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Student Research at Aquinas College

Research Archives

May 2020 - May 2021

Elliptic geometry applied to icosahedral capsids.
Joshua Wierenga

Dr. David Wilson's 2016 result that, for viruses with icosahedral shapes, viral probes lie on icosahedral great circles inspires us to seek further structures through geometry and bio-chemistry. We will study his paper and its references along with articles on the geometry of the icosahedral sphere. We plan to build physical models using Zometool and virtual models in SketchPad. We aim to find a few properties which are new to Dr. Wilson and send our findings to him for verification.

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

Windy Hill Ceramics
Jamey Limbers

I have come across a property in Kent County that has a large amount of natural clay. I will be mining, refining, and using the clay to create a local clay body that can be thrown on a potters wheel or hand-built in to a vessel. The clay body will also be used as a glaze and a slip to decorate the ceramic pieces. I will also be considering the carbon foot print of an artist by using locally procured materials.

Faculty Advisor: Madeline Kaczmarczyk
Funded by: Aquinas College Summer Scholars Program

In Search of Failure: Discovering the Frontiers in the Regioselectivity of Direct Arylation Reactions
Victoria Faber

A fascinating irony exists in science. Generally speaking, “negative” results such as low yields and poor selectivity will not be what gets you published. Likewise, review articles tend to be collections of various researchers’ successes in a specific field. However, when seeking funding, having a keen understanding of the limits of current methodologies is of great value because it aids you in making a strong case for the importance of your proposed research. A primary objective of this project is to categorize patterns of regioselectivty in the literature on direct arylation reactions with an eye towards what is missing. This process may allow us to identify substrates which currently exhibit poor regioselectivity in direct arylation reactions.

Faculty Advisor: Jonathan Fritz
Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

The Daily Hustle & Grind of "Getting By"
Nalana La Framboise

This research, stemming from a larger three-year ethnographic study of one Detroit neighborhood, examines the everyday hustle that is 'getting by'. This research illuminates urban struggles in post-welfare, post-recession times, sharing the narratives and experiences of residents who actively resist cumulative disadvantages with complex and hidden strategies that create alternative economies. This research asks about the income-generating activities and strategies that comprise the hustle and seeks to understand the hustle as an everyday reality that is both work and the embodiment of the city of Detroit and its residents.

Faculty Advisor: Jen Lendrum
Funded by: Aquinas College Summer Scholars Program

Reasons for the United States Declaring War on Great Britain in 1812
Jacob Isenga

Our project will be to investigate in depth the reasons why the United States declared war on Great Britain in June of 1812. At the time, Great Britain had one of the world's most powerful armies, and the strongest navy on the seas. The military of the United States, by comparison, was much less impressive. The reasons involve domestic politics, the question of American Indian raids on frontier settlements in the west, and Britain's policy of seizing or impressing sailors off American ships for duty in the British Navy. We will seek to understand which of these reasons, and possibly others, was the most important factor in influencing the United States to take this dramatic step and possibly lose not just a war, but its status as a sovereign country.

Faculty Advisor: Jason Duncan
Funded by: Aquinas College Summer Scholars Program

Tchoukaillon Crossings
Thomas Siebelink

Tchoukaillon is a solitaire game that uses the sowing mechanism from game Mancala. Tchoukaillon’s board consists of a single row of bins. The goal is to sow all stones off the board to an end bin, called the Ruma, with the requirement that each sow ends in the Ruma. It is known for what arrangements of stones that Tchoukaillon can be won using a fairly simple strategy. We will study winning strategies when there are multiple rows to sow from and the rows cross at some bins or bins.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joseph Spencer
Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

Influence of pollination mode on stigmatic pollen loads in Thalictrum
Teegan Galdeen

Each pollen grain is a multicellular individual upon which environmental selective pressures may act. One environment experienced by all pollen grains is the size of the stigmatic pollen load, which is assumed to differ between wind- and insect-pollinated species. To determine how pollination mode is related to the selective pressures experienced by individual grains, we will analyze previously collected data on pollen loads in wind- and insect-pollinated Thalictrum species. Specifically, we will test the hypothesis that stigmatic pollen loads in insect-pollinated species are significantly higher than in wind-pollinated Thalictrum species. We plan to write a manuscript about this project for submission to a peer-reviewed publication. We will also be studying R programming, light- and fluorescence-microscopy techniques, and in vivo pollen staining protocols.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Rebecca Humphrey
Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

Examining Self-Care Behaviors in Undergraduate Students as a Function of Personality Traits
Victoria August

This research was conceived through a fascination with coping mechanisms employed by college students, in the face of numerous stressors such as managing course work, navigating living on one’s own, and interpersonal pressures. One way students cope with such stressors is to utilize self-care strategies, which involves an attention to basic needs, such as: proper nutrition, sleep, exercise, and social contact in order to support physical/mental health. Combined with an interest in personality psychology, the researchers decided to investigate whether self-care behavior is related to one’s personality traits. Although students’ self-care behaviors have been examined to an extent, particularly medical students, these studies have not as of now taken personality into account (Slonim et al., 2015). In order to rectify the lack of research in this area, the researchers devised a survey combining “The Big Five Personality Test” with a novel “Self-Care Questionnaire” written by the student researcher that gauges students’ personality traits, self-care behaviors, and the perceived effectiveness of these behaviors (Costa & McCrae, 1992). Moreover, the purpose of this research is to build awareness of the importance of self-care, especially in the college student population, and to shed light on the specific personality traits that influence self-care behaviors.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joyce Oates
Funded by: Aquinas College Summer Scholars Program

Investigation of coral-dinoflagellate symbiosis - literature review (if we get access to lab, we will use the Aiptasia model system)
Lucas Topie

We will review the existing literature to identify proteins suspected to be involved in coral-dinoflagellate symbiosis, with a particular focus on innate immune receptors expressed by the coral host. We will focus on cnidarian host proteins that may mediate recognition and/or uptake of the dinoflagellate by the coral host. If we have access to the lab later in the summer, we plan to isolate cDNA coding for proteins of interest from Aiptasia (a model cnidarian) and clone these genes into suitable expression vectors. We will write a review of research published on the recognition and uptake of dinoflagellates by the coral host with a focus on work published since the 2012 review by Davy et al "Cell Biology of Cnidarian-Dinoflagellate Symbiosis"

Faculty Advisor: Larry Robert Peters PhD
Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

Democracy, Identity, and Existential Threat
Tessa Schutt

In recent decades, theorists of deliberative democracy had hoped to help people reconstruct their identities and interests to be more inclusive, empathetic and compatible with a diverse political world. Instead, identities and disagreements appear to be hardening and resisting reconstruction. The possibility of compromise or a middle ground is rejected by many across the political spectrum in favor of candidates who champion dramatic change. Disagreements over policies and candidates seem more frequently to be matters of existential threat -- challenges to the core of who people are. Identity politics, once thought to be a fading holdover from the social movements of the 1960s, has re-emerged in new ways. The purpose for conducting research on this topic is to better understand how identity and disagreement are working in the current political culture, and what role identity is playing (if any) in support for or against particular political candidates. Given the intensity of disagreement around political figures among both political parties, and expectations about who “should” support various candidates, the current electoral landscape offers a rich opportunity to explore how identity and disagreement are currently working together

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Molly Patterson
Funded by: Aquinas College Summer Scholars Program

May 2019 - May 2020

Synthesis and Characterization of Ionic Liquid Crystal Compounds
Aaron Batke

Thermotropic liquid crystals are compounds with an intermediate phase between crystalline solids and isotropic liquids. They can be induced into phase transitions by altering their temperature. One category of liquid crystals are ionic compounds composed of metal halide ions that are attached to alkylammonium cations with positively-charged nitrogen atoms connected to a hydrophobic hydrocarbon tail. Interest in these compounds has existed for the past 45 years. Studies have involved a range of alkyl chain lengths and different transition metal halides. However, the lanthanide metals have not been sufficiently explored. We will synthesize one or more ionic liquid crystal compounds containing alkylammonium cations with samarium chloride anions. Characterization of the resulting compounds may include elemental analysis, differential scanning calorimetry, melting point analysis via Mel Temp apparatus, polarizing optical microscopy, and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy. We hope the new compounds will exhibit thermotropic liquid crystal phases. The presence of the lanthanide element may also cause fluorescence. This work will contribute to a previously unexplored region of chemistry.

Faculty Advisor: Elizabeth Jensen
Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

Scope of an Under Air Direct Arylation Reaction with Respect to Aryl Halides
Gabby Brandonisio

Direct Arylation is a type of reaction used by organic chemists to cleave C-H bonds on aromatic compounds and form C-C bonds with other aromatic compounds. Typically these reactions are done under an inert atmosphere, but previous Aquinas students that have studied this reaction using air and obtained yields just as good. The previous students have found optimal conditions for the reaction to take place. Building off of their research, our goal is to explore the scope of the reaction with respect to the aryl halides.

Faculty Advivor: Dr. Jonathan Fritz
Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

Sexism, Marital Status, Parenthood, and Alcoholism: Examining the Effects of the Single Motherhood Penalty on Socio-Cognitive Perceptions
Julia Cooke

Even though gender equality has increased over the decades, gender disparity persists. Women are still paid less than men and are also subject to discrimination in the workplace based solely on the fact that they may become mothers. Further, there is some evidence indicating that mothers suffering from alcoholism face stigmatization that does not extend to fathers suffering from alcoholism. The goal of this research is to elucidate unique prejudices that mothers, specifically single mothers, face. Although there is research on gender disparity, the motherhood penalty, and alcoholism, there are no experiments combining all of them and specifically examining what we term “the single motherhood penalty”. Therefore, we are conducting a series of experiments that will test the effects that variables such as gender, parental status, marital status, ethnicity, addiction status race/ethnicity, etc., may have on socio-cognitive judgements. Based on the results of this research, we hope to shed light on the plight of single mothers and offer empirical evidence that may be used for policy change for single mothers suffering from alcoholism.

Faculty Advisor: Joyce Oates
Funded by: Summer Scholars Research Grant

Constructing tools to study the role of an innate immune receptor (Nod1) in hematopoietic stem cell development
Svetlana Djirackor and Lucas Topie

We will subclone zebrafish dominant negative Nod1 alleles our group formerly designed. These subcloned alleles will be used by our collaborators to advance hematopoietic stem cell research. The zebrafish model was chosen due to its ease of use in large-scale applications, chemical screens and in vivo imaging.

Faculty Advisor: L. Rob Peters
Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

The Legal Arguments for United States’ Intervention in the Vietnam War: A Reappraisal
Gannon Foley

This investigation seeks to explore the various legal arguments in favor of and against US involvement in the Vietnam War. Valuable primary and secondary sources will indicate which arguments carry the greatest influence when examining this era of history. At the conclusion of this exploration, the author will compile all his research and present a document that ties together the evidence for and against the Vietnam War.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jason Duncan
Funded by: Aquinas College Summer Scholars Program

Relationship between pollen aperture number and germination in Thalictrum
Spencer Graham

Pollen heteromorphism is a characteristic belonging to certain species of plants in which an individual produces multiple types of fertile pollen grains. It is possible that certain pollen morphs are inherently more viable than others. We would like to observe pollen germination in vitro in order to measure morphological variation and efficiency of germination within and among individuals of multiple populations and species of Thalictrum. This study will provide insight into the evolution of pollen heteromorphism.

Faculty Advisor: Rebecca Penny Humphrey
Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

Nature, Philosophy, and Latin in St. Thomas Aquinas' De Principiis Naturae
Noah Hall

The primary goal of this project was twofold. First, the student acquired basic understanding and habits of Latin forms, grammar, syntax, and vocabulary necessary for producing philosophical translations of the work of St. Thomas Aquinas. Second, the student and faculty mentor collaborated to produce a philosophical translation of the second chapter of St. Thomas Aquinas’ De principiis naturae, which contributed to the living tradition of treating the thought of the Angelic Doctor. This project is a continuation of a previous study done with another student on the opening chapter of the De principiis naturae.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Daniel Wagner
Funded by: Aquinas College Summer Scholars Program

Monsky's Theorem and the Wallace-Simson Line in Non-Euclidean Geometry
Morgan Nissen

We will seek other counter-examples to Monsky's Theorem in hyperbolic geometry and we will seek the set of points from which an elliptic triangle has Wallace-Simson lines.

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

The Mathematics of Machine Learning Algorithms
Anna Putnam

We are creating, from scratch, an image recognition program using neural networks, basic programming, and calculus concepts. Our goal is to have a working program that can label images of oak leaves and maple leaves accurately, through exploring the mathematics of machine learning.

Faculty Advisor: Joseph Fox
Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

The Dessication Tolerance of Craterostigma plantagineum
Michael Kalinowski

We studied the genetic basis of the dehydration tolerance of Craterostigma plantagineum, a small plant from South Africa. We utilized RNA-seq to trace RNA expression of the leaf and root tissues as the plant went through the desiccation cycle, and rehydrated. This work was mainly exploratory in nature, as this plant has never before been examined in this way.

Faculty Advisor: Robert VanBuren, Michigan State University
Funded by: NSF-funded

May 2018 - May 2019

Building to Write: Using Manipulatives as a Pre-Writing Scaffold 
Jayna Zimmerman  

This presentation discusses using interlocking building blocks and symbolic pieces to help students construct physical models in response to writing prompts. Students can then use physical models to scaffold conversations about topics to help inform writing.

Faculty Advisor: Gretchen Rumohr-Voskuil

Nature, Philosophy, and Latin in St. Thomas Aquinas’ De principiis naturae
Annie Newton

The primary goal of this project is twofold. First, the student will acquire basic understanding and habits of Latin forms, grammar, syntax, and vocabulary necessary for producing philosophical translations of the work of St. Thomas Aquinas. Second, the student and faculty mentor will collaborate to produce a philosophical translation of an important text from St. Thomas Aquinas’ De principiis naturae, which contributes to the living tradition of treating the thought of the Angelic Doctor.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Daniel Wagner
Funding Source: Aquinas College Summer Scholars Program

Bringing Biodiversity to Restored Grasslands
Dana VanHuis

Our project focuses on grassland management. We are looking at five different grasslands (four at PCCI and one in Grand Rapids). Each grassland is either being burned, mowed, or left un-managed. We are then studying the biodiversity indexes of birds, insects, and vegetation in each of these fields to determine which management technique fosters the greatest levels of biodiversity. Hopefully through this study, a model can be made for other organizations and landowners that can be used to move restored grasslands from tallgrass monocultures to diverse and thriving grasslands.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Rob Keys, Cornerstone University
Funded by: Pierce Cedar Creek Institute

Study on Polydispersed Emulsion Systems Using Microfluidic Techniques
Kenny Nguyen

An emulsion is a mixture of two immiscible liquids, where one liquid is dispersed in the form of small drops in another liquid that forms a continuous phase. The property of emulsions, especially polydispersed systems, are widely applied in pharmacy, drug delivery and food industry.

We will fabricate and study the fluid dynamics of polydispersed emulsion system using microfluidic techniques.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Xin Du
Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

Abiotic factors affecting prevalence of Rosa multiflora in Southwest Michigan
Alyssa Wilson and Stephanie Clark

Rosa multiflora, or multiflora rose, is an invasive plant species in the northeast and midwest United States. We are interested in quantifying the abiotic factors--such as soil pH and moisture, distance from trail, and sunlight availability--that contribute to the ability of multiflora rose to proliferate in some areas over others.

The goal of this research is to provide land managers with information regarding which areas are most susceptible to multiflora rose invasion and establishment, specifically in Southwest Michigan.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Rebecca Humphrey
Funded by: Pierce Cedar Creek Institute

Acyclic orderings in citation networks
Aimee Judd

Citation networks are large collections of objects, some of which refer to others. For example, one might consider a collection of Supreme Court decisions, some of which cite others as precedents. In this project, we will develop a method to

 count all possible orderings of the objects in a citation network that preserve the citation structure.

Faculity Advisor: Dr. Joe Fox
Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

Investigating the Antibacterial Properties of Natural Substances
Gina Nowland

We will research natural antimicrobial substances and previously isolated soil bacteria. Previous research on natural antimicrobial substances indicated that allicin, a compound created from garlic when it is crushed, and eugenol, a compound from clove oil, are highly effective against bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans. An oral bacterium, S. mutans, is an organism that contributes to the formation of plaque and tooth decay. The growth and growth inhibition of S. mutans on mitis salivarius (MS) agar is being studied under aerobic and anaerobic conditions.

These conditions were put in place to replicate the growth of oral bacteria at night. The mouth, being closed, may decrease the amount of oxygen present to the bacteria making anaerobic conditions ideal to test how the growth of bacteria such as S. mutans could be affected. Individual bacteria isolated from soil samples collected during September 2017 will continue to be characterized and tested against ESKAPE pathogen safe relatives in the search for new antibiotics. Many of these bacterial isolates were previously found to be highly effective in inhibiting the growth of the ESKAPE pathogens.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jennifer Hess
Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

The Role of Gender on the Pronunciation of “ch” in Andalusian Spanish: A Study of Social and Linguistic Factors
Bridget Gibley

The study of the Spanish language includes the study of many different dialects and variations. For example, Andalusian Spanish contains a variable pronunciation of the consonant “ch.” The standard pronunciation in Spanish is an affricate sound [tʃ] (as in the “ch” in “choose”). However, the consonant “ch” can also be pronounced in a weakened, fricative sound [ʃ] (as in the “sh” in “shoe”). This dialectal variation is widespread among speakers of different ages, gender, and education. Previous studies (Quilis-María Vaquero, 1973; Melguizo Moreno, 2007; Alberto Méndez, 2017) have found correlations between these sociolinguistic factors and the weakened pronunciation of “ch.” However, even though all the studies agree that the fricative pronunciation is more common among speakers from lower socioeconomic and educational backgrounds, the patterns found for age and gender are contradicting.

This study explores the dialectal variation of the consonant “ch” in Andalusian Spanish, in particular the role of gender, by analyzing audio interviews with speakers of Andalusian Spanish in Alcala de Guadaira in Southern Spain. Each speaker is analyzed based on the dependent variable of the pronunciation of “ch” and independent variables of gender, education, and phonological context for the consonant. Since the fricative pronunciation of “ch” seems to have low prestige in Spanish, we expect female speakers to favor the standard affricate pronunciation of this consonant.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Carmen Ruiz-Sanchez
Funded by: Aquinas College Summer Scholars Program

Kinetic Studies of OXA-207
Avery Cheap

We are studying the enzyme kinetics of OXA-207, a Class D beta-lactamase. Beta-lactamases catalyze the hydrolysis of beta-lactam antibiotics, a broad class of widely used antibiotics. By doing so, the beta-lactamase can confer antibiotic resistance to the microbe that expresses it.

OXA-207 differs from its parent enzyme by just one amino acid. We are measuring the kinetics using a bevy of different beta-lactam substrates.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Tim Henshaw
Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

Monsky's Theorem and Pedal Triangles in Non-Euclidean Geometry
Kelsey Hall

We will calculate examples to show how Monsky's Theorem fails to be true in non-Euclidean geometry.We will seek theorems for pedal triangles in non-Euclidean geometry.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Michael McDaniel
Fund by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

Restorative Justice Program Inquiry
Madeleine Lince

This project seeks to understand the perceptions of American restorative justice practitioners. Research is conducted via narrative interviews and archival document analysis. Results will be used to generate a practitioner/facilitator follow-up survey.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ian M. Borton
Funded by: Aquinas College Summer Scholars Program

Spirituality and Justice: The Life and Witness of Françis-Xavier Nguyễn Văn Thuận
Sr. Kayla Nguyen

An examination of the life and writing of Françis-Xavier Nguyễn Văn Thuận and his spirituality borne out of suffering as a prisoner for 13 years in Vietnam and then exile in Rome as Head of the Pontifical Council of Peace and Justice. In the tradition of Catholic social teaching he provides an alternative vision for Vietnam to classical liberalism with its radical individualism and atheistic Communism with its history of religious oppression.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Robert Marko
Funded by: Aquinas College Summer Scholars Program

Stopping “Traffic” from the Inside Out: A teacher approach
Sarah Stayman

The goal of this project is to prepare and support secondary teachers when identifying exploitation of a student in their classroom. The research delved into and the products created from this project will help teachers support students who might already be victims of human trafficking and those who are at-risk for being exploited. We aim to intersect the knowledge of first responders and the adolescent connections of secondary teachers to support, educate and prevent further exploitation with the creation of an online resource for secondary teachers.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Stefani Boutelier
Funded by: Aquinas College Summer Scholars Program

Time Spent on Collegiate Extracurricular Activities as a Function of Gender
Abigail Tolrud, Fiona Theodoroff and Lauren Washburn

This study evaluates the relationship between collegiate academic success, extracurricular activities and gender. There are 12 different collegiate subcategories evaluated within the population of full-time, undergraduate college students in North America, ages 18 to 25. Results showed statistically significant gender differences for "collegiate sports" and "internships not for class credit."

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joyce M. Oates

Perceived Stress in College Athletes, Those who Exercise, and Sedentary Individuals
Marlin Raymond, Zachary Snyder and Eunice Eyamba

We explored social support, perceived stress, and overall life satisfaction in regards to level of athletic participation. We hypothesized that the participants involved in collegiate athletics would report lower levels of stress compared to those who are not on an athletic team but still exercise and those who are sedentary.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joyce Oates
Funded by: Student Senate Research Fund

The Effects of Social Media and Gender on Anxiety and Depression
Kassidy Boldt, Ivan Plews, McKenzie Breimayer, Brittany Klemish and Demetris Hernandez

We analyzed the effects of social media and gender on anxiety and depression. Our participants, who were between the ages of 18 and 25, took an online questionnaire which included the k10 Anxiety and Depression checklist, and questions about social media use.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joyce Oates

The Relationship Between Need to Belong and Ability to Detect Fake Smiles
Ayaka Matsuda
, Kelly Grant, Melissa Zeffero

This study researches the correlation between a person's generalized Need to Belong and their ability to detect fake smiles. Two hundred forty six participants aged 18-25 completed an online survey that measured their Need to Belong (Leary, 2013) and judged facial images that were used to measure their accuracy in fake smile detection. The results showed that there was a slight negative correlation between Need to Belong and smile detection accuracy, thereby rejecting our initial hypothesis.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joyce Oates

Women and the Influencing Factors Toward Their Sexual Openness, Positivity, and Self-Esteem
Shelby Dewey, Megan Lipka and Stephanie Zimmerman

This study examined the factors that influence a woman's sexual openness, positivity, and self-esteem. We utilized various scales to determine if there was significant correlations between variables. Results showed there were two positive correlations (MoSIEC and MSSCQ; Rosenburg and MSSCQ) and a negative correlation (age and Rosenburg).

Faculty Advisor: Joyce Oates

An Investigation into the Life Views and Perceived Stress Levels of Emerging Adults
Emma Urbanski, Alyssa Peck and Sarah Richards

This research examines the life views and perceived stress levels of emerging adults. Implementing the Inventory of the Dimensions of Emerging Adulthood (IDEA) instrument and the Perceived Stress Scale 4 (PSS-4), we investigated the relationship between gender and both the IDEA subscale scores and PSS-4 scores. We also explored whether or not IDEA subscale scores were predictors of PSS-4 scores.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joyce Oates

The Perception of Quality of Life and Experience of Home in Older Adults
Autumn Ackerson and Melissa Jakupovic

The present study aimed to examine Experience of Home (EoH) and Quality of Life (QoL) as a function of care setting, social connectivity and other participant variables of interest. We recruited older adults from two different care settings (assisted living and independent living) and collected data on EoH, QoL, and participant demographics. We found significantly higher scores in QoL and EoH perception in independent living compared to assisted living. Multiple regression analysis revealed independent setting predicted higher QoL scores, and independent setting and higher education level predicted greater EoH perception.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joyce Oates and Dr. Daniel Cruikshanks

Developing Intercultural Competence Skills to Aid German-American Business Relationships
Lilia Thomas

Designed as an interdisciplinary project that connects three academic disciplines - German Studies, International Business, and Communication Studies - this research provides answers to the following question: What specific intercultural skills do individuals need to develop to become effective communicators in an international work or business environment? Along with real-life examples of how to effectively apply IC skills for the creation and maintenance of effective business relationships between global partners (specifically between German and American businesses).

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Häusler-Gross

May 2017 - May 2018

Immigrants and Active Engagement in Community Organizing
Mary Wernet

My research explores the motivations, barriers, and goals immigrants experience when fighting for social change within their communities in the United States.

Faculty Advisor: Susan Haworth-Hoeppner
Funded by: Student Senate Research Fund

Educational Support Staff’s Perspective on Undocumented Immigrants’ Experiences with the Educational System
Stephanie Mellstead

This study reveals the experiences of undocumented immigrant families and their children in relation to the public school system in elementary school, uncovering exterior barriers, language barriers, lack of parental involvement with schools due to fear of deportation or being miss-understood, and impacts on the student related to the undocumented parental status. Educational support staff were interviewed in relation to undocumented immigrant families within a Public school district in the Midwest.

Faculty Advisor: Susan Haworth-Hoeppner
Funded by: Student Senate Research Fund

A Sociological Analysis of the Many Facets of Immigration Policy in the Midwest
Kelsey Feutz & Katharine Reed

This was qualitative research done regarding the topic of immigration policy, and more specifically regarding DACA recipients. We interviewed 20 participants and this data was compiled to create a theory. Through our research, we had found the effects of the immigration process, how the person's status affected the individual, how the status impacted their identity, and the implications of recent policy changes.

Faculty Advisor: Susan Haworth-Hoepnner

Quality of Life and Experience of Home: A comparison of American elderly with elderly in the Dominican Republic
Kacie Gee

In America's youth-oriented culture, elderly persons often age in isolation and tend to permanently relocate into nursing home facilities. Past studies suggest that psychological wellbeing is essential for these older adults as it provides various health benefits and may contribute to successful aging. With nursing home occupancies rising, we found it important to discover what factors promote happiness in older adults and did so by comparing American elders to those who live in a country with drastically different methods of elder care. Quality of life and experience of home was measured among one hundred elderly participants in total: fifty from rural Dominican Republic and fifty from a nursing home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Despite dramatically different living conditions, analyses revealed no statistically significant differences in quality of life or experience of home between the two populations. Despite their unfortunate living conditions and inadequate healthcare, Dominican Republic elders were equally content with both their lives and their living arrangements as the American population. These results suggest that the typical Dominican tradition of elder care within multi-generational family homes provides a kind of social connectivity that mitigates their harsh living conditions. These results help to shape our understanding of quality of life among the elderly and may help to guide improvements in the eldercare system.

Faculty Advisor: Daniel R. Crukshanks, Ph.D.

Light from the East: Implications of Orthodox and Greco-Roman Tradition on Belief, Ritual and Morality
Jillian Langford

This project sought to explore the implications of the Orthodox and Greco-Roman Tradition in the lives of Greek Catholics in Ukraine. From a linguistic point of view of how the word "orthodoxy" is used for just right teaching while in Ukrainian two different words describe Orthodoxy --- правовірний (right belief) and православний (right praise or right glory). In short, there is no separation of belief orthodoxy, and spirituality or right praise in this tradition. Because of the lack of separation between belief and practice, this experience sought to explore how this affected the lives and culture of people in Ukraine.

Faculty Advisor: Robert Marko
Funded by: Aquinas College Summer Scholars Program

student researchers Utilizing the Gateway cloning technique for creation of Tol2 transposons containing wild type and mutant zebrafish NOD1 alleles.
Benjamin Arnson

NOD1 is an innate immune receptor involved in detecting cytosolic bacteria. We plan to subclone wild type (wt) and mutant (K202R) zebrafish NOD1 alleles into the plasmid pENTR1ADS. This will allow use of a Gateway cloning technique to make three different Tol2 transposons encoding the wt, K202R and L36Q NOD1 alleles, respectively. These transposons will allow our collaborators to make transgenic zebrafish in which NOD1 function can be controlled in a tissue-specific manner. The transgenic zebrafish will then be used to study the role of NOD1 in hematopoiesis (i.e., the development of blood cells).

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Rob Peters
Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

student researchers Efficient Mancala Movement
Holly Ensley

This project investigates the mechanism of movement used in the game mancala. We are interested in how we can most efficiently move particular stones, or kings, over long distances. We will explore cases with different numbers of kings and starting stones. Through this, we are hoping to find a bounds for measurements of efficient movement.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joseph Spencer
Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

student researchers Design of the Riparian Buffer along Coldbrook Creek at Brookby Estate
Amanda Roth

Riparian buffers are areas of vegetation along the edge of water bodies; they provide protection for water bodies and habitat for organisms. The goal of this research project is to create an aesthetically pleasing buffer along Coldbrook Creek at the Brookby Estate to preserve the estate’s historic integrity while improving its environmental value. This project involves researching wildflower species that will thrive along the creek, growing these plants from seed, and installing them along the creek. Different plant propagation methods will be investigated to determine the best method for building a riparian buffer from seed.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Rebecca Humphrey
Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

student researchers Hyperbolic versions of Euclidean theorems
Paul Gass

Napoleon, Pascal, Brianchon, Miquel and many other geometers have theorems bearing their names. Some of these theorems hold in hyperbolic geometry, some fail and some require further investigation. We hope to add a few new hyperbolic versions of these named theorems.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Michael McDaniel
Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

student researchers Kinetic Studies of OXA-207
Jacob Mackinder

Beta-lactamases are enzymes that catalyze the hydrolysis of beta-lactam antibiotics (e.g. penicillin) and confer antibiotic resistance to the bacteria that produce them.  We are studying an example of a Class D beta-lactamase, OXA-207, which differs from its parent enzyme by only one amino acid, but exhibits distinctly different substrate preferences.  We hope to fully characterize the substrate profile of OXA-207 and possibly investigate the structural reasons for the differences.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Tim Henshaw
Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

student researchers Mechanics of metamaterial involving 3-D printer
Levi Milan

Metamaterials are bulk objects with special mechanism properties defined by their repetitive inner structures, rather than the materials they are made of. One of the special mechanisms is “auxetic behavior”: when the materials are stretched in one direction, unlike conventional materials, they will also expand in the lateral direction. In this project we studied the dependence of Poisson’s Ratio on the geometric parameters of auxetic structures. We used 3-D printer to efficiently design and produce honeycomb auxetic structures. With an innovative experimental setup and image analysis techniques, we are able to study the pulling force and the corresponding lateral expansion of auxetic structures with various geometric parameters. Also, we found a linear relationship between the Poisson’s Ratio and the geometric parameter of the honeycomb auxetic structure. Our result is consistent with theoretical analysis.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Xin Du
Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

student researchers Attitudes Towards Sexual Assault: Influences & Implications
Lena Peak

Our project will explore the relationships among childhood discipline, pornography use, attitudes about women, body satisfaction, sex education, and ideas about sexual assault. Ultimately, it is expected that this research will identify key areas for future sexual assault prevention programming to build from and contribute to a greater understanding of how bystander attitudes are developed in emerging adulthood.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Julie Schatz-Stevens
Funded by: Aquinas College Summer Scholars Program

student researchers The Correlation Between Political Knowledge and Efficacy
Zachary Isaacs

Political efficacy is the feeling that one can have and does have power in politics. Efficacy has been a well researched topic for nearly half a century, however, no correlation has ever been studied between it and political knowledge. This study is being conducted with a survey to a broad range of people in different locations in the Kalamazoo area to see whether there is a relationship between being knowledgeable about politics and feeling able to be effective in the political arena. The results of this study could give valuable insight into ways in which different segments of the public view the government and their role in it.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Molly Patterson
Funded by: Aquinas College Summer Scholars Program

student researchers The Plague in 16th Century France
Beatice Sherwood

A collaborative research project investigating the plague epidemic of the 1560s that was active from the British Isles to the Ottoman Empire with specific attention to the French urban center of Lyon. This project seeks to illuminate the complex relationship between the plague and inter confessional tensions amidst the French Wars of Religion.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Chad Gunnoe
Funded by Aquinas College Summer Scholars Program

The Effect of Political Affiliation and Microaggression on the Mental Health of Minorities
Natasha Centeno

The purpose of this study was to research how political affiliation and microaggressions affect the mental health of African Americans and Latino/Hispanics. 50 males and 104 females were used in the study, with a total of 154 participants (N=154). Participants were of African American and/or Latino/Hispanic descent. There was no significance between mixed race and mental illness. There was no correlation between socioeconomic level and mental health and no correlation between education and mental health. We found a significant positive correlation (0.602) between the mental health of participants and the microaggressions that they experienced. This means that greater experiences of microaggressions negatively impacted African Americans and Latinos/ Hispanics mental health.

Faculty Advisor: Cheruba Daniel

Sport in the GDR: A Structural Analysis of the Communist Development Program. Lessons Beyond Doping.
Paul Sommerville

The German Democratic Republic, or East Germany, was able to build a world-class, state-endorsed sport program with minimal resources and a limited population. This research examines the financial and administrative structure of East German sport. The goal is to identify aspects from the system, such as advancements in sport science and coaching education programs, that could positively influence intercollegiate athletics today.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Susan Hojnacki

May 2016 - May 2017

student researchers The Past and Future of Agricultural Land in Kent County
Jacob Towne  

This project aims to quantify the changes in the area, distribution, and spatial structure of agricultural land in Kent County from 1967 to 2007, as well as to identify any impacts which the Purchase of Developmental Rights program may have had. We are also interested in finding the rate in which these changes are taking place in addition to seeing if there is a spatial pattern to the change. With these findings we hope to be able to predict future trends in agricultural land use in Kent County.

Faculty Advisor: Mary Clinthorne
Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

student researchers Hyperbolic Quadratures
Tristen Spencer

Previous M-T researchers have squared the circle in non-Euclidean spaces. This opens the door to explore other hyperbolic cases of areas of circular regions which match areas of polygonal regions. We hope to show the five Euclidean quadratures fail and discover new hyperbolic quadratures which would be impossible in Euclidean space.

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

student researchers The Characterization of Bacteria Contaminants in Vitamins and Supplements 
Avery Wagner

A previous Mohler Thompson student found that a particular brand of garlic capsule was contaminated while testing its antimicrobial effects against a common bacteria found in dental plaque. We will attempt to characterize this contaminant through various staining techniques, selective and differential media tests, and some molecular biology. We will also test other vitamins and supplements for contaminants, including a new batch of the same brand of garlic capsule that had contaminants four years ago. 

Faculty Advisor: Jennifer Hess
Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

student researchers The Impact of Theatre on Social Change and Community Engagement Through The Lens of Privilege 
Zoe Gipson

This project will be conducted in two main types of research, traditional research and interviews, and praxis—the exploration of theory through practice—both types will focus on the impacts of theatre on social change, while looking at different privileges. Our praxis will focus on different scripts at every level, leading to several productions, as well as workshops, seminars, day camps, talkbacks, through community initiatives such as Ebony Road Players, Mixed Roots Collective, and GR Civic Theater. Both modes of research will look at different privileges in traditional and nontraditional lenses, with cross over, but mainly focusing on race, gender, age, sexuality, and economic status and background. 

Faculty Advisor: Randy Wyatt
Funded by: Aquinas College Summer Scholars Program

student researchers Diverse Reactions to the Great Recession and their Global Implications: A Comparative Study of French and American Economic Histories
Chloe Benzer

One of the most influential and consequential events of the past century arguably was the financial crash and subsequent Great Recession of 2008 and 2009 – this catastrophe impacted the entire world on an economic, social, and political level. I would like to study the differing reactions to this event in the United States and in Europe, mainly France. By comparing the economic and political histories of these countries, outlining the events leading up to the financial crisis and the following meltdown, detailing the recovery efforts, and presenting the differences, I will draw conclusions about the near future in these countries and the ensuing impacts that may be seen in the rest of the world. After analyzing these aspects in English, I would like to translate my research into French.

Faculty Advisor: Todd Yarbrough
Funded by: Aquinas College Summer Scholars Program

student researchers

Cultural Anthropology of Romantic Love and Jealousy
Emma Wonsil

Anthropologists contend that romantic love and jealousy are universal phenomena and they found evidence of their occurrences in many cultures. However, cultural values and traditional behaviors can influence the expressions and experiences of love and jealousy. The purpose of this Summer Scholar project is to complete a comprehensive review and analysis of the studies published in anthropological journals on romantic love and jealousy. The goal is to explore the nature of romantic jealousy across modern cultures and present cutting-edge research that has advanced anthropological knowledge on cultural factors affecting the experience, expressions, and customs of romantic jealousy.

Faculty Advisor: Victor Karandashev
Funded by: Aquinas College Summer Scholars Program

student researchers Structural Effects of Buchwald Ligands in Direct Arylation Reactions
John McAfee

Buchwald ligands are a common choice for direct arylation reactions because of their poor electron density. I will be researching the effects of the structures of these ligands in direct arylation in order to better understand which ligand should be used. Direct arylation could promote advances in the pharmaceutical and solar industries.

Faculty Advisor: Jonathan Fritz
Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

student researchers Investigating Movement in Mancala
Maria Maguire

This project investigates the mechanism of movement used in the game mancala. We are interested in how we can most efficiently move particular stones, or kings, over long distances. We will explore cases with different numbers of kings and starting stones. Through this, we are hoping to find a pattern of most efficient movement.

Faculty Advisor: Joseph Spencer
Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant

student researchers

Understanding the Endosymbiotic Relationship of Corals
Bridgette Degenhardt

This summer we will be studying the different genes involved in the endosymbiotic relationship between the anemone Aiptasia and the algae that live within it. Variables such as temperature, bleaching, and pH can be manipulated so that we may attempt to explore the different genetic responses within Aiptasia using qPCR. We hope to clone certain genes of interest into bacterial plasmids and eventually characterize their proteins to better understand the molecular and chemical relationship between corals and their endosymbionts. 

Faculty Advisor: LR Peters
Funded by: Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Grant