Undergraduate Research Grant Recipients

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.
Spring 2020
Vanisa Petriti, a sophomore majoring in chemistry and medical laboratory science, from Korçë, Albania
Grant total: $2,500
"Synthesis and biological evaluation of sulfonamide thiazole derivatives as antibacterial agents"
Through her project, Petriti aims to create more effective antibmicrobials by synthesizing and testing derivatives containing a chemical group known as sulfonamide thiazole.  She has already generated several variations, which will be tested against several species of bacteria and fungi.  Likewise, the most successful compounds will be evaluated for safety in human kidney cells.   This research should shed light on the long-term usefulness of a promising new class of antimicrobials.
Fall 2019
Madison Rutter, a junior medical labratory and biology major, from Lakeville, Minn., and Shayla Steinley, a junior biology major with minors in chemistry and pyschology, from Lakeville, Minn.
Grant total: $2,500
"œThe Effects of CRISPER Cas-9 System on Progeny of Hereditary Parkinson's Disease in C. elegans."
The project will study the use of gene editing as therapy for treating Parkinson's disease. As proof of concept, the students will be studying this human disorder in the model organism C. elegans. Mutant strains of this nematode worm suffer an analogous disease when the Irk-1 gene is mutated. Two molecular biology techniques, CRISPER and RNA inference, will be used to edit the DNA sequence of Irk-1, restoring it to its unmutated, functional form. If successful, this should eliminate the disease symptoms in the worms, showing that this technology could be applied to humans suffering from Parkinson's disease. 
Spring 2019
Darcy Usher, a sophomore majoring in history and minoring in public history, from Sisseton, S.D.
Grant total: $2,000
"From Country Boy to Soldier: Discovering How To Tell The Story of William H. Daly"

The project will involve finding the best way to tell Daly’s story. Usher will write an academic paper, create a digital exhibit online, create a physical exhibit in the NSU Beulah Williams Library, and then measure which is the best way to get Daly’s information to the public.

Maida Walters, a senior majoring in English education and Spanish, from Lewiston, Mont.
Grant total: $2,300
“‘Yo Sí Puedo’: Improving Literacy among English Language Learners”
The project aims to test an innovative Cuban literacy methodology called the “Yo Sí Puedo (Yes I Can)” or ”YSP” method.
Spring 2017
Suzanne Higgins, a junior majoring in Management Information Systems, from Hilo, Hawaii
Grant total: $2,500
Her project aims to increase awareness and understanding of political and economic impacts of technological changes and Internet regulations.
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 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