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Three students win outstanding thesis award at Celebrating Scholarship & Creativity Day 2022

Three College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University students won the Outstanding Thesis Award at the opening event for Celebrating Scholarship and Creativity Day on April 21.

The students’ outstanding original research addressed key issues of concern today: the SARS virus, understanding climate change and infection to win this prestigious award.

The Undergraduate Research Faculty Advisory Committee unanimously agreed to award three students this honor. For context, this year’s distinguished thesis cohort included 17 students, which is one of the largest cohorts in recent years. The winners are:

  • Carly Mastrian – “The Influence of Emotions and Beliefs on the Comprehension of Texts About Climate Change,” Advisor: Dr. Catherine Bohn-Gettler
  • My (Anna) Nguyen – “The Development of Inhibitors for the SARS-CoV-2 ORF8,” Advisor: Dr. Lisa Gentile
  • Grace Savard – “A Public Health Approach to Understanding COVID-19: Recognizing the Biosocial Nature of Infection,” Advisor: Dr. Ellen Block

“The committee was impressed beyond measure that these three students were able to produce such high-quality, timely research in the midst of their college experience being so significantly impacted by the pandemic,” said Lindsey Gunnerson Gutsch, director of the office of undergraduate research and scholars.

These theses truly are exceptional and the best examples of what undergraduate research can look like for students here at CSB+SJU, she added.

Flash talks, spotlight recipients and posters

Celebrating Scholarship and Creativity Day draws significant participation from students and faculty as advisors and mentors on both campuses. Whether you walk through poster displays, watch Spotlight recipients’ 90-second video summaries of their work or see one of the so-called flash talks, you will be exposed to some of CSB+SJU students’ best research.

Four seniors presented this year’s Distinguished Thesis flash talks. These live events were condensed versions of their thesis defense and presented by:

  • Kayla O’Leary – “No Happy Endings: ​Anna May Wong’s American Film Roles from 1931-1942”
  • Carly Mastrian – “The Influence of Emotions and Beliefs on the Comprehension of Texts About Climate Change”
  • Grace Savard – “A Public Health Approach to Understanding COVID-19”
  • Hailee Thayer – “The Relationship Between Populism and Masculinity in Donald Trump’s Tweets”

Twelve students were selected as Spotlight recipients because they delivered “timely projects that exceed expectations,” and each project represented the ability to “Think Deeply.”

  • Jordan Anderson – “The Effects of Peppermint and Lavender Essential Oils on Strength & Power Performance”
  • Charis Birkholz – “Transcultural Intellectuals Throughout the Cultural Revolution in China”
  • Cate Doty, Claire Westby and Elise Weinzierl – “The Effects of Climate Change on the Future of Malaria”
  • Abby Goff – “The Post-Expansionist Profile of Russian President Vladimir Putin”
  • Megan Kohout – “Interactions of TUG-UBL1 and Insulin and Implications for Glucose Uptake”
  • Isaac Kubalak – “Mindfulness Meditation & Exercise Impact Stress, Anxiety, & Mindfulness in Students”
  • Jacob Minkkinen – “Repurposing SARS-CoV-2 Main protease tp bind to HIV-1 protease”
  • Dacoda Speidel – “Using EMG Signals to Control an Arduino Prosthetic Arm”
  • Sierra Trebesch – “Changes in Physical Activity and Sport Participation in College Alumni”
  • Elise Vomacka – “The Personality Profile of U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris in Office”