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A More-Than-Lucky Day at the 2023 CURAs

If you were in the Wilkinson Student Center on October’s Friday the 13th and wandered into the Garden Court room, you would have been impressed. Far from being an unlucky Friday, students dressed in their best and, with smiles on their faces, professionally presented the innovative research they’ve conducted with BYU faculty. All their research, with topics ranging from lung health to evolution teaching strategies, was partially funded by College Undergraduate Research Awards (CURAs), grants given to passionate and inventive undergraduate researchers. Winners from each department of the College of Life Sciences were selected by judges and received additional cash prizes ranging up to $300.

With professionalism and passion, the participants of this year’s CURA Poster Competition showed that they are ready to go forth into the world and serve. From bridging language barriers in medicine to finding better grass for Utah’s dry climate, here are the winners of the 2023 CURAs.


1st Kenneth Harrington — Role Models vs. Evolution Knowledge: Two Evolution Teaching Strategies Among Students with Varying Levels of Scientific Reasoning Skills
2nd Yongyong Xia— A Survey of Student Preference of Testing Location
3rd Lizzy Jenkins — Effects of Predation on Cognition in Brachyrhaphis Rhabdophora

Cell Biology & Physiology

1st Kennedy Campbell — Chronic Effects of Tobacco Smoke-Induced Lung Inflammation on RAGE Signaling and Lung Morphology
1st Kelaney Stalker — Identifying Endometrial Tissue in Menstrual Blood through Differential Methylation
3rd Andrew Jenkins — CRISPR Screen for Novel Genes in Kushneria B5 Involved in Halotolerance
3rd James Morgan — Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor 5 Mediated Depotentiation

Exercise Sciences

1st Stepan Altuhov — The Effects of Percussion Massage on the Maintenance of Skeletal Muscle Mitochondrial Function during Limb Immobilization
1st Isaac Edwards — Acute Effects of Running on Talar Cartilage Deformation in CAI Patients with and without Early Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
3rd Joseph Larsen — Impact of 10 Days of Low Physical Activity on Blood Flow, Pressure, and VO2max during Exercise

Microbiology & Molecular Biology

1st Joshua Bennett — Engineering and Characterization of Antibodies against Cancer Biomarker Thymidine Kinase 1
2nd Amanda Carlson — Varying Mechanisms of Apoptosis Caused by Vpr Polymorphisms in HIV-1
3rd Ty Skyles — Quasi-Longitudinal Study on the Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Uptake among College Students


1st Lauren Ford — Estrous Cycle-Dependent Modulation of Psychostimulant Effects on Striatal Neurotransmitter Release
2nd Jacob Johnston — Thalamic Morphology in Primary Progressive Aphasia and Dementia of the Alzheimer's Type
3rd Christian Ahrens — Role of ATP and Dopamine Exocytotic Pathways in Regulating Response to Cocaine in the NAc

Nutrition, Dietetics & Food Science

1st Jared Carter — Adverse Effects of Global Nr4a3 Knockout in Mice on Glucose Sensitivity and Adipose Depot
2nd Colter Tower — Accounting for Syringe Diffusion in the Isothermal Titration Calorimeter
3rd Sydney Poulsen — Does Metformin Limit Oxidative Stress-Induced Negative Side Effects on Doxorubicin-Treated Skeletal Muscle Cells?

Plant & Wildlife Sciences

1st Dean Peterson — Does Thiamine Affect Drosophila Melanogaster Dietary Yeast Preference?
2nd Raechel Hunsaker — Competitive Seedling Interactions between Senecio Multilobatus and Plant Species of Various Seral Stages
3rd Caden Seely — Having Our Grass and Water Too: Water Conservation with Hybrid Bermudagrass

Public Health

1st Maggie Scribner — Bridging the Language Barrier – A Qualitative Analysis of Spanish Medical Interpretation between Medical Professionals and Patients
2nd Alexandra Hatch — Maternal Health Lessons for Bountiful Children's Foundation Home-Based Lesson Program
3rd Mariah Taylor — Sampling for Respirable Silica among Brick Kiln Workers in Bhaktapur, Nepal