Undergraduate Student Research  

Student Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Symposium

A campus-wide colloquium of significant contributions to academia.
The goal of the symposium is to showcase the outstanding quality and diversity of research at AQ by providing students with the opportunity to put into practice and demonstrate the depth of their research skills with those outside of their disciplines. The symposium is also designed to demonstrate the importance of research and scholarship within our community via formal presentations, recitals, writings, poster sessions and art exhibits.
Symposium Events Held: April 25, 2012
Symposium Submissions: Academic Year 2011-2012
Department of Biology Department of Communication Department of Mathematics
Department of Chemistry Department of Geography  


Timothy Carew

Visual Feedback, Sex, and Motor Unit Control

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Thomas Bahl

The current study questioned the use of visual feedback on motor unit control. The major question at hand was if the visual feedback enhances an individual’s ability to judge particular grip forces. The procedure enrolled 60 right-handed subjects between the ages of 18 and 30 after screening, both males and females either possessing the visual feedback or not. Subjects were asked to produce an initial baseline grip, and then successively attempt to double and then triple this group upon finally demonstrating a maximal grip. Statistically insignificant results were obtained upon comparing the visual feedback groups to the non-visual feedback groups within like gender groups. However, comparing males to females within same mean percent increase categories revealed that females on average possessed a greater sense of motor unit control. Multiple noteworthy p values were obtained from this interesting element of the experiment. Future research into this find could entail enrolling an older age group to participate in the same experimental setup.


Evan Kowalski

Nocturnal Insect Biodiversity at Aquinas College

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Summer Silvieus

The biodiversity of an ecosystem is defined by the richness of the species of organisms and their abundance. Ecosystems that are considered diverse tend to have a rich number of different species and an even distribution of their population numbers. This study attempted to explore the biodiversity of nocturnal, airborne insects in the Aquinas College Campus vicinity. Insects were collected twice during the evenings from three sites: Wege Pond, woodlot behind Ravine Apartments, and Wilcox Park. Based on location of capture and morphology, insects were separated to taxonomic order and sub-taxa. Analysis was done with the Shannon Diversity Index, which examined the number of insects in each sub-taxa and the number of different sub-taxa. The results indicated that the highest biodiversity, at least for these nocturnal, airborne insects, is in Wilcox Park, compared to the more urbanized areas on campus. This brief study provided a humble window into the biodiversity in our own backyard and suggests that wooded areas, like Wilcox Park, might be left undeveloped to support such variety.



Andrea Levey

Antimicrobial Properties of Common Chickweed

Faculty Advisor: Sr. Katrina Hartman

The project focuses on the potential antimicrobial components within the Common Chickweed plant. Initial chemical tests were run to help determine the chemical structures found in the plant. During this time, fresh chickweed was being grown in preparation for the extractions. The plant was macerated in water and methanol for 24 hours. Water and methanol were used in order to potentially find polar and/or nonpolar substances. After rota-vapping the filtrates, the extractions were then tested on three different microorganisms: Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes, and Candida albicans. Two tests were run in triplicate using both the water and methanol extractions. The first test used filter paper as diffusion disks to look for zones of inhibition on microorganisms grown on plates. The second test used microorganisms grown in broth with the extracts mixed into the broth.


Kayla Lewis

Development of a PAD for Isoniazid

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Jensen

Tuberculosis is a widespread disease with treatment lasting up to nine months. Quick, easy to interpret, and inexpensive tests are needed to test for a counterfeit drug in underdeveloped countries. We are attempting to develop a colorimetric test on paper for isoniazid, part of the drug regimen used to treat tuberculosis. This type of test, developed by St. Mary’s College, is called a Paper Analytical Device. The pill is smeared on the paper and water carries the pharmaceutical ingredient to meet the reactants. If isoniazid is present, the paper turns color and the patient is sure that they have a legitimate pill.


Marissa Mikkelson

Colorimetric Determination of Ciprofloxacin via Paper Analytical Device

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Jensen

The goal of this research is to design a paper analytical device (PAD) to colorimetrically determine the presence of ciprofloxacin in prescription grade medication for the purpose of determining if the medication is counterfeit. Ciprofloxacin is a fluoroquinolone antibiotic in the group cephalosporins, a group of antibiotics commonly studied for their usefulness in treating most commonly infections in both human and animal cases. The PAD will serve as a cheap, simple to use and effective way to analyze prescription medications in resource limited settings. Those who use the PAD for identifying counterfeit medications will be able to smear the pill across or apply it in solution to lanes on the paper device. Each lane will test for different ingredients that comprise normal ciprofloxacin and its common excipients. The user will then dip the PAD into water and visible color will appear in lanes indicating the presence of that ingredient.



Karyl Deruyn

Message Delivery

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Penny Avery

Message Delivery A public speaker is a whole being with spiritual, intellectual, emotional and physical dimensions that impact the effectiveness of the message they deliver. Could personal time in silence without the typical demand on one’s time and attention cause a public speaker to change? Would the change alter the speaker’s message delivery and the perception of their own message effectiveness?
The Message Delivery study will explore these concepts.
Research goals: To determine the impact of personal silence experience on a public speaker’s perception of message effectiveness.
Methods: Qualitative methods studying data from responses of extended -interviews.
Recruit research subjects: The sampling technique used for interview participants will be a non-random inclusion and exclusion criteria technique.
Inclusion criteria for the scope variable will be public speakers in a professional capacity. A comparison group of interview participants will have the additional inclusion criteria of having a personal silence experience.

Erin Jenkins

Analysis of Relational Maintenance Behaviors in Romantic Relationships

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Penny Avery

I am comparing relational maintenance behaviors among people in geographically close romantic relationships and people in long distance romantic relationships. My research hypothesis is that in the context of romantic, nonmarital, exclusive relationships, couples that self0define their relationship as long distance (that had previously been geographically close) will report using more openness, assurances, and positivity as relational maintenance behaviors than couples who self-define their relationship as geographically close. My null hypothesis is that in the context of romantic, nonmarital, exclusive relationships, there will be no difference between the relational maintenance behaviors of openness, assurances, and positivity used by couples that self-define their relationship as long distance (that had previously been geographically close) and couples that self-define as geographically close. I used a Likert-type scale on a survey that was conducted online through surveymonkey. I received 150 responses, but am still going through the data so I'm not sure how many of those responses are usable. I probably have 130 or so completed, usable surveys that I can analyze. My data analysis will be completed this Saturday, and I will be able to determine whether or not I can reject my null hypothesis and whether or not I can accept my own research hypothesis.


Katelyn Sandor

Technology Use in the Workplace

Faculty Advisor: Sr. Rosemary O'Donnell, Dr. Penny Avery and Dr. Dave Weinandy

The purpose of the Technology Use in the Workplace study is to show that technology use and employee communication satisfaction are related. This topic of study is important because employee satisfaction in itself is directly related to job performance, organizational commitment and productivity. Also, while conducting a literature review, a number of sources mentioned the possibility of “overload” occurring as a result of technology use and how said “overload” may impact overall employee satisfaction.
By researching how technology impacts employee communication satisfaction, we may uncover possible negative effects of technology use in the workplace. Technology is commonly thought to enhance efficiency by making communicating work-related information easier, however, what if the use of technology only boosts efficiency to a certain point? Consider the law of diminishing returns which states that more is better, up to a point. An open flow of work-related information via technology related sources may be good up to a point, after which the receiver may become overloaded. The Technology Use in the Workplace study will attempt to examine whether or not employees reach a point of “overload” due to the amount of work-related information they receive through technological channels on a regular basis.


Samantha Swartout

Effective Communication in Conflict

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Penny Avery

My partner, Kate Singer, and myself researched how both men and women perceived themselves and each other in conflict. Our study included people in heterosexual romantic relationships of six months or longer and we hypothesized that both men and women would perceive women as more effective communicators in these relationships.


Brian Van Vels

Disclosure and Credibility in Public Speaking

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Penny Avery

The purpose of the research is to determine if a relationship exist between message type and perception of speaker credibility. The research aims to understand how different forms of disclosure could influence an audience's perception of the speaker on a sensitive topic. The disclosure topic revolves around domestic violence for this research . The research is to assess whether a speech based more on fact or a speech based more on personal narrative would have a greater influence on the perception of a speaker's credibility.



Devin Lea

The Effect of Urbanization on Watersheds in the Great Lakes Region

Faculty Advisor: Dr. James Rasmussen

For the period from 1950 to 2010, discharge data of four highly urbanized watersheds were compared with four less-urbanized and four non-urbanized watersheds in the Great Lakes Region. Twelve United States Geological Survey (USGS) stream gauges provided this data. These streams were selected to test the hypotheses that peak discharges are higher and the variance of discharge is greater in highly urbanized watersheds than less-urbanized and non-urbanized watersheds.


Kyle Tomczyk

Field Methods in Stream Velocity and Discharge

Faculty Advisor: Dr. James Rasmussen

This study measures water velocity and discharge in Wege Stream at Aquinas College. We used multiple techniques to gauge water velocity and determine the most accurate method. We first utilize a floating a ping pong ball traversing a known distance. But after witnessing the effect of wind on the ball’s velocity we switch to a dye tracer to obtain more consistent readings. We then use the velocity data and a surveyed cross section of the stream to calculate the discharge. Finally we use this field collected data to assess the effects of a variety of weather data on the flow of this small urban stream.



Ian Hart

Almost Domination in Connected Graphs

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joseph Spencer

After consideration of domination in graphs, we established a new definition: Almost domination. Almost domination is defined similarly to domination, but allows for vertices to be non-dominated if they only have edges connecting them with dominated vertices.
With this new definition, we found upper and lower bounds on the almost dominating number of a graph. We additionally found formulas and conjectures for the almost dominating number in various families of graphs, including regular bipartite graphs and arbitrarily sized grids.


Megan Ternes

Tangent Circles in the Hyperbolic Disk

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Michael McDaniel

Constructions of tangent circles in the hyperbolic disk, interpreted in Euclidean geometry, give us examples of four mutually tangent circles. These are shown to satisfy Descartes’s Theorem for tangent circles. We also show that the Archimedes twin circles in the hyperbolic arbelos are usually not hyperbolic congruent, even though they are Euclidean congruent. We include a few construction instructions because all items under consideration require surprisingly few steps.