Supporting students, mentors, and instructors engaged in research.

Research Ambassadors

Research Ambassadors, 2017-2018

 


 

Name: Sarah Anderson
Year in School: Senior
Majors: Environmental Studies B.S. and English Creative Writing
Hometown, State: Lowell
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: Tallgrass prairie is a highly complex and endangered habitat that is home to many pollinators that may be affected by how people attempt to maintain prairie remnants and restore areas that were once prairie to their former states. My current research seeks to understand if and how bee body size is affected by the life history and management practices of different prairie sites.  
What aspect of research appeals to you? I enjoy being constantly challenged by new questions as projects progress because these questions lead me to think more deeply and critically about the research I'm doing and the implications that it may have in a broader context.


Name:  Olivia Baird
Year in School:  Sophomore
Major:  Chemical Engineering
Hometown, State:  Overland Park, Kansas
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: My research is centered around the application of electrochemistry to encourage carbon dioxide to react in order to make useful products such as liquid fuel or valuable polymers, which could eventually lead to a solution to climate change. I construct electrodes by hand that then are used with equipment to apply voltage to a liquid sample, which is later analyzed to determine what products have been made.
What aspect of research appeals to you? I love that research is an area in which things will inevitably go wrong; research is essentially a systematic trial and error process. It is an interesting and fulfilling way to learn how to problem solve, which is an essential skill to have.



Name: Mario D. Balcazar
Year in School: Senior
Major:Physics and Electrical Engineering
Hometown, State:La Paz Bolivia
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I work with the High-Energy Physics group on the CMS Experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). My research mainly focuses on particle detector electronics, but it expands different types of projects such as testing of detector modules, development of pixel electronics, or analysis of particle collisions.
What aspect of research appeals to you? In research there is no guaranteed solution, but you are guaranteed to learn a lot in the process. I love spending time on complicated problems and trying to identify the different elements that make them troublesome. Research is a mind engaging activity like no other, it requires dedication, focus, and a lot of patience. It is a challenging task, but also a huge opportunity; the personal reward of discovery is one that cannot be beaten.


Name: Marilyn Barragan
Year in School: Senior
Major: Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Hometown, State: Olathe, Kansas
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I currently work with Dr. Blumenstiel studying the silencing of a gene through epigenetic factors.
What aspect of research appeals to you? I am really fascinated by the role of genetics in disease pathogenisis. Undergraduate research has been able to expose me to a number of research fields and it's been so fun to actually get to be a part of projects and contribute and learn outside of the classroom.



Name: Mary Bishop
Year in School: Sophomore
Major: Pre-Medicine
Hometown, State: Hoxie, Kansas
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I've been involved in a project that involves children's (ages 6-8) knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions towards gender and politics. I'll also be joining the research team at the KU Baby Lab in KC this fall.
What aspect of research appeals to you? Learning new things and being able to discuss it with other individuals who are also interested in the topic. I've also really enjoyed getting to meet new people and creating professional relationships with them.


Name: Evan Bonner
Year in School: Senior
Major: Chemical Engineering
Hometown, State: Dodge City, Kansas 


 

Name: Sebastian Huayamares
Year in School: Senior
Major: Chemical Engineering 


Name: Emmaline Lorenzo
Year in School: Senior
Major: Chemistry, B.S.
Hometown, State: Leawood, Kansas
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: We use the technique of ultra-fast laser spectroscopy to study how light-induced reactions progress. I am currently studying a series of reactions where using the right wavelength of light breaks off a variable side group from a central ring structure.
What aspect of research appeals to you? I really enjoy the collaborative nature of research, because I get to spend time thinking about and designing experiments by myself but also constantly have discussions with peers and mentors about how interpret and improve my work. Sharing my results after months of work have come together is a great feeling, and this gives me the opportunity to hear new insights and suggestions about how to develop my work even further.


Name: Katherin Morales
Year in School: Senior
Major: Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychology
Hometown, State: Emporia, Kansas
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: To better understand and model Alzheimer's disease, I am creating transgenic lines of the nematode worm C. elegans with different variations of tau protein, one of the brain aggregates found in this disease. My current project is looking at how mutations in tau protein affect the locomotory movements of the worms throughout their lifespan.
What aspect of research appeals to you? Compared to lectures, research has not only helped me to better understand my major of neuroscience in a much more robust way, but it also puts me in control of what I'm learning. For example, I get to choose the articles I read and which areas of neuroscience I focus on. Research also gives me the opportunity to discover something new. There is so much we don't know about the human brain, and I find the prospect that I could one day help illuminate some of its mysteries absolutely exhilarating.



Name: Kyle Rampetsreiter
Year in School: Senior
Major: B.S. Biochemistry
Hometown, State: Lee's Summit, Missouri
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: Tissue engineering is continually advancing and has become very diverse in its applications; in my case I have been working to create a novel biomaterial that can be used to assist in bone regeneration. Using both protein and polysaccharide-based polymers, we are working to synthesize a material that is biocompatible and may induce stem cell differentiation into premature bone cells.
What aspect of research appeals to you? Research at the university has provided me with the tools necessary for putting concepts I have learned in the classroom into action and has allowed me to explore new avenues of scientific inquiry. Additionally, my experience as an undergraduate researcher has trained me to think critically when addressing complex questions in scientific investigation - a skill that will benefit me as I pursue a career in science.



Name: Vinamratha Rao
Year in School: Sophomore
Major: Biology (MCDB) and a Minor in Film and Media Studies
Hometown, State: Overland Park, Kansas
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I currently conduct research in the lab of Dr. Kristi Neufeld to understand the role of the RNA-binding protein Musashi-1 in the progression of colon cancer tumor formation. This involves understanding the interactions this protein has with a crucial tumor regulating protein, APC.
What aspect of research appeals to you? What fascinates me is the concept that any step taken in research, whether it leads to relative success or failure, is a step towards further understanding. Research provides an opportunity for any inquisitive person to mature and grow if they work hard and improve upon their mistakes.


 

Name: Emily Reno
Year in School: Senior
Major: Environmental Studies
Hometown, State: Lawrence, Kansas
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I am exploring the barriers to entry for young and beginning farmers in Kansas as it relates to food systems planning. That is, seeing how planners at the city level can create policies that better integrate urban and rural communities and their food needs.
What aspect of research appeals to you? I like that I can use research to explore potential career paths and network with people who work in my desired field of study. I also appreciate the fact that as a researcher you can own your identity and not have to conceal your background or biases.



Name: Eleanor Stewart-Jones
Year in School: Sophomore
Major: Chemistry, with a minor in French
Hometown, State: Mission, Kansas
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I work in an inorganic chemistry lab that is inspired by biology. Throughout nature, a large variety of enzymes that utilize manganese can be found, and some of these have interesting reactivities, and properties. We create manganese based model systems in the lab, and study the metal centers.
What aspect of research appeals to you? I love the challenges that arise in research; the overall goal is to solve some complex problem, but the path to the solution is never easy. Its been amazing to see how my critical thinking skills have improved after just a year in research. I have also enjoyed how supportive the other undergraduate, and graduate students are in teaching new techniques and concepts.



Name: Emily Soludczyk
Year in School: Senior
Major: B.S. in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Hometown, State: Chicago, Illinois
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I work in the university's Biological Anthropology Lab. I study genetic admixture within modern populations to better understand the interactions between Homo Sapiens and Denisovans, an extinct human ancestor.
What aspect of research appeals to you? Research is important to me because I learn skills and techniques that will give me advantages in my field. By working with the CUR I was able to find a mentor and project that led me to find my minor and revealed a whole new field of biology to me. It's incredible to think that the work I do in my lab has never been done before and we're making new advances in the field of science.


 

Name: Zach Wood
Year in School: Junior
Major: Chemistry, Minor in Mathematics
Hometown, State: Eureka
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I am working towards gaining important quantitative insight into tuning electronic characteristics of organometallic molecular wires with the goal of designing new nanoscale materials relevant to applications in organic electronics.
What aspect of research appeals to you? I love every aspect about undergraduate research. The most important aspect to me about research is being able to gain confidence and experience in a subject matter that you are passionate about and gaining the opportunities to propel your education to entirely new levels simply by engaging in undergraduate research.


 

Research Ambassadors, 2016-2017

 

Cameron Arnold

Name: Cameron Arnold
Year in School: Senior
Majors: Petroleum Engineering
Hometown, State: Topeka, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I create different foams by mixing CO2 with a surfactant and then measure their properties to find trends.
Research mentor: Dr. Reza Barati
What aspect of research appeals to you? Having a direct impact on my industry. It’s extremely rewarding to see the information you’ve obtained from your research being used to advance technology and methods in your field.


Mario Balcazar

Name:  Mario Balcazar
Year in School:  Junior
Major:  Physics and Electrical Engineering
Hometown, State: La Paz, Bolivia
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand:  As an undergraduate student researcher, I have been involved in several experiments inside the Particle and Astroparticle Physics research team. I helped with the Antarctic Impulse Transient Array (ANITA) which aims to measure extremely high-energy neutrinos in the Antarctic ice sheet, proceeding from cosmic rays. Also, I’ve been involved in the Telescope Array Radar project (TARA). This projects aims to detect ultra-high energy cosmic rays by the use of bi-static radar, employing radio-frequency antennas as detectors.
Research Mentor: Dave Besson
What aspect of research appeals to you?  The beauty of the universe has always intrigued me. I love its infinite magnitude, spellbinding mystery, and mathematical poetry. Neither I nor anyone else will likely ever understand the universe fully, but doing research, even if the ultimate goal is unreachable, satisfies our deepest, most human intellectual necessities. 


Marilyn Barragan

Name:  Marilyn Barragan
Year in School:  Junior
Major:  Cellular, Molecular, Developmental Biology
Hometown, State:  Olathe, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand:  I work in the tissue engineering and biomaterials lab creating hydrogel pastes to regenerate cartilage in focal defects. The gels are made of cartilage particles and materials, which have great chondroinductive ability, and the paste-like mechanics are needed for the technology to be surgically applied as well as for the gel to remain in the defect site.
Research mentor:  Dr. Detamore
What aspect of research appeals to you?  Being able to work closely with incredible graduate students who share so much wisdom has been a really enriching experience, and now as I begin to work more independently it is the gaining of new skills and troubleshooting abilities that intrigue me.


Name: Ashley Bennett
Year in School:  Senior
Hometown, State:  Lawrence, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand:  Currently, I'm studying the shifting standards hypothesis, by investigating how standards shift for what we deem to be good when evaluating men and women. To do this, we're assessing what the relative good  is for a male and female applicant in terms of GPA and whether it influences the likelihood of receiving an engineering scholarship, with the hypothesis that in spite of having identical transcripts, the woman will be less often awarded the scholarship than the man, reasoning that she is a good applicant for a girl, but not good enough to receive the scholarship for engineering, a male-dominant field.
Research mentor: 
Dr. Monica Biernat and Prof. Claire Gravelin
What aspect of research appeals to you? 
Research is great because you can investigate anything. The more you learn about the statistical data analysis behind the research the more you can appreciate and appropriately interpret a study's findings. Research has given me a purpose here at KU. It is why I get up every morning and go to class, it is why I stay at Watson until 2am studying until I can't see straight; I do these things because I desire to be successful in the field of social psychological research.


Mackenzie Bloom

Name: Mackenzie Bloom
Year in School: Junior
Major: Biology/Genetics
Hometown, State: Louisville, CO
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I do research using mouse models to observe correlations between the number of stem cells and number of polyps in the colon. 
Research mentor: Kristi Neufeld 
What aspect of research appeals to you? I love that research is a way for me to go discover something new that nobody else in the world has known before.

Name: Evan Bonner
Year in School: Junior
Major: Chemical Engineering
Hometown, State: Dodge City, Kansas
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: Vaccines contain an adjuvant that assists the body to pick up the inactive or weakened virus present in the vaccine.  My research involves measuring the surface tension on a lipid monolayer (the outer layer of an animal cell) with and without cholesterol to determine whether or not the adjuvant is involved in making the monolayer more porous, allowing for the virus to be readily picked up for the body to begin making antibodies.
Research Mentor: Lorena Antunez
What aspect of research appeals to you? By researching new and unexplored topics, we are able to expand our knowledge beyond anything that has been done before.  To me, being involved in research is like exploring new places: you might be able to see what's right in front of you, but you'll never know what's on the other side of a hill until you've climbed to the top!


Name: Adebayo Braimah
Year in School: Senior
Major: Chemistry & Mathematics
Hometown, State: Liberal, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I study dye-binding protein domains using spectroscopy.
Research Mentor: Carey Johnson
What aspect of research appeals to you?: Its difficult to pick a few, but my top three would be: the opportunity to apply the skills and techniques I've learned to solve a problem, troubleshooting (it's more interesting than you would expect!), and lastly, the highs of successfully performing an experiment and breakthroughs that completely overshadow the low points of research (such as making the wrong buffer, it happens, or experiments not working as planned e.g. almost all the time).

 


Jacob Chamberlin

Name: Jacob Chamberlin
Year in School: Senior
Major: Psychology
Hometown, State: Wichita, Kansas
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: Currently, I am working on how the motivational climate athletes perceive influences their athletic identity and academic endeavors. 
Research mentor: Dr. Mary Fry
What aspect of research appeals to you? I enjoy working with other researchers to expand the knowledge of what we know, so we can try to make a positive impact in athletics.  


Name:  Cedric Clark
Year in School:  Senior


Amr El Afifi

Name: Amr El Afifi
Year in School: Senior
Major: Political Science/Philosophy
Hometown, State: Kansas City, MO
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I try to look at why different social groups react differently to state-sponsored violence against different social actors.
Research mentor: Dr. F. Michael Wuthrich
What aspect of research appeals to you? I love that I can spend time reading and writing about things that matter to me and not have to worry about a letter grade. ​


Will Fleming

Name: Will Fleming
Year in School: Senior
Major: Anthropology/Applied Behavioral Science
Hometown, State: Leawood, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I research different protective and risk factors associated with substance-abuse disorders among the Miskitu, a Nicaraguan indigenous group. I also study how people make decisions regarding money, alcohol, and sex. 
Research mentor: Dr. David Jarmolowicz
What aspect of research appeals to you? Research never fails to point out how little I know. Every time I think I’ve broken through, research is on the other side—sitting patiently—waiting for me to realize that I’m here asking for more. 


Megan Fox

Name: Megan Fox
Year in School: Senior
Major: English, Global and International Studies
Hometown, State: Wichita, Kansas
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I research the relationship between Shakespeare and Victorian England's popular culture by specifically looking at how the Victorians reacted to the Third Murderer Mystery in Macbeth.  
Research Mentor: Jonathan Lamb
What aspect of research appeals to you? Being able to learn the weird, wacky details of history, and explore the context of these details and how they came about. 


Anissa Fritz

Name:  Anissa Fritz
Year in School:  Senior
Major:  Journalism and Sociology
Hometown, State: Dallas, Texas
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand:  I am researching how a local print newspaper’s coverage and content format effect the working class poor of their community. 
Research mentor:  Brian Donovan
What aspect of research appeals to you?  Research appeals to me because not only do I get to learn more about topics and issues that matter to me, but I also feel like I am making a valuable effort to changing injustices in current society.


Name: Karynn Glover
Year in School: Senior
Hometown, State: Olathe, Kansas
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I am studying how certain motivational climates can serve to optimize the motivation of every individual.
Research mentor: Dr. Mary Fry
What aspect of research appeals to you? Being able to conduct field work that benefits those involved, and when shared, it can impact communities all over.


Ricardo Gonzalez

Name: Ricardo Gonzalez
Year in School:  Senior
Major: Chemical Engineering
Hometown, State: Wichita, Kansas
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand:  Developing and synthesizing cyclic peptides in order to enhance drug delivery to the brain as therapeutics and diagnostic agents for brain diseases.
Research mentor: Dr. Teruna Siahaan 
What aspect of research appeals to you? 
I enjoy biological aspects of researching and how things done in a lab are used to eventually treat the human body in new ways.


Elizabeth Hazelwood

Name:  Elizabeth Hazelwood
Year in School:  Senior
Major:  Microbiology and East Asian Languages & Cultures with an emphasis in Mandarin
Hometown, State:  Manhattan, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand:  I grow E. coli bacteria in varying types and concentrations of carbohydrate sources (sugars) and analyze the growth rates.
Research mentor:  Dr. Christian Ray
What aspect of research appeals to you?  I'm a curious person. My friends like to poke fun at me for asking "Why?" about everything, and I google things so often I have earned myself the unfortunate title of "Google Queen".  I love research because it affords me the opportunity to satisfy my curiosity in real time.


Name: Zachary Hills
Year in School:  Sophomore


 

Name:  Sebastian Huayamares
Year in School:  Junior
Majors:  Chemical Engineering (BS) and Mathematics (BA) with a minor in Business
Hometown, State: Lima, Peru
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand:  Hydrogels are a combination of cross-linked polymers and water that, depending on the choice of polymers and the cross-linking technique, acquire different physical and chemical properties. Currently, I am analyzing the properties of cryogels (hydrogels formed with cryogelling, a relatively new cross-linking technique) made of Gelatin-Methacrylamide and Laponite (which are biocompatible polymers) through swelling studies and rheology, and soon I will be growing stem cells on the cryogels and differentiating them into osteoblasts to test the potential use of cryogels as scaffolds for bioremediation.
Research mentorDr. Arghya Paul
What aspect of research appeals to you? I really enjoy hands-on lab experience that I get doing research, as well as reading publications related to my project.


Yee Ming Khaw

Name: Yee Ming Khaw (Rachel)
Year in School: Senior
Major: Behavioral Neuroscience, B.S.
Hometown, StateMalaysia, Penang
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand:  1. Animal model research: relationship between cannabis and anxiety 2. Clinical research: Relationship between facial expression and emotion 3. Social psych. research: Relationship between food name label and customer attitude. 
Research mentor: Marco Bortolato M.D. PhD, Kenneth MacFarlin (PhD candidate), Xian Zhao (PhD candidate), Dr. Amber Watts
What aspect of research appeals to you? I am fascinated by the process of designing experiments - of reading and gathering information about testing methods, understanding them and then applying them, if not bettering those methods. I am also interested in statistics and mathematics. 


Emmaline Lorenzo

Name: Emmaline Lorenzo
Year in School: Junior
Major: Chemistry
Hometown, State: Leawood, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: We study how light-induced reactions progress in real-time. Our laser spectroscopy technique can be used to understand a wide range of molecules. 
Research Mentor: Dr. Christopher Elles
What aspect of research appeals to you? Research can be a slow process, so I really enjoy seeing months of work come together to produce a successful experiment that I can then go on to share with other people by presenting my work. Other people always have great questions and insight that I would never think of, and this always motivates me to get back in lab and keep working. 

 


Billie Lubis

Name: Billie Lubis
Year in School: senior
Major: Physics and Mathematics
Hometown, State: Overland Park, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I work in high-energy experimental physics, testing silicon forward pixel detectors for the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. Mainly, I hit these detectors with X-rays, which we can then trace by tracking the small disturbances in the silicon through read-out chips attached to the detector. We then analyze the results to determine whether or not the detectors are behaving as they should, before the good detectors get shipped off to eventually be installed in the CMS.
Research Mentor: Dr. Alice Bean and Dr. Phil Baringer
What aspect of research appeals to you?  Research is the best way to understand the practical applications of theoretical material learned in class. It is also great for building relationships with one's professors, as well as learning laboratory techniques that will be needed in graduate school. 

 

Justin Mehoja

Name:  Justin Mehojah
Year in School:  Senior
Major:  Microbiology
Hometown, State:  Albuquerque, New Mexico
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand:  Studying the mechanisms of Ewing Sarcoma using a Zebrafish model.
Research Mentor:  Mizuki Azuma
What aspect of research appeals to you?  Research is stimulating and exciting, knowing the work you are doing is advancing science as a whole.

Parakh Mody

Name: Parakh Mody
Year in School: 5th year senior (graduating in May 2017)
Major: Biochemistry
Hometown, State: Mumbai, India
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: Currently, I'm using a cell monolayer (a single sheet of cells) as a model for the gastrointestinal (GI) barrier to study some of its properties, such as its permeability toward certain drugs, size of pores between cells, etc.
Research Mentor: Mei Feng; PI: Dr. Michael Zhuo Wang
What aspect of research appeals to you?: The lab I'm currently in appealed to me mainly because it advocates for the seamless connection that exists between biomedical research and modern medicine. I'm excited by the fact that research in our lab has a very real possibility of being applied in clinics and hospitals. I'm also immensely interested in the broader field of enhanced drug delivery, which has a wide-ranging impact on potentially every drug that currently exists in the market, and is a major focus in our lab.


Name:  Cassidy Nelson
Year in School: Senior​
Major:  Psychology with a minor in Social and Behavioral Sciences Methodology
Hometown, State: McPherson, Kansas
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand:  I study the individual and combined potential effectiveness of various elements of Dr. Stephen Ilardi's TLC (Theraputic Lifestyle Changes) protocol for depression as to better gauge the significant aspects of each element as well as how each element should be prescribed in relation to one another in order to attain their maximum combined effectiveness.​
Research Mentor:  Dr. Stephen Ilardi and Ph.D Candidate Michael Namekata
What aspect of research appeals to you? I love that I can answer questions I have about the world whilst also being constantly intellectually challenged by the infinite magnitude and perpetual flux of research.


Name: Robert Sagastume
Year in School: Senior
Major: Social Welfare
Hometown, State: San Pedro Sula, Honduras 
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand:  My research focuses on barriers to post-secondary education among undocumented and deferred action for childhood arrival. Through my research I hope to highlight the struggles of these students and potentially influence lawmakers to implement laws that will allow them to have access to post-secondary education. 
Research mentor: Melinda Lewis
What aspect of research appeals to you?: I'm really new to the world of research. What has captivated my interest through research is the multiple opportunities I have to share my findings into real world topics. For example; a lot of the politicians I've talked to in regards to their anti-immigrant policies are generated through rhetoric statements instead of having concrete answers supported by facts as a result through research. It's very satisfactory to support statements with facts when I meet with legislators and try to challenge their perspective on certain anti-immigrant laws.   


Kayla Wilson

Name: Kayla Wilson
Year in School:  Junior
Major:  Cellular, Molecular, Developmental Biology
Hometown, State:  Olathe, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand:  I study and characterize the proteins that localize to a region in between epithelial cells, in Drosophila, called the Septate Junction (SJ); more specifically, I am interested in understanding how these proteins play a role in SJ biogenesis.
Research mentor:  Dr. Robert Ward
What aspect of research appeals to you?  I find it fascinating that the questions that one asks when doing research are almost more important than the answers that are found. Its amazing how a simple question can lead to so much discovery that really has the power to help others and advance technology!


 

Zach Wood

Name: Zach Wood
Year: Sophomore
Major: Chemistry (minor in Math)
Hometown, State: Eureka, MO
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: The Barybin Group at the University of Kansas focuses on creating compounds that can be used in molecular wires with the use of an organic molecule called azulene. This research can have a huge impact on a wide variety of electronics in the future.
Mentor: Dr. Misha Barybin
What aspect of research appeals to you?: I love how research expands one's learning and can really be done by anyone who has a passion for something and is willing to work hard. Without research, we wouldn't be able to expand any aspects of society and no progress would be made. 


Name: Amy Zheng
Year in School: Senior
Major: Chemical engineering
Hometown, state: Lawrence, Kansas
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: The goal of my project is to improve the study of drug metabolism by improving upon a device called an liver-on-a-chip, which mimics blood flow in the body. My project is specifically working on a device that will be able to culture liver cells with immune system cells, which will hopefully improve our ability to mimic the liver.
Research Mentor: Michael Wang
What aspect of research appeals to you?Research has improved my ability to channel my curiosity into solving a specific problem by training my critical thinking skills to be able to ask important questions.


Name: Liran Ziegelman
Year in School: Senior
Major: Behavioral Neuroscience
Hometown, State: Tel-Aviv, Israel
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: My research attempts to determine the relationship between nutrition, obesity, and higher level cognitive processes as well as the best analytical appraoches to accurately draw conclusions from complex and incomplete datasets.
Research mentor: Dr. Amanda Szabo
What aspect of research appeals to you? The most exciting aspect of research is the prospect that there is always more to understand and that nothing is definitive. Research to me means that we must always pursue the truth and that you can devote your life and career to exploring the unknown. 

Research Ambassadors, 2015-2016

Name: Gabriel Alaniz
Major: Theatre
 


 

Name: Cameron Arnold
Year in School: Junior
Majors: Petroleum Engineering
Hometown, State: Topeka, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I create different foams by mixing CO2 with a surfactant and then measure their properties to find trends.
Research mentor: Dr. Reza Barati
What aspect of research appeals to you? Having a direct impact on my industry. It’s extremely rewarding to see the information you’ve obtained from your research being used to advance technology and methods in your field.


Name: Taylor Atkinson
Year in School: Senior
Majors: Biochemistry
Hometown, State: Owatonna, MN
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I work in an organic chemistry lab to synthesize sulfur analogs of the biologically active molecule tetramic acid. 
Research mentor: Dr. Paul R Hanson
What aspect of research appeals to you? I love being able to finally apply the concepts I have been learning about in my lecture courses and textbooks for years. I am the kind of person who learns better when I have a real world application to relate the knowledge to and research has given me the opportunity to do just that.

 

Cornelius Baker

Name: Cornelius Baker
Year in School: Senior
Major: Psychology
Hometown, State: Wichita, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: My research focuses on racial and ethnic minorities and how they perceive mental health. This will hopefully inform how to adapt treatment to one’s self-reported identities. 
Research mentor: Dr. Stephen Ilardi
What aspect of research appeals to you? My interest in research began when I joined my first research lab with Dr. Omri Gillath. I learned very quickly about the many different components of the process. I had gone over the information previously in classes but actually applying what I had learned was a completely separate experience. For the first time I was asked to form my own questions and critically think about how to use the research process to answer them. The ability to create knowledge is what sparked my interest in my field of study. Research for me provides the opportunity to affect change in my community using evidence I discovered. 


Mario Balcazar

Name: Mario Balcazar
Year in School: Sophomore
Major: Physics and Electrical Engineering
Hometown, State: La Paz, Bolivia
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: As an undergraduate student researcher, I have been involved in several experiments inside the Partice and Astroparticle Physics research team. I helped with the Antarctic Impulse Transient Array (ANITA) which aims to measure extremely high-energy neutrinos in the Antarctic ice sheet, proceeding from cosmic rays. Also, I’ve been involved in the Telescope Array Radar project (TARA). This projects aims todetect ultra-high energy cosmic rays by the use of bi-static radar, employing radio-frequency antennas as detectors.
Research Mentor: Dave Besson
What aspect of research appeals to you? The beauty of the universe has always intrigued me. I love its infinite magnitude, spellbinding mystery, and mathematical poetry. Neither I nor anyone else will likely ever understand the universe fully, but doing research, even if the ultimate goal is unreachable, satisfies our deepest, most human intellectual necessities. 


Ashley Bennett

Name: Marilyn Barragan
Year in School: Sophomore
Major: Cellular, Molecular, Developmental Biology
Hometown, State: Olathe, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I work in the tissue engineering and biomaterials lab creating hydrogel pastes to regenerate cartilage in focal defects. The gels are made of cartilage particles and materials, which have great chondroinductive ability, and the paste-like mechanics are needed for the technology to be surgically applied as well as for the gel to remain in the defect site.
Research mentor: Dr. Detamore
What aspect of research appeals to you? Being able to work closely with incredible graduate students who share so much wisdom has been a really enriching experience, and now as I begin to work more independently it is the gaining of new skills and troubleshooting abilities that intrigue me.


Name: Samantha Beauchamp
Major: Microbiology


Ashley Bennett

Name: Ashley Bennett
Year in School: Senior
Hometown, State: Lawrence, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: Currently, I'm studying the shifting standards hypothesis, by investigating how standards shift for what we deem to be good when evaluating men and women. To do this, we're assessing what the relative good evaluation is for a male and female applicant in terms of GPA and whether it influences the likelihood of receiving an engineering scholarship, with the hypothesis that in spite of having identical transcripts, the woman will be less often awarded the scholarship than the man, reasoning that she is a good applicant for a girl, but not good enough to receive the scholarship for engineering, a male-dominant field.
Research mentor: Dr. Monica Biernat and Prof. Claire Gravelin
What aspect of research appeals to you? Research is great because you can investigate anything. The more you learn about the statistical data analysis behind the research the more you can appreciate and appropriately interpret a study's findings. Research has given me a purpose here at KU. It is why I get up every morning and go to class, it is why I stay at Watson until 2am studying until I can't see straight, I do these things because I desire and potential to be successful in the field of social psychological research.

Mackenzie Bloom

Name: Mackenzie Bloom
Year in School: Junior
Major: Biology/Genetics
Hometown, State: Louisville, CO
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I do research using mouse models to observe correlations between the number of stem cells and number of polyps in the colon. 
Research mentor: Kristi Neufeld 
What aspect of research appeals to you? I love that research is a way for me to go discover something new that nobody else in the world has known before.


Name: Adebayo Braimah
Major: Chemistry


Name: Cedric Clark
Major: Biochemistry


Marcela Cuestas

Name: Marcela Cuestas
Year in School: Sophomore
Major: Psychology
Hometown, State: Wichita, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I am doing research in the KU MAD (memory and development lab) with Dr. Andrea Greenhoot and the Addictions Lab with Dr. Bruce Liese. In the MAD Lab, we are working on analyzing narratives of traumatic experiences and how these affect the person's recollection/feelings about the experience. In the Addictions Lab, I am working on a project delves into the similarities and differences between chemical and behavioral addictions, and looking at these similarties and differences through a network science perspective.
Research mentor: Dr. Andrea Greenhoot, Dr. Bruce Liese
What aspect of research appeals to you? The aspect of research I love the most is that in many ways, it is like putting together a puzzle--there are all these holes, all these unanwered questions, and you get the chance to fill in these holes with your research to create a more complete picture of what you are studying.  


 

Behavioral Neuroscience

Name: Jeffery Durbin
Year in School: Senior
Majors: Behavioral Neuroscience
Hometown, State: Fort Scott, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I am interested in the mechanisms of the brain related to word recognition, and I am also interested in the interface between neuroscience and criminal justice.
Research mentor: Robert Fiorentino, Evangelia Chrysikou, Christopher Ramey
What aspect of research appeals to you? I love every aspect of research, but the best component of the research process is the moment one realizes that they have identified a question, developed a way to investigate that question, and found some form of an answer to that question--it provides a nice cohesion surrounding a topic that one really cares for.


Amr El Afifi

Name: Amr El Afifi
Year in School: Junior
Major: Political Science/Philosophy
Hometown, State: Kansas City, MO
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I try to look at why different social groups react differently to state-sponsored violence against different social actors.
Research mentor: Dr. F. Michael Wuthrich
What aspect of research appeals to you? I love that I can spend time reading and writing about things that matter to me and not have to worry about a letter grade. ​

 


Will Fleming

Name: Will Fleming
Year in School: Junior
Major: Anthropology/Applied Behavioral Science
Hometown, State: Leawood, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I research different protective and risk factors associated with substance-abuse disorders among the Miskitu, a Nicaraguan indigenous group. I also study how people make decisions regarding money, alcohol, and sex.
Research mentor: Dr. David Jarmolowicz
What aspect of research appeals to you? Research never fails to point out how little I know. Every time I think I’ve broken through, research is on the other side—sitting patiently—waiting for me to realize that I’m here asking for more. 


Name: Elise Gao
Major: Biochemistry


Elizabeth Hazelwood

Name: Elizabeth Hazelwood
Year in School: Senior
Major: Microbiology and East Asian Languages & Cultures with an emphasis in Mandarin
Hometown, State: Manhattan, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I grow E. coli bacteria in varying types and concentrations of carbohydrate sources (sugars) and analyze the growth rates.
Research mentor: Dr. Christian Ray
What aspect of research appeals to you? I'm a curious person. My friends like to poke fun at me for asking "Why?" about everything, and I google things so often I have earned myself the unfortunate title of "Google Queen".  I love research because it affords me the opportunity to satisfy my curiosity in real time.


 

Hebron Kelecha

Name: Hebron Kelecha
Year in School: Senior
Major: Biochemistry
Hometown, State: Gardner, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I'm studying the enzyme 5α-reductase (5αR) which catalyzes an important rate-limiting step in the synthesis of androstane neurosteroids and how 5αR plays a role in disorders such as Tourette syndrome (TS).
Research mentor: Dr. Marco Bortolato
What aspect of research appeals to you? I really love the autonomy of being able to do research! I enjoy being able to have a project that I know a lot about and can call my own. Its also a great way to to learn classroom material outside of class in a fun, innovative way. Having done research at KU, I have had the pleasure to meet faculty and it has really opened up a lot of opportunities for me as an undergraduate student.


Name: Monica Ketchum
Major: Chemical Engineering


Alex Kong

Name: Alex Kong
Year in School: 4th Year (4/6 for Pharmacy School, but I won't be getting my Bachelor's degree until next year, with the PharmD in 2017)
Major: Pharmaceutical Studies
Hometown, State: Lawrence, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: Several diseases like Alzheimer’s, Sandhoff, and Niemann-Pick disease demonstrate varying degrees of lysosomal dysfunction, meaning that the parts of the cell that essentially act as the digestive system of the cell are not working at their highest capability. My research focuses on both inducing this dysfunction, using drugs for studies, and reversing these conditions through the use of molecules such as vitamin E.
Research mentor: Jeff Krise, Pharmaceutical Chemistry
What aspect of research appeals to you? I love the pursuit of new information, so research is a perfect fit for me. In the past two years that I have been working in my lab, the times that I have enjoyed the most are the ones when I have sat down with another person and discussed the data, what it means, and what direction to go in next. Not only has this been intellectually stimulating, but it has also transformed lessons learned in classes or textbooks into useful tools in the lab.


Name: Mark LaFollette
Year in School: Junior
Majors: Chemical Engineering 
Hometown, State: Olathe, Kansas
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: Using a reaction technique known as hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL), we are able to convert micro-algae into value added products such as high quality crude oil, nitrogen-concentrated aqueous co-product (ACP), and a solid char that is a unique form of calcium phosphate. I study the impacts of different HTL reaction conditions specifically the type of micro-algae reacted and their growth environment.
Research mentor: Susan M. Stagg-Wiliams
What aspect of research appeals to you? Every day doing research you discover or learn something new. Some days it may be minor, such as a better oil and reaction-product extraction technique.  Other days you discover ground breaking information such as a unique and valuable formation of calcium phosphate that you were able to create from pollutants in waste water.


Name: Hannah Morrow
Major: Behavioral Neuroscience


Name: Julia Reynolds
Year in School: Senior
Major: History of Art
Hometown, State: Knoxville, TN
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand:  I'm trying to place a sculpture located at the Spencer Museum of Art in its time period and original location. I'm also looking into whether it represents Mary Magdalene or another female religious figure.
Research mentor: Dr. Susan Earle
What aspect of research appeals to you?: I love the hands-on nature of research and the chance to look at one object in such depth. I could never have that kind of experience in a classroom!


 

Kayla Wilson

Name: Kayla Wilson
Year in School: Sophomore
Major: Cellular, Molecular, Developmental Biology
Hometown, State: Olathe, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: study and characterize the proteins that localize to a region in between epithelial cells, in Drosophila, called the Septate Junction (SJ); more specifically, I am interested in understanding how these proteins play a role in SJ biogenesis.
Research mentor: Dr. Robert Ward
What aspect of research appeals to you? I find it fascinating that the questions that one asks when doing research is almost more important than the answers that are found. Its amazing how a simple question can lead to so much discovery that really has the power to help others and advance technology!


Kayla Wilson

Name: Amy Zheng
Year: Senior
Major: Chemical engineering
Hometown, state: Lawrence Kansas
Research: Creating an oral pill form of the drug amphotericin B (AmB) which is one of the most effective drugs against fungi and protazoic parasites.
Research Mentor: Dr. Zhuo Wang and Dr. Sihyung Yang in Pharmaceutical Chemistry
Appeals of Research: Research has given me a chance to meet people that are passionate and supportive and as a result have challenged and inspired me. I love analyzing data and getting to piece together a solution to my unanswered questions and constantly developing new routes to solve problems. Research has also allowed me to improve my technical writing and critical analysis skills. 

 

Research Ambassadors, 2014-2015

Alex Kong

Name: Alex Kong
Year in School: 4th Year (4/6 for Pharmacy School, but I won't be getting my Bachelor's degree until next year, with the PharmD in 2017)
Major: Pharmaceutical Studies
Hometown, State: Lawrence, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: Several diseases like Alzheimer’s, Sandhoff, and Niemann-Pick disease demonstrate varying degrees of lysosomal dysfunction, meaning that the parts of the cell that essentially act as the digestive system of the cell are not working at their highest capability. My research focuses on both inducing this dysfunction, using drugs for studies, and reversing these conditions through the use of molecules such as vitamin E.
Research mentor: Jeff Krise, Pharmaceutical Chemistry
What aspect of research appeals to you? I love the pursuit of new information, so research is a perfect fit for me. In the past two years that I have been working in my lab, the times that I have enjoyed the most are the ones when I have sat down with another person and discussed the data, what it means, and what direction to go in next. Not only has this been intellectually stimulating, but it has also transformed lessons learned in classes or textbooks into useful tools in the lab.


Name: Amy Zheng
Year: Junior
Major: Chemical engineering
Hometown, state: Lawrence Kansas
Research: Creating an oral pill form of the drug amphotericin B (AmB) which is one of the most effective drugs against fungi and protazoic parasites.
Research Mentor: Dr. Zhuo Wang and Dr. Sihyung Yang in Pharmaceutical Chemistry
Appeals of Research: Research has given me a chance to meet people that are passionate and supportive and as a result have challenged and inspired me. I love analyzing data and getting to piece together a solution to my unanswered questions and constantly developing new routes to solve problems. Research has also allowed me to improve my technical writing and critical analysis skills. 


Name:  Ashley Farris
Year in School: Senior
Majors:  Biochemistry, B.S.
Hometown, State:  Wichita, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand:  I design replacement tissues for patients with congenital or injury-related defects, primarily focusing on regrowing cartilage and bone. 
Research mentor: Prof. Michael Detamore
What aspect of research appeals to you? Research allows me to generate new knowledge, which can then be used to help thousands or hundreds of thousands of patients in need.


Name: Cameron Arnold
Year in School: Sophomore
Majors: Petroleum Engineering
Hometown, State: Topeka, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I create different foams by mixing CO2 with a surfactant and then measure their properties to find trends.
Research mentor: Dr. Reza Barati
What aspect of research appeals to you? Having a direct impact on my industry. It’s extremely rewarding to see the information you’ve obtained from your research being used to advance technology and methods in your field.


Name: James Miller
Year in School: 5th year senior (I graduate in December)
Majors: Chemical engineering
Hometown, State: Olathe, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I determine the catalytic properties of biochar, which is a byproduct of the conversion of waste water algae into biofuel. 
Research mentor: Dr. Williams is my professor, Robbie Hable is my graduate student
What aspect of research appeals to you? I love the idea that the work I'm doing has never been done before. I also enjoy the process: the challenge associated with designing research plans, the sense of fulfillment that follows a successful experiment, and the idea that I am contributing to something that has the potential to positively impact the lives of many people in the future. You can't get that in a classroom! 


Name: Jeffery Durbin
Year in School: Senior
Majors: Behavioral Neuroscience
Hometown, State: Fort Scott, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I am interested in the mechanisms of the brain related to word recognition, and I am also interested in the interface between neuroscience and criminal justice.
Research mentor: Robert Fiorentino, Evangelia Chrysikou, Christopher Ramey
What aspect of research appeals to you? I love every aspect of research, but the best component of the research process is the moment one realizes that they have identified a question, developed a way to investigate that question, and found some form of an answer to that question--it provides a nice cohesion surrounding a topic that one really cares for.


Name: Julia Reynolds
Year in School: Junior
Major: History of Art
Hometown, State: Knoxville, TN
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand:  I'm trying to place a sculpture located at the Spencer Museum of Art in its time period and original location. I'm also looking into whether it represents Mary Magdalene or another female religious figure.
Research mentor: Dr. Susan Earle
What aspect of research appeals to you?: I love the hands-on nature of research and the chance to look at one object in such depth. I could never have that kind of experience in a classroom! 


Name:  Marcus Florez
Year in School: Senior
Majors: Chemistry:(Biochemistry)
Hometown, State: Bel Aire, Ks
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand:  One of my projects is on investigating the genetic factors that influence the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Specifically, we are looking at two genes, known as APOE and TOMM40, that have been associated with the disease, and we are also looking at the differences in the DNA found in the organelle, the mitochondria.
Research mentor: Dr. Elias Michaelis
What aspect of research appeals to you?  I really love the idea of trying to solve a question that no one else has yet to answer. I enjoy being a part of a team that is trying to expand our understanding of a major disease in our society.  I also really like all the opportunities that doing research has to offer (scholarships, internships, jobs, networking etc.)


Name:  Nadia Hamid
Year in School: Senior 
Majors: Chemistry, minor in Psychology 
Hometown, State: Lawrence, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand:  I study drug distribution and localization within human cells with the ultimate goal of improving drug efficacy.
Research mentor:  Jeff Krise in Pharmaceutical Chemistry
What aspect of research appeals to you? I enjoy being able to follow through with a project from its beginning stages to the end, whether that is a publication, presentation, or some other means of communicating your work. Research also gives me a chance to be a part of the scientific community, and to collaborate with other scientists.


Name: Nicole Humphrey
Year in School: Junior
Majors: Political Science and Public Administration
Hometown, State: Lawrence, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: My research focuses on the process of globalization and its future influences. Specifically, I look at the European Union and how it has transformed due to globalization.
Research Mentor: Dr. Paul Schumaker
What aspect of research appeals to you? What I enjoy about research is the opportunity to study a topic that interests with without having to sit in a classroom.


Name: Paul Thomas
Year in School: Senior
Majors: Anthropology/Classical Antiquity
Hometown, State: Ottawa, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I am excavating the ruins of a late 19th century chapel south of Ottawa, KS, using techniques utilized by archaeologists.
Research mentor: Professor Philip Stinson
What aspect of research appeals to you? I enjoy discovering new information, especially if it can be used to educate others. My research allows me to dig into the past and uncover objects or information that has been lost for many years. I hope to be able to use what I have uncovered to enlighten others about the past.


Name: Schuyler Kraus
Year in School: Senior
Majors: Environmental Studies & East Asian Language & Culture – Chinese Language & Literature
Hometown, State: Allen, Texas
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I’m researching how an urban ecovillage, Cleveland Ecovillage, fits in the context of the global ecovillage movement’s values and goals. I hope this research can provide insight for other urban areas seeking to integrate social, economic, environmental sustainability into their planning. Additionally, this research is also an inquiry into the tension between capitalism and sustainability, and whether the two can co-exist.
Research mentor: Dr. Chris Brown, Environmental Studies and Geography Department
What aspect of research appeals to you? I particularly enjoy conducting independent research because it allows me to use concepts and tools acquired in the classroom to explore topics of my own interest. I appreciate that independent research allows me to both learn from and teach others about the connections between political and economic systems, environmental justice, and sustainability.


Name: Taylor Atkinson
Year in School: Junior
Majors: Biochemistry
Hometown, State: Owatonna, MN
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I work in an organic chemistry lab to synthesize sulfur analogs of the biologically active molecule tetramic acid. 
Research mentor: Dr. Paul R Hanson
What aspect of research appeals to you? I love being able to finally apply the concepts I have been learning about in my lecture courses and textbooks for years. I am the kind of person who learns better when I have a real world application to relate the knowledge to and research has given me the opportunity to do just that.


Name: Thomas Anneberg
Year in School: Senior
Majors: Biology
Hometown, State: Manhattan, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: My research is centered on describing the courtship display of the fruit fly species Drosophila americana. I focus primarily on the wing song that the male and female produce along with other sensory cues that a courting pair send to each other.
Research mentor: Dr. Jennifer Gleason
What aspect of research appeals to you? What I find most appealing about conducting my own research is that it may be used as a tool to answer academic questions that have yet to be thoroughly investigated by using a choice model organism. You essentially are at the very forefront of what is known about your area of study.


Name: Mark LaFollette
Year in School: Sophomore
Majors: Chemical Engineering 
Hometown, State: Olathe, Kansas
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: Using a reaction technique known as hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL), we are able to convert micro-algae into value added products such as high quality crude oil, nitrogen-concentrated aqueous co-product (ACP), and a solid char that is a unique form of calcium phosphate. I study the impacts of different HTL reaction conditions specifically the type of micro-algae reacted and their growth environment.
Research mentor: Susan M. Stagg-Wiliams
What aspect of research appeals to you? Every day doing research you discover or learn something new. Some days it may be minor, such as a better oil and reaction-product extraction technique.  Other days you discover ground breaking information such as a unique and valuable formation of calcium phosphate that you were able to create from pollutants in waste water.

Research Leaders, 2013-2014

Name: Caleb Christianson
Year in school: Senior
Major: Engineering Physics
Hometown, State: Napoleon, MO
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand:
My research has consisted of investigating physical phenomena at the nanoscale. I've worked on projects involving biosensors, superconductors, infrared (heat) detectors, and metamaterials.
Research mentor: Dr. Judy Wu
What aspect of research appeals to you?
I really enjoy being able to learn about a new topic, get excited and curious about it, and then start searching for answers that satisfy  (and further ignite) my curiosity.


 


Name: Lianna Dang
Year in school: Senior
Major: Chemistry
Hometown, State: Shawnee, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand:
I work on preparing nanoparticles and nanomaterials to 1) convert biomass to valuable chemicals and make biodiesel production more cost-effective and 2) sense small molecules within the body, my new project.
Research mentor: Shenqiang Ren, Chemistry
What aspect of research appeals to you?
I can ask questions that people don't know the answers to yet - and then find those answers out myself through the experiments that I work on. I also get to work with people in a lot of different fields & practice my public speaking and presentation skills.

 

 



Name: Gregory Phillip Ervin
Year in School: Junior
Majors: Interdisciplinary Computing and Biology
Hometown, State: Originally from Dallas Texas, but live in Lawrence, KS permanently now.
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand:
My research aims to understand the reasons why some brain regions are more susceptible to Alzheimers Disease. The goal is to eventually develop preventative therapies.
Research Mentors: Dr.  Eli K Michaelis and Dr Xinkun Wang
What aspect of research appeals to you?
The brain is fascinating and extremely complicated. There's a lot we don't know,  but we're constantly filling in the gaps. Also, having seen Alzheimer's Disease first hand at the hospice where my mother works has given me a strong sense of compassion for those suffering from the disease.
 

 

 


Name: Marcus Florez
Year: Junior
Major: Chemistry
Hometown: Wichita, Kansas
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand:
One of my projects is on investigating the genetic factors that influence the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Specifically, we are looking at two genes, known as APOE and TOMM40, that have been associated with the disease, and we are also looking at the differences in the DNA found in the organelle called the mitochondria. In other words, the mitochondria is like an organ for the cell which produces the energy for the cell.
Research Mentor: Dr. Elias Michaelis
What aspect of research appeals to you:
Ever since I was a young child, I had always been curious about science and phenomenon that are not fully understood. When I started attending KU, I was quickly able to satiate this curiosity by joining a lab that gave me the chance to explore an uncured disease. The complexity of Alzheimer's disease, and our lack of understanding, drives my interest in conducting research on this disease. I hope that one day I can be a part of expanding our understanding of this disease, and help determine better therapeutic targets or diagnostic techniques for Alzheimer's. Conducting research has also allowed me to apply what I have learned in class, and has reshaped my thinking on how to approach and solve problems. I have truly enjoyed the time I spent in this lab because of the variety of experimental techniques and analysis I employ that help me to learn more every day about Alzheimer's disease. Doing research here at KU has further given me many amazing opportunities to conduct research at outside universities, attend research conferences, meet truly awesome individuals, and present my findings to my peers.
 


Name: Erin Fulton
Year in school: Senior
Major: Musicology
Hometown, State: Lane County, Kansas
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand:
Most of my work has centered on early American hymnody. My current project contrasts two different types of part-writing used in American hymnals between 1820 and 1850 by comparing secular music representative of both styles.
Research mentor: Dr. Paul Laird, professor of musicology
What aspect of research appeals to you?
I relish the idea that I can draw attention to musics that are both little-performed and have received scant scholarly attention.



 


Name: Clint Jensen
Year in School: Senior
Majors: Psychology, Film & Media Studies, Minor in Social and Behavioral Sciences Methodology
Hometown, State: Kansas City, MO
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand:
My current research involves the role of analogies in the ability to transfer knowledge from a training session to a subsequent testing session. So that we may better understand how these analogies are being attended to during the learning session, and utilized during the testing session, we are incorporating eye-tracking into our study.
Research mentor: I am conducting this research under the mentorship of Dr. Evangelia Chrysikou
What aspect of research appeals to you?
Research, in general, appeals to me because it affords us the ability to gain understanding of the mechanisms that underlie the processes of our world. Through ordered investigation we can place these elements of understanding within larger theoretical frameworks that in turn allow both further clarity to be achieved and deeper more refined questions to be considered.


Name: Alex Kong
Year in school: 3rd-Year Pharmacy Student (3P)
Major: Pharmacy
Hometown, State: Lawrence, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: Several diseases like Alzheimer’s, Sandhoff, and Niemann-Pick disease demonstrate varying degrees of lysosomal dysfunction, meaning that the parts of the cell that essentially act as the digestive system of the cell are not working at their highest capability. My research focuses on both inducing this dysfunction, using drugs for studies, and reversing these conditions through the use of molecules such as vitamin E.
Research Mentor: Jeff Krise
What aspect of research appeals to you?
I love the pursuit of new information, so research is my perfect fit. In the past two years that I have been working in my lab, the times that I have enjoyed the most are the ones when I have sat down with another person and discussed the data, what it means, and what direction to go in next. Not only has this been intellectually stimulating, but it has also transformed lessons learned in classes or textbooks into useful tools in the lab.
 


Name: Schuyler Kraus
Year in School: Junior
Majors: Environmental Studies, East Asian Language & Culture – Chinese Language & Literature
Hometown, State: Allen, Texas
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I’m currently researching how an ecovillage run by a community development organization in Cleveland, Cleveland Ecovillage, fits in the context of the global ecovillage movement’s values and goals. I hope this research can serve as a model for urban areas as they transition into increasingly sustainable communities. Additionally, this research is also an inquiry into the tension between capitalism and sustainability, and whether the two can co-exist.
Research mentor: Dr. Chris Brown, Environmental Studies and Geography Department
What aspect of research appeals to you? I particularly enjoy conducting independent research because it allows me to use concepts and tools acquired in the classroom to explore topics of my own interest. I appreciate that independent research allows me to both learn from and teach others about the connections between political and economic systems, environmental justice, and sustainability.


Name: Holly Lafferty
Year in school: Senior
Major: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Hometown, State: Fairway, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand: I am researching trophic position of fish using stable isotope analysis. I am specifically looking into how nutritional stress could affect the results of the stable isotope analysis.
Research mentor: James H. Thorp
What aspect of research appeals to you? The adventure of being in the field


Name: Magdalene Lee
Year in school: Senior Year
Major: Journalism with a minor in Economics, concentrations in History and Mathematics
Hometown, State: Singapore
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand:
My current research aims to study the role of The Daily Show - a late-night entertainment-based talk show and fake news program airing on cable’s Comedy Central at 11.00 p.m., Monday through Thursday - in attentiveness to politics and distrust toward politicians among Midwestern college students.
Research mentor: Professor Hyunjin Seo
What aspect of research appeals to you?
Going beyond classroom knowledge and applying what I have learned to solve real-world problems.

 


Name:  Casey Pederson
Year in school: Senior
Major: Psychology, Minor: Social and Behavioral Sciences Methodology
Hometown, State: Clay Center, KS
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand:
My research focuses on the way social influences (e.g. family, peers) contribute to the development of behavior problems in children. For example, I recently completed a project examining how parenting behaviors can differently affect the way aggression relates to oppositional and defiant behavior in children.
Research mentor: Paula Fite
What aspect of research appeals to you?
Research provides a systematic way of knowing. Within that framework, I enjoy the aspects of research that make it systematic, such as methodology and analysis. Designing studies and analyzing the data provide an important foundation for drawing conclusions.


Name: Kelly Rodriguez Manyari
Year/standing in school: Senior
Major: Electrical Engineering
Hometown, State:  Lima, Peru
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand:
Implement Digital Signal and data processing algorithms for RADAR/SONAR.
Research mentor: Dr. John Paden
What aspect of research appeals to you? 
I would like to work on advanced digital electronics in order to enhance human abilities and communication systems.


Name: Alexandria Roy
Year in school: Junior
Major: B.S., Biology, Neurobiology Concentration
Hometown, State: Shawnee, Kansas
Describe your research in 1-2 sentences we can all understand:
I am exploring genetic factors that contribute to colon cancer etiology, specifically a class of non-protein coding RNAs called microRNAs. Understanding the role of miRNA regulation in cancer may provide important impetus to developing miRNA-based molecular therapy.
Research mentors: Dr. Liang Xu and Ph.D. Candidate Amber Smith
What aspect of research appeals to you?
I've always loved to challenge myself, and I believe the best way to really understand something is to apply your knowledge to explore unanswered questions. I truly enjoy working in my lab, but my favorite part of research is knowing one day it will have meaningful clinical applications.

 

 


 

Name: Josh Russell
Year/standing: Senior
Major: Economics, minor in Mathematics
Hometown, State: Lawrence, KS
Research: I am trying trying to understand the effect resources have on different educational outcomes in Kansas and Missouri. I do this by linking resources, as well as other inputs, to the outcomes of test scores, graduation rates, retention rates, discipline rates, and dropout rates using regression analysis.
Mentor: Dr. Donna Ginther
What appeals to me: I love the feeling of being 'in the know.' Being the first person to really explore a topic in depth, and expanding on others' knowledge.


Connect With Us
Research teaches critical thinking and problem solving — top skills sought by employers
The Research Experience Program has certified more than 2,000 students since 2005
KU is a member of the Council on Undergraduate Research
More than 1,200 students have received Undergraduate Research Awards since 1986
More than 150 mentors sponsored undergraduate projects through the Center for Undergraduate Research each year
KU's first valedictorian, Flora Richardson, conducted research as an undergraduate before graduating in 1873
Highlight your research on your transcript: Get certified through the Research Experience Program
Use research to apply what you learned in the classroom to a real problem
Students who perform research develop strong relationships with KU faculty
Research is a hands-on way to explore career options
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report