At national conference, two dozen VCU students present research on soap operas, science and more – VCU News

With projects ranging from women in television to art therapy for teenagers and even the impact of pet insurance, two dozen students from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Honors College presented their research at a recent national conference.

The students, nearly all of whom are in their first year at VCU, were presented at the National Undergraduate Research Conference in mid-April at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. A total of 36 Honors College students accepted presentations for the event.

“The accomplishments of these students not only make us proud, they remind us why we strive to advance VCU’s undergraduate research and build an extraordinary culture of student-scholars on campus,” said Fotis Sotiropoulos, Ph.D., provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs.

Faye Pritchard, assistant professor in the Honors College and director of writing, accompanied the conference participants, who shared their research through poster sessions, oral presentations, and art exhibitions.

Student researchers presented work that spanned multiple disciplines. Topics include: veterinarian-client-patient relationships; feminism in popular culture; dental instrument design; political media and their influence on party politics; bilingualism and its impact on the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease; yoga as therapy for African-American men with Parkinson’s disease; and an art exhibit for students with disabilities.

“As a student, it was a privilege to be able to present my research at a national conference. I had the opportunity to share my knowledge with scholars in my field and had interesting conversations with people from all over the country,” said Natasha Moskala, a sophomore in the Honors College, double majoring in political science in VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences and Business in the School of Management in business. “While this was an amazing professional experience, it was also a great opportunity for personal growth that motivated me to continue doing research.”

Enabling students to conduct research and share discoveries nationally is critical to VCU’s mission to create future generations of researchers, Sotiropoulos said.

“Our students who participate in the transformative experience of research and knowledge creation earn higher grades, are more likely to graduate and do so faster, and to raise their own goals and attend graduate or professional programs,” he added. “Engaging more students in these opportunities is essential to strengthening VCU’s reputation as a research powerhouse.”

In recent years, VCU has consistently ranked among the top universities in the number of students accepted at the National Conference on Undergraduate Studies, said Mary Boyce, associate professor in the Honors College.

“VCU’s high acceptance rate can be attributed to the creativity and originality of our honors students, but it is also a testament to our highly specialized, intensive research writing curriculum,” said Boyce, who also served as faculty chair and travel conference organizer.

She added that the course, in which research topics are conceived, offers students direct guidance and support, with the goal of finishing the semester with a project ready for publication.

“In Honors Research Writing, students receive individualized guidance in formulating research problems, accessing sources, and creating final projects,” Boyce said. “Our focus is to get students to create professional projects that are ready for conferences and publications. And our goal is to ignite the research spark in every single person who walks through the doors of VCU’s Honors College.”

The students who presented at the conference and the title of their research project are:

  • Laina Atkins – “Disney Movies Released for 5-12 Year Olds Between the 1990s and 2020s: The Evolution of the Princess of Color”
  • Aidan Ballard – “Single Mothers in Sitcom History, 1950-2010: Reflections of a Changing America on the Small Screen”
  • Shreya Balasani – “Aging and hypothyroidism: Increased risk in older Gujarati and Rajasthani Indian vegetarian women due to long-term exposure to phytoestrogens”
  • Giuliana Cascone – “The use of sequential bilingualism as a defense against Alzheimer’s disease symptoms in older adults”
  • Victoria Chapel – “Antipaluria urichi and Oecophylla smaragdina as potential candidates for burgundy”
  • Leiliani Clark – Casting Heartthrobs as Villains: Preparing Young Women to Tolerate Abusive Partners
  • Madison Cruz – “Evaluation of EtOH abstinence in the reinstatement of neuropathic-evoked behaviors in a mouse model of alcohol-induced peripheral neuropathy (AIPN)”
  • Purav Desai – “Increasing Participation in Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy in Adolescent Oncology Patients”
  • Lauren Eby – “The Adoption of Music Therapy in Childhood Vaccination Procedures: Reducing Anxiety Levels in Children and Parents to Increase Vaccination Rates”
  • Erika Eom – Addressing Body Image in Child Actors
  • Alena Flowers – “Pet Insurance: Changing the Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship for the Better”
  • Rachel Furr – The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree: Exploring the Mother-Daughter Relationship in 2000s Sitcoms
  • Diana Sing-Hui Ho – “Donald Trump, Right-Wing Populist Rhetoric, and the Antagonism of Left Parties in Political Discourse: The Relationship Between Trump’s Speeches and Tweets and Political Demonstrations in the United States”
  • Lojy Hozyen – “Glyphosate and Dopaminergic Neurotoxicity: Impact of Herbicides on the Development of Parkinson’s Disease”
  • Arjun Jagdeesh – “Offering an RNA interference (RNAi)-based treatment for human immunodeficiency virus by analyzing post-transcriptional gene targeting of SARS-CoV-2, hepatitis C virus and A549 lung cancer cells”
  • Shannon Kane – “Desert Euphony: An Exhibition for Students with Disabilities”
  • Natasha Chantal Romero Moscala – “Hugo Chávez and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela: Expropriations and Censorship”
  • Brendan Murphy – “Hospital Employee Support Programs: Reducing Mental Health-Related Surgical Errors for Oncology Surgeons”
  • Mary Noble – ‘That Girl’ vs. ‘New Girl’: The Perils of Choice Feminism”
  • Srimanya Panidepu – “Musculoskeletal disorders of the hand and arm: preventive ergonomic measures and optimal scaler design for dental practitioners in the United States”
  • Deepa Rao – “Funny Women, Changing Times: Differences in Feminism Between ’30 Rock’ and ‘Parks and Recreation'”
  • Kathleen Russo – “Saving the Brain: Progesterone and Dopamine Agonists as Potential Therapies for Secondary Neurodegeneration After Ischemic Stroke in Men”
  • Niyomi Shah – “Reducing Parkinsonian Gait Disturbances: The Impact of Yoga as a Type of Movement Therapy in African-American Men Aged 50-75 with Parkinson’s Disease”
  • Christine Tran – “Normalizing the Infantilized Woman and the Sexual Girl”