Undergraduate Research Leaders

Meet the 2016 – 2017 Undergraduate Research Leaders!




Nandini Deo is a junior double majoring in health, society & policy and international studies. She is also triple minoring in sociology, anthropology and integrative human biology. Nandini conducts research in the Center for Renewable Energy and focuses on air purification, biomarker research and some biostatistics. Her faculty mentor is assistant professor Swomitra Mohanty in the Department of Chemical Engineering, and together, they work on a project titled “Air Purification Using Molecular Modeling and Photocatalytic Nanomaterials.” Nandini first got involved in research through the Merrill Engineering Scholars program during her freshman year, where she toured labs for a semester and then found one to work in. “I fell in love and have stayed ever since, even after changing my major out of engineering,” she said. “I love most that research is so interdisciplinary. It connects several different subject matters, ideas, and innovations to one another.  I feel like I’m always learning something new, and I never get bored!” After graduation, Nandini plans to pursue a master’s in public health with an emphasis in global health. After that, she’d like to attend medical school. As an Undergraduate Research Leader, Nandini is most excited to help others find the same passion she found within research. “I hope that people utilize the amazing undergraduate research opportunities that the U offers, and feel like they’re learning more about why their classes are applicable and amazing. I guess I want to instill a sense of relevance!” she said.

Nandini has Peer Advising Walk-in Hours Wednesdays from 11 am – 12 pm in Room 005 of the Sill Center. Feel free to drop in or email to make an appointment with Nandini.



Joy Feng is a senior majoring in chemistry and minoring in business. Her research regarding pharmaceutical research with distinguished professor Jindrich Kopecek is titled “Hybrid Polymeric Hydrogels via Peptide Nucleic Acid (PNA)/DNA Complexation.” As a first year, Joy participated in the ACCESS Program for Women in Science & Mathematics and started conducting research in the pharmaceutics department. “I fell in love with research right away because I was amazed by the dynamic innovation of science. Also, I am very thankful that my mentors were and still are supportive to my studies,” said Joy. After graduation, Joy hopes to pursue a doctorate in pharmaceutics or a related field. As an Undergraduate Research Leader, Joy is most excited about the opportunity to engage with students and share undergraduate research opportunities. She is also glad that she’ll be able to interact with students to learn more about their projects and provide advice from a student’s perspective.

Joy has Peer Advising Walk-in Hours Tuesdays from 11 am – 12 pm in Room 005 of the Sill Center.  Feel free to drop by or email to make an appointment with Joy.


IMG_0019Shantae George is in her senior year at The University of Utah. She is a premed student majoring in Kinesiology with a minor in Chemistry. For the past year, Shantae has been conducting a research project studying the influence of cognition in implicit motor sequence learning in persons with stroke. Her research mentor and she are now working on getting their research published. Shantae believes that being involved in research has numerous benefits such as improving your critical thinking skills, learning how to analyze data, problem solving, and much more.

Shantae has Peer Advising Walk-in Hours Thursdays from 11 am – 12 pm in Room 005 of the Sill Center.  Feel free to drop by or email to make an appointment with Shantae.




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Mohan Sudabattula is a junior triple majoring in honors in biology, honors philosophy and honors health, society and policy with a minor in chemistry. Mohan is working on several research projects with his respective majors. He first started his research in the department of biology/biochemistry under Dr. David Belnap studying the world’s smallest known virus—the Satellite Tobacco Mosaic Virus (STMV)—with the goal to understand the asymmetric protein capsid structure through electron imagining techniques and the use various 3D modeling programs. His other research interests lie both within the realms of political philosophy and international health. After graduation, Mohan plans to pursue a joint graduate degree in both law and medicine to further his understanding of the crossovers of law and medicine. As an Undergraduate Research Leader, Mohan wants to help fellow students find what they are passionate about. “Getting involved with UROP has opened up so many doors for me. The University of Utah has so many great opportunities to get involved with research and I really want to show others the joy of studying what you love outside the classroom,” he said.

Mohan has Peer Advising Walk-in Hours Mondays from 2 – 3 pm in Room 005 of the Sill Center.  Feel free to drop by or email to make an appointment with Mohan.


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Christine Kannapel is a senior in English and French.

A Place by the Tay, her thesis, is a research project studying origin. A Place by the Tay is written in a series of essays, and creative poems. It is a creative non-fiction work. Her project advisor is professor and poet, Katharine Coles.

Since Christine was a child, she has been interested in ancestry, and more recently, the effects of decisions made by parents and ancestors on their descendants. Specifically, how these decisions create one’s sense of origin. This summer, through UROP’s travel grant, Christine was able to visit, research, and write in Scotland so she could analyze the situation of her ancestor’s more closely. She just completed A Place by the Tay through her second UROP semester and is hoping to present her work once more and publish it.

Christine’s goal as a research leader is to assist all students in their research projects- especially students doing research in the Humanities. UROP was a wonderful learning experience for her and she wishes to make her fellow students have a similar one.

She is also an aspiring yogi, tea addict, and loves to write.

Christine K. has Peer Advising Walk-in Hours Mondays from 10 – 11 am in Room 005 of the Still Center.  Feel free to drop by or email to make an appointment with Christie K.


Some of these profiles were written by Chanapa Tantibanchachai, Associate Science Writer, University Marketing & Communications



Information about the Undergraduate Research Leaders Program

The Office of Undergraduate Research launched the Undergraduate Research Leaders program in AY 2015-2016. Each year, we select a small cohort of students to serve as ambassadors for our office. Students selected will be hired as hourly employees of the Office of Undergraduate Research at the rate of $10/hr and can log hours as program needs require.

The Undergraduate Research Leaders will assist the office and promote undergraduate student research through several activities:

  • Office outreach on campus
  • Student recruitment
  • Student engagement
  • Peer advising
  • Program development
  • Travel & Small Grant Reviews

Represent the OUR! Be influential on campus! Develop professional and leadership skills!

Participants in the Undergraduate Research Leaders program are absolutely crucial to the overall success and structure of the program and the OUR. Leaders will have many opportunities to represent the OUR both at campus events and in the classroom.  Leaders will provide peer advising for students looking to get into any OUR programs and will be able to propose new outreach possibilities, as well as design and host additional events when beneficial to the program.  UR Leaders will help with OUR events such as URS and UCUR.  We will hold regular meetings to remain up to date on Leader efforts and achievements and to reflect on how to build/re-structure the program as necessary.  Hours of participation are varied and flexible, depending on the demands of campus events. There are many opportunities to develop professional and leadership skills through participation in the program.  The program offers Leaders a monthly professional development training based on direct feedback from current Leaders and the Leaders participate directly in the design and implementation of OUR programs.

Requirements for Undergraduate Research Leaders Applicants

Applicants must be matriculated University of Utah undergraduate students, not on academic probation, disciplinary probation, or suspension; attending school full-time (at least 12 credit hours) during both semesters of participating in the program (Fall 2017 and Spring 2018); must have successfully completed at least one semester of UROP; must have presented at the University of Utah Undergraduate Research Symposium; must be willing and able to participate approximately 2 – 10 hours a week, with more hours during special campus events; must be personable and thoughtful; must be comfortable with public speaking and willing to attend campus events for the OUR.

The deadline to apply to be an Undergraduate Research Leader in the 2017 – 2018 academic year has passed. Check back in Spring 2018 for the next round of applications.


Our Undergraduate Research Leaders Program was influenced by a program of the same name at the University of Washington. We are grateful to our colleagues at the University of Washington for inspiring us in the development of this program.