• Student Accomplishments – May 2018


Please join us in congratulating the UConn undergraduates named below for their significant research and creative accomplishments in spring 2018. Students: if you have an accomplishment to share, please do so using this online form.


Congratulations to Colby Buehler ’18 (ENG), Sydney Carr ’18 (CLAS), Vince Pistritto ’18 (CLAS, SFA), and Daniel Wackelin ’18 (ENG), the undergraduate recipients of 2018 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships! They are among the 12 UConn students and alumni who won NSF Graduate Research Fellowships this year. Three other talented undergraduate researchers, Amy Robinson ’18 (ENG), Nicholas Russo ’18 (CLAS), and Nicholas Oliveira ’18 (ENG) received Honorable Mention recognition.

Naseem Sardashti ’18 (ENG), an undergraduate research in the Health Research Program working under the guidance of Dr. Sangamesh Kumbar, was awarded 3rd place at the 2018 Northeast Bioengineering Conference for her and her team’s work on the synthesis of hybrid skin models for product evaluation.


Jamasia Williams ’20 (CLAS), a participant in the Work-Study Research Assistant Program, was a co-author on a recent publication based on research conducted with Dr. Molly Waring:

Waring, M.E., Jake-Schoffman, D.E., Holovatska, M.M., Mejia, C., Williams, J.C., & Pagoto, S.L.(2018). Social media and obesity in adults: a review of recent research and future directions. Current Diabetes Reports, 18:34. doi.org/10.1007/s11892-018-1001-9.



Spring 2018 included a series of art exhibitions and screenings by the following undergraduate students:

Matthew Bilmes ’18 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
Exit: A Short Film

Kiana Cao ’18 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
An Examination of Immigration: A look into Buddhism, Community & Refugees

Yanlin (Eva) Hu ’18 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
CHU: A Solo Exhibition of Ceramic Sculpture

James Keth ’19 (SFA, CLAS) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
The Khmer – A Personal Journey: On being Cambodian American

Austin MacDonald ’18 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient & UConn Co-op Legacy Fellow
Prodigal: The Sentinel’s Garden

Emy Regan ’19 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
Clementine: The Adventures at Foxhead Manor

  • Exit Film Screening Promo Image


Joint Mathematics Meetings – January 10-13, 2018 – San Diego, CA

Rajeshwari Majumdar ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Applications of Multiplicative LLN and CLT for Random Matrices

Anthony Sisti ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Black-Scholes Using The Central Limit Theorem

Plant and Animal Genome XXVI Conference – January 13-17, 2018 – San Diego, CA

Madison Caballero ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Designing a Genotyping Array for Genomic Selection in Loblolly Pine

Alexander Trouern-Trend ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Comparative Genomics of the Juglandacea

Maria Antony
Maria Antony ’19 (CLAS, CAHNR)

Conference on Electronic and Advanced Materials – January 17-19, 2018 – Orlando, FL

Hope Whitelock ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Real Nanoparticles Have Curves: Exploring the Polar Phase Transition Topology in Superellipsoidal Nanoparticles

International Stroke Conference – January 23-26, 2018 – Los Angeles, CA 

Maria Antony ’19 (CLAS, CAHNR) – ISC Junior Investigator Travel Award recipient
Oral presentation: Restoration of MiRNA MiR-181c-5p–Rescue From the Detrimental Effect of Social Isolation in the Mice Subjected to Ischemic Stroke 

Ocean Sciences Meeting – February 11-16, 2018 – Portland, OR

Jessica Hinckley presenting her research poster.
Jessica Hinckley ’19 (CLAS)

Jessica Hinckley ’19 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Investigating Dissolved Gas Concentrations and Alkalinity in a Long Island Sound Time Series

International Neuropsychological Society Conference – February 14-17, 2018 – Washington, DC

Debra Tomasino ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Informant Report of Cognitive Functioning in Geriatric Depression: Correlates with Objective Cognitive Tests and Structural Imaging

Eastern Sociological Society Annual Meeting – February 22-25, 2018, Baltimore, MD 

Caroline Brooks ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient

Caroline Brooks
Caroline Brooks ’18 (CLAS)
Savannah-Nicole Villalba presenting her poster.
Savannah-Nicole Villalba ’18 (CLAS)

Cross Sectional Time Series Analysis on the Impacts of Race on Homeownership

Savannah-Nicole Villalba ’18 (CLAS)
A Healthy Food Inventory of Waterbury, CT

Eastern Psychological Association Meeting – March 1-3, 2018 – Philadelphia, PA 

Allison Arnista ’18 (CLAS) & Kyrstyn Jenkins ’19 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipients
Evaluating Mechanisms of Reward Enhancement by Nicotine in Humans

Dilsara Liyanage
Dilsara Liyanage ’18 (CLAS)

Dilsara Liyanage ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
The EEG Mu Rhythm and Language Abilities in 18- and 24-Month-Olds

Morgan Livingston ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Longitudinal Outcome of Attention Modification Training for Social Anxiety

Adam Mealy ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Longitudinal Stability of Hostile Attention Allocation, Attention Bias, and Hostility Symptoms

Michelle Padua ’18 (CLAS) & Skyler Sklenarik ’19 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipients
Behavioral Biases in People at Risk for Problematic Gambling

Eastern Society for Pediatric Research Annual Meeting – March 16-18, 2018 – Philadelphia, PA

Benjamin Redenti ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Risk Stratification System for Use in the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) and Correlation with Adverse Events During Hospital Admissions

Margaux Verlaque-Amara ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Impact of State-By-State Adoption of Key Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Provisions on PED Patients

American Chemical Society National Meeting – March 18-22, 2018 – New Orleans, LA 

Caroline Anastasia ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Multicomponent Flexible Film of Organometallic Polymers with Polyimide as High k and Low Loss Dielectric

Northeast Writing Center Association Conference – March 24-25, 2018 – Worcester, MA

Joseph Greenwald ’18 (BUS), Daniel Johnson ’18 (CLAS), & Kaylee Thurlow ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipients
Cracking the Code: A Method for Designing and Implementing a Writing Center Honor Code

Odia Kane ’19 (CLAS) & Kharl Reynado ’19 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipients
Assessing Our Practice: A Writing Center Fellow-To-Fellow Support System

Kharl Reynado and Odia Kane presenting at NEWCA.
Odia Kane ’19 (CLAS) and Kharl Reynado ’19 (CLAS)

Anneliese Lapides ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Reassessing Our Responses to the Everyday Language of Oppression

Sierra Rice ’18 (ED) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Hosting a Regional Middle and High School Conference: A Practical Model

Cognitive Neuroscience Society Annual Meeting – March 24-27, 2018 – Boston, MA

Roisin Healy ’19 (CLAS) & Jonathan Serino ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipients
Understanding “Thunder” is More Difficult than “Rainbow” when Performing a Concurrent Auditory Task

Northeast Bioengineering Conference – March 28-30, 2018 – Philadelphia, PA

Garrett Soler ’18 (ENG)
An Economical & Ergonomic Hydrocephalus Software System

New England Science Symposium – April 8, 2018 – Boston, MA

Brian Aguilera ’19 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
CD13 Promotes Tunneling Nanotube Formation and Cell-cell Communication in Human Endothelial Cells and Mouse Primary Macrophages

Eastern Nursing Research Society Annual Scientific Sessions – April 11-13, 2018 – Newark, NJ

Courtney Lopiano ’18 (NUR)
A Battle on Opiates: The NICU Nurse’s Perspective on Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Connecticut Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Annual Meeting – April 20, 2018 – Hartford, CT

Kayla Hope presenting her research poster.
Kayla Hope ’18 (CAHNR)

Kayla Hope ’18 (CAHNR) – OUR Travel Award recipient
What Type 1 Diabetes Nutrition Advice is Being Shared on Twitter and Who is Sharing It?

Experimental Biology Conference – April 21-25, 2018 – San Diego, CA

Jordyn Dickey ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Analysis of Physiology and Neurobiology (PNB) 2265 Course Redesign


• 2018 Mentorship Excellence Awards


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 2018 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.

The 2018 Mentorship Excellence Awards were presented to Andrea Voyer, Nicholas Eddy, and Laura Mickelsen during the Frontiers in Undergraduate Research Poster Exhibition on Friday, April 13, 2018.

Andrea Voyer, Assistant Professor, Sociology
Professor Voyer’s award was presented by Savannah-Nicole Villalba ’18 (CLAS). The following text is excerpted from Savannah-Nicole’s presentation remarks.

Savannah-Nicole Villalba presents plaque to awardee Andrea Voyer.
Savannah-Nicole Villalba ’18 (CLAS) presents the award to her mentor, Professor Andrea Voyer.

I had Dr. Voyer for one of the required classes for our major, social theory. Dr. Voyer gracefully worked us through the dense theories of 19th century sociologists. It was my first time engaging with sociological theory, and many of us were struggling to understand the concepts. Dr. Voyer was patient with us as we tried to make connections to the material. She was encouraging so that we weren’t afraid of being wrong, and was personable in a way that encouraged students to work harder.

This mentality was one that she brought with her when we began the IDEA Grant application process. When we started discussing the possibility of applying, she did not bring me in to work on something she was interested in. In our first meeting, she asked me what I was passionate about and I could tell she genuinely cared. Dr. Voyer was the first person to believe in my passions and to tell me that my research questions were valid. We spent months working on the application process, and when the grant was approved, I knew it would not have been possible without her guidance.

With her own incredible research and personal life, she has always been accessible to discuss the newest challenge I faced. Instead of just providing answers, she would offer suggestions on ways to problem solve to reach reasonable solutions. Even though Dr. Voyer has been away this school year, she has helped me apply (and be accepted) to graduate school, supported (and protected) me at my first research conference, and has shown me what an academic mentor should be.

Nicholas Eddy, Assistant Professor in Residence, Chemistry
Professor Eddy’s award was presented by Pranjali Ichalkaranje ’18 (CLAS). The following text is excerpted from Pranjali’s presentation remarks.

Pranjali Ichalkaranje presents plaque to awardee Nicholas Eddy.
Pranjali Ichalkaranje ’18 (CLAS) presents the award to her mentor, Professor Nicholas Eddy.

Research with Dr. Eddy has been the most rewarding experience I could have wished for as an undergraduate. I was able to grow tremendously by obtaining knowledge and skills applicable not only in research but also other aspects of life. In terms of research, teaching an undergraduate student with experience in life sciences but limited knowledge in Organic Chemistry was a challenging task that Dr. Eddy took on with no hesitation.

I was challenged each day, whether it was mixing a solution or reading articles with little background on the material. He was not afraid to hold me to a higher standard and push me beyond my limits, allowing me to put classroom knowledge into practice and increase my critical thinking and problem solving skills. He encouraged me to read, write, ask questions, and – most importantly – make mistakes. Though I made more than he agrees to, he offered reassuring and constructive feedback each time. Most importantly, he made sure I had everything I needed to succeed in anything I put my mind to – a role he took on as my mentor.

My research experience opened my eyes to career opportunities in research and medicine. I have been able to grow immensely as a scientist, researcher, student, writer, teacher and an overall individual.

Dr. Eddy represents the diligence, passion and commitment that students, scientists and teachers need on a daily basis. He puts his students, researchers and colleagues before himself. He is the highlight of the students’ day, and a source of comfort for many as they embark on their undergraduate experience.

Laura Mickelsen, Ph.D. Candidate, Physiology and Neurobiology, Jackson Laboratory
Laura was presented with her award by Eric Beltrami ’19 (CLAS) and Jacob Naparstek ’18 (CLAS), two of the undergraduate researchers who work under her supervision in the Jackson lab. The following text is excerpted from Eric’s presentation remarks.

Photo of James Costanzo, Jacob Naparstek, awardee Laura Mickelsen, Eric Beltrami, and Alexander Jackson.
Award winner Laura Mickelsen, center, is pictured with undergraduate researchers James Costanzo, Jacob Naparstek, and Eric Beltrami, as well as Professor Alexander Jackson.

Laura is an incredible scientist and speaker, and she has made an effort to help develop those skills in us. She challenges us to explain our projects and try to troubleshoot our setbacks independently so that when we present our work we are prepared to take ownership of what we did and understand the scientific process behind it thoroughly.

Laura’s exceptional mentorship is not limited to guidance in our research projects. Laura has fostered a family of people who deeply care about one another… and the lateral hypothalamus. Laura makes coming to lab not only incredibly productive but also fun. With her effortless humor and kind heart she has made lab somewhere we look forward to going every day. She never hesitates to make sure we are keeping up in our courses and ask us about our extracurricular involvement. It is clear to us that she cares about our personal lives and is always there to provide us guidance in our daily life and about our career goals. I can honestly say that Laura’s mentorship was a major factor in my decision to pursue a career in which I can make research a part of my life.

Laura, whatever path you take on your journey to success will be an amazing and rewarding one because of your incredible dedication and love for what you do. I am constantly inspired by your personal drive and ability to master such a diverse set of skills. James, Jake and I cannot thank you enough for everything.

Congratulations to the 2018 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, 2018 SURF Award Recipients!

SURF logo 2The Office of Undergraduate Research is pleased to announce the selection of 59 undergraduate students to receive SURF Awards in support of their summer undergraduate research projects.

Click here to view the full list of Summer 2018 SURF awardees.

Congratulations, SURF awardees! Your academic achievements, curiosity, initiative, and motivation were evident in your applications. 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; Engineering; Fine Arts; Nursing; and Pharmacy, who all contributed 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 2018 SURF awards, and good luck with your summer projects!

• Applications Due for Summer Research Opportunities

Interested in spending the summer engaged in an exciting research project? There is still time to apply for summer research opportunities in a variety of areas. The programs and opportunities listed below have application deadlines in February.

Undergraduate Summer Fellowship Program in Vision Science – University of Rochester
Deadline: February 1, 2018
Students who are juniors (during 2017-18) with an interest in neuroscience, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, and biomedical science are encouraged to apply for this summer of supervised laboratory training. $3,820 stipend and on-campus housing provided.

Hartford Hospital Summer Student Pre-Med & Research Program 
Deadline: February 2, 2018
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 2018. $2,600 award for selected students.

UCSD MSTP Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program
Deadline: February 4, 2018
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 Experience – University at Buffalo, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
Deadline: February 5, 2018
The School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences offers a summer undergraduate research program for students in their junior year (at the time of application). Offers extended to only 6-8 students; $3,500 stipend and housing provided.

Biomedical Engineering Summer Internship Program (BESIP)
Deadline: February 9, 2018
This program, sponsored by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), is targeted at undergraduate biomedical engineering students who have completed their junior year of college. This program is a subprogram of the Summer Internship Program (SIP). Students will participate in biomedical research projects under the direction of scientists at NIH laboratories in Bethesda, MD. Stipend of approximately $6,600 for 10 weeks.

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program – UT Southwestern Medical Center
Deadline: February 9, 2018
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 9, 2018
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.

Amgen Scholars Summer Research Program – California Institute of Technology
Deadline: February 15, 2018
The Caltech Amgen Scholars program provides undergraduate students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D. in STEM fields with the opportunity to conduct research in biology, chemistry, and bio-technical fields under the supervision of seasoned research mentors. $6,275 stipend for the 10-week program, campus housing and a board allowance provided.

Montgomery Summer Research Diversity Fellowships in Law and Social Science
Deadline: February 15, 2018
The American Bar Foundation sponsors a program of summer research fellowships. The summer program is designed to introduce students from diverse backgrounds to the benefits of a research-oriented career in the field of law and social science. Open to students who will have completed at least two years of undergraduate study by the time the fellowship begins. Selected students will receive a stipend of $3,600.

Building Diversity in Biomedical Sciences – Summer Research Program at Tufts University School of Medicine
Deadline: February 15, 2018
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.

Materials Research Science and Engineering Center REU at Northwestern University
Deadline: February 15, 2018
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.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Summer Student Fellowship
Deadline: February 15, 2018
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 2018 are eligible to apply. Stipend of $632/week for 10-12 weeks and institutional housing provided.

Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences REU Program
Deadline, February 15, 2018
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, 2018
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 $5,250 stipend and university housing. Students from groups historically underrepresented in the sciences are encouraged to apply.

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology of Changing Environments: Integrating from Genomes to Biomes – Kansas State University Biology REU Program
Deadline: February 15, 2018
This 10-week program provides undergraduates interested in biological sciences with research experience and professional development under the mentorship of a faculty mentor. Student applicants should have research interests in ecological genomics, grassland ecology, or evolutionary biology. $5,250 stipend and housing provided.

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center Internship Program
Deadline: February 15, 2018
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.

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program – State University of New York Upstate Medical University
Deadline: February 16, 2018
This 10-week summer research program is for students majoring in chemistry, biology, or a related field. Applicants should be between their junior and senior years (in Summer 2018) and have a strong interest in pursuing post undergraduate study. Students should be specifically interested in pursuing a PhD, MS, MD, MD/PhD, DNP, DPT, MPH, or PA. $3,500 stipend and housing provided.

Maryland Sea Grant REU Program
Deadline: February 16, 2018
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.

Marine Physical Laboratory Summer Internship Program – Scripps Institution of Oceanography 
Deadline: February 16, 2018
Undergraduate students interested in a career in scientific research and development are encouraged to apply for this summer research internship in marine science and technology. This 10-week summer internship program is seeking undergraduates majoring in engineering, chemistry, physics, biology or geology. Interns are paid $14/hour.

Chesapeake Bay Summer Internships – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Deadline: February 20, 2018
The NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office internships connect student interested in a career in marine biology, oceanography, environmental education and related fields with professionals in these areas. Paid undergraduate internships are available for Summer 2018. Descriptions of available internships can be found at the above link.

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship in Oceanography – University of Rhode Island
Deadline: February 21, 2018
The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships in Oceanography program is a 10-week research experience designed for science, math and engineering students who will be seniors in Fall 2017. Stipend of approximately $5,500.

Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program (MAOP) Undergraduate Summer Research Internship – Virginia Tech
Deadline: February 24, 2018
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.

• Health Research Program – Opportunities for Summer 2018

Trakhtenberg lab
Guided by HRP mentor Dr. Ephraim Trakhtenberg, postdoctoral fellow Juhwan Kim demonstrates microscope-assisted surgery to master’s student Muhammad Sajid (background), HRP student Kathleen Renna, and M.D.-Ph.D. student Bruce Rheaume. (Photo by Ethan Giorgetti)
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 2018, here is the key information:

  • Summer 2018 opportunities are now posted on the HRP website. There are 26 opportunities that range from software development to public health, biomaterials to neuroscience, genetics to bioinformatics. The application deadline for these opportunities is Friday, January 26, 2018.
  • All of these opportunities are slated to continue into the 2018-19 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 2018 HRP opportunities, students must plan to graduate no sooner than May 2019.

Further details and answers to 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.

• Student Accomplishments – December 2017


Please join us in congratulating the UConn undergraduates named below for their significant research and creative accomplishments in summer and fall 2017. Students: if you have an accomplishment to share, please do so using this online form.


Congratulations to Catherine Cabano ’18 (CAHNR) and Alexander Holmgren ’18 (CLAS), UConn’s two undergraduate representatives at the Universitas 21 Research Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland in June 2017.


Nicole Gomez ’18 (CLAS) was a co-author on a recent publication from Jessica Rouge’s lab:

Santiana, J. J., Sui, B., Gomez, N., & Rouge, J. L. (2017). Programmable Peptide-Cross-Linked Nucleic Acid Nanocapsules as a Modular Platform for Enzyme Specific Cargo Release. Bioconjugate Chemistry. doi: 10.1021/acs.bioconjchem.7b00629

Naseem Sardashti ’18 (ENG), an undergraduate in the Health Research Program, was a co-author on a recent publication based on research conducted with Dr. Sangamesh Kumbar at UConn Health:

Manoukian, O. S., Arul, M. R., Sardashti, N., Stedman, T., James, R., Rudraiah, S., & Kumbar, S. G. (2017). Biodegradable polymeric injectable implants for long-term delivery of contraceptive drugs. Journal of Applied Polymer Science, 135, 46068. doi: 10.1002/app.46068

Zachary Stempel ’18 (CLAS), a member of William Bailey’s lab, was the second author on two recent publications in Organic Letters and The Journal of Organic Chemistry:

Lambert, K. M., Stempel, Z. D., Wiberg, K. B., & Bailey, W. F. (2017). Experimental Demonstration of a Sizeable Nonclassical CH···G Hydrogen Bond in Cyclohexane Derivatives: Stabilization of an Axial Cyano Group. Organic Letters, 19(23), 6408-6411. doi: 10.1021/acs.orglett.7b03287

Lambert, K. M., Stempel, Z. D., Kiendzior, S. M., Bartelson, A. L., & Bailey, W. F. (2017). Enhancement of the Oxidizing Power of an Oxoammonium Salt by Electronic Modification of a Distal Group. The Journal of Organic Chemistry, 82(21), 11440-11446. doi: 10.1021/acs.joc.7b01965



Pierre Fils ’18 (ENG) conducted research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the Climate Change Science Institute. Pierre had the opportunity to work on mid-scale, high performance computing clusters to analyze climate data with the goal of redesigning the ASHRAE Climate Zones.

Chelsea Garcia
Chelsea Garcia ’20 (CAHNR)

Chelsea Garcia ’20 (CAHNR) participated in the Bridging the Gap Program funded by the USDA and coordinated by the Department of Nutritional Sciences. Dr. Christopher Blesso served as Chelsea’s research mentor for the summer experience. She presented her research poster, “Effects of Grape Consumption on Postprandial Response to a High Saturated Fat Test Meal,” at the Summer Research Poster Symposium in August.

Mark Garcia ’20 (CLAS) completed a research internship in Dr. Peter Raymond’s Biogeochemistry Laboratory at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

Djion A. Holness ’19 (CAHNR) spent her summer at the University of Georgia engaged in research through an NSF funded REU program. Djion conducted veterinary diagnostic research exploring patters of co-infection in domestic dogs along the Panama Canal.

Two students spent the summer engaged in research at The Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, FL. Through an NSF funded REU program, Mirella Fernandez ’19 (CLAS) worked in the Page Laboratory studying the effects of a double mutant gene on three known phenotypes of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Sarah Robbins ’18 (CAHNR, CLAS) conducted her summmer research in immunology under the direction of Dr. Matthew Pipkin. Sarah worked with in vivo models and RNAi silencing systems to identify transcription factors that function in CD8+ T cell development.

Tanya Miller
Tanya Miller ’20 (CLAS)

Tanya Miller ’20 (CLAS) participated in the Health Disparities Clinical Summer Research Fellowship Program through the UConn Health Department of Health Career Opportunity Programs (HCOP). Over the course of the seven week program, Tanya worked with the North Central Regional Mental Health Board under the direction of Quyen Truong, Outreach and Evaluation Manager, to research young adults’ opinions on health care. She presented her research “Community Conversation Among Young Adults on Health Care” at UConn Health in July.

Andrea Naranajo-Soledad ’19 (ENG) enjoyed the opportunity to work at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), a research-based university in China. Andrea studied photocatalytic, antifouling and humic acid removal properties of a membrane used for ultrafiltration in water.

Brittany Nelson ’19 (ENG) conducted research through the NSF REU program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez. Brittany’s project focused on controlling the behavior of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs).

Kesan Samuel ’20 (CLAS) conducted field research at El Yunque Forest in Puerto Rico. Under the supervision of Dr. Steven Presley, Kesan studied gastropod and phasmid populations, assisting with sampling plots to identify and count various species.

Maya Schlesinger ’18 (CAHNR) completed a summer research fellowship at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. Maya studied a newly discovered parvovirus affecting Red Pandas at the San Diego Zoo. 

Anthonia Wray ’19 (CLAS), an NSF REU recipient, worked under the guidance of Dr. Jessica Plavicki in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Brown University. Anthonia studied the effects of AHR activation in the liver using zebrafish models.


David Bachoy
David Bachoy ’19 (CLAS)

Society for the Study of Human Development Biennial Meeting – October 6-8, 2017 – Providence, RI

David Bachoy ’19 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Associations Between Marijuana Use and Time Spent Playing Different Types of Video Games Alone and with Others

Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) Annual Meeting – October 11-14, 2017 – Phoenix, AZ

Norah Cowley ’18 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Analysis of Growth and Stiffness of Cancer Spheroids Using 3D-Printed Microtweezer Device

Norah Cowley
Norah Cowley ’18 (ENG)
Amisha Dave
Amisha Dave ’18 (ENG)

Amisha Dave ’18 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
mHealth Smartphone Application to Measure Risky Driving Behavior and Predict Crashes

Clinton Global Initiative University Conference (CGI U) – October 13-15, 2017 – Boston, MA 

Akshayaa Chittibabu ’19 (CLAS) – Selected as a student presenter

American Physical Society Division of Nuclear Physics Fall Meeting – October 25-28, 2017 – Pittsburgh, PA

Sam Markelon ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient

Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Annual Meeting – October 27-30, 2017 – Minneapolis, MN 

Katherine Saltzgiver
Katherine Saltzgiver ’18 (ENG)

Katherine Saltzgiver ’18 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Production and Utilization of Biochar from the Slow Pyrolysis of Food Waste

Obesity Week 2017 – October 29-November 2, 2017 – Washington, DC

Christiana Field ’17 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Advances in Self-monitoring of Blood Glucose in Type-2 Diabetes: A Study on Patient Experiences

IEEE MIT Undergraduate Research Technology Conference – November 3-5, 2017 – Cambridge, MA

Xinkang Chen ’18 (ENG) &  Md Tanvirul Islam ’19 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipients
Comparison of Chirped and Unchirped Superlattices as Adjustable-Strain Platforms for Metamorphic InGaAs/GaAs Devices

Northeastern Glenn Symposium on Biology of Aging – November 9, 2017 – UConn Health, Farmington, CT

Jacob Macro ’19 (CLAS) & Pooja Patel ’18 (CLAS) – Health Research Program participants
Indy Reduction Maintains Fly Health and Homeostasis

Society for Neuroscience (SFN) Annual Meeting – November 11-15, 2017 – Washington, DC 

Danni Dong ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Observational Learning: Comparing a Foraging and Aversive Motivated Task in Female Rats

Thomas Pietruszewski ’19 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Influence of the Social Environment on Female Rats Exploring a Novel Open Field

ASCB/EMBO 2017 Meeting – December 2-6, 2017 – Philadelphia, PA 

Alyssa Mathiowetz ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Actin Nucleation Factors that Control Autophagy are Important for Zebrafish Organ Development

Xinkang Chen and Md Islam
Xinkang Chen ’18 (ENG) and Md Islam ’19 (ENG)
Pooja Patel and Jacob Macro
Pooja Patel ’18 (CLAS) and Jacob Macro ’19 (CLAS)
Danni Dong
Danni Dong ’18 (CLAS)

• Deadlines Approaching for Summer 2018 Research Opportunities

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to get valuable research experience this summer. Undergraduate students who are interested in participating in a summer research program should be preparing applications and requesting letters of recommendation now! Check out the following summer research programs with late January and early February deadlines.

Arecibo Observatory REU Summer Program
Deadline: January 25, 2018 (online application); February 1, 2018 (supporting documents)
Students selected for this summer research opportunity will work with staff scientists at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico on projects related to ongoing research or instrumentation development. Interested students must be undergraduates in Fall 2018. Strong candidates will be students majoring in astronomy, physics, computer science, and electrical engineering.

Summer Internships in Science and Technology (SIST) – Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab)
Deadline: January 28, 2018
Fermilab’s SIST program offers 12-week summer internships in science and technology. Internships available in physics, engineering (mechanical, electrical and computer), materials science, mathematics and computer science offer a chance for students to conduct research with Fermilab scientists and engineers.

REU Program in Solar and Space Physics – University of Colorado Boulder
Deadline: January 29, 2018
This 10-week summer REU program targets students with an interest in solar and space physics. Students work under the direction of scientists from one of a number of participating institutions, including Colorado’s Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics and the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s High Altitude Observatory. $500/week stipend and housing provided.

NASA Student Airborne Research Program (SARP) – NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center (CA) and University of California, Irvine
Deadline: January 31, 2018
This 8-week summer internship program is targeted at highly motivated rising seniors with a strong background in any of the physical, chemical, or biological sciences, or engineering and an interest in applying their background to the study of the Earth system. Selected students will work in multi-disciplinary teams to study surface, atmospheric, and oceanographic processes and will fly on board the NASA C-23 Sherpa research aircraft. $5,000 stipend, travel costs and housing provided.

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute Summer Scholars Program (CRISSP)
Deadline: January 31, 2018
The CHOP Research Institute Summer Scholars Program (CRISSP) is committed to educating and training future leaders in the biomedical sciences, with a special emphasis on advancing laboratory, clinical, behavioral and translational pediatric research. Summer stipend of $4,000 and housing provided.

SAO REU Summer Intern Program
Deadline: January 31, 2018

The SAO Summer intern program is a research experience for undergraduates where students work on an astrophysics research project under the supervision of an SAO or Harvard scientist. The 10-week program takes place at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Summer Undergraduate Research Program – Gerstner Sloan Kettering
Deadline: February 1, 2018
The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Memorial Sloan Kettering sponsors a 10-week summer research program for undergraduate students who are interested in the biomedical sciences. This is a competitive program that accepts 20 students. Applicants must have research experience. $4,000 stipend and housing provided.

Pediatric Oncology Education (POE) Program – St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Deadline: February 1, 2018
This program provides a short-term training experience in either laboratory research or clinical research. Students will be matched with a faculty mentor and will participate in the mentor’s ongoing research projects. Qualified students with an interest in cancer research are encouraged to apply. $400/week stipend provided to selected students.

NSF-REU Internships in Astronomy – Maria Mitchell Observatory
Deadline: February 1, 2018
Six REU internship positions are available for qualified undergraduate astronomy and physics students. These positions provide students the opportunity to conduct independent research supervised by a senior staff member of MMO. $1,800 per month stipend and housing provided.

SENS Research Foundation (SRF) Summer Scholars Program
Deadline: February 5, 2018

This program offers undergraduate students the opportunity to conduct biomedical research under the guidance of a scientific mentor. Paid positions are available at a number of research institutions including Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, Stanford University and Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Full descriptions of each research project can be found at the website link above.

Amgen Scholars Program 
The Amgen Scholars Program, through which students work full-time on independent research projects under the guidance of a research scientist, is hosted at ten institutions in the United States. Each host institution has its own application process; see details about 9 of the institutional programs below (applications deadlines are February 1st. The Caltech program is not listed below as its deadline is 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.

Amgen Scholars Summer Research Program at Columbia University/Barnard College
Columbia University and Barnard College offer a summer research program to undergraduate students who are interested in hands-on, biology-related laboratory research. The program is competitive with awards based on grades, recommendations, and career plans. Selected students receive a stipend of $4,000, a meal stipend ($500), and housing on the Morningside campus of Columbia University.

Amgen Scholars Program at Harvard
This 10-week, faculty-mentored summer research program is targeted to students with research interests in the biotechnology fields. The program encourages applications from students whose backgrounds and experiences would bring diversity to biotechnology fields and students from groups underrepresented in the STEM fields. $4,000 stipend, $500 meal allowance, housing and travel costs to Boston, MA are provided.

Amgen Scholars Program at NIH
Undergraduate students will be matched with a research mentor and participate in a curriculum that will teach leadership skills as well as prepare them for research-oriented careers. Preference will be given to students who lack opportunities to perform independent research during the school year. Students from diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

Amgen-UROP Scholars Program at MIT
The Amgen-UROP Scholars Program is a competitive program providing the opportunity for undergraduates to participate in faculty-mentored summer research at MIT in the science and biotechnology areas. Students work 40 hours per week for nine weeks ($4,418 salary). Housing in an MIT residence hall and a food allowance of $800 are also provided.

Stanford Summer Research Program (SSRP) – Amgen Scholars Program
The SSRP-Amgen Scholars program is a research-intensive residential program where students are matched with a member of the Stanford faculty to conduct a research project from a comprehensive list of biological and biomedical science programs. The program encourages applications from students whose backgrounds and experiences would bring diversity to the field. The program provides a stipend of $3,600 and summer housing, meals, and travel to and from Stanford.

Amgen Scholars Program at the University of California, Berkeley
The UC Berkeley Amgen Scholars program is a 10-week summer research program that provides undergraduates the opportunity to work on directly on a research project under the guidance of a UCB faculty member. $5,000 stipend and apartment housing provided as well as travel costs to the UC Berkeley campus.

Amgen Scholars Program at the University of California, Los Angeles
The UCLA Amgen Scholars Program pairs students with a UCLA faculty mentor to conduct research in biomedical science, chemistry, bioengineering, or chemical engineering. This competitive program has 15 slots available to non-UCLA undergraduate students. $3,600 stipend for the 10-week program, on-campus housing and some meals provided to selected students.

Amgen Scholars Program at the University of California, San Francisco
The UCSF Amgen Scholars 9-week summer program provides opportunities for undergraduates to conduct research in science and biotechnology under the supervision of UCSF faculty members. Selected students will participate in seminars/lectures and have the opportunity to present their research at the end of the program. Students receive a $4,000 stipend, $500 to cover travel costs to and from San Francisco, and housing.

Amgen Scholars Program at Washington University in St. Louis
Undergraduates selected for the Amgen Scholars Program at Washington University will engage in an intensive, 10-week, independent research project under the direction of a faculty mentor. Students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and groups historically underrepresented in the sciences are encouraged to apply. $4,000 stipend and housing provided.

• Apply Now for Summer 2018 Research and Internship Opportunities

Undergraduate students who are interested in participating in a summer research or internship program need to plan ahead. December is the time to gather together all the required elements of the applications, including faculty letters of recommendation. All of the exciting summer opportunities listed below have application deadlines in December or January! Don’t miss the opportunity to get research experience.

DAAD RISE – Research Internships in Science and Engineering in Germany
Deadline: Applications are due by December 15, 2017; Letters of Reference are due by January 2, 2018 
DAAD RISE gives students in the fields of biology, chemistry, earth sciences, engineering and physics the chance to spend a summer working on research projects with doctoral students at German universities and research institutions. Interested students must first register online between November 1, 2017 and December 15, 2017. Students will then be able to access the internship offers submitted by the doctoral students in Germany prior to completing the application.

Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship Program (MLEF)
Deadline: January 3, 2018; http://orise.orau.gov/mlef/
The Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship (MLEF) is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy. It is a 10-week summer internship program that provides opportunities to students who are pursuing degrees in STEM fields. The goal of the program is to improve opportunities for minority and female students in these fields, but all eligible candidates are encouraged to apply. Selected undergraduates receive a weekly stipend of $600.

Summer Neuroscience Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SNURF) – University of Vermont
Deadline: January 10, 2018; https://www.med.uvm.edu/neuro/snurf
Two summer research programs will be hosted by the University of Vermont. One is funded by NSF and the other by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Both offer generous stipends and housing. Interested students may apply to only one of the two programs. Details available on the website.

Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships (SULI)
Deadline: January 12, 2018; https://science.energy.gov/wdts/suli/
The Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) program encourages undergraduate students to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers by providing research experiences at one of 17 participating Dept. of Energy laboratories.

Cold Spring Harbor Undergraduate Summer Research Program 2018
Deadline: January 15, 2018; http://www.cshl.edu/education/urp
The URP program is designed to give students an opportunity to conduct first-rate research under the supervision of senior laboratory staff in the areas of cancer biology, neuroscience, plant biology, cellular and molecular biology, genetics and bioinformatics and genomics. Selected students receive room and board in addition to a $5,000 stipend.

ThinkSwiss Research Scholarships
Deadline: January 15, 2018; http://thinkswiss.tumblr.com/About
ThinkSwiss scholarships support highly motivated undergraduates who are interested in doing research at a public Swiss university or research institute. The scholarship is open to students in all fields. A monthly stipend of approximately $1,050 is provided for a period of 2-3 months.

Summer ORISE Fellowship Opportunities at the CDC
Deadline: January 19, 2018; http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/dls/orise.html
Appointments through the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) Fellowship Program. Undergraduate students majoring in the applied sciences may apply. Biology and chemistry majors are preferred. Stipend of approximately $2,800 per month for undergraduate students.

Natural History Research Experiences (NHRE)
Deadline: January 24, 2018; http://www.mnh.si.edu/NHRE/index.htm
This is a 10-week summer internship program at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. NHRE interns work closely with scientific mentors to complete independent research projects in Earth science, Biology, and Anthropology. Interns will receive a stipend of $6,000 and be provided dorm housing at George Washington University.

Summer Public Health Scholars Program (SPHSP) – Columbia University
Deadline: January 31, 2018; http://ps.columbia.edu/education/student-life/office-diversity/programs/college-and-post-baccalaureate-students/summer-publ
The Summer Public Health Scholars Program (SPHSP) is designed for undergraduate students who are interested in public health and biomedical science careers. Applicants must have completed at least two years of college. Students from underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply. Approximately 40 students will be selected to participate. Students will receive a stipend, housing, and round trip travel.


• 2017 Mentorship Excellence Awards


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 2017 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.

The 2017 Mentorship Excellence Awards were presented to Virginia Hettinger, Morgan Tingley, and Amanda Coletti during the Frontiers in Undergraduate Research Poster Exhibition on Friday, April 7, 2017.

Virginia Hettinger, Associate Professor of Political Science
Professor Hettinger’s award was presented by Peer Research Ambassador Tom Cotton ’17 (ENG). The following text is excerpted from Tom’s presentation remarks.

Tom Cotton and Virginia Hettinger
Tom Cotton ’17 (ENG) presents the award to Professor Virginia Hettinger.

All of Professor Hettinger’s nominators commented on the profound effect she has had on their undergraduate careers. One noted, “Professor Hettinger has completely changed my college experience for the better. After my first meeting with her, I left feeling as if I could attempt anything.”

By involving students in research, both in the classroom and through mentorship of independent projects, Professor Hettinger had developed her students’ understanding and appreciation of different types of political science research.

Further, she has encouraged her students to pursue opportunities they doubted they could achieve, whether that is submitting a University Scholar application or competing for a national fellowship. Her advisees describe how she has provided just the right kind of mentorship at a given moment, whether that was a gentle push to try something new, guidance on how to resolve a problem, or encouragement to persist in spite of challenges.

Her impact as a mentor is best encapsulated in the words of one of her advisees, who wrote, “Research has been central to my intellectual and professional development in college. I see research as more than just a final assignment for a class – it is a way to approach and try to understand different political and social problems. This is largely because Dr. Hettinger has always encouraged me to follow my intellectual curiosity and challenged me to come up with my own research questions. I have gained a host of research, writing, and strategic planning skills I will bring to whatever situations I find myself in throughout my career.”

Morgan Tingley, Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Professor Tingley’s award was presented by Genevieve Nuttall ’18 (CLAS), Sarah Rumsey ’19 (CLAS), and Nicholas Russo ’18 (CLAS), three undergraduate researchers mentored by Dr. Tingley. The following text is excerpted from Nick’s presentation remarks.

Morgan Tingley and mentees
Professor Morgan Tingley, at right, with his undergraduate mentees.

Under Dr. Tingley’s guidance, I reached a major goal early in my undergraduate career: publishing the results of a research project in a peer-reviewed journal. He has worked with me intensively over the past three years to make sure I understood how to do ecology, from experimental design to communicating results.

Dr. Tingley also stresses ownership of research, which I credit as the major driver of my growth as a researcher. He teaches us the methods and tools of ecological research, including advanced statistics and R statistical software, and expects us to come to him with ideas for how to use them in our research.

In fall 2016, Dr. Tingley and I applied for the Jed Burtt Mentoring Grant to cover research expenses for the upcoming field season, and travel to present the results at an ornithology conference Dr. Tingley explained that he never had the chance to attend a conference as an undergraduate, and thought I should have the opportunity. In fact, he couldn’t wait until next year—we presented at the 2017 meeting and spent two non-conference days birding around Florida. Overall, Dr. Tingley’s impressive birding skills, and his cycle of critique and praise of my work keeps me on edge, and motivated to mirror his success in ecological research.

Amanda Coletti, Ph.D. Student, Physiology and Neurobiology, Conover Laboratory
Amanda was presented with her award by Emily Norton ’17 (CLAS), one of many undergraduate researchers who works under her supervision in the Conover lab. The following text is excerpted from Emily’s presentation remarks.

Amanda Coletti with mentees.
Amanda Coletti with members of the Conover Lab.

I began working with Amanda when she joined our lab as a first year graduate student. Although I was initially nervous to begin working with someone new, we have become incredibly close over the years, and her constant support and mentorship have proved invaluable to myself and others as we learn the intricacies of scientific research.

Throughout my time working with her, Amanda has made every teaching experience engaging and thought-provoking. Her passion for science and learning is contagious, and has heavily influenced our own involvement within the lab. While teaching us difficult techniques with skill, she has emphasized the importance of fully understanding our work and how each decision we make relates to our research question. Instead of criticizing us, she turns every mistake into an experience we can learn from. Her determination to involve us and teach us to work independently has led to our development of critical and creative thinking skills that will prove beneficial in all facets of our lives.

Amanda’s interest and guidance in our lives goes beyond the scope of lab work. She frequently dedicates her time and energy into helping and supporting her undergraduate team. Whether it be through answering late night stress emails, proofreading countless program applications, or celebrating our accomplishments, Amanda has been there to support us throughout all endeavors.

Congratulations to the 2017 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.

• Student Accomplishments – May 2017


Please join us in congratulating the UConn undergraduates named below for their significant research and creative accomplishments in spring 2017. Students: if you have an accomplishment to share, please do so using this online form.


Alyssa Mathiowetz ’18 (CLAS) received a Founders Affiliate Undergraduate Student Summer Fellowship Award from the American Heart Association. She will be working under the supervision of Professor Kenneth Campellone in the Campellone Lab this summer, studying actin nucleation factors and autophagy in cardiovascular development. Congratulations, Alyssa!

Elizabeth Rodier ’18 and Jessica Young ’19 have been selected as UConn Beckman Scholars. The Beckman Scholars program will support their independent research in the Tzingounis Laboratory and the Sun Laboratory, respectively, for two summers and one academic year. Congratulations, Elizabeth and Jessica!

John Ovian in a lab.Congratulations to John Ovian ’17 (CLAS), pictured at right, and Diler Haji ’17 (CLAS), undergraduate recipients of 2017 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships! They are among the 10 UConn students and alumni who won NSF Graduate Research Fellowships this year.


Jack Morley ’17 (ENG) and Leopoldo Valencia ’17 (ENG) were co-authors on a recent publication from Seok-Woo Lee’s Lab, as was one past undergraduate researcher, Thomas Bissell ’16 (ENG):

Dusoe, K.J., Vijayan, S., Bissell, T.R., Chen, J. Morley, J.E., Valencia, L., Dongare, A.M., Aindow, M., & Lee, S.-W. (2017). Strong, ductile, and thermally stable Cu-based metal-intermetallic nanostructured composites. Nature Scientific Reports, 7, 40409. doi: 10.1038/srep40409.

Sayeda Najamussahar Peerzade ’20 (ENG) was a co-author on a recent publication based on research conducted with Dr. Vladimir Litvak at the University of Massachusetts Medical School:

Filiano, A.J., Xu, Y., Tustison, N.J., Marsh, R.L., Baker, W., Smirnov, I., Overall, C.C., Gadani, S.P., Turner, S.D., Wheng, Z., Najamussahar Peerzade, S.,, Chen, H., Lee, K.S., Scott, M.M, Beenhakker, M.P, Litvak, V., & Kipnis, J. (2016). Unexpected role of interferon-γ in regulating neuronal connectivity and social behavior. Nature, 535, 425-429. doi: 10.1038/nature18626.

Connor Occhialini ’18 (CLAS) was the first author on a recent publication in Physical Review B:

Occhialini, C.A.,, Handunkanda, S.U., Curry, E.B., & Hancock, J.N. (2017). Classical, quantum, and thermodynamics of a lattice model exhibiting structural negative thermal expansion. Physical Review B, 95, 094106. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevB.95.094106.

Nicolas Ochart ’18 (SFA) published a paper based on research he conducted while enrolled in ARTH 3530 – Contemporary Art, taught by Professor Margo Machida:

Ochart, N. (2017). Stark imagery: The male nude in art. Bowdoin Journal of Art, 3, 1-17. Full Text.


Spring 2017 included a series of art exhibitions, screenings, and performances by the following undergraduate students:

Diana Abouchacra ’17 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
Include|Exclude: Explorations of Xenophobia through Printmaking

Louise Astorino ’17 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
Raccogliere: A Study of Gatherings and Public Spaces in Florence, Italy

Edward (John) Cody ’17 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
100 Birds: An Original Puppetry Production

Benjamin Piascik ’17 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
BuyTown: A Comedy Pilot

Catherine Solari ’17 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
STAMPEDE: A Solo Exhibition of Sculptural Printmaking

Over the course of the 2016-17 academic year, Ali Oshinskie ’17 (CLAS) created and produced a podcast, Professors Are People Too, about her experience as an English major and the delight of getting to know her professors. All past episodes are available at the link above.


Plant Animal Genome Conference – January 14-17, 2017 – San Diego, CA

Sumaira Zaman ’17 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Bioinformatic Evaluation of Transcriptomic Frame Selection Methods in Non­-model Species

Samantha Mairson
Samantha Mairson ’17 (SFA)
American Library Association Midwinter Conference – January 20-24, 2017 – Atlanta, GA

Samantha Mairson ’17 (SFA) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Museums, Libraries, and Civic Discourse in Connecticut: Omeka Everywhere

Yale Undergraduate Research Conference – February 11-12, 2017 – New Haven, CT

Radhika Malhotra ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Investigating the Role of Ras Signaling in Ovulation Using Drosophila Melanogaster as a Model System

American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting – February 16-20, 2017 – Boston, MA

Colin Cleary ’17 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Investigating Service Learning Pedagogy in Undergraduate STEM Coursework

Jessica Griffin
Jessica Griffin ’17 (CAHNR, CLAS)
Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography Aquatic Sciences Meeting – February 26-March 3, 2017 – Honolulu, HI

Jessica Griffin ’17 (CAHNR, CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Food Quality and Diet Preference in Mysis diluviana

Wilson Ornithological Society Annual Meeting – March 9-12, 2017 – Ft. Myers, FL

Nicholas Russo ’18 (CLAS) – Recipient of the Nancy Klamm Undergraduate Presentation Award for best student talk – OUR Travel Award recipient
Avian Spring Migration as a Dispersal Mechanism for an Invasive Insect

American Physical Society Meeting – March 13-17, 2017 – New Orleans, LA

Connor Occhialini ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Inelastic X-Ray Scattering Study of Incipient and Realized Structural Transitions in Mercurous Halides

Kangaroo Care Senior Design Team
Sarah McGee ’17 (ENG), Cailah Carroll ’17 (ENG), Courtney Mulry ’17 (ENG), Katelyn Houlihan ’17 (ENG), & Celine Agnes ’17 (ENG)
Rice 360 Undergraduate Global Health Technologies Competition – March 24, 2017 – Houston, TX

Celine Agnes ’17 (ENG), Rosalie Bordett ’17 (ENG), Cailah Carroll ’17 (ENG), Katelyn Houlihan ’17 (ENG), Sarah McGee ’17 (ENG) & Courtney Mulry ’17 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipients
Promote KMC – Preventing Neo-Natal Mortality Using Technology Assisted Kangaroo Mother Care

CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing – March 30-April 1, 2017 – Cambridge, MA

Jessica Joseph ’17 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Can Visual Shapes Influence Phoneme Perception?

American Chemical Society National Meeting – April 2-6, 2017 – San Francisco, CA

Sydney Scheirey ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Polyureas for Dielectric Applications Developed through a Rational Co-Design Approach

Jean-Marc Lawrence ’17 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Separate Ways: Efforts to Resolve Planar Chiral [13]-Macrodilactones

Samantha Lawrence
Sam Lawrence ’17 (CLAS)
Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting – April 6-8, 2017 – Austin, TX

Maranda Jones ’17 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Relationships between Auditory Brainstem Responses and Early Language in Typically Developing Children and Children with Autism

Samantha Lawrence ’17 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Moral Judgments About Exclusion Bullying: The Role of Previous Experiences and Ethnicity of Participant, Excluders, and Victims

Midwest Political Science Association Conference – April 6-9, 2017 – Chicago, IL

Sydney Carr ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Can’t Fight This Feeling: Emotions, Political Participation, and Black Presidential Candidates

Meriden Public School District Meeting – April 21, 2017 – Meriden, CT

Tashua Sotil ’17 (CAHNR)
The Meriden School Climate Survey: Student Version District Evaluation

Pacific University Undergraduate Philosophy Conference – April 21-22, 2017 – Pine Grove, OR

Christopher Caples ’17 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
The Ship of Plato, A Dualistic-Teleological Theory of Identity

Brittany Molkenthin
Professor Michelle Judge and Brittany Molkenthin ’17 (NUR)
Experimental Biology Annual Meeting – April 22-26, 2017 – Chicago, IL

Brittany Molkenthin ’17 (NUR) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Evaluation of the Association of Toll-Like Receptor 4 and BMI with Postpartum Depressive Symptomatology

New England Political Science Association Conference – April 20-22, 2017 – Providence, RI

Marissa Piccolo ’17 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Running and Winning: Understanding the Gender Differential in State Legislatures

Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting – May 6-9, 2017 – San Francisco, CA

Kristin Burnham ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Obesity Diagnosis in Pediatric Emergency Departments: A Missed Opportunity

Griffin Struyk ’17 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Development and Validation of the Violence Prevention Emergency Tool

Kristin Burnham
Kristin Burnham ’18 (CLAS)
Griffin Struyk
Griffin Struyk ’17 (CLAS)