National Conference on Undergraduate Research

Western Carolina University has established itself as a national leader in undergraduate research having ranked in the Top 10 for the number of projects accepted to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research annually since 2006. 

Students accepted to NCUR have the opportunity to present their undergraduate research along with peers from across disciplines. Since 1987, NCUR has been a flagship conference for undergraduate researchers to share, celebrate, and promote their research achievements. 

A complete listing of all accepted projects is provided below. Projects are listed by titles, primary student presenters and their sponsors, and organized by discipline for NCUR35, hosted this year virtually. 

Art History and Visual Arts

Das Reingold: Richard Wagner’s Musical Impact on Thomas S. Buechner’s Vitreographs
Student Author: Savannah Bennett
Faculty Sponsor: Carolyn Grosch


Human Embryonic Kidney (HEK) Cell Exosome Isolation and Characterization
Student Author: Brianna Cowan
Faculty Sponsor: Heather Coan 

Investigating an unknown protein (3UN6) in Staphylococcus aureus NCTC 8325
Student Author: Charles Wise
Faculty Sponsor:  Amanda Storm


BacMam Actin and Lysoprobe Method Development in Human Embryonic Kidney and Mesenchymal Stem Cells
Student Authors: Jessica Adams, Amelia Ray
Faculty Sponsor: Heather Coan

Visualizing Autophagy in Nutrient Starved Cells Via Transfection of an LC3 Dual Fluorescence Plasmid
Student Authors: Bryan Gutman, Renee Saneholtz
Faculty Sponsor: Heather Coan

May the Homeostasis be With You: Physiology of the Animal Kingdom in George Lucas’ Star Wars
Student Author: Melissa Rogers
Faculty Sponsor: Joe Bill Mathews


Criminology and Criminal Justice

Biomaterial Printer
Student Authors: Riley Johnson, David Yang, Nicholas Umling, Jeff Albriton, Levi Johnson, Nazmul Ahsahn, Cameron Lewis
Faculty Sponsor: Nazmul Ahsan

A Simple, Real-Time Method for Measuring Firebrand Heat Flux using Semiconductor Devices
Student Authors: Birch Newell, Marcus Chester
Faculty Sponsor: Andy Ritenour

Load-Following Flexibility of Small Modular Reactors Coupled with Wind Farms in the Presence of Extreme Wind Conditions
Student Authors: Joseph Rolland, Carl Robinson, Elijah Bloom, Chris Rodriguez, Fawaz Alsubaie
Faculty Sponsor: Bora Karayaka

English and Literature

Something to Hold on To: Barry Lopez, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Finding Purpose in Art and Nature
Student Author: Carina Blomberg
Faculty Sponsor: Jonathan Bradshaw

The Final Stories: An Examination of Writing Therapy in Denis Johnson’s “The Largesse of the Sea Maiden”
Student Author: Autumn Boyles
Faculty Sponsor: Brian Railsback

The Biblical Paranoia of Macbeth: An Analysis of the Paranoid Effects of Christian Principles on the Life of Macbeth
Student Author: Valerie Dillard
Faculty Sponsor: Mary Adams

“Like the Worst, She’s a Woman”: Objectification and Degradation of Women in Salvage the Bones
Student Author: Dabney Doepner
Faculty Sponsor: Brain Railsback

“Reality’s Never Been of Much Use Out Here”: No Country for Old Men and Close Range: Wyoming Stories as Anti-Westerns
Student Author: Katelyn Hallman
Faculty Sponsor: Brian Railsback

Colson Whitehead’s Extinguished World
Student Author: Elias Hutchinson
Faculty Sponsor: Brian Railsback

The Folly of a Perfect Wife: Why Shakespeare Made Lady Macbeth the Beginning of Macbeth’s Downfall
Student Author: Grace LaMack
Faculty Sponsor: Mary Adams

9/11 and Zombie Apocalypses: How Zone One Mirrors Life Today
Student Author: Jessica Martin
Faculty Sponsor: Brian Railsback

Chestnut or Mahogany: The Relationship Between the Characters of Ron Rash’s Serena and the Environment
Student Author: McKenzie Twine
Faculty Sponsor: Annette Debo

Christ, the Devil, and Mark: An Examination of Addiction and Rehabilitation in “The Starlight on Idaho” by Denis Johnson
Student Author: McKenzie Twine
Faculty Sponsor: Brian Railsback

    Health & Human Development

    Task and Language Effects on Spanish-English Narrative Performance 
    Student Author: Jessica Cano 
    Faculty Sponsor: Claire Wofford

    Linguistics and World Languages

    Vocabulary Use in Writing Samples of Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder
    Student Authors: Amanda Davis, Yana Clarke
    Faculty Sponsor: Johanna Price Vinyard

    Task and Language Effects on Spanish-English Narrative Performance
    Student Authors: Jessica Cano
    Faculty Sponsor: Claire Wofford

    Mechanical & Industrial Engineering

    1-Dimensional Lithium Dendrite Formation
    Student Author: Rylan Paye 
    Faculty Sponsor: Hayri Sezer


    Music on the Porch: the Life and Legacy of Samantha Bumgarner
    Student Author: Savannah Bennett
    Faculty Sponsor: Andrew Adams

    Cultural Appropriation and Appreciation in Western Art Music: A Look at Non-Western Influences in Classical Music
    Student Author: Mattie Mabes
    Faculty Sponsor: Tyler Kinnear

    Batá Drumming: Ethical and Respectful Use by Non-Santeros
    Student Author: Kendall Rhymer
    Faculty Sponsor: Adam Groh

    Electronic Music of Steve Reich
    Student Author: McKenzie Squires
    Faculty Sponsor: Christina Reitz

    Philosophy, Ethics, & Religious Studies

    The Pragmatic Methodist’s Trilateral 
    Student Author: Nathan Travis
    Faculty Sponsor: Daryl Hale

    Political Science

    Rapid Urbanization of Melanesia: Effects on Future Healthcare Institutional Capacity 
    Student Author: Michaela Proffitt 
    Faculty Sponsor: Ingrid Bego


    Investigating Associations Between Women’s Interoceptive Awareness and Sexual Function
    Student Authors: Sophia Frank, Kendall Poovey
    Faculty Sponsor: David de Jong

    Rhetoric and Writing Studies

    Redefining Therapy: Writing’s Role in Eating Disorder Treatment  
    Student Author: Carina Blomberg
    Faculty Sponsor: Jonathan Bradshaw