Undergraduate Research and Creativity Alumni Profiles 

Erin Baccari, B.S. ’14

M.S. Student, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Major(s): Anthropology, Psychology

What research or work have you done since graduating from Buffalo State?

After graduating from Buffalo State, I planned on going to graduate school for either forensic anthropology or primatology. I took an amazing and important field course on Isla De Ometepe, Nicaragua studying howler monkey behavior. Afterwards, I took time and decided that the fields I planned to go in to weren't what I wanted for myself longterm.

I then worked for about a year and subsequently went back to school to get a second bachelor's degree in wildlife biology; I wanted to study animals and animal behavior, but in a setting closer to home. I will be graduating from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) in May with a B.S. in wildlife science. In my time at ESF, I have assisted several graduate students with their wildlife research, and have worked in invasive species jobs while also working full time as a receptionist at a veterinary hospital.

Can you translate your work for the general public?

I will be working for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation this summer as a giant hogweed technician, working to contain sites with giant hogweed, a very harmful invasive species, as well as remove existing plants and mapping areas were plants exist.

Why did you decide to get involved in undergraduate research?

Simply because I saw an opportunity that interested me and took it. I am personally very interested in research and finding answers to questions that I find intriguing. Buffalo State provided me with several opportunities to conduct my own independent research and those experiences were some of the best I've had in my academic career- they have allowed me to be extremely well-rounded as a student and I've been afforded the ability to explore several fields first-hand.

How did your undergraduate research experience influence your career path?

My undergraduate research experience helped me explore areas I was interested in and get a feeling for how independent research generally works. I definitely gained the ability to keep myself on a deadline and to keep myself accountable in my work. The research I did at Buffalo State affirmed my interest in the field I studied.

Describe the research you did and if you presented it at any professional conference, juried art exhibit, or other off-campus location.

I conducted several research projects in forensic anthropology, primate behavior, and legal psychology.

My first project was an independent study in the field of legal psychology, which spanned a few semesters. I investigated potential jurors’ understanding of revised character evidence instructions in criminal trials. I was awarded an Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship in the summer of 2012 to continue this research after it was started, and was awarded a small grant and travel grant for research expenses and conference travel by the SUNY Undergraduate Research Foundation in March 2013. I travelled and presented this research at the American Psychology-Law Society conference in Portland, Oregon in March 2013. This research was also presented at SRCC in May of 2013. Finally, it was presented in my absence by Dr. Jennifer Hunt at the American Psychology-Law Society Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana in March of 2014. A manuscript of this research is currently in the process of being published in the peer-reviewed journal "Psychology, Public Policy, and Law".

Next, I conducted research in forensic anthropology. I conducted an independent study in spring 2013. I investigated aging methods of juvenile skeletal remains using new and established methodologies. I presented this research at Undergraduate Research and Creativity Conference in May of 2013. I then conducted an honors thesis titled "Amputation and Subsequent Change in Bone Tissue". Here, I investigated change in bone tissue in amputees as a response to muscular compensation in relation to altered skeletal structure. I travelled to Cleveland, Ohio and utilized the Hamann-Todd skeletal collection housed at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History to collect my data. I presented the findings at the American Association of Physical Anthropologists conference in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in April 2014. I was awarded a small grant and international travel grant for travel expenses by the SUNY Undergraduate Research Foundation in April 2014 to go to Calgary. I finally presented this research at SRCC in May of 2014.

The last study I conducted at Buffalo State was in primate behavior.Here I conducted independent research on primate behavior at the Buffalo Zoo in Buffalo, New York. I compared mother and infant interactions between two sets of mothers and infants- one consisting of Western Lowland Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and the other White-Faced Saki Monkeys (Pithecia pithecia). I compared life history and dependence of the infant on the mother in terms of social development and learning. I presented this research at SRCC in May 2014.

Undergraduate Research Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Hunt, Dr. Julie Wieczkowski