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School of Medicine students earn honors at Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium

West Virginia University School of Medicine students Gwendolyn Nurkiewicz and Kelcie N. Britton recently presented and discussed their research and creative endeavors virtually in the 12th annual Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Nurkiewicz, an Immunology and Medical Microbiology major from Morgantown, is a participant in the Honors EXCEL program. Her winning project, titled Storied Research: Alternative Writing Styles for Scientific Research in the Human Engagement Category. Her research focused on a new form of scientific writing in order to make scientific research more accessible to those outside the field. Her creative approach aims to break barriers in scientific writing, acting as an alternative writing style, further examining the intersection of science, writing, and society. 

“I took the opportunity to combine my major with my minor and started looking at how creative writing and science interact,” said Gwen. “I developed my creative writing skills beyond the classroom and found that if scientists want others to access their research, we need to find a new way to write about science.”

As she enters her senior year, Gwen aims to introduce Storied Research into the community. Upon graduation, she hopes to attend graduate school, focusing on science communications.

Britton, an Immunology and Medical Microbiology major from Morgantown, is a 2020 Beckman Scholar. Her winning project, titled Functional and Genetic Analysis of an Esterase Gene Involved in Synthesis of Ergot Alkaloid won in the Science & Technology Category. Kelcie has been working on her research for the past year and a half, using the project as a channel to connect lecture information to kinesthetic experiences.

“Those involved with the School of Medicine are so focused and driven, which pushes me to work harder every day that I am there… it’s filled with incredible faculty and staff who are passionate about teaching,” Kelcie said.

Kelcie, a junior, plans to attend medical school upon graduation and stay in the Morgantown community.

Both students are forever indebted to those who mentored, encouraged, and inspired them to pursue their research projects.

The Office of Undergraduate Research and the Honors College have several options for students interested in pursuing creative endeavors and research activity at WVU.

For more information on the Undergraduate Research Symposia, visit