NASCA Award Winners 2022

The purpose of this award is to support undergraduate student research and creativity at the State University of New York at Fredonia. The student(s) receiving awards from the fund must be enrolled as full-time students at Fredonia and must be incoming Sophomores, Juniors, or Seniors. Awardees are required to present their work at the annual OSCAR Student Research and Creativity Exposition. If selected, students will receive their award in the Fall 2021 semester and must be able to fulfill their objectives by the following Spring in order to share their work at the OSCAR Exposition.

Evaluation Criteria

1. Potential of the proposed project to advance applicant knowledge in his/her field through research or creation of new work.

2. Clarity and completeness of the project description.

3.  Appropriateness of outcome and activities as related to the duration of the project and the requested funds.

Congratulations to our Fredonia students who won!

Below you will find a detailed description of the project each Awardee submitted.

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Colm Roster

Tenodera sinensis, commonly known as the Chinese mantis is an insect that experiences sexual cannibalism where the female consumes the male before, during, or after copulation. In some breeding seasons, males make up a large part of the female diet. Although the female seemingly benefits from this sexual relationship, the evolutionary maintenance is poorly understood. It is unclear whether this relationship is an example of sexual conflict or if the male is complicit in his cannibalization. We are attempting to identify and use polymorphic microsatellite loci to experimentally measure the male mating frequency. This will allow us to track the changes in male mating frequency through breeding seasons and therefore further understand this unique sexual relationship. 

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Esmeiry Ventura

"Inflammation is the normal immune response to fight infection, however chronic inflammation is detrimental and associated with various diseases such as autoimmune diseases, cancer and COVID-19. Small molecule compounds that can inhibit inflammation are of significant scientific interest. Food-derived peptides can exhibit anti-inflammatory properties with limited side effects. Previous reports have shown that the potato-derived peptide DIKTNKPVIF has anti-inflammatory properties. In this work, we investigated the ability of the potato derived DIKTNKPVIF (P1) to inhibit lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced inflammatory response. "

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Jacob King

This project considers how do-it-yourself publishing impacts a culture. Spending time with the mimeograph, punk rock zines, and localized art communities, the research views artmaking in an interdisciplinary way, correlating a community's media representations with its overall ethos. What similarities does a Beat-era chapbook have with a D.C. punk fanzine? Exploration across literary movements and musical subcultures will influence the design of an original publication, which will draw from our own time and place, to conclude the project.

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Alexander Mathewson

Involvement of Barentsz in gurken mRNA Translation in D. melanogaster

Gurken is a signal molecule responsible for dorsal/ventral patterning of the Drosophila melanogaster oocyte. During oogenisis, gurken (grk) mRNA must be localized to the dorsal-anterior corner of the oocyte before undergoing translation; a lack of translation results in ventralized eggshells. The Ferguson Lab recently identified Barentsz (Btz) as a suppressor of the ventralized phenotype. Btz is a core component of the Exon Junction Complex, but little else is known about the protein’s role in translation. To characterize this novel interaction between Btz and grk mRNA, we are currently working to optimize the immunoprecipitation of a Btz-GFP chimera. Once the immunoprecipitation assay is functional, qRT-PCR will be performed on the resulting precipitate to quantify the amount of grk mRNA associated with Barentsz.

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Caitlin Snyder

Inhibition of Neutrophil Extracellular Traps to prevent vascular inflammation


Neutrophils are the most abundant white blood cells in circulation. As part of their innate
defense mechanisms to protect the host from microbes, neutrophils release extensions of their
cellular structure called neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs). However, NETs formation has
been described as a double-edged sword and NET products increase adhesion of white blood
cells to the vasculature and thereby cause blockade of the vasculature. Hence, NET formation
can exacerbate the inflammatory response and contribute to the pathology of several diseases
including sepsis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, cancer and COVID-19. In this project, we will
investigate the role of NETs in increasing adhesion of white blood cells in the vasculature using
static and flow cell culture methods. Our goal is to use small molecule inhibitors of NET
formation to prevent damage to the vasculature caused by the formation of NETs.

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