Supporting undergraduate research

Supporting undergraduate research

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Six UI students awarded first-ever John and Elsie Mae Ferentz Undergraduate Fellowships for Research

Six University of Iowa students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) have been awarded the first-ever John and Elsie Mae Ferentz Undergraduate Fellowships for Research.

Made possible by a gift to the UI Foundation from Kirk and Mary Ferentz in honor of Kirk’s parents, the awards are given to provide support and encouragement to undergraduate students who conduct research under the guidance of a tenured or tenure-track faculty member in CLAS. To be eligible, students must participate in or complete an honors research project, a guided independent-study project, a capstone course, or the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree during the semester of the award.

“A strong liberal arts program is a critical component of the strong reputation that the University of Iowa enjoys,” Kirk Ferentz says. “Mary and I are honored to be a part of helping students within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.”

The Spring/Summer 2013 recipients are:

portrait of Dillan Newbold

Dillan Newbold, a junior biology major from Boone, Iowa, will focus on a novel hypothesis that may explain how protocadherins, a family of cell adhesion molecules preferentially expressed in the nervous system and often localized to pre- and postsynaptic membranes, can direct synapse formation and maturation.

portrait of Caitlin Palar

Caitlin Palar, a senior English major and gender, women's, and sexuality studies minor from Des Moines, Iowa, will explore the inner workings and complexities of adolescent girls’ relationships. She will identify issues that young women and girls face such as body image, sexuality, and aggression, and will examine how those issues affect the ways girls relate to one another.

portrait of Nicholas Pottebaum

Nicholas Pottebaum, a senior economics and political science major from Marion, Iowa, will look at better understanding a 21st century model of local government, especially for rural counties in Iowa. The research will hopefully support the hypothesis that counties and other local government entities, such as school districts and municipalities, can collaborate in providing services with a result of improving quality of service and using current dollars more efficiently.

portrait of Michelle Sullivan

Michelle Sullivan, a senior biology major and dance minor from Urbandale, Iowa, will evaluate the mutational hypotheses for persistence of sex in sexual/asexual systems by studying Potamopyrgus antipodarum, a freshwater snail native to New Zealand lakes and streams. The coexistence of closely related sexual and asexual P. antipodarum allows for direct comparisons between sex and asexuality.

portrait of Haoyang Yan

Haoyang Yan, a junior economics and psychology major from Guangzhou, China, will study the impact of framing of information on the “sunk cost effect.” Framing is a key phenomenon in the psychology of decision-making and sunk cost is a well-known bias studied in economics as well as psychology.

portrait of Xin Yuan

Xin Yuan, a senior biology major from Tianjin, China, will learn basic principles about the architecture of transcriptional enhancers (gene regulatory sequences) in the model organism, Drosophila. The significance of her research is the potential to decode the regulatory mechanism of transcriptional enhancers in different developmental stages.

Each award is either in the amount of $1,500 for spring 2013 or $2,500 for summer 2013.

For more information, visit

The UI acknowledges the UI Foundation as the preferred channel for private contributions that benefit all areas of the university. For more information about the foundation, visit


Nic Arp, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 319-335-2818
Kelli Andresen, University Communication and Marketing, 319-384-0070


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