Profiles of Undergraduate Research Fellows

Gabriella Angeloni:

Gabriella Angeloni (CCAS 2013) is researching the political and military implications of the presence of Lord William Campbell, last Royal Governor of South Carolina, during the early years of the American Revolution for her History Senior Honors Thesis. Campbell’s role as a political figurehead, the liaison between South Carolinian backcountry loyalists, urban patriots and the British government, and a commander in the Royal Navy is an engaging but unexplored story, and under the guidance of C. Thomas Long, Professor of History, Gabriella is researching this missing piece of the history of South Carolina and the American Revolution.  As a 2012-13 Luther Rice Fellow, Gabriella travelled to London, England to conduct research at the National Archives at Kew and the National Maritime Museum’s Caird Library at Greenwich. There, she will trace Campbell’s paper trail from England to Charleston, along the southern coast, and back to England from 1775 through his death in 1778. Her thesis will also incorporate research conducted in Washington, D.C. and Charleston, South Carolina.


Adam Bethke:

A 2012-13 Provost/OVPR Undergraduate Research Fellow and under the mentorship of Fran Buntman, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Adam Bethke (CCAS 2013) is researching how conservatives have transitioned from a ‘tough on crime’ position to advocating criminal justice sentencing reform, and thus how conservatives advocate for and gain traction in the policy and legislative arenas for sentencing reform as institutional change. Adam’s research includes detailed textual analyses of the media sources and interviews with key policy makers in order to draw conclusions about conservative strategies and goals for sentencing reform.  This research builds upon Adam’s previous Luther Rice research, which was guided also by Professor Fran Buntman.

Read more about Adam's research.


Eric Brzozowski:

  • Title: "A genome-wide examination of sodium/calcium (Na+/Ca2+) exchange genes in C. elegans"
  • Faculty Mentor: Damian O'Halloran, Department of Biological Sciences
  • 2012-13 Luther Rice Undergraduate Research Fellow

As a 2012-13 Luther Rice Fellow, Eric Brzozowski (CCAS 2013) is studying the integral role of Na+/Ca2+ exchange proteins (or NCX proteins) play in signal transduction and cellular homeostasis. For instance, calcium ions must be removed from the cytoplasm in order for muscle cells to relax, and NCX proteins are involved in resetting the ionic balance to restore the appropriate charge. This understudied family of proteins and ionic channels are widely expressed in human tissues and have been implicated in cardiac disease, ischemic events, and Parkinson’s disease. Under the guidance of Damien O’Halloran, Assistant Professor of Biology, Eric is using the genetic model system Caenorhabditis elegans to study this family of proteins in order to: 1) investigate the molecular diversity and genomic organization of the genes encoding these proteins; 2) develop a complete understanding of the tissue expression and subcellular localization patterns of NCX proteins; and 3) perform mutant characterization for each NCX gene. This proposed research plan would provide the first complete genome-wide survey of the NCX family at the molecular genetic, spatial distribution, and behavioral levels.


Jeremy Carroll:

As we age, most of our body cells become old or senescent. These senescent cells contribute to many of the old-age related pathologies. A 2012-13 Provost/OVPR Fellow, Jeremy D. Carroll is studying the molecular basis of cells getting old using a cell culture model developed in Dr. Manjari Dimri’s laboratory in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.  Specifically, he is studying how a gene called BMI1 regulates the process of cells getting old and testing a hypothesis that BMI1 controls the expression of a subset of small regulatory RNAs known as micro RNAs (miRNAs), which in turn regulate the process of getting old. To do so, Jeremy is using lung-derived human fibroblasts, in which expression of BMI1 is genetically altered and plans to analyze a comprehensive miRNA array to identify target miRNAs of BMI1. Once identified, he will study the role of few selective miRNAs in cellular senescence. He hopes that his studies will contribute to the understanding of cells getting old and generating old age-related pathologies.


Jessica Chace:

A 2012-13 Gamow Fellow, Jessica Chace (CCAS 2013) is currently working on a project entitled “The Humor Defense: Laughter as Therapy in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”  Under the guidance of Kim Moreland, Professor of English, Jessica is examining the defense mechanisms, psychosexual development, and humor in Kesey’s bestselling novel.  One of the characters in the novel, Randall McMurphy, uses humor in such a way in order to help his fellow patients combat the castration anxiety and anal retentiveness propagated by authority figures in the mental hospital. To carry out my project, Jessica plan to explore various theories of humor as well as the role of mental institutions in the 1950s and 60s in addition to reading several critical and biographical works about Kesey.  In order to undertake this research, Jessica travelled to the University of Oregon, whose library holds the Kesey papers.

Read more about Jessica's research.


Kristina Cole:

  • Title: "Getting a Leg Up through Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Will Art Survive in a Capitalist Economy?"
  • Faculty Mentor: Maida Withers, Department of Theater and Dance
  • 2012-13 Luther Rice Undergraduate Research Fellow

By interviewing independent artists as well as working with, Movement Research, a small non-profit dance organization in New York City during the summer of 2012, Kristi Cole (CCAS 2013) is studying and comparing the similarities and differences between their specific management methods in order to understand how artists can adapt, innovate, and thrive within the current economy.  A 2012-13 Luther Rice Fellow, Kristi is supported in this research by Maida Withers, Professor of Dance.  Kristi hopes that her research will not only aid her own career as a performing artist, but will also serve to promote America’s role as the world leader in contemporary dance and to keep the finest most creative dance alive in America.

Read more about Kristi's research.


Yvonne Durbin:

  • Title: "The Role of Women in the East German Peaceful Revolution"
  • Faculty Mentor: Mary Beth Stein, Department of Romance, German, and Slavic Languages and Literature
  • 2012-13 George Gamow Undergraduate Research Fellow

As a 2012-13 George Gamow fellow, Yvonne Durbin (ESIA 2013) travelled to Berlin, Germany to research the role of women in the East German peaceful revolution. In the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) the feminist movement, and its members, lacked the same political freedom and liberal public sphere that its sister movement had in West Germany. Since the fall of the wall in 1989 there has been little research into the specific contributions of East German feminists and groups such as “Frauen für den Frieden” (Women for Peace) to the political change in 1989-1990. Under the guidance of Mary Beth Stein, Professor of German and International Affairs, is interviewing women from two peace activist organizations and compiling an oral history of the East German feminist movement and its role in the peaceful revolution.


Aurora Echavarria:

Aurora Echavarria, a junior studying international affairs and geography and recipient of a 2012-13 Luther Rice Fellowship, is collaborating with Lisa Benton-Short, Associate Professor of Geography on a study of the physical environment of East Jerusalem. Aurora is analyzing the manner in which the Israeli Palestinian conflict has affected the built environment of East Jerusalem and, furthermore, the role these physical manifestations have had in exacerbating tensions between the Palestinian and Jewish populations in the city. Along with living in East Jerusalem and collaborating with an urban planning organization, Aurora is analyzing housing policies, road networks, and public spaces to carry out this research. She will also utilize mapping techniques in order to create a tangible portrayal of the two cities that exist simultaneously in one Jerusalem. 


Michelle Kuhn:

Prof. Gee's Research Group

As a 2012-13 Provost/OVPR Undergraduate Research Fellow, Michelle Kuhn (CCAS 2013) is a member of Professor Christina Gee’s research lab and its Relationship Behaviors Study.  This study aims to discover predictive factors for dysfunctional romantic relationships in emerging adults (ages 18-25). Poor social functioning during this important period of identity formation has been associated with many psychological issues such as having lower empathy, higher egotism, and feelings of isolation, while positive relationships have been shown to serve as a basis for the formation of healthy intimate relations later in life.  This study will examine how observationally learned relationship behaviors, and maladaptive cognitions related to depression and social phobia, might effect the formation of quality romantic relationships. Additionally, Michelle and other members of Professor Gee’s research group will examine whether or not cultural background influences the prevalence of specific maladaptive cognitions, perceptions of previous observed relationships, and current romantic relationship behaviors.

Kelsey Nyland:

Kelsey Nyland (CCAS ‘13) is a geography and environmental studies double major.  For the past couple of years, Kelsy's been working with Nikolay Shiklomanov, Asst Prof of Geography and undertaking studies of the Alaskan permafrost. Her most recent work concerns the phenomenon of collapsing ice cellars, which are used by the Arctic peoples to store whale meat; because of their collapsing due to rising temperatures, these peoples’ ways of life are threatened.  Kelsey’s been working on this research with Russian scholars from Moscow State University and has presented her research at international conferences (most recently last spring in Montreal).


Jane Olmstead-Rumsey:

A 2012-13 George Gamow Fellow, Jane Olmstead-Rumsey (ESIA 2013) travelled to Ecuador during the summer of 2012 to research gender wage-gaps in private Ecuadorian firm under the guidance of her faculty mentor Paul Carrillo, Assistant Professor of Economics.  Together, they are investigating whether the gender of a firm's CEO has an impact on the wage difference between male and female employees at the firm.  As part of her research project, Jane interned at the Centro de Estudios Fiscales (Center for Tax Studies) of Ecuador's Internal Revenue Service, which provided data for her study.


Michelle Sliwinski:

Under the guidance of John Lill, Associate Professor of Biology, Michelle Sliwinski (CCAS 2013) is studying the feeding ecology of four species of shelter-building caterpillars found in the DC-metropolitan area. These caterpillars play an essential role in the forest ecosystem and arthropod community as “ecosystem engineers” because they tie together overlapping leaves that provide food and shelter for other caterpillars and insects. While competition has been studied between herbivores, there is a lack of knowledge as to caterpillar feeding ecology and interactions with the host plant. As a 2012-13 Luther Rice Fellow working with John Lill, Associate Professor of Biology, Michelle is investigating the resource requirements and preferences of shelter-building caterpillars, as well as the role of resources in mediating inter-specific and intra-specific competition.


Angela Schöpke:

Angela Schöpke is majoring in dance and international affairs, and she has explored the relationship between these fields through two research fellowships.  As 2011-12 George Gamow Fellows, Angela traveled to Northern Ireland to explore why, how, and whether dance has been an effective tool in reconciling social, political, and economic barriers following decades of conflict.  As a 2012-13 Provost/OVPR Undergraduate Research Fellow, Angela will allow her travel to two conferences to share her research findings from Northern Ireland, as well as support her ongoing research in the context of Afghanistan’s ongoing conflict within and between social, political, and economic structures.  Under the mentorship of Maida Withers, Professor of Dance and Michele Clark, Visiting Professor of International Affairs, Angela seeks to understand how dance is and can be used to build healthy social, political, and economic structures.