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Annual Festival Spotlights Undergraduate Student Researchers

By Jenna Pizzi

Published on March 22, 2019

Research by students in their undergraduate years was celebrated with a series of events highlighting the discoveries, networking, and sharing ideas. The Undergraduate Research Festival sponsored by the Center for Undergraduate Research (CUR) hosted the three-day event from March 12 through March 14.

The events kicked off with the “Images of Research and Scholarship” show in the Atrium of the McNeil Science and Technology Center, where images of research were displayed throughout the festival. The festival also offered “Speed Meeting with Faculty and Research Mentors” to allow undergrads to learn more about the variety of research faculty are directing.

On Wednesday, March 13, the festival officially opened with a ribbon cutting and “Elevator Pitch” competition where students offered a brief summary of their research. There was also an Alumni Career Panel sponsored by the Student Research Society, CUR, and the Office of Institutional Advancement, highlighting the career stories of USciences alumni who did undergraduate research at the University and have gone on to be established professionals.

The hallmark event of the festival, the 7th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium was held on Thursday, with nearly 40 percent more undergraduate research poster submissions compared to last year. The presentations also included guest posters from Rosemont College, Ursinus College, and Neumann University.

See more photos here.



Oral presentation

Winner: Abhinav Illendula

"Strictinin, a Novel ROR1 Antagonist, Represses Triple Negative Breast Cancer Cell Migration and Invasion via a β-catenin Independent Pathway" Mentor: Dr. Bela Peethambaran

Elevator Talks

First Prize: Nicholas Makosiej

"Examination of a Novel Small Molecule that Targets Redox Balance to Selectively Kill TNBC"

Mentor: Dr. Isabelle Mercier

Runner-up: Nhu Troung

"Can phenylalanine ammonia lyase degrade phenylalaninewhen it is linked to another amino acid?”

Mentor: Dr. Anil D’mello

Images of Research

Winner: Olivia DeLorenzo"FLIGHT RISK: human huntingtin expressed in a fruit fly brain"

Mentor: Dr. Margaret Pearce

Popular Choice Award (Online voting): Samantha Donovan  "Image of a human umbilical vein endothelial cell, in which fluorescently labeled proteins help reorganize the cell skeleton for migration" Mentor: Dr. Kenneth Myers

Research Posters

Course-based Category

Kunal KardakiaGlobal Travel Research; Geothermal Energy”

Mentors: Ms. Christine Flanagan and  Mr. Kevin Wolbach

Kayla CarraghanIcelandic Tradition vs. Wildlife Sustainability”

Mentors: Ms. Christine Flanagan and  Mr. Kevin Wolbach

New Ideas/Catalyst Category

Sahas ChanragiriEffects of behavioral and socio-economic risk factors on health care utilization for communicable and non-communicable disease” Mentor: Dr.  Jessica Sautter

Rookie Category

Walter HardyInvestigative Analysis into the Knockdown of SNARE Genes Yields Alterations in Vesicular Trafficking and Phagosome Fusion in the Microglia of the Drosophila brain” Mentor: Dr. Margaret Pearce

Alyssa PetroskiInvestigating density-dependent effects on the dengue and Zika vector Aedes aegypti and possible consequences for Wolbachia-based control strategies” Mentor: Dr. Michael Robert

Hayden SandoEnzyme Proximity Labeling to Track Prion-like Transmission of Tau Aggregates in the Drosophila Brain” Mentor: Dr. Margaret Pearce

Expert Category

Wint Thu “The Role of Apoptosis in the Prion-like Transmission of Mutant Human Huntingtin Protein Aggregates from Neuron to Glia in Transgenic Drosophila Brains” Mentor: Dr. Margaret Pearce

Austin Vantrease and Mia VegaSurface-Free Liquid Manipulation: The potential of Acoustic Levitation for Lab-on-a-Chip Platforms” Mentor: Dr. Sergio Freire

Andrew RingThe contractile vacuole is critical for cell to cell signaling in the amoeba Dictyostelium” Mentor: Dr. Christopher Janetopoulos

Categories: News, Students, Faculty, Research, Undergraduate, Event, USciences