2021 Virtual URSS Award Winners

A special thanks to our sponsors who make these awards possible!

Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences:

2 for Excellence in Research in the Basic Sciences

Quantum and Molecular Mechanical (QM/MM) Approach to Modeling the Water Solvated Uncatalyzed Decarboxylation of Monoanionic and Dianionic Malonate
Kezia Jemison
Biochemistry ‖ Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Jeffrey Evanseck Dr.
Additional Authors: Angel Tamez (graduate student), Dr. Jeffrey D. Evanseck (faculty)

Characterizing Coqui Frogs in Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Haley Moore
Biology ‖ Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Sarah Woodley Dr.
Additional Authors: Kim Bischof, Sara McClelland, Maria Wheeler, Sarah States, Peter Freeman

4 Honorable Mentions

Determination of Death by Suicide or Homicide through Hyoid Bone Fracture Patterns
Roger Sherman
Forensic Science and Law ‖ Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Pamela Marshall Ph.D.

Characterization of RarA, a membrane porin from Sulfurospirillum barnesii SES-3
Lauren Rebel
Biology ‖ Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Faculty Advisor: John Stolz Ph.D.
Additional Author: Narthana Jeganathar Kanmanii (Graduate Student)

Direct Isotope Dilution Mass Spectrometry Quantification of Dried Blood Spot Cards to Identify Drugs of Abuse
Caley Moore
Forensic Science and Law ‖ Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Faculty Advisor: H.M. "Skip" Kingston Ph.D.
Additional Authors: Logan Miller, Jeremiah Jamrom (Graduate Student), H.M. "Skip" Kingston, Ph.D. (Faculty)

Demystifying the Unusual Structures, Vibrations, and Energies of Urea
Lindsay Moskal
Chemistry and Mathematics ‖ McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts, Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Jeffrey D. Evanseck Ph. D.
Additional Authors: Serina Tressler, Alex Cocolas (Graduate Student), Angel Tamez (Graduate Student), Thomas D. Montgomery, Ph.D. (faculty), Jeffrey D. Evanseck, Ph.D. (faculty)


Biomedical Engineering
Duquesne Award for Excellence in Biomedical Engineering

Numerical Study of Arterial Stenosis and its Sensitivity to Model Uncertainties
Angelica Alday, Talha Lone & Scott Toth
Biomedical Engineering ‖ Rangos School of Health Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Rana Zakerzadeh Ph.D.


Center for the Catholic Faith and Culture
Common Good Research Award

Turning a Blind Eye: A Catholic Perspective on Justice
Kayce Boggess
Forensic Science and Law ‖ Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Elisabeth Vasko Ph.D.


Center for African Studies

Award for Undergraduate Research in African Studies

The Whitewashing of Sea Shanties- A Complex History
Henry Strobel
Music Education ‖ Mary Pappert School of Music
Faculty Advisor: Nicole Vilkner Ph.D

Award for Undergraduate Research in Global Health

How the Controversy and Misconceptions of Vaccines have Affected American Society and Views
Alexis Pozzuto
Biology ‖ Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Faculty Advisor: David Lampe Ph.D.


Center for Community-Engaged Teaching and Research
CETR Award for Undergraduate Research

Suicide Trends Within Impoverished Areas: The Need for a Closer Look at Connections Between Suicide and Poverty
Odile Enslen
Forensic Science and Law ‖ Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Lyndsie Ferrara Ph.D
Additional Authors: Anita Zuberi, Ph.D, Mandy Tinkey, M.S


Center for Excellence in Diversity and Student Inclusion
Undergraduate Research Award

The performance of students with English as a second language at Duquesne University.
Orlane Inono Murekatete
Chemistry ‖ Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Kathleen Glenister Roberts Ph.D.


Center for Teaching Excellence
Award for Undergraduate Research

English Language Learners in the Elementary General Music Classroom
Nina Day
Music Education ‖ Mary Pappert School of Music
Faculty Advisor: Rachel Whitcomb Ed.D.


Center for Global Health Ethics
Award for Undergraduate Research in Ethics

Using Online Learning and Gamification to Enhance Ethics Education in Forensic Science
Sarah McKendrick
Forensic Science and Law ‖ Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Lyndsie Ferrara Ph.D.
Additional Authors: Jim Schreiber, Ph.D. (faculty), Sara Bitner, M.S. (committee member), Pamela Marshall, Ph.D. (faculty), Lyndsie Ferrara Ph.D. (faculty)


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

Mary Todd Lincoln: Duty and Depression
Bella Biancone
History and Political Science ‖ McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Faculty Advisor: Jennifer Taylor Ph.D

Evidence-Based Guidelines for Milk Collection
Julia Ciotti & Kayla Devlin
Nursing ‖ School of Nursing
Faculty Advisor: Alison Colbert Ph.D., PHCNS-BC, FAAN


Classics Department
Best Presentation/Poster within the field of Classics

Classical Influence on the Gynecology of the Virgin Mary
Erin Ridge
Classical Civilizations & Philosophy ‖ McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Faculty Advisor: Sarah Miller Ph.D


Counselor Education Program

Award for Undergraduate Research

Assessing the needs and recommendations for early childhood mental health consultation in transitioning back to in-person schooling
Emily Kurland
Psychology ‖ School of Education,McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Faculty Advisor: Kara McGoey Ph. D.
Additional Authors: Kara McGoey, Ph.D. (faculty), Heather Roesinger, MS.Ed. (graduate student)

Award for Undergraduate Research

The Issues of Biased School Dress Codes
Olivia Solomon
Secondary Mathematics Education ‖ School of Education
Faculty Advisor: Patricia Sheahan Ed.D.


Department of Physician Assistant Studies
Award for initiative and potential for future research as a physician assistant

The Possible Biological Mechanisms of Placental Inflammation as a Result of Ambient Air Pollution: A Literature Review
Isabella Galbo
Physician Assistant Studies ‖ Rangos School of Health Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Bridget Calhoun Ph.D., PA-C


Gumberg Library

Gumberg Library Award for Undergraduate Research

LGBT Families: A Social Science Literature Review
Michael Murphy
Theater Arts and Women's and Gender Studies ‖ McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Faculty Advisor: Cathleen Appelt Ph.D.

Honorable Mention

The Role of Juror Bias Relating to Sexual Assault Cases
Noelle Sadaka
Forensic Science and Law ‖ Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Lyndsie Ferrara Ph.D.


History Department

Clio Award for Undergraduate Research
First Place

Export, Pennsylvania: Reinvention by Necessity
Adam Farbarik
History & Secondary Education ‖ McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Faculty Advisor: Andrew Simpson Ph.D.

Second Place

Refugees, Exiles, and Citizenship in the Late Republic to Early Roman Empire
Julia Cardinal
Latin and History ‖ McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Faculty Advisor: Sarah Miller Ph.D.

Third Place

Mary Todd Lincoln: Duty and Depression
Bella Biancone
History and Political Science ‖ McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Faculty Advisor: Jennifer Taylor Ph.D


Honors College

Outstanding Poster

The Failures of Entertainment Media on Mental Health
Abigail Noll
Forensic Science and Law ‖ Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Pamela Marshall Ph.D

Outstanding Video

What is Our Value?: Occupational Therapy's Distinct Role with Youth Experiencing Homelessness
Gabriella Santacecilia, Stephanie Galasso, Kira Minicucci & McKenna Killion
Occupational Therapy ‖ Rangos School of Health Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Retta Martin MS, OTR/L


Mary Pappert School of Music
Mary Pappert School of Music Undergraduate Award

The Whitewashing of Sea Shanties- A Complex History
Henry Strobel
Music Education ‖ Mary Pappert School of Music
Faculty Advisor: Nicole Vilkner Ph.D


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Outstanding Research Merit

Deep Learning based Image Restoration: Balancing performance and theoretical guarantees
Ryan Cecil
Mathematics ‖ McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Faculty Advisor: Stacey Levine Ph.D.


Office of the Provost

Provost Award for Outstanding Research

A Novel Telehealth Device
Garett Craig , Alex Evans, Amanda Pellegrino, Ben Bernarding & Justin Cook
Biomedical Engineering / Nursing Dual Major ‖ Biomedical Engineering
Faculty Advisor: Michael Nilo

Office of Research Award for Outstanding Research

Refugees, Exiles, and Citizenship in the Late Republic to Early Roman Empire
Julia Cardinal
Latin and History ‖ McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Faculty Advisor: Sarah Miller Ph.D.

Provost Award for Best Presentation

JA RUSYN BYL (I am Rusyn): investigating repressed Rusyn identity through the lens of folk music
Spencer McNeill
B.S. Music Education ‖ Mary Pappert School of Music
Faculty Advisor: Nicole Vilkner Ph.D.


Office of Disability Services

Outstanding Undergraduate Research

Collegiate Athletes' Anxiety-related Concussion Perceptions
Abbigail Delmonte & Lauren Bell
Health Management Systems ‖ Rangos School of Health Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Erica Beidler Ph.D. M.Ed. B.S.

Outstanding Undergraduate Research 

Socioeconomic Status Effects on Glycemic Control in Type 1 Diabetes
Julianna Morgan
Nursing ‖ School of Nursing
Faculty Advisor: Mayra Toney DNP, RN


Peace Justice and Conflict Resolution

The Peace, Justice and Conflict Resolution (PJCR) Minor Program Award

Dmitri Shostakovich: Composing in Cultural Rebellion
Noah Kilgus
Music Education ‖ Mary Pappert School of Music
Faculty Advisor: Benjamin Binder Ph.D.

Honorable Mention

Nina Simone's "Mississippi Goddam" and its Relevance to Black Lives Matter
Ryssa Ezykowsky
Music Therapy ‖ Mary Pappert School of Music
Faculty Advisor: Nicole Vilkner Ph.D.

Honorable Mention

Effects of Mechanical Institutionalization on Veteran Post-Service Re-Entry
Deidra Hubay
Political Science & Sociology ‖ McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Faculty Advisor: Sarah MacMillen Ph.D


Phi Kappa Phi, National Honors Society

Outstanding Research

Development of a Rapid Drug Detection Method for Insects using Paper Spray Ionization Mass Spectrometry (PSI-MS)
Alex Plyler
Forensic Science and Law ‖ Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Michael Van Stipdonk Ph.D.

Honorable Mention

Genetic Diversity in Water Snakes After Habitat Alterations
Alexa Michaels
Biology ‖ Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Jan Janecka Ph.D.
Additional Authors: Mary Janecka, Ph.D., Charles Criscione, Ph.D., Jan Janecka, Ph.D (faculty)


Rangos School of Health Sciences

Rangos School of Health Sciences Award for Undergraduate Research: 2 awards

Collegiate Athletes' Anxiety-related Concussion Perceptions
Abbigail Delmonte & Lauren Bell
Health Management Systems ‖ Rangos School of Health Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Erica Beidler Ph.D. M.Ed. B.S.

Symptom Screening Application: Inclusiveness During COVID-19
Olivia Shope
Occupational Therapy ‖ Rangos School of Health Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Richard Simpson Ph.D., ATP


School of Nursing

School of Nursing Undergraduate Research Award

Going Out or Staying In: How the COVID-19 Pandemic has Influenced College Students' Drinking and Socializing
Megan Huey & Amy Yuhas
Nursing ‖ School of Nursing
Faculty Advisor: Mai-Ly Nguyen Steers Ph.D.

Honorable Mention

Surgical Smoke
Kathryn Grieb, Hannah Poremba & Cara D'Angelo
Nursing ‖ School of Nursing
Faculty Advisor: Alison Colbert Ph.D., PHCNS-BC, FAAN

Honorable Mention

Gender differences may influence how caregivers handle burden
Kayla Graver & Kiele Fullerton
Nursing ‖ School of Nursing
Faculty Advisor: Pamela Spigelmyer Ph.D., RN, CNS, CSN


School of Pharmacy

Award for Undergraduate Research

Extracellular Vesicles/HSP27 Protein Nanoparticles Are a Promising Approach to Decrease Blood-Brain Barrier Permeability in Ischemic Stroke
Riyan Babidhan
Pharmacy ‖ School of Pharmacy and the Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Devika Manickam Ph.D.
Additional Authors: Devika S Manickam, Ph.D. (Faculty), Kandarp Dave (Graduate student)

Safety and efficacy of intravenous hydralazine and labetalol for the treatment of asymptomatic hypertension in hospitalized patients: a systematic review
Elizabeth Timanus, Jocelyn Cawoski, Katie DeBiasio & Scott Donnachie
Pharmacy ‖ School of Pharmacy and the Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Branden Nemecek PharmD, BCPS

University Academic Sustainability Committee

Excellence in Sustainability & the Environment

Characterizing Coqui Frogs in Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Haley Moore
Biology ‖ Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Sarah Woodley Dr.
Additional Authors: Kim Bischof, Sara McClelland, Maria Wheeler, Sarah States, Peter Freeman

Honorable Mention

The Need for Nature-Based Playgrounds: Design and Implementation
Adelina DiTullio
Early Childhood Education ‖ School of Education
Faculty Advisor: Christopher Meidl Ph.D

Honorable Mention

Genetic Diversity in Water Snakes After Habitat Alterations
Alexa Michaels
Biology ‖ Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Jan Janecka Ph.D.
Additional Authors: Mary Janecka, Ph.D., Charles Criscione, Ph.D., Jan Janecka, Ph.D (faculty)

Honorable Mention

Squaramide Structure and Interactions with Benzene
Serina Tressler
Chemistry ‖ Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Thomas Montgomery Ph.D.
Jeffrey Evanseck, Ph.D. (faculty)


Office of Research 

Video Competition Award: 2 awards

Mary Todd Lincoln: Duty and Depression
Bella Biancone
History and Political Science ‖ McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Faculty Advisor: Jennifer Taylor Ph.D

Symptom Screening Application: Inclusiveness During COVID-19
Olivia Shope
Occupational Therapy ‖ Rangos School of Health Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Richard Simpson Ph.D., ATP