This summer, pairs of University of Virginia student researchers will receive funding to examine local mentoring programs, women’s health and ion channels in immune cells, among other projects.

The University has awarded 17 “Double ’Hoo” research awards, which fund pairings of undergraduate and graduate students collaborating on research projects. Each project is awarded up to $6,000 toward research expenses, plus $500 to compensate a faculty mentor. The research grants are funded through the strategic investment fund of the Cornerstone Plan, which captures many student, faculty and staff aspirations, organized around the theme of leadership.

The funding will allow some students to continue research they have already started. For others, it will be an opportunity to expand what they have been doing or to start something new.

“The Double ’Hoo Award fosters meaningful interactions between the University’s undergraduate and graduate students,” said Brian Cullaty, director of undergraduate research opportunities at UVA’s Center for Undergraduate Excellence. “The graduate students gain valuable mentoring skills that will serve them well in their future careers, and the undergraduate students benefit from the learning that comes from serious scholarly inquiry.

“The relationships also provide an opportunity for the undergraduate students to learn more about the life of a graduate student and inform their decisions as they consider their own future education.”

Archie Holmes, UVA’s vice provost for educational innovation and interdisciplinary studies, thinks academic scholarship is one of the more exciting endeavors in which undergraduates can get involved at the University.

“Through research, scholarships or creative works, a student learns to collect and assimilate the information and knowledge needed to answer questions in their area of interest, think clearly though complex issues and present their findings in a clear manner,” he said. “These are important skills that are invaluable in whatever students choose to do in their professional and personal lives.”

This year’s awardees are:

  • Ani Chandrabhatla of Herndon, a first-year biomedical engineering major, and Angela Zeigler of Clemson, South Carolina, a fifth-year medical scientist training program student and third-year graduate student in the biomedical engineering program, who are looking to identify drugs that could have a therapeutic effect on heart failure after a heart attack.
  • Lucas Wade Connolly of Chesapeake, a third-year interdisciplinary bachelor of the arts double major in sociology and women, gender and sexuality studies, and Kara Shaner Fitzgibbon of Roanoke, a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in sociology, who are researching the intersection of ethnicity and religion, and how Muslim immigration to the U.S. captures that intersection and introduces an imposed political component.
  • Emily Jane Cox of Fairfax, a second-year art history major with a French minor, and Elizabeth Doe of Concord, Massachusetts, a third-year history of art and architecture doctoral student, who will focus on figural painting, formal portraiture and artistic exchanges in the Belle Époque, roughly 1870 to 1914.
  • Brett Curtis of Miami, a second-year youth and social innovation and government dual major with a minor in history, and Alicia Nobles of Forsyth, Georgia, a second-year systems and information engineering Ph.D. candidate, who are applying data analytics to the public health domain to create novel interventions and advance health policies in areas of women’s health, mental health and accessibility to health care.
  • Dory DeWeese of Reston, a third-year chemistry major with a minor in astronomy, and Vlad Serbulea of Thousand Oaks, California, a fourth-year pharmacology graduate student, who will investigate oxidized phospholipids and their role as a major source of inflammation in adipose tissue cells, connected to diabetes.
  • Taylor Downs of Aldie, a second-year biology major, and Michael Schappe of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, a third-year pharmacology doctoral candidate, who are studying ion channels – the electrical switches present in all cells to control their function – in immune cells to understand the biological basis of inflammation and to understand the progression of inflammatory disease.
  • Vijay Edupuganti of Portland, Oregon, a second-year computer science major, and Leif Fredrickson of Missoula, Montana, a graduate history student, who are researching urban lead poisoning from automobiles, lead paint and other sources and how communities dealt with the problem, using Baltimore as a case study.
  • Jennifer Goertz of Anchorage, Alaska, a second-year neuroscience major, and Ioana A. Marin of Galati, Romania, a fifth-year neuroscience graduate student, who will examine how different amounts and types of bacteria in the gut can affect brain function.
  • Benjamin Groff of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a second-year math and chemistry double major, and Maura Belanger of Amherst, New Hampshire, a second-year chemistry graduate student, who are studying the structure of and protein signaling in lymph nodes and how they change during an immune response.
  • Annalee Jackson of Thomasville, Georgia, a second-year dual major in media studies and studio art-printmaking, and arts administration, and Abigail Akosua Kayser of Accra, Ghana, a second-year doctoral candidate in the Curry School of Education, who are examining mentoring programs, what services they provide, and what adolescent girls of color articulate and identify as supports they need to aid in their development as contributing members of the Charlottesville community.
  • Lucy Jin of Yorktown, a second-year neuroscience major, and Irene Cheng of Niantic, Connecticut, a fourth-year neuroscience graduate student, who are investigating the role of destructive cues in the early development of sensory systems, specifically, how members of the tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily, through destructive signaling, shape a sensory system required for knowing the relative position of one’s body parts in space.
  • Inyoung Lee of Ulsan, South Korea, a second-year biology major, and Stephen Shang of West Palm Beach, Florida, a third-year biochemistry and molecular genetics graduate student, who are investigating chemoresistance in ovarian cancers, the most prevalent block to a longer lifespan. By studying the underlying biological mechanisms that switch genes on and off, they aim to reverse chemoresistance to allow a more permanent solution to cancers.
  • Kate McDaniel of Richmond, a second-year undeclared major in the College of Arts & Sciences, and Kelly Barford of Essex, Vermont, a third-year Ph.D. student in developmental neurobiology, who are investigating the role of the NEEP21 protein and TrkA receptor in the sympathetic nervous system. These proteins are critical to the formation and survival of circuits in the nervous system, and their function could reveal much about the development of the nervous system and what could go wrong when these proteins are absent or dysfunctional.
  • Austin Taylor Rivera of W​illingboro, New Jersey, a second-year nanomedicine engineering major, and Deepak Sathyanarayan of Ormond Beach, Florida, a first-year doctoral candidate in mechanical and aerospace engineering, who are working at the Center for Applied Biomechanics, researching the biomechanics of long-term sports/military injury and developing models to predict injury risk.
  • Lilian Roth of Vienna, a second-year global studies interdisciplinary major, and Lauren N. Haumesser of Walnut Creek, California, a doctoral candidate in history, who will explore the relationship between gender and politics in the 1856 election, with an eye toward instructive parallels to the election of 2016.
  • Cameron Springer of Norfolk, a second-year electrical and computer engineering double major, and Zachary Harris of Brentwood, California, a second-year doctoral candidate in materials science engineering, who are researching how hydrogen interacts with defects that reside very close to an actively growing crack in structural metals, leading to improved alloy design, failure analysis and lifetime prediction.
  • Grace Styklunas of Boston, a second-year cognitive science major, and Ben Holloway of Charlottesville, a second-year neuroscience graduate student, who are conducting research on hypertension and the brain’s role in it.

Media Contact

Matt Kelly

University News Associate Office of University Communications