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2021 Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol

Day at the Capitol (Online) 

March 2, 3, 4, 2021 

Check out this year's presentations!

Presentations – Kansas Undergraduate Research Day ( 

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About the event:

  • Five KU students will be selected to join their peers from the other Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) public four-year universities.
  • Research projects that impact and benefit the state of Kansas are preferred but not required.
  • Students will present their research in poster board format to legislators and other members of state government.
  • The purpose of this event is to demonstrate the unique opportunities undergraduate students have to participate with faculty members in research at KBOR universities.


  • All full-time, currently enrolled undergraduate students in good academic standing are eligible.
  • Students in all majors and of all nationalities are encouraged to apply.

The application deadline is 11:59PM Monday, January 4, 2021.

Applicants will be notified by Monday, January 11, 2021.

Expectations of selected presenters:

  • We will be using VidGrid through Fort Hays State University as the presentation platform for this online event. Selected students will receive KU's VidGrid guest recorder link in their notification email.
  • ​​Selected presenters will be provided an email template and they will be expected to email their Kansas hometown legislators by February 1, 2021.
  • Please be aware that student presentation materials will be due by 8:00AM on February 15, 2021 to
  • Presentations will be reviewed and approved by 5:00PM, February 17, 2021.
  • Presenters should plan on checking and responding to comments on their presentation at least twice (AM & PM) each day of the event.

Updated 12/4/2020

To apply:

  • Complete the application prior to 11:59 pm, Monday, January 4, 2021..

The application form includes:

  • A brief abstract written for a general audience; and
  • A brief explanation of how the research impacts and benefits the state of Kansas.

2015 Participants

Cameron Arnold, junior in chemical and petroleum engineering; Topeka, KS; mentored by Reza Barati; “Measuring Rheological Properties of CO2 Foam for Enhanced Oil Recovery.”

Caleb Bobo, junior in political science and African and African-American studies; Shawnee, KS; mentored by Kala Stroup; “African-American Students at Predominately White Universities.”

Alex Kong, senior in pharmaceutical studies; Lawrence, KS; mentored by Jeff Krise; “Evaluating Derivatives of Vitamin E as Therapeutic Agents for Alleviating Lysosomal Trafficking Defects Associated with Neurodegenerative Diseases.”

Annie Libeer, senior in speech-language-hearing: sciences and disorders; Lawrence, KS; mentored by Kostas Kokkinakis; “Auditory Training to Increase Spatial Hearing in Aided Hearing-Impaired Listeners.”

Julia Reynolds, junior in art history; Knoxville, TN; mentored by Susan Earle; “Object-based Research: Is It Mary Magdalene?”

2014 Participants

Jason Bates, senior majoring in chemical engineering; Overland Park, KS; Shawnee Mission East High School; “Novel Solid Acid Catalysts for Biorenewable Chemical Production,” a project to develop effective catalysts from renewable plant-based biomass instead of petrochemicals; research mentor: Bala Subramaniam, chemical & petroleum engineering.

Emma Donachie, senior majoring in environmental studies; Dallas, TX; Ursuline Academy of Dallas; “DNA Extraction of Native Bumble Bees to identify Nosema Bombi,” a project to extract DNA from bumble bees in order to test for Nosema Bombi, a parasite that impacts bumble bee populations; research mentor: Deborah Smith, ecology & evolutionary biology.

Erin Dvorak, senior majoring in photo media; Spencer, IA; Spencer High School; “A Photographic Survey of Electricity Generation in Eastern Kansas,” a project to photograph power plants in Kansas with the purpose of visually communicating current energy methods while promoting the importance of resource and environmental awareness; research mentor: Bryon Darby, design.

Alyssa Ong, senior majoring in finance and accounting; Penang, Malaysia; St. George's Girls' School; “Alternative Breaks: Their Impacts on Students' Attitudes, Perceptions, and Behaviors,” a study of the impact of KU’s Alternative Break program on college students compared to other break experiences; research mentor: Catherine Schwoerer, business.

Kayla Overbey, senior majoring in English and journalism; Hays, KS; Hays High School; “Building An American ‘Little House’: A Cultural Comparison of 19th and 20th Century American and British Children’s Literature,” a comparative exploration of children's literature from America and Britain's "golden ages," with attention specifically paid to the cultural and societal impact of each respective publication's time period on the texts and what values are then passed onto children; research mentor: Mary Klayder, English.

Alexandria Roy, junior majoring in neurobiology; Shawnee, KS; Mill Valley High School; “Identification of miR-137 Targets in Colon Cancer,” a study of the regulatory roles of miR-137 and KLF4 in colon cancer clonogenic growth; research mentor: Liang Xu, molecular biosciences.

Natalie Sabillon, senior majoring in illustration; Lawrence, KS; Free State High School; “Jip the Zebra Children’s Book Creation,” a project to produce a children’s book along with a second-grade class at Hillcrest Elementary School; research mentor: Barry Fitzgerald, design.

Merritt Schenk, senior majoring in applied behavioral science; Hutchinson, KS; Buhler High School; “Behavior Analytic Tests of Artificial Intelligence in Simulated Sports: An Application of the Generalized Matching Law,” a study that will employ video game performance under varying avatar attribute manipulations to answer fundamental questions regarding theories of choice and reinforcement; research mentor: Derek Reed, applied behavioral science.

Sean Weston, senior majoring in American studies; Manhattan, KS; Manhattan High School; “Protestants and Poverty: Religious Responses to Unionization and Strikes in Crawford County, Kansas, 1893-1900,” an analysis of the discourse among Protestant communities in Crawford County, Kansas, in response to the unionization and strikes of coal miners between 1893 and 1900; research mentor: Cheryl Lester, American studies.

Bailey Wilkerson, junior majoring in microbiology; Andover, KS; Andover Central High School; “miRNA Targeting of Msi1 to Suppress Breast Cancer Cell Proliferation,” a study aimed at identifying effective miRNA targets of Msi1 mRNA and utilizing them to down-regulate Msi1 protein production, which will ideally inhibit breast cancer cell proliferation; research mentor: Liang Xu, molecular biosciences.

2013 Participants

Clint Jensen, senior majoring in psychology; Lawrence, Kansas; “Do You See Me?: Using the iPad as a Tool for Assessment and Learning for Children with Cortical Visual Impairment,” an investigation of the learning impact of iPads among children from infancy to age three; research mentor: Evangelia Chrysikou, Department of Psychology.

Wesley Landis, senior majoring in photomedia; Damar, Kansas; “Interstate I-70,” a project to document the beauty along I-70 through photography; research mentor: Pok Chi Lau, Department of Design.

Magdalene Lee, junior majoring in journalism; Singapore; Pioneer Junior College; “Learning through Laughter: ‘The Daily Show’ and How it Shapes the Political Mood among Midwestern College Students,” an investigation of the role of viewing ‘The Daily Show’ on Midwestern college students’ attentiveness to politics and distrust in politicians; research mentor: Hyunjin Seo, School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Megan Nelson, junior majoring in economics; Manhattan, Kansas; Manhattan High School; “Tipping: An Economic Anomaly,” an exploration of the variables that lead to higher or lower tips in the service industry; research mentor: Neal Becker, Department of Economics.

Daniel Nicholson, senior majoring in sociology; Lawrence, Kansas; Lawrence High School; “God and Mammon: Class and Religion and the Impact on Political Support for Conservatism,” an exploration of the impact of class and religion on voting behaviors; research mentors: David Smith and Tracey LaPierre, Department of Sociology.

Casey Pederson, junior majoring in psychology; Clay Center, Kansas; Clay Center Community High School; “The Impact Of Parenting In The Associations Between Child Aggression And Conduct Problems,” an examination of the way that different subtypes of aggression uniquely relate to conduct problems in children and the parenting factors that may buffer and/or contribute to their development; research mentor: Paula Fite, Clinical Child Psychology Department.

Rubie Peters, senior majoring in psychology; Garden City, Kansas; Garden City High School; “Locus of Control as a Significant Personality Trait When Examining Evolutionary Attitudes and Literacy,” an exploration of the relationship between locus of control, religion and belief in evolution; research mentor: Patricia Hawley, Department of Psychology.

Spyros Siscos, senior majoring in health, sport, and exercise science; Olathe, Kansas; Saint Thomas Aquinas High School; “Computerized Neurocognitive Assessment Tests and Detection of the Malingering Athlete,” a study to develop better tests for assessing when an athlete with a concussion can safely return to the playing field; research mentor: Phillip Vardiman, Department of Health, Sport and Exercise Science.

Paul Thomas, sophomore majoring in anthropology and classical antiquities; Ottawa, Kansas; Ottawa High School; “Archaeological Survey of Center Chapel, Franklin County Kansas,” an archeological investigation of the ruins of a small Kansas chapel built around the year 1900; research mentor: Philip Stinson, Department of Classics.

Zhoudunming Tu, senior majoring in physics and mathematics; Guangzhou, China; “ZDC and FSCs on Proton Lead Collision at LHC, CERN,” a study of relativistic heavy ion collisions; research mentor: Michael Murray, Department of Physics and Astronomy.

I need help with my abstract. Where can I find advice and information?

If you need help writing the abstract, consider visiting the KU Writing Center, seeking advice from your research mentor(s), or stopping by our office during Drop-in Office Hours on Fridays from 10am-noon.

My research isn't completed yet.  Am I still eligible to apply?

Yes.  Many students will be in the middle of a research project in February.  We encourage these students to present at the event and share with others their research questions, what work has already been accomplished, and what work is yet to be done.

Why should I apply?

The Kansas Undergraduate Research Day is an opportunity for a select group of undergraduate students to share their research with decision makers in the Kansas Capitol. You will also have the opportunity to visit with your peers from other Kansas universities.

How do I apply?

Please complete the online application prior to the deadline.

I've never done a poster presentation before.  Can I still apply?

Yes. The Center for Undergraduate Research will host a workshop before the Day at the Capitol to assist students in designing a poster of their research and to prepare them to speak with legislators.

If I'm selected, could someone give me a ride to Topeka?

Yes.  Lunch and transportation will be provided on the day of the event.

Capitol Quick Links


11:59PM January 4, 2021

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Research teaches critical thinking and problem solving — top skills sought by employers
KU is a member of the Council on Undergraduate Research
More than 1,200 students have received Undergraduate Research Awards since 1986
KU's first valedictorian, Flora Richardson, conducted research as an undergraduate before graduating in 1873
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
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