55 students receive Undergraduate Research Awards for spring 2024

LAWRENCE — This spring, 55 University of Kansas students received an Undergraduate Research Award (UGRA) from the Center for Undergraduate Research. UGRA recipients are awarded a $1,000 scholarship as they work on mentored research and creative projects.  

Grace Worden, senior in photography, is a spring 2024 UGRA recipient. Photo: KU Marketing.

Students apply for UGRAs by writing a four-page research proposal under the guidance of a mentor. Faculty reviewers evaluate the applications based on the merit of the applicant’s proposal and a recommendation from the mentor.  

The competition for 2024 summer and fall semester UGRAs opened in late January. Online guidance and individual advising appointments are available to help students prepare strong applications. More information can be found on the UGRA website

Students who received awards for the spring of 2024 and wished to have their name published are listed below, grouped by field, and listed in alphabetical order by last name along with year in school, hometown, major, project title, mentor and mentor’s department.  

Arts and Humanities 

Dylan Allen, junior, Council Grove, anthropology, “Crime Scene Collections: Cataloging the Assemblage Recovered from Site 14LB24,” mentored by Blair Schneider, geology & geophysics.

Isabella Crawford-Parker, senior, Lawrence, political science and global & international studies, “Parental Influence on Atheist Rhetoric in Czech Republic,” mentored by Brian Lagotte, global & international studies.

Naalkh Deasis, senior, Juneau, Alaska, architecture, “Creating an Architectural Timeline of Tlingit History,” mentored by Amy Van de Riet, architecture.

Yasi Farah, senior, Overland Park, visual art, “Baghaa/ بقا,” mentored by Yoonmi Nam, visual art.

Kira Hensley, senior, Lawrence, global & international studies, “The Evolution of Transatlantic Data Sharing Frameworks through Legal Challenges,” mentored by Brian Lagotte, global & international studies.

George Lahood, senior, Overland Park, film & media studies, “Unreal Engine and Virtual Production Short Film,” mentored by David Mai, film & media studies.

Lori Lentenbrink, senior, Lenexa, psychology, “How Does the Frequency of Pretending Orgasms Vary Among Sexual Activities?” mentored by Charlene Muehlenhard, psychology.

Cate Manning, senior, Omaha, Nebraska, global & international studies and strategic communications, “Rhetoric vs. Reality: Political Discourse’s Impact on the UK’s Cancelation of Phase 2 of HS2,” mentored by Brian Lagotte, global & international studies.

Alyssa Marino, senior, Littleton, Colorado, music therapy, “A Scoping Review of Music-Based Intervention Methods, Domains, and Outcomes for at Risk Pregnancies in Acute Settings,” mentored by Deanna Hanson-Abromeit, music therapy.

Heidi Mattson, senior, Edmond, Oklahoma, political science and global & international studies, “Strajk Kobiet: The Evolution of Polish Laws Combating Domestic Violence from 1952 to 2023,” mentored by Brian Lagotte, global & international studies.

Ellynn Mayo, senior, Lee’s Summit, Missouri, film & media studies, “Queer Cinema and Latin American Identity: Exploring LGBTQ+ Representation, Norms, and Influence in Four Latin American Films,” mentored by Laura Kirk, theatre & dance and film & media studies.

Tanya Miller, junior, Eudora, visual art, “Roadkill: Our Impact on Animal Populations,” mentored by Yoonmi Nam, visual art.

Alias Moser, senior, Perry, film & media studies and digital marketing, “The Ulti-Maker,” mentored by David Mai, film & media studies. 

Diana Nguyen, senior, Lawrence, psychology, “Vietnamese Experience of Intimate Relationships as a Function of Cultural Ecologies,” mentored by Glenn Adams, psychology, and Syed Muhammad psychology.

Joohye Oh, senior, Lawrence, English and Spanish, “Muhwagwa,” mentored by Megan Kaminski, English and environmental studies.

Alison Payne, senior, Lawrence, economics, environmental studies and mathematics, “Disparities in Environmental Enforcement: Analyzing RCRA Inspections in Minority and Low-Income Communities,” mentored by Dietrich Earnhart, economics.

Ainsley Powell, senior, Sterling, Colorado, political science and global & international studies, “Mirror, Mirror on the Big Screen: North Americanization in Colombia Through Film,” mentored by Brian Lagotte, global & international studies.

Ashley Ramos, senior, Independence, Missouri, psychology, “Instructor Comprehension of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD),” mentored by Anna Pope, social psychology. 

Erin Robertson, senior, Grayson, Texas, global & international studies and political science, “Perception of China Through the Lens of K-pop,” mentored by Brian Lagotte, global & international studies.

Fabiana Salas Valdivia, senior, Lawrence, political science and global & international studies, “NGO Reports vs. Reality: Indigenous People’s Real-Life Challenges,” mentored by Brian Lagotte, global & international studies.

Kiara Stamati, junior, Lenexa, global & international studies, “Unveiling Mexican Minds: A Deep Dive into Gender Roles in Mexico,” mentored by Brian Lagotte, global & international studies.

Reaia Turner-Leatherman, junior, Olathe, psychology and communication studies, “Machines as Work: The Costs-Reward Tradeoffs of Complex Technology,” mentored by Cameron Piercy, communication studies.

Allie Vo, senior,  Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, psychology, “Examining the Interactions Between Inhibitory Control and Reward Processing in Autism Spectrum Disorder,” mentored by Matthew Mosconi, psychology & applied behavioral science. 

Jonathan Wagner, senior, Lawrence, photography, “American Spaces,” mentored by Lilly McElroy, photography. 

Sam Wallace, senior, Lawrence, psychology and East Asian languages & cultures, “Child Saving vs. Family Preservation: An Analysis of the Attitudes of a Southeast Kansas Steering Committee,” mentored by Whitney Grube, social welfare.

Mallory Wells, senior, Wichita, psychology, “Dreaming Through the Lens of Emotion Regulation,” mentored by Nancy Hamilton, psychology, and Garrett Baber, psychology.

Emily Whisenhunt, senior, Columbus, Mississippi, global & international studies, “FIFA’s Trek to Modernity: The Role of Muslim Women in Soccer,” mentored by Brian Lagotte, global & international studies.

Grace Worden, senior, Springfield, Missouri, photography, “No Place Like Home,” mentored by Elise Kirk, design, and Paul Stock, environmental studies and sociology.


Biological, Physical & Other Sciences  

Eleazar Abraham, senior, Lawrence, molecular, developmental & cellular biology and chemistry, “Conformational Studies of Cyclopeptides that Modulates the Blood-Brain Barrier,” mentored by Teruna Siahaan, pharmaceutical chemistry.

Hayley Adams, sophomore, Olathe, microbiology, “Regulating Quorum Sensing Activity in Psuedomonas Aeruginosa through the Nitrogen-Phosphotransferase System,” mentored by Josephine Chandler, molecular biosciences.

Parnian Arafi, sophomore, Lawrence, biochemistry, “Effects of Alzheimer-mutant presenilin-1 on amyloid β-peptide Production by γ-secretase,” mentored by Michael Wolfe, medicinal chemistry.

Jenna Barnes, senior, Olathe, molecular, cellular & developmental biology, “Impact of PTPN22 and Its Autoimmunity Associated Allele on Dendritic Cell Type I-Interferon Stimulated Signaling Pathways,” mentored by Robin Orozco, molecular biosciences.

Sam Butler, senior, Overland Park, behavioral neuroscience and political science, “Microorganisms, Macro-effects: A Scoping Review of Psychobiotic Literature on M. vaccae,” mentored by Stephen Ilardi, psychology.

Kamar Chahine, junior, Lawrence, molecular, cellular & developmental biology, “Investigating the Effect of Heat Shock on the Subcellular Localization of Tumor Suppressor APC in Colon Cancer,” mentored by Kristi Neufeld, molecular biosciences.

Brett Chapman, senior, Lawrence, exercise science, “Beyond the Stopwatch – The Jayhawks Sprint Project: Baseball,” mentored by Quincy R. Johnson, health, sport & exercise science.

Christian Decker, senior, Waverly, microbiology, “Enterococcus Faecalis Regulation of Carbohydrate Metabolism,” mentored by Lynn Hancock, molecular biosciences.

Jenna Hansen, senior, Dallas, behavioral neuroscience, “Restoring Rest: Investigating the Effects of Hormone Therapy on Sleep Quality in Postmenopausal Women,” mentored by Amber Watts, psychology.

Tom Huynh, senior, Olathe, astronomy, “Using Archival Herschel Data to Better Map the Dust Mass Distribution of Galaxies within the Virgo Filament Survey,” mentored by Greg Rudnick, physics & astronomy.

Sam Kelemen, junior, Olathe, behavioral neuroscience and mathematics, “A Linear Generative Model of Functional Brain Dynamics,” mentored by Arian Ashourvan, psychology.

Magdelyn Kroeger, senior, De Soto, behavioral neuroscience, “Exploring the Effect of Functional Fitness on Functional Capacity, Perceived Performance and Satisfaction, and Quality of Life in Adults with Mobility-Related Disabilities,” mentored by Lyndsie Koon, Life Span Institute.

Jared Madsen, sophomore, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, physics, “Large Areas Exfoliation of 2D Ferromagnetic Semiconductors,” mentored by Dmitry Ovchinnikov, physics & astronomy. 

Alexa Magstadt, junior, Shawnee, molecular, cellular & developmental biology, “Small Molecule KRAS Inhibition in Colorectal Cancer,” mentored by Dan Dixon, molecular biosciences.

Cecilia Paranjothi, junior, Lawrence, chemistry, “Surface Immobilization of Uranium Complexes for New Redox Chemistry,” mentored by James Blakemore, chemistry.

Janie Rainer, senior, Overland Park, microbiology and Spanish, “The YesN Regulon of Enterococcus Faecalis,” Lynn Hancock, microbiology.

Kaitlyn Savoy, senior, Olathe, biological science, “Electric Dispersal Potential of Fungal Spores,” mentored by Benjamin Sikes, ecology & evolutionary biology. 

Helenna Shcherbinin, senior, Overland Park, behavioral neuroscience, “Are Liberals and Conservatives Morally Different Across Social Contexts?” mentored by Monica Biernat, psychology.

Kaitlyn Sy, senior, Olathe, biotechnology, “Assessment of the Effects of Lactic Acid on T Cell Viability and T Cell Receptor Signaling In Vitro,” mentored by John “Jack” Treml, School of Professional Studies, and Randall Logan, School of Professional Studies.

Mason Thieu, sophomore, Topeka, exercise science, “Anthropometric and Physical Fitness Profiles of Youth Athletes,” mentored by Quincy R. Johnson, health, sport & exercise science.

Anjani Vilandai, senior, Overland Park, behavioral neuroscience, “Evaluating the Effect of Membrane Cholesterol on γ-secretase Cleavage of the Human Notch Protein,” mentored by Michael Wolfe, medicinal chemistry.

Emily Wagner, senior, Wichita, behavioral neuroscience, “Depressive Symptoms and Hormonal Medication Use in Women Ages 40-60,” mentored by Amber Watts, psychology. 


Engineering & Computer Science 

Elen Bhattarai, senior, Kathmandu, Nepal, computer science, “Evaluating Teaching Performance of Expert vs. Novice Teachers Using Computer Vision & AI Algorithms on a Mixed Reality (MR) Simulator,” mentored by Sumaiya Shomaji, electrical engineering & computer science.

Simon Clark, junior, Olathe, aerospace engineering, “Ramjet Thrust in Amateur High-Powered Rocketry,” mentored by Ray Taghavi, aerospace engineering.

Eduardo Luckie, senior, Overland Park, mechanical engineering, “3D Printed Antimicrobial Peptide Integrated Collagen-Based Scaffolds Towards Preventing Peri-Implantitis,” mentored by Candan Tamerler, mechanical engineering.

Sara Medina Castellanos, sophomore, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, mechanical engineering, “Mapping of Pressure Forces During Lumbar Mobilization,” mentored by Sara Wilson, mechanical engineering.

Devin Setiawan, senior, Lawrence, computer science “Individualized Machine-Learning-Based Clinical Assessment Recommendation System (iCARE),” mentored by Arian Ashourvan, psychology. 

Tue, 01/23/2024


Erin Wolfram

Media Contacts

Erin Wolfram

Office of Fellowships