News

• Student Accomplishments – May 2020

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Please join us in congratulating the UConn undergraduates named below for their significant research and creative accomplishments in spring 2020. Students: if you have an accomplishment to share, please do so using this online form.

AWARDS

Congratulations to Christopher Choi ’20 (ENG, CLAS), Ariane Garrett ’20 (ENG), and Brittany Smith ’20 (ENG), the undergraduate recipients of 2020 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships! They are among the 12 UConn students and alumni who won NSF Graduate Research Fellowships this year.

Congratulations to Michael Hernández ’22 (CLAS), UConn’s newest Newman Civic Fellow. Michael is an Honors student at the Stamford campus majoring in Political Science and Economics. Michael has been active in pursuing social change through enacting innovative public policies such as the Afford to Dream Act which gives undocumented students access to financial aid at state colleges and universities.


PUBLICATIONS

Berk Alpay ’21 (ENG) is the lead author on publication based on his Holster Scholar research project:

Alpay, B.A., Wanik, D., Watson, P., Cerrai, D., Liang, G., & Anagnostou, E. (2020). Dynamic Modeling of Power Outages Caused by Thunderstorms. Forecasting, 2, 151-162, doi: 10.3390/forecast2020008

Ariane Garrett ’20 (ENG) is the lead author on a new publication from Dr. Kazunori Hoshino’s lab in Biomedical Engineering:

Garrett, A., Soler, G.J., Diluna, M.L, Grant, R.A., Zaveri, H.P., & Hoshino, K. (2020). A passive, biocompatible microfluidic flow sensor to assess flows in a cerebral spinal fluid shunt. Sensors and Actuators A: Physical doi: 10.1016/j.sna.2020.112110

SURF Award recipient Timothy Mason ’21 (CLAS) was a co-author on a recent publication from Dr. Barbara Mellone’s lab in Molecular and Cell Biology:

Palladino, J., Chavan, A., Sposato, A., Mason, T.D., & Mellone, B.G. (2020). Targeted de novo centromere formation in Drosophila reveals versatility and maintenance potential of CENP-A chromatin. Developmental Cell, 52, 379-394, doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2020.01.005


EXHIBITIONS AND SCREENINGS

Spring 2020 included a series of scheduled art exhibitions and screenings by the following undergraduate students, some of which were canceled or delayed due to COVID-19:

Yosemite Lights Screening PosterMaggie Chafouleas ’22 (CAHNR) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
Charlotte Lao ’20 (ENG) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
Eric Wang ’21 (ENG) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
Eric Yang ’21 (CLAS) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
Yosemite Lights – A Travel Documentary

Nina Drozdenko ’19 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
What Are You? Documenting Filipino American Diversity Through Film

Esme Roszel ’20 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
My Dear Little Mother

Brock Sanford ’21 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
Working on a Dream

Hannah Smaglis ’20 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
Idiosyncratic


PRESENTATIONS

The COVID-19 public health situation in spring 2020 resulted in the shift to an online modality or cancellation of many scheduled professional conferences and meetings. Canceled events are denoted with an asterisk below; virtual conferences are denoted parenthetically.

Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology – January 3-7, 2020 – Austin, TX

Ariana Rojas ’21 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
The Evolution of Gut Pattering in Tardigrades

American Astronomical Society Annual Meeting – January 4-8, 2020 – Honolulu, HI

Joyce Caliendo ’21 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Constraining the Gas Fraction of a Compact Quiescent Galaxy at z=1.9 with the Large Millimeter Telescope

Josh Machado ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Ammonia Measurements in W51

Tyler Metivier ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Simulating the Recovery of Merger Signatures with Illustris

International Saxophone Symposium – January 10-11, 2020 – Fairfax, VA

Ryan Adams ’22 (SFA), Noah Brisson ’20 (SFA), Sean McCormick ’20 (SFA), and Tessa Webb ’22 (SFA) – OUR Travel Award recipients
Paradigm Saxophone Quartet

Plant and Animal Genome XXVIII Conference – January 11-15, 2020 – San Diego, CA

Jeremy Bennett ’20 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
EASEL: An Integrated and Accessible Framework for the Annotation of Eukaryotic Reference Genomes

Akriti Bhattarai ’21 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Assembly and Annotation of the American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) Genome

Ava Fritz ’20 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Investigating Genetic Signatures Associated with Reduced Mortality Against Emerald Ash Borer in Green Ash

Joint Mathematics Meetings – January 15-18, 2020 – Denver, CO

Daniel Meskill ’21 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Noise-Induced Stabilization of Hamiltonian Systems

Electronic Materials and Applications 2020 – January 22-24, 2020 – Orlando, FL

Lucas Enright ’20 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
W-Band Dielectric Property Characterization of Yttria-Stabilized Zirconia at High Temperature

Victoria Reichelderfer ’20 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Piezoresponse Predictions in Novel Ferroelectric Nanostructures

Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (Region 1) – January 28-February 1, 2020 – Barnstable, MA

Edmond Vitcavage ’20 (SFA, CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.

Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy – February 5-7, 2020 – Blacksburg, VA

Felipe Sanches ’22 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient (unable to attend)
Profiles in Courage, “Ganas,” and Belonging at a Major University

International Conference on Writing Analytics – February 6-8, 2020 – St. Petersburg, FL

Eli Udler ’20 (ENG, CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Applications of Data Science to Writing Center Research: Actionable Insights from Natural Language Data

Eastern Sociological Society Annual Meeting – February 27-March 1, 2020 – Philadelphia, PA

Jenifer Gaitan ’21 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Voces: First-Generation Latinx Students Discuss Their Support Networks

*American Physical Society March Meeting – March 2-6, 2020 – Denver, CO

Cong Hu ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Modeling Hyperfine Coupling in Molecular Qubits

Northeast Modern Language Association Annual Convention – March 5-8, 2020 – Boston, MA

Owen Spangler ’23 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
The Positive Role of Humor in Historically Oppressed Communities

*National Conference of Black Political Scientists – March 11-14, 2020 – Atlanta, GA

Michael Christie ’23 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Fighting for the “Black Cerebral”: Black Virginians’ Struggle for Public Education, 1865-1875

Eastern Psychological Association Meeting – March 12-14, 2020 – Boston, MA (moved to virtual format June 17-18)

Julia Devincenzi ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Approach Biases in People Demonstrating Problematic Gaming Habits

Marcella Dibona ’20 (CLAS) & Emily Hotz ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipients
EEG Mu Rhythm Desynchronization and Language in 18- and 24-Month-Old Infants

Steven Dorzens ’20 (CLAS) OUR Travel Award recipient
Behavioral Biases in Regular Caffeine Users

Yvonne Laporte ’20 (CLAS) OUR Travel Award recipient
Attention Bias Variability: Its Stability and Prediction of GAD in a Short-Term Longitudinal Design

*American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry Annual Meeting – March 13-16, 2020 – San Antonio, TX 

Margaret Ann Lewerk ’20 (CAHNR) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Memory Complaints and Depression Treatment in Older Adults

Cognitive Neuroscience Society Annual Meeting – March 14-17, 2020 – Boston, MA (moved to virtual format May 2-5, 2020)

Stephanie Chinwo ’21 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Traveling Back in Time: How Do Temporal Terms Shape Our Expectations for The Unfolding Linguistic Input

Pavitra Rao Makarla ’21 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Empathy Influences Behavioral Perceptions and Eye Movements in Non-Literal Language Processing

*Eastern Society for Pediatric Research Annual Meeting – March 13-15, 2020 – Philadelphia, PA

Monitha Patel ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Low Reported Cyberbullying in Patients Due to Misinterpretation of Cyberbullying

Seda Sahin ‘ 20 (CLAS) & Samantha Seibel ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipients
The Role of Gender in Adolescent Perceptions of Sexual Health Education

CUNY Human Sentence Processing Annual Conference – March 18-21, 2020 – Amherst, MA (moved to a virtual format March 19-21)

Lindsey Neri ’20 (CLAS) & Grace Roy ’21 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Investigating the Interplay between Morpho-syntax and Memory for Events: The Case of Past Participles

*American Pharmacists Association Annual Meeting – March 20-23, 2020 – National Harbor, MD 

Maria Latta ’20 (PHR) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Evaluating University Support in the Sustainability of Public Health Programs: The CT WISEWOMAN Medication Therapy Management (MTM) Program

*Society of Behavioral Medicine Annual Meeting – April 1-4, 2020 – San Francisco, CA

Annika Anderson ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Perceptions and Experiences of Women Testing Positive for BRCA1/2 Genetic Mutations: A Qualitative Analysis

Maya Benson ’21 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Executive Functioning and Foods in the Home Before and During an Online Behavioral Weight-Loss Program

Jason Chan ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
NIH Cancer Survivorship and CTBHI Genetic Grants

*Northeast Writing Center Association Conference – April 3-4, 2020 – Durham, NH

Amir Agoora ’20 (CLAS) & Erica Popoca ’22 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipients
Grammatical and Stylistic Workshops Within the Writing Center

Jennifer Koo ’20 (CAHNR, CLAS), Rosemary O’Mahony ’22 (CLAS) & Deevena Annavarjula ’21 (CAHNR) – OUR Travel Award recipients
Exploring the Social and Emotional Dimensions of Disability in the Writing Center: Perspectives from Students with Dyslexia

Emily O’Hara ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Writing Through Discomfort: Effective Tutoring of Complaints and Grievances

Yasmine Shwayhat ’20 (BUS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Writing Center Scheduler Research

*Experimental Biology – April 4-7, 2020 – San Diego, CA

Chang Sun ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Lack of Receptor of Advanced Glycation End Products (RAGE) Attenuates Long-Term Cigarette Smoke Exposure-Induced Vascular Dysfunction in C57BL6 Mice

*New England Science Symposium – April 5, 2020 – Boston, MA

Sarah Tsuro ’21 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Marginalized Identities on the Clinical and Psychosocial Keloid Impact on Quality of Life

*Benthic Ecology Meeting – April 7-10, 2020 – Wilmington, NC

Annalee Mears ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Stoichiometry of Fear: Do Predators Affect the Balance of Carbon and Nitrogen in their Prey

*American Association of Physical Anthropologists Annual Meeting – April 15-18, 2020 – Los Angeles, CA

Srishti Sadhir ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Investigating the Relationship between Skin Color and Vitamin D Deficiency in Baboons (Papio)

*Northeast Natural History Conference – April 17-19, 2020 – Stamford, CT

Sarah Anderson ’21 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
The Effect of Group Size on the Aggressiveness of Nasutitermes Corniger Termites

Madison Molnar ’22 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Effect of Colony Ratio on Termite Combat Behavior

*American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting – April 25-29, 2020 – Philadelphia, PA

Spencer Low ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Growth Charts for Functional Brain Networks in Neurodevelopmental Disorders

• Congratulations, 2020 SURF Award Recipients!

SURF logo 2The Office of Undergraduate Research is pleased to announce the selection of 50 undergraduate students to receive SURF Awards in support of their summer undergraduate research projects. All SURF projects will be pursued remotely this summer in accordance with restrictions on undergraduate research due to COVID-19.

Click here to view the full list of Summer 2020 SURF awardees. Please note that the project titles listed reflect the original projects proposed.

Congratulations, SURF awardees! Your curiosity, initiative, and motivation were evident in your applications. Your flexibility, creativity, and collaboration with your mentors have shone through in the contingency plans you developed to adapt your projects to our current constraints. In spite of significant challenges, you have an exciting summer of deep engagement with the process of academic inquiry ahead of you. We look forward to hearing about all you learn and discover!

We thank the faculty members who supported SURF applicants in a range of roles: mentors, letter writers, and faculty review committee members. SURF represents a collaborative effort between students and faculty. This program would not be possible without the support and participation of the UConn faculty!

OUR also extends thanks to SURF supporters in the UConn community. We are grateful to the Office of the Provost, the Office of the Vice President for Research, and to the Deans of the Schools and Colleges of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources; Education; Engineering; Fine Arts; Liberal Arts and Sciences; Nursing; and Pharmacy, who all pledged funding to the SURF competition this year. Alumni, parents, and friends of UConn also helped fund SURF awards. This collaborative funding effort ensures that SURF supports a diverse array of undergraduate research endeavors. We are grateful to all of our program partners for making intensive summer research opportunities available to students seeking to enrich their undergraduate experience in this way.

Once again, congratulations to the recipients of 2020 SURF awards, and good luck with your summer projects!

• 2020 Mentorship Excellence Awards

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In recognition of the pivotal role that mentors play in supporting undergraduate research and creative activity, the Office of Undergraduate Research is pleased to announce the recipents of the 2020 Mentorship Excellence Awards. These awards recognize two faculty members – one in a STEM field, and one in a non-STEM field – and one graduate student who exemplify the ways in which outstanding mentors challenge and support their students, enabling them to take intellectual risks and achieve milestones they might not have initially envisioned being able to reach.

Please join us in congratulating Laura Bunyan, J. Peter Gogarten, and Samantha Lawrence on their selection as this year’s Mentorship Excellence Award recipients. As we are only able to celebrate the 2020 Mentorship Excellence Awards virtually this spring, we look forward to presenting the awards in person later this year during the Fall Frontiers in Undergraduate Research Poster Exhibition on Thursday, October 29, 2020.


Laura Bunyan, Assistant Professor in Residence, Sociology
Professor Bunyan was nominated by Jenifer Gaitan ’21 (CLAS). The following text is excerpted from Jenifer’s nomination.

Laura Bunyan, Assistant Professor in Residence in Sociology.
2020 Mentorship Excellence Award winner Laura Bunyan, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in Residence in Sociology.

Dr. Bunyan has always been a strong advocate for my academic success. She has made me aware of and supported me in the process of applying to a variety of scholarships, programs, and research opportunities. As I became interested in Sociology research focused on first-generation Latinx students, I was worried because there was no major or minor on the Stamford campus. Dr. Bunyan generously offered to supervise a work-study research assistantship with me to teach me basic principles of research. She also gave me several books and articles relating to education, paid labor, and child rearing practices in order to lay a foundation for my research. She has taught me every step of how to establish a research project and conduct research.

Dr. Bunyan leads by example. Together, we formed the club Husky Outreach for Minority Education (HOME) to provide low-income students with access to professional clothing and other resources for academic and professional success. Dress for Success, HOME’s main event on campus, was the first of its kind in that it offered clothing and other professional accessories to students on campus for internships, job opportunities, etc. In the three years that this program has been running, she has single-handedly collected thousands of items. Through her efforts, she has helped teach me strong leadership skills and activism to benefit our student body. She is a true ally to the first-generation students of color on the Stamford campus. She worked extensively with me during the summer and fall 2019 to submit my research proposal for the University Scholar program, which focuses on studying the systems of support first-generation Latinx students utilize. Despite this area of research not being related to her current research and book she is writing, Dr. Bunyan is committed to helping me pursue this research because she actively acknowledges the importance of uplifting the voices of women of color in social science research. She helped me form the research questions for the interview portion of my research in a way that was ethical and mindful of students’ experiences. She also helped me apply and become accepted to present my work during a major Sociology conference, from the Eastern Sociological Society, in Philadelphia in order to broaden my network, receive feedback from other students and professors, and learn from other presenters.

Dr. Bunyan has written countless letters of recommendation on my behalf and edited dozens of pages of my research proposals, literature reviews, applications, and presentations while providing constructive feedback. She has opened up her office hours and additional time where she juggles her writing, research, grading, and family time to answer my questions and check in on my progress. As I am a low-income student, Dr. Bunyan has helped me secure scholarships and institutional funding that have allowed me to pursue research without additional financial strain. Because of her support, I have been able to succeed as an Honors student, University Scholar, and student leader on campus. She has also advised me extensively regarding future opportunities after graduation, such as applying to graduate school. As a first-generation college student, her mentorship has led me to believe in my abilities and grow as a researcher and student.


J. Peter Gogarten, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor, Molecular and Cell Biology
Professor Gogarten was nominated by Marlene Abouaassi ’20 (CLAS). The following text is excerpted from Marlene’s nomination.

J. Peter Gogarten
2020 Mentorship Excellence Award winner J. Peter Gogarten, Ph.D., Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor in Molecular and Cell Biology.

A mediocre professor teaches their students only the contents of their course. A great professor inspires their students to apply the contents learned outside the walls of the lecture halls, as well as encourages them to expand on their critical thinking capacity. Dr. Gogarten inspires me to continue to investigate the extremes of life, advance scientific understanding, and serve as a role model for first generation matriculants and women in STEM.

During my freshman year, I did not know who to ask for college tips or seek guidance. I applied for a job to alleviate my financial burden as well as expose myself to research in Molecular and Cell Biology (MCB). After my interview, Dr. Gogarten hired me as a research assistant. I completed simple tasks. However, after my first semester of freshman year, I debated if I should continue majoring in MCB or drop out of college for good. The reason is I struggled to adhere to the rigorous coursework of college, held multiple jobs to help pay for my schooling, and at the time felt like I was not contributing anything to society, biology, nor Dr. Gogarten’s lab. But that changed when Dr. Gogarten asked me if I would continue working as a research assistant during my sophomore year. I was taken aback because in a large school filled with thousands of students, there was a professor who cared about my success as a student and was passionate enough to encourage me to continue in the field of MCB. Thus, I took initiative to alter my schedule and take Dr. Gogarten’s course sophomore year. Afterwards, Dr. Gogarten encouraged me to apply to the Honors program, as well as for SURF, in order to enhance my intellectual abilities and apply my knowledge to real world scientific research. During spring break of my sophomore year, I woke up to three emails: my acceptance to the Honors program (where Dr. Gogarten is my advisor), acceptance for the SURF award, and Dr. Gogarten’s email congratulating me on my accomplishments and writing the word “Excellent”.

During the summer for SURF, I expanded on my technical skills in bioinformatics and knowledge in molecular evolution. While working on my project, Dr. Gogarten encouraged me to help my lab coworkers with mentoring other undergraduates and high school students on the use of existing bioinformatics programs, as well as educating them on certain biological processes. My acquired knowledge and Dr. Gogarten’s connections with Paul Lewis opened up doors for me to a course assistant position for the annual Workshop on Molecular Evolution at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA. In doing so, I was able to help teaching assistants with basic level introduction to coding, gain an insight on how molecular evolution has changed practically, and foster relationships with well-known faculty who invited me to apply for graduate assistantships with them. In the fall, Dr. Gogarten encouraged me to present at the Mobile Genetic Elements conference at MIT to showcase the progress of my research. In doing so, he provided me with constructive criticism in presenting my research to a crowd full of graduates and faculty members. Along with presenting, I was able to build a network of connections and gain strategies in further pursuing my research effectively.

Dr. Gogarten pushes his students to seek opportunities that will advance their intellectual abilities and creativity. Since freshman year, Dr. Gogarten has gone out of his way to forward me emails about opportunities and encourage me to pursue them. If it was not for Dr. Gogarten’s email, I would not have become president of the new undergraduate MCB club. If it was not for his encouragement, I would not have applied for, or been accepted to, the University Scholar program. The passion, dedication, and commitment Dr. Gogarten has for all his students to ensure they are advancing their educational experience is invaluable. I was able to grow as a student, researcher, educator, and an overall individual through the mentorship of Dr. Gogarten.


Samantha E. Lawrence, Ph.D. Student, Human Development and Family Sciences
Samantha was nominated by Jessica Gagnon ’20 (CLAS). The following text is excerpted from Jessica’s nomination.

Samantha Lawrence, Ph.D. student in Human Development and Family Sciences.
2020 Mentorship Excellence Award winner Samantha E. Lawrence, Ph.D. student in Human Development and Family Sciences.

I honestly don’t know how I could’ve handled the last year without Sam. As a student who was entering a lab and starting research for her thesis relatively late, I knew that I would need a supportive advisor who could help me reach my goals. When I first joined the lab, Sam sat down with me to get to know not only what I wanted to do for my project, but also who I was as a person and what I wanted to learn through my experience in the lab. She walked me through what my project would actually look like, while also identifying all the areas she could help me with throughout the process. She made it clear from the beginning that she was on my team and would do everything in her power to help me have a successful year.

Over the winter break, I was seriously stressed that I was not going to be able to complete my thesis in time for graduation. Sam immediately responded with compassion, support, and guidance. She gave me a list of ideas and ways I could alter my project in order to make it possible to complete, while also preserving what I wanted to get out of the project and honoring my passion for the topic. She then worked with me to create a concrete plan, including a timeline for who to talk to and what to say. She gave me the confidence to not only trust myself, but also to stand up for my needs.

Even when she moved to a different lab, Sam made it clear to me that she was still going to be my mentor and get me to graduation. She scheduled a meeting to share this with myself and one of the other undergraduate students in the lab who she had been working closely with. She made a plan for how she would continue to support us this semester, including reading and editing my thesis drafts and helping teach me how to use the software I have to learn. She made sure that we knew she was still there as a resource for us and that we would continue our bi-weekly “wellness checks” to ensure we were both still doing okay and felt like we were making enough progress. For me, this speaks the most to how incredible of a mentor Sam is and how dedicated she is to helping her mentees. Her mentorship is not dependent on her job or which lab she is in. It does not come strictly out of responsibility, but out of a deep and genuine desire to help others. There have been many times throughout the last year or so where I felt completely powerless and unsure of what to do. Each time, Sam has been there to pull me out of my rut and ensure that I have the plan, knowledge, and support to move forward and speak up for my needs. She has dedicated her time to ensuring that I finish my thesis and graduate with Honors, and she represents everything that a mentor should aspire to be. She is completely deserving of the Mentorship Excellence Award.


Congratulations to the 2020 award recipients! The Office of Undergraduate Research thanks the undergraduate students who nominated their faculty and graduate student mentors as well as the Peer Research Ambassadors who served on this year’s selection committee.

• Congratulations, Spring 2020 UConn IDEA Grant Recipients!

Congratulations to the 33 undergraduates who have been awarded UConn IDEA Grants in the spring 2020 funding cycle!

The award recipients represent a variety of disciplines, from English to pathobiology, and music to electrical engineering. They will conduct independent research, engage in creative endeavors, and develop prototypes.

Click here to view the full list of spring 2020 UConn IDEA Grant award recipients.

Special thanks to the faculty and staff who supported student applications to the UConn IDEA Grant and to those who will be mentoring the award recipients as they complete their projects.

The UConn IDEA Grant program awards funding to support self-designed projects including artistic endeavors, community service initiatives, research projects, prototyping and entrepreneurial ventures, and other creative and innovative projects. Undergraduates in all majors at all UConn campuses can apply. Applications are accepted twice per year from individuals and from small groups who plan to work collaboratively on a project.

• Congratulations, Spring 2020 Change Grant Recipients!

The Office of Undergraduate Research is delighted to announce the seven students selected to receive UConn Co-op Legacy Fellowship – Change Grants!

Click here to view the full list of Spring 2020 Recipients.

Born out of the UConn Co-op’s commitment to public engagement, innovative entrepreneurship, social impact, and active mentorship, the UConn Co-op Legacy Fellowship – Change Grants provide undergraduates the opportunity to pursue student-designed or student-led projects, including service initiatives, creative endeavors, advocacy, engaged research, and social entrepreneurship. Projects pursued through this program represent the legacy of the UConn Co-op’s commitment to public engagement, innovation, and social impact.

Special thanks to the faculty and staff who will be mentoring the award recipients as they complete their projects and to the members of the faculty review committee.

Click here for more information on the UConn Co-op Legacy Fellowship – Change Grant Program.

• Summer Research Programs Accepting Applications for Summer 2020

Undecided about how to spend your summer? Consider an undergraduate research program or research internship hosted by a research institute or university. Many summer research programs and internships, including those listed below, are still accepting applications, some through early March. There is still time to prepare a personal statement, gather application materials, and secure letters of recommendation.

REU in Mathematics at California State University-San Bernardino 
Deadline: February 12, 2020
https://www.math.csusb.edu/reu/index.html
Students in this 8-week program execute guided independent and collaborative research in the fields of Geometry and Knot Theory. The program is designed for students majoring in mathematics. $4,000 stipend and housing costs are provided.

Bioarchaeology of Bronze Age Social Systems REU – University of South Alabama/Quinnipiac University
Deadline: February 12, 2020
https://www.southalabama.edu/colleges/artsandsci/syansw/anthropology/reu/
This REU is jointly run by the University of South Alabama and Quinnipiac University. The research projects focus on bioarchaeological analysis of two skeletal collections from the United Arab Emirates dating to the Umm an-Nar period. $500/week stipend, housing, field trip fees and some meals covered by the REU.

Maryland Sea Grant REU Program
Deadline: February 14, 2020
http://www.mdsg.umd.edu/topics/research-experiences-undergraduates/research-experiences-undergraduates
Fifteen students are selected to conduct marine research on the Chesapeake Bay at one of two University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences laboratories. The program is designed for students majoring in marine science, ecology, environmental science, biology and chemistry. Preference given to students who are rising seniors. $6,000 stipend and housing costs are provided.

Molecular Biology REU – The Ohio State University
Deadline: February 15, 2020
https://molgen.osu.edu/research-experience-undergraduates
This NSF funded research program is hosted by the Departments of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and the Division of Biochemistry at Ohio State. Selected students will receive a $6,000 stipend and univeristy housing. Students from groups historically underrepresented in the sciences are encouraged to apply.

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center Internship Program
Deadline: February 15, 2020
https://serc.si.edu/pro_training/internships/projectmenu.aspx
This 10-week program provides undergraduate students the opportunity to work on independent research under the direction of a SERC mentor. Research areas include environmental chemistry, marine and estuarine ecology, molecular ecology, and terrestrial ecology. Stipend $550/week.

Robert Frederick Smith Internship Program – Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture
Deadline: February 15, 2020
https://nmaahc.si.edu/connect/osp/robert-frederick-smith-fund-internship-and-fellowship-program
Internship opportunities through this program focus on digital imaging, media preservation, digital preservation of personal and community objects, collections information management, and recording and preserving oral histories. Interns will be located onsite with the National Museum of African American History & Culture and offsite at select African American museums, museums of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and other institutions dedicated to preserving African American history and culture. Stipend $600/week. 

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship in Oceanography – University of Rhode Island
Deadline: February 21, 2020
https://web.uri.edu/gso/academics/surfo/
The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships in Oceanography program is a 10-week research experience designed for science, math, and engineering students and primarily targets students who are completing their junior year. The program emphasizes the quantitative aspects of Oceanography; many projects involve fluid dynamics, marine geophysics, or numerical/physical modeling. $6,000 stipend.

Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program (MAOP) Undergraduate Summer Research Internship – Virginia Tech
Deadline: 5pm, February 21, 2020
https://maop.vt.edu/Undergraduate_programs/summer_research.html
This program provides undergraduates from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to conduct research under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Wide variety of academic disciplines; $3,000 stipend, free on-campus room and board. Applicants should be rising sophomores and juniors.

American Student Placements in Rehabilitation Engineering (ASPIRE) REU Program – University of Pittsburgh
Deadline: February 28, 2020
https://www.herl.pitt.edu/education/undergrad
ASPIRE is a 10-week research program that focuses on rehabilitation engineering and assistive technology. Students indicate their top three projects choices on their application. Selected students receive a $4,750 stipend and on-campus housing.

Brookings Institution Internship Program
Deadline: February 28, 2020
https://interns-brookings.icims.com/jobs/intro?hashed=-435682078
The Brookings Internship Program provides undergraduates the opportunity to learn new skills by working with Brookings’ staff in a variety of research areas – Economic Studies, Foreign Policy, Global Economy and Development, Governance Studies and Metropolitan Policy. Three types of internships are offered – paid, academic for credit, and external sponsorship.

Nanotechnology for Health, Energy, and the Environment – Stony Brook University
Deadline: March 1, 2020

https://www.stonybrook.edu/commcms/cie/reu/
This summer REU program is targeted towards undergraduates with an interest in the application of nanotechnology and nanomaterials to various societal needs. Undergraduate STEM majors who have completed at least one year of undergraduate study are eligible to apply. $6,000 stipend, lodging and meals provided.

Dangremond Museum Studies Internship – Connecticut Historical Society
Deadline: March 6, 2020
https://chs.org/support-ct-historical/volunteer/dangremond-museum-studies-internship/
This internship offer undergraduates the opportunity to gain exposure to and experience in the daily operation of a history museum, library, and research center. Selected interns will work closely with museum professionals to gain a deeper understanding of the museum, library and history fields. Interns must complete 250 hours of work. $1,700 stipend.

INSPIRE U2 REU Program – Spelman College
Deadline: March 15, 2020

https://sites.spelman.edu/inspireu2-reu/
The Increasing Statistical Preparation in Research Education for Underrepresented Undergraduates (INSPIRE U2) program is designed to expose rising sophomore female students to statistical programs and analytical techniques with the goal of increasing student interest in advanced degree programs in the quantitative fields. Select students will received a $4,000 stipend, room and board.

• Health Research Program – Opportunities for Summer 2020

HRP student Grace Nichols ’20 (CLAS) using software to measure response rates of mice with hopes of understanding Tinnitus. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

The Office of Undergraduate Research is pleased to announce the next phase of the Health Research Program (HRP). This program offers a pathway into undergraduate research for students with interests in health and/or the biomedical sciences. By facilitating connections between UConn Health researchers and UConn undergraduates, the program aims to involve more students in research at UConn Health.

For students interested in participating in this program for Summer 2020, here is the key information:

  • Summer 2020 opportunities are now posted on the HRP website. There are 30 opportunities that range from psychiatry to biological modeling, biomaterials to neuroscience, genetics to public health. The application deadline for these opportunities is 11:59pm on Monday, February 3, 2020.
  • All of these opportunities are slated to continue into the 2020-21 academic year. Continuation is contingent on satisfactory progress over the course of the summer and both student and faculty mentor interest in continuing the placement.
  • To be eligible for Summer 2020 HRP opportunities, students must plan to graduate no sooner than May 2021.
  • We do not expect that UConn shuttle service between Storrs and Farmington will be available during summer 2020 or in academic year 2020-21. Applicants should consider how they plan to travel to and from Farmington this summer and during the academic year. Further information about transportation options is available in the HRP FAQ.

Further details and answers to other frequently asked questions are available on the Health Research Program website. Students are encouraged to peruse the posted opportunities and begin preparing application materials for any placements of interest. We urge students to take care to consider the time commitment and schedule options involved in a given opportunity to ensure that they can accommodate these demands in their summer and academic year schedule. 

Research Assistant for Thermodynamic Foundations of Biological Behavior

Opportunity Description

This research project investigates bio-like properties and behaviors of non-living, self-organizing, physical systems called dissipative structures. The project aims at identifying core physical principles which underwrite biological capabilities by studying non-living bio-analogues. The primary system we study is an electrically driven dissipative structure (as an example watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxoZ0hHN12I).

We braid together concepts from psychology, cognitive science, kinesiology, physics, chemistry, and thermodynamics for a rich interdisciplinary methodology. This project is thus well-suited for undergraduates studying either the life-sciences or the physical sciences, and ideally an interest in both. Our projects for the near future include topics of evolution, learning, and social coordination. As an undergraduate research assistant, you would aid primarily in conducting experiments, as well as potentially designing and building experimental apparatuses. Ideally you will also learn some rudimentary data analysis tools in Matlab, R, or both (programming facility in other languages is also very welcome).

You would receive training to use the experimental systems, aided by a graduate student mentor, as well as a short survey of relevant research articles for conceptual background. Once you have developed some facility with the system, you would begin to run assigned experiments and collect data on your own. You would be expected to coordinate primarily with your graduate student mentor, and secondarily with your faculty mentor. The time-commitment is flexible and negotiable, likely not exceeding 10 hours a week. The assistant position is minimally for a semester, though renewal for future semesters is possible and ideal. The assistantship would begin at the start of the Spring 2020 semester. RAs will receive research course credits as compensation for their work.

Student Qualifications
Preferred Qualifications (but not required):
– Undergraduate-level physics knowledge (especially Thermodynamics and Electricity & Magnetism)
– Experience with programming languages (ideally Matlab and/or R)
– An interest in conducting future research
Required Qualifications:
– Good, consistent, work ethic
– Genuine interest in the topic (though you don’t need specific knowledge or experience)
– Desire to learn new concepts, experimental methodologies, and analysis tools

How to Apply
Please email Ben De Bari at Benjamin.de_bari@uconn.edu and include a brief description of why you’re applying for this position and an up-to-date resume. Strong applicants will go through a brief interview process with the graduate student (Ben De Bari) and faculty (James Dixon) mentors.

Mentor: James Dixon, Professor, Psychological Sciences
Mentor email: james.dixon@uconn.edu
Timing: Ongoing
Campus: Storrs

• Interested in a Summer Research Opportunity – Apply Now

Interested in spending the summer engaged in an exciting research project? With February fast approaching, now is the time to prepare your materials and request letters of recommendation in order to apply for summer research opportunities including those listed below with February deadlines.

Amgen Scholars Program 
The Amgen Scholars Program, a competitive summer program providing undergraduate students the opportunity to work full-time on independent research projects under the guidance of a research scientist, is hosted at thirteen institutions in the United States. Each host institution has its own application process; visit the links below for information on each institution’s program. The application deadline for all programs (except Caltech) is February 3, 2020. Applications for the Caltech program are due February 15th. Amgen research is conducted in fields including biochemistry, bioinformatics, biotechnology, chemical and biomolecular engineering, chemistry, immunology, medical pharmacology, microbiology, molecular biology, molecular genetics, molecular medicine, molecular pharmacology, neurobiology, neuroscience, pathology, physiological psychology, physiological science, statistics, and toxicology. Funding levels vary by program but most include a stipend (between $3,500 and $6,500), a housing and/or meal allowance, and travel expenses.


UCSD MSTP Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program
Deadline: February 2, 2020
https://reumanager.com/mstp-surf/
The Medical Scientist Training Program at UC San Diego is designed for students interested in learning about a career as a physician-scientist. The program features an 8-week research project, weekly seminars, and a physician-scientist clinical shadowing experience. Students from groups underrepresented in health-related sciences and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds are encouraged to apply. $3,200 stipend and room provided. 

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program – UT Southwestern Medical Center
Deadline: February 3, 2020
http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/education/graduate-school/programs/non-degree-programs/surf.html
The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program at UT Southwestern’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences is designed for students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D. career in biomedical research. Applicants to this 10-week program must have completed their sophomore year in an undergraduate science degree program. $4,000 stipend.

Quantitative and Physical Sciences Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (QP-SURF) Program – UT Southwestern Medical Center
Deadline: February 3, 2020
http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/education/graduate-school/programs/non-degree-programs/qp-surf.html
The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program at UT Southwestern’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences is designed for students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D. career in biomedical research. Applicants must be enrolled in a physics, computer science, mathematics, biomedical engineering, or chemistry degree program and have completed their sophomore year. $4,000 stipend.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Summer Student Fellowship
Deadline: February 5, 2020
http://www.whoi.edu/main/summer-student-fellowship
The Summer Student Fellowship provides undergraduates with an interest in ocean sciences, oceanographic engineering, mathematics, or marine policy with a meaningful first-hand introduction to research in those areas. Students who have completed their junior year prior to the start of fellowship period in summer 2020 are eligible to apply. Stipend of approximately $650/week for 10-12 weeks and institutional housing provided.

Hartford Hospital Summer Student Pre-Med & Research Program 
Deadline: February 7, 2020
https://hartfordhospital.org/health-professionals/education/residencies-fellowships/summer-student-pre-med-research-program
This 10-week program offers pre-med students an introduction to research methodology, patient treatment, and ethical issues in medicine. Applicants must be pre-med students completing their junior year as of May 2020. $3,400 award for selected students.

Materials Research Science and Engineering Center REU at Northwestern University
Deadline: February 14, 2020
http://mrsec.northwestern.edu/undergraduate-opportunities/
REU students will have the opportunity to contribute to a research project led by a center faculty member expanding their science and engineering experience. Students with an interest in nanomaterials and majoring in a science or engineering field are encouraged to apply.  Participants receive a $4,500 stipend, a travel allowance, and on-campus housing.

BIT SURE: BIoTechnology-based Sequencing-based Undergraduate Research Experience at North Carolina State University
Deadline: February 14, 2020
http://biotech.ncsu.edu/pages/nsf-reu/
The BIT SURE program funds ten undergraduates to work on research projects that utilize next-generation sequencing (NGS) tools. This 10-week program includes a professional development component. $5,500 stipend and housing provided.

Maryland Sea Grant REU Program
Deadline: February 14, 2020
http://www.mdsg.umd.edu/topics/research-experiences-undergraduates/research-experiences-undergraduates
Fifteen students are selected to conduct marine research on the Chesapeake Bay at one of two University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences laboratories. This 12-week REU is designed for students majoring in marine science, ecology, environmental science, biology and chemistry. Preference is given to students who are rising seniors. $6,000 stipend and housing costs are provided.

Robert Frederick Smith Internship Program, National Museum of African American History and Culture
Deadline: February 15, 2020
https://nmaahc.si.edu/connect/osp/rfsinterns
These 12-week summer internships offer undergraduates the opportunity to work on research projects that focus on digital imaging, media preservation, digital preservation of personal and community objects, collections information management, and recording and preserving oral histories. Interns will be located onsite with the National Museum of African American History & Culture and offsite at select African American museums, museums of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and other institution dedicated to preserving African American history and culture. Stipend of $600/week.

Building Diversity in Biomedical Sciences – Summer Research Program at Tufts University School of Medicine
Deadline: February 15, 2020
https://sackler.tufts.edu/admissions/nonDegreePrograms/BDBS
The Building Diversity in Biomedical Sciences (BDBS) Program offers a 10-week, mentored research experience for students interested in pursuing a PhD or MD/PhD.  Participants in the program also receive training in written and oral communication of scientific data and learn about careers in biomedical science through workshops. Stipend of $4,000, on-campus housing and travel expenses within the US are provided.

Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences REU Program
Deadline: February 15, 2020
http://www.bigelow.org/education/reu/
This highly competitive, 10-week REU program pairs students with scientist mentors for a hands-on, independent research experience. Student applicants should have a minimum of one year of basic biology and at least one earth or ocean science course. Housing and $5,000 stipend provided.

Molecular Biology REU at the Ohio State University
Deadline: February 15, 2020
https://molgen.osu.edu/research-experience-undergraduates
This NSF-funded research program is hosted by the Departments of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and the Division of Biochemistry at Ohio State. Selected students will receive a $6,000 stipend and university housing. Students from groups historically underrepresented in the sciences are encouraged to apply.

 

• Student Accomplishments – December 2019

accomplishments-heading

Please join us in congratulating the UConn undergraduates named below for their significant research and creative accomplishments in summer and fall 2019. Students: if you have an accomplishment to share, please do so using this online form.


PUBLICATIONS

Pasquale Mingione V ’21 (CLAS) was a co-author on a recent publication from Dr. Geoffrey Tanner’s (Physiology and Neurobiology) lab:

Lee, D.C., Vali, K., Baldwin, S.R., Divino, J.N., Feliciano, J.L., Fequiere, J.R., Fernandez, M.A., Frageau, J.C., Longo, F.K., Madhoun, S.S., Mingione V, P., O’Toole, T.R., Ruiz, M.G., and Tanner, G.R. (2019). Dietary Supplementation With the Ketogenic Diet Metabolit Beta-Hydroxybutyrate Ameliorates Post-TBI Aggression in Young-Adult Male Drosophila. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 30 October 2019,  doi: 10.3389/fnins.2019.01140


SUMMER RESEARCH ACTIVITIES

James He ’21 (CLAS) spent part of his summer engaged in a research project at the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington, CT. Working in the lab of Dr. Edison Liu, CEO and President of the Jackson Laboratory, James’ research investigated a specific genomic configuration in certain cancer types. He was supervised by Dr. Francesca Menghi.

Shankara Narayanan’21 (CLAS) interned at the College of International Security Affairs at National Defense University. He researched Russian operations in Africa with Dr. Erica Marat. Shankara’s research was published by the Jamestwon Foundation, a Washington D.C. think-tank focusing on regions strategically vital to U.S. foreign policy. https://jamestown.org/the-mercenaries-behind-russian-operations-in-africa/


PRESENTATIONS

  • Saurabh Kumar '21 (CLAS)

 

2019 Evolution Conference – June 21-25, 2019 – Providence, RI

Alyssa Ferreira ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Development of an Open-Source, Web-Based Database Model for the Tripal Framework to Improve the Quality of Non-Model Eukaryotic Genome Annotation

2019 IEEE MIT Undergraduate Research Technology Conference – October 11-13, 2019 – Cambridge, MA

Camden Craigie ’20 (ENG), Samuel Pevsner ’20 (ENG), Brittany Smith ’20 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipients
Whopper Popper

American Physical Society, Division of Nuclear Physics 2019 Fall Meeting – October 14-17, 2019 – Crystal City, Virginia

Donovan Davino, Aug ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Exploring Thermal Conductivity of Heat Treated Niobium at Cryogenic Temperatures to Produce More Efficient SRF Cavities

Sean Oh ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Radiation Damage Recovery of PbWO4 Crystals with Optical Bleaching

Megan Sturm ’21 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Efficiency Measurements for HPGe Detectors

Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) Annual Meeting – October 16-19, 2019 – Philadelphia, PA

Ariane Garrett ’20 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
A Novel Cerebral Spinal Fluid Flow Sensor

Rohit Makol ’20 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Optimization of Immunohistochemical Staining Methods in Rat Spinal Cord Tissue

Morgan McNamara ’20 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Crosstalk Detection Circuit for Microelectrode Arrays

Helen Phu, Dec ’20 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
A User-Friendly Interface to Wirelessly Control Neuroprostheses

Caroline Thompson ’20 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Bioresorbable Bone Fixation Devices for Load Bearing Fractures Utilizing Silk and Hydroxyapatite

Society for Neuroscience (SFN) Annual Meeting – October 19-23, 2019 – Chicago, IL 

Aditi Anam ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Persistence of Dorsal and Ventral Hippocampal Remapping after Exploring a Novel Environment

Saurabh Kumar ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Developmental Changes to the Neural Stem Cell Niche in Fetal-Onset Hydrocephalus

Judie Wang ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Observational Learning in a Working Memory, Food-Reward Task in Rats

Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Annual Meeting – November 10-15, 2019 – Orlando, FL

Nicole Khusid ’22 (ENG, CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Characterization of Rn-220 as a Calibration Source in EXO-200

Brianna Markunas ’20 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Hydrodeoxygenation of Guaiacol with Ru Catalysts on Various Activated Carbon Supports

Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Annual Convention – November 21-24, 2019 – Atlanta, GA 

Adrienne Nguyen ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Relationship between Internalizing Problems and Internet Gaming Disorder Symptoms among Treatment-Seeking Youth

Gabrielle Sharbin ’20 (CAHNR) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Evaluating Addictive Behaviors in HIV/Substance Abuse Populations