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Biology students recognized for their research at national and state conventions

From left: Yuden Dorji, Fatima Mohammad, Mubina Rasul, Katie Waugh, Tessa Danielson, and Favziya Rasulova

Several students won awards for presentations at the Sigma Zeta National Convention and the Minnesota Academy of Science Winchell Undergraduate Research Symposium.

At the Sigma Zeta conference, Hannah Olson ‘25 won an outstanding oral presentation award for her investigation into a new epoxy curing agent. 

Hannah Olson '25

“I felt relieved that my hard work was recognized in that way,” Olson said. “It also was nice to see that the judges and audience felt my enthusiasm for the topic because I had worked really hard to make the presentation accessible and understandable to a general audience.”

Olson said that a summer project researching bioplastics helped her realize her enthusiasm for research. 

Dustin Traffie '24

Dustin Traffie ‘24 won an outstanding poster award. His poster, “The Utilization of the Crystal Kappa Mutations in HIV Fab Crystallization,” detailed his research over the summer at Scripps Research.

Traffie said his love for research has been fostered by the faculty at Concordia and has had many opportunities to pursue research throughout his years here. 

“Without these opportunities, the chances to present and engage in science with my peers would’ve never been possible,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier with the group of individuals who have been my mentors, professors, and advisors over the last four years.”

Other student presenters at this event included Yvette Umutoniwase, who studied ways to culture neurons from zebrafish; Seema Mustafa, Therese Byankuba, and Luke Young addressed microplastics in waterfowl; and Yuden Dorji and Sharon Mac-George Nwabia, who researched microplastics in squirrels. 

Concordia students and faculty at the Sigma Zeta National Convention

Concordia’s Gamma Gamma chapter also won the Founders Cup, which is given to a Sigma Zeta chapter based on successful activities at the local and national level. This is the fourth Founders Cup win for the Gamma Gamma chapter and the cup will be displayed in the case at the entry of Integrated Science Center for the next year. 

At the Minnesota Academy of Science Winchell Undergraduate Research Symposium, all of the posters that Concordia students presented on their independent research received Judge’s Choice Poster awards. 

Three faculty members attended the symposium: Dr. Jenn Sweatman, Dr. Graeme Wyllie, and Dr. Joseph Whittaker.

From left: Favziya Rasulova, Yuden Dorji, Fatima Mohammad, and Mubina Rasul

Favziya Rasulova, Yurden Dorji, Fatima Mohammed, and Mubine Rasul presented on microplastics in squirrels. Sharon Mac-George Nwabia assisted with the research. 

Rasulova and Dorji credit Concordia with a pivotal role in their team’s success by supporting their research. 

“The outcome of this project has the potential to promote reduced plastic usage, encourage recycling, or implement small local adjustments, such as exchanging our outdoor trash cans at Concordia for more enclosed ones to minimize pollution,” Rasulova said. 

Katie Waugh presented on her work comparing the differences in small mammals in native habitats to those in restored prairie habitats. 

From left: Katie Waugh and Tessa Danielson

“I can confidently say I would not be where I am today without the resources provided to me by Concordia,” Waugh said. “There are many ongoing undergraduate research projects on campus, and Concordia does a great job of getting students involved with these opportunities.”

Tessa Danielson, who received research assistance from Sophia Tobin, said her main takeaway from presenting her analysis of deer teeth was the validation she received from her peers and experts in the field. 

“It also provided insight into further directions I can take my research and gave me a unique opportunity to learn from peers and judges,” she added.

Learn more about research opportunities at Concordia College.


Written by Alyssa Czernek ‘25