DU Day of Research grows in 2019, boasting 85 projects with six students selected for $500 awards

Did you know that students and faculty conduct research at Davenport University? Although Davenport isn’t typically thought of as a research institution, you may be surprised to find out how much research is being conducted right under your nose.

“We started with 14 presentations the first year,” said Kriss Ferluga, who helped launch the DU Day of Research. “This year, there were 57 student presentations, four faculty presentations and 24 projects that students displayed but didn’t present.”

Even online students and those who need to present from other campuses can participate in the DU Day of Research

Students and faculty from across Davenport’s campuses brought 85 research projects to show off at the 6th Day of Research on April 10, 2019. The annual event showcases original research developed by Davenport students and faculty. Students have the chance to win $500 awards and faculty can win $1,000 grants for receiving the highest scores from the judges. Judging panels are made up of faculty and staff volunteers.

“The Day of Research is important because we need to tell Davenport’s story,” said Ferluga. “We’ve always been more of a teaching-forward institution, which means we don’t spend enough time talking about the original work that our faculty and students are doing. And they’re all doing it, so the event was designed to give us a chance to come together as a university and tell our stories.”

2019 student research winners

Amber Park, two-time DU Day of Research winner, conducted her study on “Gene Expression and Pathway Enrichment Profiles of Azithromycin Response in Pseudomonas Aeruginosa.”

Park used gene expression data to identify molecular pathways associated with antibiotic treatment in Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a common bacterial infection. Her research aimed to detect molecular changes associated with exposure to azithromycin, a commonly prescribed antibiotic, and to compare azithromycin’s molecular changes to other antibiotics. The research has resulted in a baseline dataset that can be used for future comparisons to resistance profiles in Pseudomonas aeruginosa, potentially uncovering reverse antibiotic therapies to overcome resistance.

“Without Davenport, I would have not known about this project nor the team behind it,” said Park. “As my future plans involve being in the medical field, becoming familiar with research and staying updated with new discoveries is a useful skill that could help me in my job.” 

Park, who is studying biological laboratory science and graduating in 2021, joined the research project last year. “One of our important discoveries were the common pathways between multiple bacteria that could be targeted for future drug research,” said Park. “Our research will be ongoing for a while but will involve multiple other bacteria and progress to a wet lab setting in order to begin testing and finding new discoveries.”

Ashley Boisclair, Christopher Martindale, Stephanie Nowiski and Kelsi White – all nursing students from the Lansing campus and graduating this year – presented their winning hypothetical research on “Reducing Burnout in Critical Care Nurses: Yoga and its Effectiveness.”

Ashley Boisclair, Stephanie Nowiski, Christopher Martindale and Kelsi White

“Chris has a nonprofit through MSU for veterans who experience PTSD and teaches them yoga techniques to reduce stress,” said White. “So we thought about that technique when it comes to nurses in critical care settings and nurses in general.”

According to the team’s secondary research, burnout can cause feelings of job dissatisfaction, insecurity, and both physical and emotional exhaustion in the workplace. However, nurses who preform yoga during their shifts have reported feeling refreshed. Techniques learned during yoga can also give these nurses the skills to better manage workplace stress, which may improve patient outcomes.

“We found a lot of research that says that new nurses are likely to leave hospital settings within the first three years because of burnout,” said Boisclair. “Since we’ve just worked so hard to earn this degree, it’s kind of important that doesn’t happen.”

“Our most important takeaway was that the cost of turnover can be astronomical,” said Martindale. “And that implementing something as little as using your own body and breath to reconnect and create tools to feel empowered and resilient can be reciprocated onto your patients. It can create not only a better individual but also better patients and better community living.”

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Boisclair, Nowiski, Martindale and White presenting their research

Cynthia Konan, another biological laboratory science major, won the final student prize with her research titled “Vitamin B Inhibitor Co-Therapy Restores Streptomycin’s Efficacy in Streptococcus Agalactiae and Streptococcus Pyogenes.”

Streptococcal infections, commonly known as “strep,” are typically treated with antibiotics. However, resistances to these treatments exist. Konan’s study showed that combination antibiotic therapy is a potential solution to this problem by demonstrating that vitamin B synthesis inhibitors increase antibiotic efficacy in resistant Streptococcus agalactiae and Streptococcus pyogenes species.

Congratulations to this year’s DU Day of Research winners and thank you to everyone who participated and volunteered. Watch for more coverage about research being conducted across Davenport’s campuses in the future. And, if you’re conducting or have completed research at DU, please send your abstract to ducomm@davenport.edu for a chance to be featured.

Interested in participating or volunteering for this event in the future?

The DU Day of Research is held every April. Don’t miss your chance to participate – watch for our call for submissions and volunteers early next year. To learn more about this event and the types of research that are accepted, visit the DU Day of Research page.

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