Six Virginia Tech undergraduate students were selected to present their research at the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Meeting of the Minds Conference held recently at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.

The annual ACC Meeting of the Minds event gives undergraduates an opportunity to present their research at a conference attended by the 15 ACC member schools. The group of Virginia Tech students were selected from a variety of disciplines to represent the university and share diverse research topics with their peers. The students included:

  • Laurie Booth, a third-year architecture student from Charlotte, North Carolina, who is studying in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies. Booth gave an oral presentation titled “Industrializing our Response to Disaster Relief Housing." Her mentors are Joe Wheeler and Bobby Vance from the Center for Design Research.
  • Nala Chehade, a senior from Annandale, Virginia, who is pursuing dual degrees in international studies, with a security and foreign policy concentration, and history, in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Chehade gave an oral presentation titled “The Politics of Palestinian Production: Self-Portrayals of Palestinian Refugees in Film, 1998-2014.” Her mentor is Brett Shadle, a professor in the Department of History.
  • Kathleen Huie, a senior from Leesburg, Virginia, who is pursuing dual degrees in biological sciences, with a biomedical concentration, and psychology in the College of Science. Huie gave an oral presentation titled “Tumor Microenvironment Changes Following H-FIRE Suggest Suitable Treatment for Triple Negative Breast Cancer.” Her mentor is Irving Coy Allen, assistant professor of inflammatory diseases in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.
  • Peter Kaczmarek, a senior materials science major from Clifton, Virginia, who is studying in the College of Engineering. Kaczmarek gave a poster presentation titled “Developing Functionally-graded Porosity in ZrB2 UHTCs through Ice Templating." His mentor is Carolina Tallon, assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
  • Momina Khan, a senior from Woodbridge, Virginia, who is majoring in human nutrition, foods, and exercise in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, with a minor in political science. Khan gave a poster presentation titled “Perinexal Expansion in Patients with Atrial Fibrillation." Her mentor is Steven Poelzing, associate professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute in the Department of Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health.
  • Jennifer Khirallah, a sophomore from Norwood, Massachusetts, majoring in materials science and engineering in the College of Engineering, with a double minor in biomedical engineering and green engineering. Khirallah gave a poster presentation titled “Nanoparticle-Mediated Histotripsy for Targeted Cancer Cell Ablation." Her mentor is Eli Vlaisavljevich, assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics.

“I was fascinated by the variety of research topics presented," said Khirallah. “At the conference I learned about current research in history, art, medicine, science, and much more. Overall, it was an extremely enriching experience, and I would recommend everyone to get involved in some form of research.”

In addition to showcasing their hard work, the conference participants had a full schedule of tours, speakers, networking opportunities, meals, and entertainment throughout the three-day event.

“I was really impressed with the quality and variety of posters and oral presentations at this conference and learned a lot myself,” said Vinod Lohani, professor of engineering education and director of Education and Global Initiatives for the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science. “Our Virginia Tech students were excellent ambassadors for the university. They not only shared their research but also made connections with peers, exchanged ideas, and gained much from this experience.”  

Applications to represent Virginia Tech at the Meeting of the Minds are accepted by the Office of Undergraduate Research early each spring semester. Selected students receive full support for travel and accommodations.

— Written by Jennifer Khirallah

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