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2012-2013 Research Fellows

UHL Student Research Fellows Program


 Research Fellows


 Rachel Ancar

I have worked on two research projects under the UHL Research Scholars Program. My project with Dr. Brad Stith’s lab in the biology department is ongoing, and I will be continuing to perform my research until graduation. I am working to determine if a specific fertilization pathway is dependent upon specialized plasma membrane domains called lipid rafts. This research would contribute to an understanding of the mechanisms involved in fertilization and potentially infertility. My work was included in a paper that is currently under review.

With Professor Manuel Espinoza, we have developed a grant aimed at establishing a longitudinal ethnographic research study focused on the development of educational settings in the lives of two migrant families in Colorado. The goal of our research is to produce an ethnographic film that will contribute to understandings about the process of creating settings and the role of education in migrant families. We are submitting our grant in October, and hope to obtain funding for the project to begin next summer.

- Rachel Ancar, Biology & History - Class of 2015 

 Riannon Atwater

Research Fellows Riannon.jpgMy research was done by helping to organize and edit a Neuroscience Encyclopedia, titled, The Brain, Nervous System, and Its Diseases, due to be published in Fall of 2014.  I worked with Dr. Jennifer Hellier who is the Deputy Director of Programs for Colorado AHEC at Anschutz Medical Campus.  Not only did I help to organize and edit entries that we received, but I also wrote numerous entries that will be a part of the final publication.  This was an amazing opportunity that allowed me to learn a lot about the intricacies of the brain and its disorders.

Riannon Atwater, Biology - Class of 2015


 Tewoderos‎ Ayele

Class of 2014


 Adam Blair

Class of 2014


 Arthur Boo

My work with Dr. Manuel Espinoza and Jennifer Mayo centered on an exposition of a category of works that we refer to as the Uncanny, Unusual, and Grisly (UUG). We considered the role that such controversial texts can have in modern society, particularly in primary education. In the interests of teaching valuable, yet mature, themes, a variety of UUG texts were analyzed and it was argued that such works deserve a place in the classroom.

- Arthur Boo, Class of 2014

 Emma Boxer

I am doing research at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science with Dr. Nicole Garneau on a project called the Genetics of Taste. This summer I looked at a well known gene called TAS2R38 that has 6 known alleles (variations). The gene encodes a taste receptor protein that binds the bitter substances PTC and PROP. Some people cannot taste these substances at all, however, because they do not have the proper allele. I analyzed data collected by the museum to determine the tasting ability of people with rare variations of the gene. The next project I will be involved with at the museum is going to look at people's ability to taste fat (yes, fat is now thought to be a taste!).​

- Emma Boxer, Class of 2015

 Greg Fliney

Currently, I am working in Dr. Jim Grigsby’s cognitive neuroscience lab where I am working on two research projects. The first study deals with comparing body image (how one perceives one’s physical appearance) to body schema (one’s internal body map). To test subjects’ body images, we have them interact with software that has been developed here at CU Denver. Data from this test is compared to the results of the rubber hand illusion, which also incorporates a number of physiological recording devices. The rubber hand illusion provides us with several subjective and objective measures of one’s susceptibility to incorporate inanimate objects into his/her body schema. Through this study, we hope to come across novel findings related to the physiological recordings, and we aim to better characterize the relationship between body image and body schema.

For my second research project, I am working with Dr. Grigsby to create a neural networking algorithm and an evolutionary algorithm that can be used to predict the 12 month outcome of a stroke victim following their stroke. While this project is just beginning, we hope that the algorithms we create can both illuminate the effectiveness of both algorithm types and be used in a clinical setting to assist in the development of effective stroke treatment plans. 

- Greg Fliney, Class of 2014

 Chelsea Honea

I'm working on the study "Heart-Focused Anxiety in Congenital Heart Disease" at Children's Hospital Colorado. We look at psychosocial symptoms present in families with a child who has congenital heart disease. This will lead us to a better understanding of family functioning in these types of situations.

-Chelsea Honea, Psychology - Class of 2015


 Tamara Lhungay

The Right to Learn Project is rooted in a trio of domains - social interactional studies of learning, the capabilities approach to human development, and court opinions establishing the "state action doctrine" – this inter-disciplinary inquiry seeks to establish an empirical framework for the consideration of classrooms as "rights-generative" spaces. Within schools, there exist spaces in which historically marginalized and demonized social groups may experience the intellectual and artistic freedom, social equity, and access to educational resources typically not enjoyed in everyday institutional settings.  Though rare, these "educational sanctuaries" can be thought of as counter-normative forms of state action and fertile contexts for the cultivation of capabilities, or precursors of rights (according to philospher Martha Nussbaum,) and “substantive freedoms,” (as described by Economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen). We aim to present and interpret "touchstone" social interactional cases that demonstrate how capabilities are developed in school settings and theorize the implications of our conclusions for the social status of unauthorized or "stateless" children.

- Tamara Lhungay, Class of 2014

 Mirissa Price

I have the immense privilege of working under the guidance of Professor Jeffrey Stansbury and Professor Sheldon Newman of the University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus Department of Craniofacial Biology.  Our research, conducted by an incredibly diverse team of international dentists, dental students, and graduate students, is aimed at synthesizing and optimizing a nanogel material that addresses the problematic polymerization shrinkage and stress noted in dental restoration procedures.  My specific focus is on the impact of increased optical translucency on mechanical properties of the ultimate dental composite.  Thus, my work in the laboratory consists of optimizing the resin and filler system for practical dental application while dually determining the mechanical practicality of optimizing the aesthetic nature of the composite material.  While directly applicable to the dental field, nanogel material also extends in relevance to drug delivery, tissue engineering, adhesive materials, and photonic materials, thus integrating physical measurements, chemical synthesis, and biological application into a single research endeavor.        

- Mirissa Price, Biology - Class of 2014

 Jonah Shuman

Class of 201525

 Joshua Skeggs

Starting back in March, I was able to get myself into a research lab at National Jewish Health with the help of the UHL program and Dr. Raul Torres, an immunology private investigator (PI) who came in to talk to some UHL students about how to get involved in reserach and what it is like being a researcher. I am grateful for having the opportunity to work with Dr. Rachel Friedman, the PI, Eric Wigton, the lab technician, because I learned many modern techniques used in research, and also learned quite a bit of immunology along the way. The lab is studying autoimmune diseases, specifically type 1 diabetes, with the goal of understanding how the diease orginates by tracking white blood cells in the body in order to see how and when the white blood cells attack the pancreas and other cells. I used techniques such as PCR, microscopy, and gene cloning in my time there. I was also able to create data entries and worked with the mice used in their research. It was an invaluable experience. 

- Joshua Skeggs, Public Health, B.S. - Class of 2015

 Tamara Thevarajah

During June and July 2012, I was a UHL Research Fellow abroad in Dublin, Ireland. I was hired as an intern for a research project investigating coaugulability in post-operative gyne-oncology (gynecology cancer) patients. My primary supervisor was an anesthetist (which is what the Irish call anesthesiologists) who worked with the gynecology team on this project at St. James’ Hospital, which is the country’s leading gyne-oncology treatment center. My role involved taking blood from consented patients pre- and intra-operatively and running it through a thromboelastograph (TEG) machine, which detects fibrin and fibrinogen levels. TEG generated a graph depicting the coaguability of the patient’s blood; graphs of pre-, intra- and post- operative blood were compared to the outcome of the patient and the data was extrapolated for the long term goal of predicting coagulation leading to thrombosis in post-op gyne-oncology patients, which can be fatal. 

I was fortunate enough to have preceptors who were invested in my learning experience and enabled me to get a bigger picture of gyne-oncology to better understand the project. When I wasn’t in surgery getting blood (and observing the rest of the procedure) or running the TEG, I was shadowing in the clinic (both the malignant and benign clinics) or attending multi-disciplinary meetings (meetings attended by surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy providers as well as pathologists, radiologists, and nurse care coordinators, and all parties worked together to determine a treatment plan for each patient). 

And on the weekends, I explored the rich culture of the country I was in and it was a great experience!!  

- Tamara Thevarajah, Class of 2014

 Angela Wing

I am currently working with Professor Travis Vermilye to explore visual psychology.  In medical illustration, scientific visualization and data interpretation, as in art and design, we are challenged with the task of communicating effectively through the use of visual media.  Using design-based research, we will study the role of sequential image narrative. This approach is also known as panels in comics or graphic novels. We are testing the two different types of learning: a textbook compared to a comic strip version of the heart cycle.

- Angela Wing, Class of 2014

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