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Outstanding undergraduate research recognized with Fletcher Awards

Research on immune-mediated diseases, language and thought and Michelangelo’s Pietá

EVANSTON -  Biology and chemistry sophomore Emily Zaniker, psychology junior Nonye Ogbuefi and art history senior Julia Poppy — all students in the Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences — were each honored recently with a Fletcher Undergraduate Research Award for outstanding research in a summer grant project.

 A $250 prize funded by the Fletcher Family Foundation, the Fletcher Award is given biannually to undergraduate student researchers for summer and academic year research.

Zaniker studied biodegradable materials as a treatment for immune-mediated diseases. Ogbuefi researched the link between language and thoughts in infants. Poppy looked at the political implications of the original commission of Michelangelo for the Pietà sculpture.

The awards were presented by Provost Daniel Linzer, Associate Provost Ron Braeutigam, Undergraduate Research Grants Review Committee chair and professor Neal Blair and director of the Office of Undergraduate Research Peter Civetta.

“We challenge students to immerse themselves in a singular question that stirs their passions and then to dig deeper for answers than they ever could in class,” Civetta said. “They have to think and collaborate in new ways in order to add meaningful knowledge to the world.”

Made up of Northwestern faculty, the Undergraduate Research Grants Committee selected the recipients based on the quality of the initial proposal, the final research findings, the statements of the faculty sponsor and the opinions of the original reviewers of the proposal.

More on the research

Zaniker worked with her mentor, Stephen Miller, director of the Interdepartmental Immunobiology Center, Judy Gugenheim Research Professor of Microbiology-Immunology and professor of microbiology-immunology and dermatology, examining how a potentially life-saving treatment operates on a cellular level.

Ogbuefi worked with Sandra Waxman, professor of psychology at Weinberg, examining the link between language and thoughts in infants. She studied the brain activity of infants as they listened to regular speech, backward speech and lemur calls.

Poppy worked with Rebecca Zorach, professor of art history in Weinberg, on the original commission of Michelangelo for the Pietà grave sculpture in Santa Petronilla. She sought to recover the original political and ritualistic implications of the sculpture.

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