Wayne State University

WSU undergraduate researchers to take 40-hour, cross-country train ride to national conference

DETROIT– A caravan of Wayne State students will make its way to Montana this month to present a wide variety of undergraduate research. Their destination is the National Conference for Undergraduate Research (NCUR), on April 15-17 at the University of Montana in Missoula, MT. A total of 43 WSU students working on 39 projects were accepted to participate at NCUR, the most from any university in Michigan and a record for WSU. Twenty of the students who were accepted will attend.

The trip, which will mark many of the students’ first time traveling with a large group of their peers, will be a somewhat unorthodox one. Due to a limited amount of flights reserved for the conference, the group will travel by train for approximately 40 hours then catch a three-hour bus ride.

Kevin Rashid, undergraduate research coordinator, said students are everything from excited to overwhelmed at the prospect of traveling together nearly two days straight. “A lot of the students are excited for what they consider old-style travel,” Rashid said. “Others are wondering what they’re going to do for such a long ride. We expect it will build a lot of community, as this trip is known for spurring some interesting, cross-discipline friendships.”

Although only 20 of the 43 students will attend the conference, Rashid said the record numbers reflect the extensive training available to Wayne State undergraduates not just in the basics of research, but in presenting their work to a broad audience. “Undergraduate research is a powerful experience in and of itself, but the importance of effectively communicating the value of your work to people outside of your field cannot be overestimated,” Rashid said. “It’s a skill that’s critical throughout nearly every type of academic or professional career.”

The following are samples of some of the students who will be present their research projects at the conference. Further information about these and the rest of the presenters are available at http://research.wayne.edu/communications/forms/undergraduate_profiles_in_template_v2.pdf.

Danica Maureen Aquino, psychology honors senior, Royal Oak, Mich.
Project title: The Influence of Motivational, Behavioral Inhibition and Behavioral Activation Systems on Smoking Cessation through Contingency Management Treatment
Project description: Aquino is investigating whether certain brain pathways associated with reward and punishment have an influence on a person’s success at quitting smoking.

Ajay Gopalakrishna, biology and economics sophomore,Troy, Mich.
Project title: Exploration of Molecular Interactions among Scutellaria Flavonoids for Anti-Glioma Activity
Project description: Gopalakrishna is investigating the potential anti-tumor activity of the major flavonoids – apigenin, baicalin, baicalein, chrysin, luteolin, and wogonin – found in the extracts of the herbal plant Scutellaria sp.

Pridvi Kandagatla, pre-medicine senior, Canton, Mich.
Project title: Assessing the Effectiveness of CXCR4 Antagonist, CTCE9908, on Prostate Cancer Metastasis
Project description: Kandagatla has tested the effects of the compound, CTCE-9908, on its potential use for preventing the spread of prostate cancer with promising results.

Kandagatla’s 2nd Project title: Long Term Changes in Self-Perception after a Summer Learning Service in China
Project description: Kandagatla has explored the ways in which past WSU students’ perspectives changed as a result of participating in a summer learning experience program in China, and how those changes affected their lives, including changes in students’ perspective on globalization, changes in their career choice and changes in their perception of themselves.

Alexander Marinica, philosophy honors senior with a minor in biological sciences, Canton, Mich.A
Project title: My Head Hurts: Behavioral Outcome following Etra Antagonist Administration after Traumatic Brain Injury
Project description: Marinica studied the use of an Etra antagonist to keep blood flowing to the brain in populations with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) that show positive results in minimizing the effects of the injury.

Eric Tuomey, history and urban studies senior, Huntington Woods, Mich.
Project title: Greenspace Redevelopment: The Limitations and Constraints of Howard’s Greenbelt in Detroit
Project description: Tuomey explored the potential Sir Ebenezer Howard's Garden City ideal as a model for the redevelopment of Detroit's vacant land into green space. Tuomey’s study has the potential to provide valuable strategies for redeveloping Detroit’s vacant land into green space.

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Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information on research at Wayne State University, visit http://www.research.wayne.edu.