COS students put their research excellence on display

Discover 2023 Student Research Symposium draws more than 100 entries

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2023 • Greg Pederson :


The research excellence of College of Science students was on dazzling display during the Discover 2023 Student Research Symposium on April 21.

The annual event, which gives students the opportunity to present their research posters and compete for cash prizes, drew a record number of entries this year, with 106 projects featured. The students submitted their posters online along with videos where they explained their research.

A panel of UTA faculty, alumni and area industry professionals served as judges. They conducted online reviews of all the entries and from these rankings, five undergraduate and five graduate finalists were named. On April 21, all of the participants displayed their posters for the public in the Chemistry and Physics Building and the Chemistry Research Building.

This was followed by presentations by each of the 10 finalists in the UTA Planetarium. A final round of judging, provided by a special panel of COS alumni and administrators, determined the final results, which were announced immediately following the presentations.

We’re so proud of our students for all the fantastic research they’re doing,” said Laura Mydlarz, COS associate dean for academic affairs. “There is incredible research happening in the College of Science, and this event is such a great way to showcase that amazing work. Congratulations to the winners and all the finalists, and to all our students who entered the symposium.

Enakshi Dey, a first-year doctoral student in physics, won first prize in the graduate division for her project, “RF Carpets for Ion Transport in Gaseous Xenon.” Her faculty advisor is Ben Jones, associate professor of physics.

Firstly, I would mention this was my first poster presentation and I really enjoyed doing it,” Dey said. “The fact that it was a competition made me even more enthusiastic about it. Presenting it in the Planetarium was also a different kind of experience. I felt like I am somewhere in the galaxy trying to answer one of the biggest mysteries of the universe.

Biology student Juanita Bailey earned first prize in the undergraduate division for her project, “Pesticide Degradation Through the Free-Living Bacteria Burkholderia.” Her faculty advisor is Alison Ravenscraft, assistant professor of biology.

It was exciting getting to share the research I’ve been a part of for over a year now,” Bailey said. The experience at the Discover symposium was extremely rewarding as I got to share my research and had the opportunity to learn about the many other exciting projects on our campus.

Serving as judges for the final presentations were: COS Dean Morteza Khaledi; Associate Dean Todd Castoe; Distinguished Alumnus Michael Ray (B.S., M.A., Ph.D. Mathematics), chair of the COS Advisory Council; Distinguished Alumnus Wes Wampler (M.S. Chemistry, Ph.D. Applied Chemistry); and alumnus James Wu (Ph.D. Chemistry).

First-place recipients each received $500, with $400 for second place, $300 for third, $200 for fourth, and $100 for fifth place. Funds for the cash awards came courtesy of the generosity of the College of Science Advisory Council.

Top graduate division award winners include:

First Place Enakshi Dey, physics

Faculty mentor: Ben Jones 

Project title: RF Carpets for Ion Transport in Gaseous Xenon


Second Place Julieta Trejo, psychology

Faculty mentor: Yuan Bo Peng 

Project title: Anti-nociception induced by high-intensity electrical brain stimulation 


Third Place Ayesha Ali Khan, chemistry and biochemistry

Faculty mentor: Byung Ran So

Project title: Establishing diadenosine tetraphosphate (Ap4A) hydrolase CRISPR/Cas9 knockout system to study the role of Ap4A in cells


Fourth Place Cindy Lou Skipper and Diana Valenzuela Davila, Earth and environmental science 

Faculty mentor: Nathan Brown

Project title: Comparing Burial Ages for Quartz and K-feldspar Grains from Permafrost Rivers in Alaska


Fifth Place Ashley Alfred, mathematics

Faculty mentor: Jianzhong Su

Project title: Peak Identification Using KS-test and Probability Distributions


Top undergraduate division award winners include:


First Place Juanita Bailey, biology

Faculty mentor: Alison Ravenscraft

Project title: Pesticide Degradation Through the Free-Living Bacteria Burkholderia


Second Place Patrick Sumner, Earth and environmental science

Faculty mentor: Arne Winguth

Project title: Climatic Variables that Affect the Air Quality in Dallas-Fort Worth During Drought, with an Analysis of the Urban Heat Island


Third Place Spencer Catherine Reiling, biology

Faculty mentor: Woo-Suk Chang

Project title: Investigation of potential glufosinate-degrading ability of N-fixing soil bacteria


Fourth Place Jason Bard, mathematics

Faculty mentor: Pedro Maia

Project title: Diagnosing Autism using individual brain regions from rs-fMRIs


Fifth Place Ana Gonzalez Ledesma, chemistry and biochemistry

Faculty mentor: Krishnan Rajeshwar

Project title: The synergistic effect of Ca/Cu mixing in ternary oxide photoanodes for solar water splitting



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