Since we used Likert-Scale questions in our survey, we needed to do some research on appropriate statistical testing to ensure meaningful, accurate results.
Samantha: The Falvey staff did a great job in presenting the resources available at the library, which greatly impacted my ability to access full publications of journal articles for free. The Library’s resources played a critical role in our ability to understand the currently practiced educational techniques and the impacts of integrated education. Additionally, the Library’s resources were very helpful for understanding the various methods of statistical analysis.
The Impact on Them:
Lauren: I am definitely still interested in pursuing robotics. Generally, I will be straying away from the educational component, but I am still interested in looking at robots as tools to help people.
Samantha: This project has helped me recognize my interests in product design and robotics. This research was a unique opportunity to combine my major in Mechanical Engineering with my minor in Engineering Entrepreneurship. I began this research particularly interested in evaluating the design of the robot with respect to the desired functionality. It was interesting because though the robot met all of the design criteria prompted by the customer at the Academy of Natural Sciences, our research allowed us to recognize features we would optimize in the future to better achieve the desired learning objectives. These results allowed us to recognize the importance of focusing on the desired impact of the product with respect to design and functional analysis.
What’s next:

Lauren: I am pursuing a doctorate in Mechanical Engineering at Drexel University, studying under Dr. James Tangorra.

Samantha: I will be working in Melbourne, Florida for L3Harris Technologies as a designer in the Space and Airborne Systems Sector.

Shawn ProctorShawn Proctor, MFA, is Communications and Marketing Program Manager at Falvey Memorial Library.





An Eye on Salt Marsh Ecology: Meet Gabriella Bliss Giordano, 2020 Falvey Scholar

By Shawn Proctor

This is part 2 of a 6-part series featuring the 2020 Falvey Scholars. Read more about them each Tuesday and Thursday, and in the upcoming issue of Mosaic, the library’s bi-annual publication.

Villanova “Wild Facts”

Gabriella Bliss Giordano ’20 (Environmental Science and Geography)
Hometown: Massapequa, N.Y.
Additional Honors: Alexander Von Humboldt Medallion for Excellence in Geography, Magna Cum Laude, Gamma Theta Epsilon International Geography Honor Society

Project Title: “Spatial analysis of heavy metals in marsh soils and ribbed mussels (Geukensia demissa) from Plum Island Estuary, MA”

Mentor: Nathaniel Weston, PhD, Associate Professor

In Her Own Words

Her research:

For my senior thesis project, I analyzed the spatial distribution heavy metal concentrations in marsh soils and the endemic ribbed mussel geukensia demissa from the Plum Island Estuary in Massachusetts. This estuary is an intertidal riverine marsh with freshwater inputs and is the largest expanse of salt marsh in the Northeast.

After field collection, I hot acid digested samples and analyzed for metal content on an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer.

Overall, I found that soils did show decreasing trends with increasing distance from the fresh, river inputs.  On the other hand, the metal concentration in mussels was not described by soil concentrations and did not show a clear spatial pattern. Mussels were likely more influenced by size and would likely be more indicative of the metal in suspended sediment than in surficial sediment.


Falvey’s Impact on Her Work:

Over the course of my four years at Villanova, Falvey has been a huge help in my academics, from study spaces to staff to Holy Grounds coffee. By simply keeping the library operating and clean the staff has helped everyone in their research and academic experience. Over the course of my work on this project, I met with Librarian Alfred Fry to guide my literature search for both background reading and writing purposes. Being able to meet with someone in the library who specializes in scientific literature review is a very powerful resource.

In this online era, being able to navigate the internet for credible sources is extremely important. Falvey’s resources make it incredibly easy to search for articles and academic journals either directly through its website or through a number of databases. The wide range of databases, journals and publishers that Falvey provides to students is incredibly helpful. I became especially appreciative of all the online resources Falvey provides during this unprecedented time.


The Impact on Her and What’s Next:

I have been working with Dr. Weston since freshman year and always knew I wanted to continue my higher education and do research whether it was in salt marshes or not. After four years, I couldn’t part with the marshes and will be researching biogeochemistry and ecology of Georgia salt marshes in graduate school at the University of Georgia where I will be pursuing a Master’s in Marine Science. Dr. Weston and I are also hoping to continue working on my thesis for publication, which would include additional lab analyses and paper editing.

Shawn ProctorShawn Proctor, MFA, is Communications and Marketing Program Manager at Falvey Memorial Library.






Last Modified: June 23, 2020