May 1, 2014

Student magazine reports on undergrad research

Katti Horng
Robert Barker/University Photography
Animal science student Katti Horng talks with students about her work at the 13th annual release party for The Research Paper in the lobby of Mann Library April 30.
Quinn Kelly
Robert Barker/University Photography
City and regional planning student Quinn Kelly talks with students about his research on bicycle friendly cities.

What do cancer drugs, bicycles and search engine algorithms all have in common? They are three of the many topics Cornell undergraduates are researching.

At the 13th annual release party April 30 for The Research Paper, a student-run magazine that highlights the research achievements of Cornell undergraduates, several of these researchers gathered in Mann Library to discuss their research with the Cornell community.

Aaron Oswald ’14 (Arts and Sciences) is researching the effects of the HUS1 protein in the cell repair cycle following DNA damage in the small intestines of mice. His research focuses on damage caused by two genotoxic drugs used in chemotherapy, with the potential to developing cancer treatments that target cancer cells while leaving normal cells undamaged.

Andrew Dougherty ’15 (Arts and Sciences) is also studying cancer drugs. He compared the progression times of two different stem-cell drugs used to treat multiple myeloma and found that one of the drugs has a significantly longer progression time than the other – meaning patients can go longer between chemotherapy treatments. He hopes further clinical research on this topic will change physician preferences and increase progression times for many more patients.

Quinn Kelly ’14 (AAP) examined a different kind of human health – the use of bicycles in major U.S. cities. He discovered that cities that provide more segmented infrastructure like the addition of bike lanes tend to have more cyclists on the road.

Teresa Danso-Danquah ’15 (ILR) surveyed sibling caretakers of developmentally disabled individuals throughout New York state to determine what kinds of services these oft-overlooked providers need. “The perceived services provided are often much greater than the actual services provided,” she noted. She used her findings to develop policy solutions that will bridge the gap between the provided and needed services, and give sibling caretakers the support they need.

In her research, Sandy Chan ’15 (CALS) found that aspirin – commonly prescribed to seniors to prevent blood clots in the heart and brain – does not increase the size of brain microhemorrhages, which can contribute to strokes and cell damage, proving that it is still a safe and effective treatment.

Akilesh Potti ‘14 (Engineering) developed a search engine that will help students find all of this research online. He designed a search algorithm that works much the same way as the algorithms of music websites like Pandora – listing the requested article and several recommended articles. The search engine will be deploying on ArXiv, a distribution server for research articles run by Cornell University Library.

Jakeb Dobrowolski ’14 (CALS) studied the link between taste perception and obesity, correlating a diminished amount of the protein adiponectin with the inability to recognize the taste of fatty acids.

Lipi Gupta ’15 (Arts and Sciences) worked with CHESS to improve the precision of the accelerator’s X-ray beam.

Eric McShane ’15 (Engineering) grows nanowires on copper foil to help improve the anodes of lithium-ion batteries, which power devices like smartphones and laptops.

In addition to sharing their findings, the students talked about their passion for research. “Day to day, you put in hours of work, so its great when you get a result that is both interesting and significant for improving therapies and medicine,” Oswald said. “The best part of research is getting to apply classroom learning to actual experiments,” added Dougherty.

The Research Paper, founded in 2000, seeks to “write about students as both researchers and people” and “show undergraduates that they can make a difference in research.” The spring edition of the magazine will be available on campus May 11.

Kara Beckman ’17 is a writer intern for the Cornell Chronicle.