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Life Science Students Win Big at CURA Awards

The Garden Court in BYU’s Wilkinson Center bustled with people on November 11, 2021, as rows of hung posters displayed the latest scientific findings by BYU Life Science students. The research ranged from the study of social dominance in humans to protein bindings; from standards for emergency and trauma care to insulin secretion.

College Undergraduate Research Awards (CURA) are grants that facilitate student research. A Faculty mentor assists with the process, and at the end of the year, CURA recipients are eligible to win prize money in recognition of their research findings. This year, judges awarded three prizes for each department, with first prize winning $300, second place $200, and third place earning $100.

See the winners and read more about the winning research below:


1 –Colin Robinson, “Plectus murrayi: an Antarctic Carbon Reservoir”
2 –Jinna Brim, “Divergence Dating of Antarctic and Temperate Nematodes Informed by Rates of Molecular Evolution”
3 –Erik Johnson, “Is social dominance repeatable and inherent? The behavior of social dominance in Convict Cichlids”

Biology Winners Brim, Robinson, Johnson
Biology winners Jinna Brim, Colin Robinson, and Erik Johnson

Cell Biology and Physiology:

1 –Craig Reeves, “Staying hydrated: A Comparative Analysis of Humectants in Epithelial Tissues”
2 –Erika Marks, “Understanding what Proteins Bind to the Ribbon Complex in Presynaptic Active Zones”
3 –Jared Ashby, “In Vitro Effects of Prodrug-39 on C2C12 and Human Muscle Cultures”

Cell Biology Marks, Reeves, Ashby
Cell Biology winners Erika Marks, Craig Reeves, and Jared Ashby

Exercise Sciences:
1 –AndewHillier, “Foot brace offloading”
2 –Jack Mehling, “Comparison of the effects of heat stress and exercise training on vascular adaptation in human skeletal muscle”
3-Boston Andersen, “Effects of Mechanical Stimulation on Skeletal Muscle Mitochondria”

Exercise Sciences Hillier, Andersen, Mehling NP
Exercise Sciences winners Andrew Hillier, Boston Andersen, and Jack Mehling (not pictured)

Microbiology and Molecular Biology:

1 –Madison Gray,“Chikungunya Virus Time Course Infection of Human Macrophages”
2 –Andy VanDomelen, “Examining the efficacy of silver cations in inhibiting growth of ExPEC strains derived from domesticated and wild turkeys”
3 –Hunter Cobbley, “Host Range Analysis of Proteus Bacteriophage”

MMBio VanDomelen, Gray, Cobbley
Microbiology and Molecular Biology winners Andy VanDomelen, Madison Gray, and Hunter Cobbley

Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Science:

1 –Connor Littlefield, “Nkx6.1” [diabetes]
2 –Peter Ellsworth, “The Effects of NR4A1 and NR4A3 on Insulin Secretion”
3 –Jospeh Beales, “ß-cell apoptosis and reduced proliferation under glucolipotoxic conditions are exacerbated by prolonged TMAO supplementation”

NDFS Ellsworth, Littlefield, Beales
Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Science winners Peter Ellsworth, Connor Littlefield, and Joseph Beales

Plant and Wildlife Sciences:

1 –Nathan Jones, “Dynamic physiological benefits of clonal integration throughout the lifespan of Quaking Aspen”
2 –Maquelle Tumbleson, “Benefits of Growing Dysphania Ambrosioides Vertically Spaced Indoors for Anthelmintic and Other Medicinal Qualities”
3 –Marina Merritt, “Learning from other universities to improve sustainability at BYU”

PWS Tumbleson, Jones, Merritt
Plant and Wildlife Sciences winners Maquelle Tumbleson, Nathan Jones, and Marina Merritt

Public Health:

1 –JB Eyring, “Men’s Beliefs and Attitudes Towards Menstruation”
2 –Gregory Memmott, “World standards for emergency and trauma care”
3 –Tatiana Pryor, “Exploring childhood SESand racism as predictors of family health in adulthood”

Read more about JB Eyring’s research online.

Public Health Pryor, Eyring, Memmott NP
Public Health winners Tatiana Pryor, JB Eyring, and Gregory Memmott (not pictured)

Congratulations to the 2021 winners! Head to to read more about the winners’ research.

2021 CURA winners
2021 CURA winners