Virtual Competition Awards

Congratulations to this year's Virtual Undergraduate Research & Scholarship Symposium Award Winners!

Each competition had many excellent submissions worthy of praise. We would like to highlight the work of undergraduate students that went above and beyond in their research and scholarship, earning them award prizes from various departments. Click the link here for a comprehensive list of award winners, or scroll down to view their submissions by competition.

Here are some photos submitted by our award winners from home!

Taylor Hopkins
Taylor Hopkins Katelyn  Spadavecchia Emily Simon
Adriana Del Pino Herrara Elizabeth Wayne Lindsay Moskal

Poster Competition

Click the award winning posters to view the student researcher's work.

Center For Community Engaged Teaching and Research Award For Undergraduate Research


Modeling the Effects of Fentanyl and Narcan on the Opioid Epidemic in Allegheny County
By: Lindsay Moskal & Lauren Sines
Bayer School of Natural & Environmental Sciences| Chemistry & Biology
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Rachael Miller Neilan, Ph.D


Center For Teaching Excellence Award for Undergraduate Research


Using Online Learning and Gamification to Enhance Reasoning Skills
By: Sarah Coffman
Bayer School of Natural & Environmental Sciences | Forensic Science and Law
Faculty Advisor: Lyndsie Ferrara, Ph.D.


Counselor Education Program Award for Undergraduate Research

Mind Over Matter: The obstacles and importance of providing psychological care to collegiate athletes
By: Elizabeth Wayne & Joe'l Kane
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts | Psychology
Faculty Advisor: Alexander Kranjec, Ph.D


Gumberg Library Award for Undergraduate Research


DNA Sequencing to Support Species-level Identification of Freshwater Sponges in Western
Pennsylvania
By: Emily Simon
Bayer School of Natural & Environmental Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Brady Porter, Ph.D


Honors College Award for an Outstanding Poster


Interracial Relations: History and Cultural Identity in The Invention of Wings
By: Taylor Hopkins
Honors College
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Erin Speese


Office of Research Award for Outstanding Posters

1st Place


Agent-Based Modeling of Cell-Type Specific and Pain-Related Neural Activity in the Amygdala
During Neuropathic Pain
By: Gabrielle Majetic, Rachael Neilan, Ph.D. (faculty), Benedict Kolber, Ph.D. (faculty), Yarimar
Carrasquillo, Ph.D. (National Center of Complementary and Integrative Health, National
Institutes of Health faculty), Anisha Adke (National Center of Complementary and Integrative
Health, National Institutes of Health postbaccalaureate research fellow)
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts & Bayer School of Natural and
Environmental Sciences | Biomedical Engineering
Faculty Advisor: Rachael Neilan, Ph.D.

2nd Place


Speech-to-Text Assistive Technology: Frequency and Patterns of Miscued Word-Sound Errors
Across Three Commonly Used Applications
By: Gianna Grasso, Maria Tina Benno, Cassondra Griger, Braelyn Tracy
School of Education & Rangos School of Health Sciences | Speech-Language Pathology (Grasso),
Education (Benno, Griger & Tracy)
Faculty Advisor: Sarah Wallace, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

3rd Place


Central Line Associate Blood Stream Infections
By: Julia Streeter
School of Nursing | Nursing
Faculty Advisor: Susan Kelly, Ed.D, MSN, RN, CMSRN, CNE, CHSE


Phi Kappa Phi Poster Awards

1st Place


DNA sequencing to support species-level identification of freshwater sponges in western Pennsylvania
By: Emily Simon
Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences | Biology
Faculty Advisor: Brady Porter, Ph.D

2nd Place


Latin Graffiti as a Tool for Political Campaigns
By: Julia Cardinal
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts | History
Faculty Advisor: Sarah Miller, Ph.D


Rangos School of Health Sciences Award


Assessment of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Geometry and Its Association with Hypoxia
By: Frank Guarinoni, Alexander Guy
Biomedical Engineering | Rangos School of Health Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Rana Zakerzadeh, Ph.D.


School of Nursing Undergraduate Research Award


Understanding Nursing Students' Attitudes and Knowledge in Caring for People with Disabilities
By: Cassidy Kaczor, Ashley McDanald
School of Nursing | Nursing
Faculty Advisor: Rebecca Kronk


Paper Competition

Center for Teaching Excellence Award Winner for Undergraduate Research

Project-Based Learning in Social Statistics: Direct and indirect assessment of student learning outcomes
By: Zachary Weland, Nicole Marshall
Major: unlisted School: McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Faculty Advisor: Cathleen Appelt, Ph.D.

A B S T R A C T:
The two co-authors were students in this statistics course last year and initiated this project based on their observation that some of their peers struggled with the course content. Statistics education literature suggests anxiety and low sense of self-efficacy related to learning statistics are significant barriers to student engagement and learning in undergraduate social statistics courses. We designed and implemented a Problem-Based Learning (PBL) intervention in a social statistics course in Spring 2020. Preliminary analyses from our ongoing project includes both direct and indirect assessment of student learning (demonstrated student learning and statistics anxiety and efficacy, respectively) among a sample of 29 students currently enrolled in a social statistics course at Duquesne University. Our indirect measures of student learning are based on student responses to validated scales in questionnaires administered at the start of term and at Week 11. Improvements in mean anxiety and efficacy scores were observed, but did not reach statistical significance. However, students indicated high levels of satisfaction with the PBL intervention, despite reporting challenges related to the transition to online learning (after closure of the campus due to the COVID-19 Pandemic).


Center for Women's and Gender Studies Award Winner for Undergraduate Research

Female Roles in Antiquity: The Dichotomy Between the Stage and the Page
By: Bella Biancone
Major: Political Science and History School: McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Faculty Advisor: Sarah Miller, Ph.D

A B S T R A C T:
The women portrayed in Greek drama were often strong, courageous, and integral to the storyline. In contrast to their real-life counterparts (who may have not even been allowed to see the plays), these women stood out as individuals in their respective stories. They are bold, dynamic, intelligent and respected. They are meant to be seen and heard. Women in drama emerge as heroines of their own stories and serve to educate the audience on some aspect of women in Greece. On other hand, the women of Homeric epics tended to be subdued and traditional; they are background characters, merely present to help or hinder their heroes. The women in these poems are meant to serve a teaching purpose as well; they taught women how they should and should not strive to be. Both the stage and the page provide great insight into the expectations and realities of women in antiquity.


Office of Research Award Winners for Outstanding Research Papers

First Place 

Modeling the Effects of Fentanyl and Narcan on the Opioid Epidemic in Allegheny County Using Mathematics
By: Lindsay Moskal, Lauren Sines
Major: Lindsay Moskal (Chemistry), Lauren Sines (Biology) School: McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts,Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Rachael Neilan, Ph.D.

A B S T R A C T:
Starting in the 1990s, physicians across the United States have increasingly prescribed opioid pain relievers, which has given rise to the current opioid epidemic. As a result, there has been a drastic increase in the number of overdose fatalities. In 2017, the number of opioid overdose deaths peaked and the U.S. declared the crisis as a public health emergency. One state that has contributed significantly to this epidemic is Pennsylvania, which ranks first for the greatest number of overdose deaths and third for the highest death rate. In fact, Allegheny County has witnessed an overdose death rate that is three times that of the national rate.

In collaboration with the Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS), we developed a comprehensive mathematical model to describe the opioid epidemic in Allegheny County. The model is a system of differential equations describing how the size of each population class-Susceptible, Prescribed, Addicted, and Recovered-changes over time. Variables describing the presence of fentanyl (a synthetic opioid) and the use of Narcan (medication used to block the effects of opioids) were included in the model. Model parameters were estimated to reflect the addiction and overdose rates in Allegheny County using data provided by the DHS. Model simulations highlight the impact of fentanyl and Narcan on the annual overdose death rates. Additional results show that increasing the availability of Narcan in the community will result in a meaningful reduction in overdose deaths; however, an increased presence of fentanyl will render Narcan less effective.

Second Place 

Claude Debussy and Kamasi Washington: "Clair de Lune"
By: Madeleine Brawley
Major: Music Therapy School: Mary Pappert School of Music
Faculty Advisor: Benjamin Binder, Ph.D.

A B S T R A C T:
In spring of 1905, Claude Debussy published his Suite Bergamasque, a collection of four pieces for solo piano. The most famous piece of this work is the third, titled "Clair de Lune," which still turns up frequently in popular culture and is instantly recognizable to a wide audience. In 2015, Kamasi Washington, a commercially recognizable jazz musician, released his interpretation of "Clair de Lune" on his album The Epic. Claude Debussy idealized an approach to music composition and listening that did not necessarily need to involve careful listening, demonstrated very clearly in his "Clair de Lune," and the piece's "open-ness" is one of the reasons it has been reimagined and reinterpreted countless times. Washington's "Clair de Lune" is not one that could be described as "open" for interpretation in the same way, but this seems to be a reflection of Washington's ideas about his relationship to the piece. Washington clearly outlines the differences between Debussy's original composition and Washington's arrangement in the introduction and conclusion of his arrangement, and he incorporates his own background as a jazz musician in this interpretation by treating this piece as one might a jazz standard in form and orchestration. Washington does not abandon Debussy's ideas in this process, but is historical in incorporating Debussy's compositional style with his own. Ultimately, Kamasi Washington seems to see himself in a similar light to Debussy in a historical context, utilizing traditional elements of music while challenging them and pushing music forward into new territory.

Third Place 

A microfluidic platform for high-throughput screening of aquaporin performance
By: Adriana Del Pino Herrera, Jordan Hoydick, Rachel Rauh, Elyssa El-hajj, Madison Burchfield
Major: Jordan Hoydick (Biomedical Engineering), Rachel Rauh (Biomedical Engineering), Elyssa El-hajj (Biomedical Engineering), Madison Burchfield (Biomedical Engineering) School: Biomedical Engineering
Faculty Advisor: Melikhan Tanyeri, Ph.D

A B S T R A C T:
Aquaporins are a family of small integral membrane proteins that transport water across cell membranes in response to osmotic gradients. They facilitate fluid secretion and absorption across epithelial surfaces in kidney tubules, exocrine glands, and gastrointestinal tract. Here, we describe a novel microfluidic method to evaluate and screen for aquaporin-based transmembrane permeability in mammalian cells. A microfluidic device was designed and fabricated for the encapsulation of single mammalian and yeast cells in micron-sized droplets. For this purpose, Chinese Hamster Ovarian (CHO) cells were used. CHO cells express AQP1 (aquaporin-1) homologous to human kidney aquaporins. The cells were cultivated and exposed to different osmotic stresses to study the transmembrane water transport performance of aquaporins. Our microfluidic platform has the potential to screen for and isolate cells with best aquaporin water transport performance for a number of applications in bioengineering.

Video Competition

Honors College Award Winners for Outstanding Video

Making my Brother a Pop-Star
By: Jonah Hanlon
Major: Music Education School: Mary Pappert School of Music
Faculty Advisor: Rev. James McCloskey, C.S.Sp., Ph.D.
My brother Cullen, who has Down syndrome, wants to be a pop-star, so I helped him write and record a song and film a music video; everything you see, and hear in this music video is all Cullen!

Dynamics Near Absolute Zero Temperatures
Katelyn Spadavecchia
Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences | Physics
Faculty Advisor: Michael Huster, Ph.D
This video is an exploratory look into how matter behaves at ultra cold temperatures, and what implications this type of research could have on technology in the future


Office of Disability Services Award Winners for Outstanding Undergraduate Research

Behind the Red Door: Occupational Therapy at St. Anthony's Life Skills Apartment
By: Olivia Van Dyke, Abigail Rubino, Bridget Newns, Avery Musiak, Alyssa Boccardi
Major: Occupational Therapy School: Rangos School of Health Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Amy Mattila, PhD, OTR/L
St. Anthony's Life Skills apartment is a place where occupational therapy helps individuals with intellectual disabilities increase their independence in household tasks, navigate the community around them, and give them confidence to achieve their goals


Office of Diveristy and Inclusion Award Winners for Outstanding Undergraduate Research

Downtown Outreach Center and Shelter: Occupational Therapy's Role
By: Sophia Kosmides, Tyler Boseck, Matt Jockers
Major: Occupational Therapy School: Rangos School of Health Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Amy Mattila, Ph.D, OTR/L
This video addresses the role of Duquesne University Occupational Therapy students at DOCS and the need for OT in this population.


Office of Research Award Winners 

Anti-Semitism in Medieval Art
By: Erin Ridge
Major: Classical Civilizations & Philosophy School: McAnulty College of Liberal Arts
Faculty Advisor: Amy Cymbala, Ph.D.
I discuss what an illuminated manuscript is, the roots of anti-Semitism, and show cases of it in art

Popping China's Bubble: An explanation of the conflict between economic health and the Chinese Dream
By: Alexander Wolfe
Major: Economics School: McAnulty College of Liberal Arts
Faculty Advisor: Matt Ryan
This purpose of this paper is to outline the institutional, financial, and cultural drivers that have led to extensive volatility in the Chinese financial system.