Strike a Spark Sessions Set

Apr 12, 2021

The Strike a Spark Conference on Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity will be held virtually on April 21.

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For a schedule and links to presentations, visit

The Center for Undergraduate Research will hold its 2021 Strike a Spark Conference on Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity beginning at 9 a.m. April 21. 

The event — a celebration of students who engage in research, scholarship and creative expression — returns after a one-year absence due to COVID-19 and will be held in a virtual format in 2021. 

Dr. Susan Amara and Sarah Elaine Smith will deliver the keynote address at 11:10 a.m. 

“We are thrilled to be able to showcase the excellent work of our students,” said Dr. Azadeh Block, director of the Center for Undergraduate Research. “It has been a unique academic year, but the important work from our students in the sciences and the arts has continued. 

“They have shown resourcefulness, tenacity and adaptability in completing these projects under the guidance of faculty, and these characteristics will serve them well as they take the next steps on their career paths.” 

About Dr. Susan Amara 

Amara is the scientific director of the National Institute of Mental Health intramural research program at the National Institutes of Health. Shea joined NIMH after serving as the Thomas Detre Professor of Neurobiology and Distinguished Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. 

Work in her laboratory has focused on the structure, function and cellular physiology of neurotransmitter transporters, including the biogenic amine transporters, major targets for psychostimulant drugs and antidepressants. 

Amara received a B.S. in Biological Sciences from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in Physiology and Pharmacology from the University of California, San Diego and previously held faculty positions at Yale University School of Medicine, at the Vollum Institute in Portland Oregon, and as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at Yale and in Oregon. 

About Sarah Elaine Smith 

Smith, author of Marilou Is Everywhere and works of poetry, is originally from Greene County, Pa. She holds Master of Fine Arts degrees in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and poetry from the Michener Center for Writers. She also is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Wallace fellowship. 

Schedule of events 

9-10:40 a.m. Sessions

10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Keynote and Scholarship Presentation


1-2:40 p.m. Sessions


2:45-3:30 p.m. Performing Arts Session