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Forty-Two University of Virginia Students Receive Harrison Undergraduate Research Awards

February 28, 2008 — Forty-two University of Virginia undergraduates have received Harrison Undergraduate Research Awards, which will assist them in conducting independent research during the summer.

Harrison Awards support students who present detailed plans for independent-study research projects that have been endorsed by a faculty mentor. Students receive up to $3,000, and the faculty mentor who oversees the project receives $1,000.

The selected students' research topics are diverse, ranging from "The role of CD70 in the immune response to cancer," to "An unsteady path:" The 10th amendment," to "The role of microfinance in preventing the sexual trafficking of Northern Hill Tribe women in Thailand."

“The Harrison Undergraduate Research Award program provides an excellent opportunity for our undergraduates to develop and complete independent research projects in a variety of disciplines,” said Amy H. Bouton, a professor of microbiology and chairwoman of the Faculty Senate's Research and Scholarship Committee, which oversees the program. “This year the proposals were exceptionally high in both quality and creativity; the awardees are without exception amongst some of the brightest and most talented of our students at U.Va.”

The proposed research projects span the humanities and social sciences, as well as and the sciences and engineering.

“The Harrison Undergraduate Research Awards encourage undergraduates to think of research as a component of their education and to pursue their ideas and their curiosity,” said Lucy Russell, director of the Center for Undergraduate Excellence. “These awards allow students to engage in significant scholarly work with the guidance of a faculty adviser.”

The Harrison Awards, funded by the family of the late David A. Harrison III, were first presented in 2000. This year, the Harrison Awards totaled $158,000. Six of the grants were joint awards, co-sponsored with the Center for Global Health.

"The Center for Global Health is thrilled to once again partner with the Center for Undergraduate Excellence in offering these awards,” said Dr. Richard L. Guerrant, the founder and director of the Center for Global Health. “This partnership means more qualified students will have the opportunity to engage in a meaningful service-learning project that has the potential to redirect a student's future."

More than 50 percent of U.Va.’s undergraduates are engaged in some form of research, including classroom and independent work. Students who conduct research make better candidates for fellowships, graduate and professional school admissions, and career placement, said Russell.

“Research adds real depth to the educational experience,” Russell said. “Students learn from the entire process, from formulating the initial inquiry and writing a proposal all the way through analyzing what they have found and presenting their conclusions. The excitement of discovery benefits us all. We are so fortunate that our students have this opportunity available to them.”

“It is our hope and expectation that these awards will be the catalyst for lifelong learning for these Harrison Award recipients,” Bouton said. “The Faculty Senate has enthusiastically supported this program, and the value of undergraduate research, for many years.”

This year’s award-winners, hometowns, majors and their research topics are:

•    Chrishopher Belyea, 20, of Ashburn, Va., Alternative energy solutions of Denmark

•    Jennifer Cano, 20, Mansfield, Conn., Combinations and statistical mechanics

•    Zachary Cappello, 20, of Mechanicsville, Va., The role of Runx3 on plasmacytoid dendritic cell subsets

•    Erin Conroy, 20, of Purcellville, Va., The role of microfinance in preventing the sexual trafficking of Northern Hill Tribe women in Thailand

•    Nellie Dunderdale 20, of Pittsburgh, Pa., Wum, Cameroon: The impact of political and social factors on the longevity of water projects in developing areas

•    Charles Graham Evans IV, 21, of Anchorage, Alaska, The effects of oral tradition on community health and cohesion: An analysis of storytelling and community in a Guyanese Amerindian village

•    Joseph Fields-Johnson, 20, Bumpass, Va., The effect of oxidized phospholipids on the beta-catenin inflammatory pathway in vascular heart disease

•    Eric Harshfield, 21, of Roanoke, Va., Implementing a hybridized off-grid water purification system in the Limpopo Province, South Africa

•    Blaire Hawkins, 21, of Lexington, Va., Merging worlds: The singular and complex history of the desegregation of public schools in Brunswick County, Va.

•    Michelle Henry, 19, of Media, Pa., Effects of climate variability on diet in the Upper Limpopo Province, South Africa

•    Vinu Ilakkuvan, 20, Richmond, Va., Evaluation of diabetic patient dietary compliance in India and proposed solutions for noncompliance

•    Julia Interrante, 20, of Albuquerque, N.M., The barriers of women's access to HIV treatment in Limpopo Province, South Africa

•    Patrick Kearney, 19, Chantilly, Va., An American behemoth in Munich: The reception and future of Google books project in Germany

•    Amna Khokar, 20, Bluefield, Va., Regulation and function of HOX D9 in glioblastoma

•    Matthew Kraeutler, 20, of Swarthmore, Pa., Cryopreservation of human adipose-derived stromal cells to promote collagen growth

•    William Lambert, 21, of Columbia, S.C. ,"An unsteady path:" The 10th amendment

•    Sara Sunisa Pasang Lehman, 20, of Bangkok, Thailand and Jakarta, Indonesia, Treating the invisible: Access to mental health care for sexually trafficked ethnic minority women and children in Thailand

•    Douglas Lewis Jr., 20, of Danville, Va., Characterization of Lupus-like kidney disease in a mouse model of atherosclerosis

•    David Lick, 20, of Fredericksburg, Va., A national perspective on the nature of belonging and distress in the daily lives of children with lesbian and gay parents

•    Thomas Madrecki, 19, Northbrook, Ill., The great getz: Discovering the man and myth of John "Count" Gengler through the creation of a biographical work of historical fiction

•    Nandita Mani, 20, of Alexandria, Va., The sociological basis for seeking primary medical care in a hospital emergency room

•    Amber McCrady, 20, of Damascus, Md., Treating the invisible: Access to mental health care for sexually trafficked ethnic minority women and children in Thailand

•    Melissa McCrumb, 22, Lorton Va., Invention of tradition and Western influence in contemporary Chinese weddings

•    Allison McKee, 20, Virginia Beach, Va., Envisioning the American West: Expressions of modern mythos

•    Ellen Merrick, 21, Alexandria, Va., The physiological role of beta3 in cultured hippocampal neurons

•    John Nelson, 20, Bethesda, Md., Beyond the survey: The political beliefs and perceived outcomes underlying Australians' opinions on compulsory voting

•    Olivia Nevitt, 20, of Arlington, Va., Hispanic women and illness: A narrative approach
•    Adam Nichols-Nielander, 20, of Roanoke, Va., Separation of transition metal-aromatic compound enantiomers

•    Clare Politano of Springfield, Va., Refugee influx and the paradoxes of democratization and stability in Jordan

•    Christopher Reyes 21, of Virginia Beach, Va., Cloning, purification, and biophysical characterization of Opa proteins

•    Daisy Rojas, 31, Charlottesville, Va., Female roles in indigenous culture among the Bribri and Boruca groups of Costa Rica

•    Marc Schulman, 21, of Columbia, Md., Construction of a multivalent pseudomonas vaccine: Implications for improving the standard of care options for patients with cystic fibrosis

•    Hamza Shaban, 21, of Sunrise, Fla., Is Ground Zero common ground? A rhetorical analysis of congressional debate

•    Louise Sumner, 21, of Great Falls, Va., The role of CD70 in the immune response to cancer
•    Siripong Tongjai, 22, of Hangchat/Lampang/Thailand, Real time PCR for diagnosis of HIV associated diarrhea

•    Michelle Wang, 19, of Charlottesville, Va., HIV/AIDS counseling in China's VCT Centers: A human cognitive approach

•    Melissa Warnke, 20, of Lakeville, Conn., Memorializing genocide: The methods and implications of constructing a shared past in Rwanda

•    Christian West, 20, of Louisa, Va., Identity formation and political participation of Afro-Brazilians

•    Ashley Whisnant, 21, Salem, Va., Regulation and function of miRNA Biogenesis in Xenopus Embryos

•    Somsakul Wongpalee, 22, Bangkok, Thailand, Characterization of non-coding RNAs essential for cancer cell proliferation

•    Sarah Yates, 21, Atlanta, Ga., Faith and spirituality in the modern era: Pilgrimage to Taize

•    Vincent Zimmern, 19, of Dallas, Texas, French phenomenological theology: Translating Lacoste

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