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Winners of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s 15th-annual Celebration of Scholarship might not have answers to all of life’s mysteries, but they’re off to a good start.

Nine graduate and undergraduate students took home awards for their original work during the juried Student Research and Creative Activities Event held April 24 at Reeve Memorial Union.

“I chose to analyze the sustainability of genetically modified foods as a solution to world hunger,” said Jacob Jungers, an environmental studies major who won the $125 Westbrook Award for environmental biology. “I have been researching the varying effects of transgenic crops on the environment, society and the economy. I have concluded that there are still a number of ecological risks that are not fully understood.”

Jungers began his research project as part of his environmental studies senior seminar with professor David Barnhill.

“Dr. Barnhill has been an incredible inspiration for me. His guidance has encouraged me to analyze every issue with an unbiased approach,” Jungers said.

Nursing graduate student Lori Dehnke received inspiration to develop her award-winning project — “Analysis of Learning Patient Advocacy” — from professor Roxana Huebscher as well as from a personal experience with her grandmother.

“My elderly grandmother had a heart attack and was given only one (surgical) option by the doctor,” Dehnke explained. “I spoke with the doctor who then spoke of medical management for her. My grandmother was much happier with this treatment option and is still alive 10 years later.”

Since this experience, Dehnke always has tried to help her patients and their families sort through their healthcare decisions and treatments.

“It has become a passion of mine to help facilitate student learning about patient advocacy,” she said. “This study may help students, faculty members and nurses develop ways of learning or teaching patient advocacy.”

Here is the complete list of the 2008 Celebration of Scholarship winners:

Graduate School Awards — $200 each

  • Dehnke, nursing, with adviser Huebscher, “Analysis of Learning Patient Advocacy.”
  • Megan Nelson, Matthew Rubin and Mohamed Yakub (split the award), biology/microbiology, adviser Lisa Dorn, “Tolerance to a Novel Environment, Elevated Ultraviolet Radiation, in Arabidopsis Thaliana Through Already Existing Gene Expression Pathways.”

Undergraduate School Awards — $100 each

  • Jess Ader and Kristin DeLong (split the award), communication and radio/TV/film, adviser Douglas Heil, “Rebirth: A Motion Picture Short.”
  • Cole Edwards, geology, with Eric Hiatt, “Evidence for a Fossil Bacterial Community Preserved in Phosphate Minerals of the 1.85 Billion-Year-Old Baraga Group, Michigan.”
  • Kayla Chilsen, communication and radio/TV/film, with Heil, “Domestic Abuse: A Radio Feature.”
  • Julie Leibold, chemistry, adviser Charles Gibson, “The Application of Nanomaterials to Solar Energy.”

Westbrook Award (for environmental biology) — $125

  • Jungers, environmental studies, adviser Barnhill, “Are Genetically Modified Foods a Sustainable Measure for Feeding the Human Population?”

Clow Award (for social sciences) — $125 each

  • Jonel Kristo, economics, adviser Marianne Johnson, “Challenging Foreign Direct Investments’ Effect on the Overall Macroeconomic Growth of Developing Nations.”
  • Stefanie Adkins, political science, adviser Druscilla Scribner, “Civic Education: How to Increase Civic Participation.”