Office of Undergraduate Research Announces Fall URCA Award Winners

East Carolina University’s Office of Undergraduate Research announced that 38 students will receive fall Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity awards.

The award provides support for faculty-mentored research and creative projects led by undergraduate researchers in four disciplines including biomedical science, STEM, social science, and the arts and humanities.

Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity awards are announced twice during the academic year. Students apply for the award with a developed project narrative and budget justification summary that they’ve developed in collaboration with a mentor.

Awards range from $1,500-2,000 for each project. Honors College recipients can be awarded up to $2,500 with support from the college. The award may go toward project materials and cost, a stipend for the student, or used for travel to conduct field or archival research. Award recipients are required to present their findings at venues including Undergraduate Day during ECU’s Research and Creative Achievement Week and the State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium held in November.

“The URCA award program is a long-standing tradition at ECU and is our largest single output of funds, accounting for 80 percent of the office’s budget,” said Mary Farwell, director of undergraduate research. “The Academic Council has generously provided increased support over the last several years to keep up with demand. The partnership between our office and the Honors College is a welcome change that allows a more equitable and sustainable approach to funding thesis projects.

“The quality of the research and creative projects have increased substantially since I began as director 10 years ago,” she said. “I very much appreciate faculty mentors and their hard work in supporting these student-led projects.”

This year’s URCA award recipients are:

  • Jocelyn Bayles, nutrition science, “Can food-based learning improve preschoolers vegetable intake?”
  • Lesley Benderman, anatomy and cell biology, “Investigate the role of claudin-7 in intestinal stem cell functions”
  • Hannah Black, biomechanics, “High intensity weightlifting mechanical analysis”
  • Timothy O’Quinn Boykin, anthropology, “Prehistoric artifact classification at Raven Rock State Park”
  • Joshua Butler, engineering, “3D printing patient-specific images for preoperative planning”
  • Mina Chanakira, chemistry, “Investigating protein folding stability and Cu2+ binding ability of a new class of ferroxidase from brucella spp.”
  • Katie Collins, foreign languages and literatures, “Chekhov and Shakespeare on the modern stage: two plays in one show”
  • Caleb Collins, chemistry, “Use of HPLC column retention probes to predict pharmaceutical method development direction”
  • Sean Cone, physics, “Studying the breakdown of fibrin initiated by tPA”
  • Griffin Crail-Steinbaker, Center for Sustainability and Department of Engineering, “Design and development of a frugally-engineered, low-cost energy-savings device for the built environment”
  • Connor Gerney, School of Theatre and Dance, “Twilight boy”
  • William Guiler, psychology, “Effects of a mindfulness-based stress management program for college students”
  • Danish Hasan, School of Dental Medicine Foundational Sciences, “Anti-fungal properties of berberine chloride on candida spp.”
  • Faith Heagy, biology, “Social status-dependent regulation of hypothalamic dopaminergic neurons”
  • Calie Hemgen, geography, “Planning and environment, applying data science to a dense network of precipitation observation in rural Jamaica: 2014-2015”
  • Callie Herman, kinesiology, “Does consumption of slow-releasing carbohydrates improve mental performance following exhaustive exercise?”
  • Felicia E Jaimes, nutrition science, “Matricryptins as regulators of hepatic macrophage phenotype”
  • Megan Koceja, biology, “Investigating how litter decomposition and microbial activity respond to long-term fertilization in a wetland habitat”
  • Hanna Kosnik, physiology, “High fat diet induced sex differences in bladder mitochondrial complexes”
  • Christina Larkins, kinesiology, “Clean up your health intervention”
  • Miranda Lee, physics, “Using microfluidics to study the effect flow has on fibrin properties”
  • Madison McCauley, College of Nursing, “From the students perspective: analysis of graduate students quality improvement (QI) learning outcomes using reflective strategies”
  • Erin McCullen, psychology, “Internalized weight bias and self-compassion study”
  • Jaylon Morehead, biology, “Prenatal supplementation prevents birth defects”
  • Chase Neese, foreign languages and literatures, “Linking Tsiolkovsky’s rocket science to humanities”
  • Radha Patel, biology, “Venom proteomic profiling of wandering spiders”
  • Ryan Patton, emergency medicine, “Physiology, relationship between dopamine and morphine responsiveness after spinal cord injury”
  • Morgan Phillips, biology, “Examining the role of Tpr2 in germ cell division”
  • Samantha Poppenfuse, biochemistry and molecular biology, “Toxicology screening of umbilical cords”
  • Taylor Reed, School of Theatre and Dance, “Legends of the past”
  • Sara Roozbehi, biology, “Microbial influence on zombie crab parasitism”
  • Stephiya Sabu, anatomy and cell biology, “Role of claudin-7 on intestinal inflammation”
  • Anup Sanghvi, engineering, “The effect of downstream resistance in a CABG”
  • Catherine Taylor, College of Nursing, “Function trajectory in older adults with heart failure”
  • Chelsea Thompson, health education and promotion, “Nutrition compliance among cancer patients”
  • Erin Tucci, nutrition science, “miRNA regulation of TLR4 in macrophages”
  • Bhakti Vahewala, biology, “Opsin gene expression in white stickleback”
  • Claudia Woznichak, College of Nursing, “Community engagement in a developing country.”

Learn more about the URCA awards online.