Creighton students finish 1st, 3rd in national research competition

Posted at 8:03 AM, Mar 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-18 09:03:11-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — March is Women's History Month, dedicated to highlighting the historical and modern contributions made by women. Two Creighton University undergrads could very well be on their way to shaping the future for millions of people.

Keely Orndorff and Lauren Barbush's work garnered extra attention because of where and when it was shared: Madison Square Garden, hours before Creighton and Villanova squared off for the BIG EAST tournament title.

That same day, March 12, The Garden also hosted an inaugural event. The BIG EAST Undergraduate Research Poster Symposium featured 55 students from all 11 conference institutions.

Orndorff, a neuroscience major, earned the gold medal for her research on gene 'silencing.'

"It was sort of surreal hearing my name called for 1st place," Orndorff said. "And I remember looking over at my research advisor, Dr. Dieckman, and her face, just smile and joy and so proud of me. I think that's what I'll remember forever."

Barbush, a biology major at Creighton, finished in the top three. She studied treatments for noise-induced hearing loss, for which there's currently none approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Barbush became interested in the topic after working at a senior care facility.

"Living in a nursing home already predisposes people to some form of depression or isolation," Barbush said, "but if you can't interact with the world because you can't hear, it just impacts your quality of life that much more."

Orndorff and Barbush are quick to remind that their research is in the very early stages. Having it celebrated, though, on the same day and in the same building as when their team took the court for a conference championship made for an unforgettable experience.

"We were just so lucky that Creighton was able to play in the championship game. It was a really amazing time," Barbush said.

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