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.

More than seventy Erickson Discovery Grants, each in the amount of $3,500, were awarded for summer 2019.

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,

Applications for the Erickson Discovery Grants are now open and will close January 20th, 2020.

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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.

Kaylee Aaron, The Need for Status: An Evolutionary Explanation for Mental Health Issues from Social Media Use, University College

Ethan Adams, Protein Folding through Generative Adversarial Networks, Berks

Alexa Anderson, Language, Screens, and Development, Health and Human Development

Rachel Bartlett, The Influence of Adolescent Social Stress on Opioid Receptor Gene Expression, Eberly College of Science

Lena Becker, Exploring the Relation Between Adult Attachment Relationship Functioning and Personality Disorders, The Liberal Arts

Elizabeth Bell, Stream Restoration’s Efficiency in Abating Excess Nutrients and Heavy Metals, Capitol

Joseph Binkin, Using Design as a Research Method to Investigate Issues of Equity and Bias in AI-enabled Hiring Systems, Engineering

Hayden Bock, Influences of polyculture cropping systems on weed success, Agricultural Sciences

Isabel Brady, These Boots are Made for Walking, But Where Do They Rest? Urban Accommodation & Architecture for Rome-Bound Pilgrims in Siena, Italy , The Liberal Arts

Amanda Rose Byrd, The Relationship Between Water Stress and Marcellus Legacy Fund Investment in Pennsylvania Municipalities, Earth and Mineral Sciences

Lauren Chamberlain, Synthesis of Photocatalysts for applications in Surface Chemistry and Heterogeneous Catalysis, Eberly College of Science

Yu-Jen Chiu, Orientational Effects on Complex Emulsion Droplet Chemotactic Interactions, Earth and Mineral Sciences

Carley Danielson, C.R.E.A.T.E. Meaningful Learning: A Strategic Investigation of the Pedagogical Efficacy of Primary Literature-Based Undergraduate Education in Psychology, The Liberal Arts

Autumn Deitrick, Optimizing the Weir Equation for Nature-Like Fish Passages, Engineering

Nicholas Alexander DiNunzio, An Investigation on the Effects of Elastic Recovery on Sheet Metal During Bend-Stretch Forming, Behrend

Jonathan Ehring, Dispersion of Carbon Nanotubes Using Surface Active Agents, Capitol

Victor Ficarra, Using Neural Networks to Generate Daily Fantasy Sports Lineups, University College

Kelan B Fogarty, Synthesis and Characterization of a Series of Metal Containing Isobutyl POSS Compounds, University College

Kristina Franklin, Does personality type predict exercise behavior in zebrafish, Danio rerio, a common animal model of human disease , Altoona

Cameron Franz, Understanding Equity and Producer Risk in Cherry Value Chains of Morocco, Earth and Mineral Sciences

William Fullerton, Developing Viable Polymer Electrolyte Membranes, Earth and Mineral Sciences

Nicholas Gigliotti, Encapsulation of ceramide in calcium phosphosilicate nanoparticles to treat run away inflammatory responses in the lungs of pediatric patients, Earth and Mineral Sciences

Lindsey Goodnight, Development of Rapid, Array-formatted Electrochemical Antibacterial Susceptibility Testing (ECAST) , Engineering

Anna Graef, Shino Glazing: Contemporary American Adaptations of Traditional Japanese Techniques, Arts and Architecture

James Graef, Analyzing International Public Transit Operational Procedures, Agricultural Sciences


John Gurklis, Historical Preservation and Development at Khan al-Umdan: Acre (Akko), Israel , The Liberal Arts

Hayley Hurt, Exploration of Epigenetic Effects on Offspring Behavior, Infection Rate, and Methylation Patterning in a Beetle-Tapeworm System , University College

Bradley Irizarry, Glowing spiders; using PiggyBac transposable elements to localize and alter specific genes in the common house spider, University College

Edward Issertell, Elucidating the Order of Metal Binding Between EF-hands in Lanmodulin, Eberly College of Science

Anam Jafri, Understanding Microscopic and Macroscopic Properties of Graft Copolymers, Earth and Mineral Sciences

BaselKarim, Detection of Protein Refolding via a Reverse Environmentally-Sensitive Fluorescent Probe, Eberly College of Science

Siddharth Karthikeyan, Functional Analysis of Genes in the 15q11.2 CNV Deletion and Associated Phenotypic Outcomes, Eberly College of Science

Annalyse K Kehs, The use of Satellites to Survey Small-holder Farmers Fields, Engineering

Kathryn King, Elk K+ channel modulation and neuronal signaling, Eberly College of Science

Yuran Kong, Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) for Nickel-Aluminum Alloys, Earth and Mineral Sciences

Kalei H Kowalchik, Nurses Perceptions of Palliative Care and the Impact it has on Palliative Care Referrals in the Acute Care Setting, University College

Nicholas Kuhn, EDG Transverse Flux Motor, Altoona

Victoria Leger, Caught in the Act: Duty Cycles of Accreting Compact Objects, Eberly College of Science

Yihao Lin, An Investigation of Carbon Nanotubes as Enzyme Delivery Vectors, Engineering

Nicholas Litak, Magnetic Properties of Alkanethiolate-Protected Gold Nanoparticles, Eberly College of Science

Kathryn Luteran, Analysis of the role of Miwi2 dependent regulation of histone modifications in stress erythropoiesis, Agricultural Sciences

Amanda Martin, Erickson Discovery Grant Screenplay Proposal, Berks

Aileen McKinstry, Justice Scalia's Enduring Constitution: An examination of Modern-day Originalism as it Compares to the Original Intent of the Founding Fathers, The Liberal Arts

Matthew Mouck, Bioinformatic Discovery of Novel Riboswitches in the Human Gut Microbiome, Eberly College of Science

Lily Murray, Lesbian History Archival Research, The Liberal Arts

Magnus Murray, Instrumented Frisbee to Study the Aerodynamics of Frisbees, Berks

Guinevere Vanbuskirk Oliver, Biophysical and Biochemical Characterization of Mitochondrial Transcription in the Presence of STAT3 and TEAD4, Eberly College of Science

Courtney Page, Investigation into the regulation of [1, 25(OH)2D3] by CPY24A1 and the impact on T cell proliferation , Agricultural Sciences

Jay Pendyala, A Mechanistic Study of LipA's Fe-S cluster Regeneration, Eberly College of Science

Philip P Ratnasamy, Understanding Light Touch Sensation in Class III DA Drosophila Neurons, Eberly College of Science

Lily Qing Lian Robinson, Role of IRE1α Mutations in Cancer Pathogenesis, Agricultural Sciences

Samuel Rovito, Mechanisms in Receptor Binding Preference of H3N2 Influenza with Regards to Potential Mammalian Transmission, Agricultural Sciences

Katelyn Rudisill, Understanding How Cdk5 Localizes Essential Proteins for Proper Neuronal Function in Class 1 DA Drosophila Neurons, Eberly College of Science

Juan Alexander Sanchez Caba, The influence of developmental starvation on neurotransmitter levels and behavior in the common house spider, Parasteatoda tepidariorum , University College

Lauren Sarko, Functional Annotation of Uncharacterized Protein “Mosquito Defect” (PY17X_0719100) in Plasmodium yoelii, Eberly College of Science

Steven Schneible, Brief Encounters with Hideous Diseases: The Fiction of David Foster Wallace as Experiences of Psychopathology, The Liberal Arts

Cody Shakespeare, Simulating the Resonant Chains of HR-8799 and GJ-876, Eberly College of Science

Jessica Smith, Development of High Strength, Rapidly Degradable Bone Composites for Treatment of Osteoporosis , Eberly College of Science

Lucy C Spicher, 3D Printed Occupational Therapy Devices: Establishing a Market in Developing Communities, Engineering

Amira Spikes, Trash or Treasure?: The Effects of Date Label Perception on Food Sustainability, Abington

John Patrick Stein, Templated Synthesis of Nanoparticles in Diblock Copolymer Colloidal Systems, Earth and Mineral Sciences

Rachel Danielle Swope, Identifying a Reporter for Dendrite Regeneration in Neurons of the Drosophila Peripheral Nervous System, Eberly College of Science

Emily Thyrum, Improved modeling of Cherenkov light produced by neutrino interactions in the South Pole ice, Eberly College of Science

Israel Tucker, Forced Migration and Human Rights: Approaching Global Issues with Young Children in Classroom Settings, Altoona

Cassidy Ulanowicz, Determining the Parasite Community of Invasive Snails Species in Erie, Pennsylvania , Behrend

Andrew White, Complex Design of Heat Sinks using Additive Manufacturing, Engineering

Joshua Ian Wolgamuth, The Impact of Fire on Lizard Malaria Prevalence and Diversity in Northern California, University College

Chen Ta Yu, Investigates a new approach for recovering rare-earth fission products from molten chlorides using liquid metals to reduce nuclear waste, Earth and Mineral Sciences

Anthony Zhang, Integrated Curriculum: Teaching Math Through Music, Eberly College of Science

Yinqi Zhang, Learning the Dynamics of Substance Abuse in Social Networks, Eberly College of Science

Xinye Zhao, Theoretical Prediction and Investigation of Voltage and Energy Density of Fluoride-Based Batteries, Earth and Mineral Sciences

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”