CURAS Ambassadors

In Their Own Words

"Research adds color to any big picture of what I'm reading in a textbook, filling in the blanks and adding real-life experiences and observations. Research has helped me not just accept what I'm learning, but challenge it as well."

Abby Laudi, Class of 2018

CURAS Ambassadors

Our ambassadors are leaders in undergraduate research who support and enhance the work of CURAS. They mentor students in undergraduate research, staff CURAS and Admissions events, participate in panel discussions, and visit classes to talk about undergraduate research. In addition, they host the annual All-University Research Fair and Research Day events.

Undergraduate student applicants must be nominated by a faculty member and must be actively involved in a research project for at least 6 months before applying to be a CURAS Ambassador. CURAS is looking for undergraduate research students from all disciplines. For research-related costs, CURAS Student Ambassadors receive a $250 stipend.


Michael Backer

Michael Backer is a junior from Omaha, NE studying biology and health administration & policy at Creighton, he is a research assistant in the lab of Dr. Bourret in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology. His work there has centered around the pathogenesis of the Lyme disease Spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi, examining its oxidative stress regulation and the bosR gene. Outside of Creighton, Michael worked on a research project at UNMC in the summer of 2018 concerning autoimmune liver disease. After graduation, he hopes to attend medical school.



Emilia Berni

Emi is a junior from St. Louis, Missouri, and is double majoring in Biomedical Physics and Chemistry. She currently works in Dr. Destino's chemistry lab and is funded by a NASA Nebraska Space Grant fellowship. She is working on bioluminescence in silica nanoparticles and 3D printing glass using silica-germania formulations. After graduation, she intends to either attend medical school or pursue a master's degree in biomedical physics.

Molly Carrig

Molly is a junior studying Biochemistry and Classical Languages. She is involved in research in Dr. Dieckman's biochemistry lab. In the lab, she completes protein purification and binding studies to determine the structural, thermodynamic, and kinetic interactions of proteins involved in DNA packaging. Molly hopes to attend medical school after graduating.

Nathan Chaplin

Nathan Chaplin is a senior from Pella, Iowa. He is studying History and Theology, with plans to attend graduate school for American History. His research focuses on the role of gender in Latin American filibustering expeditions. As part of his project, he has traveled to New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

Katherine Consola

Katherine is a senior from Los Angeles, California studying History and Classical Languages. In the summer of 2017, she research the origin and use of Egyptianizing votive statues found on Cyprus. After graduation, she plans to pursue a PhD in Egyptology with the intent of doing archaeological work in Egypt.

Mallory Cranwell

Mallory is a senior Greeley, CO studying History and Theology with minor in Women and Gender Studies. In the summer of 2018, she conducted research in the community of Villa El Salvador, Peru under Drs. Heather Fryer and Thomas Kelly. Her research studies the survival organizations of women in Villa El Salvador and how the history of Peruvian civil unrest and machismo perpetuates gender-based and structural violence. After graduation, Mallory hopes to attend graduate school to get a PhD.

Ellen Erie

Ellen is a Biology/Communications major on the Pre-Med track from Fargo, North Dakota. Her current research examines college students' perceptions of sexual consent and parent-child communication about taboo topics. Additionally, she has worked in Dr. Oshin's Inorganic Chemistry lab designing catalyst systems that facilitate the efficient transformation of olefins into functionalized monoadducts utilizing ATRA reactions. In her spare time, her favorite things to do are working out and drinking coffee. After graduation, Ellen plans to attend medical school. 

Megan Gainer

Megan is a senior from Des Moines, Iowa studying Neuroscience. Her research at Creighton is in the Psychology Department under Dr. Huss. She intends to pursue medicine after graduation and looks forward to meeting fellow undergraduates interested in research.

Alison Guyer

Alison is senior biology major with hopes of pursuing a career in microbiology research. She currently does research under Dr. Selmecki studying drug resistance in Candida albicans, a fungus that naturally exists throughout the human body. Alison conducts research under Dr. Fassbinder-Orth where she's currently studying the vector competency of bed bugs.

Emily Harders

Emily is a junior Biology major and Studio Art minor from Grand Island, Nebraska. She feel in love with research as a freshman, and has since decided to pursue a profession in biological research. Currently, her research focuses on the relationship between the horsehair worm parasite and its host, the sand cricket. Specifically, Emily is investigating the immune system and reproductive abilities of the cricket during and after infection.  

Nic Heckenlaible

Nic is from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and is a junior Chemistry major with a minor in Computer Science. His research in Dr. Erin Gross's lab investigates portable and low-cost analytical detection methods for biogenic amines, incorporating the principles of electrochemistry and chemiluminescence. Currently, his project is focused on the use of a mobile phone as an optical detector for chemiluminescent redox reactions. After graduating from Creighton, Nic plans to continue his education through medical school and ultimately pursue a career in ophthalmology. Nic enjoys playing tennis, running, and watching movies in his free time.


John Kral

John Kral is a junior from St. Louis, Missouri, currently majoring in Biology and Economics. He is part of Dr. Ken Kramer's Biomedical Science research lab at Creighton focusing on brain development of zebrafish. Following graduation form Creighton, John plans on attending medical school.

Ashton Legenza

Ashton is a senior from Omaha majoring in Exercise Science and minoring in Biology. His current research under Dr. Eric Bredahl investigates the effects of cancer-cachexia induced involuntary cardiac muscle loss and the impact that resistance training may have on minimizing its harmful effects throughout the cancer treatment process. He also assists in the Integrative Physiology Laboratory investigating alternative chemotherapy treatment options for cancer patients Ashton intends to attend medical  school after graduation from Creighton.

Brady Manker

Brady is a junior majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Medicine in Society. Currently, he is involved in Neuroscience research with Dr Badura developing a non-medical, computer-based PTSD treatment for women and children in violent areas of Omaha, He recently presented early findings at the Association for Psychological Science national convention in San Francisco. He also completed a nonmetal research project at UNMC working with malnutritioned children in Omaha. After Creighton, Brady hopes to go to medical school and continue his work with children.

Mark May

Mark is a sophomore from Woodbury, Minnesota and is studying Mathematics and Biochemistry on the pre-medicine track. His research in Dr. Lynne Diekman's lab investigates protein-protein interactions involved in replication-coupled nucleosome assembly. Mark hopes to help spread a love for research discovery to the entire Creighton student body, and to the Omaha community at large. Upon graduating, he hopes to pursue an M.D./Ph.D.

Katie Meinecke

Danielle is from Papillion, NE majoring in mathematics and minoring in biology and Spanish on the pre-med track. Her research consists of partial differential equations and analysis of children's fMRI data. After graduation, she plans to continue on to medical school.

Wisam Najdawi

Wisam Najdawi is a senior majoring in Exercise Science and Pre-Health Professions with aspirations of practicing medicine in the future. Researching under Dr. Eric Bredahl, Wisam has worked on multiple projects forced on the capacity of resistance training and creatine supplementation to reduce cancer-induced cachexia as well as to attenuate the negative side effects associated with Doxorubicin, a common chemotherapy drug. Throughout the course of his research, Wisam has learned techniques such as surgery to harvest live muscle, transthroracic echocardiography, cell culture, and western blotting.

Lauren Netzel

Lauren is a senior from Madison, Wisconsin, studying neuroscience and psychology, Her research at Creighton is in the Department of Pharmacology under Dr.'s Time and Kristina Simeone. She studies how the Ketogenic Diet (high fat, low carbohydrate, and average protein) can play a role in an epileptic mouse model of SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death i Epilepsy). Lauren plans to continue research as she pursues her PhD.

Son Nguyen

Son Nguyen is a senior studying Applied Physics from Viet Nam, a Southeast Asian country. He is currently working for Dr. Andrew G. Baruth's laboratory with organic nanomaterials. His research focuses largely on optically analyzing amplitude and thickness data from Solvent Vapor Annealing (SVA) processes of swelling and de-swelling thin organic films made of Polystyrene-Polylactide (PS-PLA) di-block copolymer on Silicon acting as substrate. His goal in this research is to optically find an indicative sign of a precisely well-defined window, which demonstrates ranges of solvent concentrations needed to obtain a strictly ordered cylindrical morphology during in situ SVA of PS-PLA thin films, by analyzing amplitude graphs form laser signals recorded during SVA process.  

Chisom Nwakama

Chisom is a sophomore from Marshall, Minnesota. She is currently studying chemistry on the pre-law track. Her research in Dr. Ekpenyong's lab involves making microfluidic microcirculation mimetics (MMM) devices to test the metastasis of cancer cells. In her free time, she likes to read books and attend Creighton basketball games. After graduation, Chisom hopes to go to law school and purse patent law.

Braden Oldham

Braden is a Junior College of Arts and Science student here at Creighton University. He hails form Lee's Summit, Missouri, and is double majoring in Neuroscience and Classical and Near Eastern Studies. Currently, Braden researches at the University Nebraska Medical Center, at the Munroe-Meyer Institute investigating astrocyte migration in Fragile X and autistic symptoms presenting mice.


Danielle Pham

Danielle is from Papillion, NE majoring in mathematics an minoring in biology and Spanish on the pre-med track. Her research consists of partial differential equations and analysis of children's fMRI data. After graduation, she plans to continue on to medical school.

Vivian Parr

Vivian Parr is a junior Music BA and Theatre Performance BFA. This summer she worked with Dr. Amy Lane of Creighton's theatre department. She functioned as the research dramaturge and assistant director for the show The Dairy Maid-Right, produced at the Shelterbelt Theater. Her research centered around-Nebraska's changing population through its history.

Mason Rhodes

Mason Rhodes is a junior from Des Moines, Iowa with a double major in Physics and Mathematics and a minor in Philosophy. He is currently research astrophysics under the supervision of Dr. Jack Gabel and is testing quasar outflow mechanisms using optical spectra from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Mason is also performing research in quantum computing under the supervision of Dr. Tom Wong and studying lackadaisical quantum walks for complete bipartite graphs. Following graduation, he would like to pursue PhD in physics and find a job in software development. 

Tyler Rollman  

Tyler Rollman is a junior from Salt Lake City, Utah. He is a Biology major with a Theology minor and is involved in virology research. His research analyzes RNA virus genomic dynamics in arthropod vectors and how changes in viral genotype drive infectious phenotype. Tyler hopes to attend graduate school after graduation to pursue a career in viral genetics.

Anna Schroer

Anna is a senior History and Health Administration and Policy double major with a public Health minor from Kansas City. Her research aims to explore the cultural contexts of power and gender of mid-twentieth century America by connecting them specifically with tattooing culture and design. As part of her research, Anna personally conducted with famed tattoo artist Lyle Tuttle wherein she gained new insight on the influence the Women's Liberation movement of the 1960's had on the tattooing industry, and how women during this time- starting with his client, Janis Joplin- charged the way tattooing was perceived and artistically conducted. After graduation Anna hopes to attend law school where she would like to obtain a J.D/MPH degree.

Shelby Smith

Shelby is a junior from Shawnee, Kansas studying Medical Mathematics with a Data Science minor. Her research at Creighton is in the Psychology department under Dr. Guenther, and in the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions with Dr. Kincaid. Shelby hopes to attend medical school after graduating from Creighton.

Emery Staton

Emery is a senior Philosophy and History major form Kansas City, Missouri. Her research is on Cuban-Spanish legal relations and how Spanish constitutionalism affected Cuban independence. Her research took her to Spain over the summer of 2018. Emery aspires to attend law school after graduation and pursue her J.D.  

John Sunderland

John is a senior from Coralville, Iowa, and his is majoring in physics with minors in math and sustainable energy. He has been working in Dr. Andrew Baruth's nanomaterials lab for over two years, researching the ex situ synthesis methods of sulfide thin films for photovoltaic applications. After graduation, John hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in materials science.

Spencer Thompson

Spencer is from Kansas City and researches in the biochemistry laboratory of Dr. Juliane Soukup. In the lab, he studies non-coding segments of RNA known as 'riboswitches'. These riboswitches bind cellular metabolites in order to modify expression of a downstream gene. Specifically, his project examines the structure of a putative riboswitch in Crassostrea gigas. Spencer has been working in Dr. Soukup's lab since his freshman year and believes it has really furthered his interest in biochemistry. Eventually, he hopes to obtain a Ph.D. in biochemistry and potentially teach as the university level.

Siddharth Venkatraman

Siddharth Venkatraman is a junior from San Jose, California studying biochemstry and philosophy. He has spent a year in Dr. Juliane Soukup's biochemistry lab investigating RNA riboswitches, which are noncoding regulatory segments of RNA. Currently, Sid is working on her antizyme project and is studying the structure of the putative RNA riboswitch from the mushroom Agaricus bisporus in the hopes of creating novel antibiological agents. Ultimately, he hopes to pursue a degree in medicine and apply the scientific knowledge and skills he has gained from Creighton to serve others.

Andrew Walther   

Andrew is junior from Rochester, Minnesota double majoring in Math and Biomedical Physics with a minor in Business Administration. He is involve din physics research with the Translational Biomedical Physics group led by Dr. Andrew Ekpenyong. His work in Dr. Ekpenyong's lab is focused on modeling cellular migration patterns via impedance after cancer cells are treated with radiation and chemotherapy. After graduation, he plans to purse a graduate degree in biomedical sciences with a focus on translational clinical applications.

Clare Weber

Clare is a junior from Hudson, Wisconsin. She is a Biochemistry major with minors in Music and Public Health. Clare has worked in Dr. Juliane Soukup's lab since her freshman year studying riboswitches. Her current research focuses on the GlmS riboswitch and its utility as a potential antibiotic target. Creighton's undergraduate research has given Clare opportunities to explore her interests and take her learning beyond the classroom.

Mary Kate Wolken  

Mary Kate is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences studying History and Spanish. Her current project examines the role of La Junta de Damas de Honor y Mérito, a Spanish women's advocacy group founded in 1787 that focuses on education and general, her interests revolved around history, specifically focusing on science and medicine and their implications on societies. After graduation, she hopes to pursue graduate school and teach as the collegiate level.

Connor Wunsch

Connor is a senior at Creighton University majoring in Psychology and minoring in Healthcare Administration & Policy and Medical Anthropology. He wants to attend Occupational Therapy school after graduation. At Creighton, he is the president of Best Buddies, the vice president of Psi Chi, a member of the Dean's Fellows Program, an a CURAS Ambassador. Connor does research in the psychology department focusing on psychopharmacology. He works with rat models to study the biological bases of drug abuse through stimulant drugs. He uses specific models, such as intravenous rodent self-administration and rodent fear conditioning chambers. He uses specific models, such as intravenous rodent self-administration and rodent fear conditioning chambers. He also works on the daily care and handling of the rats.