Fall Undergraduate Research Fair showcases record-breaking number of presenters

The fall Vanderbilt Undergraduate Research Fair welcomed more than 500 guests and featured 212 undergraduate presenters in a variety of disciplines. The Nov. 9 event boasted the largest number of student presenters in the fall program’s history.

Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs C. Cybele Raver gave the keynote address, highlighting Vanderbilt’s commitment to discovery and the essential role of undergraduate students in the development of knowledge. She underscored how the event “epitomizes our commitment to fostering a culture of discovery, where students are equipped with the skills needed to address the world’s most pressing problems through groundbreaking research.”

Undergraduate students present their research at the 2023 Fall Undergraduate Research Fair.
Undergraduate students present their research at the 2023 Fall Undergraduate Research Fair. (Vanderbilt University)

Vanderbilt Undergraduate Research Fairs, put on in the fall and spring by the Office of Experiential Learning and Immersion Vanderbilt in the Office of the Provost, give undergraduates a place to present the original research that they conducted in collaboration with, or under the mentorship of, Vanderbilt faculty.

The diversity of topics reflects the breadth of research conducted by Vanderbilt’s undergraduate students, as well as their faculty mentors, and illustrates the ingenuity, scholarship and innovation that go on within and beyond campus.

“One of my favorite parts about research fair is the opportunity to learn about projects from various disciplines and engaging in conversation with students of different academic backgrounds,” said Nikita Rohila, a junior majoring in psychology and medicine, health and society. “During my poster session, I was able to connect with students, faculty and guest visitors by not only sharing the work I had been conducting over the past few months, but also by learning how the research connected with their daily lives.”

For the first time, the Office of Experiential Learning and Immersion Vanderbilt partnered with Vanderbilt Printing Services to pay for the printing of more than 100 professional-grade posters for student presenters. Associate Provost of Undergraduate Research Kathy Friedman led a panel of faculty and staff reviewers to evaluate the students’ posters. Eleven students were recognized with awards in four categories.

Fall 2023 Vanderbilt Undergraduate Research Fair awardees:

Basic and Natural Sciences

Awardee: Jakub Kubina, “Novel LRH-1 Endogenous Ligand Discovery Protocol”

Runner Up: Sara Hanna, “Isolation and Characterization of a New Set of Mutations in Core Spindle Pole Body Protein Ppc89 Leads to Mitotic Defects”

Runner Up: Sydney Hawkins, “MC3R Neurons Integrate Energy and Reproduction During Development”

Runner Up: Frank Zhou, “Improved Glucose Tolerance in Mice With a Pancreatic β-cell Knock-out of Ascl1”

Clinical and Translational Research

Co-awardee: Laura Wan, “Understanding M4 mAChR Regulation of Sleep-Wake Architecture in Young Mice”

Co-awardee: Emily Qian, “Characterization of immune cell populations and kinase activation in cell-free hemoglobin exposed lungs”

Engineering, Computer Science and Mathematics Including Data Science

Awardee: Abi Kothapalli, “Learning-Based Heuristic for Combinatorial Optimization of the Minimum Dominating Set Problem”

Runner Up: Gabriella Glomp, “Smart Blood Pump for Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)”

Social Sciences, Humanities and Public Health

Awardee: Sunny Gorrepati, “Language exposure in infancy and toddler expressive and receptive vocabulary”

Runner Up: Nikita Rohila, “A Linguistic Analysis of Psychosocial Factors in Sexual and Gender Minority Youth’s Positive and Negative Daily Experiences: A Daily Diary Study”

Runner Up: Yichi Zhang, “Extra-Axial Cerebrospinal Fluid Volume in Infancy and School-Age ADHD Symptomatology”