ISU Undergraduate Research Alumni Board

Ben Freiberg

Kinesiology, 2024

Benjamin majored in Kinesiology. He began his undergraduate research experience during his sophomore year as a research assistant in Dr. Karri Haen’s lab. Within this lab, he focused on prosthetic development with 3-dimensional printing filament types, component modeling, and prototype construction. Additionally, Benjamin is an Undergraduate Research Assistant (URA) for Dr. Lee’s lab in the Kinesiology Department. Through this position in the PAAS study, Benjamin focused on both physical and cognitive testing on participants within the study. More specifically, specializing in NDD electronic spirometry. Following graduation, Benjamin plans on attending medical school to pursue his interests in human anatomy and physiology.


Ben Freiberg

McKenzie Sanden

Emily Allen

Statistics, 2024

Emily majored in Statistics with a certificate in Actuarial Science and a minor in Data Science. She began undergraduate research through the First-Year Honors Mentor Program, where she worked with Dr. Alicia Carriquiry and Dr. Danica Ommen on forged signature recognition research through the Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence (CSAFE). She continued her research over a summer REU program with CSAFE at Iowa State University, ending the summer with a presentation at the International Association of Identification conference. Currently, Emily is continuing her research of forged signature recognition while advancing her knowledge of RStudio and statistics within forensic science.



Mckenzie Sanden

Genetics, 2024

Mckenzie is a Genetics major with a minor in Music. She began research in the spring of her freshman year under Dr. Qian Wang (Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition). Through this position, she studied the impact of genes APOE & TOMM40 on mitochondrial morphology and Alzheimer’s disease. The project is conducted via Piggy-bac plasmid transfection on a HEK293 cell-line model. Mckenzie took great interest in studying human genetic disorders, particularly neurological functioning or muscular dystrophy. After completing her bachelor's, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. so she may actualize her dreams of working in academia and managing a genetics laboratory.


McKenzie Sanden

Braden Westby

Mechanical Engineering, 2022

Braden is a Ph.D. student in industrial engineering. After conducting research at Iowa State as an undergraduate, Braden graduated with a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering and a minor in biomedical engineering last spring. Braden is now the Graduate Chair of the Research Ambassadors. Mentored by Dr. Richard Stone with a focus centered on exoskeleton systems, they have researched topics such as bioelectric signal recognition, apparel design, sociology, and aviation. They are currently working on several projects with foci in forensics and safety. In the future, Braden intends to continue into the world of academia to teach and continue research in human performance enhancement technologies. 


Harper Clark

Microbiology, 2024

Harper majored in microbiology with a minor in global health. She started research through the First-Year Honors Mentor Program where she was paired with Dr. Timothy Bigelow to work on ultrasound enhanced wound healing techniques. After her second semester, she took up an undergraduate research assistant position in the B.A.I. Genetics Lab under Ping Kang. There she currently works with drosophila, recording demography of populations and caring for stock specimens.



John Swanson

Biomedical Sciences, 2023

John began his undergraduate research experience during his sophomore year as a research assistant in Dr. Sakaguchi’s lab. Since then, he worked and assisted with research on several projects in the lab alongside other undergraduates and graduate students. One of his initial projects focused on studying the effect of drug treatment on the development of adult rat hippocampal stem cells using a microfluidic device model. John also worked on a project during undergrad that involved studying the effect of electrical stimulation on the proliferation and differentiation of the same neural stem cell type growing on 3D-printed microchips loaded with graphene. Following graduation, John plans to continue his education and attend medical school.


Abigail Fowler

Microbiology, 2023

Abigail started research with the First-Year Honors Mentor Program with mentor Dr. Donald Sakaguchi studying mesenchymal stem cell bone regeneration. She continued in that lab, and her research project focused on utilizing a biopolymer conduit to promote nerve regeneration. She also conducted research in other labs at Iowa State, studying RNA folding and structure. She hopes to attend graduate school and obtain a Ph.D. in biological sciences focusing on stem cell biology. She hopes to have a career in research.


Andy Hammer

Aerospace Engineering, 2023

Andy started research as a freshman with Dr. Kristin Rozier and worked on projects regarding sensor data and unmanned aerial vehicle traffic manangers. They completed a research experience for undergraduates for implementing specifications on a traffic manager using R2U2 and had an internship last summer at NASA where they analyzed flight software for any potential undetected errors or dead code. Currently, they are working as a Boeing Research Fellow and has a grant from the NASA Iowa Space Consortium to continue researching formal methods. Andy is also researching Assume-Guarantee Contract theory in order to quickly validate system requirements and verify system spaces in order to improve the saftey and liveness of different systems. They are working to expand an existing algorithm that exploits the patterns in Assume-Guarnatee Contracts to more easily discover dependencies in a systems design space.


Sithmi Hewage

Chemistry, 2023

Sithmi involved herself in inorganic materials chemistry research in Dr. Kirill Kovnir’s group, department of chemistry, at Iowa State University where she worked on synthesizing novel materials for energy applications. In Fall 2021, Sithmi did a SULI (Science Undergraduate laboratory Internship) with Ames National laboratory where she worked on the synthesis of quaternary sulfides. Sithmi did an NSF-funded MRSEC REU in the summer of 2021 at the University of Minnesota, department of chemical engineering and material science, where she worked on designing new multi-phase ceramic coating materials. In 2022 summer, Sithmi did a MRSEC REU at Northwestern University, department of materials science and engineering, where she worked on polymers and epoxy materials for magneto-heating. After graduation, Sithmi plans to attend graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry or materials science.


Abigayle Moser

Aerospace Engineering, 2022

Abigayle studied Aerospace Engineering at Iowa State University. She aspires to earn a PhD and continue to pursue a dynamic research career exploring the overlap of computational methods and renewable energy system modeling. Abigayle studied various issues pertinent to energy equity and techno-economic development, such as grid resiliency and energy resource assessments. Her research began early in her academic career through the First-Year Honors Mentor Program (FHMP), where she participated in experimental work in the Iowa State University Wind Tunnels. This soon led to several REUs through Purdue University and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory with diverse teams addressing the growing threat of climate change. Her research portfolio has become diverse through multiple projects dealing with data analytics, particle image velocimetry (PIV), and computational fluid dynamics (CFD).


Lauren Mellenthin

Animal Ecology and Environmental Studies, 2019

Lauren studied Animal Ecology and Environmental Studies. She participated in research with Dr. Dean Adams in the Macroevolutionary Morpholoy Lab since sophomore year. In this position, she studied the evolution of lungless salamander microhabitats. Previously, Lauren also completed an REU with The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago where she studied evolutionary correlations of diet type and morphology. Lauren is now a graduate student at Yale University.


Brennan McBride

Chemistry, 2019

Brennan participated in chemistry research during his time at Iowa State and was among 30 Iowa State students selected to present their research at the 33rd annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research in 2019. Brennan is now a graduate student at Colorado State University.


Madison Perry

Animal Ecology, 2020

Madison majored in Animal Ecology with a minor in Chemistry. She conducted research in the EEOB department with Dr. Kevin Roe, where she ran PCR and gel electrophoresis on DNA samples to analyze differences in species of desert fish called Gambusia. In the past, she also helped analyze these fish based on physical appearances and worked in a limnology lab with the Large Lakes Observatory at University of Minnesota Duluth.


Emily Haberlack

Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, and Sociology, 2019

Emily studied Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, and Sociology. Her research experience at Iowa State began with the First Year Honors Mentor Program. Through that program, she was partnered with a professor in the Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Throughout her research, Emily established a literature review to identify knowledge gaps regarding the role of empathy in communication and to identify research priorities to advance the use of empathy-arousing persuasive messages for science, environmental, health, and risk communication.


Mitchell Dalsing

Suppl Chain Management and Information Systems, 2020

Mitchell majored in Supply Chain Management and Management Information Systems. His research revolved around the application of data science to enhance supply chain management, specifically predictive material planning. He had internships in Business Intelligence and Software Development, but a lack of experience in supply chain management inspired Mitchell to pursue research opportunities in the field. After graduation, Mitchell secured a full-time position with Amazon.