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student standing in front of research presentation

Honors students' research recognized at national science conference

By

Lisa Robbins

Four students from Barrett, The Honors College won recognition for their research posters presented at the 2015 American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in San Jose, California. All four students are graduating with honors from Arizona State University this May.

Christopher Luna, who will graduate with a bachelor of science in physics and mathematics, received first place in the Physical Sciences category with "Neural Networks for Predicting Heat Transport in Tokamak Plasmas."

Luna said he is particularly gratified to receive recognition for his research because of obstacles he had to overcome during his undergraduate career.

“I feel like both successes and failures in my academic pursuits are amplified for me by the fact that I come from an economically disadvantaged background,” he said, adding that at times money was so tight he had to forgo meals. “Regardless of obstacles, I still manage to do research that in indisputably strong and worth recognition at a national level.”

Luna plans continue physics research after he graduates ASU. He has received a National Science Foundation fellowship and will be attending University of California at Los Angeles to pursue a doctorate in plasma physics.

“I hope to expand further on this research and to contribute to the development of sustainable fusion energy for all peoples of the world,” he said.

Rachel Gur-Arie placed first in the Science and Society category with "University Student Knowledge and Perception of Influenza."

Gur-Arie is an accelerated Biology and Society bachelor of science/master of science student focusing on Bioscience Ethics, Policy, and Law. She will receive her bachelor of science in May and later return to ASU to complete a master of science.

“I am absolutely honored to receive this recognition and I am so grateful to be able to work at the intersection of science and society. To be formally recognized is even more motivation to keep pursuing my work and advocating for the proper treatment of science in society,” she said.

Gur-Arie has received a Fulbright Scholarship to research influenza health law and policy at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Be-er Sheva, Israel. There she will focus on studying the perceptions Israeli physicians have of the influenza vaccine and policy regarding public health.

Cole Helsell, who will graduate with a bachelor of science in biochemistry, received honorable mention in the Cellular and Molecular Biology category for "Comparative Computational Models of TRPM8 Help Explain Modulation Mechanisms."

“I feel great about the recognition from the AAAS. It’s nice to be able to point to a concrete accomplishment as a result of my work,” Helsell said.

Helsell plans to publish papers based on his work before he heads to graduate school in the fall. He will pursue a doctorate in biophysics at either University of California at San Francisco, University of Washington, or the Scripps Research Institute.

Yasmynn Chowdhury, who will graduate with a bachelor of science in microbiology and global health, received first place in the "Cellular and Molecular Biology category for A Survey of Lectin Reactivity to Coccidioides in Infected Human Lung Tissue."

Luna, along with Gur-Arie and Chowdhury received a cash prize, a certificate, and a one-year membership to AAAS that includes a one-year subscription to Science magazine. They will also be recognized in a spring issue of Science and on the AAAS Annual Meeting web site.