Student Research at Aquinas College

  • Student presenting research poster to another student

    Student Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Symposium

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.

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>View 2019 Symposium research
>View 2018 Symposium research
>View 2017 Symposium research

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.

>View photos on Facebook
>View 2019 Symposium research
>View 2018 Symposium research
>View 2017 Symposium research

Department of Biology

Svetlana Djirackor and Lucas Topie
Faculty Advisor: Larry Peters, PhD
Subcloning of zebrafish NOD1 alleles into UAS: P2A-nls-EGFP for investigation of NOD1’s role in hematopoietic stem cell development

NOD1 is a dimeric pattern recognition receptor of the innate immune system, encoded by the NOD1 gene. This protein recognizes bacterial pathogens and, upon recognition, is activated and initiates an immune response. NOD1 activation has been implicated in the mobilization of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) yet the underlying mechanism of this process remains elusive. To further explore the role of NOD1 in HSC development, we used the recombinational system, In-Fusion® (Clontech) Cloning to subclone zebrafish dominant-negative NOD1 alleles (L36Q and K202R) formerly designed by our group and the NOD1 wild type allele (NOD1 WT) into the plasmid UAS: P2A-nls-EGFP. Our collaborators will use this plasmid, flanked by Tol2 recognition sites, to integrate the sequence of interest into the zebrafish genome and thus examine the role of NOD1 in HSC emergence and development.

Spencer Graham
Faculty Advisor: Rebecca Penny Humphrey
Relationship between pollen aperture number and germination in the pollen heteromorphic Thalictrum thalictroides (Ranunculaceae)

Pollen heteromorphism, a characteristic of some flowering-plant species, occurs when an individual produces multiple types of fertile pollen grains. As distinct haploid individuals, fitness may differ predictably among pollen morphs. The presence of pollen heteromorphism within a species provides a controlled environment to test hypotheses about pollen competition. Variation in pollen grain morphology suggests that fitness of pollen morphs varies with conditions in the natural environment. Observing pollen germination in vitro, we record pollen grain aperture numbers and search for a relationship between aperture number, germination rate, and time. Morphological variation within and among individuals of Thalictrum thalictroides provides us with sufficient diversity to identify trends of pollen grain germination and pollen tube growth. We observe consistent pollen heteromorphism among individuals, greater germination rates for more-common morphs, longer pollen tubes for pollen grains with more apertures, and contrary to our expectation, an increasing germination likelihood over time for grains with more apertures.

Department of Chemistry

Eddy Kaleel
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jonathan Fritz
Method Development for A Kinetic Study of Direct Arylation Reactions Using Phosphine Ligands

Method development for a kinetic study of direct arylation reactions is presented. Quantifying the rate of a direct arylation reaction that employees a phosphine ligand is a key component to explaining high percent yields of product both under air and under an inert atmosphere such as argon. Product was produced, purified and characterized for use in this research. Gas chromatography was chosen as the method to monitor the progress of the reaction. The individual peaks of each reactant and product were identified and the GC oven temperature optimized for adequate separation. A calibration curve was produced as well as calculations for the lowest limit of detection and quantitation. Finally, the method of sampling the reaction was investigated and reported.

Alfonso Gaspar
Faculty Advisor: Jonathan Fritz
Divalent Cations in Tap and Filtered Water: Quantifying the Collective Concentrations of Magnesium and Calcium Ions

To quantify the collective concentration differences between tap and filtered water for magnesium and calcium through titration. The experiment consisted of a complexometric titration with EDTA. Four different types of water were collected from sources within the science building at Aquinas College. During experimentation, the unreacted indicator started as blue, transitioned to purple within one mL of completion for the titration, and pink was the equivalence point. The concentrations of divalent cations had the following ranking for the collective total of magnesium and calcium: tap > bubbler > filtered > deionized water.

Aaron Batke
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Jensen
Synthesis and Characterization of Dimethyldioctadecylammonium pentachlorosamarate(III)

Samples of [(C18H37)2(CH3)2N]2[SmCl5] were synthesized and evaluated for possible liquid-crystalline behavior. Gravimetric analysis, complexometric titration, combustion analysis, and laboratory analysis were used to help determine the elemental composition of the samples. Melting point determination, differential scanning calorimetry, polarizing optical microscopy, and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy were used to determine the molecular structure and any liquid-crystalline properties expressed by the samples. It was determined that a large quantity of methanol remained in the samples after synthesis. This was demonstrated by their high percent yields and an O-H peak produced in the IR spectra. Elemental analysis revealed that the experimental percent weight carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen agree with theoretical values of the proposed compound formula. The percent weights of chlorine and samarium did not agree with their theoretical values. The theoretical percent weights of each element were based on the proposed formula. Liquid-crystalline behavior was not observed in either sample. This may be attributed to the presence of excess methanol or the synthesized compound is different from what was expected.

Gabby Brandonisio and Alfonso Gaspar
Faculty Advisor: Jonathan Fritz
Scope of the Palladium Catalyzed Direct Arylation of Pentafluorobenzene with Aryl Bromides under Air 

The scope of a Pd-catalyzed direct arylation of pentafluorobenzene under air with respect to the aryl bromide was explored after the reaction conditions were optimized. The success of the reaction was evaluated by obtaining isolated yields. A wide range of aryl bromides with substituents from electron donating to electron withdrawing tended to give just as excellent yields under air in comparison to under inert atmosphere. Other aryl bromides have the potential to give excellent yields under these conditions.

Department of Community Leadership

Alex VanSumeren
Faculty Advisor: Micheal Lorr
New Volunteer Management Approach for Gildas Club Grand Rapids

This proposal speaks on key recommendations and ideas for a new volunteer management program and draws from scholarly sources to provide support. The need for a new volunteer management system at Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids is evident. The process is currently long and tedious and could truly benefit from a more streamlined process that will make it more manageable and efficient. The proposed idea is to move scheduling to an online platform in which groups can sign up themselves and fill in places of need. The following proposal will be a discussion of the prevalence of the problem, the solution that is being proposed to fix the problem, an evaluation plan, and a budget. These pieces will argue the need and solution for the fixing of the volunteer management process.

Erin Dwan
Faculty Advisor: Michael Lorr
Developing an LGBTQ Ally Workshop for a Local Nonprofit

For my Community Leadership Capstone, I intended to organize an LGBTQ sensitivity training for The SOURCE, a nonprofit where I am currently an intern. This training was to be facilitated by the Grand Rapids Pride Center, and I wrote a grant to fund the training and its associated costs. This project summarizes how I completed this project, what impacts I think it had, and how the project connects with the larger themes in the Community Leadership program curriculum.

Elizabeth Calcaterra
Faculty Advisor: Michael Lorr
A New Family Promise Program: Awareness through Education

This proposal aims provide education and awareness about the true facts surrounding homelessness. As a nonprofit whose mission is to “end homelessness one family at a time”, Family Promise has decided to work within the Grand Rapids community around them to answer the multitude of requests they receive from schools; this will allow Family Promise to have the time and the people to send into those schools seeking someone to educate their students on homelessness. Older students will teach younger students allowing the younger students to feel okay talking and asking questions about homelessness. This is an essential step as the number of homeless children in Grand Rapids continues to grow, Kent County adding an additional 600+ students to the homeless population each year. Through different scholarly sources on homelessness from several different perspectives, recent research, and data collected by Family Promise themselves all students will comprehend the extensive outreach homelessness has across America. The program developed will work to alter the public perception of homelessness and raise the younger generation with a different, more understanding view of homelessness in America.

Olivia Borgdorff
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Michael Lorr
Centering Mentoring: Mentoring as Juvenile Delinquency Prevention and Intervention

During my time as an intern for the Community Service Program with the Kent County Circuit Court's Family Division I spent 1:1 time with juvenile delinquents serving their court mandated community service hours. During our time together I brainstormed a grant that would supplement their rehabilitation process. The grants aim is reduction in recidivism among delinquents by pairing disadvantaged youth with positive role models in one-on-one settings. This is the ultimate goal, on top of creating more productive members of society.

Yesenia Bernal
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Michael J. Lorr
Discovering Cultural Treasurer

The following 2020 Community Leadership Capstone Project analyses the needs of the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (WMHCC) based on the data collected by the Program Assistant. The Program Assistant has outlined an interactive game, Discovering Your Treasure, to connect with Latinx Youth. The Program Assistant has drawn from their experience and extant literature to identify culturally relevant strategies to educate and empower Latinx youth at the Latino Youth Conference in Grand Rapids, MI. This Capstone Project will identify the goals, objectives, evaluation strategies, and the resources needed to successfully execute and measure the impact of the project. The project will be analyzed based on the data and feedback from participants and then connected to Community Leadership literature.

Nick Lenz
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Michael Lorr
D.A. Blodgett St. John’s Fundraiser

I set out to raise money for D.A. Blodgett’s mentorship program in hopes to help the mentors do more with their matches. The need for mentors is climbing, and not enough people are becoming mentors. Being able to raise money for the program may help to attract more mentors to get paired with more children in need.

Laurel Timmer
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Michael Lorr
Better Together: A Semester with the Refugee Education Center
This project involved gaining experience with a local nonprofit (The Refugee Education Center) in order to use the experience to develop an analysis of how the agency and the larger community might more effectively address suffering, social problems, and social injustice and subsequently creating a grant proposal for the organization's use in addressing these problems.

Claudia Boerighter
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Michael Lorr
Preparing Unaccompanied Minors in Transitional Foster Care for Integration into the American Public School System as ESL learners
This paper addresses unique challenges that face Immigrant Children who arrive to the United States Unaccompanied (UC Youth) relevant to their ability to integrate into American Public Education Systems. While there is a lack of literature studying UC Youth in Particular, statistics on English as a Second Language (ELL) students will be addressed. The paper examines possible strategies to ultimately help retention rates upon the exit of UC youth from the care of Bethany Christian Services’ Transitional Foster Care program and the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Particularly, a partnership system with public schools to be able to help UC youth become comfortable and encouraged to continue their education post-reunification. While the proposed project was delayed due to COVID-19 closures, speculative results will be discussed as will the potential community impact of programs such as this.

Alexa Rumohr
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Michael Lorr
Dwelling Place Street Harassment Awareness and Prevention Project
During the 2019/2020 academic year, I held the Public Space Special Events Intern position at Dwelling Place Grand Rapids for the completion of the Community Leadership Practicum and Capstone courses. My capstone project aimed to address and prevent catcalling and other forms of sexual street harassment in the Heartside Downtown Neighborhood with the creation of a four-part, multi-dimensional project series, scheduled for April 2020, Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Multiple community organizations and leaders identified sexual street harassment as more than just distasteful behavior, but a true hindrance on victims’ mental health, local economic development, and the overall attitude and appeal of the South Division corridor. I will be discussing the mission behind my project, the methods in which the project was planned, the community outcomes we would have expected to see, and how my internship and project experience connect to the broader curriculum themes of the Community Leadership Program.

Department of Data Analytics

Madalyn Warren
Faculty Advisor: Joseph Fox
Analysis of Manatee Population in Florida

Manatees are large, herbivorous sea mammals within the Trichechidae family. Due to their large size and lazy attitudes, they are often referred to as “sea cows”. During the 1967 Endangered Species Act, manatees were classified as endangered due to injury and death caused by motor boats and the destruction of their natural habitats. However, as of early 2019, the population of manatees around Florida have risen from 1,267 in 1991, to 5,700. This study will focus on the observed locations of manatees in Florida from January 24th of 1991, to February 1st of 2019. Over 16,000 observations were recorded by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation (FWC) from the different counties located along Florida’s coasts, tracking the date, location, and the number of adult manatees and their calves that were seen travelling. Data analysis will include using linear regression to determine if there is a correlation between the variables and the number of manatees that have been observed.

Anna Putnam
Faculty Advisor: Joseph Fox
Modeling Board Game Data to Predict Ratings

There are many aspects of board games that can make them either exciting and enjoyable to play or boring and uninteresting. The point of this work is to analyze data from over 10,000 board games, to try to find a model that can accurately predict the rating of a board game from the number of players, the playtime, the year published, whether it has an expansion or if it is part of a series of games, and the category (cooperative or competitive) of the game. This will be tested using two different types of modeling, linear modeling and random forest modeling. If an accurate working model can be accomplished this will allow us to find out what factor seems to be the most important in creating a highly rated board game.

Natalie Smiy
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joseph Fox
Predicting Movie Awards

This project will build a predictive model that will predict if a movie will receive an award from the movies year, genre, and popularity. I plan on using the database called film collected from a website called “Project datasets''. The best two model types to use are neural networks and random forests. I plan on cleaning the dataset by deleting the null genre columns, and replacing the null popularities with a predicted popularity based on the year the movie was made. I then plan on using RStudio to split the dataset into test and training sets. Using that, I will predict if the movie would have won an award or not. The value of this project is for future filmmakers. This will help determine if they will win an award before any award show is hosted. They would know how well it would be just based off of the popularity post movie.

Christopher Smith
Faculty Advisor: Joseph Fox
Projecting Likelihood of All NBA Achievement Using Machine Learning

At the conclusion of every NBA season, fifteen players are awarded the achievement of All NBA, which consists of three teams: first, second, and third. The first team is made up of the players deemed to be the best in each positional category: guard, forward, and center. The second team has the second best in each and the third has the third best. A player who could reach such an accomplishment can be considered to be one of the best fifteen players in the NBA and being able to project which players are capable of reaching that ceiling would allow teams to build stronger rosters. Using the first three seasons of every player that played at least three seasons from the 1980 season to the 2016 season, I plan to determine how strongly the first three seasons of a player’s career is as a predictor of their potential All NBA status. The models I will use to perform this analysis are logistic regression and neural networks. After building both models based on 20 different statistical variables, I will then attempt to predict which players finishing their third season will be named to an All NBA team.

Tyler Toren
Faculty Advisor: Joseph Fox
Examining COVID-19 Afflicted Areas Across the US

The disease known as COVID-19 has rapidly spread throughout the world, killing hundreds of thousands of people and disrupting society in nearly every country across the globe. While most of the studies I’ve seen have looked at the total number of cases on a national or global scale, I’m evaluating the infection rate per 100,000 people on a county-by-county basis in the United States. This way, I can determine why certain areas fare worse than others. I am currently examining several variables, including population density, poverty, and age. This should allow us to see what factors contribute to the spread of the virus and what preventative measures can be taken in the future. For the casual observer, this model can provide information regarding which areas they should avoid in order to decrease their chances of getting the virus.

Makayla Seelye
Faculty Advisor: Joseph Fox
Popularity of Films

The project's main goal is to be able to predict whether a film has received an award based on the other information given in the dataset. The dataset being used contains records of films/movies.To create the most accurate model for this dataset, would be to use either a random forest model or a logistic regression model. Using a logistic regression model will be most effective because this is a binary classification problem. Creating the models first calls for the data to be split into a training set used to create the model and a testing set used to test the model. Once both types of models are tested on the test data, there will be a clear answer to which one predicts the data more accurately. The main reason behind this project is to be able to predict whether all different kinds of films have received awards based on certain information, such as the genre, popularity, duration, year, and more.

Department of Education

Hannah Hazelbach
Faculty Advisor: Stacy Slomski
Waves of Change: Connecting Literature with Characterization, Conflict, and Theme Using Authentic Student Experiences and Discussion

Creating meaningful and authentic experiences in the classroom promotes a creative, critical, and constructive learning environment for students to connect literature to their lives and grow as learners. As a secondary educator, I created a curriculum that transforms learners from passive participants to active leaders. Consulting resources from secondary instructors Penny Kittle and Brain White, I intend to initiate quality classroom and small group discussions to empower students taking responsibility for their learning. Throughout this unit, I model for 8th grade English Language Arts students at Grandville Middle School how to use the power of their voices, perspectives, and experiences to engage with a text and complex ideas.

Department of Geography & Environmental Studies

Maxwell Ludka
Faculty Advisor: Jim Rasmussen
Chronic Wasting Disease in the State of Michigan

I have conducted research on Chronic Wasting Disease in Michigan's white-tailed deer. Chronic Wasting Disease is a fatal transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, also known as a prion disease. It is marked by its high transmission efficiency among cervids. This disease causes a degeneration of the brain of the infected animal. This makes them lose weight rapidly, decreases their interactions with other animals, lowering of their head, increases drooling, and finally death. The research produced useful qualitative results from interviews with professionals dealing with this disease everyday. Along with quantitative results given by the Department of Natural Resources. I dove in to find an answer regarding the severity of Chronic Wasting Disease in Michigan. I was very pleased with the answers I found, along with all of the help and kindness from the professionals open to discussing this topic with me.

Sara Boersma
Faculty Advisor: Richard McCluskey
Invasive Species and the Aquarium Trade

The aquarium trade is responsible for the transportation of thousands of species across the globe. This has opened the door for unwanted organisms to be released into nearby bodies of water with adverse ecological implications. The aquarium trade is now recognized as a significant source of invasive species movement across North America. Online inventory lists were obtained for 29 aquarium stores that sold aquatic plants and 32 stores that sold freshwater fish. The lists were compared against a list of invasive fish and invasive aquatic plant species within the study area to obtain a percentage of invasive species for sale (PIS). The results of the analysis indicate that a higher percentage of invasive fish and plants are sold at chain stores than independent stores. The presence or absence of scientific names for plant and fish species for sale were noted. Scientific names are proven to be the only accurate way to label fish and plant species. Poor labeling of fish was found to be associated with store type with a positive relationship between presence of scientific names and independent stores. Poor labeling of aquatic plants was also found to be to associated with store type with a moderate relationship between scientific names and independent stores.

Jordan Buckingham
Faculty Advisor: Rich McCluskey, Jim Rasmussen, and Mary Clinthorne
Analyzing Recycling Behaviors in Grand Rapids Through Neighborhood Characteristics

Within the last decade, Grand Rapids has set initiatives to reduce the amount of waste produced. In 2016, a plan was set to decrease waste by 90% in 2030– most would be diverted to recycling. In turn, outreach programs and other initiatives have been advertised to the public to increase recycling rates. Have these efforts been effective? To answer this I wanted to analyze recycling behaviors in the city of Grand Rapids through neighborhood characteristics such as race, income, or age. A significant difference of recycling rates between neighborhoods would indicate a hitch in the recycling program because it is not reaching a certain demographic of people. However, the convenience of curbside, single stream recycling should not deter residents from participating. Therefore recycling is a behavioral activity and is a choice.

Department of History

Gannon Foley
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jason Duncan
The Legal Arguments for United States’ Intervention in the Vietnam War: A Reappraisal

"This investigation seeks to analyze the various events and documents that shaped US policy before and during the Vietnam War. Specifically, conflicts in Asia beforehand (tensions with China, the Korean War, and French occupation of Vietnam) molded America’s preconceptions on how foreign policy should be handled. It then follows that, with these events for experience, Lyndon B. Johnson’s expansion of the war in 1964 drew credibility from these preceding events. The legislation he encouraged Congress to pass was dramatic, but had legislative precedent and cruised through both houses. When thought about critically, these pieces of evidence indicate that American leaders during the Vietnam War era operated under governmental and popular approval. Communism was indeed a recognized threat for the US, and the actions taken that heightened American involvement can be defended. Many historians argue that the Vietnam War was a horrific endeavor, one in which our leaders intentionally led us down a path that was destructive. However, thorough analysis demonstrates that hindsight is indeed twenty-twenty. Under their best knowledge and judgement, our Vietnam era leaders made immensely difficult decisions. "

Department of Mathematics

Anna Putnam
Faculty Advisor: Joseph Fox
The Mathematics of Image Recognition

Creating an image recognition program from scratch, that would be able to label images of oak leaves and maple leaves accurately, uses neural networks and requires researching the calculus behind the programming. The neural networks allow us to take any given amount of inputs and work our way down to one or two outputs, through a number of hidden layers between the inputs and the outputs. By using these layers we can set weights and biases for the individual connections between them to maximize the control that we have and the accuracy of the program. The end goal was to have the program be able to identify a leaf as either maple or oak correctly. This research has the potential to extend to the creation of an application that will accurately identify a leaf from any of the trees on the Aquinas College campus.

Keeley Hinton
Faculty Advisor: Joseph Fox
Behind the Scenes of High School Test Scores

This project will build a predictive model that will predict high school students’ test scores based on whether or not they come from a lower income family and/or the level of education their parents received. I will be using the data set called “Students Performance,” which contains eight variables including gender, race/ethnicity, parental level of education, lunch (standard or reduced), test preparation, and the scored from math, reading, and writing exams. This data was collected from various high school students in the United States, and collected by Dr. Royce Kimmons, who is an assistant professor at Brigham Young University. The nature of this data set would make us certain that linear regression is an appropriate model to use to predict the impact of lower income families and/or parental education level has students’ exam scores. My project will be helpful to schools looking for ways to increase their students’ test scores and hopefully be able to predict which demographic of students need more help than others.

Bruce Buurstra
Faculty Advisor: Joseph Fox
An Analysis of Major League Baseball Statistics

This project will build predictive models that will predict three things about Major League Baseball (MLB) teams: which teams make the playoffs, their final season ranking, and their ranking after the playoffs. I will be using the dataset “Moneyball” that contains statistics about MLB teams from 1962 to 2012. This dataset was collected by Sports-reference.com. In the early 2000’s Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland Athletics MLB team, along with Paul DePodesta had to think in a different way than all the other MLB teams in order to compete. Their emphasis of statistical analysis in baseball is currently known as Sabermetrics. MLB teams either make the playoffs or do not and Logistic Regression models are best suited for modeling response variables with only two possible outcomes. The final season ranking and ranking after playoffs variables will be modeled using Random Forest models. All these models will be built using R Studio Cloud. These models should be able to serve as predictive models for MLB teams in the future and should lead to conclusions about the importance of certain statistics for baseball teams.

Department of Philosophy

Noah Hall
Faculty Advisor: Daniel Wagner
Thomas Aquinas on Creation and Primary and Secondary Causation

The goal of this project was to examine the doctrine of creation ex nihilo as presented in the work of Thomas Aquinas’ philosophical works and write a paper presenting his thoughts on the matter with commentary from other sources. The readings focused on his teachings on causation, especially as it relates to primary and secondary causes. In keeping with philosophical tradition, secondary literature was looked at to continue the practice of commentary on philosophical works. The most prominent work other than Thomas Aquinas’ corpus that was looked at was Augustine’s De Genesi Ad Litteram, which Thomas comments on.

Noah Hall
Faculty Advisor: Daniel Wagner
Nature, Philosophy, and Latin in St. Thomas Aquinas' De Principiis Naturae

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.

Department of Psychology

Alyssa Schwartz, Angelo Leon, Cory Slovinski and Amber Christensen
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joyce Oates
Factors Affecting Perceived Stress in Undergraduate Students

This research analyzes the prevalence of stress in the lives of undergraduate students as well as factors that may be contributing to stress. An online survey distributed to undergraduates was completed by forty-nine student volunteers. Cohen’s Perceived Stress Scale and additional open-ended questions were incorporated in this survey. Based on this data, researchers were able to analyze coping mechanisms and significant stressors in the lives of undergraduate students. The results of the coping mechanism portion were sorted into ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ categories. It was predicted that male participants would report engaging in unhealthy coping mechanisms more often than female participants. Demographics such as academic major, academic year and biological sex were also studied in relationship to perceived stress. Researchers hypothesized that science majors, math majors, females and upperclassmen would experience the highest levels of perceived stress. Males in this study reported answers shorter in length than their female counterparts. The majority of females reported engaging in healthy coping mechanisms while the majority of males reported engaging in unhealthy coping mechanisms. Most of the participants reported time management as one of their main reasons for stress. Implications of this study, as well as ideas for future research, will be discussed.

Julia Cooke and Victoria August
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joyce Oates
Marital Status, Parenthood, and Alcoholism: Examining the Effects of the Single Motherhood Penalty on Socio-Cognitive Perceptions

Women’s rights have increased over the past hundred years, most notably with the ratification of the right to vote, but women still face discrimination in comparison to men, especially in the workplace. Women are paid less than men and this gap widens if they become mothers, a phenomenon that is called the ‘Motherhood Penalty’ (e.g., Burgess, 2013). Additionally, there is evidence suggesting that single mothers that tested the effects of gender, marital status, and addiction status on socio-cognitive judgments. Using a between-participants design, we asked participants to rate a picture of a person (male or female) paired with a brief description in which marital status (single or married) and type of ailment (alcohol or physical) was manipulated. In Experiment 1, where a passive AUD manipulation was used, we saw no clear evidence of a single motherhood penalty (Experiment 1a). In Experiment 2, when the experimental manipulation was changed to active addiction we observed the predicted SMP (Experiment 2a), with no such analogous penalty for single fathers (Experiment 2b).

Lauren Haggart, Melissa Varacalli, Nicole Diekema and Kaitlyn Moore
Faculty Advisor: Joyce Oates
Childhood Temperament and Stress in Early Adulthood

Studies have shown that the temperament of an infant can predict levels of anxiety an individual expresses in young adulthood. A lot of this research has been focused on genetics, family environment, parental behaviors and reactions to the infant’s temperament, infant emotionality, and social settings the infant is in. This study was conducted through a survey sent to undergraduate students at Aquinas College. This survey was used to assess if there was a link between temperament and anxiety. Each participant, between ages 18 to 25 took two surveys that looked at their temperament as an infant and then asked about their current feelings of anxiety. Researchers predicted that those with an inhibited and shy temperament would show higher levels of anxiety later in life. Results showed that there is a significant link between anxiety and emotionality. Emotionality temperament is defined as being aroused easily and intensely (got definition from EAS scale). Therefore, infants with emotionality temperament are more likely to obtain anxiety later in adulthood.

Emma Steckelberg, Taylor LaBine and Benjamin Unger
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joyce Oates
How social anxiety influences nonverbal intimidation in adults

Intimidation can be communicated through nonverbal cues like body language and facial expressions, and can produce negative reactions in an observer. This in turn can affect various interpersonal interactions, such as workplace environments and romantic relationships. If social anxiety leads to discomfort and irritation in social situations, it could influence the way a person perceives the negative impact of nonverbal intimidation. In this study, we examined how social anxiety might affect the perception of intimidating nonverbal cues. Participants (n=331) completed a modified DSM-5 Severity Measure for Social Anxiety. Following the modified DSM-5 Measure, participants rated a series of pictures of men and women displaying intimidating and non-intimidating nonverbal cues based on the level of social anxiety they would feel interacting with each stimulus. The results showed that intimidating stimuli were perceived as more anxiety-inducing than non-intimidating stimuli. Participants with social anxiety, compared to those participants who did not have social anxiety, reported significantly higher levels of anxiety not only for intimidating stimuli, but also non-intimidating stimuli. This indicates that people with social anxiety may have lower thresholds for perception of intimidation, even if no nonverbal intimidation cues are present.

Madalyn Crawford, Giavonna Ward and Katie Vitella
Faculty Advisor: Joyce Oates
Utilization of Counseling Services

This study explores the reasons why undergraduate students use (or do not use) on or off campus counseling services. Studies show that the rates of undergraduate students with mental health concerns is ever increasing, yet the stigma surrounding these disorders is still quite prevalent. Students often avoid seeking treatment due to these stigmatic cultures, lack of time, and lack of knowledge of the campus’s resources. Research also shows that gender, race, religion, and sexual preference have an influence on whether or not a student seeks treatment. Participants were composed of undergraduate students at Aquinas College, a small liberal arts college in the midwest. Responses were collected through an online Google survey. We hypothesised that our findings would be consistent with the literature on this topic, but provide us with results specific to Aquinas College. The results for the relationship between the use of counseling services and gender were marginal, and students of the LGBTQ+ community were more likely to use counseling services than those students not a part of the LGBTQ+ community. When observing class standing, freshman underutilized services, sophomores and juniors used it as expected, and seniors maximized their use of services. Religion was not a deciding factor for use of services.

Meghan Thornton
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joyce Oates
That's Got to Hurt: Perception of Pain Expressions in Athletes

Through our study, we sought to determine if facial expressions of pain were viewed as more severe when the stimuli were the same race and biological sex of the viewer. Based on previous literature, we predicted that participants would rate the picture stimuli that were not of their own race to be in less pain than those picture stimuli of their own race. Participants were shown photos of the faces of athletes as they experienced an injury and were asked to rate the level of pain the athlete was experiencing. Using an ANOVA model, the results indicated that there was a main effect of race, such that participants, (who were predominantly Caucasian), rated African American athletes to be in greater pain than Caucasian athletes. In addition, there was an interaction between race and biological sex of the stimuli; Bonferroni corrected, 2-tailed paired samples t tests indicated that Caucasian males were rated to be in less pain than both African American males and females but were not rated differently than Caucasian females. These findings are incongruent with previous studies of racial bias and pain perception.

Bailey Freeland, Emily Adams and Stefanie Smoes
Faculty Advisor: Joyce Oates
Attachment Style and Friendships in Emerging Adulthood

Emerging adulthood is a term that refers to people who are between the ages of 18 and 25. The emerging adulthood theory comprises many factors such as age, sex, race, culture, relationships, etc (Arnett, 2007). When the attachment theory is applied to parents, friends, and significant others it plays an important role in emerging adulthood (Arnett). Using the attachment theory, we evaluated previous studies on how attachment between current and past relationships impacts future relationships and friendships. In the current study, we administered the Measure of Attachment Qualities (MAQ) to assess attachment styles and the McGill Friendship Survey to assess friendship/relationship quality. Based on the results, participants were placed in one of four categories of attachment styles: secure, avoidant, ambivalence-merger, or ambivalence-worry, and their friendships/relationships were categorized using six categories: stimulating companionship, help, intimacy, reliable alliance, self-validation, and emotional security. When we evaluated the data, we found that there were significant correlations between attachment styles and the types of friendships/relationships that participants had.

Amanda Wells, Juliette Rickel, Lauren Falkenstein and Kelly Nickson
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joyce Oates
Can You See the Way I Feel? Gender Differences in Autism Spectrum Disorder
Previous studies have found that men are more likely to be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) than women with a ratio of 4 to 1. One explanation for a lower rate of diagnosis is that women with ASD tend to engage in social camouflaging or hiding symptomology/behaviors at higher rates than their male counterparts. Extending this line of research, we examined the difference between men and women with ASD and their ability to recognize emotions and engage in social camouflaging. Forty-nine females and nineteen males (ASD and controls). Participants were administered the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET), the Autism Spectrum Quotient (ASQ), and also answered questions related to social situations. As predicted, we found a negative correlation between ASQ and RMET scores which suggests that as traits of ASD increase, ability to recognize emotions decreases. Importantly, there was a marginal difference in RMET scores between males and females with ASD, despite no significant difference in ASQ scores in participants with ASD. This suggests that females with ASD may have an advantage in recognizing emotions compared to males with ASD. We propose that this advantage in emotion recognition may help females camouflage socially, and may bolster under-diagnosis.

Department of Sociology

Giavonna Ward
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jen Lendrum
Mental Health Coping in African-American Communities
This research explores the ways that African-American communities use alternative coping methods instead of traditional mental health services. Like many systems, there are myriad complex barriers to mental health for people of color. The rate at which black communities access mental health services is not equitable to that of their white counterparts (Kawaii-Bogue, B., Williams, N., and MacNear, K., 2017). As a result, African Americans seek out alternative methods to cope with stressors. This research explores not only disparities in how African-Americans use services but also helps to identify some of the alternative methods that the community relies on in its place. With shining light upon these less traditional forms of mental health treatment, we are able to better understand how these resources are critical for African-American spaces and how we can use these spaces effectively to deliver adequate treatment.

Nicole Diekema
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jen Lendrum
Facial and Body Gestures: Difference Between Races
Facial cues and body language can cause problems between different races. There are different emotions and different expectations of expression but there are six universal facial expressions (happy, sad, surprise, disgust, anger, and fear) that are recognizable across cultures. It is the human ability to register emotion and body language that can hinder or encourage one's willingness to have conversations with others that may, or may not, fit their race. There are different categorizations of universal expressions across race that leads to stereotyping between races. Stereotypes stemming from implicit racial bias that is constructed by different social groups. It is one of the ways in which a separation or ‘othering’ occurs between people across race. The separation between people is caused by little understanding of the importance of what emotions and body gestures mean to individual races and submitting to the stereotype without the correct information.

Meghan THornton
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jen Lendrum
How Women Carry the Cross: The Cultural Trauma of Gendered Violence and the Christian Response
This research analyzes current conceptualizations of cultural trauma and argues that gender-based violence (GBV) should be included among its definitions. Furthermore, it examines the way the (Christian) church has generally responded to gendered trauma and the role it plays in the crisis of GBV. Drawing a combination of scholarly literature, and quantitative data we first examine the ubiquitous nature of gender-based violence and, second, the ways in which survivors of GBV feel supported or re-victimized by their faith as well as the church.

Department of Women's Studies

Kaela Frailing
Faculty Advisor: Amy Dunham-Strand
Eating Disorder Diagnosis and Gender-Relative Energy Deficiency in Endurance Athletics

Eating disorders are a growing issue within endurance athletics; however, this problem is too often seen as only a female issue. This presentation serves to combat the myths present within endurance athletics when it comes to body composition and ability to perform, specifically at the elite level. This will be done through the analysis of current events, such as the issues within Nike's elite running coaching staff, as well as looking into the shift of rhetoric from Female Athlete Triad to Relative Energy Deficiency Disorder in Sports.

Department of World Languages

Dominique Foley, Darla Romero and Aubrey Ruiz
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Shelli Rottschafer
Our Expression of Ethno Poetry

For this project, the students explored the topic of Ethno Poetry for their WL472 Engaging in Latino Grand Rapids course. They used research and personal life events to write their own poems about identity and tradition that encompassed the Ethno Poetry style. Following this work, they each wrote an essay that expanded on their own definition of Ethno Poetry and tied these definitions to the thinking behind their poems. For this WL472 course the students also did an internship partnering with Cesar Chavez elementary, volunteering each week with bilingual classes and engaging in the latin community. This influenced and inspired their work in Ethno Poetry. Their pieces were compiled into a creative slideshow to showcase their combined expression of this unique genre.

Bridget Gibley
Faculty Advisor: Carmen Ruiz-Sánchez
The Pronunciation of ""ch"" in Andalusian Spanish: A Study of Social and Linguistic Factors

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, but previous studies have found correlations between these sociolinguistic factors and the typical pronunciation of “ch.” This study is modeled after similar studies from other regions, 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. The results of this study confirm that women and speakers with a higher level of education use the affricate pronunciation more than do men and speakers with a lower level of education.

Abigail Safago
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Katharina Häusler-Gross
Ethnic Layers: The Impact of German Immigration on the Social and Economic Development of the City of Grand Rapids

The United States is often called a “melting pot” due to its history of immigrant cultures that have profoundly shaped this country. West Michigan and the City of Grand Rapids are no exception to this. Although often perceived as an overwhelmingly Dutch region, Grand Rapids is home to a far more diverse set of immigrants than commonly understood, including the Polish, Lithuanians, Germans, Bosnians, Vietnamese, Mexicans, and other groups from around the world. Inspired by “German Traces of NYC” and “Ethnic Layers of Detroit”, two digital humanities projects that bring their cities’ rich (and often hidden!) cultural histories to life through multimedia storytelling, this research project explores the impact that German immigrants had on shaping the history, culture and economic development of Grand Rapids, Michigan. By partnering with community members and ‘telling the story’ of significant landmarks that are representative of the Grand Rapids German community between 1840-1918, this research reveals the importance of German cultural artifacts of the past and present (festivals, associations, architecture, commerce, and community events), and their contribution to the rich multicultural fabric of our city.

Atilla Erhan
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Katharina Häusler-Gross
Solidarity vs. Pluralism? A Comparison of the German and US American Healthcare Systems

This study was undertaken to explore the topics of health care policy, social insurance, and the German and American sentiment towards health and health care. Particular emphasis was placed on how differences in policies (i.e., taxes; accessibility; human capital, workforce and operation structures) result in differences in utilization and cost between the US and Germany. After a general overview and description of the two health care systems, the second part of this research paper will analyze, evaluate and compare the two systems regarding their respective equity and efficiency. Finally, this paper proposes that a better understanding and subsequent application of the German “concept of solidarity” – which is outcome-driven and places a high value on the quality of care – can help to identify opportunities for future improvements and reforms in both health care systems.

Kelsey Hall
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Susan Hojnacki
Die Geschichte und Unterschiede von Elsässischen Deutsch, Zürichdeutsch und Kiezdeutsch (The History and Differences of Alsatian German, Zurich German, and Kiezdeutsch)
Despite having a rather small geographical size, German-speaking Europe has a plethora of regional dialects. Many of these dialects vary greatly from each other, both in terms of their origin and their grammatical differences. Language naturally changes overtime, sometimes due to the influence of historical events or other languages. This paper aims to research three German dialects and how the history of their development has led to their formation as well as better understand the different ways in which dialects can be formed throughout history. By studying Alsacian German, Zurich German, and Kiezdeutsch, one can see three distinct ways that a dialect can develop overtime. One can also see the different ways that a dialect can differ from the language’s standard form as well as the commonality that they’re the result of languages influencing one another.