Thao Huynh’s research project focused on the encapsulation of an anti breast cancer therapeutic.

A new water sampler for conducting water chemistry research; continuing studies on a delivery system for breast cancer therapeutics; and research on retirement planning, cyber warfare, and nursing students’ awareness of human trafficking were some of the 123 projects showcased during Niagara University’s annual Undergraduate Research Conference on May 3. The event, sponsored by NU’s Honors Program, highlights much of the scholarly work that takes place behind the scenes at Niagara, where faculty-guided undergraduate student research occurs at nearly twice the rate of that at other national institutions, according to National Survey for Student Engagement data.

Students at Niagara have the rare opportunity to work individually with a professor on their own original research,” said Dr. Michael Barnwell, professor of philosophy and director of the Honors program. “In fact, all honors students work, at minimum, for an entire year with a professor. The result is that they make significant contributions to their fields as undergraduates. Not only is this a great benefit to society in general, but it gives our graduates a significant advantage when applying for jobs or graduate schools.”

Kaleigh Block webKaleigh Block built a water sampler as part of her research on Fayetteville Green Lake, a meromictic lake with a hydrogen sulfide monimolimnion. Using her sampler, Block investigated the physical and chemical properties of a plate in Green Lake composed of green and purple sulfur bacteria.

According to Block, “The sampler will improve our ability to investigate the lake because we will obtain samples with more precision and control due to the microcontroller communicating data in real-time. This will also improve our existing sampling mechanisms because it permits sampling and data collection simultaneously. Deploying our device into the lake will allow us to attain a better understanding of the properties of the plate, and this is of importance because our findings may be used as a model for similar meromictic lakes.”

Thao Huynh’s project on the “Encapsulation and Delivery of Trastuzumab into human breast cancer cells using CholestosomeTM” focused on the encapsulation of an anti breast cancer therapeutic. “Our goal is to develop an oral delivery system for anti breast cancer therapeutics that minimize the pain and side effects of current delivery methods such as injections and chemotherapy,” she said. The patented CholestosomesTM, a neutral, lipid-based particle, was developed in Niagara University’s B. Thomas Golisano Center for Integrated Sciences.

Elizabeth Faxlanger examined the importance of retirement savings and financial literacy to determine the importance of incorporating financial literacy in education, even as early as in middle school. “If children are exposed to the importance of saving at a young age and being financially literate, they will better understand why it is important to put money away for retirement,” she concluded.

Caleb GoldfusCaleb Goldfus compared the capabilities, history, and potential of both government and private cyber operations to identify their weaknesses and possible changes and solutions that can be utilized to augment these operations.

Recognizing that human trafficking has become the second largest method of organized crime, and that nurses are often one of the only healthcare workers to encounter a victim while they are being held in captivity, Kaitlin Saywer surveyed 120 Niagara University nursing students to assess their knowledge, awareness, and feeling of preparedness regarding human trafficking. Sawyer noted that “All nurses can benefit from expanding their field of knowledge and training on this subject. This can often be a matter of life and death for most victims, and as nurses, it is our responsibility to do all that we possibly can to save them from their critical situation.”

Other notable projects that were presented Friday included Marissa Seib’s study of the U.S. mental health care system during the progressive era; Emily Steiner’s work in synthesizing a compound found in ginger as a potentially less-expensive antimalarial treatment; and Kaylyn Townsend’s look at the impact a one-day conference on local and national issues of race had on the 175 middle and high school students who attended.

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