Undergraduate Student Research  
 

Current Research: May 2013-2014

A Study of Mancala Sowing Action

Noah Armstrong

Noah Armstrong

In the game Mancala, stones are moved using a “sowing” action. Sowing is taking all the stones from a single bin and placing one stone in each successive bin until all stones are placed. We will study how to move specified stones to specified bins in as few moves as possible. Variations will include number of bins, number of stones initially in each bin, and number of specified stones we wish to place.

 

Faculty mentor: Joseph J. Spencer

Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant


 
Interpersonal Physical Attraction Study

Brittany Fata

Brittany Fata

The purpose of the study is to develop the scale measuring cognitive, emotional, and behavioral aspects of interpersonal physical attraction. We are going to validate the scale in longitudinal investigation of early development of romantic relationship.

 

Faculty mentor: Dr. Victor Karandashev

Funded by: Aquinas College Summer Scholars Program


 
Directed deletion of virulence-factor encoding genes in Renibacterium salmoninarum
Kendra-Marie Garcia

Kendra-Marie Garcia

Renibacterium salmoninarum, is a gram positive bacterial fish pathogen that causes bacterial kidney disease (BKD). BKD causes significant morbidity and mortality in wild salmonid populations, and interferes with fisheries used for both ecological restoration and commercial production. Using the published genome of Renibacterium salmoninarum, we will attempt to delete genes encoding known virulence factors in Renibacterium salmoninarum using homologous recombination.

 

Faculty mentor: L. Rob Peters

Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant


 
Hyperbolic Constructions

Jackie Gipe

Jackie Gipe

The constructible hyperbolic lengths are known. As in Euclidean, there are certain lengths which admit nifty, brief constructions. Brief constructions for complicated hyperbolic lengths is largely unexplored territory. We will scour the literature and build our own constructions.


Faculty mentor: Michael McDaniel
Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant


 
Human Rights and Responsibility to Protect: An Analysis of Israeli-Palestinian Relations
Brandon Heritier
Brandon Heritier

Current Israeli-Palestinian relations remain tense. At least 70 years of formal attempts at creating more peaceful dynamics has resulted in some positive changes. Despite this, violence remains a threat in the Gaza Strip and surrounding areas, tensions continue in the West Bank, Israel continues to hold a significant preponderance of power – and exercises it from time to time as Palestinian groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah continue to engage in guerilla type warfare. Most crucially, Palestinians remain a “nation without a state” and lack the international legal recognition of sovereignty. This continued violence includes potential Crimes against Humanity and violations of international norms and laws. Through an application of “Responsibility to Protect” and international laws, the questions addressed in this research include whether or not there is any evidence of Crimes against Humanity or Human Rights violations in historical or current Israeli-Palestinian relations; and if so, whether or not the international community has the responsibility to protect those involved in the conflict.

 

Faculty mentor: Roger Durham

Funded by: Aquinas College Summer Scholars Program


 
Investigating Pre-contact Alaskan Exchange Networks through Ceramic Sourcing
Mitchell Kohler

This project will analyze a newly excavated collection of ceramics from the Kobuk region of Alaska along with previously excavated samples from several of the major sites in the region. Going beyond the aforementioned study, the analysis will also include four clay sources that may have been used in ceramic production. The artifacts and clay samples will undergo compositional analysis using Inductively Coupled Plasma -Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) and multivariate statistical techniques will be applied in an attempt to relate artifact (ceramic shards) to raw material (clay sources).

 

Faculty mentor: Thomas Urban (Oxford University)

Funded by: Earhart Emerging Scholars Grant and National Science Foundation


 
Native Woodpeckers and the Invasive Emerald Ash Borer

Evan Kowalski

Evan Kowalski

The emerald ash borer is an invasive, nonnative species of insect that feeds on the phloem of ash trees, an important Michigan tree species. Native woodpecker species are known to feed on the larvae of ash borers, but the factors influencing the levels of their predation are poorly understood. We will be investigating whether tree health, stand density, diameter at breast height, and/or tree species increases the level of woodpecker attacks on ash trees infected with the emerald ash borer.

 

Faculty mentor: Jeffrey McKelvey

Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant


 
Discursive Functions of the Neutral Demonstrative "eso" ("that") in Semi-Casual Speech

Elizabeth Nelson

The main goal of our project is to account for the new communicative functions of the Spanish demonstrative pronoun "eso" ("that") that has been observed in the semi-casual speech of Southern Spain but has not yet been studied. Our research will concentrate on discerning the specific contexts in which "eso" is being used as a discourse marker and will also compare the use of "eso" in different social groups in this community.

 

Faculty mentor: Dr. Carmen Ruiz-Sánchez

Funded by: Aquinas College Summer Scholars Program


 
A Structure-Based Predictive Model of the Substrate Specificity of the Tobacco Etch Virus Protease
Marissa Saladin
Marissa Saladin

The purpose of this project was to develop a structure-based predictive model for protease specificity using the Tobacco Etch Virus protease as a platform. We used the Rosetta macromolecular modeling program to generate structural models of experimentally determined cleavable and generated uncleavable sequences and used the components of the energy interaction between the protease and peptides to train support vector machines for developing a predictive classifier. These studies may lead to the development of a new structure-based protocol for the design of proteases with novel specificities, which will serve as leads for a new class of therapeutic drugs.

 

Faculty mentors: Dr. Sager Khare and Manasi Pethe at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

Funded by: RiSE at Rutgers


 
A Post Glacial History of Southwest Michigan
Brian Woodin
Jim Rasmussen & Brian Woodin

This study utilizes paleo-limnological techniques to unravel the history of landscape use and land cover in Southwestern Michigan during the Holocene. We specifically focus upon a comparison of pre and post 19th Century European agriculture in the region.

 

Faculty Mentor: Jim Rasmussen

Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant


 
Effect of Additive Structure on Regioselectivity in a Direct Arylation

Andrew Zahrt

Andrew Zahrt

An ongoing theme in organometallic chemistry is the development of more atom economical routes to the synthesis of molecules. One such strategy, direct arylation, is efficient in theory but not in practice for some substrates due to poor selectivity. The goal of this project will be to vary additives in a direct arylation reaction with the hope of achieving high selectivity for one of the regioisomeric products.

 

Faculty mentor: Jonathan Fritz

Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant