Three students supported by University Honors College research grants earn science and engineering scholarships

By: Staff   Aug 31, 2010

Students' undergraduate research projects give them an edge

ANCHORAGE, AK –Three students supported by University Honors College research grants were recently awarded National Consortium for Measurement and Signature Intelligence Research (NCMR) scholarship grants, disbursed by the National Science Foundation. This is the second year in a row that three UAA students received the awards. Three is the maximum number that can be nominated by a school per year, so to have all six from UAA receive the award in the span of two years is especially impressive.

Meagan Byrne, Mallory Givens and Alexandra West each received a scholarship grant of $10,000 for the 2010-2011 academic year to help with tuition, books and living expenses. All three students are members of the University Honors College and were selected in part because of significant undergraduate research experiences at UAA.
"Undergraduate research is a proven and powerful way to foster student success and it provides the competitive edge students need to attain their career goals,” said Ronald Spatz, dean of the University Honors College.  “We are very proud of the student/faculty partnerships that are being forged and expanded at UAA."

Below is a brief summary of each student’s current research and related accomplishments. Also included is the name of the student’s faculty mentor.

Meagan Byrne
is researching “The Effects of the Loss of Fence Function between Lung Epithelial Cells Exposed to Cigarette Smoke” supported by a UAA undergraduate research grant. The goal of her project is to determine the extent to which smoke from market-relevant cigarettes alters the fence function of tight junctions allowing the movement of proteins from the apical to the basal lateral side of the epithelial cell. She was also a recipient of an Alaska INBRE (IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence) summer fellowship.  Byrne is also an accomplished member of the UAA gymnastics team.  She was named to the 2010 Scholastic All-American Team by the National Association of Women's Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches. Byrne is mentored by Cindy Knall, a biomedical program assistant professor.

Mallory Givens
is researching “Developmental Changes in the Myosin Heavy Chain (MHC) Expression in Harp Seals” supported by a UAA Alaska Heart Institute Biomedical Research Fellowship. The specific aims of this study are to determine if the MHC expression in the heart ventricles of Harp seals change as they develop; and if so, whether the changes correlate with previously measured biochemical properties. Givens has recently been named to the University Honors College Student Advisory Board. She is mentored by Jennifer Burns, a biological sciences associate professor.

Alexandra West
is researching “Hydro Powered Fish Disposal on the Russian River” supported by a UAA undergraduate research grant.The goal of the project is to design a water powered fish grinder along the Russian River to allow fishermen to dispose of the fish remains with ease instead of leaving them near the riverbank where the carcasses attract bears and increase dangerous encounters between the bears and fishermen. Grinding the carcasses and returning them to the river produce another important benefit: nutrients will remain in the ecosystem.  West is also an accomplished member of the UAA Track & Field and Cross Country teams. She was one of seven Seawolves named to the GNAC All-Academic Team. West has recently been named to the University Honors College Student Advisory Board.  She is mentored by Tom Ravens, a civil engineering professor.

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Ann Marie Wawersik ● Office of University Advancement ● (907) 786-4840