Undergraduate Student Research  
 

Current Research: May 2015-May 2016

 
The Independence Number of Circulant Graphs
Jacob Campbell
Jacob Campbell

Circulant graphs are highly symmetrical mathematical objects with applications to group theory, biology, and chemistry. Our project centers on computing a certain parameter of circulant graphs, namely their independence number, which gives a rough measurement of how connected they are.

 

Faculty Mentor: Joseph Fox

Funded By: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

 
TIARA (Test of Implicit Associations in Relationship Attitudes): Application to the Study of Friendships and Romantic Relationships
Nicholas Evans

This project aims to study feelings and their expressions involved in close relationships. We are interested to know how people attribute certain feelings and their expressions to the main target figures: friends of the same and opposite sex, and romantic partners. We plan to compare the similarities and differences in these experiences. For this purpose, we are employing an explicit self-report questionnaire as well as an implicit measure called the Test of Implicit Associations in Relationship Attitudes (TIARA). This test measures unconscious associations in relation to different target figures in experimental procedures using specially developed software. Thus, this project further tests the validity and reliability of the TIARA method for the study of interpersonal relationships.

 

Faculty Mentor: Victor Karandashev

Funded By: Aquinas College Summer Scholars Program

 
Kinetic Characterization of AmpC
Craig Jensen

We are studying AmpC from E. coli, an enzyme that hydrolyzes beta-lactam antibiotics and is able to confer antibiotic resistance. Our plan is to first purify and characterize the kinetic parameters if the wild type enzyme. We have also identified some potentially interesting variants that have been observed in the clinical setting. We plan to generate and characterize some of those enzyme variants.

 

Faculty Mentor: Tim Henshaw

Funded By: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

 
Generation of Tol2 Transposons Encoding Mutant NOD Genes
Jordan Jones
Jordan Jones

The genes, Nod1 and Nod2, encode cytosolic innate immune receptors (Nod receptors), which bind to microbe-associated molecular patterns (MAMPs) associated with the gut microbiota. Studying zebrafish, who also possess these genes, for the purpose of further characterizing the important role of Nod receptors in intestinal immunity can help us to better understand the pathogenesis of and ultimately how to treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Our goal this summer will be to continue the work of previous student researchers at Aquinas by placing the mutant NOD genes made by Jamaal Tarpeh last summer into the plasmid, pENTR1A DS, and to then perform a Gateway cloning reaction to make Tol2 transposons of the mutants. These Tol2 transposons will be useful in making transgenic lines of zebrafish expressing dominant negative NOD receptors, and these transgenic lines could be used to study and further characterize the role of the Nod receptors in intestinal immunity.

 

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Larry Peters

Funded By: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

 
Biomedical Ethics
Seth Kreeger

Claims made with regard to biomedical ethics are often dependent upon deeper philosophical presuppositions and theories. This summer, we will study the relationship between conceptions of the person and their bioethical implications. Our focus will be on issues associated with the end of life.

 

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Bryan Pilkington

Funded By: Aquinas College Summer Scholars Program

 
Base Map
Emily MacQueen
Emily MacQueen

I am making a base map of Aquinas College, which will show land use/land cover at a very high resolution for future use in the mapping of Aquinas College. The campus has many different maps, and they are all for different uses. With the map that we will be creating it will be able to be used as a base map for many different disciplines. We will be also be focusing more on the economic valuation of the land cover/land use of the campus for sustainable planning for the future.

 

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Rasmussen and Dr. Clinthorne

Funded By: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

 
Opportunities for Higher Order Thinking in the Elementary Mathematics Classroom
Cecilia Magnuson

This research project will conduct case studies in third grade elementary classrooms exploring opportunities and support for higher order thinking. The study will specifically focus on teacher questions, student responses and the written curriculum used during our classroom observations. Our literature review supports that with effective questioning by the teachers, students will use higher order thinking which results in greater retention of information at a deeper level.

 

Faculty Mentor: Shari Ciganik

Funded By: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

 
Teaching Standards: What Do We Learn from Each Other?
Rebecca Mantei

The project aims at exploring what lessons we can learn from German immersion programs in terms of Standards. We, the researchers, hypothesize that since both countries used certain standards to guide their own immersion programs, the U.S. can borrow some experiences or documents from analyzing the Standards used by the immersion programs used in Germany. We are looking at the German standards for immersion schools in terms of seeing how the differences between the U.S. and German standards can be used to improve U.S. standards and in turn, improve immersion schools.

 

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Rui Niu-Cooper

Funded By: Aquinas College Summer Scholars Program

 
Examination of the Karner Blue Butterfly Population and Habitat
Ashley Powers

Our research will consist of two main components involving oak-pine barrens and dry sand prairie habitat up in the Newaygo-Baldwin area. The Karner Blue butterfly is a federally endangered species. Our first area of interest will involve meander surveys of Karner Blue butterflies at a number of preserves in the Newaygo-Baldwin area. This survey will provide additional insight into the health of the Karner Blue butterfly population. The second area of study will look at the plant and insect diversity of the Karner Blue Nature Sanctuary. This study will provide information to the Michigan Nature Association for evaluation of past management plans.

 

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Clark Danderson

Funded By: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

 
Biology and Philosophy Intersection: the Ethical Implications of Applying Modern Stem Cell Technology
Kevin Stille
Stille

Currently, we believe that our primary research focus will be the ethical implications of applying modern medical stem cell technology, but that topic may change as we immerse ourselves in the literature. Ultimately, we want to write a manuscript for publication in a peer-reviewed ethics journal. We would also like to assemble a syllabus for an interdisciplinary, team-taught bioethics course that would be submitted to the faculty committee on studies for approval.

 

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Hess

Funded By: Aquinas College Summer Scholars Program

 
The Use of Second-Person Singular Pronouns among Young Speakers in Costa Rica
Alyssa Willson
Alyssa Willson

Previous studies on the use of the second-person singular pronouns in Costa Rica have given contradictory results regarding "tuteo", or the use of "tĂș", "voseo", or the use of "vos, and "ustedeo", or the use of "usted". The goal of our project is to shed more light on this topic by carrying out a sociolinguistic investigation that will provide more evidence of the current uses of these three pronouns among young speakers in Costa Rica.

 

Faculty Mentor: Carmen Ruiz-Sanchez

Funded By: Aquinas College Summer Scholars Program