CLAS Hosts Undergraduate Research Symposium | New
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences invited undergraduates who conducted research at Villanova over the summer to present their findings to other students, faculty and staff and to members of the community on Friday 12 November. These students received grants through rigorous application. a process that helped them finance their research supplies and travel costs.
These opportunities were sponsored by the Villanova Research and Fellowship Center (CRF), which offers various undergraduate research programs on campus. The Villanova Undergraduate Research Fellows Summer Program (VURF), the CRF Summer Accommodation Award, and the CRF Research and Travel Award recipients have helped students fully explore their topic, and professors mentored students throughout their survey and writing process.
Jason Mitala received both a CRF Housing Award and a McCullen Center Fellowship to fund his research. The monetary resources of these grants, along with online academic journals and the books from Falvey’s book stacks, gave him ample access to all the information he needed to conduct his exploration.
Mitala’s research has focused on the philosophy and psychology of love. His exploration resulted in an article titled “Coalescent Love: A Philosophical and Psychological Exploration of the Phenomenon of Love”.
“I review contemporary literature on social psychology and consider philosophers such as Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and Nygren to demonstrate my thesis that self-esteem and altruism are key components of self-esteem. love, ”Mitala explained.
Mitala explained that he months spent researching, writing and editing his article. When asked how he conducted his research, he replied, “I read… a ton. I spent most of my days reading for a few hours and then moved on to writing.
Paul Camacho from the humanities department of Villanova introduced Mitala to the philosophy of love and supervised his research project.
“Dr. Camacho contributed to the philosophical bibliography and I discovered for myself the theory of psychology,“ Love as a common and mutual reactivity, ”said Mitala.
He plans to present his findings at conferences in the spring and shared some of his main takeaways.
“Self-esteem is a good thing, don’t love people just because you love them and always love people, never statistics, ”Mitala said.
Her article is published in “Veritas”, Villanova’s undergraduate research journal.
Amanda Allender spent her summer researching in a biochemistry lab with Aimee Eggler. She studied Nrf2, a transcription factor in cells that is an integral part of a cell’s response to oxidative stress.
“When Nrf2 accumulates in the nucleus, it binds to the Antioxidant Response Element (AER), which then regulates antioxidant and anti-inflammatory disease, ”explained Allender. “Specifically, the research I presented at the symposium focused on how combinations of small molecules activating Nrf2 electrophiles and the KI696 molecule can affect the ARE response in cells, with specific combinations having an effect more than additive on AER (a phenomenon known as synergism) and other combinations having an antagonistic effect.“
“Eggler has been an excellent mentor and research advisor to me. She listens to her research students and gave me excellent advice and guidance in my research experience.. I met Dr Eggler during my first year at Villanova and started getting involved in the Eggler research group during my second year. My research has become an essential part of my identity at Villanova, and I am very grateful for the opportunities she has offered me in her lab, as well as for her continued guidance and support in my research and academic goals.”
Allender’s days in the research lab varied every day.
“Since my lab works with living cells, I like to joke that every time I do experiments I’m in “cell time” because specific treatments and harvests have to take place at specific times (like 18 or 30 hours),“Allen said.
Throughout the day, she investigated the results of her previous experiments, read publications about the methods and pathways she was studying, and sat down with Eggler to discuss her recent findings and future directions.
Allender displayed a detailed poster at the CLAS Symposium and shared some of his key takeaways from his research.
“Specific combinations of small molecules can have a synergistic (and sometimes antagonistic) effect on the ARE response in cells, ”Allender said. “Synergy is an important concept in the world of Nrf2 activators because not only does it provide insight into other potential targets of small molecules in the pathways involved in the antioxidant response, but can also provide insight to broaden the therapeutic window of these. small molecules, some of which are currently used in clinical trials or marketed as therapeutics.“
Mitala and Allender’s research efforts were only a fraction of all the amazing undergraduates who attended the CLAS Research Symposium. Each student at the event expressed their passion for their research and their willingness to continue pursuing their topics.