Matt Downen
Center for Undergraduate Research

KU junior receives Courtwright Award for Undergraduate Research Excellence

Fri, 12/09/2022

LAWRENCE — A University of Kansas student from Overland Park who is researching vocalizations in children with autism spectrum disorder is the recipient of the Courtwright Award for Undergraduate Research Excellence through KU’s Center for Undergraduate Research.

Mackenzie BravenceMackenzie Bravence is a junior in speech-language-hearing with a minor in applied behavioral science and certificate in learning and communication in children with autism. She is mentored by Jena McDaniel, postdoctoral researcher with the Life Span Institute.

“Children with autism are often less communicative in their vocalizations than their typically developing peers,” Bravence said. “My project looked at an intervention to increase communicativeness in their vocalizations. The long-term goal of this line of research is to increase the effectiveness of the interventions used with children with autism who are not yet talking.” A poster titled “Increasing Quality of Child Vocalizations to Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Examining Communicativeness” about her research can be found online in the 2022 Fall Undergraduate Research Showcase.

The Courtwright Award for Undergraduate Research Excellence was established at KU Endowment in 2020 through the contributions of David (c’74) and Chris Courtwright (c’83, j’83).  The Courtwright Award seeks to recognize undergraduate students with majors in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences whose research and creative work stand to make meaningful contributions to their fields of study.

Courtwright Award finalists are selected from applications for the Undergraduate Research Awards each semester. This is the fourth iteration of this award.

Other finalists for the Courtwright Award for fall 2022 :

  • Charlie Johnson, a sophomore from Lawrence, “Is the Druze a Sect of Islam? A Systematic Literature Review,” mentored by Rami Zeedan, assistant professor of Jewish studies
  • Rachell Orce, a junior from Manhattan, “Investigating Right-Wing Extremism in Former East Germany,” mentored by Andrea Meyertholen, associate professor of German studies.

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