Friday, January 12, 2024

Lightpole banner featuring Wahid Alam

University of Iowa undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral scholars are blazing new trails in research, scholarship, and creative activities. The 2024 Dare to Discover banner campaign highlights 80 such researchers and scholars, in fields ranging from microbiology to astronomy, artificial intelligence to historical women’s fashions.

The banners, the ninth installation of the campaign, will be up in downtown Iowa City from January to March 2024.

“These students and postdocs highlight not only the breadth and depth of the scholarly work being done on campus but also the powerful impact that these activities can have on both individuals and our greater community as a whole,” said Marty Scholtz, vice president for research.

The featured researchers were selected from more than 200 nominations made by mentors, colleagues, and other members of the campus community. Profiles of each member of the 2024 cohort are available at and will be shared on social media using #DiscoverUI.

Samantha Kruse

The researchers in the campaign tackle questions from an atomic level to a planetary scale.  Samantha Kruse, a PhD student in chemistry under the mentorship of Professor Tori Forbes, explores the effect that UV and gamma radiation has on the molecular structure of both organic and uranium-containing materials.

“Understanding the effects of radiation on organic-based materials is important for rationally engineering safer, more sustainable, less toxic, and cheaper radiation-resistant materials,” said Kruse. “These radiation-resistant materials can be used for solar cell coatings, space science, nuclear shielding, and medical technologies that utilize radiation.”

Regan Day

Regan Day, an undergraduate student majoring in political science, marketing, and business analytics and information systems, analyzes peace negotiations in global civil wars from 1980 to 2010.

“Discovering the components that contribute to successful peace negotiation attempts will lead to more effective conflict resolution strategies and improved diplomatic efforts, ultimately fostering more peace and harmony globally,” said Day, who is mentored by associate professor Brian Lai.

Lukas Schnepel

The researchers often find that their efforts to solve big problems for society enrich their own lives as well. Lukas Schnepel, a law student, examines the intersection of law and society’s efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. He has found that the research has complemented his educational experience.

“Being involved in research has allowed me to take creative initiative over my education and to engage with more niche areas of the law than a standard legal education would provide,” said Schnepel, who is mentored by Jason Rantanen, Hammer-Boyd Professor of Law and associate dean for faculty.

Andrew Parayil Boge

Andrew Parayil Boge is a PhD student in communication studies whose research focuses on the history of anti-South Asian rhetoric. “Research has assisted me in honing my skills as a writer, communicator, and problem solver,” he said. “These core skills will allow me to thrive in pretty much any professional environment.”

Ben Kreitlow is a student in the Medical Scientist Training Program, pursuing both an MD and PhD. He studies sudden unexpected death in epilepsy, or SUDEP, in the lab of Gordon Buchanan, associate professor of neurology.

Ben Kreitlow

“Being involved in research at the University of Iowa has made me a more empathetic person, it has made me a better mentor, a more patient person, and a deeper thinker,” said Kreitlow.

The campaign is sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research.