Lewis Students Explore Solutions to Current Societal Issues

Lewis University Students Explore Solutions to Current Societal Issues

Published: September 20, 2023.



Reducing disease spread in healthcare settings, firearm safety education, and creating more efficient semiconductor manufacturing processes are just a few of the research topics undertaken by 13 Lewis University students this summer.

The biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, engineering, and physics undergraduate students participated in the Dr. James Girard Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE).  

The collaborative experience includes working one-on-one with a faculty mentor, and offers an experiential learning environment that accelerates their research careers, with many students presenting their outcomes at conferences and/or via publications.

Students researched a variety of topics:

  • Elisa Morales, a biochemistry major, presented “Characterizing Biogenic MnOx Particles Produced by Pseudomonas putida MnB1 and its Catalytic Activity Towards Water Oxidation” with faculty mentor Dr. Kari Stone, associate professor of chemistry.
  • Kristen Ess, who is majoring in physics, researched “A Mathematical Model of Disease Spread Incorporating the Environment and Interactions in Healthcare Settings” with faculty mentor Dr. Cara Sulyok, assistant professor of mathematics.
  • Nina Demma, an environmental science major, presented “Using Molecular Approach to Compare Bacterial Communities Found in Zebra Mussels and Daphnia Microbiomes” with faculty mentor Dr. Jerry Kavouras, professor of biology.
  • Daisy Collazo, who is majoring in criminal justice, presented “Firearm Safety Education in Perinatal and Pediatric Settings” with faculty mentor Dr. Hannah Klein, assistant professor of justice, law, and public safety.
  • Aiysha Shamsi, a biology major, researched “Evaluating Cyclin D3 as a Transcriptional Regulator During Neutrophil Differentiation” with faculty mentor: Dr. Sarah Powers, professor of biology.
  • Jacob Prince, a mathematics and computer science major, presented “An Application of Optimal Control Theory to a Compartmental Model of COVID-19 Transmission” with faculty mentor Dr. Brittany Stephenson, assistant professor of mathematics.
  • Tatiana Cahue, who is a chemistry major, presented research on “Stimuli-Responsive CeO2 Removal via Surface Redox Modulation During Shallow Trench Isolation (STI) post-Chemical Mechanical Planarization (p-CMP)” with faculty mentor Dr. Jason Keleher, professor of chemistry.
  • Austin Rockaitis, a biochemistry major, presented “Synthesizing and Modifying ASOs by Replacing Oxygen with Sulfur to Produce ASOs with Better Binding Efficiencies and Greater Stability” with faculty mentor Dr. Daniel Kissel, associate professor of chemistry.
  • Caitlin Lamirez, a major in computer science, researched “Multidimensional Analysis of an RNA Dataset using High-Performance Computers” with faculty mentor Dr. Michael Lewis, assistant professor of computer science.
  • Laila Mahrat, who is majoring in both mathematics and data science, presented “Impartial Geodetic Achievement and Avoidance Games Played on Connected Graphs” with faculty mentor Dr. Marie Meyer, assistant professor of mathematics.
  • Anthony DiBenedetto, a computer science and data science major, researched “Application of Machine Learning for Optimization and Rapid Process Development in Atomic Layer and Chemical Vapor Depositions” with faculty mentor Dr. Sam Abuomar, professor of data science.
  • Rebecca Rozhon, a biology student, presented her research “Copper Chelation via Quinolines as a Therapeutic Approach in a C. elegans model of Alzheimer’s Disease” with faculty mentor Dr. Mallory Havens, associate professor of biology.
  • David Abrutis, who is majoring in computer science, researched “Verilog to Rust Translator” with faculty mentor Dr. Lucien Ngalamou, professor of computer science.

The Dr. James Girard Summer Undergraduate Research Experience is named after Lewis University alumnus Dr. James Girard. The Joliet native is currently a professor of chemistry at American University in Washington, D.C. He attended Cathedral of St. Raymond School and Joliet Catholic High School before earning his Lewis University bachelor’s degree in chemistry, cum laude.

Lewis University is an innovative Catholic university offering market-relevant undergraduate and graduate programs to 6,500 students. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis University is nationally recognized for preparing intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, and globally-connected graduates who impact the world for the better. Visit www.lewisu.edu for further information.



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