Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium 2021

Tuesday, September 28
4:00-6:00 p.m.

We are excited to welcome you to this year’s virtual Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium. Students have been working hard over the summer on their projects and are looking forward to sharing their work. Review the students’ abstracts below and join us for the symposium on September 28th to hear from the students.

 

Schedule

Time Session Location
4:00 p.m. Welcome  Main Room
4:15 p.m. Alissa Notenberg – Stress and Eating Habits Main Room
Gavin Sordelet – Mobilization of Native American Voting Room A
Rachel Prost – Perceptions and Pain-Points of the Companies to Classrooms (C2C) Facebook Page Room B
4:30 p.m. Staci Reynolds – Investigating the Influence of Biofouling on in situ Chlorophyll a Sensors in the St. Louis River Main Room
Vanessa Sowl  – Exploration of Persons Central to Community Programming Development on Madeline Island Room A
Jared Janczak – Emily Dickinson and Metaphysical Poetry Room B
4:45 p.m. Tiansheng Zhang – Gal4-induced Cell Death in the Ovary of the Fruit Fly Drosophila melanogaster  Main Room
Augusto Vladusic – Education Level Impact on Perceived Happiness for the United States from 2005 to 2020 Room A
Eliot Sweere – The Evolution of Skateboarding Subculture through Media Exposure Room B
5:00 p.m. Niyoosha Abdollahpour – Extraction of Phthalate from Blood Serum, Sweat, Medical Devices, and Food Containers Main Room
Zack Abt – The Adverse Effects of Alzheimer’s and Dementia on a Family Room A
Andrea Calzada-Vera – Animation Exploration Room B
5:15 p.m. Josiah Grant  – Exploration into Matrix Cube Roots of Polynomials Main Room
Shawn Hamlet – The Blank Papers - Examining Men and their Delegitimized Victimhood (subsidiary report A) Room A
Clarissa Scidmore and Samuel Johnson – Knowledge, Understanding and Perspectives of ADD/ADHD in the K-9 Classroom  Room B
5:30 p.m. Zhuo Zhang  – Exploring Mesh Net Technologies for Smart Homes Main Room
Conversations with Student Presenters Room A
Kelly Ann Ferfon  – COVID-19 Economic Relief Packages and Small Restaurant Businesses of the Twin Ports Area Room B
5:45 p.m. Conversation with Presenters All Rooms

Summer Undergraduate Research Program Award Recipients

Niyoosha Abdollahpour

nabdolla@uwsuper.edu
Mentor: Dr. Lorena Rios Mendoza

Title

Extraction of Phthalate from Blood Serum, Sweat, Medical Devices, and Food Containers

Abstract

Phthalates are frequently used in consumer items as plasticizers to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity. Because of their pervasiveness in the environment, there is widespread concern about phthalates’ potential impacts on human health, which may include breast cancer, obesity, cardiotoxicity, hormone disruption, and other diseases. This study was a literature review of how to extract phthalate from human blood serum, sweat, food containers, and medical devices. For this research, a review of the academic literature on phthalate analysis using gas chromatography/ mass spectrometry instrumentation was undertaken. The researcher considered all the articles that were released between 2015-2021 in order to gather information that could be used to build a proper methodology for future studies. This literature review revealed that the process of extracting the phthalate is different for each sample. This research also provided useful information on how to reduce phthalate contamination in the laboratory environment. Since phthalates are so common in the environment, there is considerable concern about their possible influence on human health and normal function, necessitating more study in this field. Therefore, this information will serve as a foundation for future phthalate research.

Zack Abt

zabt@uwsuper.edu
Mentor: Cherie Dakota

Title

The Adverse Effects of Alzheimer’s and Dementia on a Family

Abstract

This project explored how Alzheimer’s disease affects a family and the ways they develop protective factors needed to become adequate caretakers for loved ones. A literature review was conducted to gain an understanding of how to effectively cope with taking care of loved ones that are suffering from Alzheimer's, assess the barriers families face to help create awareness of the issue, and develop effective ways to help family members protect their emotional, mental, and physical health while being an adequate caretaker. The research shows a  trend that equates the well-being of the caretaker to the overall care and well-being of the loved one. Research also points towards the involvement of the person suffering from Alzheimer’s as a major benefit in the caretaking process. Appointing a head caretaker and being flexible while providing individualized care are strong protective factors for both caretaker and loved one(s). While minimal research has been conducted on families, this review showed that individualized, culturally aware care allows families to develop protective factors that can lead to creative ways of assessing barriers and coping with the many stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Andrea Calzada-Vera

acalzada@uwsuper.edu
Mentor: Susan Maguire

Title

Animation Exploration

Abstract

Applying animation to inanimate objects, animals, and figures changes the viewer’s perception of the world around them. The goal of this project was to find out what stories the creator could make   using different methods and effects with digital media. Still images were altered to follow the principles of animation and drawing, utilizing Adobe software. The still image’s path of animation was planned by pose to pose action and frame by frame action. Sound layers and post-editing were applied to exaggerate the narratives developed by the creator. With the use of a digital drawing tablet and the use of Photoshop, Adobe Animate, and Adobe After Effects, the animations resulted in varying degrees of fluidity of movement and complexity. Adobe Animate and After Effects exceeded Photoshop in terms of ease of workflow. Yet, Photoshop demonstrated better organic form. The animations will continue to be built upon and modified to enhance the viewer’s understanding of the flow of movement and the narrative of the animation.

Kelly Ann Ferfon

kferfon@uwsuper.edu
Mentor: Dr. Sakib Mahmud

Title

COVID-19 Economic Relief Packages and Small Restaurant Businesses of the Twin Ports Area

Abstract

The purpose of this research was to assess the economic and financial losses of small restaurant businesses throughout the Twin Ports of Duluth and Superior in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. The research was initially conducted by performing a comprehensive literature review to gain insight on the financial relief programs and their accessibility and sufficiency. The researcher utilized a mixed-methods approach that involved three expert interviews with individuals knowledgeable about the COVID-19 economic relief packages, followed by the distribution of a short-survey through Qualtrics to small restaurant owners in the Twin Ports area. The survey findings showed a substantial decline in the current employment rates because of the combined effects of stimulus packages and unemployment benefits during the pandemic, which contributed to the increased hourly wages with additional monetary or non-monetary benefits and safety precautions. Furthermore, many small restaurants in the Twin Ports had seen a multitude of obstacles throughout the COVID-19 pandemic due to lack of access to financial capital. This led many restaurant owners to lay off employees or worse, permanently shut down. It is possible to say that another round of economic relief packages would be suitable for improving financial capital accessibility for small restaurant businesses throughout the Twin Ports. This research provides useful information for small restaurant owners to improve their current economic and financial conditions and better prepare them for any future pandemic event. 

Josiah Grant

jgrant8@uwsuper.edu
Mentor: Dr. Joshua Stangle

Title

Exploration into Matrix Cube Roots of Polynomials

Abstract

This study conducted an exploration into the potential existence of matrix cube roots of unfactorable polynomials. These matrix cube roots are a special form of matrix factorizations first described by David Eisenbud. The study attempted to construct matrix cube roots for specific polynomials through direct matrix manipulation. After gaining knowledge through matrix manipulation, the focus of the study shifted to more proof-oriented efforts with a focus on 2x2 matrices. Through these efforts, the study discovered a system of equations that could be used to generate examples of non-trivial 2x2 matrix cube roots for real numbers and a specific variety of polynomials. This study will provide insight into the field of linear algebra and potential avenues of research for matrix factorizations.

Shawn Hamlet

shamlet1@uwsuper.edu
Mentor: Dr. Ephraim Nikoi

Title

The Blank Papers - Examining Men and their Delegitimized Victimhood (subsidiary report A)

Abstract

Previously known as domestic relations court in 1910, the Family Court re-emerged under a revised consciousness in 1984. This presentation covers the comparing and contrasting of the two legal doctrines that have governed the adjudication of cases concerning custody disputes between parents in the U.S. Those doctrines are “The Tender Years Doctrine”, and “The Best Interest Standard”. This work provides insights on what happens behind the private walls of private American courtrooms.

Jared Janczak

jjanczak@uwsuper.edu
Mentor: Dr. Nicholas Sloboda

Title

Emily Dickinson and Metaphysical Poetry

Abstract

The work of Emily Dickinson has often been analyzed in a repetitive manner. Her association with religion, examination of societal views of women, as well as her critique of women’s roles are habitually associated with her poetry. This project examines Dickinson’s work in the context of American romanticism and transcendentalism (as developed by earlier writers like Emerson and Thoreau) and explored her poetry through a metaphysical lens. The project considers Dickinson’s frequent investigating, questioning, and exploring of life, God, and the actual versus the spiritual and proposes that Dickinson’s unique contribution to these aspects of metaphysical writing, in light of her transcendental grounding, can be seen through her unique attention to time and cyclic aspects of experimental knowing and understanding. Dickinson develops a distinct sense of what time is through her explorations of a type of cyclic flow of parts of experiences versus whole experiences, as well as through her development of a circling between the explicit and implicit. This unique approach results in an increased depth of engagement in and understanding of the experience itself, without, however, necessarily resolving the experience.

Alissa Notenberg

anotenb@uwsuper.edu
Mentor: Dr. Shanna Nifoussi

Title

Stress and Eating Habits

Abstract

College undergraduate students face large amounts of stress and pressure across all majors, academic years, and career paths. Consequently, stress can have a heavy influence on eating habits which can cause overeating, increased snacking, and an absence of healthy foods. This project explores the relationship between perceived stress and nutritional habits within the undergraduate population at UWS during the summer semester. Two surveys were sent via email to participants which measured perceived stress levels and eating habits throughout the 12-week semester on three separate occasions. By using a Likert scale, participants’ answers were converted into their assigned numerical value to receive an overall score. A higher perceived stress score indicated the individual was more stressed, while a higher nutritional score indicated healthier eating habits. It was determined that stress had some type of impact on eating habits. Students who had eating habits related to stress had a lower nutritional score compared to those who had normal eating habits. When comparing summer activities, students enrolled in summer classes had higher stress scores accompanied by unhealthy eating habits than participants not enrolled in summer classes. Lastly, those between the ages of 18-21 consistently had higher stress levels and unhealthier eating habits compared to those 22 years or older. Overall, a relationship was found between perceived stress levels and nutritional habits.

Rachel Prost

rprost@uwsuper.edu
Mentor: Tom Notton

Title

Perceptions and Pain-Points of the Companies to Classrooms (C2C) Facebook Page

Abstract

Companies to Classrooms (C2C) is a Duluth-based free supply store for K-12 teachers in  the Twin Ports community. However, their online presence consists of only a Facebook page. The purpose of this user experience research study was to understand how the C2C Facebook page is utilized by current teachers, their frustrations and goals, and recommend strategies to ensure audience members have a great user experience. Two teachers and one volunteer were interviewed via video conferencing software, and 44 teachers who shop at C2C completed an online survey. A thematic analysis of the results indicated that teachers who know about C2C have sufficient information to shop at the store because they are familiar with the organization. However, a prospective audience may struggle to learn more about the organization due to the lack of public-facing information sources available. Transforming the C2C Facebook page into a marketing platform and developing a website to serve as a centralized information hub will increase audience satisfaction and fulfill organizational goals.

Staci Reynolds

sreynol8@uwsuper.edu
Mentor: Hannah Ramage

Title

Investigating the Influence of Biofouling on in situ Chlorophyll a Sensors in the St. Louis River

Abstract

This project evaluated the Xylem’s EXO Total Algae sensor’s ability to accurately estimate algal abundance  under varying biofouling conditions. A sensor deployed in the St. Louis River collected readings every two minutes for nine weeks as the sensor became naturally biofouled. Each week, sixteen water samples were collected next to the sensor and analyzed for chlorophyll-a concentration (ug/l), a proxy for algal abundance. Sensor performance was evaluated by correlation strength between the sensor’s reading and the sample’s chlorophyll-a concentrations. The sensor was found to be highly susceptible to biofouling, however, biofouling was not the primary factor impacting sensor performance. The results varied by season, indicating a different cause for low correlations. Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) exhibited high variability throughout the study and likely impacted the sensor performance more than biofouling. Further investigations of DOC interference on the sensor could improve future algal bloom monitoring at the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Clarissa Schidmore and Samuel Johnson

Clarissa Scidmore - cskidmor@uwsuper.edu
Samuel Johnson - Sjohn167@uwsuper.edu
Mentor: Dr. Jodie Riek

Title

Knowledge, Understanding and Perspectives of ADD/ADHD in the K-9 Classroom 

Abstract

Many children with ADD/ADHD meet the criteria to be in general education classrooms and are being educated by general education teachers who may or may not be familiar with ADD/ADHD, its symptoms and, how it affects their students’ education. As more teachers are being challenged with teaching students with ADD/ADHD, this study contemplated what gaps, if any, there were in the elementary general classroom teachers’ knowledge of ADD/ADHD, its symptoms, and how it affects students' education. The study also investigated whether there was a difference between the parents' and teachers' perspectives concerning whether the students with ADD/ADHD are receiving the appropriate support in a virtual learning environment. In order to discover the answers to these questions, an anonymous online Qualtrics survey was distributed through social media and undertaken by parents and teachers of third to fifth-grade students diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. Current scholarship in the field indicated that many teachers lacked confidence when teaching children with ADHD and that their knowledge of this topic was moderate, lacking practical knowledge that could be used in the classroom. This study supported these understandings, finding that teachers had moderate levels of knowledge of ADD/ADHD and were able to self-identify their own level of knowledge. Additionally, this study uncovered differences and similarities in perceptions of the parents and teachers who participated as well as understandings that will assist educators and schools in developing effective partnerships with families to provide students with optimal learning experiences, beginning to fill a gap in current scholarship. 

Gavin Sordelet

Gsordel1@uwsuper.edu
Mentor: Dr. Khalil Dokhanchi

Title

Mobilization of Native American Voting

Abstract

The lack of political mobilization and inclusion in the political spectrum can be seen in many racial groups in the United States. This inadequacy of inclusion leads to a lack of social motivation for civic duties such as voting. Out of all racial groups in America, the Native American voter turnout is lower relative to other groups even when socio-economic levels are controlled for (Geoff Peterson). Native American voter participation is understudied. Articles that do probe this topic, focus on the obstacles facing Native American voters rather than solutions. Thus, this research interviewed and examined Native American elders and local community activists from the surrounding Twin Ports area. The research found that inclusion plays a major role in community participation and how to mobilize these voters.

Vanessa Sowl

vsowl@uwsuper.edu
Mentor: Dr. Lynn Goerdt

Title

Exploration of Persons Central to Community Programming Development on Madeline Island

Abstract

Madeline Island has an assortment of grassroots, community-based programming that includes arts, outdoor, and sports programs, economic development initiatives, and volunteer emergency services. In a series of seven in-depth interviews the researcher explored how Madeline Island residents creatively responded to gaps in services to create this programming in the isolation of an island community. Interviewees explained their motivations and strategies, discussed challenges they faced, and explored the ultimate impacts and legacies in which this work has resulted. Motivations include a desire to give back, to pursue talents and passions, and to enrich the lives of themselves, their families, and communities. Strategies organizers used included needs assessments, enlisting help from others, finding space to operate, and providing organizational frameworks. The impacts were many and ranged from the building of physical spaces for community programming, financial organizations developed to support projects, to the more intangibles like personal growth and enrichment, as well as years of a various and diverse output of programming. Challenges were economic, a lack of physical spaces, interpersonal and emotional issues, and the difficulty of getting people involved and invested. Above all,  community organizers found their work rewarding, fun, worthwhile, and ongoing.

Eliot Sweere

esweere@uwsuper.edu
Mentor: Dr. Alison Wielgus

Title

The Evolution of Skateboarding Subculture through Media Exposure

Abstract

In the last sixty years the sport of skateboarding has grown an immense amount in popularity, evolving into a multibillion-dollar industry. Part of what helped skateboarding reach this worldwide status was the marketability of skateboarders themselves and  the subculture to which they belong. This project sought to define subculture and its characteristics as a group of individuals that revolt against dominant culture by means of expression, as well as the commodification of said subculture in the post-industrial era. The researcher compared the lifestyles of skateboarders as well as the lifestyles of early punk rock groups, both of which developed in the same era, shortly after the second World War. These cultural comparisons, along with the inclusion of theories developed by Dick Hebdige in ‘The Art of Style’ and Andy Ruddock’s ‘Youth and Media’, allow for the psychological and ideological identities of non-dominant groups that live within said subcultures. By exploring different forms of skateboarding media, such as early Skateboarder magazine articles, skateboarding documentaries and popular television programs, as well as highly  televised competitions like the X-Games and the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, this project also uncovered the timeline in which skateboarding and its subculture developed and eventually became a commodified entity through exposure and absorption by dominant culture.

Augusto Vladusic

avladusi@uwsuper.edu
Mentor: Dr. Praopan Pratoomchat

Title

Education Level Impact on Perceived Happiness for the United States from 2005 to 2020

Abstract

This project studied the impact that education level had on reported happiness in the U.S. during the period 2005 to 2020. The first part of the study analyzed data from the “Life Ladder” score of the World Happiness Report by the Gallup Poll and the second part used data from the General Social Survey by the NORC at the University of Chicago. Correlation and regression analysis were the main analysis methods. The study found evidence indicating that education, especially high school attainment, has a positive impact on happiness. Particularly, it decreased the chances of reporting being “not too happy”, decreasing the unhappiness levels. Additionally, evidence indicated that there is a diminishing happiness return to higher education.

Tiansheng Zhang

Tzhang1@uwsuper.edu
Mentor: Dr. Kristopher McConnell

Title

Gal4-induced Cell Death in the Ovary of the Fruit Fly Drosophila melanogaster

Abstract

Programmed cell death is an important mechanism in the development of multicellular organisms and in the prevention of cancer. This study used the ovary of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model system to identify the genetic factors that regulate programmed cell death. Previous research has shown that turning on the transcription factor Gal4 results in cell death in the ovary, as well as a reduction in egg production. The purpose of this project was to characterize the relationship between these two defects, and to determine whether expression of cell death inhibitors could rescue these defects. Fluorescence microscopy analysis showed that cell death occurs in two separate populations of cells at two different times after Gal4 is turned on. The research also showed that a viral inhibitor of cell death known as p35 increases the number of eggs laid, suggesting that it can at least partially rescue these defects. Further research is necessary to understand exactly how cell death in the ovary results in a reduction of egg  production in the fruit fly.

Zhuo Zhang

Zzhang1@uwsuper.edu
Mentor: Dr. Sergei Bezroukov

Title

Exploring Mesh Net Technologies for Smart Homes

Abstract

In recent years, smart home hardware and software solutions have become more and more popular. The goal of this project was to learn the basics of building a Bluetooth network and compare two different popular Bluetooth network technologies. In this summer, the researcher studied some Bluetooth concepts, including different node types and the communication method between nodes, and then  programmed some example codes and conducted tests. Different types of Bluetooth nodes can communicate with each other, but only within a certain range. This range can become larger if the power level of each node is changed. Bluetooth networks are very efficient and reliable, and there is also a lot of room for development.