Graduate School’s Sesquicentennial celebration showcases interdisciplinary student research

The Vanderbilt Graduate School showcased groundbreaking research by 10 exceptional students—from prenatal diets and diabetes in babies, to opinions on immigration, to how brains respond to cocaine on a cellular level—in the Sesquicentennial Scholarship Exhibition on Feb. 15 at Alumni Hall.

The students, from a variety of disciplines, gave engaging five-minute lightning talks to an audience of faculty, staff and students who gathered to celebrate excellence in graduate student research.

“The quality and diversity of research showcased at the Sesquicentennial Scholarship Exhibition underscores the role of graduate student research in shaping the scholarly landscape,” said C. André Christie-Mizell, vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate School. “Their endeavors exemplify Vanderbilt’s dedication to nurturing student scholarship that not only advances knowledge but also addresses society’s most pressing challenges.”

After the lightning talks, Darian Carroll, Alexander Tripp and José Zepeda emerged as prize winners for their outstanding presentations, each demonstrating remarkable contributions to their respective fields.

Carroll, a fifth-year student in molecular physiology and biophysics, presented research on how maternal diet during pregnancy impacts offspring susceptibility to diabetes and obesity. Tripp, a fourth-year political science student, discussed how understanding shifts in public opinion regarding immigration. Zepeda’s research focused on how specific brain receptors influence locomotion during cocaine exposure.

In recognition of their outstanding work, all three students will receive $250 and be featured in a video on the Graduate School website showcasing their research. Their work will be included in a V150 Graduate School time capsule for opening in 50 years, and they will be honored at the Graduate School’s Honors Banquet in March.

The Sesquicentennial Scholarship Exhibition serves as a reminder of the enduring legacy of student research and exemplifies the university’s steadfast commitment to fostering the next generation of scholars.

Top Ten Finalists

*Darian Carroll, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

Stacey Carter, Nursing Science

Kelly Cunningham, Philosophy

Sophia Kekes-Szabo, Hearing and Speech Sciences

Yinru Long, Psychology

Nicole Muszynski, Biomedical Engineering

Preeti Nambiar, Political Science

Rachel Siegman, Teaching, Learning and Diversity

*Alexander Tripp, Political Science

*José Zepeda, Pharmacology

*Denotes final three