By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau
Cancer has long been a part of sophomore Mikayla Mays’ family.
Her grandfather was diagnosed with liver cancer and her mother, who works as a radiation therapist, got to see first-hand the struggles of cancer treatment. Naturally, Mays developed a passion for finding ways to help reduce the odds of getting cancer.
That’s where Mays’ 2021 Honors Showcase presentation on her brand, Miksology, and her homemade natural deodorants, Power Pits, comes into play.
Many mainstream deodorants have been found to contain aluminum, which has been linked to causing certain cancers, and Mays was underwhelmed with what options were available with other natural deodorants on the market, largely because of their use of beeswax and the sticky consistency it would leave on the user.
“I’m a big researcher, so I looked up different ingredients that were natural and kept getting the feedback that cornstarch, baking soda and coconut oil were really good,” Mays said. “A lot of natural deodorants had the beeswax in it, which just makes you really sticky, so I decided not to put that in at all.
“Cancer is a serious issue, and if we can prevent it with something as simple as deodorant, then that’s something I want to do.”
Mays’ display was just one of the many impressive presentations highlighted at this year’s CSET (College of Science, Engineering and Technology) Research Symposium and Honors Showcase on Saturday in the Technology Building and online.
Honors College students pitched their ideas and research to a panel of judges. Honors College Associate Dean Dr. Breanna Naegeli noted that the diversity of the eight projects was a major reason this year’s event was so interesting.
“With the Honors Showcase, we try to make it as interdisciplinary and diverse as possible,” she said. “What’s really exciting about this event is that you get to see all of these different majors come together.”
Another feat, Naegeli said, is the quality of work students displayed in a historically challenging year.
“It just goes to show how active and engaged our students were both inside and outside the classroom this year despite COVID-19 and limitations on what they could and couldn’t do,” she said. “I’m exceptionally proud of our students. This event really captures how ambitious and driven these students are, so we’re proud to give them this platform to present."
One of the pitches captured the attention of Grand Canyon University President Brian Mueller and Dr. Tim Griffin, Vice President of Student Affairs, Dean of Students and University Pastor. It's for Generate, a renewable energy idea put together by Camden Marasco, Erik Yost and Nathan Olsen that provides a potential alternative to other well-established energy sources, such as solar and wind power.
Yost got the idea while he was on a team at NASA working to develop more sustainable energy for long-term missions.
"I was like, ‘Wow, this technology has huge Earth applications,’” he said. “Coming to GCU, I was like, ‘What if I’m able to take those applications and combine it with the business mindset and be able to really impact the world and serve the Gospel?”
Their passion for their work and their powerful presentation earned first place in the Showcase. But to them, being around a group of equally inspiring peers was what really made the event special.
“It was phenomenal to be alongside peers,” Marasco said. “It was very exciting to see what other students have been working on and how we can collaborate.”
Olsen said, “At this point, when we’re networking, it’s about who else we want to be involved with that can help us with our outreach and how we can help the world with this. So I think today was just really awesome to connect with those people.”
The event was held virtually for the CSET research finalists, and 17 oral presentations were divided into three groups of finalists: Microbiology, Biology and Human Physiology, and Chemistry & Computer Science. Many more students had their work showcased via virtual posters, bringing the total to approximately 50.
There was no shortage of diversity among the oral presentation topics. They ranged from the effect weekly exercise intensity has on COVID-19 symptoms (presented by Noah Sharp, Kyli Alvarez, Alyssa Deyo, Malia Nowlen, Addison Sande, Jacqueline Guillen and Dr. Zachary Zeigler) to Rotational Dynamics and the benefits of using technology of assist distance physics learning (presented by Nghi Tran, Erick Lagunes-Rodriguez and Dharma Teja Bhattu).
CSET Assistant Dean Dr. Jon Valla said it is a testament to the drive and effort CSET students continue to exude in their work.
“I am so proud of our students and mentors in the RDP (Research and Design Program), who managed to maintain and even expand their activities during the COVID-19 crisis − and do it safely,” he said, adding that the wide range of topics “is a testament to the resilience and fortitude of the participants. The work is better than ever, and I am very thankful.”