Annual Kenneth A. Suarez Day Fosters Wide-Ranging Presentations on Healthcare Research

Cross-campus event features student research across the colleges and programs

  • AZ - Glendale
  • IL - Downers Grove
Student group gathered for Kenneth A. Suarez Research Day

At the Kenneth A. Suarez Research Day, participants from all colleges and programs researched and presented a variety of healthcare topics.   

 The Kenneth A. Suarez Research Day is an annual opportunity where students present their research topics to the Midwestern University community on the Downers Grove and Glendale campuses. The displayed posters, 160 from the Downers Grove Campus and 218 from the Glendale Campus, featured a multitude of healthcare topics that students presented to faculty, staff, and peers. Faculty judges listened to a variety of student presentations, and the event culminated in the announcement of several winners.

Kathleen H. Goeppinger, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Midwestern University, welcomed the attendees, and shared that the research day is greatly valued and highlights the culmination of several aspects of the University experience including academics, student engagement, and faculty support. 

James Woods, Ph.D., Assistant Vice President of Research, Downers Grove and Glendale campuses, thanked the students for their research involvement. “It's wonderful having students in the labs because they come in, bring new energy, and ask lots of questions. It's a contagious passion that starts with the students and that energy and excitement transfer over to the faculty,” he said. 

Students eagerly described their research project topics, event experience, and future career plans.

Osteopathic Medicine

Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine student Josephine Tsang (CCOM ’26) researched chemotherapy in primary and metastatic (cancer that has spread) colorectal (colon) cancer due to genetic mutations within cell survival mechanisms. “We look at different DNA repair mechanisms and try to find specific markers and differentiate that as primary versus metastatic. There is definitely a different response to chemotherapeutic drugs when it comes to primary versus metastatic colon cancer and it’s exemplified by protein expression in RNA (ribonucleic acid, a molecule existing in most organisms and viruses) sequences,” Josephine said. As a result, therapy targeting DNA repair of metastatic cells could increase the rates of survival and decrease the rate of relapse. Josephine is appreciative of her experience at the research event. “It gives me confidence to be able to talk in front of people. It’s nice to showcase what you’ve done and summarize how things are going.”


Josephine Tsang with her research presentation.
Josephine Tsang (CCOM ’26) presents “A Tale of Two Cell Lines: Identifying Targeted Chemotherapies in Primary v.s. Metastatic Colorectal Cancer Cell Lines as a Result of Genetic Mutations in Cell Survival Mechanisms” in the poster presentation and the morning symposium.


Medical student Hunter Gervais (CCOM ’26) looked into using quantitative ultrasound sonometry (QUS, assessment of bone quality via speed of sound values) to detect osteoporosis due to cancer. “We used a new technology to assess age and cancer-related bone loss,” he said. Early findings suggest females are adversely affected in higher numbers than their male counterparts. He also shared that the experience would “contribute to my future career as an aspiring orthopedic.” Hunter enjoyed his experience at the research day. “It’s been fun to learn about all the experiments people are working on.” 


Hunter Gervais presents his research topic.
Hunter Gervais (CCOM ’26) describes his project “Assessing a Potential Use of Quantitative Ultrasound Sonometry in Detecting Cancer-Related Bone Loss.”


Medical student Arjun Sharma (CCOM’27) looked into the potential of marine sponges’ medicinal properties in biomedicine. “A natural-derived compound could treat different diseases,” Arjun said. He added, “There’s so much research to be done with a compound derived from marine life,” and emphasized that the majority of ocean life is still a mystery and could potentially have additional medicinal benefits. Arjun shared that he hopes to continue his research journey as a physician, and that participation in the research day was good preparation. “It’s important to talk about research to experts in the field and patients.”

Biomedical Sciences

Biomedical Sciences student Jen’a Hunter (CGS-Downers Grove MBS ’24) presented a research project about the effect of maternal obesity due to a high-fat diet on the neuromuscular junction (signals between muscle and nerve cells) of offspring. Jen’a shared, “I would like people to take away that maternal obesity is a growing health concern.” She also appreciated the experience of “being able to present at the research event as a student, discuss the research with my peers, and share the project with the Midwestern community as a whole.” 


Jen'a Hunter presents her research project.
Jen’a Hunter (CGS-Downers Grove MBS ’24) explains “Influence of Maternal Diet-induced Obesity on Offspring Neuromuscular Junction” during the morning symposium and the poster contest. She also won Outstanding Poster Presentation.


Biomedical Sciences student Christopher Johnson (CHS-Downers Grove MBS ’24) worked on an interdepartmental collaboration with physical therapy, speech-language pathology, and physiology on a project examining the effect of one session of high-intensity aerobic exercise on brain functionality. Christopher said current field research indicates continuous exercise has shown to improve brain functionality, especially regarding conditions like stroke, Alzheimer’s, and dementia, but this research project examines a single session. He said he hopes people will take away “how important exercise is, and it can be used to treat chronic diseases and increase cognitive performance as well.”

Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy student Karlee Barton (CHS-Downers Grove PT ’24) examined the impact on patients’ gait from bandaging a leg affected by lymphedema. “Somebody could have a 100 percent swelling difference between the healthy limb to the swollen limb. When they wear the bandages 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it can create safety risks and hazards,” Karlee stated. She shared in the future she “feels confident to treat any population with lymphedema.”  

Dental Medicine 

Dental student Victoria Nachevnik (CDMI ’26) explored the effects of hormone therapy on the health of rat’s oral cavity during menopause. Victoria shared she hopes after seeing her research, people will “care more about the effects of menopause on the oral cavity and women’s health.” She shared that she is interested in teaching in the future, and the event assisted her with learning how to present scientific information.


Victoria Nachevnik presents her research project.
Victoria Nachevnik (CDMI ’26) shares “The Effects of 17-Beta Estradiol Hormone Therapy on Oral Cavity Health in Rats.”


College of Dental Medicine student Monica Abouelsaad (CDMI ’25) shared her research topic, using a natural oil as an anti-fog for dental mirrors. She said the research suggested peppermint as a promising option. “I encourage others to find common solutions in their workspace.” Monica also hopes to become a professor at a dental school in the future and said the research day was a “great step in getting experience.”


College of Pharmacy, Glendale student Amy Tan (CPG ’24) said, “My research focused on the association between psychoactive drug use and subsequent cognitive decline in older adults. I was inspired to do this research by my father, who has been using these prescription medications for decades, and how it may affect him later in life. This is a great starting point to looking at different aspects of this topic, including how these medications are affecting cognitive function in young adults.” 

College of Pharmacy, Downers Grove students Mariam Isa (CPDG ’25) and Sara Alsawi (CPDG ’25) examined the connection between oral contraception and mental health. Sara shared, “Women are experiencing mood changes. Their feelings are valid.” Mariam added their research intent is to “bridge a connection between patients and providers and find that middle ground.”


Mariam Isa and Sara Alsawi present their research.
Mariam Isa (CPDG ’25) and Sara Alsawi (CPDG ’25) explain “Deciphering the Intricacies of Hormonal Contraception and Its Impact on Mental Health.”



Chicago College of Optometry students Hamza Khan (CCO ’25) and Andrew Baker (CCO ’25) evaluated how COVID-19 affected the patient preference of telehealth in optometry. Andrew said, “We wanted to bring awareness about telehealth in optometry and see if patients would use their eye exams with telehealth.” Hamza added, “It allows us to see there is an opportunity in our field for telehealth.”


Andrew Baker and Hamza Khan present their research project.
Hamza Khan (CCO ’25) and Andrew Baker (CCO ’25) describe “Evaluating the Impact of COVID-19 on Patient Preferences Regarding Optometry Telehealth.”


Arizona College of Optometry student Joshua Reese (AZCOPT ’25) looked into how the time of day affects vision examinations, as problematic symptoms of different issues do not necessarily occur in conjunction with optometry appointments. Joshua said, “I was able to work closely with faculty mentors to find a love for research and reach my potential as an optometry student.” He continued, “I'm so grateful for the capstone and research fellowship programs at Midwestern University allowing me to present my poster as a lead author at the American Academy of Optometry in New Orleans last year in November.”

Research Day Impact

One of the cornerstones of healthcare education at Midwestern University is the opportunity for students to take part in research and innovation. Research is one of the ways students are involved in the next generation of healthcare and add their input, time, dedication, education, skills, and discoveries to the future.


Halley McDonalds presents her research project.
Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine student Halley McDonald (AZCOM ’26) presents “Integration of Bladder Point of Care Ultrasound (POCUS) in the Medical Physiology Courses in the Preclinical Curriculum.”


Glendale, AZ Winners Kenneth A. Suarez Research Day


Daniel Casanova presents his research topic.
Daniel Casanova (AZCOM '24) discusses Differences in Authorship Profiles of Incoming Orthopedic Cohorts by Residency Program Institutional Setting. He also won Outstanding Poster Presentation.


Outstanding Poster Presentations:

Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine (AZCOM):

  • Lindsey Lamb
    Urachal Cyst Complicated by Diverticulitis in a 73-year-old Man: A Case Report
  • Dylan Hampel
    Long-Awaited Relief After Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment in Postconcussion Syndrome: A Case Report
  • Daniel Casanova
    Differences in Authorship Profiles of Incoming Orthopedic Cohorts by Residency Program Institutional Setting
  • Brian Mayer
    Representation of Women and Osteopathic Physicians as Editors in Nine Surgical Subspecialties
  • Ryan Orlando
    Sleeping Soundly: An Osteopathic Approach to Insomnia in an Adolescent
  • Spencer Vroegop
    Long-term Intermittent Fasting Induces Changes to Glucose Metabolism and Limits Apoptosis in the SAMP8 Aged Murine Jejunum
  • Jamie McDermott
    Regional Variation in Macaque Dermatoglyphs Mirrors Human Tactile Sensitivity Map

College of Health Sciences (CHS):

  • Britny Santos
    The Impact of Dementia on the Spousal Relationship

College of Veterinary Studies (CVM):

  • Matthew Caldwell
    A Deadly Mix-up: The Incorrect Dispensing of Cyclophosphamide for Cyclosporine

College of Graduate Studies (CGS):

  • Christine Lee
    Characterization of Serine Protease Inhibitors from Schistosoma mansoni as Targets for Public Health Intervention
  • Siddarth Gunnala
    Folic Acid Over Supplementation Impacts Health Outcomes After Hypoxia in Male and Female Drosophila melanogaster
  • Shelby McMurray
    Small Mesenteric Artery Passive Mechanical Properties in Adult APOE3 & APOE4 Mice

Arizona College of Podiatric Medicine (AZCPM):

  • Andre Moezzi
    Tibia-Talor-Calcaneal Rod Placement without a Talus...A Case Study

Arizona College of Optometry (AZCOPT):

  • Greyson Eastman, Morgan Hansted, Adela Coy, & Devon Sievers
    How Does the Keratoconic Eye Change After Corneal Cross Linking?

College of Dental Medicine – Arizona (CDMA):

  • Justin Martin
    Identification of the Incisive Branch of the Inferior Alveolar Nerve in Edentulous Mandibles Using Cone-Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT)
  • Kacee Ginsbach
    Measuring the Correlation Between Oral Health History and Dental Anxiety
  • Emily Tarr
    Biocompatibility of a Chlorhexidine-erythritol-containing Adjunctive Periodontal Treatment on RMSCs

College of Pharmacy Glendale (CPG):

  • Ivan Gong
    Fostering More Capable Future Pharmacy Student Leaders: A Descriptive Report of Implementing the ASHP Student Leadership Development Program (SLDP) in a State Pharmacy Association

Outstanding Oral Presentation:

  • Bethany Robinson
    Prevalence of Lower Extremity Injuries in Rodeo Athletes: A Literature Review and Statistical Analysis
  • Eric Lash
    Adolescent-reported ADHD Symptoms vs. Parent-child Relationship

Outstanding Poster Presentation Graduate Medical Education (GME):

First Place:
Roshini Pradeep
Strengthening the Roots: A Root Cause Analysis of Identification of Most Common Cause of Readmissions at a Rural Center

Second Place:
Zachary Whitaker
An Osteopathic Approach to Prolonged Surgical Scar and Epidural Site Pain after Cesarean Section: A Case Study

Third Place:
Amin Al maayeh & Mustafa Al-maayeh
Hyperthyroid Storm Presenting as Pericarditis

Fourth Place:
Sarah Gorn
Successful Salvage Therapy of Bleomycin-induced Pneumonitis with Pirfenidone


Downers Grove, IL Winners Kenneth A. Suarez Research Day 


IL KAS Research Day Winners
Winners from the Kenneth A. Suarez Research Day display their awards. 


Outstanding Poster Presentations:

College of Health Sciences (CHS):

  • Ashley Lane
    Explanatory Sequential Mixed Methods Designed Research Study Exploring Rehabilitation Practitioners’ Knowledge and Perception about Climate Change and Impacts on Practice

Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine (CCOM):

  • Carter Yang
    Assessing the Role of SWI/SNF Chromatin Remodelers in the Transcriptional Response to Chemotherapy and the Induction of Senescence
  • Isaac Woods
    Efficacy of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment on an Individual with Klippel-Feil Syndrome, Frequent Headaches, Neck Pain, & Scoliosis of the Cervical and Thoracic Spine
  • Amanda Bernett
    Workin’ 9 to 5, but Now Can Thrive: Chronic Daily Headache Diagnosed and Treated with OMT
  • Katalina Demirkol
    A Case of Uveitis: A Spectrum of Ocular Manifestations
  • Danielle Voke & Caroline Kreitzer
    "Decoding the Digital Bump": A Mixed Methods Evaluation of Pregnancy Related Videos and Misinformation on TikTok
  • Nicole Zoghby
    Recovery from Auditory and Peripheral Neuropathy Upon Induction of Schwann Cell Loss in Aging DTA Mice
  • Areeha Khalid
    Neurotoxicity of Dimethyl Sulfoxide in Artemia Franciscana: From Vehicle to Positive Control
  • Emily Max
    Multiday Anodal tDCS of the Left Frontal Eye Field has a Compounding Effect that Lasts Beyond the Period of Treatment in Symptomatic Convergence Insufficiency
  • Elizabeth Barbeau
    Fexofenadine Alters Fura2-fluorescence in MIN6 Cells, a Model Pancreatic Beta Cell Line
  • Alexis Orr
    Intestinal Heat-Shock Protein 70 Alters Dietary Lipid Absorption
  • Lisa Lemajeur
    Short-term Estradiol Treatment on Spatial Memory in a Rat Model of Menopause

College of Pharmacy Downers Grove (CPDG) Student:

  • Frank Carnivele
    The Neuromuscular Synapse in the ApcMin/+ Mouse Model of Cancer-induced Cachexia

College of Pharmacy Downers Grove (CPDG) Resident:

  • Sara Salama
    Factors that Influence Blood Pressure Lowering with the Use of Sodium-Glucose Co-Transporter-2 Inhibitors in Persons with Type 2 Diabetes

Chicago College of Optometry (CCO):

  • Roman Somogy
    Visual Processing Differences Associated with Skilled Video Game Performance: Implications for Skilled Development and Training Using Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II
  • Hena Tahir, Antala Melero, Alex Kitzmann, & Heeren Parekh
    Comparison of Tear Film Stability and Ocular Comfort Between Delefilcon A and Kalifilcon A Contact Lenses

College of Dental Medicine – Illinois (CDMI):

  • Paige Madden
    Natural Alternative for the Management of Dental Caries: Lithothamnion Calcareum
  • Christine Malito
    Effect of Chitosan Addition on the Antimicrobial Activity of an Experimental Dental Adhesive Against S. mutans
  • Nelda Iznaga
    Fracture Resistance of 3D-Printed Resin-Crowns Cemented with Different Luting Agents
  • Valeria Estrella
    Assessment of the Biocompatibility of Avocado-Seed-Derived Scaffolds

College of Graduate Studies (CGS):

  • Jen'a Hunter
    Influence of Maternal Diet-induced Obesity on Offspring Neuromuscular Junction
  • Sheila Cazares & Desiree Kathryn Batangan
    “Forever Chemicals” and Neurotoxicity: Developmental response to the Pittsboro, NC PFAS mixture in Artemia franciscana
  • Alexis Bucha
    The Effect of Select Photobiomodulation Therapy on Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Outstanding Poster Presentation Graduate Medical Education (GME):

First Place:
Raahi Patel & Varsha Goduguchinta
A Biliary-Colonic Fistulous Tract in the setting of Ascending Cholangitis

Second Place:
Roger Rozzi
I'll Take "Improved Morale" for 1000 Please

Third Place:
Petro Shafranyuk
Analyzing Immunization Rates Amongst Inflammatory Bowel Disease Patients in a Community Gastroenterology Clinic

Fourth Place:
Nimish Joshi
Exploring ANA-Negative Drug-Induced Lupus

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