Students win awards at online Undergraduate Research Symposium

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas Center for Undergraduate Research has announced the winners of its 24th annual Undergraduate Research Symposium. The event took place online this year and went live April 24. Over 190 students shared their undergraduate research and creative projects that they have been working on throughout the spring semester.   

“These students’ research accomplishments were impressive, especially considering the challenges of the past year,” said Alison Olcott, director of the Center for Undergraduate Research and associate professor of geology. “I commend everyone for their hard work and willingness to innovate.”

Presentations can still be viewed on the  Undergraduate Research Symposium website.

ACE Talks

The ACE Talks are the keynote presentations for the online symposium. These talks showcase students presenting their research and creative projects in an (A)ccesible, (C)reative and (E)ngaging way. Students applied to give an ACE Talk by submitting an abstract of their work and a short video of themselves talking about their project. ACE Talk presenters each receive $500 and have a video of their presentation posted on the homepage of the 2021 Symposium website. The 2021 ACE Talk winners:

  • Bayan Alghafli, a pharmacy student from Al Gharah, Alhasa, Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia; “Radio-enrichment of Endogenous Peptide Therapeutics: Alpha-deuteration,” mentored by Steven Bloom, assistant professor of medicinal chemistry.
  • Jade Groobman, a women, gender & sexuality studies student from Boulder, Colorado; “Jews of Color: Experiences of Inclusion and Exclusion,” mentored by Sarah Deer, University Distinguished Professor. 
  • Kaci Zarek, an environmental studies student from Norfolk, Nebraska; “Using Flourescence Spectroscopy to Characterize Dissolved Organic Matter in Eastern Kansas Streams,” mentored by Amy Burgin, associate professor of environmental studies and ecology & evolutionary biology.


Outstanding Presentation Awards

Volunteer judges selected 18 presentations to receive Outstanding Presentation Awards, listed below. Award recipients each receive a $50 award. The 2021 Outstanding Presentation Award winners who chose to have their names published are listed by name, major, hometown, project title and mentor:

Tamoor Chohdry, a biochemistry student from Overland Park; “mRNA Vaccine Design for SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 Variant,” mentored by Roberto De Guzman, professor of molecular biosciences.

Levi Cohen, a biochemistry student from Pleasant Hill, Missouri; “Synthesizing the Potential Vaccine Sequence for S:H69-, S:V70-, S:I692V, S:M1229I Variant Spike Protein of SARS-CoV-2,” mentored by Roberto De Guzman, professor of molecular biosciences.

Olivia Holmes, a photography student from Overland Park; “Worry,” mentored by Lilly McElroy, lecturer in design.

Morgan Johannesen, a chemistry and geology student from Overland Park; “Preservation of Life in Gypsum from Great Salt Plains, Oklahoma: A Modern Analogue for Early Mars,” mentored by Alison Olcott, associate professor of geology.

Natalie Lamb, a psychology and applied behavioral sciences student from Olathe; “Who Should Take Leave? Measuring Beliefs of Deserved Parental Leave for Adoptive and Birth Parents,” mentored by Monica Biernat, University Distinguished Professor of Psychology.

Jadyn Landreth, an architecture student from Wichita; “Monument Depot,” mentored by Kapila Silva, professor of architecture.

Rikki Li, a biochemistry student from Olathe; “Effectiveness of Spike Protein Mutation in SARS-CoV-2 mRNA Vaccine,” mentored by Roberto De Guzman, professor of molecular biosciences.

Bohu Ma, a biochemistry student from Nanjing, Jiangsu, China; “A mRNA vaccine for possible Future COVID,” mentored by Roberto De Guzman, professor of molecular biosciences.

Abby Neal, Vaughn Gessley, Maureen Kassing, Cayden Fairman, and Meredith Shaheed, “Barriers to Participation in Farm to School Programs,” mentored by Kelly Kindscher, professor of environmental studies and senior scientists at the Kansas Biological Survey.

Quynh Nguyen, a biochemistry student from Overland Park; “Designing an mRNA Vaccine for the Midwest COVID Variant with the Mutation Q677H on the Spike Protein,” mentored by Roberto De Guzman, professor of molecular biosciences.

Anjali Pare, a computer science student; “Cluster Interface and Statistics Generator for 2D Layer Tracking,” mentored by John Paden, courtesy associate professor of computer science and associate scientist with the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets.

Savannah Price, a global & international studies student from Lawrence; “France, Refugee Integration, Civic Service, Immigration Policy,” mentored by Brian Lagotte, assistant teaching professor of global & international studies.

Logan Stuart, an economics student from Coralville, Iowa; “The Impact of the Belt and Road Initiative on Central Asian Economies,” mentored by Shahnaz Parsaeian, assistant professor of economics.

Carine Tabak, a molecular, cellular & developmental biology student from Lawrence; “Correlation in Aggression Between Male and Female Drosophila melanogaster,” mentored by Jennifer Gleason, associate professor of ecology & evolutionary biology.

Liana Tauke, a biology student from Wichita; “The Relationship Between Infant’s Emerging Preverbal Communication and Social-Emotional Competence,” mentored by Brenda Salley, assistant professor of pediatrics.

Jaylyn Teger, a biochemistry student from Littleton, Colorado; “mRNA Vaccine for SARS-COV2 Variant B.1.1.7 with 69-70 Deletion Mutation,” mentored by Roberto De Guzman, professor of molecular biosciences.

Ying Qing Won, a psychology student from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; “The Role of Adaptive and Maladaptive Emotion Regulation Strategies in Eating Disorders and Clinical-Related Impairment,” mentored by Kara Christensen, postdoctoral researcher in psychology.

Mon, 05/10/2021


Nicole Perry

Media Contacts

Nicole Perry

Center for Undergraduate Research