he started her current project, “Impact of DYRK1A Haploinsufficiency on Facial Morphology using Three-Dimensional Morphometric Analysis”, in Spring of 2018 and has since presented posters for this project twice at the Showcase of Undergraduate Research Excellence (2018, 2019) as well as the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Track 1 poster showcase (2018). This project uses anatomical landmarks which were measured to carry out Euclidean Distance Matrix Analysis (EDMA) to evaluate global and local morphological differences. Our results show unique patterns of variation between individuals with DYRK1A haploinsufficiency and normal siblings, as well as unrelated normal controls, supporting our hypothesis. These results are expected to have academic importance by identifying exactly how and where DYRK1A haploinsufficiency changes patterns of facial morphology. Additionally, these results may have clinical relevance by identifying regions of the face that can benefit from early developmental interventions, therapeutic measures, or potentially plastic surgery. Her research interests include epigenetics, molecular genetics, statistics, quantitative anthropological methods, and soft-tissue anthropometry.
Stefani is pursuing a major in anthropology with a certificate in human biology. She has worked in the facial morphometrics lab focusing in analyzing 3D facial images of those with facial dysmorphologies stemming from genetic conditions. She is currently creating a literature review with the goal of submitting a peer-reviewed publication on the effect of DYRK1A haploinsufficiency on facial morphology, likely targeting the American Journal of Medical Genetics A. In addition to her research, Stefani has served roles in the University of Central Florida (UCF) as a Conference Assistant and a Resident Assistant, a Student Assistant at the UCF John C. Hitt library, and as Secretary and President of the UCF Lambda Alpha Anthropology Honor’s society. Upon graduation, Stefani hopes to attend graduate school and complete her graduate degree in biological anthropology. She hopes to one day become a primatologist and continue genetics related research.