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SXU Celebrates Research Expo Award Winners


As COVID-19 continues to disrupt academia across the nation, Saint Xavier University (SXU) is continuing many traditions in innovative ways. SXU held its annual Research Expo virtually in response to COVID-19 during the spring semester. Though the experience was a little different, the expo was a big success, and students and faculty came together to showcase their meaningful work and commitment to excellence in teaching, learning and scholarship. Each school presented a series of projects complete with video, audio and visuals, and there were over 50 submissions.

Several projects were awarded for their outstanding work:

Tiffany Abrams, who recently graduated in May with a double major in psychology and criminal justice, was awarded for her project "Perceptions of Prostitution: What Drives Opposition?" Abrams' work consisted of two studies. The first sought to understand laypersons' perceptions of prostitution and the second examined whether opposition to prostitution is influenced by negative contextual factors presumed to co-occur with prostitution. Abrams, whose interests lie in psychology and the criminal justice system, combined the two content areas to explore if and why U.S. adults are opposed to prostitution.

"It was wonderful to receive an award for outstanding presentation. The project was an arduous feat and it was very rewarding to receive recognition for my research, which addresses important gaps in pre-existing literature. I encourage everyone to think critically and continue to ask questions," said Abram, who is working with her mentor and another student to submit a project manuscript for publication in a social psychology journal article.

Abrams will pursue a master's degree in counseling with a specialization in clinical mental health in spring 2021, and she hopes to eventually apply to a counseling psychology Ph.D. program. During her time at Saint Xavier, she was heavily involved with the Psi Chi (International Honor Society in Psychology) and Psychology Club.

Abigail Becker graduated in May with a bachelor's of science in nursing. A community need for vaping education inspired her project, for which she partnered with fellow nursing student and award winner Tasia Rogers. The project was presented to students in fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades. Becker's team first distributed a pre-test to determine students' knowledge of vaping and then implemented three teaching interventions: cognitive, psychomotor and affective domains. The cognitive portion covered the effects vaping has on the brain, mouth and lungs. The psychomotor domain was done in an experiment form, where students did jumping jacks for over a minute and then breathed through a straw after completion, a simulation of breathing after vaping. The affective domain included a simulation sketch of older students peer-pressuring younger students, designed to help students learn how to refuse vaping. The project was quite successful. Becker truly cares for vulnerable populations and anticipates being an advocate for them for years to come.

"When I found out I was the recipient of the nursing outstanding presentation, I was shocked and extremely grateful. My group and I put many weeks of hard work into this project and I am so thankful it will benefit both the grammar school students we presented to and also the SXU community. I could not have done this without the help of my amazing community clinical group and faculty sponsors. This is only the beginning of my nursing portfolio."

While at Saint Xavier, Becker was a member of the Student Nurses' Association, Honors Program, Sigma Theta Tau, Pals for Change, Service Club and National Society of Collegiate Scholars. She also served as a student ambassador tour guide and Cougar Diaries blogger, and she participated in volleyball and soccer intramurals. Becker plans to obtain a position as a registered nurse at a local hospital and eventually work in the neonatal ICU, as her passion lies in pediatrics. She also anticipates earning a master's degree in nursing education and teaching at a college or university in addition to her nursing duties.

Cody Busch, a biochemistry and mathematics major, worked with faculty mentors Julia Wiester, Ph.D., and David Elmendorf, Ph.D. Busch explored the antimicrobial properties of silver nanoparticle-impregnated wheat gluten biofilms by testing mechanical properties and experimenting with different concentrations of silver against various pathogens using microbiological techniques. Busch, who spent a lot of time researching scholarly articles through the Robert and Mary Rita Murphy Stump Library’s database, stumbled on an article that discussed how wheat gluten biofilms might be an alternative to medical first-aid bandages, and since Busch anticipates going to medical school, he found it to be a perfect project to pursue. 

"I was so happy to receive this award. This is actually my fourth semester working on the project, and finally receiving data and useful information made me feel like I was doing something right. To find out I had actually received an award for my hard work and long hours in the lab gave me a sense of accomplishment and worth, and it makes me feel like my dream of going to medical school is more attainable," said Busch.

Busch plans to continue with his experiments and test copper next, which he'll compare with the silver results. He also anticipates attending more conferences and sharing his research with others in his field.

Other Research Expo award winners include Nancy Montes and Anahi Velazquez. SXU is extremely proud of the incredible work done by these students, who demonstrate the many ways in which SXU prepares students for competence, character and career success. We look forward to watching them blossom as lifelong learners.