Students and faculty build community of scholars through research and creative inquiry

The 11th annual Summer Scholars program at St. Catherine University featured collaborative work between undergraduate students and faculty across academic departments and schools. This summer, 20 undergraduate students worked with 13 faculty members on projects that ranged from fruit flies to farmers markets, from housing inequity to solar eclipses. 

Together, these collaborative teams demonstrated once more that impactful research and creative work can be done during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the teams were able to meet in person to work on their projects as needed, larger group gatherings were held virtually and the sense of community remained strong. Cynthia Norton, PhD, Director of Collaborative Undergraduate Research and professor of Biology and Women’s Studies at St. Kate’s spoke to the enthusiasm of the students, saying, “Our students this summer brought their whole selves into their work and this community of scholars. Our weekly workshops were held virtually this year and the students brought their enthusiasm for their projects and support for one another into the virtual space.”

Katie Campbell, PhD, Assistant Director of Collaborative Undergraduate Research and assistant professor of Interprofessional Education at St. Kate’s, also noted this sense of community, saying, “Our students and faculty mentors really showed up for each other this summer. Each week we asked students to share something that happened within their projects in the past week that they were proud of and it was amazing to see how their faces lit up and the chat bar filled up with their accomplishments, however large or small. To see the joy that they were finding in their research, and to hear that joy and pride echoed by their faculty mentors, was outstanding!” 

The collective research and creative work of the summer was showcased through an in-person poster session as well as a virtual symposium. Each of the projects, listed below, have not only contributed new knowledge to diverse academic fields, but have also fostered a sense of belonging among a community of undergraduate scholars at St. Kate’s. 

Regener-Pfotzer Maxima Studies in Preparation for the 2023 and 2024 Solar Eclipses

Maddie Ross ’23 Physics, Biology minor

Faculty Mentor: Erick Agrimson, Physics


Insulin-Like Peptide 4 Annotation in Newly Sequenced Drosophila Species

Rebecca Benvie ‘23 Biology, Longevity and Aging minor

Faculty Mentor: Kellie Agrimson, Biology


Responding to a Changing World: Assessment of Water Quality using a Modern Method to Monitor Algae

Sydney Kennedy ’22 Biology and Public Policy

Faculty Mentor: Paula Furey, Biology


Critical Analysis: Barriers and Opportunities for Addressing Oral Health Equity Issues [GHR funded]

Juliette Kline ’24 Exercise and Sport Science, pre-OT, Aging and Longevity minor; Anchee Nitschke Durben ’24 Public Health – Health Sciences, Longevity and Aging minor

Faculty Mentor: Stephanie de Sam Lazaro, Occupational Therapy


Green Synthesis of Semi-sustainable Organic Photovoltaic Materials

Hannick Biermeier’23, Chemistry (ACS)

Faculty Mentor: Daron Janzen, Chemistry and Biochemistry


Public Space as Democracy’s Saving Grace: Farmer’s Markets and the Making of Good Neighbors

Hannah Olson ’23 Women and International Development, International Studies minor; Melody Kosbab ’24 Political Science, professional Writing and American Sign Language minors

Faculty Mentor: Nawojka Lesinski, Economics and Political Science


Regency Respite in Times of Chaos

Michelle Dolan ’22 Apparel Design

Faculty Mentor: Carol Mager, Apparel Merchandising and Design


Welcoming the Dear Neighbor?: A History of Housing Inequality in Ramsey County

Anastasia Rousseau ’22 History, Philosophy minor; Ava Griswold ’21 History and French, Women’s Studies minor

Faculty Mentor: Rachel Neiwert, History


Prenatal Telehealth - Product Testing and Evaluation of Outcomes [KARE Funded]

Mckenna Paluck ’22 Dietetics, Longevity and Aging minor

Faculty Mentor: Emily Nowak, Nursing


Alumnae Memorial Garden Sculpture

Carolina Lopez ’22 Visual Arts Teaching K-12; Sia von Weiss ’23 Philosophy and Studio Art

Faculty Mentor: Monica Rudquist, Art and Art History


Determinants for Choosing Processed Foods in Adult Populations [GHR Funded]

Kathryn Nelson ’23 Dietetics; Victoria Barkosky ’23 Dietetics

Faculty Mentor: Kathleen Thames, Nutrition and Dietetics


Upward Mobility in Ramsey County

Victoria Delgado-Palma ’23 Public Policy; Ava LaPlante ’23 Economics and International Studies; Calyn Schardt ’23 Economics, Public Policy and Women and International Development

Faculty Mentor: Kristine West, Economics


Neighborhood Change and Racial Diversity in the Suburban Twin Cities Metro Area

Angela Guerrero ’22 Psychology and Sociology

Faculty Mentor: Daniel Williams, Sociology


For more information on how to get involved in collaborative research, please email or visit the Office of Scholarly Engagement to learn more about the many opportunities for engaged learning at St. Kate’s.