Erickson Discovery Grants

The Rodney A. Erickson Discovery Grant Program, named in honor of Penn State's seventeenth President, supports undergraduate student engagement in original research, scholarship, and creative work under the direct supervision of a faculty member.

Seventy-two Erickson Discovery Grants, each in the amount of $3,500, were awarded for summer 2018. The application for 2019 Erickson Discovery Grants is available at

The Erickson Discovery Grants are directed to student-initiated projects in the arts, engineering, humanities, sciences, and social sciences that provide experience in all facets of the research, scholarship, or creative processes. This includes conceptualization of a question or focus, proposal writing, identification and implementation of methods, and communication of results (reporting, exhibition, or performance). Projects should be primarily the student's own work; although the project may be related to the supervising faculty member's research or scholarly interests, it should not simply provide assistance to faculty work.

The grants may be used to cover living expenses and project costs (supplies, materials, books, specialized software, travel for the purpose of data collection, etc.). Note: Funds will be deposited to student accounts and therefore may have an impact on student aid or be applied to outstanding charges.

Questions about the Erickson Discovery Grant Program should be directed to the Office of Undergraduate Education (814-863-1864,

Penn State undergraduate students from all campuses in all fields of study may apply for a grant. Students are eligible for grants in the summer following their first year through the summer before the year in which they will graduate (limit of one grant per student). Recipients must be enrolled full-time at Penn State for at least one semester immediately following the summer work. Students must have a Penn State faculty supervisor who is available during the summer to consult with the student and evaluate how the project is conducted. Eligible projects include laboratory and field research, scholarly inquiry, and creative work in music, art, theatre, and other fields. Study abroad, travel unrelated to research, and projects not grounded in an academic discipline are not eligible for Discovery Grant funding.

The Erickson Discovery Grants are intended to enable students to immerse themselves in their projects. It is expected that the Discovery Grant project will receive significant student engagement during the summer and will be accorded sufficient hours and effort to produce excellent work. Any summer jobs should be limited to fifteen hours per week.

Applicants will be notified in early April regarding funding decisions. Grant funds will be distributed to student accounts at the beginning of the first six-week summer session.

Troy Adams, Eberly College of Science, “Age Estimation Model From DNA Methylation and Accuracy Under Variable Strain Using Nanopore Sequencing”

Julio Aira IV, Penn State Abington, “Sustainability and Testing of 3-D Printing Prosthetic Socket”

Jacob John Alexander, Penn State Behrend, “Study of the Elastic Recovery and Residual Hoop Stress in Steel-Aluminum Rings”

Vivek Anil, College of Engineering, “Graphene-based Scaffold for Neuron Regeneration Study”

Audrey Arner, Eberly College of Science, “The functional and evolutionary genomics of sexual dimorphism in Homo sapiens”

Eric Louis Baker, College of Engineering, “Determining Causes of Attrition in Engineering Graduate Students Through Natural Language Processing”

Bridget Baksa, Penn State Berks, “Multi-Objective Spatial Clustering with Multiple Constraints”

Rebecca Anne Barnes, College of the Liberal Arts, “Switching between languages that share the same vocabulary: What keeps them apart?”

Celeste Marie Belknap, College of Arts and Architecture, “Nina Makarova’s Symphony in D Minor: a study of her composition in the context of political and gender oppression”

Emily R. Blaker, University College, “The Effects of School Stress on Student-Athlete Academics and Sport Enjoyment”

Nathaniel Andrew Bledsoe, Eberly College of Science, “Activation of Factor XII in Respect to Cardiovascular Biomaterial”

Andrew Sean Blount, Eberly College of Science, “Detecting Anti-Neutrinos with WATCHMAN”

Anna Pauline Brogan, Eberly College of Science, “The Investigation of Antiprotozoal KKL-8692 as a trans-Translation Inhibiting Compound for Antimicrobial Use”

Cole Tyler Brown, Penn State Behrend, “A Tale of Terrestrial Origins: A Hypothesis for Water on the Primordial Mars”

Kathryn K. Bruce, University College, “The evolutionary and molecular mechanisms of sexual size dimorphism in the common house spider, Parasteatoda tepidariorum”

Rebecca Bussard, Eberly College of Science, “Analyzing Deformation of Telica Volcano through the Use of Remote Sensing Data”

Darcy Chia Calabria, College of the Liberal Arts, “The Relationship between Cult and Iron Smithing at Phoenician Tel Akko, Israel”

Mia Elizabeth Caputo, College of the Liberal Arts, “Self-Resemblance and the Cross-Race Memory Effect”

Sabrina Anne Carrozzi, College of Engineering, “On-Demand 3-D Printing Thermally Cured Polymer Nanoparticle Composites”

Julia Catena, Eberly College of Science, “Determining the Tissue Specificity of an NAD+ Biosynthetic Enzyme in C. elegans”

Ian David Chamberlain, University College, “The Physiological and Environmental Effects of Caffeinated Compost on Green Beans”

Yumih Chang, College of Arts and Architecture, “Documentation and Multimedia Display Creation on Keisuke Oka's ‘Arimasuton-Biru’ for New Media and Architectural Studies”

Carlos M. Curay, Eberly College of Science, “The Correlation of Spontaneous Seizures to Cardiac Damage in Epileptic Rat Models”

Ryan Michael Czekaj, College of Arts and Architecture, “Primary Source Research for Elgar’s ‘Three Characteristic Pieces’”

Lauren Echols, College of the Liberal Arts, “Syntactic ambiguity resolution in Spanish speakers and Spanish-English bilinguals”

Victor David Ellis, Eberly College of Science, “Mechanism Of Recombination In Enteroviruses”

Emma Stephanie Gogarnoiu, Eberly College of Science, “KH protein domains and how they bind to Fe (II)”

Chujie Gong, College of Engineering, “A 3-D Image-based Study of Biomechanics for Glenoid Implant and Bone”

Nakul Grover, College of the Liberal Arts, “Impact of immigration in South Asia: Burmese immigrants in Bangladesh and migration to India”

Mindy Sarah Gruzin, University College, “Evolutionary consequence of genome duplication on developmental expression of octopamine receptor in the common house spider, Parasteatoda tepidariorum”

Catherine Elise Hanagan, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, “Tectonics, Magmatism, and Climate Change: Investigating the Location and Magnitude of North America-Eurasia plate motion in Iceland”

Tice Ryan Harkins, Eberly College of Science, “Characterizing Flow and Clotting in PDMS Channels Using Micro-Particle Image Velocimetry”

Michael T. Heigh, Eberly College of Science, “Using Pectin Mutants in Arabidopsis thaliana to Better Understand Plant Cell Growth”

Corey Herr, Eberly College of Science, “Hardware Development and Data Analysis for LZ Dark Matter Detector”

Raymond Lawrence Hoy, College of the Liberal Arts, “Analyzing Student Usage and Attitudes Towards Green2Go to Promote a More Cost Effective To-go Container”

Ya-Lin Huang, College of Engineering, “CTC Recognition by Image Processing for FMSA Liquid Biopsy”

Maria Rose Hudock, College of Engineering, “Softshell Turtle Collagen for the Development of a Lung Tissue Scaffold”

Kailash Jayachandran, Eberly College of Science, “Determining the Mechanism of NeuroD1 Mediated Reprogramming of Astrocytes into Glutamatergic Neurons”

Catherine Karbasiafshar, Eberly College of Science, “Exploration of suppressor mutations in a Bacillus subtilis strain deficient for NusA”

Annalyse K. Kehs, College of Engineering, “Application of Artificial Intelligence to Detect Lycorma delicatula”

Itsuhiro Ko, College of Agricultural Sciences, “Detecting mobile DNA movement between host and parasitic plant, a potential mechanism of HGT”

Nicole Grace Laganke, Eberly College of Science, “Investigating the Lethality in NAD+ Deficient nmrk-1 Caenorhabditis elegans in Environments of Oxidative Stress”

Joash Malakani Lake, Eberly College of Science, “Wolbachia Infection: Understanding the Requirements between Aedes aegypti and Wolbachia”

Samantha Long, University College, “How Student Satisfaction and Motivation in School is affected by Negative Life Events”

Gregory Paul Lutz, University College, “Exploring the Physiological Causation of Parasitic Host Manipulation”

Fabiola Maldonado, Eberly College of Science, “Neural Excitability and Inflammation in High Fat Diet Induced Depressive-Like Brain States”

Kathryn Lynn Mayberry, College of the Liberal Arts, “Reclaiming Disabled Poetry; William Carlos Williams' Late Work”

Phoebe McClincy, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, “Primordial Black Holes as a Dark Matter Candidate”

Christian Murphy, College of Engineering, “Proposal for Automated Design for Additive Manufacturing Optimization through Machine Learning”

Jeremy Mysliwiec, Eberly College of Science, “Analysis of a two-population chemotaxis model with competitive dynamics”

Lane Z. Naugle, College of Agricultural Sciences, “Testing the effect of anthropogenic noise pollution upon nesting songbird communication channels and reproductive success”

Vance Noah, Penn State Behrend, “Synthesis and Biochemical Evaluation of Piperine Amide Analogs for Acetylcholinesterase Inhibition”

Danielle Marie Reilly, University College, “Using Evolutionary Relevant Fear Stimuli to Enhance Memory”

Colton Ruggery, Eberly College of Science, “The Effects of the α3β4 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor Antagonist, 18-Methoxycoronaridine (18-MC), on Alcohol-Related Behaviors”

Emily Sellinger, Eberly College of Science, “Predicting Lyme disease Cases Using Mouse Trap Sales”

Rachel E. Shriver, College of Education, “Más Que Mojitos: Reciprocity within Global Conversations Course”

Benjamin Simonson, Eberly College of Science, “Life-history trade-off between immunity and thermoregulation in bumblebees”

Jessica Jean Smith, Eberly College of Science, “Development of Citrate/Magnesium Phosphate Dual Network Injectable Composites for Orthopedic Tissue Engineering”

Emily C. Snell, Eberly College of Science, “In Vitro and Ex Vivo profiling of Antibiotic Properties of Tetrazole Analogs that Target trans-Translation”

Danielle Judy Spewak, College of Arts and Architecture, “Reality Destination”

Steven G. Stamm, Penn State Berks, “Reduction of Drag by Adding Longitudinal Grooves”

Michelle Suhendra, Eberly College of Science, “Functional Characterization of PF13_0114, an ApiAP2 transcription factor in malaria parasite P. falciparum”

Lichen Sun, College of Engineering, “Design of Low Leakage Pouch Cells for Electric Double-layer Capacitor (EDLC) Applications”

Jonathan Frances Thomas, Eberly College of Science, “In vivo analysis of the RNA binding domain of the transcriptional pausing factor, NELF”

Gavin Turner, Eberly College of Science, “Characterization of the FaRLiP Phycobilisome Complex by Knockout Mutagenesis in the Cyanobacterium Synechococcus sp. PCC 7335”

Seth Wilcox, College of Education, “Large Scale Keyphrase Evaluation via Crowdsourcing”

Madison I. Winkowski, University College, “Pharacological characterization of dopamine receptors in the common house spider, Parasteatoda tepidariorum”

Madeline Winn, College of Agricultural Sciences, “Programmed Cell Death Proteins as CL Saviors: Examining the Role of PD-1 and PD-L1 in Luteal Rescue”

Stephen Daniel Worrell, College of Agricultural Sciences, “Characterizing IRE1alpha Dependent Leukocyte Recruitment Signaling in UV Induced Inflammation”

Amanda Yaya, Eberly College of Science, “Investigation of Interictal Hemodynamics in Rat Models Using Oxygen-Sensing Electrodes”

Philip Navin Zachariah, Eberly College of Science, “A Fly on the Wall: Bridging the Gap Between Penn State Research Laboratories and the Student Community”

Chenzhang Zhou, Penn State Altoona, “Why Phonons Behavior in Transition Metal Dichalcogenides Matter”

Everett Zofchak, College of Engineering, “Synthesis of Polymeric Nanostructures Via Order-Order and Disorder-Order Transitions”