Carnegie Mellon University
June 10, 2019

MCS Undergraduates Present Their Research at the Meeting of the Minds

By Ben Panko

Last month, more than 100 undergraduate students from the Mellon College of Science presented their research at the annual Meeting of the Minds research symposium.

For many of them, the event offered an opportunity to share what made them so excited to pursue research as an undergraduate student in the first place.

"It's fun to be a part of a project where you can work on these big problems," rising chemistry senior Nelly Kowalewski said of her work in the lab of Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Sandra Kuhlman, where she tracked the visual acuity of mice through a variety of tasks.

The impact that their work could have on the real world was a common theme echoed by a number of students presenting their research this year.

"I care about the environment in my general life," graduating chemistry senior Sophia Zahn said of why she was interested in joining the lab of Associate Professor of Chemistry Kevin Noonan. In collaboration with the lab of Teresa Heinz Professor of Green Chemistry Terry Collins, Zahn worked on creating polymer-based TAML activator membranes that could filter endocrine-disrupting chemicals from drinking water. "I joined his lab because I wanted to do something."

"I really enjoy the medical aspect," graduating chemistry senior Wyatt Swift-Ramirez said of his research on bone regeneration with Assistant Professor of Chemistry Stefanie Sydlik. "It motivates me." Swift-Ramirez was one of many MCS students to be recognized with an award for their posters or presentations — his poster on implanting bioactive molecules into scaffolds to help speed up bones regrowth took second prize for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Award.

Other notable MCS winners included graduating biological sciences senior Cristina Bañuelos, who took first prize for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Award and the psychology department competition; rising chemistry junior William Fahy, who won the Undergraduate Environmental Research Award; and rising biological sciences seniors Puja Dutta and Isabel Yoon, who respectively took first and second prize in the Sigma Xi Competition.