Students Present Their “Wicked Smaht” Research

This January, seniors Yanhan Ren, Sarah Joseph, and Nirlipta Panda, along with junior Harris Weber traveled to Boston to attend the National Collegiate Research Conference (NCRC). The Harvard College Undergraduate Research Association began this conference in 2007 to provide a platform for undergrads to share their research.

While the main event was the poster session, the Innovation Challenge brought groups of students from different backgrounds together to discuss radical ideas and potential solutions to national and global issues. “Getting to know other students created endless possibilities of collaboration,” said Ren, a liason for future NCRC events. Every event promoted the sharing of ideas and collaboration with a variety of people, both things that U of R loves its students to do!

Ren is an international student from Nanjing, China studying molecular genetics. He presented his research, Functions of the Fun30 Chromatin Remodeler in DNA Postreplication Repair and Heterochromatin Structure in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. His research with Dr. Bi Xin from the Biology Department suggests that a gene from yeast is required for a new pathway for DNA damage repair. He plans to apply to medical school but will be taking a gap year to study medical science and public health at Boston University.

Joseph, who majors in molecular genetics, presented her topic, “Elucidating the mitochondrial targeting sequence of the yeast flap endonuclease (RAD27).” In layman’s terms, making mutations in the gene to figure out how it gets transported into the mitochondria.

Panda’s topic was on the impact of peripheral radiation on cognition and neurogenesis. This neuroscience major’s poster won the honorable mention in the Category of Biology.

NCRC 2Weber majors in cell and developmental biology while also pursuing a minor in business. From his experience in the Nedergaard Lab, he presented research about the newly discovered “Glymphatic” waste-clearance system with a focus on spinal cord injury.

The excitement of the student-run conference did not stop at poster sessions! Many keynote speakers were in attendance, such as Stephen Wolfram of Wolfram Alpha and John Mather from NASA. By attending the conference, Ren found many networking opportunities within his peers, potential employers, and members of higher education. He was inspired by the influential minds around him. “Talk to attendees and talk with the keynote speakers, you will find their words and ideals will change your mind.”

For any further information on the conference, please contact Yanhan Ren at

Communal Principles Project Honors Community Values

By Caitlin Mack ’12(T5)
Univ. Communications

The Communal Principles Project (CPP) is an initiative that promotes the communal principles of fairness, freedom, honesty, inclusion, respect, and responsibility that help create a community of engaged, lifelong learners.

Students that exemplified the spirit and purpose of responsibility in the UR community were invited to apply for mini grants of $200 or $500 to develop a program or activity during the 2012-13 academic year. The CPP will support the communal principle of honesty for the 2013-14 academic year.

Matia Piva’ 14, an active student member of the Communal Principles Project committee, says “anyone with an interest in community-building and getting to know first-class people are warmly invited to join us to help mold the future of the University community.”

2012-13 grants were given to fund events such as “Survivor to Thriver: Confronting Sexual Assault on Campus” conference, a collaborative effort between several departments and student groups held in April; “Take Back the Night,” a program that promoted domestic violence awareness on campus; and “Latino Expressions,” an expo that celebrated differences in the Latino culture and community. The CCP was created by The College and coordinated by the Office of the Dean of Students.


Angela Rojas ’14 said that the CPP-funded “Latino Expressions,” hosted by the Spanish and Latino Students’ Association in co-sponsorship with Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, Inc., “helped both organizations fulfill the responsibility we each have in our missions to educate the University community on the Latino heritage we have in Rochester.” Latino Expressions proved to be a grand event that featured Rochester community members, performances, speakers, and food.


Linda Dudman, Associate Director of Health Promotions, and Clint Cantwell ’15, said that thanks to funding from the CPP, over 80 students, staff, and members of the Rochester community were able to attend the full day “Survivor to Thriver” conference at no cost.

Conference Confronts Sexual Assault on Campus

By Melissa Greco Lopes
Univ. Communications

With bright blue t-shirts reading Stop. Ask. Clarify., organizers of the conference Survivor to Thriver: Confronting Sexual Assault on Campus spread a message of support and empowerment for survivors of sexual assault and gender violence. The conference, held on Tuesday, April 2, and Wednesday, April 3, gave participants the opportunity to hold difficult but critical conversations about sexual assault. More than 80 University of Rochester students, faculty, staff, and community members came together during the conference, which included a series of lectures, workshops, and panel discussions.

Catherine Cerulli, director of the University’s Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership, one of the sponsoring organizations, said one purpose of the conference was to demystify the process survivors go through after an assault. “It’s important that they are making decisions based on knowledge and not on fear,” she said. Cerulli noted that discussing the many services in the community designed to help survivors can encourage them to reach out and break their silence.

On Tuesday evening, more than 40 participants attended a screening of the film Not My Life, which kicked off the conference. Narrated by Glenn Close, the film depicts the scourge of human trafficking on a global scale, taking viewers into a world where millions of children are exploited through practices including forced labor, sex tourism, and child soldiering.

University President Joel Seligman began Wednesday’s daylong series of events by offering remarks about the importance of combatting sexual violence, an area he said is of “fundamental importance” to the campus community. After expressing his gratitude to those who organized and supported the conference, Seligman said, “As a former law school dean who supported domestic violence clinics at two different law schools, I have been exposed first hand to the horror of sexual violence. I join those in our community who wish to take all appropriate steps to prevent sexual assault.”

Read President Seligman’s Full Remarks

During the conference’s keynote address, former Division III student-athlete Maggie Maloy shared her personal story of recovery after an assault. As Maloy recounted her attack, which occurred when she was 15 years old, she interwove stories of her healing process, turning what was “without question the most terrifying time” of her life into an inspiring story of empowerment, forgiveness, and advocacy. During her presentation, which she has delivered on college campuses around the country, she told audience members of the importance of taking control of how you respond to moments of trauma. “You have to pull strength from within,” she said. “You have to acknowledge what’s happened, but focus on what you can empower.”

A panel discussion followed the keynote address, which included representatives from University Security, University Counseling Center, Rape Crisis Service, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Services, and the District Attorney’s Office. Panelists helped demystify the process by walking audience members through the many steps survivors can take after an assault, including medical examinations, interviews with law enforcement officials, and discussions with rape crisis counselors.

2013-04-03_survivor_to_thriver_2819Activities moved to Wilson Commons in the afternoon, where attendees had the opportunity to view posters featuring ongoing efforts to prevent and respond to gender violence, while community and campus organizations shared information about their services in “Caring Circles.” Participants also had the chance to speak one-on-one with Maloy and panelists from the morning session. Two lectures delivered by English Professor David Bleich and Rev. Dr. C. Denise Yarbrough, director of Religious and Spiritual Life, rounded out the conference program.

The conference was made possible through the financial support of co-sponsors including Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership, University Intercessor, UHS Health Promotion Office, Equal Opportunity Compliance Office, The College, Office of the Dean of Students, Athletics and Recreation, University Health Service, Rochester Center for Community Leadership, Susan B. Anthony Institute, Communal Principles Project (CPP), Greater Rochester Association of Women Attorneys, Graduate Organizing Group (GOG), Women’s Caucus, University of Rochester Pride Network, UR Cinema Group, and Southside Hall Council. Supporters also include Panhellenic Association, Multicultural Greek Council, GlobeMed, Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, University Security, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Services, University Counseling Center, Rape Crisis, Monroe County Sheriff Office, Rochester Police Department, and Sexual Health Advocacy Group (SHAG).

Photos and video courtesy of Brandon Vick and Dawn Wendt, University Communications.

Undergrad Research Recognized at National Conference

By Dan Wang ’14
Univ. Communications

In the last week of January, four Rochester undergraduates traveled to Harvard University to give a presentation at the National College Research Conference. The four participants created posters of their research and presented to panels of judges. Student Anaise Williams ’13 took home an Award of Excellence, the second place prize awarded to five out of 250 student presenters and is the top prize for the social sciences.

“I examined how rural low-income pregnant women in Northeastern Thailand negotiate traditional beliefs of prenatal precaution and biomedical prenatal recommendation. I really wanted to figure out how pregnancy is culturally scripted. How do people decide between listening to their moms and doctors?” says Williams, winner of the Award of Excellence.

This is a natural topic for someone who majors in anthropology with a focus on public health and has an interest in Asian culture. Williams conducted her research as she studied abroad in Thailand last spring. By taking part in the CIEE Development and Globalization Program arranged through Rochester’s Center for Study Abroad and Interdepartmental Programs, Williams conducted interviews with Thai women to determine how they reconciled traditional and modern views of pregnancy.

“This is an interesting way to investigate how global forms of information are understood at the local level,” Williams explains. “The project adds to the anthropological discussion of how to make biomedical globalization more culturally conscious.” She concludes that the women have a Western and traditional hybrid view of pregnancy in which they have autonomy over their bodies and incorporate traditional Thai views of pregnancy. Her extensive fieldwork interviewing pregnant women through translators gave her a nuanced view of the topic.

Alisa-Johnson-'14-and-URMC-Research-Mentor-Dr.-S-VijayakumarAlong with fellow undergraduates Alisa Johnson ‘14, Siddhi Shah ‘14, and Shilpa Topudurti ‘14, Williams attended the three-day conference with 250 students from around the country. Through funding from the Office of Undergraduate Research and various academic departments, the students were able to present their research to peers and students. They also were able to listen to professors discuss their own work; lecturers this year included development economist Jeffrey Sachs and psychologist and linguist Steven Pinker.

“I learned a lot from the keynote speakers and was exposed to a variety of topics from fellow presenters from all over the country,” says Alisa Johnson. “It was a great opportunity to connect and network with other students who share a similar interest in research at the undergraduate level.”

Johnson, Shah, and Topudurti are biology majors who presented on topics ranging from kidney disease to melanoma progression.

Shilpa-Topudurti-'14These four participants condensed their findings into 15-minute presentations and a poster board. Each gave a presentation to panels of judges that included professors and their fellow peers. A second, more formal presentation determined the prizes.

The Award of Excellence prize comes as a capstone for an already accomplished academic career. Outside of her major in anthropology Williams is president of the Undergraduate Anthropology Council; a coordinator at GlobeMed; and a tutor for 5th grade students at School 29, an elementary school in the 19th Ward. And she sees her project going still further; Williams is working on fellowships that will allow her to study maternal health in Asia next year.


In the Photos: First: Anaise Williams ’13 and Siddhi Shah ’14 at the National College Research Conference.  Second: Alisa Johnson ’14 and URMC Research Mentor Dr. S. Vijayakumar discuss Johnson’s research with conference participants. Third: Shilpa Topudurti ’14 presents her research during the conference. Fourth: Held at Harvard, nearly 250 students from around the country attended the National College Research Conference.  All photos courtesy of Alisa Johnson.

35 Rochester Undergrads Present Research at National Conference

Univ. Communications – Thirty-five University of Rochester students have been selected to present their research at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research (NCUR). The annual conference will take place at Ithaca College from March 31 through April 2.

Founded in 1987, NCUR provides undergraduates from across the country the opportunity to share their independent, unique research with their peers and professors through presentations and poster sessions. This year, NCUR saw the most applications submitted for review in the conference’s history, with the total number reaching more than 3,500. About 83 percent of applicants were selected to present their research.

“NCUR is an exciting opportunity for our students to show off their research, network, and learn about work going on elsewhere,” says Steve Manly, a physics professor and the director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, which works with Rochester students applying for inclusion in the conference. “It’s fun for me to accompany them, in part, because Rochester students make a great showing with quality research and presentations.”

The following Rochester students were selected to present research:

  • Sarah Ackroyd ’11, a biochemistry and statistics major, will present her research paper titled pH regulation of ER Ca2+ release by recombinant InsP3 receptors in DT40-3KO cells
  • Ellie Adair ’11, English and philosophy major, The affective power of Edgar Allan Poe; Moving beyond sincerity and jest
  • Jacy Bulaon ’11, biomedical engineering major, Optimization of quantitative second harmonic generation imaging
  • Xiaowei Cai ’12, optics major, Analysis of the myopic shift from 4 to 12 weeks post descemet-stripping with automated endothelial keratoplasty (DSAEK)
  • Isthier Chaudhury ’11, chemical engineering and Chinese studies major, Study of AgPt alloy nanoparticle loading on carbon supports
  • Gaoxiang Chen ’11, neuroscience and psychology major, Analysis of the propensity of neural epilepsy in a dynamic system
  • Rachel DeAngelis ’11, psychology major, Behind the computer screen: A study of cyber-antisocial behavior
  • Paul Del Prato ’12, brain and cognitive science major, The cumulative semantic cost occurs pre-lexically
  • Josh Geller ’11, physics and mathematics major, Search for an entanglement measure for three- and four-orbit states via phase symmetry
  • Serene Habayeb ’11, brain and cognitive science major, An investigation of mental state attribution and social impairment in children with autism
  • Alexander G. Hajduczok ’11, biochemistry major, Mapping antagonist contact points on the Ste2 G-protein coupled receptor in saccharomyces cereviseae
  • Julian E. Herwitz ’13, computer science major, Transactional memory applications of Delaunay’s triangulation algorithm
  • Woong Hwang ’11, neuroscience major, Spindle check point targeted therapy for glioblastoma
  • Huan “Colin” Jiang ’12, financial economics, computer science, and mathematics/statistics major, Operations research based on the performance-management strategy
  • Angela D. Ketterer ’12, biomedical engineering major, Design and implementation of a behavioral apparatus for auditory research in birds
  • Joel Kim ’13, microbiology major, Investigating the effects of class II ribonucleotide reductase on adenovirus replication
  • Sharese King ’12, linguistics major, On the interplay of syntax and pragmatics: Evidence from representational NPs and ellipsis
  • Nate Lindsey ’11, alternate energy and sustainable engineering major, Continental rifting above a mantle superplume: Diffuse vs. localized plate deformation in eastern Africa
  • Seri Link ’12, English literature and mathematics major, Modeling respiratory cilia movement
  • Zachery Lynch ’11, ecology and evolutionary biology major, Interactions between bacterial endosymbionts in Drosophila Neotestacea
  • Gerad Markham ’13, psychology and philosophy major, Examining the buffering hypothesis: The moderation of stress and distress by the perception of available support in postnatal low-income women
  • Victoria Masse ’11, anthropology and African and African-American studies major, Cultural trauma and genetics: The “new” African American in our midst
  • Tim McCrossen ’11, mechanical engineering, Structural analysis of an unreinforced Roman concrete vault: The frigidarium of the Baths of Caracalla
  • Kyle Murray ’12, computer science major, FlashDOM: Enabling blind people to browse more of the web
  • Christine Pittman ’11, archaeology, technology, and historical structures major, Case study of cobblestone masonry in Orleans County, New York
  • Yang Ran ’12, pre-med major, Analysis of microRNA expression in recurrent hepatocellular carcinoma after liver transplantation
  • Sneha Rath ’12, molecular genetics major, Characterization of a novel gene, CG3313 – as a potential E3 ubiquitin ligase complex binding protein – that regulates growth and apoptosis through the insulin signaling pathway and Exploring the influence of endocytosis on aging in C. elegans
  • Jennifer Roach ’11, economics and international relations major, Unemployment in Spain: A comparative analysis
  • Sean Rodrigues ’12, chemical engineering major, Cationic substitution of hydroxyapatite for hydrogen fuel cell application
  • Lauren Schleider ’12, studio art and anthropology major, Social control and sanction: A bodily exploration
  • Amelia Stone ’11, mathematics major, The Cayley Knot
  • Stephen Supoyo ’11, molecular genetics major, Lifespan extension by preserving somatic stem cell function and tissue homeostasis in the Drosophila intestine
  • Evan Wormsbecher ’11, classics and psychology major, The gospel according to Juvencus: How a 4th century poet created a “new” epic paradigm
  • Aaron Zakrzewski ’11, mechanical engineering major, Natural frequencies of bubbles within rigid and compliant tubes
  • Ting “Johnny” Zheng ’12, biomedical engineering major, Modeling of inflammation of cerebral vasculature caused by methamphetamine and HIV