Second ‘Public Day’ to Showcase Exceptional Student Research Across Disciplines

Second ‘Public Day’ to Showcase Exceptional Student Research Across Disciplines

L-R, Jessica Burnam and Amanda Silvana Coen

A study of new mammogram techniques, proposals for improving end-of-life care among African-Americans and an assessment tool for early childhood development in South Africa will be among the student research projects featured during the University of Virginia’s second annual Public Day exhibition, taking place on the Lawn Friday from 3 to 6 p.m.

Seventy-four undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral students from nine University schools will share their research with the community, with subjects ranging from sculpture and jazz to nitrogen emissions and health care technology.

“A large part of the whole concept is sharing ideas across disciplines among students working on a whole range of projects, from new businesses to very focused scientific research to projects that are about engaging communities and engaging the public, representing the full spectrum of the kind of work that we do at the University,” said Bill Sherman, associate vice president for research and founding director of OpenGrounds.

Public Day ­– a 19th-century tradition revived last year by U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan and executed by the offices of the Vice President for Research, the Executive Vice President and Provost and OpenGrounds – will feature work from students in eight schools across the University, including many projects that have received accolades from research competitions on and off Grounds.

“We have students who won a case competition at the McIntire School of Commerce, participated in the Entrepreneurship Cup at the Curry School of Education, presented at the Clinton Global Initiative University or were honored in the Huskey Research Exhibition or the Three-Minute Thesis competition, as well as a filmmaker, sculptor and other artists,” Lindsey Hepler, associate director of OpenGrounds, said. “Our hope is to showcase that variety.”

Nominations were solicited directly from students as well as from deans and faculty members in each of the university’s eleven schools.

“Often, students will know that their peers are doing a really cool, innovative project that we might have never known about,” said Archie Holmes, vice provost for educational innovation and interdisciplinary studies. “We wanted to make sure that those activities were brought out to the forefront, and that students were given the opportunity to tell their story.”

For students, Public Day is chance to meet and learn from fellow scholars and gather feedback from the public.

“This event provides a unique opportunity for me to learn from top scholars selected from around Grounds while sharing my scholarship,” said Karen Moss, a graduate student in the School of Nursing who is researching end-of-life-care for African-Americans. “As an emerging scholar, such opportunities to present my work are always helpful in gaining further insight into my research questions. By this, it causes me to think a bit deeper about my topic and its impact on the African-American population that I am learning from, health care providers, policymakers and society at large.”

Fellow researcher Kevin Eisenfrats, a fourth-year student majoring in nanomedicine engineering, is also eager to test public reaction to his project, a non-surgical contraceptive for male cats and dogs called Contraline. “I’m looking forward to Public Day because the event will allow us to gauge the public’s interest in animal contraception,” he said. “Our vision is to provide the first humane contraception for pets by being non-surgical, non-hormonal and reversible. We hope the public is just as excited about this vision as we are at Contraline.”

The Public Day event harkens back to the early days of the University’s founding, when students and faculty would gather in the Rotunda to share their work with the public at the end of the semester. An early record of an 1829 Public Day notes presentations on “the comparative advantages of public and private education,” “the connection between education and republican doctrine” and “the causes that have retarded the growth of poetry in America.” 

The original Public Day eventually gave way to more formalized commencement ceremonies, until Sullivan revived the old tradition to showcase some of the best research, scholarship and creative work from all corners of the University. Public Day re-emerged last year with a pilot event at the OpenGrounds studio featuring 13 presentations by undergraduate and graduate students.

“While it was a smaller pilot event, I think that last year’s Public Day had an enduring impact, especially for the students,” Sherman said. “Some were first-year students who have since gotten involved with more research.”

This year’s event aims to build on that momentum by returning Public Day to the Lawn, the literal and figurative center of the University.

“At the end of the day, what we are trying to do is give people credit for the work that they have done and to inspire the next generation of students coming through,” Holmes said. “That is one reason we decided to move the event to the Lawn, which is a very central location where people will be able to stumble upon the event and learn more.”

The event is sponsored in part by this year’s Lawn residents and posters will be displayed in front of rooms on both sides of the middle tier of the Lawn. In the event of inclement weather, posters will be moved underneath the walkways on either side of the Lawn.

Locating the event within Thomas Jefferson’s original Academical Village also emphasizes close connections between academic learning, faculty research and student life at U.Va., Holmes said.

“Our students like to interact with our faculty and our faculty like to interact with our students, and this is a showcase of that,” he said. “The faculty do not just teach the courses and then go away. The intellectual exchange that happens is really important.”

Following Public Day, the featured projects will be displayed in a monthlong exhibition at the OpenGrounds Corner Studio, in l-regional public libraries and online on the OpenGrounds website. There is also potential for a series of presentations in local schools.

“We want to share our research internally, but also to give back to the public and share with the public,” Sherman said. “As a public university, we take that role very seriously.”

Public Day Presenters:

  1. Joanna Adadevoh: Can Bacteria with a Sense of Smell Provide Clean Drinking Water?; Graduate Student, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
  2. Olga Askinazi: Exploring the Role of Dynamin2 in F-actin Remodeling by Means of Protein Micropatterning; Graduate Student, College of Arts and Sciences
  3. Sarah Bauer, Civil and Environmental Engineering Graduate Student Research Symposium winner: Nitrogen Emissions; Graduate Student, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
  4. Loreto Barcos-Munoz: High-Resolution Radio Continuum Measurement of the Nuclear Disks of ARP 220 Graduate Student, College of Arts and Sciences
  5. Lauren Bittle: Stellar Nurseries of IC10, a Local Dwarf Starburst; Graduate Student, College of Arts and Sciences
  6. Russell Bogue, Center for Undergraduate Excellence Harrison Award winner: Examination of the Influence on the Cross-Strait Views of Taiwanese Youth; Undergraduate Student, College of Arts and Sciences
  7. Megan Bowen: Infernal Voices: The Catalogue of Women in Aeneid 6; Graduate Student, College of Arts and Sciences
  8. Lindsey Brinton: Attacking Pancreatic Cancer from a Different Angle; Graduate Student, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences / School of Medicine
  9. Jessica Burnam: Otherworldly; Undergraduate Student, College of Arts and Sciences
  10. Gretchen Carlson: A Jazz Thing: Jazz-Film Interactions and the Shaping of the Jazz Art World, 1980-Present; Graduate Student, College of Arts and Sciences
  11. Alexis Chaet and Bijan Morshedi, Designing Culturally Competent Health IT for the U.S. Latino Migrant Farmworker Population; Undergraduate Students, College of Arts and Sciences
  12. Amanda Silvana Coen, Center for Global Health University Scholar: Sustainable Papermaking in Ghana; Graduate Student, School of Architecture
  13. Claire Constance, Madison Compton, Vidya Gopinath, Rhiannon Milbrath, Stephen Mamahvi, Themba Mazibuk, Tshepo Mohale and Audrey Ogendi, Improving Early Childhood Development in Limpopo, South Africa; Undergraduate Students, Center for Global Health Scholars
  14. Marissa Drell, “She Didn’t Even Say Sorry!”
Children Remember When Transgressors Fail to Apologize; Graduate Student, College of Arts and Sciences
  15. Kevin Eisenfrats, Contraline: a nonsurgical contraceptive for male cats and dogs; Undergraduate Student, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
  16. Taylor Garrett, Adenosine signaling establishes a barrier to oligodendrocyte progenitor cell migration during spinal cord development; Graduate Student, College of Arts and Sciences
  17. Jessica Gephart, Global Seafood Trade; Graduate Student, College of Arts and Sciences
  18. Virginia Gordon, Stephanie Hough and Paige McDermott, A National Epidemic: Sexual Assault on University Campuses; Undergraduate Students, Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy
  19. Enze Kang, Kenneth Kuan, Prathamesh Kulkarni, Melanie Schaefer and Dhillon Tailor, Navigant McIntire Case Competition; Undergraduate Students, McIntire School of Commerce
  20. John Mace, Maggie Mathews, Laura McCarthy, Landon Weis, Tomy De and Will McComb, “Hampton Explorers,” Hilton Worldwide student advertising campaign; Undergraduate Students, McIntire School of Commerce
  21. Cat Martin, Powell Fellow in Legal Services: Homeownership and Consumer Law Unit of Community Legal Services of Philadelphia; Graduate Student, School of Law
  22. Brigid McDonald, Dual Modality Tomosynthesis breast-imaging technique; Undergraduate Students, College of Arts and Sciences
  23. Alexander Morgan, Climate change on Titan as told by its landscape; Graduate Student, College of Arts and Sciences
  24. Angela Morris, Motor Exit Point-Perineurial Glial Interactions are Essential During Motor Nerve Development; Graduate Student, College of Arts and Sciences
  25. Karen Moss, End of Life Care Among African-Americans; Graduate Student, School of Nursing
  26. Thushani Nilaweera, Identification and Characterization of Thermotoga maritima Hfq Protein Binding Partners; Graduate Student, College of Arts and Sciences
  27. Brandon Ng, Residential Mobility Heightens Sensitivity to Acceptance Cues: Behavioral and Neural Evidence; Graduate Student, College of Arts and Sciences
  28. Alex Rafala, Center for Undergraduate Excellence Arts Award: Farewell Old Stringy; Undergraduate Students, College of Arts and Sciences
  29. Crystal Richardson, Mechanisms of Collective Cell Migration. Graduate Student, College of Arts and Sciences
  30. Tyler Santander, The social (neural) network: A data-driven, multivariate approach to decoding epigenetic variability in the oxytocin receptor gene; Graduate Student, College of Arts and Sciences
  31. Ed Schrom, The Role of Plant Defensive Chemistry in Mediating Biological Invasions; Undergraduate Student, College of Arts and Sciences
  32. Shehzad Thomas, α-Synuclein Modulates β-Amyloid Oligomer Toxicity, Tau Phosphorylation, and Cell Cycle Re-Entry in Neurons; Graduate Student, College of Arts and Sciences
  33. Jack Wadden, High-Throughput Pseudo Random Number Generation Using Micron’s Automata Processor; Graduate Student, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
  34. Rebecca Walker, The Aleppo Pine and Zionist Ideology Graduate Student, College of Arts and Sciences
  35. Alyssa Wang, Angry or Resigned? Understanding Rural Female Suicide in China; Graduate Student, College of Arts and Sciences
  36. Trey Wenger, Azimuthal Metallicity Structure in the Milky Way; Graduate Student, College of Arts and Sciences
  37. Tensae Woldersellasie, The GOJO Initiative: non-profit architecture; Graduate Student, School of Architecture
  38. Xin Yuan, Investigating a Role for JAK/STAT Cytokine Signaling in Mushroom Body Neuroblast Apoptosis; Graduate Student, College of Arts and Sciences
  39. Asher McGlothlin, Todd Stovall, Christopher Wallace, Callum Gordon, Jessica Baralt, The Grundy Youth Center; Undergraduate Students, Jefferson Public Citizens Project
  40. Rachel Penny, Cassimir Club; Graduate Student, Darden School of Business
  41. Alexander Bazhinov and Spencer Kulow, DreamPower; Graduate Student, Darden School of Business and Undergraduate Student, College of Arts and Sciences.

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