33 faculty-student pairs part of largest-ever Undergraduate Research Academy cohort

Photo credit: Jeffrey M Foster

33 student-faculty pairs have been awarded funds to conduct original, year-long research projects and creative works. The teams make up the largest-ever UCCS Undergraduate Research Academy cohort.

Each year, the UCCS Undergraduate Research Academy awards $3,500 grants to faculty-student teams to encourage students to expand their education beyond the classroom. Over the course of a year, students are expected to participate in at least 200 hours of research assistance, and faculty members are expected to provide mentorship and support to advance the projects. In addition to their research, students also take part in monthly seminars and professional development opportunities.

Since the URA’s inception in 2018, its faculty-student teams have conducted compelling research — some with life-changing results. In 2022, Madison Fox ’22 and James Kovacs, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, successfully developed an enzyme that can break the second-strongest bond in nature, one that holds together harmful pollutants called perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs. In 2021, Ella Chilcote ’21 and Gia Barboza, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, co-authored one of the first-ever studies on Native children forcibly separated from their families within the last 30 years. Both Fox and Chilcote have gone on to pursue their research interests in advanced studies programs.

“The Undergraduate Research Academy is a shining example of a student-centered apprentice model of research,” said Jessi Smith, Associate Vice Chancellor of Research.

“The program affords students the opportunity to work closely with a faculty mentor while also learning together as a research community,” Smith continued. “At UCCS, we prioritize student research, because it is an opportunity to tap into our community’s diverse student talent pool and ensure that the next generation of scholars are prepared to discover, analyze and tackle the problems we know — and the ones we have yet to encounter.”

The 2022 awardees include:

Awardee: Laurique Hughes
Faculty Mentor: Kevin Tvrdy

“Totally Tubular: Determination of the Effect of Sonication on the Length and Purification of Single Walled Carbon Nanotubes”

Awardee: Kyrie Milliron
Faculty Mentor: James Kovacs

“Discovering the Molecular Requirements for Epstein-Barr Virus Attachment”

Awardee: Ana Barovic
Faculty Mentor: Allen Schofftall

“Reduction of Isoxazoles to Enaminals and Their Conversion to Heterocycles”

Awardee: Advita Bhatia
Faculty Mentor: Crystal Vander Zanden

“Simulations to Determine the Neuroprotective Mechanism of Curcumin in Alzheimer’s Disease”

Awardee: Abigail Shultz
Faculty Mentor: Aaron Corcoran

“Biomechanics of Bat Maneuvering in Natural Predatory Flight”

Awardee: John McCoy
Faculty Mentor: Jeremy Bono

“Investigating a novel function of RNA in fertility”

Awardee: Victoria Toscano
Faculty Mentor: Andrew Klocko

“Exploring how changes in epigenetic marks impacts the organization of the fungal genome”

Awardee: Audrey Fahland
Faculty Mentor: Emily Mooney 

“Diversity in Predation in the Environment of the Azure Butterfly”

Awardee: Natalie Bondarchuk
Faculty Mentor: Amy Klocko

“Analysis of targeting effectiveness, efficiency, and predicted protein impacts of CRISPR-Cas9 editing of two genes in domestic apple”

Awardee: Jason Cuthbert
Faculty Mentor: Omid Semiari

“Towards Developing an End to End Simulator for Low Latency Communications and Edge Computing in Vehicular Networks”

Awardee: Sam Peters
Faculty Mentor: Byeong Lee

“Synthetic Malware Data Augmentation for Deep Learning Network Training”

Awardee: Kaylie Maddux
Faculty Mentor: Scott Trimboli

“Battery Modeling and Control Toolbox for ASPIRE”

Awardee: Lauren Clarke
Faculty Mentor: Diep Dao

“Gentrification and Hispanic Community Displacements in Colorado Springs”

Awardee: Tyler Ingram
Faculty Mentor: Cerian Gibbes

“Dynamics of violence: Utilizing space-based measurements of radiation to study unrest”

Awardee: Michael Nameika
Faculty Mentor: Justin Cole

“Data Driven Approximation of Topological Insulator Systems”

Awardee: Cecilia Knight
Faculty Mentor: Lynnane George

“Development of a CubeSat Small Satellite Demonstrator”

Awardee: Duncan Schlueter
Faculty Mentor: Matt Quinlan

“Nonlinear acoustic daming: single baffle blade testing”

Awardee: Christian Lewis
Faculty Mentor: Lynnane George

“Human Crewed Interplanetary Trajectories for the Roundtrip Exploration of Mars and Ceres”

Awardee: Anna Carrier
Faculty Mentor: Nathan Morris

“Skeletal muscle and body temperature responses during uphill and downhill running”

Awardee: Alix Walters
Faculty Mentor: Kathrin Spendier

“Low-cost device for determining heat source location”

Awardee: Kaitlin McAllister
Faculty Mentor: Dmytro Bozhko

“Magnetic rogue waves observation using near-field scanning microwave microscope”

Awardee: Melissa Mikolaitis
Faculty Mentor: Giles David Arceneaux

“Beyond the Iron Dome: Cross-System Exposure and Public Perceptions of Ballistic Missile Defense”

Awardee: Naila Tagoilelagi
Faculty Mentor: Beth Daniels

“Sexual Harassment in STEM: Impacts on Women’s Well-Being and Career Plans”

Awardee: Isabella Arsenault
Faculty Mentor: Tom Francis

“The Future of Work for the Next Generation of College Students: Impact, Implications, and Recommendations for Success”

Awardee: Lily Herlihy
Faculty Mentor: Lori James

“Can a Stress Mindset Manipulation Affect Older Adults’ Speech Production?”

Awardee: Katie Agenbroad
Faculty Mentor: Rachel Weiskittle

“The Effects of Lonliness, Kinship, and Perception of Burden on Older Adult Suicidality”

Awardee: Grai Calabro
Faculty Mentor: Diana Selmeczy

“Children’s Study Strategies: The Role of Choice and Value”

Awardee: Alyssa Premovich
Faculty Mentor: Dan Segal

“An Empirical Examination of Age and Gender Bias on the Alternative Model of Personality Disorders Among Older Adults”

Awardee: Aja Zamundu
Faculty Mentor: Heather Littleton

“Race on campus in the aftermath of Black Lives Matter”

Awardee: Maddie Vickroy
Faculty Mentor: Stephanie Gangemi

“How Do Undergrad Students at UCCS Perceive the Effects of ACEs on Their Selection of Major”

Awardee: William Smith
Faculty Mentor: Jefferey Montez de Oca

“Developing Praxis: A Comparative Study of Two Denver-Based Social Justice Groups”

Awardee: William Ross
Faculty Mentor: Monica Yoo

“How Targeted Coursework Impacts In-service Teachers’ Practices in Classrooms with Multilingual Learners”

Awardee: Courtney Cowling
Faculty Mentor: Tre Wentling

“Transgender Embodied States of Recognition”