Excellence in research

Fourteen Lenoir-Rhyne University honors students and eleven faculty members from the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics traveled to Winston-Salem State University to attend the 120th North Carolina Academy of Science (NCAS) Annual Meeting April 5-6.  

LR students take a group photo by main stairs at NCAS meeting

During the meeting, Lenoir-Rhyne students shared undergraduate honors research in oral and poster presentations – earning a total of nine awards – and interacted with student researchers and professors from other colleges and universities across North Carolina. Carly York, Ph.D., associate professor in the biology department led a workshop entitled, “The Science of Storytelling.” In addition to presentations and workshops, attendees heard from Steven Cowley, Ph.D., director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory as he gave the keynote lecture, “Getting to Fusion Electricity.”

Students and faculty wave from balcony at NCAS meeting

LR students and faculty served NCAS in a variety of leadership roles. The new officers of the Collegiate Academy of the NCAS (CANCAS) include Jackson Owens ’25 as president, Ivy Throneburg ’25 as vice president and Elijah Yang ’25 as historian, replacing positions vacated by Reagan Womack ’24, Diego Sanjuan ’24 and Erica Schulz ’24, respectively. Biology professors Michael Stiff, Ph.D., and Judy Moore, Ph.D., serve on the Board of Directors of NCAS, and numerous faculty members served as judges.

Students and faculty wave from balcony at NCAS meeting

Student presenters and their research titles are listed below, with faculty research advisor in parentheses. 

  • Gezell Alberto-Tenjhay ’24 (Daniel Grimm, Ph.D.): “Analysis of cell-free extracts of endophytic fungi: the search for antibacterial metabolites,” chemistry oral presentation.

  • Kayla Dietz ’24 (Andy Steele, Ph.D.): “The analysis of polychlorinated biphenyls in soil samples,” third place, molecular and cell biology oral presentation. 

  • Christina Fisher ’25 (Grimm): “Antimicrobial potential of fungal endophytes isolated from eight different invasive plant species of North Carolina,” first place, microbiology oral presentation. 

  • Cheyenne Kimberlin ’24 (Grimm): “Mechanical spread of microorganisms via the common feeder cockroach Blaptica dubia: A model for bacterial and viral transmission,” first place, microbiology poster.

  • Caleb Knight ’24 (Doug Knight, Ph.D.): “Validation of force between spherical conductors,” chemistry oral presentation.

  • Bethany Perry ’24 (Stiff): “Effects of temperature increase on circadian rhythm and stomatal development in soybeans (Glycine max),” second place, ecology, botany and zoology oral presentation.

  • Salma Ramirez-Sanchez ’24 (Grimm/Steele): “Comparison of the antifungal effects of carvacrol, thymol and oregano oil on Candida albicans,”microbiology oral presentation.

  • Demmi Ramos ’25 (Timothy Goldberg, Ph.D.): “Investigating tipping points in the Budyko climate model,” first place, chemistry oral presentation.

  • Isaac Riggs ’24 (Marsha Fanning, Ph.D.): “The effect of smoke-water on germination and growth: a comparative study of fire-adapted and non-fire-adapted plant species,” ecology, botany and zoology oral presentation.

  • Amy Sain ’24 (Steele): “Selenium deficiency in horses,” chemistry oral presentation.

  • Diego Sanjuan ’24 (Grimm): “Isolation and cultivation of gut bacteria from larvae of the greater wax moth (Galleria mellonella): A potential resource for bioremediation of polyethylene,” third place, ecology, botany and biology oral presentation.

  • Erica Schulz ’24 (Knight): “The viability and characterization of sucrose and alkali metal nitrates as solid rocket propellant,” third place, chemistry oral presentation.

  • Lynn Van Staalduinen ’24 (Grimm): “Role of EPS-degrading substances in phage-based strategies of biofilm disruption in enteric pathogens,” second place, microbiology oral presentation. 

  • Reagan Womack ’24 (Joshua Ring, Ph.D.): “Computational analysis of human prion protein’s allosteric potential reveals potential pharmacological chaperon binding site for V1891 and V2031PrPSc,” first place chemistry poster.

Junior honor students Hannah Elrod ’25, Jackson Owens ’25, Ivy Throneburg ’25, Ellie Wilhelm ’25, and Elijah Yang ’25 also attended the meeting. 

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