Undergraduate Research Grant Winners

The NSU Undergraduate Competitive Research Grant program annual awards to support undergraduate students' research projects, which can be part of a student'€™s honors thesis or related in some other way to his or her course of study. The money can be used for expenses such as travel, materials/supplies or publication.


Oral Presentations
First place: Stephanie Anderson, Amy Wockenfuss
“Effects of Permethrin on Xenopus laevis Tadpoles”
Second place: Michaela Smith, Jose Delsi, Addy Wiswall and Seyoung Jeon
“Are We Represented? – An Analysis of the House of Representatives”
Poster Presentations
First place: Joseph Keryakos
“Genes and Health and their Linkage to Tooth Decay and Cavities”
Second place: Tess Durnin
“Artificial Dewlap Ornamentation in Anolis carolinensis”
Maris Grewe, a junior majoring in business management, from Aberdeen, S.D.
Grant total: $1,899
"œEnvironmental Sustainability: Millennial Students and Higher Education.€"
The project will examine how higher education influences the sustainability efforts of millennial college students. It will first evaluate students€™ current sustainability habits as well as their awareness of campus habits. The recycling program will be implemented, along with a marketing campaign. A post-survey will then determine if awareness was raised.
Sienna Marcott, a sophomore majoring in business management and entrepreneurial studies and minoring in biology with a biotechnology certification from Aberdeen, S.D.
Grant total: $2,820
"€œFungicidal Properties of Essential Oils and Secondary Metabolites against Fungal Strains Common to Damping-Off Disease.€"
Marcott aims to create an affordable, sustainable, agricultural-grade fungicide for the organic grower. "€œI hope that with the creation of this product, I can head a line of multiple organic agricultural applications that I would sell to horticulturists and farmers.€"


Ruth Kinyanjui, online management information systems major from Sioux Falls, S.D.
"Using Big Data and Business Intelligence to Optimize Digital Marketing for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs)."


Stephanie Iverson



Megan Czmowski, chemistry/chemistry education major from Rapid City, S.D.
Grant total: $1,200
"€œFor my research project, I will be comparing the susceptibility of bacteria to the antibiotic A23187 and an analog of this antibiotic. To compare the susceptibility I will use the program AutoDock to predict the best analog that can be created from A23187. Then I will take the results and synthesize the new analog using laboratory techniques. Finally, using the Kirby-Baur Diffusion Assay, I will compare the susceptibility of the bacteria to A23187 and the analog I created.€"


Aaron Kern, biology and chemistry major from Groton, S.D.
Lu Liu, chemistry and English major from Shanghai, China (team)
Grant total: $2,500
"€œThe name of our project is €˜Synthesis of Quinabactin and its derivatives for the study of increasing drought tolerances in plants.€™ Here is the abstract: according to research conducted by a group of Japanese and American scientists, plants such as corn, soy bean, and Arabidopsis thaliana treated with quinabactin are found to suppress water loss and possess higher drought tolerance. However, the low commercial availability and the high price of quinabactin renders further research on drought tolerance of plants a hard task. Our project aims at synthesizing quinabactin and its derivatives, which, if applied to certain crops, would enhance their ability to retain water during droughts. We have designed an economical route of synthesizing quinabactin and its derivatives, and are currently synthesizing intermediates. In vivo and in vitro tests will then be carried out to test the effectiveness of the chemicals after screening. By comparing the results of the in vivo and in vitro tests of derivatives with those of quinabactin, we should gain a greater understanding of the essential functional groups necessary for a molecule to have similar effects as quinabactin while reducing costs and time consumption for synthesis.€"


Nathan Roberts, environmental science major from St. Paul, Minn.
Grant total: $2,500
"€œWith my project, I am going to study the chironomid community of three waterways in Brown County. Chironomids are aquatic insects and are frequently the most abundant aquatic insect present near a waterway. They are used as a biological indicator to determine the health of the waterway, as certain species will thrive in only the very best water conditions, while other species will thrive in poor water conditions. So I am going to use the presence or absence of chironomid species near a waterway to determine the overall health of the aquatic community.€"



Michael Newman, history major from Vermont
(Noncompetitive grant)
Reconstructed his Jewish grandfather's journey through World War II Europe


Brock Rose, biology and biotechnology major from Newcastle, Wyo.
Grant total: $2,500
Analysis of Brown County waterways within a 30- to 40-mile radius of Aberdeen