Virtual Undergrad Research Conference Abstract Winners



Although our Spring Undergraduate Research Conference looks different this year, we still want to celebrate our amazing student researchers and the life-changing work they are performing.

We are proud of and grateful to every Purdue student, faculty, and staff member who helped make this year’s virtual conference possible. Thank you for proving just how persistent Boilermakers can be.

The following students have received top abstract awards in their respective fields for their research poster presentations.

Nathan Kanter
Mathematics and Computational Science

Nathan Kanter ’22, a current undergraduate researcher in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, was recently awarded top abstract for the category of mathematics and computational science in the 2020 Virtual Undergraduate Research Conference.


Nathan Kanter, currently majoring in data visualization, is pictured above.

Please summarize your research project in your own words.

“The purpose of my research is to determine if there is any connection between Systematic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and an adolescent’s progress through puberty. SLE is a rate autoimmune disease that can affect a variety of people on a spectrum of severity. The goal is to see if certain stages of puberty can have an effect on the symptom severity.”

What is the most exciting part about performing research?

“The most exciting part of performing research for me is the uncharted territory. The idea that you can discover something that is not yet know to the world is exciting. In addition, it could help others. This is a personal goal of mine at the end of the day.”

How has research shaped your undergraduate career?

“Research has given me a great way to see how my field of data visualization can be applied to the real world. It is giving me a better understanding of my school’s resources and allows me to better utilize certain processes and skills that I have learned in my courses.”

What advice do you have for students starting out in undergraduate research?

“The best advice I have for any researcher is to keep a tight schedule and not wait until the last minute to complete anything. It is difficult to stay on top of research between classes and extracurricular activities, making it extremely hard to catch back up once you fall behind.”

Jennine Bryan
Innovative Design and Entrepreneurship

Jennine Bryan ’20, a current senior studying speech, language, and hearing sciences at Purdue, was awarded top abstract for the category of innovative design, technology, and entrepreneurship in the 2020 Virtual Undergraduate Research Conference.


Jennine Bryan ’20 (far left) is pictured explaining a lab simulation to her fellow researchers.

Please summarize your research project in your own words.

“My project looked at the impact of virtual simulation-based training on the overall competence and clinical reasoning performance of graduate students in Purdue’s Dysphagia course. We had twelve speech-language pathology graduate students complete our simulation that included a simulated traumatic brain injury patient evaluation, and we collected data using a self-efficacy survey and various clinical evaluation forms. Results revealed an overall increase in confidence levels post-simulation, which means there’s potential for it to be used in future Dysphagia classes at Purdue.”

What is the most exciting part about performing research?

“The most exciting thing about performing research is seeing the short term effects that your project has and thinking about the long-term implications. Research takes time, so finally being able to see the impact is amazing.”

How has research shaped your undergraduate career?

“My involvement in research has led to so many valuable opportunities inside and outside the lab. I have built relationships with other researchers who have supported me throughout my undergraduate career and helped me figure out which topics I’m interested in. Research opened so many new doors and is what finalized my plan to attend graduate school.”

What advice do you have for students starting out in undergraduate research?

“The best advice I have for any researcher is to keep a tight schedule and not wait until the last minute to complete anything. I”I recommend getting out of your comfort zone and taking on projects that may seem daunting. Research isn’t about exploring areas you’re already really familiar with, but more about becoming excited about the new topics you’ll explore. Be confident in your abilities and try something new!”

Morgan Boncyk
Humanities, Social Sciences, and Education

Morgan Boncyk ’20, a current undergraduate research studying nutrition science in the Purdue College of Health and Human Sciences, was awarded top abstract for the category of humanities, social sciences, and education in the 2020 Virtual Undergraduate Research Co


Morgan Boncyk ’20 is pictured presenting her research poster earlier this year.

Please summarize your research project in your own words.

“My undergraduate research project is investigating the role siblings have in infant and young child feeding and care practices in rural Mara, Tanzania. Interventions targeting infant care have focused on mothers, and while they are beginning to expand the role of other caregivers, the role of siblings has yet to be examined. Proposing to fill this gap, I have been working to understand the type of care and why siblings are involved in infant care.”

What is the most exciting part about performing research?

“Performing research has allowed me to see information learned in the classroom can be applied to a global world perspective. Knowing my research question is something not studied before helps me to see the work is meaningful. I am excited about the possibility that it will help guide future research.”

How has research shaped your undergraduate career?

“Involvement in research has helped me combine my passions into a future career field. With a wide array of interests, undergraduate research has allowed me to understand how those areas can be incorporated together. This gives me a starting point in global health, providing me a platform I can launch from after completion of my education.”

What advice do you have for students starting out in undergraduate research?

“Take advantage of the resources and knowledge of those around you. Ask questions, and understand why things are being done that way. Just because you might be the lowest in ranking does not mean that your voice needs to be diminished. Get elbow-deep in your involvement and do something you genuinely enjoy, this will likely be a significant time investment, worth every minute.”

“We have expanded our goals to include much more community outreach, both here at Purdue and in Kenya,” says Aayush ’21, a mechanical engineering junior. “We want to spread awareness of the benefits of our “modified kitchens” and educate people in Nandi on how to build and maintain them. We have received a lot of interest from students at Moi and are hoping to work with them in the future.

“On the technical side of things, we are looking into alternative fuel sources, such as biogas, that could supplement the firewood. If these fuels are eventually adopted, the amount of smoke generated inside of the kitchens would greatly reduce.”

Kylie Smith and Carissa Gettelfinger
Physical Sciences

Kylie Smith ’23 and Carissa Gettelfinger, undergraduate researchers studying biochemistry at Purdue, were awarded top abstract for the category of physical sciences in the 2020 Virtual Undergraduate Research Conference.


Kylie Smith ’21 is pictured presenting a research poster on liquid crystals.

The following quotes were provided by Kylie Smith.

Please summarize your research project in your own words.

“The Schmidt lab is working to develop sustainable, non-toxic glue made from corn protein. Carissa and I have been testing the strength of the glue over time.”

What is the most exciting thing about performing research?

“Research is exciting for me because it’s challenging. It stretches me to come up with creative solutions to problems and learn more about topics I might otherwise skip over.”

How has research shaped your undergraduate career?

“Doing research makes my other classes more exciting. It helps me make connections between what I’m learning in class and how it will be useful to me later.”

What advice do you have for students just starting out in undergraduate research?

“When I started out, I was nervous that I would mess up or not know enough about the subject. So I would tell others not to worry about what they don’t know because the point is to learn anyway!”



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