Three Catawba students receive NCICU grants

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 13, 2024

Catawba College News Service

SALISBURY — Three Catawba College students, including one from Kannapolis, are on the list of exceptional students who have been selected as recipients of the prestigious 2024 Undergraduate Research Award by the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (NCICU). Eleven students from various NCICU institutions across North Carolina were selected for their work in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and psychology.

Among the recipients is Samantha Giraldo, a junior biology major (pre-med track) with a minor in humanities and chemistry from Kannapolis. Samantha’s primary objectives were to ascertain whether total or partial inhibition of polyamine biosynthesis lowers the viability of HBZ-expressing cells and to investigate the overall transcriptional profiles of HBZ-expressing cells using RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) to assess how HBZ affects metabolic activity.

Michaela Lantz, a senior biochemistry major from Lebanon, Pennsylvania, also received a grant. Lantz’s study determines whether or not reproductive malignancies, such as ovarian and cervical tumors, exhibit this biphasic activity. Furthermore, by observing a biphasic response, scientists expect to understand better the biological mechanisms involved.

The third grant recipient from Catawba is Austin Wise, a junior environment and sustainability major from Corbin, Ketucky. His study highlights the broader ecological impact of mercury pollution and the need for ongoing monitoring and mitigation efforts to protect wildlife and ecosystem health.

The NCICU Undergraduate Award program supports students from NCICU’s 36 colleges and universities who are actively engaged in undergraduate research. The undergraduate research endowment, established by NCICU with generous contributions from the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation and other corporate and foundation donors, funds stipends of varying amounts based on the types of projects students are undertaking.

These talented students, classified as juniors or seniors for the 2024-2025 academic year, have demonstrated exceptional research skills and a dedication to academic excellence. They will have the esteemed opportunity to present their projects at the annual State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium (SNCURCS), a collaborative initiative between NCICU and the University of North Carolina, further highlighting the importance of their work.

The 2024 SNCURCS Symposium will take place in the fall and provide a platform for the award recipients to showcase their research findings and engage with scholars from across the state. 

For more information about the NCICU Undergraduate Research Award and the upcoming SNCURCS Symposium, go to the NCICU website at