Penn State Berks students awarded for undergraduate research

Written by Lisa R. Baldi, Director of Strategic Communications at Penn State Berks.

During the Penn State Berks academic awards ceremony in April, three students received the Young Investigator Award for their research. They included Angela Bonopane, Matthew Kauffman and Morgan Lusch. All three graduated on May 4.

Bonoapane, of Mount Bethel, earned a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice. She represented the humanities, arts and social sciences division with her research project titled “Police perspectives on overdose responses: Advancing preventative strategies.” Her research adviser was Jennifer Murphy, associate professor of criminal justice.

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“My research explores the role of the opioid overdose-reversing drug naloxone (better known as the brand name Narcan) within police departments and how prepared departments feel when responding to overdose calls with this resource,” Bonoapane explained.

“Interviews conducted with police chiefs revealed that officers face significant limitations due to the lack of training on diverting overdose victims into treatment following a successful overdose reversal, as well as their inability to mandate such treatment. This urges the establishment of additional overdose prevention strategies that achieve a stronger balance between compassion and efficacy to ensure that resources are being used optimally to address the opioid epidemic.”

In addition, Bonopane was awarded for the best undergraduate research paper for the same study by the Pennsylvania Academy of Criminal Justice Educators, a statewide organization of faculty, practitioners and students, during their conference in April. She also received the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Justice Educators Bernie Meyer Student Scholarship at the conference.

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Kauffman, of Wyomissing, earned a bachelor of science degree in biology. His research study was titled “Glut1 functions in insulin-producing neurons to regulate lipid and carbohydrate storage.” His research adviser is Justin DiAngelo, associate professor and program chair of biochemistry and molecular biology. Kauffman represented the college’s Science Division.

Kauffman stated, “My project focuses on the genes important for the pathogenesis of obesity using the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a model system. I have characterized the role of the sugar transporter, Glut1, which acts in the fly brain to regulate the production of insulin to control the storage of lipids and carbohydrates throughout the whole fly. Humans also contain these same sugar transporters, so my project provides insight into human metabolic diseases.”

During his time at Penn State Berks, Kauffman worked as an undergraduate research assistant and a biology and chemistry learning assistant and tutor. He was also a Cohen-Hammel Fellow. The Cohen-Hammel Fellows Program is a comprehensive scholarship program for outstanding students.

Lusch, of Andreas, earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering and completed a study titled “Fluid dynamics of wings, fish, shells and turbines.” Her research adviser was Azar Panah, associate professor of mechanical engineering. She represents the engineering, business and computing division.

Lusch explained, “For the past two years, I have been a research assistant in the Fluids Discovery Lab. We run experiments on various models to analyze the fluid dynamics such as drag force. I have worked on many different projects, some of which include wings, fish, shells and turbines, and I have presented my research at both undergraduate and international conferences.”

The Fluid Discovery Lab is the newest state-of-the-art engineering laboratory in the Gaige Technology and Business Innovation Building and the only open access laboratory dedicated to the study of fluid dynamics in the Penn State system.

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