University Research Day 2021 Call for Abstracts

The deadline for abstract submissioin for University Research Day 2021 is Feb. 5, 2021. A submission form will be posted on this page by Nov. 5, 2020.

University Research Day (URD) at The Catholic University of America is a day for students, faculty and staff to come together to celebrate, share, and learn about the exciting research taking place at the University. Over the past five years, URD has showcased the work of students, faculty, and staff from every school of the University.

We encourage ALL members of the Catholic University community to submit applications to share your work with others. Research represents a very broad term in this context and could include a scholarly paper, a project you worked on with a faculty member, a recent presentation you gave at a professional meeting, a dramatic or musical performance, a display of art, or anything else that falls under “scholarly work.” 

For ideas about how to write your abstract, see examples below. 


URD 2021 is currently being planned as both an online and an in-person event. It will include opportunities for oral presentations, posters, and interactive research demonstrations. The interactive research demonstrations are designed for presenters whose research projects invite extensive audience participation, and can take a variety of formats such as demonstration of robotics, real-time experiments, architectural models, virtual reality displays, debates, and more. 

At URD, participants’ scholarship is presented in a way that ensures accessibility to everyone — even those unfamiliar with the subject matter. Abstracts need to be written clearly, showing that the presentation will communicate the significance of the research to people who are not familiar with the terminology of the topic. Samples of selected 2019 abstracts are available on this website by clicking on the links above. The abstracts will be judged by members of the URD Planning Committee and selected presenters will be notified by email. 

Look for more information on social media from our hashtag, #CUatResearchDay and from the URD website including important dates, the format for the presentations, and the link to the application form. In addition, the names of the current planning committee members are listed on the website, should you have specific questions. 

Abstracts: If you are interested in presenting a paper, poster, or interactive demonstration, please complete the abstract submission form (to be posted on this page by Nov. 5, 2020). Abstracts must be received by February 5, 2021 at 5 p.m., to be considered. Submissions received after that date will not be reviewed. 


Abstract Instructions

ALL abstracts must be written for a general audience and use non-technical and jargon-free language. If you are interested in presenting a paper or project, or presenting an artistic performance or project, please find additional information in the Presentation Guidelines section of this website BEFORE submitting your abstract.

Requirements: Abstracts must be no longer than 500 words and written in clear, non-technical language that is geared for a general audience who is not familiar with your work or your discipline.

Submission Deadline: Abstracts must be received by 5 p.m. Feb. 5 to be considered. Submissions received after this date will not be accepted. 

Abstracts will be judged on the following elements:

  1. Clarity of presentation for a general audience
  2. Importance of the topic/problem to address
  3. Novelty in the idea/method/findings
  4. Significance to scholarship/audience

The abstract can be based on:

  1. Research results or ongoing research
  2. A scholarly research proposal paper, presentation, or project you have developed in collaboration with your peers or independently
  3. A project you worked on with a faculty member
  4. A recent presentation you gave at a professional meeting which has been adapted for a general audience
  5. An assigned research project or paper
  6. A dramatic or musical performance
  7. A display of art
  8. A paper that originated out of a course assignment and was developed into a research paper in collaboration with a faculty member and your peers
  9. A demonstration of new technology developed as part of a research project

Abstract Examples


Novel vibration absorber for space payload
The vibration transmitted to the payload of a rocket during liftoff is large in magnitude and very broad in frequency. Sensitive parts of a satellite including solar panels, lenses and other equipment carried to perform specific missions can easily be damaged during liftoff. Passive damping systems are currently used to isolate the satellite from such vibrations. This work presents a novel approach to dissipate mechanical energy in a specific frequency band using a Subordinate Oscillator Array (SOA). The SOA is an array of cantilever beams of different size and mass that attached on a primary structure allows energy in the primary structure to be dissipated through the vibration of the SOA. In this study an SOA is designed to isolate a 1u CubeSat (a cubic satellite of dimensions 10x10x10 cm) from simulated broadband vibrations produced during the launch. Results of finite element analysis will be presented and analyzed to quantify the effectiveness of this absorber.


What’s Killing the Yeast? Learning about How Antidepressants Work Using Yeast Genetics
The gut contains a diversity of microbes (i.e. gut microbiota) that contribute to the wellbeing of the host by performing duties such as synthesizing compounds that our bodies require. Studies have shown that the gut microbiota contributes to the health of the central nervous system and brain function. Changes in the diversity of gut microbes have been observed in patients with depression leading to the possibility that the gut microbiota may contribute to this condition. Furthermore, patients who begin taking antidepressants usually do not experience the positive effects of the drug for several weeks. These observations suggest that the known targets of antidepressants may not be the only factors that explain their mechanism of action. To identify additional targets of a commonly used antidepressant, Prozac, we screened a library of 4,577 yeast gene mutants looking for ones that were hyper-resistant to toxic levels of Prozac. We found 48 gene deletions that conferred some degree of resistance to Prozac. Furthermore, it appears that some are resistant to other commonly used antidepressants, such as Elavil and Zoloft. The 48 genes have functions in a variety of processes that range from flipping phospholipids into the inner leaflet of the plasma membrane and insertion of proteins into the ER membrane to protein degradation and vacuolar ATPase assembly. We suspect that some of the mutations may point us toward additional mechanisms of how these antidepressants may be working in the brain. This work also suggests that antidepressants may be disturbing the diversity of gut microbes in patients, which may be contributing to the action of the drug.


Comparing Group Therapy Outcomes of Children with a Dual Diagnosis of autism and ADHD
Estimates suggest that approximately 42% of children diagnosed with autism also meet criteria for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD; Stevens, Peng, & Barnard-Brak, 2016). Children with ADHD and autism endorse significant social deficits, but the underlying process appears to differ: whereas children with autism demonstrate deficits in social skills knowledge, children with ADHD experience difficulties in applying social skills (Cervantes et al., 2013). Research suggests that children with a dual diagnosis (i.e., ADHD+autism) experience greater social skills impairment compared to children with only autism (McVey et al., 2018). Further, standard treatments may be less effective for those with a dual diagnosis due to these combined social skills deficits. This study aimed to examine the differences between children with autism versus children with a dual diagnosis of autism and ADHD in social skills impairment and therapeutic outcomes. Methods: 206 children ages 7-15 years (M = 10.09 + 1.50 years; 78.16% male; 76.21% White) were enrolled in the Resilience Builder Program (RBP) at a private psychotherapy practice. RBP is a 14-week, transdiagnostic group intervention for children with social deficits (Alvord, Zucker, & Grados, 2011). Participants presented with diagnoses including autism and ADHD. Data was collected prior to and at the conclusion of treatment. Measures included the Behavioral Assessment System for Children (BASC-2; Reynolds & Kamphaus, 2004), which measures social, emotional, and academic behaviors, and the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS; Constantino & Gruber, 2012), which measures social skill deficits typical of autism. Results: 28 children met criteria for dual diagnosis of autism and ADHD. No significant differences were found between children with dual diagnosis versus children with only autism or only ADHD when examining social skills on the BASC before treatment. Similarly, when comparing children with a dual diagnosis to children with autism, no significant differences were found on SRS subscales (i.e., Social Awareness, Social Cognition, Social Communication, Social Motivation, Restricted Interests and Repetitive Behaviors, and Social Communication and Interaction) before treatment. In examining post-treatment scores, while both groups improved on all SRS subscales after treatment, children with a dual diagnosis demonstrated greater improvement compared to children with autism only (although differences were not statistically significant due to small group size). Conclusion: Our results found that children with a dual diagnosis of autism and ADHD had similar levels of impairment as children with either ADHD or autism on measures of emotional and behavioral functioning, demonstrating that children with a dual diagnosis may not behave in ways that are drastically different from children with a single diagnosis. However, a larger sample might have identified significant differences in domains of social functioning typical in children with autism and indicated that the presence of ADHD may potentially worsen social deficits. Given the improvement in social skills observed in children with a dual diagnosis, RBP's transdiagnostic approach to treatment might provide the most comprehensive support for these children. This topic should be studied further with a larger, more diverse sample in order to determine the most effective therapies for children, especially those with dual diagnoses.


The Lararia of the Roman Empire: Examining the Daily Religious Experience of an Everyday Roman
Among the most ubiquitous religious spaces devoted to the Roman gods are household lararia. Each lararium is a miniature shrine to the household deities of Ancient Rome, the Lares. These Lares were gods of the household, charged with protecting all members of the Roman family. All members of a Roman family had duties to the Lares: Roman fathers were charged with leaving offerings each day, the children would leave special offerings on great occasions such as marriage or the reaching of maturity, and the servants would tend the shrines daily. Although these shrines come in many forms and appear in various locations throughout the Roman house, they often share similar imagery of the Lares and many were constructed to appear like miniature temples. It is likewise important to mention their centrality to the Roman home; the often rich decoration and frequent use of a lararium attests to its central place in a Roman’s daily religious life. Some period literary sources, such as works by Cicero, Cato, and Plautus, preserve certain aspects of Roman domestic religion. This information, however, is not sufficient for a full examination of the functions of lararia. It is my intention to examine the lararia themselves in detail, rather than speaking primarily about the nature of the Lares. I will discuss the function, form, and decoration of lararia from both archaeological and artistic perspectives. The goal of this examination will be to better understand the daily religious life of an ordinary Roman. Individual examples of lararia from archaeological sites such as Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Ostia will be the crux of this study, and they shall be compared with one another in terms of their function, form, and decoration. Lararia can be found in various locations within a house, ranging from the atrium and garden to the kitchen and other service areas of the house. Some lararia are simple niches in walls, while others are freestanding shrines that appear like miniature temples with columns and pediment roofs. Both types of shrines are lararia, but they appear almost nothing alike. Why are they so different? There are many possible explanations behind such differences, such as the economic class of a household, the aesthetic preference of the shrine’s commissioner, or even one individual's understanding of where and how the gods should be worshipped. The purpose of this study is to better understand the daily religious life of the individual Roman. While an ordinary Roman may have occasionally witnessed a sacrifice at a temple, this was not an everyday occurrence. On the other hand, Romans were required to sacrifice to the Lares each day at their household lararium; such sacrifices and prayers were central to a Roman’s religious life. The everyday religious experience of a Roman, then, was marked more by what rituals they performed at their household lararium than by the rituals performed by a select few at the temples. By examining multiple examples of lararia and their contexts, we can learn more about the individual Roman's daily religious life.


The Gender Wage Gap: Trends and Implications in the US Labor Market
The gender wage gap has been, and continues to be, an academic area of considerable debate and investigation. Over the past 35 years, dramatic shifts in the gender wage gap in the United States have acted as a catalyst to new studies exploring the trends and extent of the gap as well as its possible explanations. Particularly during the 1980s, the gender pay gap narrowed as a result of increased participation of women in the labor force and in traditionally “male” occupations. In this presentation, I will explore the considerable decrease in the wage gap during the 1980s, focusing on trends of the gender wage gap in the US from 1980-2010 and investigating possible explanations for the current differences in annual and weekly salary for men and women. I will particularly highlight recent studies which show that by 2010, conventional human capital variables--such as years of schooling, experience, and degree type--taken together explained little of the gender wage gap, while gender differences in occupation and industry continued to be important. When considering explanations for the wage gap, gender differences in gender roles and the gender division of labor remain salient, and discrimination cannot be discounted, especially in firms seeking to maximize their own preferences and biases rather than maximize profit. Finally, I conclude by exploring increased transparency in the labor market as a possible solution to narrowing the gender wage gap in the future.