Loras Neuroscience Trio Earn Research Award

Three Loras neuroscience students earned awards from the national honor society to put toward their research projects in the field of study.

Bryce Platt (’22), Hannah Hazzard (’23) and Mary Fellers (’23) each earned $1,000 to be applied to their individual undergraduate research projects from Nu Rho Psi.

Bryce Platt will use his funds to investigate how the brain changes when we are stressed. He will use mice to do this, and after stressing them, will look for changes in a protein called ARC. ARC plays a role in changing how neurons talk to each other after important experiences (like lots of stress). He will see if this protein is working more in the parts of the brain that control memory following chronic stress.

Hannah Hazzard will use her funds to investigate age-related changes in the mu opioid receptor in mice. This receptor is that opioids bind to both drugs like heroin and morphine and the opioid we make, beta-endorphin. Since drugs like morphine and heroin are active at this receptor, it is easy to see why it plays an important role in pain modulation and addiction. Hannah wants to know if, as we age, does the amount of the receptor in the brain change and does this result in changes in pain modulation and addiction?

Mary Fellers will use her funds to purchase an EEG headset to investigate brain activity when we are viewing educational materials. In a collaborative project with Dubuque’s Brain Health Iowa organization, she hopes to determine if materials made by the organization are catching people’s attention and helping them learn about brain health – and hopefully helping reduce the stigma associated with psychiatric disease! Following Mary’s project, Loras will be able to use the EEG headset for other research projects and neuroscience classes.

Sarah Cassella, Ph.D. assistant professor of Neuroscience, will be overseeing all three students in their work.

Each year, Nu Rho Psi offers to fund up to $1,000 for undergraduate research projects. Faculty members of the organization select proposals to fund based on scientific merit, clarity and sophistication of writing, and the relevance of the project to the study of the brain.

Nu Rho Psi is the National Honor Society in Neuroscience, founded in 2006 by the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience. Loras is the third chapter of the organization started in Iowa.

About Loras College
Founded in 1839, Loras College leverages its historic roots as Iowa’s first college, the second oldest Catholic college west of the Mississippi River and one of the nation’s 10 diocesan colleges to deliver challenging, life-changing experiences as part of its residential, Catholic setting. In 2020, Loras was ranked the 16th Best Regional College in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report and one of America’s Top 200 Most Loved Colleges/Universities by Forbes Magazine for the fourth consecutive year. Loras students ranked No. 2 in the world as part of the global Peeptrade Investment Challenge while a second group ranked No. 4. For the 12th consecutive year, Loras Media Studies student-led television station (LCTV) was named the TV Station of the Year by the Iowa College Media Association (ICMA).