What happens when you bring 200 of the strongest undergraduate researchers from across the country together, joined by some of the top senior researchers in the world? Three Glynn Scholars traveled to Boston this January to find out. Senior Michael Sokolowski (Biology) and juniors Tyler Dann (SCPP, Psychology) and Madeline Owen (Neuroscience) each presented at the 2020 National Collegiate Research Conference, held annually at Harvard University since 2007. Students from 80 universities were present with them, and to no one’s surprise, this multi-disciplinary mix of research talent produced an exciting weekend during which the students and senior researchers alike were able to share their enthusiasm for research and to build the kind of personal networks that drive success in modern research fields.
Michael presented on his research with Prof. Zach Schafer into the role of a serine/threonine kinase known as SGK-1 in cellular ATP generation after detachment from the extra-cellular matrix. This research seeks to help solve the mystery of how cancer cells survive while traveling through the human body detached from the cellular matrix that usually provides for their nutrition, and is a key step in understanding how cancer metastasizes, present in roughly 90% of cancer-related deaths.
Tyler’s presentation was entitled “Photoluminescent Properties of 3D Printing Substrate PA2200 Induced by Anatase Titanium Dioxide” and represented work done with Prof. Matthew Leevy. While working in the Notre Dame Innovation Lab, Tyler discovered an anomalous optical property in a commonplace 3D printing material, leading to an analysis of how this can impact the field of biological imaging. He also created a novel calibration device for photoluminescent imaging apparatuses and presented on how this material can be printed as complex, anatomically accurate architectures to serve as training or education tools.
Madeline presented on the “Relationship between Mechanical Loading and Bone Marrow Stem Cells in Bone Formation,” research she conducted under Drs. David Hoey and Mathieu Riffault at Trinity College, Dublin during the summer of 2019 as the recipient of a Notre Dame Naughton Fellowship. Madeline used the networking opportunities to begin a collaboration with students at USC, working to develop an app that helps veterans and other trauma victims who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Each returned from the meeting enthused, ready to push the envelope of research ever forward – not to mention their senior theses!