54 KU students receive Undergraduate Research Awards for spring 2023

LAWRENCE — This spring, 54 University of Kansas students will receive 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.

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.

“We received a record number of applicants for this round of UGRAs,” said Matt Downen, assistant director of the Center for Undergraduate Research. “Students in disciplines all across KU are working on amazing research and creative projects.”

Next spring, the competition for 2023 Summer and Fall 2023 semester UGRAs will open. Online guidance and individual advising appointments are available to help students prepare strong applications. More information is online.

Students receiving awards for the spring of 2023 are listed below, grouped by field and listed in alphabetical order along with year in school, hometown, project title, proposal title, mentor and mentor’s department:

Arts and Humanities

Allyson Scribner, junior, Kansas City, Missouri, “Little Free Art Mart,” Maria Velasco, visual art

Brad Mathewson, senior, Topeka, “Challenging the Wicked Witch of Unsafe Sex: Reviving the HIV Conversation with the Wizard of AIDS,” Jane Barnette, theatre

Carter Crosby, senior, Kansas City, Missouri, “How We Are Now,” Gulli Bjornsson, music composition

Claire Cox, senior, Paola, “Decolonizing the Wakarusa River Valley Heritage Museum,” Kent Blansett, history and Indigenous studies

Daniel Davidson, junior, Lawrence, “Gendered Toxin Anxieties in Far-Right Ecological Accelerationism,” Christopher Forth, Department of History

Grace Dickerson, senior, Overland Park, “Aggressive,” Lilly McElroy, photography

Grace Worden, junior, Springfield, Missouri, “No Place Like Home,” Elise Kirk, photography

Margaret Bears, senior, Lawrence, “Arctium; conversations,” Megan Kaminski, English

Taylor Winters, senior, Lawrence, “Diagenesis,” Yoonmi Nam, fine art

Biological and Physical Sciences

Alexander Sage, senior, Topeka, “The Development and Validation of an Assay to Detect the Concentration of IL-37 Produced from Cells in Response to the Introduction of Various Food Extracts,” Jack Treml, biotechnology

Anjani Vilandai, junior, Overland Park, “Retrospective Docking of Recently Discovered Gamma-Secretase Modulators for Alzheimer’s Disease,” Yinglong Miao, molecular biosciences

Connor Hauff, junior, Emporia, “Peptide Substrate Optimization for SARS-CoV-2 Mpro Inhibition,” Teruna Siahaan, pharmaceutical chemistry

Diego Prieto Cruz, junior, Bogotá, Colombia, “Importance of the Interactive Equilibrium Between RsbV1 and RsbW in Chlamydia trachomatis Growth and Progeny Production,” Scott Hefty, molecular biosciences

Marchella Putri Djojopurno, junior, Bali, Indonesia, “The Intracellular Processing of the Host- derived High Mannose Glycan by Enterococcus faecalis to Satisfy Its Energy Demands,” Lynn Hancock, molecular biosciences

Navya Singh, junior, Chandigarh, India, “Synthesis of a Hyaluronic Acid-Deferoxamine Conjugate for Local Treatment of Bone Regeneration,” Laird Forrest, pharmaceutical chemistry

Noel Barbour, junior, Olathe, “Mom-2 Transgenesis in Caenorhabditis Elegans,” Erik Lundquist, molecular biosciences

Ryan Lang, senior, Overland Park, “The Importance of Understanding the Full Mechanism of Action of a Drug: The Impact of KU-596 on Neuromuscular Junction Health in the Mouse Model of Human CMT1X,” Rick Dobrowsky, pharmacology & toxicology

Sivani Badrivenkata, junior, Lawrence, “Biologics vs. E. coli: Testing Lactoferrin’s Viability as a Preventative Therapeutic for Neonatal Sepsis in Pregnant Patients,” Michael Hageman, pharmaceutical chemistry

Braedyn Mcbroom, senior, Park City, “Comparing Nighttime Cooling rates for Different Land Use Cover Types in Dallas, Texas,” David Rahn, geography & atmospheric science

Cecilia Paranjothi, sophomore, Lawrence, “Development of Tributyl Phosphate as a Quantitative Probe of Lewis Acidity,” James Blakemore, chemistry

Jenna Barnes, sophomore, Olathe, “Impact of PTPN22 Alternative Allele on Dendritic Cell Type-I Interferon Production,” Robin Orozco, molecular biosciences

Kaitlyn Savoy, junior, Olathe, “Understanding Environmental Drivers of Extremophile Microbes for Use in Space,” Benjamin Sikes, ecology & evolutionary biology

Lilly Cleveland, senior, Denver, Colorado, “Tumor Necrosis Factor and Interferon Gamma Expression After High Intensity Exercise,” Philip Gallagher, health, sport & exercise sciences

Megan Hamersky, senior, Lecompton, “The Recovery from Fires in the Amazon Rainforest,” Nathaniel Brunsell, geography & atmospheric science

Morgan Cassidy, senior, Columbus, “Early Universe Dynamics in the Laboratory and Beyond,” Ian Lewis, physics & astronomy

Richard Moser, junior, Perry, “Computer Modelling of Novel Radar Based Neutrino Detection and Tracking,” Dave Besson, physics & astronomy

Samantha Richter, senior, Lawrence, “The Effects of Blood Flow Restrictive Exercise on Metabolic Gene Expression,” Philip Gallagher, health, sport & exercise sciences

Wesley Sportsman, senior, Marceline, Missouri, “Code Development to Study Low Mass Galactic Quenching,” Greg Rudnick, physics & astronomy


Aabhash Khadka, junior, Kathmandu, Nepal, “Overcoming Barriers to Advanced Proteomic Analysis: Elucidating Soil Properties Impacting Active Enzyme Extraction,” Justin Hutchison, civil, environmental & architectural engineering

Avery Mohn, senior, Olathe, “Microplastics in Stormwater: Quantifying Abundance and Characterizing Sources in Johnson County Streams,” Admin Husic, civil, environmental & architectural engineering

Curtis Nelson, senior, Lawrence, “Forensic Study on Damage to Laboratory Model Truss Bridge,” Jian Li, civil engineering

Junyi Zhao, senior, Lawrence, “RelayAttack: Fooling Image-to-Text and Speech-to-Text Translation Systems,” Bo Luo, electrical engineering & computer science

Madelynn Hilgenbrink, senior, Lawrence, “Theory Based Approach for Chiral Metamaterial Discovery for Infrastructure Application,” Anil Misra, civil & architectural engineering

William Powers, junior, McPherson, “BackTrader V2,” Hossein Saiedian, electrical engineering & computer science

Social Sciences

Abeer Iqbal, senior, Urbandale, Iowa, “Impacts of Cognition and Goal Setting on Daily Physical Activity Levels Within a Digital Intervention,” Christopher Cushing, applied behavioral science and psychology

Alysia Martinez, junior, Lenexa, “Network Science as an Approach for Studying the Phonology of Kaqchikel Maya,” Michael Vitevitch, psychology

Amy Qiang, senior, Lenexa, “The Impact of Western Fast Food in China,” Brian Lagotte, global & international studies

Axel Breier, junior, Mission Hills, “Effect of Urbanization on Indigenous Cultural Expression,” Bart Dean, anthropology

Aylar Atadurdyyeva, senior, Bothell, Washington, “Farewell Privet, Hello Salem: Decolonization and Language Reform in Kazakhstan,” Brian Lagotte, global & international studies

Haley Kucera, senior, Topeka, “Does Episodic Future Thinking Shift Preference Towards Monetary or Delayed Options in Cross Commodity Delay Discounting Tasks,” Richard Yi, psychology

Hannah Pennington, senior, Kirkwood, Missouri, “Foreign Funding of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula: Soft Power Implementation in Yemen,” Brian Lagotte, global & international studies

Henry Haw, senior, Lawrence, “Determinants of Decoupling and Friend-Shoring of Japanese Multinationals in China (2018-2022),” Jack Zhang, political science

Irene Caracioni, senior, Lawrence, “The Influence of Party Size on Food Waste,” Dietrich Earnhart, economics

Jordan Tanner, junior, Kansas City, “Vote Center Adoption in the United States,” Ben Merriman, public affairs & administration

Keela Bryant, senior, Lawrence, “Using Text Analysis to Determine the Text Socialness and Text Easibility of Reading Comprehension Assessments,” Meghan Davidson, speech-language-hearing

Lexi Mitchell, senior, Springdale, Arkansas, “Behavioral Economics of Sunless-Fake Tanning and Its Impact on Body Image,” Derek Reed, applied behavioral science

Mary Connor, senior, Plano, Texas, “Back to Benin: An Analysis of Three Call to Repatriate the Benin Bronzes,” Brian Lagotte, global & international studies

Michael Scott, senior, Glenview, Illinois, “Solving the Puzzle of Chinese Sanctions,” Jack Zhang, political science

Nikki Phelps, senior, Verona, Wisconsin, “Reducing Stress in Long Distance Relationships Using a Mobile App,” Omri Gillath, psychology

Rylie Mcdaniel, senior, De Soto, “Exploring Exercise Challenges and Response Strategies Among Adults Aging with Long-Term Vision Disabilities,” Lyndsie Koon, Research and Training Center on Independent Living

Sindhuja Manda, senior, Overland Park, “Investigating Perceptions of Traditional Marriage and Modern Acculturation,” Glenn Adams and Syed Muhammad Omar, social psychology

Sophia Peterson, senior, Wichita, “Assessing the Degree of Agreement Between Self-Report Measures of Sleep and Actigraphy-Derived Sleep Data in Alzheimer’s Disease,” Amber Watts, psychology

Tyler Liggett, senior, Lawrence, “Pivoting Towards China: Assessing Indonesia’s Naval Modernization,” Brian Lagotte, global & international studies

Zakariya Ahmed, junior, Overland Park, “Chinese Investments into Africa’s Energy Infrastructure,” Jack Zhang, political science.

Fri, 12/16/2022


Matt Downen

Media Contacts

Matt Downen

Center for Undergraduate Research