May 2, 2023
Franke Honors Pinnacle Graphic

Last month, the W.A. Franke Honors College hosted its annual research presentation symposium, Franke Honors Pinnacle. More than 100 Franke Honors students presented their work at Pinnacle, showcasing diverse research projects that they have been working on throughout the semester. Each year, students are judged on their poster presentations in a variety of categories.

Outstanding research is acknowledged with financial awards for Quest projects, senior thesis work, and creative video representations of senior research. Check out the 2023 Franke Honors Pinnacle Awardees below: 

Senior Thesis Presentation Winners

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Andrea Ardeleanu - Poster Presentation Winner

 Regulating the Oldest Profession: Drivers of Prostitution Policy over Space and Time

Andrea Ardeleanu is a senior at the W.A. Franke Honors College graduating with a BA in Political Science (Foreign Affairs Emphasis) and a minor in Spanish. Andrea's Honors Thesis, Regulating the Oldest Profession: Drivers of Prostitution Policy over Space and Time, examines why prostitution policy varies cross-culturally and cross-nationally. By employing an original data set and modern statistics to shed some systematic light on the subject, Andrea's study provides valuable insights into the historical and contemporary drivers of prostitution policy. Understanding the impact of these drivers is crucial for shaping effective prostitution policy that addresses the needs and rights of marginalized communities of sex workers and victims of human trafficking on an international basis. In the future, Andrea plans to continue her research regarding evidence-based legislative efforts and further her education by pursuing a law degree!

view andrea's thesis project

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Ethan Snapp - People's Choice Award Winner

The Good, the Bad, and the Godly: The Evolution of the Pastor in American Literature

Ethan is graduating from the W.A. Franke Honors College with degrees in English and Education. His Honors Thesis project revolves around how the role of the pastor has progressed over the past three centuries as seen through major works of American literature. Through a survey of eleven fictional characters from authors of varied eras, backgrounds, and identities, Ethan discovered a unified portrait of what Americans perceive pastors to be. Ethan has used this project to link his passion for literature together with his relationship with Christ. Upon graduating, Ethan will enter full-time collegiate ministry with a Christian non-profit called The Navigators for two years. In the future, he hopes to attend seminary in pursuit of a master's degree in theology to become a pastor or professor.

View Ethan's Thesis Project

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Mac McGraw - Fast Pitch Competition Winner

New Components of the Insulin Signaling Pathway: Investigating the Role of Novel Proteins in GLUT4 Translocation

Mac McGraw is a senior double majoring in Physiology & Medical Sciences and Molecular & Cellular Biology with minors in Health & Human Values and Biochemistry. He has been living with type one diabetes since a diagnosis on his fourth birthday. This diagnosis inspired Mac to pursue medicine and get involved with research. His senior thesis focused on looking at the role of new proteins in the insulin signaling pathway. Mac did this with the help of his mentor Dr. Paul Langlais, who works in the Department of Medicine. Though Mac is graduating this year, he will still be in Tucson at UA's College of Medicine to continue his journey towards being a doctor!

View Mac's Thesis Project

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Vivian Nguyen - Poster Presentation Winner

Theoretical Modeling of Tumor Angiogenesis 

Vivian Nguyen is a graduating senior studying Physiology and Mathematics. Her research focuses on developing theoretical models to understand the human vascular system and specifically the formation of chaotic networks in tumors. She is passionate about exploring how mathematical reasoning can help translate between scientific disciplines. Vivian hopes to pursue an MD-PhD and innovate quantitative tools used in clinical settings. 

View Vivian's Thesis Project

Quest Project Presentation Winners

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Andrew Pongrátz - Quest Poster Award Winner

Home Sweet Home, That I Own: A Review of the Literature on Homeownership Expansion Programs Across the US and what Lessons Can Be Learned for Southern Arizonan Jurisdictions

Andrew Pongrátz is a first year student double majoring in Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law (PPEL) and Economics, and minoring in Spanish. Andrew's journey in research began last fall in his first semester at UArizona. He was looking for ways to get involved in research, and wanted to take a class to get himself acclimated to research practices and to participate in an area that he had no experience in. Andrew decided on this topic since it is another piece of the poverty puzzle that needs to be looked at more, and he is interested in getting a better idea of how college students, and other low-income individuals, can afford homes later on in their lives. Andrew is grateful to Tori for all her guidance, and for Dr. Mayer to lead him throughout the process.

View Andrew's Quest Project

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Cynthia Navarro - Quest Poster Presentation Winner

Quantifying the mobility impact of autonomous delivery robots on traffic

Cynthia Navarro is an international student from Mexico studying civil engineering, physics and sustainable buildings. Cynthia is a sophomore at the W.A. Franke Honors College and has been involved in Transportation Engineering since her freshman year. Since beginning her research, Cynthia has learned that transportation is much more than designing roads—it is optimizing the safety, sustainability and coherence of cities. She began her research due the expansion of technology in the city of Tucson, and believes it is necessary to research how society should adapt to these technological improvements.

View Cynthia's Quest Project

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Yona Kleinerman - Quest Poster Presentation Winner

StudiousCat - Let's Thrive as Student's Together!

Yona Kleinerman is a freshman at the W.A. Franke Honors College studying Pre-med and Biomedical Engineering. The vision for Yona's research project, StudiousCat, is that it is a virtual tool where students can create or join any study groups with their peers on campus. It will be an online system built upon mostly in-person and online, student-organized study groups but could potentially expand to also list all TA and professor office hours. The goal is so that next time a student ever wants to study with their peers, but they don't exactly have the connections to do so, they can either create or join a study group through StudiousCat, allowing them to meet people they would not have met otherwise in an academic setting. Keep an eye out for StudiousCat's launch in the coming semesters!

View Yona's Quest Project

Poster Presentation Honorable Mentions

Audrey Sweten 

Investigating the Role of Hac1 In the Unfolded Protein Response for Coccidioides posadasii

Jacob Marczak 

Magic, Maternity, and Monsters: An Honors Seminar to Promote Story in Medicine

Jessica Ives 

The Relationship between Maternal-Infant Bonding and Caregiving Modalities 

Shreyas Khandekar 

The Big Brother Browser: Who's Watching You Online?