Student Research at Aquinas College

Current Research

Share your research, scholarship, or creative activity. Submit your research.


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