Social Media 2021

Join Us in Our Selfie Contest!


Best Selfie with the Number “25” in it:

Angelika Albertorio
Mentor: Sofie Clemmensen, Dance

Congratulations to URCAD presenter Angelika Albertorio, winner of the URCAD Selfie Contest Grand Prize in the category: Best Selfie with the Number “25” in it!

Angelika will receive a $250 gift card to the UMBC Bookstore!

We loved Angelika’s DIY style- in the age of online, she took it back to the sidewalk, and chalked for the cause!

MotionWriters, a learning program created by Assistant Professor Ann Sofie Clemmensen and Dance/English Literature major, Angelika Albertorio seeks to address this problem by implementing a multimodal teaching approach that engages practicing English grammar through the involvement of the moving body. Inspired by the choreographic process, MotionWriters guides participants through a creative process structured around the creation and continuous revision of a fictional narrative. The community aspect of this program, coupled with the creative approach to English language and grammar, hopes to make for an interactive experience for students and inspire confidence for their future educational endeavors.

This work was funded, in part, by the Alex Brown Center for Entrepreneurship URA.


Best Overall Selfie: 2-way tie:

Ziam Khan
Mentor: Fernando Vonhoff, Biological Sciences.

Ziam received a $100 gift card to the UMBC Bookstore!
Mentor: Fernando Vonhoff, Biological Sciences

Congratulations to URCAD presenter Ziam Khan, winner of the URCAD Selfie Contest in the category: Best Overall Selfie! He tied in this category with Faith Davis.

Is that Dr. Hrabowski hanging out in Dr. Vonhoff’s lab?? Ziam’s creativity and acrobatics, (and his photoshopping skills) took the prize for Best Overall Selfie!

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is, at once, one of the most common developmental disorders in the world and one of the most debilitating, however, its exact causes remain poorly understood. A preliminary genetic screen has identified the gene CaMKI as a molecular candidate involved in ASD. We hypothesize that mutations in CaMKI would lead to ASD-phenotypes such as sociability deficits and aberrant synaptic refinement. Using Drosophila as a model organism, we genetically ablated CaMKI and used a social assay to measure any resulting social impairment in adult flies, a hallmark of ASD in humans. Additionally, the role of CaMKI in synaptic refinement was tested at the larval neuromuscular junction (NMJ) as well as in the central nervous system. Furthermore, we live-imaged CaMKI-null embryos expressing the genetically encoded calcium indicator GCAMP to examine the activity pattern of the nociceptive class-IV (C4da) sensory cells. Our results suggest that this activity pattern is necessary for the proper development of neuronal networks, so any irregularities provide direct evidence of impeded maturation via synaptic refinement. This study explores the relationship between CaMKI and ASD which casts light on any connection between the disorder and developmental synaptic refinement, as a whole.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

Faith and co-presenters

AND Faith Davis (with research group, Patricia Boyd, Kierra Regis, Jon Catazaro)

Faith received a $100 gift card to the UMBC Bookstore!
Mentor: Michael Summers, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Congratulations to URCAD presenter Faith Davis, winner of the URCAD Selfie Contest in the category: Best Overall Selfie! She tied in this category with Ziam Khan.

Faith’s research group, including Patricia Boyd, Kierra Regis, and Jon Catazaro, study HIV/AIDS genomes. Also included in the photo are Faith’s roommates, Briah Barksdale and Dominique Henriques Melo, who were also URCAD presenters.

The photo, entitled, “Roommate yoga, poster presentations, and Hrabowski melanogaster, oh my!” hits on all aspects of the contest- the number “25” spelled out by yogic bodies, UMBC celebrity sightings- Drs. Householder and Hrabowski, research screens, and even a Petri dish with fruit flies with Dr. Hrabowski’s faces… but best of all, the smiling faces of hard-working UMBC researchers having fun while they are busy changing the world! BUZZZZZ!

While the proportion of people infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) dying of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) has decreased significantly over the past four decades as antiretroviral therapy has become more common, the full structure of the HIV-1 genome remains unsolved. The 5′ leader of the RNA sequence is of particular interest to solve, as it is the most highly conserved region of HIV’s genome and plays a key role in the packaging and proliferation of the virus. NMR spectroscopy is our lab’s method of elucidating RNA complexes due to its ability to collect data on dynamic complexes in solution. Our group will be using a U1A reporter protein paramagnetically tagged by M8-DOTA-SPy to induce long-range pseudocontact shifts (PCS) in the NMR spectra of our RNA construct. The goal of this project is to elucidate the tertiary structure of the orientation of the TAR and polyA stems of the 5′ leader in relation to each other to build on the Brown et. al paper published in 2020. We will show binding through electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSAs) and show PCS of a TAR polyA construct.

Student support provided by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institutes of Health (NIGMS/NIH) under National Research Service Award T34 GM 136497, NIGMS Initiative for Maximizing Student Development Grant (2R25-GM55036), NIAID grant ##8 R01 AI150498, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.


Best Selfie with a Family Member

Ayo Telli
Mentor: Lynnda Dahlquist, Psychology

Congratulations to URCAD presenter Ayo Telli, winner of the URCAD Selfie Contest in the category: Best Selfie with a Family Member!

Ayo will receive a $50 gift card to the UMBC Bookstore!

Ayo and her research group studied the impact of the transition from in-person learning to online learning on undergraduates, approximately 12 months after the COVID-19 pandemic and associated campus closure. Ayo’s kitty, Kyo doesn’t know much about the field of Psychology, but she does know that the pandemic means spending more time with her human! MEOW.


Best Selfie- Making of a VoiceThread Presentation

Arushi Dalal
Mentor: Bernard Lohr, Biological Sciences

Arushi received a $50 gift card to the UMBC Bookstore!

Congratulations to URCAD presenter Arushi Dalal, winner of the URCAD Selfie Contest in the category: Best Making-of an URCAD Presentation!

Arushi will receive a $50 gift card to the UMBC Bookstore!

The birds on Arushi’s laptop are there to learn about her research, which was a comparison of song in the Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum) populations in the Caribbean on the islands of Jamaica and Bonaire. These islands constitute two distinct subspecies of the sparrow (A. s. savannarum on Jamaica, and A. s. caribaeus on Bonaire) By studying these songs, she determined how songs across the islands varied and what these differences could mean for the species as a whole. Tweet! Tweet!


Best selfie with mentor: 2-way tie:

Ayushi Dave and her research group
Mentor: Michelle Starz-Gaiano, Biological Sciences

Congratulations to URCAD presenter Ayushi Dave and her research group, winners of the URCAD Selfie Contest in the category: Best Selfie with Mentor!

This was a close competition and we couldn’t make a decision, so she tied in this category with Karina Brown.

Even though we are socially distanced, Dave’s group figured out a way to include Dr. Starz-Gaiano in the photo! Now that is some pandemic creativity!

Ayushi will receive a $50 gift card to the UMBC Bookstore!

The process in which groups of cells coordinate their movements as a cohort is known as collective cell migration. This is essential for tissue development and contributes to diseases such as cancer metastasis. Our lab uses Drosophila melanogaster, the fruit fly, to identify molecular processes regulating coordinated cell migration. Specifically, we study the collectively migrating border cell cluster, activated by polar cells, in the ovary. Here, we investigated the role of the gene effete, which encodes a ubiquitin conjugating enzyme. Ubiquitin enzymes are post-translational protein modifiers which regulate protein localization and stability.


Karina Brown and her research group
Mentors: Foad Hamidi, and Nora McDonald, Information Systems

Congratulations to URCAD presenter Karina Brown and her research group, winners of the URCAD Selfie Contest in the category: Best Selfie with Mentor!

This was a close competition and we couldn’t make a decision, so she tied in this category with Ayushi Dave.

Brown’s research group, including Daniel Laguna, Rushaad Wright, Lydia Stamato , celebrated their upcoming graduation with caps and diplomas, all while zooming! Extra points for including their monitor, Dr. Foad Hamidi!

Karina will receive a $50 gift card to the UMBC Bookstore!

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused various parts of our society to move online and in turn served to further amplify the digital divide in that lacking reliable broadband connectivity can have a larger impact now more than ever before. As so many facets of the world have continued to shift into the digital world in recent years, members of our society without access to high-quality internet connectivity are prevented from being able to fully participate in this new world. The arrival of COVID-19 magnified this problem since so many services and social activities have moved online. We explored the impact of not having reliable high-speed home Internet connectivity on families in Baltimore City, with a specific focus on the impact on educational, employment, social activities, and health. We conducted pilot interviews with community participants, stakeholders working to alleviate this issue by setting up community Internet connectivity resources, and informal educators working in this space. To date, we have found that participants value connectivity and also see the importance of developing reputable, safe, and inclusive resources to ease a move online for families who are just receiving broadband Internet.

This work was funded, in part, by the National Science Foundation.

Selfie composite


Upload your original photos to FaceBook, Instagram and/or Twitter using #umbcURCAD for a chance to win one of four gift cards to the UMBC Bookstore!

Traditionally, URCAD participants and guests have taken photos with their posters, in the photo booth, or at other URCAD venues on campus. Since this year’s event will be online, we encourage you to take screenshots of yourself making your online presentations, or of the interactions you have using the VoiceThread technology, April 19-25th. We can’t wait to see you in action!


  • Best Selfie with the Number “25” in it
  • Best Overall Selfie: Take a photo with a UMBC notable… (President Hrabowski, Provost Rous, Dean Cole…) or ??! … get creative!
  • Best with Mentor
  • Best “making of” VT presentation
  • Best with Presentation

Post your photos by 12pm on Monday, May 3, 2021 for a chance to win a gift card to the UMBC Bookstore!