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Undergraduate scholars take a virtual stage to share findings

April 19, 2021
Collage of nine posters from the 2021 Undergraduate Research Expo.

Collage of nine selected posters representing several topics of investigative and creative work undertaken by undergraduate students in the College.

The annual Undergraduate Research Expo celebrates ‘an important part’ of University of Rochester culture.

Organizers of this year’s virtual Undergraduate Research Expo at the University of Rochester touted it as an opportunity for visitors to “find answers to questions you never thought to ask.”

And given the range of topics this year, that was no doubt the case. Poster titles ranged from “Decoding ‘Cocktail Party’ Attention Using Brain Responses to Relative Pitch,” to “Closer Than We Realize: A Closer Look at Drag Culture,” “Bee Hotels: Conservation Innovation or Greenwashing?” and “People Over Profit, People Over Property: Keeping New Yorkers Housed During the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

The more than 120 projects submitted this year included the work of Community-Engaged Learning capstone students, Meliora Scholars, and Grand Challenges Scholars.

“This is all the more impressive considering that COVID-19 restrictions significantly limited research activities on campus this last year,” says Sina Ghaemmaghami, professor of biology and director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, which organizes the expo.

The event celebrates undergraduate research as “an important part of the University of Rochester culture,” Ghaemmaghami says. “Most of our students participate in some kind of hands-on research outside of the classroom.”

A panel of faculty judges picked 12 students to present their research in four symposia representing engineering and math, the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences.

However, “the talks at the symposia are only the tip of the iceberg,” Ghaemmaghami says. “There are many more equally impressive presentations” on the poster session website. The poster will be available for viewing for another year.

And the winners are . . .

Students received the following awards for undergraduate research in the humanities, engineering, natural sciences, and social sciences:

President’s Awards

  • Margaret Flaum ’22 (Optical Engineering): “Using Holography to Measure Freeform Optics”
  • Eleanor Lenoe ’21 (History; Japanese): “The Aum Affair: Censorship, Scholarship, and the Mass Media in Japanese Reactions to Terrorism”
  • Huishan Shi ’22 (Microbiology): “Investigating the Role of the Tight Junction Protein, Claudin-1, in Differentiation and Viral Infection of Human Epidermal Cell”
  • Lejla Sose ’22 (Neuroscience; Psychology): “Effects of Prenatal Stress on Cytokine Levels and Placental Vascularization”

Deans’ Awards for symposium presentations

  • Mimi Jung ’22 (Biomedical Engineering): “Computational Model for Epithelial Cell Reintegration”
  • Leonor Teles ’21 (Biomedical Engineering): “Comparison of Steady and Transient Flow in Carotid Artery CFD Simulations”
  • Julia Granato ’22 (Archaeology, Technology, and Historical Structures; Ecology and Evolutionary Biology): “Dead and Unburied: Human Remains in Museums”
  • Alydia Meinecke ’21 (Biology; Dance Studies): “Dance and Movement Patterning: A Tool to Explore the Physical Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder”
  • Shawn Cummings ’21 (Brain and Cognitive Sciences; Linguistics): “Causal Inference in Speech Perception”
  • Gladiana Spitz ’21 (Computational Biology): “Social Effects of Family Members on Juvenile Fitness in the Florida Scrub-Jay”
  • Amanda Liang ’21 (Interdepartmental Humanities: Argument and Advocacy): “Amidst Violence: Community and Catharsis at the Site of Protest”
  • Pramod Manohar ’23 (Economics; Mathematics): “The Impact of Weather Shocks on Crop Yields: Evidence from India”

Professors’ Choice Awards for poster presentations

  • Kexin Li ’22 (Biomedical Engineering): “Decoding ‘Cocktail Party’ Attention Using Brain Responses to Relative Pitch”
  • Kayla Ucciferri ’21 (Neuroscience; Dance Studies): “This Body Is Home: Investigating the Normalization of Disordered Eating Behaviors in College-Aged Women through Movement”
  • Anton Davydenko ’22 (Microbiology): “Ranavirus and Chytrid Fungus Co-infection Effects in Xenopus laevis Immune System”
  • Astghik Baghinyan ’22 (Health, Behavior, and Society): “Thematic Analysis of Facebook Advertising Messages for Tobacco Products Before and After a Statewide Ban of Flavored Tobacco”

In conjunction with the Undergraduate Research Expo, Ignacio Franco, an associate professor of chemistry and the Leonard Mandel Faculty Fellow, was presented with the College Award for Undergraduate Teaching and Research Mentorship, funded by Frederick Lewis ’68 (PhD) and his wife Susan Rice Lewis.


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Chemistry professor Ignacio Franco is the 2021 recipient of the College Award for Undergraduate Teaching and Research Mentorship.
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