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Kathy Denning
Office for Diversity in Science Training

KU, Haskell students to present research at annual symposium

Thu, 04/23/2020

LAWRENCE – Research on fruit fly development, traumatic brain injury, Kansas streams, fanged frogs and ancient migrations of indigenous communities will be among student research presented at the 20th annual University of Kansas-Haskell Indian Nations University Student Research Symposium. This year, due to the COVID-19 crisis, the symposium will be held as part of the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium hosted online by the KU Center for Undergraduate Research.

Twelve students supported by the Office of Diversity in Science Training (ODST) will present posters of their science and engineering research online starting April 25.

The presenters include undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students from both universities. They are scholars in programs funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that support and give opportunities to underrepresented students to pursue research careers in biomedical and behavioral sciences, including 500 Nations Bridge Collaboration: Haskell Indian Nations University/KU (Amy Burgin, KU-PI, and Melissa Holder, Haskell-PI), the KU Initiative for Maximizing Student Development Program (IMSD; Paulyn Cartwright and Paul Hanson, co-PIs) and the KU Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP; Gustavo Blanco, Adam Smith and Ilya Vakser, co-PIs). The Office for Diversity in Science Training (ODST) is led by Paulyn Cartwright, interim director.

Participants are listed below alphabetically:

Maya Bluitt, of Lenexa, is a senior at KU studying behavioral neuroscience. Bluitt is a scholar in the IMSD program and is mentored by Brian Ackley, associate professor of molecular biosciences.

Deanna Diaz, of Emporia, is a senior at KU studying chemical engineering with a biomedical concentration. Diaz is a scholar in the IMSD program and is mentored by Cory Berkland, Solon E. Summerfield Distinguished Professor.

Jasmine Deng, of Shawnee, has a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from KU. Jasmine is a scholar in the PREP program and is mentored by Randolph Nudo, professor of molecular and integrative physiology, and Heather Hudson, Graduate Study in Neurosciences.

Alexander Fulk, of Raytown, Missouri, has associate’s degrees in general sciences and general arts from Johnson County Community College and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from KU. Fulk is a scholar in the PREP program and is mentored by Weizhang Huang, professor of mathematics, and Folashade Agusto, assistant professor of ecology & evolutionary biology.

Mykka Juan, of Sells, Arizona, is a student at Haskell Indian Nations University studying natural science. Mykka is mentored by Sara Wilson, associate professor of mechanical engineering. Juan is affiliated with the Tohono O’odham Tribe.

Josie Muskrat, of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is a student at Haskell Indian Nations University studying environmental science and anthropological genetics. Muskrat is mentored by Jennifer Raff, associate professor of anthropology. Muskrat is affiliated with the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

Chloe O’Dell, of Lawrence, has bachelor’s degrees in psychology and women’s and gender studies from Vanderbilt University. O’Dell is a scholar in the PREP program and is mentored by Paula Fite, professor of psychology and applied behavioral science.

Rayanna Otterholt, of Gatesville, Texas, is a student at Haskell Indian Nations University studying environmental science. Otterholt is mentored by Rafe Brown, professor of ecology & evolutionary biology. Otterholt is affiliated with the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

Natasha Roman, of Yauco, Puerto Rico, has a bachelor’s degree in industrial microbiology from the University of Puerto Rico- Mayaguez. Roman is a scholar in the PREP program and is mentored by Eduardo Rosa-Molinar, professor of pharmacology & toxicology.

Kari Snelding, of Ponca City, Oklahoma, has a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Haskell Indian Nations University. Snelding is a scholar in the PREP program and is mentored by Amy Burgin, associate professor of ecology & evolutionary biology and environmental studies. Snelding is affiliated with the Kaw/Yup’ik Tribe.

Whitney Swaffar, of Slick, Oklahoma, is a student at Haskell Indian Nations University studying business administration. Swaffar is mentored by Meghan Davidson, assistant professor in the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing: Sciences and Disorders. Swaffar is affiliated with the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

Spencer Tye, of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, has associate’s degrees in biology and liberal arts from North Hennepin Community College and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Bemidji State University. Tye is a scholar in the PREP program and is mentored by Robert Ward, associate professor of molecular biosciences.



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