Former town students follow passions with summer research
FAIRFIELD — Stephen Cadoux is spending his summer in the lab, parsing data to gain insight into how alcohol affects the developing mind.
The 2014 Fairfield College Preparatory School graduate is participating in the research project as an Ithaca College summer scholar on the road to a degree in psychology, a field he has found allows him to pursue his longtime passion — helping others.
“The reason I want to help people is … to be honest with you, it’s just something I love doing,” the 21-year-old said. “Since I was a kid, I’ve always just wanted to be helping people.”
Raised in Westport and briefly living in Weston, Cadoux always found people in his communities that needed someone to talk to and he hoped to be that person. Those experiences led him to a fascination in the deeper academic side of such experiences: psychology. An internship working with children with mental health disorders in the Bronx, N.Y., intensified his interest.
For his summertime project, Cadoux is working with an Ithaca professor researching if adolescent rats will cope with stress by consuming alcohol.
Mentoring by a faculty member is a key part of the Summer Scholars Program, a full-time, paid opportunity for students in the School of Humanities and Sciences to engage in a scholarly or creative project. Students can either implement a project of their own design or take on major responsibility for an independent component of a faculty-designed project, like Cadoux is doing.
The goal is to understand the impact of alcohol on developing minds, Cadoux said. The project — in a neuroscience lab — coincides with Cadoux’s interest in behavioral psychology.
“Outside of the lab, with this kind of research we would be able to see the effects alcohol has on the developing mind,” he said, and national debates over the legal drinking age could be a practical application for that information.
While not all of the data has been analyzed, Cadoux said there seems to be a small significance. Some adolescent rats did turn to alcohol as a form of coping, it seems, but never in excess, and the rats were more likely to use another coping method — chewing on a wooden stick — to greater excess.
Cadoux is one of two former Fairfield students in Ithaca’s 2017 Summer Scholar class. Another member of the university’s class of 2018, town resident Jonathan Burger, is spending summer break in a different type of research setting.
One of the goals of Ithaca College’s Summer Scholars Program, now in its third year, is to have a variety of disciplines represented by the scholars’ projects.
Burger, a music fan with an interest in technology, is applying his dual passions to help develop an ad-free, internet radio station that connects listeners to local music, MegsRadio. The project, he said, is all about local music discovery. Plug in the Beatles, Burger said, using one of his favorite bands as an example, and MegsRadio will also play the Rolling Stones, as well as local bands with a similar sound. It will also show events playing near the listener.
Burger has helped with the project on and off for several years, assisting its founder, Doug Turnbull, an Ithaca computer science professor.
At the moment, MegsRadio is only set up to work in the Ithaca, N.Y., area. This summer, Burger — a computer science major — is working on the website, megsradio.fm, and a cel phone application of the software.
“It’s all about local, grassroots — supporting the local music industry,” Burger said.
The project has combined Burger’s long-term passions, which he may look to turn into a career. Since childhood, he has loved playing with computers and as he has seen technology grow in importance, he wants to make a difference in the expanding field. It was an interest supported at Fairfield Warde High School, where he enjoyed pursuing graphic design with classmates and teachers as intrigued by technology as he was.
A big fan of music — classic rock and alternative music in particular, like the Beatles and Modest Mouse — the 21-year-old learned of an Ithaca band he now enjoys listening to through MegsRadio, John Brown’s Body. While not set on a career path, he’s considering working on a music app or with computer science in the music industry.
Burger, who graduated in 2014, described his time at Warde as filled with “great community support.” And at Ithaca working on MegsRadio, he’s also found a tight-knit group.
“It’s a really great communal environment where we have a lot of fun and learn a lot too,” he said.