Ally Moser with cottontail rabbit
Allison Moser is studying a rare rabbit species, the Appalachian cottontail.

It’s been a busy summer for six Virginia Tech students who received 2016 Atlantic Coast Conference Creativity and Innovation grants. The awards provide a stipend to help cover costs related to undergraduate research and creative scholarship opportunities this summer.

Allison Moser, a senior majoring in wildlife conservation in the College of Natural Resources and Environment, is in the Roan Mountain Highlands in North Carolina, studying a rare rabbit species, the Appalachian cottontail.

The rabbits have been difficult to trap, but Moser said they outfitted the handful they’ve caught with radio collars, which have provided such information as home range size, habitat use, and activity patterns.

So far, Moser has caught more juvenile rabbits than adults. “We hope that the current input of juvenile rabbits into the population will increase our trapping success as summer continues,” Moser said. “The camera trapping portion of our project will be implemented soon as well, testing a well-known technique on a new species.”

Rhiannon Hasenauer with a student in Honduras
Rhiannon Hasenauer, a human development major, is teaching in Honduras this summer and will create a digital storytelling project about her experience at the school.

Rhiannon Hasenauer, of Manahawkin, New Jersey, a senior majoring in human development in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, is in El Progreso, Honduras, this month as a volunteer teacher with Students Helping Honduras in the Villa Soleada Bilingual School. Hasenauer is the president of the Virginia Tech chapter of Students Helping Honduras. She also co-lead a group trip of American volunteers to help local Hondurans build a school in a rural village.

Rhiannon Hasenauer co-led a group of Americans in efforts to build a school in a rural Honduran village
Rhiannon Hasenauer co-led a group of Americans in efforts to build a school in a rural Honduran village. Photo by Hasenauer.

“Each day brought with it some incredible memories, inevitable challenges, and paint in places I did not think was possible,” Hasenauer said. “My experience as a volunteer teacher and the bond that I made with my students have motivated me so much more to work toward a career focusing on affordable, high-quality education and mentorship in Honduras.”

When Hasenauer returns to the U.S., she will create a digital storytelling project about her experience at the school, highlighting the Hondurans' perception of the importance of education, especially bilingual education, in Honduras.

Kristen Long, a senior majoring in architecture in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, is extending her studies on the architectural role of a door.

This past spring, Long studied abroad to look at the issue and this summer, she’s arranged several smaller trips in the United States, “in order for me to see how the culture here influences this element,” Long said. She is balancing the trips while working a full-time job. “It has been a learning experience that I wouldn’t otherwise have been motivated to carry out and I’m am excited for the next month to finish everything up.”

Amina Rahimi, a senior majoring in biochemistry in the College of Science, is researching sepsis, an infection that is a major cause of death in intensive care units. "Part of the challenge in treating sepsis is diagnosing the condition in a timely manner," Rahimi said. "This summer, we are working on developing a novel diagnostic for sepsis. A healthy individual has an army of more than 30 billion circulating white blood cells ready to fight invading pathogens. We are applying on-chip technology to understand what happens when this army becomes ineffective and can no longer defeat the pathogen, or even worse, triggers uncontrolled inflammation that can damage multiple organ systems." Rahimi is working in the laboratory of Caroline Jones, assistant professor of biological sciences.

Other fellows who are pursuing research and creative scholarship this summer thanks to this grant include: Hannah Parker, of Emporia, Virginia, a senior majoring in animal and poultry sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Ge Zhou, of Greenfield, Massachusetts, a senior majoring in architecture in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies.

Some of the 2016 ACC Creativity and Innovation fellows will present their findings at Virginia Tech’s 2016 Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium on July 28 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Goodwin Hall, located at 635 Prices Fork Road. Students from multiple organized summer programs will present their research in a poster format. Each program will also nominate one exemplary student or project to present their research in a showcase oral session. The community is welcome to attend.

The Office of Undergraduate Research organizes the Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium with support from the Fralin Life Science Institute and the Office of the Vice President for Research.

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