Forty-seven U.Va. Students Receive Harrison Undergraduate Research Awards

May 1, 2007 -- One local resident is among 47 students who have received Harrison Undergraduate Research Awards at the University of Virginia.

The Harrison Awards, first presented in 2000 and funded by the family of David A. Harrison III, 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 availability of the Harrison Awards encourages all students to think ahead and to think big — to imagine a scholarly project that they might not have considered possible,” said William M. Wilson, interim director of U.Va.’s Center for Undergraduate Excellence. “Research is not only the best form of learning; it also forces young students to plan and to chart a coherent academic plan for all four undergraduate years. All faculty will agree that advising on research projects is the very best advising there is.”

This year, the Harrison Awards totaled $176,000, with the vice provost for international affairs funding five international research projects.

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 Wilson.

“The Harrison Awards set the bar for excellence,” Wilson said. “When undergraduate students engage in their own research they immediately feel like they are a vital part of the University. The purpose of the University quickly becomes their purpose too, and the whole undergraduate conversation changes for the better.”

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

Elena Aksel, Virginia Beach, Va., chemical engineering, “Bioremediation and its use in the removal of pollutants from underground water.”

Joy Archangeli, Oak Ridge, Tenn., economics, “Researching the effects of the ‘I Have a Dream Foundation’ of Charlottesville.”

Daniel Bryant, Madison, N.J., political philosophy, policy and law (PPL) and Spanish, “Economic and social effects of the expansion of communications technology into rural Latin American cultures.”

Tom Olszewski, Oakton, Va., Spanish and foreign affairs, “Studying the upcoming presidential elections in Argentina (with Pat Casey, Overland Park, Kan.).”

Yin Jie Chen, Fredericksburg, Va., economics and chemistry with specialization in biochemistry, “Nanoparticles based on dibenzoylmethane-PLGA metallobiomaterials.”

Thiparat Chotibut, Bangkok, Thailand, physics, "Measurement of neutron scattering from hydrogen."

Tiffany Cline, Yorktown, Va., biochemistry, “Research on a vaccine that is being developed to cure B-cell lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system.”

Victoria Crandall, Charlottesville, Va., foreign affairs and French, “The relationship between decentralization of state power and language pedagogy in Algeria."

Christine Drown, Herndon, Va., astronomy and physics, “A test of the dark matter content of Ursa Minor.”

Megan Dunning, Fairfax,Va., human biology with a Spanish minor, “Malnutrition and iron deficiency among the indigenous communities of the Palajunoj Valley, Guatemala.”

Grace Healy, Glen Ellyn, Ill., political and social thought, “Private property, community resources and sustainable development in India: a strategic analysis of an environmental NGO.”

Pooya Jahanshahi, Falls Church, Va., biology, “A novel method of assessing pancreatic islet viability for diabetes patients.”

Anne Jennings, Hull, Mass., biology with a bioethics minor, “Primary education and child health in Peru.”

William R. Jungman, Atlanta, Ga., economics and religious studies, “Male participation in microfinance borrowing in Ecuador.”

Daniel Keyersling, Potomac Falls, Va., political and social thought, ““Human rights implications of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the developing world.”

Mary Anne Kidwell, Alexandria, Va., biology and music, “The function of miRNAs in Xenopus laevis development.”

Lauren Kilgore, Apple Valley, Minn., biochemistry, “Women’s education level and use of maternal/child health services in Peru.”

Jenna May Kim, Alexandria, Va., music and neuroscience, “Studying lyric modernization and pedagogical methods of the traditional vocal music of Korea called Pansori.”

Josh Levy, Roslyn, N.Y., economics and foreign affairs with a philosophy minor, "Small city crime and small time crooks."

Samuel McClugage, Hammond, La., neuroscience distinguished major, “Growth and neuronal differentiation of adult stem cells on electrospun laminin nanofibers.”

Kathleen McDowell, Charlotte, N.C., biomedical engineering, “Understanding the role of connexin proteins in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis.”

Ryan McElveen, Vienna, Va., anthropology and East Asian studies, “The convergence of whiteness and Chinese tradition: Finding the origin of racialization of modern urban Chinese women.”

Kelly McMunigal, Wyomissing, Pa., anthropology with a Middle Eastern Studies minor, “A study of the prison system in the United States.”

Ben McVane, Oak Hill, Va., political and social thought, “Socio-cultural considerations in defining informed consent for clinical trials conducted in developing countries.”

Varun Mehta, Falls Church, Va., economics and biology (pre-med) minor, “Role of awareness, attitude and behavior on breast cancer detection and high mortality rate in Urban-Indian women.”

Ellen Merrick, Alexandria, Va., neuroscience, “Sodium channel gating and trafficking and its affects on neurological diseases such as epilepsy”

Jacqueline Minneman, Lakeville, Minn., French and art history, “The evolution of French language education in Minnesota.”

Amro Naddy, McLean, Va., poetry writing, “Putting together an anthology of contemporary Israeli and Arabic poetry.”

Ayumi Nakamura, Chapel Hill, N.C., biology and neuroscience, “The role of the human BMAL2 protein in the vertebrate molecular clock.”

Nora Nunn, Atlanta, Ga., English and American studies with a French minor, “Josephine Baker’s transatlantic transculturation.”

Marin Odioso, Tampa, Fla., systems engineering, “A comparative study of congestion taxing in London and Stockholm.”

Prashanth Parameswaren, Vienna, Va., foreign affairs and history (focusing on East Asia), “The logic of violence and the transformation and internationalization of the Southern Thailand insurgency.”

Joe Parrott, Midlothian, Va., distinguished majors program in history, “The School of Military Government established by the Army on the Grounds of the University of Virginia during World War II, and how this program related to the larger planning for the post-war world.”

Patrick Podesta, McLean, Va., government and Spanish, “Youth civic education and civic engagement in Peru.”

Juliana Schroeder, Springfield, Va., psychology and economics, “Psychological adaptation styles and symptomatology in chronic pain patients.”

Anoop Shah, Yorktown, Va., biology (pre-med), “Neural development using Xenopus tropicalis as a model organism.”

Gary Shambat, Fairfax, Va., electrical engineering, physics, chemical physics and Russian studies, “Molecular electronics and self-assembly on silicon.”

Caroline Spence, Woodbridge, Va., history, “The dissolution of the chantries during the English Reformation.”

Tyler Spencer, Staunton, Va., international health and environmental sustainability (an interdisciplinary major), “Conservation for development programs in Africa.”

Peter Stapor, Oak Hill, Va., biomedical engineering, "Adipose Stem Cells for the Healing of Chronic Wounds."

Maria Tchijov, Alexandria, Va., foreign affairs and East European Studies, “The relationship between the ancient states of Khazaria and Rus’ between from about 900-1200 AD.”
Kendall Wallace, Midlothian, Va., history, “An investigation on how Ghanains remember the slave trade.”

Christopher Walters, Blacksburg, Va., economics (with a public policy concentration) and philosophy, “Low-income housing policy.”

Xiao Wang, West Chester, Ohio, economics, “The development of democratic governments in Asia.”

Tanzira Zaman, Arlington, Va., biology, “The role of the P2X7 receptor in cell apoptosis due to infection by the pathogen E. histolytica.”

Davis Zaunbrecher, Covington, La., Latin American studies and politics, “Studying the 2006 referendum in Panama which approved the expansion of the Panama Canal.”