Showcasing Scholarship That Matters 

Posted on June 10, 2024

Victoria Henshaw stands with her poster at the 12th annual Graduate Research Showcase

For Tori Hinshaw and Sindhu Yalavarthi, “scholarship that matters” was more than the theme of the  12th Annual Graduate Research and Creativity Showcase. It’s also a commitment they lived while pursuing graduate degrees at UNC Greensboro. 

Hinshaw won the showcase’s art and humanities category for her poster on a project to a raise funds and awareness to restore jazz legend John Coltrane’s childhood home as a museum and community education center, and Yalavarthi was among four winners in the health sciences category for a poster about nanoscience research that could lead to better cancer therapies. 

Hinshaw’s ’Trane Tracks festival sheds light on local music heritage 

An aficionado of Southern music, including jazz, country, and bluegrass, Hinshaw graduated this spring with a master’s degree in history with a concentration in museum studies.  

Graduation marked the second of two big weekends for Hinshaw, who served as event coordinator for the ’Trane Tracks Music Festival held April 28 in High Point. The event served as Hinshaw’s capstone project, which was the subject of her showcase poster, “Conducting Coltrane: Uncovering Small-Town Roots of a Music Mastermind.”  

“I wanted to raise awareness for the site and local music history as well as raise awareness for the museum studies degree and what we do in our program,” Hinshaw says. “The centerpiece of this project is accessibility to history and providing the community with opportunities to engage in their own history.” 

Hinshaw learned about the showcase from her faculty advisor, Interim Director of Public History Torren Gatson. She’d been accepted to present her research at the National Council on Public History’s annual conference in Salt Lake City in April, and she thought the showcase would give her good practice. 

She found the experience deepened her sense of connection to UNCG’s graduate school. “It was wonderful getting to talk to other UNCG graduate students and learn about all the amazing work they are engaged in.” 

While Hinshaw is moving back to her home in middle Tennessee, she may be back for visits. She and her collaborators on the ’Trane Tracks project hope to make it an annual event honoring Coltrane’s virtuosity on the saxophone. 

With the festival, Hinshaw hopes to encourage others to learn more about local history, wherever they go. “It’s amazing all of the deep and rich history that you will find in your own backyard,” she says.  

Yalavarthi explores promising cancer treatment 

Like Hinshaw, Sindhu Yalavarthi hopes her career will one day make people’s lives better. In her case, she’d like to do that through research into cancer vaccines.  

Her poster “SMART_NV: Innovating Cancer Immunotherapy” delved into work done in the lab of her faculty advisor, Assistant Professor Kerui Wu in the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering

Wu’s SMART_NV, she explains, appears to get around certain problems with current immunotherapies for cancers. Those therapies use human cells to activate the body’s immune system to kill cancer cells, but making those cells in the lab and storing them is difficult. Also, immunotherapy is expensive.  

In SMART_NV, the idea is to use tiny, manufactured vesicles to stimulate the immune system to recognize and fight cancer cells, Yalavarthi says. 

“So far, we have fabricated the extracellular vesicles of dendritic cells and found that they were interacting well with the T cells (immune cells) and were able to reduce the tumor size,” she says.  

“We’ve also tested whether these extracellular vesicles were able to reduce the metastatic rate and recurrence rate, and they did a good job.” 

Next steps are redesigning the extracellular vesicles into SMART_NV by processing them using membrane extrusion, she says. After that will come safety evaluations and, finally, clinical trials. 

Yalavarthi looks forward to those next steps. “The whole point of the project is not just to find a treatment for cancer but also an affordable one because everybody deserves to live,” she says. 

Committed to becoming a cancer researcher, Yalavarthi recently completed her second semester as a doctoral student in nanoscience and is preparing to begin lab work this summer. She’d like to work in the biotech industry. 

“I’m not sure if I will find a cure for cancer,” she says, “but I’ll hopefully do research that helps down the line.” 

Story by Dee Shore 

Photography by Sean Norona


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