The State of NC Undergraduate Research & Creativity Symposium



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NOON – 12:50 P.M.

Everyone Choose a Topic!


ROOM 3: Applying to Graduate Schools and Funding Assistantships: David M. Shafer and Johnna Watson

David Shafer became Assistant Dean of the Graduate School at NC State University in January 2003. He is responsible for oversight of fellowship and traineeship programs, recruitment initiatives, and professional development activities. He serves as Director of the NC State University Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program, a diversity initiative funded by the National Science Foundation. He also is president of the NC State Chapter of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.

Dr. Shafer began working with the Graduate School after receiving his B.A. in political science at UNC-Chapel Hill in 1990. After serving 6 years as Coordinator of the Colloquium on Issues in Graduate Education and as Graduate School Fellowship Coordinator, he was appointed as Director of Fellowship Programs in 1996. While in that position, he earned both a master's degree in political science and Ph.D. in public administration from NC State University.

Johnna Watson is the Associate Dean of the Graduate School for Enrollment Management and Information Systems at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In that capacity, she oversees the recruitment, admissions, and enrollment of all graduate students, and works with other colleagues to both study and improve graduate student retention. She also co-chaired the University's recent migration to the Banner Student information system and is integrally involved in all aspects of automating systems that support graduate education. A member of the UNC Charlotte Chapter of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, Ms. Watson earned her master's degree in Counseling from UNC Charlotte in 1996 and began work on her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction at UNC Charlotte in 2003. She began working in higher education in 1989 at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, and has been at UNC Charlotte since 1993.


ROOM 5: Student to Student: What I Did This Vacation: Summer Research Opportunities for Undergraduates

Moderation by: Joseph Babcock, Duke University; participants are Myung Ko, Duke University, Sarah Wallace, Duke University, Saket Vora, NCSU and Yifan Xu, Duke University.

This panel will be a representation of summer research programs from the student perspective. Panel members, all undergraduates, participated in a diversity of fields: biology, engineering and policy. In this session, the undergraduates will discuss summer fellowships in a number of fields, including good places to find programs, what to expect, and tips for making the best of a relatively brief research experience.

Joseph Babcock is a senior at Duke University where he is majoring in biology and chemistry. A recipient of a 2006-07 Goldwater Scholarship, Joseph has conducted summer research at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia on microRNA biogenesis and studied allergic asthma immunology at the University of Connecticut Health Science Center. Outside the laboratory, he has edited both Duke's undergraduate science research journal and the sci-fi literary magazine, and is helping to design a high school course on infectious disease with a research group in the Department of Pharmacology. He plans to study neurodegeneration in graduate school.

Myung Ko is a senior at Duke University majoring in biology. She has spent the past 2 years studying the adhesion of red blood cells to endothelial cells in sickle cell disease. At Duke, she has participated in the Howard Hughes Research Fellows Program as well as the Howard Hughes Summer Scholars Program, and has received the Deans’ Summer Research Fellowship to support her research interests. She is also a second-time recipient of the American Society of Hematology Trainee Award, an award typically given to medical students pursuing research in hematology. She has presented her research at the 2005 Annual American Society of Hematology meeting, and will attend this year’s annual meeting to present her newest findings.

Saket Vora is a senior in electrical engineering with an interest in analog electronics. He spent this past summer at the University of Maryland-College Park taking part in their MERIT REU program in Electrical & Computer Engineering. With a partner from the University of Illinois-Chicago, Saket worked in a state-of-the-art high frequency laboratory researching how high powered microwave wideband interference can disrupt electronics, particularly computer power supplies. His research project took 1st Prize at the research symposium that concluded the REU experience. At N.C. State, Saket has done an independent study on analog signal processing and is currently helping an RF research group construct an anechoic chamber for a new series of experiments.

Sarah Wallace (Duke '08) is a Public Policy major from Virginia Beach, VA. Sarah has been involved in independent research at Duke since her freshman year. Originally a science major, Sarah conducted a project in synthetic organic chemistry in Fall 2005, and a project in evolutionary biology under a Howard Hughes grant in Summer 2005. She presented the latter project at the first annual ACC Meeting of the Minds Research Conference in Clemson, SC, in April 2005. Since then, her interests have shifted towards science policy, and last summer she became involved in research at Duke's Center for Genome Ethics, Law & Policy (GELP) via an NSF grant. Sarah spends her free time as a teaching assistant for an introductory policy analysis course, as chair of news for Cable 13, and as a member of the film crew for Duke's football team.

Yifan Xu is a Duke University senior majoring in Biology with a concentration in neuroscience. She has conducted research at Baylor College of Medicine, Duke University, and the University of Minnesota. Through funding by REU, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and NIH training grants, she has worked on projects as diverse as looking at the influence of neurosteroids on male infertility, creating a mouse model for retrograde tracing of neuronal synapses, looking at the interaction between ubiquitin and mutant proteins involved in neurodegeneration, and using in-vivo imaging techniques to search for odorant receptor ligands. She is currently working in the Department of Anesthesiology to help elucidate nociception pathways in Drosophila.


ROOM 6: Careers in Medicine and Applying to Medical School: Anita Flick, James G. Peden and Brenda Latham-Sadler

Anita Flick, MD/Ph.D. is the director of Health Professions Advising Center at NC State University (Health PAC) and is an Assistant Teaching Professor in Biology and Zoology. As the director, Dr. Flick is responsible for assisting all current, graduate, and post-baccalaureate students as well as alumni interested in pursuing a health care career in guiding and compiling their portfolio and subsequently submitting their application. The advising center and its program provide numerous resources for students including a library, workshops and programs on medical specialties, writing, interviewing, an extensive informational website, personalized advising assistance and much more. Dr. Flick also serves as the Chair of the Health Profession Review Committee that reviews applicants and submits a university review and recommendation to the applicant’s chosen programs in medicine, dentistry and optometry. Dr. Flick is a graduate of NCSU. She received her medical degree from the UNC School of Medicine (Family Medicine) and then performed her PhD work at Wake Forest University in Physiology and Pharmacology. She worked for Family Health International, USAID and WHO in clinical trials development and continues to consult on several clinical research projects in reproductive health, family planning and STD prevention.  

James Peden, Jr. is Professor of Internal Medicine and Professor of Psychiatric Medicine at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, and serves as Associate Dean for Admissions. Under his direction, the Admissions Committee selects 72 students for each year's entering class from an applicant pool that typically numbers over 700. Dr. Peden is board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians as well as a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He is past-president of the Association of Medicine and Psychiatry, and has over 50 published articles, chapters, and abstracts. He maintains an active medical / psychiatric practice, and has been an invited speaker at numerous national, regional, and local CME events.

Brenda Latham-Sadler is a 1978 graduate of Pace University in New York, NY and received her M.D. degree from the Bowman Gray School of Medicine of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC in 1982. She completed a Family Medicine internship at Georgetown University at Washington, DC and returned to Winston-Salem, NC to complete a Family Medicine residency at North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Bowman Gray School of Medicine in 1983.

After three years of private practice Dr. Latham-Sadler returned to the medical center as an Assistant Professor of Family and Community Medicine and the Director of the Third Year Family Medicine Clerkship. She has remained very active in clinical teaching and student activities. She is a member of the Southern Region National Association of Medical Minority Educators (NAMME), minority affairs representative to the Association of American Medical Colleges, Executive Committee of Forsyth Stokes Medical Society, Youth Opportunities Executive Committee and the Foundation Board of Appalachian State University. Clinical activities primarily focus on General Family Practice with an interest in hypertension and women’s care. Dr. Latham-Sadler has been involved with the Women and Minorities Committee, Physician Assistant Advisory Committee, Liaison Committee on Medical Education and Faculty Advisor to the Bowman Gray Chapter of the Student National Medical Association among other involvements.


ROOM 7A: Preparing for National Fellowships: Jennie LaMonte

Jennie LaMonte serves as the Fellowship Advisor for NC State students who are pursuing candidacy in major national and international competitions. She assists in formulating a strategic plan, selecting appropriate programs, and preparing successful application packages, as well as works with granting entities to keep them abreast of advances at NC State. Her professional career has been spent in academic administration and teaching. Before coming to NC State she was Assistant Senior Tutor of Dudley House and Teaching Fellow in History, both at Harvard University. Jennie earned an AB in Art History at Wellesley College, an MA in History from Lehigh University, and an AM in History at Harvard University. She is in the completion phase of her PhD dissertation on the history of the eighteenth-century colony of Louisiane, also at Harvard University.


ROOM 7B: Integrating teaching and research: Dr. Mary Crowe and Dr. Karl Sienerth

Dr. Mary L. Crowe is the Director, Office of Undergraduate Research at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. After receiving here B.S. in Biology from Eureka College she earned both a M.S. and Ph.D in Biological Sciences from Northern Illinois University. From 1994 to 2004 Dr. Crowe taught at Coastal Carolina University and involved more than 30 undergraduate students in her research on the behavioral ecology of ghost and fiddler crabs. Many of her students have gone on to graduate school and gained employment in the biology field. From 2004 to January of 2006 she was the director of the Center for Undergraduate Research at Xavier University of Louisiana. She has been at UNCG since February 2006.

Karl D. Sienerth received his BS degree in chemistry and mathematics from Pfeiffer College (now University) in 1985 and his Ph.D. in analytical chemistry in 1992 from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  He immediately began teaching and doing research with undergraduates at the Virginia Military Institute in fall of 1992, and was awarded the Thomas Jefferson Young Teacher Award at VMI in 1995.  He began teaching at Elon University (then College) in the fall of 1998, following a term as Summer Research Faculty member at the Naval Research Labs in the summer of that year.  In his third year at Elon, Dr. Sienerth was awarded the inaugural J.E. Rawls Professorship for Undergraduate Research in the Sciences, and currently maintains a half teaching load while serving half time as the Director of Elon’s Undergraduate Research Program.  In his 13-year career, Dr. Sienerth has mentored 30 students in undergraduate research, resulting in several peer-reviewed publications with student co-authors and many presentations at regional and national professional meetings.  He has been a member of Elon’s Undergraduate Research Program Advisory Committee since 2000, has been a member of CUR since 1999, and is currently a CUR councilor in the new Undergraduate Research Program Director Division.


ROOM 8A: Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math: Nicole Bennett and Patricia A. Peroni

Nicole Bennett is a professor of Organic Chemistry at Appalachian State University.  After receiving a B.S. in Chemistry at UNC-Chapel Hill, she earned a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin- Madison in 1996.  Following graduate school, Dr. Bennett taught at Hope College in Holland, MI for six years.  She left the mid-west to become a professor at Appalachian in the Fall of 2002. Over the past ten years she has mentored more than thirty college and high school students in research and received the 2nd Annual Indiana University Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research.  She has recently been assigned as the Research Development Officer for the Sciences at Appalachian.  In this role she works with faculty teams to target funding sources and develop ideas for submission of interdisciplinary research proposals.  She also directs the Appalachian Merck/AAAS Cross-disciplinary (MAC) Scholars Program which funds undergraduate research at the interface of Biology and Chemistry. 

Patricia A. Peroni is Associate Professor of Biology at Davidson College in North Carolina. She received a B.A. in Biology from SUNY College at Plattsburgh and a Masters of Library Science from SUNY Albany. During a six-year career as a reference librarian at Bucknell University, she completed an MS in Biology. Her work at Bucknell led her back to biology, and she entered the Ph.D. program in Botany at Duke University and completed her degree in 1991. She joined the faculty at Davidson in 1992 after a one year visiting appointment at UNC Greensboro. At Davidson she teaches introductory biology, ecology, biostatistics and experimental design, dendrology, and writing intensive seminars on plant conservation biology and medicinal plants. Her research focuses on the ecology of seed banks. Dr. Peroni has had a long affiliation with the University of Virginiašs Mountain Lake Biological Station, and helped found the stationšs NSF funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates program and coordinated that program for the first three years of its existence.


ROOM 8B:  Intellectual Property Rights, Patents, Copywriting, Idea Incubation, Start-Ups: Stephen J. Walsh and Mark Lavender

Dr. Stephen J. Walsh, PE is a Teaching Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. He is responsible for teaching undergraduate courses and a special section of Senior Design called the Engineering Entrepreneurs Program ( In January of 1997, he co-founded BOPS, Inc. BOPS designed and developed ultra-high speed digital signal processors. He served as its President and CEO for the first two years and was responsible for business planning, corporate formation, and obtained seed-round funding of $3M with a follow-on round of $9M. Prior to this, Dr. Walsh’s technical career was with IBM where he did IC design, performed software testing, and did presales field application engineering. While at IBM, he was awarded IBM’s Resident-Study scholarship and completed his MS and PhD degrees in EE at Duke University.

Atty. Mark Lavender is the Chief Technology Officer of Neopatents (formerly Spore, Inc.) a patent intelligence and software company in Raleigh, NC ( Mr. Lavender spearheads the innovation and evolution of the company's proprietary patent design, search, and analysis software and leads the company in helping clients with patent research, analytics, design, and intellectual property management strategies. He is also a licensed patent attorney with the NC Bar and the US Patent and Trademark Office. Mr. Lavender has experience in the mechanical, biomedical, electrical, software, textile, and pulp/paper disciplines. Prior to joining Neopatents, he worked as an engineer for Aastrom Biosciences, Inc., a biotechnology company. Mr. Lavender obtained a bachelor's (mechanical engineering) from the University of Michigan and a master's degree (biomedical engineering) and a law degree from Duke University. He is a member of the American Intellectual Property Law Association, the American Bar Association, the NC Bar Association, the Triangle Intellectual Property Law Association, the Council for Entrepreneurial Development, the NC Biotechnology Center, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Bar Association, the NC Bar Association, the Triangle Intellectual Property Law Association, the Council for Entrepreneurial Development, the NC Biotechnology Center, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.


ROOM 9: Participating in the new Undergraduate Research Journal-State of NC “Explorations” Michael Bassman

Dr. Michael Bassman serves as Assistant Vice Chancellor and Director of the University Honors, EC Scholars, and Undergraduate Research Programs at East Carolina University. Committed to diversity, academic service-learning, and undergraduate research, Dr. Bassman developed the International Student Scholars Program which partners academically-talented International students with ECU Honors students, created North Carolina's first living/learning residence hall for Honors and International Students, and founded ECU's Undergraduate Research Program, including undergraduate assistantships and annual symposia. In addition, he recently received a grant to fund his proposal for the EC Scholars to be immersed in the migrant Hispanic community and to tutor the children from these families. Dr. Bassman is co-founder of the Ethnic Studies Program, for which he served as director for ten years. He received the ECU Eighth Annual Founders Award For Service and the Board of Governors Distinguished Professor Award for Teaching. Appointed by North Carolina's Governors to the North Carolina Council on the Holocaust since 1995, he has also been selected to serve as a Councilor on the Council on Undergraduate Research. Dr. Bassman also serves as Editor-in-Chief of the new undergraduate research journal, Exploration: The State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Journal.

He will also meet with students in room 7-A between 4:45-5:15 p.m. and, as well, introduce the first issue of the Journal at the 4:00 p.m.


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