CURAS Ambassadors

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

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 actively involved in a research project for at least 6 months before applying to be a CURAS Ambassador. CURAS enlists undergraduate research students from all disciplines. For research-related costs, CURAS Student Ambassadors receive a $250 stipend.

 CURAS Ambassador Mission Statement:

Creighton's Center for Undergraduate Research Student Ambassadors serve as the face of undergraduate research at Creighton. It is our mission to support fellow student's research efforts, promote relevant opportunities, and work to create a culture of undergraduate research on campus while sharing our own experiences.


Kayley Anderson

Kayley Anderson is a junior from Omaha, Nebraska studying Neuroscience and English. She does research with Dr. Charles Brockhouse focusing on sex determining genes in populations of black flies from around the world. The goal of the study is to understand sex differentiation’s genetic component in hopes of helping to decrease rates of river blindness in rural areas.

Maggie Atkinson

Maggie is a junior from St. Lois, MO. She is studying biochemistry on the pre-medicine track. She is involved in research in Dr. Dieckman’s lab biochemistry lab. She does research on single molecule interactions between proteins involved in nucleosome formation. She mainly is examining the kinetics of their interactions. Maggie hopes to attend medical school after graduating.

Michael Backer

Michael Backer is a senior from Omaha, NE studying biology, health administration & policy, and public health. 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. He is also involved with vaccine hesitancy research with the Dept. of Cultural & Social Studies. Outside of Creighton, Michael recently completed working on a project at UNMC which investigated variation in alcohol metabolism among mice strains. After graduation, he hopes to attend medical school.

Logan Baumberger

Logan Baumberger is a senior from Fremont, Nebraska majoring in Biochemistry at Creighton University. He has researched in Dr. Juliane Soukup’s laboratory since his freshman year investigating riboswitches, non-coding regulatory segments of RNA that bind small molecules to regulate downstream gene expression. His current research investigates the role of the mouse ornithine decarboxylase antizyme 1 RNA as a putative spermine-dependent riboswitch regulating the expression of the Oaz1 gene providing a potential target for cancer cell growth. After graduation, he hopes to attend medical school applying the communication and critical thinking skills gained from his classes and research at Creighton to serve rural communities in the Midwest.

Emilia Berni

Emi is a senior 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 attend dental school.

Taylor Burke

Taylor is a Junior in the College of Arts and Sciences from Portland, Oregon. She is double majoring in Biochemistry and Spanish. Currently, Taylor researches in Dr. Soukup’s lab investigating the role of riboswitches using HEK-293 cells as a model. After graduation, Taylor intends to enroll in a physician-scientist program.

Molly Carrig

Molly is a senior studying Biochemistry and Classical Languages. She researches in Dr. Lynne Dieckman's biochemistry lab. In the lab, she completes protein purification and binding studies to determine the structural, thermodynamic, and kinetic interactions of two proteins involved in DNA packaging and gene expression. After graduation, Molly hopes to attend medical school.

Lauryn Caster

Lauryn Caster is a junior from Papillion, NE majoring in Neuroscience. She is a research assistant in Dr. Tal Teitz's laboratory in the Medical Pharmacology department. Currently, her research centers around testing various small molecule inhibitors of protein kinases in order to find a preventative cure for chemotherapy-induced hearing loss. Lauryn co-authored the podium talk titled, Development of Small Molecule Protein Kinase Inhibitors for Hearing Protection, that was presented at the ARO Midwinter meeting in Baltimore, MD. After graduation, she hopes to follow her passion for medicine by attending medical school.

Eilidh Chowanec

Eilidh is a senior from Johnston, Iowa. She is a Biology major and is minoring in French and Francophone Studies. She is involved in Organic Chemistry research in Dr. Fletcher’s lab. She is currently working on synthesizing biologically active small molecules that have potential to be used as antimicrobials. After graduation, Eilidh plans to pursue an MD-PhD.

Laura Cogua

Laura is from Omaha, Nebraska, and is a sophomore chemistry major with a minor in biology. Her research is in Dr. Mattson’s lab. Currently, it focuses on the design and development of gas-phase catalytic reactions by using palladium beads as a catalyst. After graduating from Creighton, Laura plans to go to medical or graduate school. In her free time, Laura enjoys running and spending time with friends.

Katie Cunningham

Katie Cunningham is a junior who is majoring in chemistry from Scottsdale, AZ. She works in Dr. Mattson's research lab, which focuses on understanding the Horiuti-Polanyi and Vinyl Reversal mechanisms through a variety of gas-catalyst reactions.

Emma Curran

Emma is from Colorado Springs, Colorado. She is a junior pursuing a biology major with an English minor on the pre-med track. Currently, Emma works in Dr. Juliane Soukup’s lab investigating RNA structure and functions in mold. Emma is still discerning her life after Creighton; however, it will likely include medical and/or graduate school with lots of student loans. She loves to travel, read, write, run trails, watch movies and laugh with friends, and geek-out about science, history, or books.

Romi Dazzio

Romi is a junior from Denver, Colorado studying psychology with a minor in business administration. She is currently a part of Dr. Klanecky’s research team where she examines resilience among college students. After graduation, Romi intends to pursue a PhD in Counseling Psychology.

Connor Diaz

Connor Diaz is a Senior undergraduate student at Creighton. He is majoring in Biology with minors in Spanish and Hispanic Studies and Behavioral and Cognitive Neuropsychology. He is a member of the College of Arts & Sciences Honors Program and aspires to attend medical school in the Fall of 2020. In the past, Connor worked in the Clinical and Translational Science Department studying the pathophysiology of rotator cuff tendinopathies and is in the process of developing a novel hydrogel template for guided tissue engineering of shoulder tendon.

Ellen Erie

Ellen is a senior 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.

Olivia Fuson

Olivia is a senior majoring in History and Spanish. Her research interests center around issues of identity, urban planning, and inequality in post-WWII America. Olivia has recently completed an independent research project examining the history of racially motivated urban land use policies in her hometown of Portland, Oregon. She is currently working on a second project examining healthcare access and urban development across the San Ysidro border between San Diego and Tijuana. Her advisor is Dr. Britta McEwen.

Diego Gomez

Diego Gomez is a junior from Madrid, Spain, studying Neuroscience with a minor in Economics. His research in Dr. Soukup's lab focuses on the regulation of the glmS ribozyme as a potential avenue for antimicrobial therapy development. He also studies Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders at UNMC and has participated in WHO-sponsored workshops for healthcare providers in Central America. After graduation, Diego hopes to become a physician-scientist.

Nicole Haen

Nicole is a junior Biology major from Luxemburg, Wisconsin. She spent this last summer working under Dr. Belshan in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology. Her research focused on alterations in the proteome of cells latently infected with HIV-1. After graduation, Nicole hopes to obtain her Ph.D. in Infectious Disease & Immunology.

Emily Harders

Emily is a senior Biology major and Studio Art minor from Grand Island, Nebraska. She fell 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.

Alec Harrington

Alec Harrington is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences from Spirit Lake, Iowa. Majoring in Biology and minoring in Medical Anthropology, Alec is currently doing research on antifungal drug resistance mechanisms in Candida albicans, a pathogenic yeast commonly found in the human body, in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology under Dr. Anna Selmecki. After graduation, he hopes to attend medical school and pursue a career in the military as a medical doctor.

Nic Heckenlaible

Nic is from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and is a senior Chemistry major with minors in Computer Science and Biology. 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 as a physician. Nic enjoys playing tennis, running, and watching movies in his free time.

Kelsey Jackson

Kelsey in a junior from Sioux City, Iowa studying Physics and Data Science. She has worked in Dr. Michael Nichols’ lab since the summer prior to her freshman year. They are developing a non-invasive method to diagnose skin cancer using multiphoton fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) and phasor analysis. This technique involves shooting a pulsing near-infrared laser at a sample to excite and measure endogenous metabolic indicators like NAD(P)H and flavoproteins. Once she graduates, Kelsey intends to pursue a PhD in Computational Physics.

Saige Jager

Saige is a junior from McHenry, Illinois. She is currently studying political science and history. Her research with Dr. Appleford of the history department is working towards creating a comprehensive interactive database of Nebraskan hate crimes since the lynching of Will Brown in 1919. After graduation, she plans on pursuing a graduate degree and entering the corporate world. Eventually, she hopes to teach at the collegiate level.

Destiny Jordan

Destiny L. Jordan is a sophomore at Creighton University from Omaha, Nebraska; pursing a degree in Chemistry and French. She is currently conducting research with Dr. Oshin that seeks to increase the efficiency of a catalyst’s ability to speed up reactions. Through her research, she has expanded her knowledge in many areas, ranging from equipment use (NMRs, rotator evaporators, etc.) to important scientific topics such as constructing compound structures, x-ray crystallography, and synthesizing ligands. Destiny greatly anticipates continuing her research with Dr. Oshin and exploring further research opportunities.

Noah Keime

Noah is a sophomore from Dakota Dunes, South Dakota. He is double majoring in Biology and Studio Art. Prior to college, he worked in Dr. Keith Miskimins’s lab examining the effects of a novel stroke drug on human breast cancer. Noah spent the last year working in Dr. Anna Selmecki’s lab studying fungal genetics; specifically, he was researching how centromere heterogeneity in fungal species leads to the acquisition of drug resistance. This year, he will work in Dr. Carol Fassbinder-Orth’s lab, where he will study vector competency of bed bugs. After graduation, Noah hopes to either attend medical school or pursue a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology.

John Kral

John Kral is a senior 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 in zebrafish. Following graduation from Creighton, John plans on attending medical school.

Chris LeWarne

Christopher LeWarne is a senior from Des Moines, IA, studying Chemistry and Philosophy. He first got involved in research his freshman year with Dr. Oshin in the chemistry department. His work with Dr. Oshin involved inorganic catalysis and Atom Transfer Radical Addition reactions. This work has been carried on to the present as this project continues to develop. In addition, Christopher has pursued research in Philosophy. With funding from a CURAS summer grant, he is in the process of developing a manuscript in the field of philosophy of mind, with special interest in theories such as panpsychism and neutral monism.

Brady Manker

Brady is a junior majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Medicine in Society and Biology. 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 clinical research project at Nebraska Medical Center working with children in NICU. After Creighton, Brady hopes to go to medical school and continue his work with children.

Mark May

Mark is a senior from Woodbury, Minnesota and is studying Mathematics on the pre-medicine track. His research in Dr. Lynne Dieckman’s lab investigates protein-protein interactions involved in replication-coupled nucleosome assembly. He also investigates the subsemble method for spatial statistical analysis with Dr. Aimee Schwab-McCoy. 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 attend medical school.

Katie Meinecke

Katie is a senior from Des Moines, Iowa studying Biology and Communication Studies on the pre-dental track. She has spent just over two years on Dr. Amanda Holman’s research team, studying how parents communicate about taboo topics with their children. Currently, the team is hosting lectures for parents in the Omaha community. Katie hopes to attend dental school after graduating from Creighton.

Molly Myers

Molly Myers is a senior from Omaha, Nebraska majoring in Economics with Mathematics and Biology minors. She currently works in Dr. Mike Nichols’ lab in the Biophysical Optics Research Group (BORG), which focuses on noninvasive skin cancer biopsy techniques using fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) and high-powered lasers. She also works under the guidance of Dr. Kathleen Sheehan studying healthcare economics, looking at the impact of Certificate of Need (CON) Laws on Emergency Department wait times as well as the difference in pharmaceutical research and development between industry and academia. After graduation, Molly hopes to pursue an MD/PhD in either cancer research or healthcare economics.

Cassidy Nguyen

Cassidy Nguyen is a junior from Sacramento, California. He is currently working Dr. Zuo's in the Department of Biomedical Sciences. His current project is testing compounds for protection against noise-induced hearing loss.

Chisom Nwakama

Chisom is a junior from Marshall, Minnesota. She is currently majoring in Chemistry and minoring in Biology, Mathematics, and Philosophy 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 pursue patent law.

Braden Oldham

Braden is a senior College of Arts and Science student here at Creighton University. He hails from 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, in the Department of Neurological Sciences investigating stem cell derived-Fragile X Syndrome astrocyte migration in a mouse model.

Raeef Rahman

Raeef Rahman is a sophomore from West Fargo, North Dakota. He plans on studying Neuroscience and Philosophy with hopes of pursuing graduate studies or medical school. He is currently involved in research in Dr. Fassbinder-Orth's lab where he is studying the interplay between Juvenile Hormone and Vitellogenin and their influence on behavioral and developmental regulation in Honey Bees.

Rebekah Rapoza

Rebekah is a junior from Pepe’ekeo, Hawai’i studying biology with a minor in dance. She conducts biochemistry research under Dr. Dieckman and receives funding as an INBRE scholar. She is currently focused on the identification and isolation of a potential protein-protein interaction site between DNA regulation and maintenance proteins PCNA and CAF-1 and is also completing purification and crystallization studies of fusion complexes between those two proteins. Rebekah plans to continue in research after graduation, hopefully through an MD/PhD program.

Mason Rhodes

Mason Rhodes is a senior from Des Moines, Iowa, with a double major in Physics and Mathematics and a minor in Philosophy. He is currently researching 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 conduct quantum computing research in industry.

Lorenzo Riva

Lorenzo Riva is a junior from Cagliari, Italy, and is double majoring in Mathematics and Physics. He previously worked with Dr. Nielsen on Feynman’s Operational Calculus, a branch of functional analysis, and he is now currently working with Dr. Pennington on the solutions to the generalized Magneto-Hydrodynamic equations, a system of differential equations which governs the motion of a fluid subjected to a magnetic field. After graduation, he plans on going to graduate school and pursuing a career as a mathematics professor.

Abby Robinson

Abby is a senior biology and environmental science major and Spanish minor from White Bear Lake, Minnesota. She studies the territorial and defensive behavior of black swallowtail butterflies in Nebraskan tall-grass prairies with Dr. Burk in Creighton’s biology department. More specifically, she investigates how territoriality varies across different habitats and weather conditions. Abby also studied the social perceptions of climate change and the web-making efficiency of social spiders while on a Creighton study abroad program on the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon Rainforest.

Tyler Rollman

Tyler Rollman is a senior 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.

Rizwan Siddiqui

Rizwan is a junior from Omaha majoring in Biology and minoring in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuropsychology. He is currently performing research under Dr. Monita Chatterjee at Boys Town National Research Hospital on how cochlear implant users perceive and produce emotions in speech. After graduation, Rizwan hopes to attend medical school and practice medicine.

Lindsey Theut

Lindsey is a junior from Phoenix, Arizona in the College of Arts and Sciences, and she is studying Neuroscience and Biology. This past summer she participated in research at the University Nebraska Medical Center looking into characterizing iron receptors in lupus. This coming year she will participate in research in Dr. Fletcher’s lab involving organic synthesis as well as coordination chemistry. Lindsey hopes to pursue medical school after graduating from Creighton.

Spencer Thompson

Spencer is a senior 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 obtain an M.D./Ph.D. in biochemistry and potentially teach at the university level.

Siddharth Venkatraman

Siddharth Venkatraman is a senior from San Jose, California studying biochemistry and philosophy. He has spent two years 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 a senior from Rochester, Minnesota double majoring in Math and Biomedical Physics with a minor in Business Administration. He is involved in 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 pursue a graduate degree in biomedical sciences with a focus on translational clinical applications.

Clare Weber

Clare is a senior from Hudson, Wisconsin. She is a Biochemistry major with minors in Music and Public Health. Clare has worked in 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.

Jacquelyn Wright

Jacquelyn is a senior from Lincoln, Nebraska studying Biochemistry and Spanish. She worked in Dr. Haas’ lab for some time but is currently working in the lab of Dr. Dieckman. Her work in the biochemistry lab studies the interaction of two proteins, PCNA and CAF-1, during replication-coupled nucleosome assembly. After graduation, she plans on attending graduate school to get her PhD in Biochemistry.