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Sea Otters & Research


Megan Withers is a Senior majoring in Environmental Science and Biology. She was awarded a Spring 2019 Conference Grant which she used to attend the National Conference on Undergraduate Research.

Hello! My name is Meg and I had the pleasure of presenting at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), held at Kennesaw State University. At the conference, I presented a poster about my honors research, which focuses on the transmission of a bacterial disease called Strep syndrome in Northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoniI). I used U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) data to assess population density as a possible indicator of the disease’s transmission mechanism. I didn’t find a significant relationship between population density and prevalence of the disease, but I did gain knowledge about other factors, such as gender, that could potentially affect the disease and its impact on sea otter health. Future directions in this research are aimed at further identifying the means by which otters become infected and how behavior may affect this process. 

Wonder What My Eyes Are Doing


Ashrita Satchidanand is aSenior majoring in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology. She was awarded a Spring 2019 Conference Grant which she used to attend the National Conference on Undergraduate Research.


I began my research at the Rollins School of Public Health in the fall of junior year, as an undergrad who was interested in pursuing a Master’s in Public Health. I wanted to explore several fields within Public Health, and I found out that there was a professor of epidemiology at Rollins who were searching for some undergraduates to work on a new study. The research topic was amblyopia which is when someone has a difference in visual acuity between their eyes – the difference is characterized by at least 2 lines on the Snell Chart used at the eye doctor’s office. When I began researching for the project, I was interested in social participation of children affected by amblyopia compared to those who are not. However, I eventually became more interested in the reading ability of these children which we measured through eye-tracking equipment– where one wears goggles to track the movement of the eyes. I was surprised that I wanted to change my particular focus on the study as we delved in because I thought my research would have to be more stringent. It was not too late, however, and I began focusing more on reading ability. 

Development of a New HIV Treatment

Yu Zhang is a Senior double majoring in Biology and Chemistry. She was awarded a Spring 2019 Conference Grant which she used to attend the National Conference on Undergraduate Research.

In NCUR conference, I presented my research on the development of a new HIV treatment. I was very happy to talk with many scholars who were also dedicated in natural science research. According to the previous report, over 170 million people infected worldwide, the hepatitis C virus (HCV) represents a significant public health burden. The primary mode of transmission for HCV is via exposure to infected blood, including transfusions from infected donors, and through intravenous use of illicit drugs. Although a minority of all HCV infections will spontaneously resolve without any clinical outcome, an estimated 80% of cases will progress into chronic hepatitis. The need for the treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV), has provided considerable impetus for the development of new classes of antiviral drugs such as nucleoside analogues. Hepatitis C contains a single, positive-strand RNA genome that encodes only one open reading frame translated to a polyprotein of approximately 3,000 amino acids.


What I Learned Conducting and Presenting Linguistic Research

Seaira Lett is a Sophomore pursuing a joint major in Spanish and Linguistics. She was awarded a Spring 2019 Conference Grant which she used to attend the National Conference on Undergraduate Research.

Last semester (Fall 2018), students in Linguistics 485: Field Methods were given the amazing opportunity to conduct linguistic interviews with a speaker of the Bantu language Lulogooli, an understudied language. We learned about IRB procedures and requirements, expectations for research involving human subjects, and how to use elicitation sessions to study the syntax and morphology of a language that you aren’t familiar with. 

Bringing Color to the White Terror


 Ramsey Baden is a senior majoring in English and Creative Writing. He was awarded a Spring 2019 Independent Grant which he used to conduct research on the Taiwanese White Terror under Dr. Joonna Trapp. 
There are few experiences as isolating as being separated from your home.
When I started college, I began realizing just how much I missed my home in Taiwan. I began devoting massive amounts of energy to my new quest: I was to find out what it meant to be Taiwanese-American. It was a scheme that became daunting when I realized I had started just a moment too late, and that I was already physically removed from the island that in many ways feels more like home than anywhere else on this planet.