Undergrads, Faculty Win Awards at Research Conference
A research project by two School of Nursing & Health Studies (NHS) students analyzing the nutrition practices of pregnant women in Africa won Best Oral Presentation at the Ninth Annual Undergraduate Research Conference April 7.
The student-organized conference invites undergraduates from area universities to showcase their health- and science-related research projects.
“Knowledge, Perceptions, and Practices of Nutrition Among Pregnant Women in Northern Ghana” by Georgetown students Phoebe Bacon (NHS’11) and Caitlin Maloney (NHS’11), discovered that pregnant women in Ghana were omitting some nutritionally important foods due to socioeconomic conditions and cultural beliefs.
Another oral presenter, Alexandra Russo (C’11), won Best Poster Presentation for her research on “The Role of Eph/Ephrin Signaling in Cortical Synaptogenesis.”
Bacon and Maloney found, for example, that the pregnant women they studied thought eating eggs would cause their babies to grow up to become thieves. The students said this is unfortunate because eggs are “nutrient dense” and a good source of protein.
“There are a lot of policy implications and a lot of public health implications [on the local level in Ghana] so it’s good to get the information out there,” said Maloney, who along with Bacon are international health majors.
Francesca Brown (NHS’11), who hopes to be a pediatric nurse after graduation, did her research project on “Assessing Nurse Perceptions of Bullying in Preadolescents and Practice Implication.”
Brown discovered that nurses were concerned about bullying but had no protocol on how to handle victims nor routinely assessed for it.
“Just having the knowledge and awareness that these are issues that aren’t being addressed yet will help me see it in a new light and focus more on this and the physical (treatment),” she said. “Hopefully I can find a way to manage my time and take on both of these issues.”
Janet Mann, professor of biology and psychology, won the Allan Angerio, Ph.D., Award for Excellence in Faculty Mentorship at the conference.
"I am deeply honored and touched that my students nominated me for this award,” said Mann, who has conducted groundbreaking dolphin research.
Mann said eight undergraduates work in her lab and that most students work with her for at least two years doing research and field work.
“These are the kinds of experiences that go well beyond the classroom and make Georgetown a special place for undergraduates," she said.
Nancy Davidson, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and the UPMC Cancer Centers, delivered the conference's keynote address.
Internationally known for her work in breast cancer, she told students to be passionate and focused and embrace big goals and vision.
"I know you have that passion," she said. "I hope you are going to hold on to it. That's what drives us in medical and scientific research."
A total of 35 projects were showcased at the conference.
"The quality of the students' posters and presentations was very impressive," said Julie DeLoia, interim NHS dean. "Undergraduate research is an important part of the Georgetown experience, and I am proud of the students and deeply grateful to their faculty mentors."