Undergraduate Research

Summer Research Symposium 2021

Undergraduate research is a signature experience at Xavier that allows students to work one-on-one with faculty mentors on cutting-edge research projects. Whereas a student learns history or biology in their coursework, undergraduate research shows them what it means to be a historian or biologist. The Summer Research Symposium celebrates the work of summer research students and mentors through oral presentations.

           Summer Research Symposium
           Friday, August 27th @ 3pm
           Alter Hall - 2nd floor

Special Thanks

Amber Schutte, Nan Moore, Dr. Gary Lewandowski, and Dr. Dena Morton

Funding Sources

Providing Xavier students with paid research experience requires considerable resources that come almost entirely from the generousity of donors.  The Undergraduate Research program gratefully acknowledges those that make these experiences possible.

  • The Robert C. Borcer Endowment
  • The Joan G. McDonald Award
  • Undergraduate Research's March Gladness campaign
  • The College of Arts and Science Gift Fund
  • The Boehner Project Gifts
  • The John Hauk Foundation
  • The Zinser Summer Research Scholarship
  • The Jeffrey N. Johnston Research Fund
  • Eigel Center for Community-Engaged Learning
  • The College of Arts & Sciences Dean’s Office

Opening Remarks, Alter 203/204

Dr. David Mengel, Dean College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. David Gerberry, Director Undergraduate Research 

Alter 205

Moderator: Dr. Carla Gerberry, Mathematics

Alter 206

Moderator: Dr. Minerva Catral, Mathematics

Alter 207

Moderator: Dr. Diane Ceo-DiFrancesco, Classics and Modern Languages

Alter 208

Moderator: Dr. Rick Mullins, Chemistry

3:15 PM

How the Pandemic Changed Mathematics Instruction and Students' Perspective of Online Learning

Kayla Reichert

(Dr. Carla Gerberry, Mathematics)

Effects of trap treatments on capture of wood boring beetles

Olivia Bigham, Grace Fabry, Olivia Ruhlman

(Dr. Annie Ray, Dr. Emily Franzen, Biology) 

Student Perspectives on the Impact of Immersive Learning

Kierston Whitlock

(Dr. Diane Ceo-DiFrancesco, Classics and Modern Languages)

2015: The Year that England Spoke

Sophie Boulter

(Dr. Amy Whipple, History)  

3:30 PM

Curating and Improving Xavier's Insect Collections

Maddie Bidinger, Alisha Yerovi

(Dr. Annie Ray, Biology)

Characteristic Polynomials of Matrices with a Prescribed Digraph

Rachel Imel, Ashton Wine

(Dr. Minnie Catral, Mathematics)

Depth of Water vs Cavitation

Andrew Roden, Ian Vandevelde

(Dr. Heidrun Schmitzer, Physics) 

Diversification of a Rare Diazacyclobutene Scaffold

Andrew LeBlanc

(Dr. Richard Mullins, Chemistry) 

3:45 PM

The Impact of an Increase in African American Legislators in Ohio’s 107th General Assembly

Zachary Katopodis

(Dr. Mack Mariani, Political Science)

Final destination of chemical transport affected by origin point in a modeled fungal network

Kaleigh Falimirski

(Dr. Kathryn Morris, Biology; Dr. Jonathan Morris, Physics)

The genetic basis of dental patterning in cave-dwelling fish

Alleigh Amaismeier

(Dr. William Anyonge, Biology) 

Equality and Excellence in Ancient and Modern Political Philosophy

Nick Reynolds

(Dr. John Ray, Dr. Steven Frankel, Philosophy) 

4:00 PM

The Importance of Dialogue in Peace Processes: McGuinness and Paisley in The Journey

McKenna Mathews

(Dr. Timothy White, Political Science) 

Investigation of the Inclusion of Female Composers in Music Streaming Services

Olivia Wakefield

(Dr. Benjamin Chamberlain, Music and Theatre)

Modeling the Spread of Covid-19 in Cuyahoga County

Abbie LaRosa

(Dr. Hem Raj Joshi, Mathematics)

SREBF1 promotes homeostatic control of lipids in response to DNA damage
Hayley Barta

(Dr. Wilbur Escorcia, Biology)

4:15 PM

Changes in skull shape may have evolved in response to predatory and feeding behaviors in Felidae

Aidan Noga

(Dr. William Anyonge, Dr. Mandy Powers, Biology) 

St. Thomas Aquinas and 20th Century Phenomenology: On the Relation between Real and Mental Being

Anthony Bartosiewicz

(Dr. Daniel Dwyer, Philosophy)

Suffering and Support: Female Saints and their Husbands in the Late Middle Ages

Rachel Purpura

(Dr. Marita von Weissenberg, History)

Two Database Internals Visualization Tools

Vanel Kamdoum, Liam Ireland

(Dr. Mike Goldweber, Computer Science)

4:30 PM  10 MINUTE BREAK / TIME TO GET BACK ON SCHEDULE   

 

Alter 205

Moderator: Dr. Mack Mariani, Political Science

Alter 206

Moderator: Dr. Thomas Wagner, Communications

  Alter 207

Moderator: Dr. Eric Bucher, Mathematics

Alter 208

Moderator: Dr. Marita von Weissenberg, History

4:40 PM

SEE, JUDGE, ACT: The Importance of Community Voice in Creating Moral Agents of Change Through Solidarity with Survivors of Domestic Abuse

Samantha Mossing

(Dr. Marcus Mescher, Theology)

A bioinformatics approach to assess how mutations in lipid regulator genes contribute to human cancers

Martin Vo

(Dr. Wilber Escorcia, Biology)

Cyclic Spectral Decompositions of Circulant Graphs

Alex Reynolds, Jake Heyser, Devin Konrad

(Dr. Eric Bucher, Dr. Esmerelda Nastase, Mathematics)

Cortical Bone Thickness in Three Principal Limb Bones in Domestic Canines

Justin Jebackumar, Josh Corsiglia

(Dr. William Anyonge, Biology) 

4:55 PM

Precision Machining

Chantz Dalton

(Dr. Justin Link, Physics)

Beyond the Great Books

Alexa Ollier

(Dr. Alexis Dianda, Dr. Richard Polt, Philosophy)

Disruption of DGAT2 function is linked to abnormal proliferation and lipid metabolism following genotoxic exposure

Meghan Graber

(Dr. Wilber Escorcia, Biology)  

Normative Power and Clergy Sexual Abuse in Chile

Drew Schlidt

(Dr. Marcus Mescher, Theology) 

5:10 PM

Relationship of soil size and density on the depth of fungal growth and anastomosis events

Katie Thiel

(Dr. Kathryn Morris, Biology; Dr. Jonathan Morris, Physics)

The Impact of Community Engaged Learning, Journaling, and Stories on Student Attitudes, Advocacy Intentions, and Understanding of Jesuit Gifts

Maria Vassanelli, Jared Vornhagen, Grant Zentmeyer

(Dr. Thomas Wagner, Communication)

Inuloxin A Methodology

Michaelia Fisher, Madyson Briggs

(Dr. Richard Mullins, Chemistry)

Cycling Through Paradise, Dayton Edition

Gabriella Scolio

(Dr. Kathleen Smythe, History)

5:25 PM

Comparing the Similarity of Ohio's Congressional Districts using the Genetic Algorithm

Emily Armstrong

(Dr. David Gerberry, Mathematics)

 

 

Diversifying Beginner Band Music

Patrick Hill

(Dr. Benjamin Chamberlain, Music and Theatre)

The effects of a monoclonal anti-cocaine Fab fragment on urinary cocaine clearance in rats

[30 min talk]

Nijah Simmons, Jen Spejcher, Madi Zingraf, Evyenia Vivilis

(Dr. Hanna Wetzel,  Biology)

Liberation Theology or Philosophy?

Aaron Ticknor

(Dr. Michael Sweeney, Philosophy)

5:40 PM

An assessment of combined sewer overflow and channelization impacts on an urban stream ecosystem.

Samantha Hawkins, Payton Wood, Mio Kamioka

(Dr. Mollie McIntosh, Biology) 

Fungal Networks: The Plant Communication Path

Constance Kavensky

(Dr. Kathryn Morris, Biology)

 



 

 

 

 

Abstracts 

Alleigh M. Amaismeier   (Dr. William Anyonge, Dr. Mandy Powers, Biology)

The genetic basis of dental patterning in cave-dwelling fish

Our understanding of the genes involved in tooth patterning is limited by the challenges of in utero studies in mammals. Recently, studies in evolutionary model systems such as sharks, lizards and fish have shed light on tooth development. Cavefish (Astyanax mexicanus) serve as an excellent model for tooth formation for several reasons: 1) the existence of a surface-dwelling morph of the same species with differing morphology, 2) genetic association studies can be performed from hybrid crosses, and 3) A. mexicanus are hardy and breed readily in the lab environment. Cavefish serve as an excellent model for understanding genes involved in early initiation and patterning of teeth, as they show an increase in tooth number and difference in tooth size and cusp number compared to surface fish. Here, we present a study investigating the dentition of a F2 hybrid A. mexicanus pedigree. Phenotypic traits such as tooth number, cusp number, tooth length, tooth width, diastema, and replacement teeth were quantified from cleared-and-stained specimen images. Orofacial phenotypes were analyzed through Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL), from which 11 traits were mapped and found to be significantly-associated with regions of the A. mexicanus genome. For each genetic marker that was significantly-associated with each trait, the BLAST algorithm was used to align the genetic markers to a specific region of the genome. A Gene Ontology (GO) term analysis was used to uncover genes known to be associated with orofacial traits. From the GO term analysis, we compiled a list of candidate genes to be further analyzed with molecular techniques in the lab. Taken together, this work establishes A. mexicanus as a model for tooth development, from which we can make progress in the discovery of genes involved in tooth size, shape, and patterning. [BACK]

 

Emily Armstrong     (Dr. David Gerberry, Mathematics)

Comparing the Similarity of Ohio’s Congressional Districts using the Genetic Algorithm

Gerrymandered districts come from manipulating boundaries in favor of a specific party. To prevent gerrymandering, algorithmic methods have been created in order determine unbiased optimized districts. In this project, the districts are determined by an overall score based on equal population, competitiveness, compactness, and fairness. The focal point of this project used a genetic algorithm, involving an elite collection of maps and evolving them over generations to create the best map. To ensure if the generations of maps improved, the collection of optimized maps were compared to each to calculate a similarity score. This score shows how the determined districts has been improved over time. [BACK]

 

Hayley Barta  (Dr. Wilber Escorcia, Biology)

SREBF1 promotes homeostatic control of lipids in response to DNA damage

Sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1 is a transcription factor encoded by the SREBF1 gene. It functions in cholesterol biosynthesis and lipid homeostasis. Cancer cells are known to utilize lipids as building blocks for rapid proliferation. Therefore, we hypothesized that inhibition of SREBF1 leads to reduced cancer cell growth and progression. We used the Catalogue of Somatic Mutations in Cancer (COSMIC) to identify mutations in SREBF1 across different cancers. Using statistical and bioinformatics tools, we examined how mutation load correlates with tissue type, age, and pathogenicity to reveal the functional consequences of cancer-associated disruptions to SREBF1. Additionally, we used the fission yeast, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, to investigate the effects that disrupting the SREBF1 homolog, Sre1, have on viability, the DNA damage response (DDR), and lipid levels. When subjected to UV damage, cell viability decreases for both wildtype and sre1 mutant strains. However, the effect is more pronounced in the latter, indicating sre1 is required for the response to genotoxic stress. Furthermore, following DNA damage, lipid levels increased in the sre1 mutant relative to wild type cells, suggesting a role for Sre1 in keeping lipid abundance in conditions that favor cancer progression. Altogether, these data imply that regulation of lipid metabolism by Sre1 is important to deploy homeostatic balance in the aftermath of genotoxic insults. [BACK]

 

Anthony Bartosiewicz  (Dr. Daniel Dwyer, Philosophy)

St. Thomas Aquinas and 20th Century Phenomenology: On the Relation between Real and Mental Being

The research Dr. Dwyer and I conducted this summer covered a contemporary look at Aquinas’ metaphysics through the work done by W. Norris Clarke, SJ. We began ​by reading Clarke’s ​classic introduction to the metaphysics of Aquinas, The One and the Many, which ​explains very clearly Aquinas' position on real and mental being, or beings that are existent outside of an idea and beings that are existent only within an idea. Clarke also gave clear reasoning as to why one should study metaphysics, or the study of immaterial beings. From there, we worked backwards to what Clarke was inspired by. This meant going in-depth with works like St. Thomas’ Summa Theologica and Aristotle’s Metaphysics, with a focus on in what way we can use predicates when applied to God and His creation. We discussed and researched together the synthesis between medieval metaphysics and contemporary phenomenology and how names, predicates, concepts, or mental beings do not fully explain the reality of real beings, because concepts cannot do justice to the immaterial reality of God, the soul, etc. [BACK]

 

Maddie Bidinger, Alisha Yerovi   (Dr. Annie Ray, Biology)

Curating and Improving Xavier's Insect Collections

Natural history collections are a valuable resource which provide a record of biodiversity, can inform research, and allow for the long-term preservation of many species. Insect collections, more specifically, are important for teaching and learning how to identify taxa. At Xavier, the liquid and historical insect collections are unorganized, and the specimens are at risk of being damaged due to the lack of proper storage and care. To address these issues, the liquid collection vials will be uniform, equipped with the best anti-evaporation lids, filled with the proper preservation fluid, and will be organized with student use in mind. To better curate the historical collection, mineral buildup due to outdated pin materials will be removed, specimens will be re-pinned or carded where necessary, pests eliminated, and the collection organized taxonomically. These changes will be implemented in the coming fall 2021 semester and will hopefully result in much more organized and usable collections for students to use for many years to come. [BACK]

 

Olivia Bigham, Grace Fabry, Olivia Ruhlman  (Dr. Annie Ray, Dr. Emily Franzen, Biology)

Effects of trap treatments on capture of wood boring beetles

Invasive wood boring insects pose substantial threats to both managed and natural forests throughout North America. A major challenge in combating invasive insects is lack of effective traps to detect populations during early days of establishment, when it is still possible to control or eliminate the pest. We conducted three trapping assays to assess the effects of trap treatments on capture of wood boring insects. We tested the response of jewel beetles to light traps fitted with white light, green light, or no light. We tested the response of wood borers to green multi-funnel traps baited with general chemical attractants for longhorned and bark beetles. Finally, we tested whether inexpensive sticky prism traps can match the effectiveness of standard green multi-funnel traps when capturing jewel beetles. The results of our work will allow us to improve trapping technology for invasive insects. [BACK]

 

Sophie Boulter    (Dr. Amy Whipple, History)

2015: The Year that England Spoke

In all of the fervor around 2014 and 2016 — the years of the Brexit and the independence referendums, respectively — 2015 has been relatively neglected in political scholarship. This is despite the year’s importance in establishing English national identity as a driving political force. The general election strategy, governmental policy and social attitudes of 2015 offer researchers interested in English identity much to consider. 2015 featured an overt recognition of English national identity through policies such as EVEL, more Euroskeptic manifestos and attitudes from the main UK political parties, and campaign strategies which promoted English concerns. I examine each of these broad areas, and come to two conclusions: first, that cultural and political Englishness were strong in 2015, and second, that policy responses to English identity in 2015 attempted to capitalize on England’s louder voice in the Union. [BACK]

  

Justin Jebackumar, Josh Corsiglia    (Dr. William Anyonge, Biology) 

Cortical Bone Thickness in Three Principal Limb Bones in Domestic Canines


Cortical thickness and limb bone cross-sectional area have been used to assess how the distribution of bone reflects loading patterns in various predatory animal species. These can also be effective measures of weight-bearing properties of bones and have been used also in body mass estimation. Cortical bone thickness can also reflect locomotor modes, such as digging and climbing in some animals. Bones are commonly loaded in both bending and compression, with the majority of the stresses attributed to bending. Additionally, the speed and gait of locomotion can affect the deposition and strength of cortical bone. In this study, the cortical area and related cross-sectional properties of three principal limb bones (femur, humerus and radius) were compared among four domestic dog breeds. The effect of age and gender on these properties was also examined.
    49 radiographic images from a total of 27 domestic dogs that included 2 small breeds and 2 large breeds were examined using ImageJ Java processing program. Small breeds were represented by the Chihuahua (n=8) and the Yorkshire Terrier (n=7); large breeds were represented by the Labrador Retriever (n=6) and the German Shepard (n=6). Nine of the 27 dogs (33%) were equal to, or less than 12 months old. 12 of 27 dogs (44%) were male whereas the remaining 15 dogs (56%) were female.
   Results show large breeds had a larger cortical area (CA), but a smaller %CA than small breeds. For humerus, no significant difference was found between CA and %CA between the small breeds. For femur, large breeds had a significantly larger second moments of area for both Ix and Iy (p<0.05). Chihuahuas had a significantly larger anteroposterior to mediolateral ratio (AP:ML) than Yorkie (p<0.05), but no significant difference between Chihuahua and the large breeds (p=0.08). When cortical area was standardized for length, Chihuahuas had a significantly smaller Femur CA compared to the three other breeds. For radius, there was no significant difference for the AP:ML ratio between the four breeds [p= 0.20 (Chihuahua/Yorkie), p=.255 (Chihuahua/Lab), p=0.52 (Yorkie/Lab)]. It can be inferred that the subperiosteal cavity for large breeds is greater than that of the smaller breeds, resulting in a smaller %CA. Overall, cross-sectional geometric properties appear to correlate with increased size of breed and not significantly affected by sex or age. However, analysis of the latter factors was constrained by small sample size. Daily activity patterns and other life history characteristics in domestic dogs vary between breeds and inferences on loading patterns was not assessable due to lack of background history of the analyzed sample. Future research will seek to include additional data that may shed light on clinical implications such as incidence of bone fractures across breeds. [BACK]

 

Chantz Dalton    (Dr. Justin Link, Physics) 

Precision Machining

Every facet of the global economy and society relies on CNC machining in one form or another. This is true, of course, when it comes to scientific experimentation. This research focuses on providing readily accessible methods for students and researchers to machine highly precise tools, parts, and apparatuses for their own applications. Using the CNC mill and router located in the machine shop, we were able to achieve levels of precision on par with NASA grade equipment. A brief period of usage and safety training allows students and researchers to design and produce their own parts with near-perfect accuracy. [BACK]

 

Kaleigh Falimirski  (Dr. Kathryn Morris, Biology; Dr. Jonathan Morris, Physics)

Final destination of chemical transport affected by origin point in a modeled fungal network

Plants communicate with each other by releasing organic chemicals into the environment that are later absorbed by other plants. These chemicals cause a range of responses in the target plant, from inducing plant defenses against insect pests to killing the target plant outright. These chemicals diffuse slowly through soil, but move much more rapidly along hyphae of symbiotic fungi that link multiple species of plants. These fungal hyphae can form networks between plants when fungi growing from each root fuse where they meet in the soil. In order to better understand the movement patterns of chemical transport and the likelihood of the injected chemical reaching its target, I modeled the pathways chemical flow took from different injection origin points and their ability to reach their target root in MATLAB. The program ran 5 times through 8 different iterations that differed through combinations of medium through which the chemical traveled and starting location. Whether or not the chemical reached the target root was measured, in half the trials the root on the left was the target, in the other half, the root on the right. Ability to reach the target root was possible only if the chemical was injected in the upper side in which the root laid, with the exception of chemical delivered through soil to the right root which showed that as long as the origin of injection was high, the chemical would reach target. [BACK]

 

Michaelia Fisher, Madyson Briggs   (Dr. Richard Mullins, Chemistry)

Methodology of Inuloxin A

Inuloxin A is a natural product produced by Inula viscosa, a flowering plant in the daisy family. It has displayed properties applicable in the medical and agricultural industry. Thus far, Inuloxin A has been studied for its potential use as an herbicide against parasitic plats, as well as its biological activities against the brain-eating amoeba (Naegleria fowleri). Our work this summer focused on optimizing the first three steps of the methodology. The methodology utilizes a furan oxidation, addition of the Evans Auxiliary, and the 1,4 conjugate addition. The furan oxidation and the addition of the Evans Auxiliary was successful. The 1,4 conjugate addition method has been successful in the past, but we have altered the methodology in hopes of achieving better yield of the product. We hope to complete the 1,4 conjugate addition this semester to proceed to the last steps of the methodology. Once the methodology is shown to work, we will then use it to make the Inuloxin A. [BACK]

 

Meghan Graber    (Dr. Wilber Escorcia, Biology)

Disruption of DGAT2 function is linked to abnormal proliferation and lipid metabolism following genotoxic exposure

Lipid metabolism is essential to most cellular processes, and alterations in lipid metabolism are characteristic of cancer cells. We hypothesized that disruptions in lipid regulatory genes such as DGAT2, which codes for a triacylglycerol synthesis enzyme, are linked to carcinogenic metabolism. We analyzed DGAT2 mutations in cancer samples from the Catalogue of Somatic Mutations in Cancers (COSMIC) database and found several pathogenic mutations including those that affect the catalytic site of the enzyme. Through statistical and bioinformatics analysis, we identified conserved pathogenic mutations that are likely to disrupt the folding of DGAT2 and thus its enzymatic activity. To study the potential impact of loss of function mutations such as these, we examined Schizosaccharomyces pombe knockout mutants for dga1, the DGAT homolog in fission yeast. We predicted that disruption of dga1 would result in deregulation of lipids under genotoxic conditions. After performing viability, growth, and lipid staining assays, we found that relative to wild type cells, the dga1 strains show elevated growth following exposure to excess DNA damage. Moreover, in similar genotoxic conditions, these lipid mutants show higher lipid levels than wild type cells. Altogether, these results suggest that disruption of DGAT genes can lead to cellular deregulation of lipids after genotoxic exposure. [BACK]

 

Samantha Hawkins, Payton Wood, Mio Kamioka   (Dr. Mollie McIntosh, Biology)

An assessment of combined sewer overflow and channelization impacts on an urban stream ecosystem.

Urban streams are often degraded due to a combination of human activities. Overtime, pollution from combined sewer overflows and habitat modification due to stream channelization have been permanent factors impacting the Mill Creek Watershed of Cincinnati, Ohio.  The main objective of this study was to assess the impact of combined sewer overflow and channelization on a stream ecosystem.  Specifically, macroinvertebrate structure and function, fecal coliform abundance and chemical composition were compared between a natural and impacted (both with sewer overflows and channelization) sites within West Fork Creek.  Macroinvertebrate quantitative samples (n=3) were collected by scrubbing a measured area and the dislodged material subsequently captured in a D-framed net. A qualitative macroinvertebrate sample was collected from a 30-minute timed search in which all macroinvertebrates from multiple habitats at the site were collected I to a single composite sample. A composite water sample was collected from various points along the stream for chemical and fecal coliform testing.   Preliminary results indicate that mean coliform concentration was significantly greater at the impacted site than the natural site.  Phosphate and chloride was higher at the downstream location. Macroinvertebrate analysis will conducted this fall to investigate differences in diversity, density and function.  This study will provide valuable information that can be used in the future management of this impacted watershed. [BACK]

 

Jake Heyser, Devin Konrad, Alex Reynolds   (Dr. Eric Bucher and Dr. Esmerelda Nastase, Mathematics)

Cyclic Spectral Decompositions of Circulant Graphs

In this presentation, we will introduce audience members to basic concepts in graph theory, leading towards the decompositions of graphs. After establishing these key definitions, we will discuss findings from the summer pertaining to Cyclic Spectral Decompositions. Specifically, a cyclic spectral decomposition for C_n(1,3) will be discussed. [BACK]

  

Patrick Hill    (Dr. Ben Chamberlain, Music)

Diversifying Beginner Band Music

Students of all ages tend to learn at an accelerated pace when presented with materials they can relate to at a physical level. Often times at the beginning level of music education, the curriculum is hyper centralized on older western composers. This results in a narrow range of backgrounds of which students can pull from to relate to. The goal behind this project was to create a tool band directors could use to pull music from a large number of backgrounds to help diversify their students’ curriculum. This tool comes in the form of a living database with annotations with each piece of music selected. Each annotation includes relevant information a typical band director needs to assess the value of a piece in terms of curriculum. With further research, we hope to expand the database to include a broader range of pieces. [BACK]

 

Vanel Stevy Kamdoum Tchoudja, Liam Ireland     (Dr. Mike Goldweber, Computer Science)

Two Database Internals Visualization Tools


Modern database systems utilize complex data structures and algorithms to achieve their goals. Two areas that present particular difficulties in this are B+Trees and Buffer Management. The goal of this project was to implement two different visualization tools to aid in student understanding of these areas: a Buffer Manager visualizer and a B+Tree visualizer. Building on an existing code base; Minibase, we illustrate the work completed in achieving this goal. [BACK]

 

Zachary Z. Katopodis   (Dr. Mack Mariani, Political Science)

The Impact of an Increase in African American Legislators in Ohio’s 107th General Assembly

The rulings on the Baker v. Carr and Reynolds v. Sims Supreme Court cases in the early 1960’s held that the current districting in many states was leading to disproportionate representation of their citizens. The incongruency found between the population of districts and the number of representatives they had led the Supreme Court to mandate that states’ legislative districts be reapportioned in accordance with a “one man, one vote” standard. By 1966, Ohio had finished its redistricting in accordance with this mandate, and during the election later that year, there was a 400% increase in the descriptive representation of African Americans in the Ohio House of Representatives. Rising from two house members, to eight. Previous work on this topic in the Ohio General Assembly has highlighted this increase in descriptive representation of African Americans. However, descriptive representation alone fails to paint a clear picture of the impact this redistricting had on African Americans, as it does not reveal any information on the change in their substantive representation, that is, the tangible legislative actions taken related to African American issues. To address this lack of information, I took a two-prong approach of investigating substantive representation in the Ohio House of Representatives. First, I examined the experiences of William F. Bowen and C.J. McLin, two newly elected representatives. And second, I compared the number of African American interest bills introduced in the House of Representatives in the 106th general assembly, to the number introduced in the 107th general assembly. My combined findings led me to conclude that there was an increase in substantive representation immediately following the 1966 redistricting. [BACK]

 

Constance Kavensky   (Dr. Kathryn Morris, Biology; Dr. Jonathan Morris, Physics)

Chemical delivery to root size and fungi cutting in a MATLAB fungal network model

Fungal Hyphae underground create amazing communication networks between plants. If a message needs to be sent out, plants can release chemicals through their roots into the hyphae and then into the target roots of other plants to let other plants know what is going on. They can send warnings, reduce growth, and send chemicals in the ground a lot quicker than if they were travelling through soil alone. They are like the subway system in New York City. This summer, I, along with a team of other research assistants, used MATLAB to model these fungal hyphae. The model contains lots of code that simulates fungi growing between two roots surrounded by soil particles. I did my own personal research experiment where I looked at the effect of root size and cutting the fungi connections on transferring chemical from one root to another. My experiment showed that root size greatly affected the amount of chemical sent from one root to another. The bigger the root, the more chemical was transferred. Cutting the fungi showed to have no effect on the transfer of chemical from one root to another. The two variables together also had no significant effect on the transfer of chemical from one root to the target root. [BACK]

 

Abbie LaRosa    (Dr. Hem Raj Joshi, Mathematics)

Modeling the Spread of Covid-19 in Cuyahoga County

Covid-19 is a respiratory illness with many symptoms including fever, cough, shortness of breath, and loss of taste or smell. The goal of our research was to produce a model that showed the spread of Covid-19 in Cuyahoga County from January 2020 to June 2021. After we had our data, we used our mathematical model to model the spread of Covid-19. This presentation focuses on creating a mathematical model and estimating the parameters in order to fit the data. [BACK]

 

Andrew R. LeBlanc    (Dr. Richard Mullins, Physics; Dr. Daniel Whitehead, Clemson University)

Diversification of a Rare Diazacyclobutene Scaffold  

The biological activity of nitrogen heterocyclic scaffolds is of great medicinal importance, with more than 75% of FDA-approved small molecule drugs containing at least one N-heterocycle.3 Previously, the Whitehead Group at Clemson University developed a methodology to access a rare diazacyclobutene scaffold through an electron-rich alkyne [2+2] cyclization1. Initial biological screening showed the diazacyclobutene scaffold has promising activity against multiple parasites, including Trypanosoma brucei (the parasite that causes Human African Trypanosomiasis) and Trichomonas vaginalis. Therefore, further diversification of the diazacyclobutene scaffold could lead to medicinally relevant molecules. In this talk, I will present our initial results in diversifying the diazacyclobutene scaffold. [BACK]

 

McKenna Mathews    (Dr. Timothy White, Political Science)

The Importance of Dialogue in Peace Processes: McGuinness and Paisley in The Journey

The research project focused on the challenge of making peace in terms of elite negotiation and agreement. This is especially important in the context of the Northern Ireland peace process, since the institutional arrangements agreed upon in the Good Friday or Belfast Agreement of 1998 require power-sharing between the leaders of the largest unionist party and largest nationalist party. After the 2003 elections for the Northern Ireland Assembly, this meant that Martin McGuinness, the parliamentary leader of Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland and Ian Paisley, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland would have to share power in the Northern Ireland Executive. McGuinness, an admitted former leader of the Irish Republican Army, had been Sinn Féin’s representative to the negotiations leading to the 1998 Agreement. Paisley, often dubbed Mr. No, for his opposition to all agreements on the road to peace in Northern Ireland and a staunch defender of Unionism, would have to agree to govern alongside McGuinness. Ultimately, the British and Irish governments convinced both (especially Paisley) that sharing power was better than the British and Irish governments making policy for Northern Ireland. This process took four years. The film, The Journey, highlights the need for historic mortal enemies to agree to govern Northern Ireland together. Numerous films illustrate the violence and human cost of the violence of the Troubles, but few films focus on the need for dialogue and negotiation that was essential to bring peace to Northern Ireland. Our research explored how this film explains the transformation that occurred between these two political rivals that led them to become governing partners. [BACK]

 

Samantha Mossing    (Dr. Marcus Mescher, Theology)

SEE, JUDGE, ACT: The Importance of Community Voice in Creating Moral Agents of Change Through Solidarity with Survivors of Domestic Abuse

Drawing upon the wisdom of pedagogical theories and Ignatian spirituality, I propose that community voice, which includes the sharing of personal narratives by victims of domestic abuse, combined with the engaged listening of students, is crucial to the success of service and immersive learning programs aimed at creating young, moral agents of change in regard to the issue of domestic violence. This is because in such a relational model, the victim is given the opportunity to be heard, understood, and valued, while the student is able to transform their perspectives, build moral character, and better understand themselves and their world. Importantly, student engagement depends heavily on their level of reflection with the material, the narratives, and their interactions with community members. Thus, I lay out a pedagogical model, based on the See, Judge, Act method of ethical reflection, in which students examine the issue of domestic violence by 1) reading and listening to narratives about and from domestic violence survivors, 2) critically reflecting on these experiences through personal narration and moral judgement, and 3) connecting to resources in order to take relational, community, or political action on the issue. Because of the inherent difficulty in creating an immersive or service-learning course on the issue of domestic violence (due to factors like privacy, trust, and potentially large groups), I note that in cases when one-on-one interactions with survivors of domestic abuse is not possible, reading narratives through testimony and fiction is a worthy substitute for in-person relationship. [BACK]

 

Aidan Noga   (Dr. Mandy Powers, Dr. William Anyonge)

Changes in skull shape may have evolved in response to predatory and feeding behaviors in Felidae

Felidae is the cat family of the order Carnivora. The morphology of cats makes them well suited to predation due to various physical characteristics, such as optimized limb length, skull shape, hearing, and vision. Any differences in these characteristics across Felidae species may explain differences in predatory and feeding behaviors. Differences in skull shape across seven different extant and extinct Felidae species were measured and analyzed using geometric morphometrics. From a lateral cranial view, we found that the cheetah and the North American (NA) Sabretooth had the most significant shape difference, particularly at the frontal bone and post orbital regions of the skull. We also discovered a significant difference in post orbital shape from a dorsal view in cheetahs. From a lateral view, we also found that the NA Sabretooth had a significantly shorter coronoid process compared to other Felids. We reasoned that the difference in skull shape could contribute to the different predatory behavior proposed for the NA Sabretooth and that the difference in cheetah skull shape could be explained by lack of genetic diversity in the species. [BACK]

 

Alexa Ollier    (Dr. Alexis Dianda and Dr. Richard Polt, Philosophy) 

Beyond the Great Books

Philosophy, like many other fields, has proven to have a troubled past. Philosophy bears a tradition marked by exclusivity, of allowing and supporting only certain voices, primarily that of white, European men. However, this tradition is not something of the past as this issue of a dominant, and at times domineering, voice is something which philosophy has yet to shake. Certain structures within philosophy, like a canon or a Great Books program, act as measures which undeniably reinforce the power and prominence of this sole perspective. Aiming to challenge such stifling structures, this is where the ‘Beyond the Great Books’ project comes in. By first uncovering and then legitimizing voices beyond the traditional perspective of philosophy, this project brings together fifteen often overlooked and even forgotten philosophers who have undeniable value not only to the past, but the future of philosophy as well. Not only as a department, but more largely as a university and society, there is hope to turn away from the exclusivity of the past and bound towards the future with an eye toward inclusivity. [BACK]

 

Rachel Purpura    (Dr. Marita von Weissenberg, History)  

Suffering and Support: Female Saints and their Husbands in the Late Middle Ages

Through studying the historiography and hagiography of medieval female married saints, I have been able to determine some themes of a medieval marriage and ideas historians have been interested in. As case studies, today I will discuss four different saints: Margaret of Roskilde, Dorothy of Montau, Margaret of Scotland, and Elizabeth of Hungary. The first two experienced extreme violence in their lives at the hands of their husbands, Margaret of Roskilde was even killed by hers. For many years historians and theologians had an interest in these violent marital relationships. At the time these women lived, they were seen as being all the more pious for patiently tolerating abuse and it made them more likely to gain reputations of sanctity. The latter two saints, Margaret of Scotland and Elizabeth of Hungary, had content and respectful marriages. Their husbands helped them grow their faith and vise versa. In more recent years, there has been an increased interest among scholars in researching happy marriages as that is not the common theme in medieval marriages, or at least in the sources that survived. When put together, these four women demonstrate an overview of what marriage looked like in the lives of medieval holy women. Overall, the prevalent themes in stories of married female saints include suffering or support. [BACK]

 

Rachel Imel, Ashton Wine    (Dr. Minerva Catral, Mathematics) 

Characteristic Polynomials of Matrices with a Prescribed Digraph

For an n × n matrix A, the directed graph (digraph) associated with A has vertices 1,... ,n and for i,j ∈{ 1,... ,n}, there is an arc from i to j if and only if the (i,j) entry of A is nonzero. Our focus is on determining the characteristic polynomials of matrices with a prescribed digraph. Using an alternate definition of the determinant, we give a formula for the characteristic polynomial involving linear subdigraphs. We examine various digraphs and show some general results. In particular, we consider digraph properties that lead to particular characteristic polynomials. [BACK]

 

Kayla Reichert     (Dr. Carla Gerberry, Mathematics)

How the Pandemic Changed Mathematics Instruction and Students’ Perspectives of Online Learning

It has been over a year since the lockdown in the United States began. In that time teachers and professors all over the nation have taken a new approach to higher learning. Asynchronous and synchronous online learning are not altogether new concepts, but the urgency to adapt due to Covid-19 has thrust these learning styles into the academic spotlight. This past summer, surveys and interviews of nearly fifty university students were conducted in order to shine a light on the student perspective of online learning and the differences demonstrated in each style of instruction. The survey results combined with several recent studies published show students' perceptions of online learning and how effective they believe their education was. The results of this research explore topics such as levels of distraction, social connection, and the quality of learning. [BACK]

 

Nick Reynolds   (Dr. John Ray, Dr. Steven Frankel, Philosophy)

Equality and Excellence in Ancient and Modern Political Philosophy

During my time working as an undergraduate researcher this summer I worked under both Dr. Ray and Dr. Frankel in order to help them publish their latest book with SUNY press, Equality and Excellence in Ancient and Modern Political Philosophy. The book is a compilation of 14 chapters, each written by a different academic, and each discussing a different political philosopher. Throughout the summer I had the opportunity to immerse myself in these chapters as I worked to complete the bibliography and index for the book. I also had the pleasure of reading some of the chapters to provide notes regarding their content and overall structure. This experience allowed me to gain a greater understanding of what the contemporary field of academic philosophy looks like, who some of the most widely cited writers are and how closely this work relates to the type of work done in undergraduate philosophy courses. On the whole, working with Dr. Ray and Dr. Frankel was an exceptionally informative experience that allowed me to contribute in a meaningful way to the publication of their latest book. [BACK]

 

Andrew Roden, Ian Vandevelde    (Dr. Heidrun Schmitzer, Physics)

Depth of Water vs Cavitation

Cavitation is a phenomenon in fluid dynamics that causes a liquid such as water to evaporate during an instant of low pressure. This instant of low pressure can be caused by a sudden impulse or pressure wave; for our experiment we use an impulse from a piston below a column of water. Based on a publication by Z. Pan et al. in the Proceedings of the National(US) Academy of Sciences(PNAS) our goal was to investigate whether increasing the height of the water column would increase the amount of cavitation. By using our cavitation apparatus, high speed camera, and tracker software, we found that increasing the height of the water column does increase the amount of cavitation. [BACK]

 

Drew Schlidt   (Dr. Marcus Mescher, Theology)

Normative Power and Clergy Sexual Abuse in Chile

Clergy sexual abuse is one of the most severe issues facing the Catholic Church, and despite the incremental improvements in transparency, victims have been abandoned to an extent, with few measures being taken to address the issues of power dynamics which lie at the heart of the issue. This project studies clergy sexual abuse against women occurring now in Chile, the scandal being exemplified by the case of Renato Poblete, a well-respected Jesuit who abused girls and adult women, avoiding culpability until after his death in 2010.
     While class, politics, and economics -among other factors- play roles, this project mainly analyzes the consolidation of theological power among male priests in order to shape community norms. This practice of consolidating the power to shape norms directly relates to clericalism, which creates a common sentiment of obedience and deference to clergy.
     However, there are some groups and individuals acting in Chile to chip away at the consolidated model of power to usher in a more decentralized, shared one. This presents an opportunity for accompaniment as a means by which the community can support a movement towards greater involvement of lay people and women in moral discussion. By consulting theological, philosophical, sociological, and political thinkers, this project presents ideas for actionable changes at the personal, interpersonal, and institutional levels. It aims to procure insights about the role of normalization in unbalanced power dynamics between clergy and women which facilitate abuse in Chile and around the world, including in the United States, with the goal of orienting action that builds the aforementioned power-sharing model. [BACK]

 

Gabriella Scolio    (Dr. Kathleen Smythe, History)

Cycling Through Paradise, Dayton Edition

The purpose of my research this summer was to build upon a preliminary study of Dayton, Ohio focusing on its history both ecologically and in the traditional sense with the goal of creating cycling routes to highlight this history. This research was a continuation of a project, and now book Bicycling Through Paradise: Historical Tours around Cincinnati (University of Cincinnati Press, October 2020) that Dr. Kathleen Smythe and her co-author Chris Hanlin wrote. Bicycling Through Paradise captures Cincinnati’s major themes through the lens of cycling. Throughout the summer Dr. Smythe and I conducted interviews and read extensively about Dayton, Ohio in an attempt to understand Dayton and its surroundings as a city. We did not limit ourselves to only downtown, and often visited places outside of the Dayton city limits. We found it extremely useful to design what we thought would be a good cycling route around a common theme, and then ride the route and see what we found. The main goal of this research was to create cycling routes that showcased interesting and relevant parts of Dayton, to better help cyclists understand the environment in which they live. Last summer this research focused on identifying themes relevant to the Dayton area. My own research this summer focused on the Great Flood of 1913, and Arthur Morgan, an influential engineer. [BACK]

 

Nijah Simmons, Jen Spejcher, Eve Vivilis, Madi Zingraf   (Dr. Hanna Wetzel, Biology)

The effects of a monoclonal anti-cocaine Fab fragment on urinary cocaine clearance in rats

In the past decade, deaths due to cocaine overdose have risen over 400%, with cases still increasing drastically, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, there are still no FDA-approved medications to treat cocaine use disorder. Immunotherapy has shown promise as a potential treatment for this disease. The monoclonal anti-cocaine antibody h2E2 has been shown to bind cocaine with high affinity in vitro, and to sequester cocaine in the plasma in order to prevent it from crossing the blood-brain-barrier in mice. h2E2 alters the urinary clearance of cocaine which could confound clinical trials. To investigate the effects of h2E2 on the metabolism and urinary clearance of cocaine, we will use the fab fragment of this antibody. The fab fragment retains binding affinity for cocaine, but is small enough to be filtered into the urine. 12 rats (n=6 per group) were placed in metabolic chambers and injected with fab and vehicle, cocaine and vehicle, then cocaine and fab together. We collected urine samples every 3 hours for 12 hours. Fab concentrations were quantified using ELISA. Preliminary results suggest that fab fragment is excreted in the urine in large quantities, but more results are needed to resolve any difference between the cocaine treatment group and controls. [BACK]

 

Kathryn Thiel    (Dr. Kathryn Morris, Biology; Dr. Jonathan Morris, Physics)

Relationship of soil size and density on the depth of fungal growth and anastomosis events

Plants are able to communicate with each other by absorbing organic chemicals that are released from other plants in their surrounding environment. These chemicals have the ability to create a response, which includes killing neighboring plants to helping neighbor plants with repelling insects. These chemicals diffuse slowly through soil, but move much more rapidly along hyphae of symbiotic fungi that link multiple species of plants. These fungal hyphae can form networks between plants when fungi growing from each root fuse where they meet in the soil. In order to better understand how depth of fungal growth and fusion events were affected by the soil, I modeled growth and development of a fungal network between two plant roots in MATLAB that did just that. I created six different independent variables that tested the hyphaes growth in relation to the soil density and soil particle size. I ran the model to test each run at T=0.08, which means the model ran for roughly 30 seconds. This model ran each variable 10 times, and recorded the lowest point on the model for the depth of the hyphae and how many anastomosis events occured. Results showed that soil density marginally affected the depth of the hyphae and did affect the number of anastomoses, and that soil particle size did not affect the depth of the hyphae or the number of anastomoses. [BACK]

 

Aaron Ticknor    (Dr. Michael Sweeney, Philosophy)

Liberation Theology or Philosophy?

Liberation Theology, the application of Christian traditions in support of movements for social justice, has become a prominent force in Church politics, particularly in the South American Catholic Church. Though Liberation Theology represents a new interpretation within theology, it does not represent a new religious philosophy. Instead, Liberation Theology is the application of philosophy onto theology, rather than the influence of theology onto philosophy. Therefore, Liberation Theology does not create a new philosophy, rather it applies older philosophical premises onto Christian theology. In particular, this presentation studies the influence of Marxism is apparent in the writings of liberation theologians such as Gustavo Gutierrez and Jon Sobrino. Furthermore, the criticisms of Liberation Theology, presented by Cardinal Ratzinger do not provide criticisms based on philosophical lines, but focus more on theological disagreement. Understanding the influence of philosophy on Liberation Theology opens the opportunity for a greater understanding for the multiplicity of philosophies and philosophical influences within the Catholic Church, despite the supposed belief that the Church is of one philosophy. [BACK]

 

Maria Vassanelli, Jared Vornhagen, Grant Zentmeyer     (Dr. Thomas Wagner, Communications)

The Impact of Community Engaged Learning, Journaling, and Stories on Student Attitudes, Advocacy Intentions, and Understanding of Jesuit Gifts

Senior Seminar in Communication Studies students participated in community engaged learning projects with the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center (IJPC). Students journaled on attitudes related to IJPC issues (death penalty, human trafficking, and immigration) and Jesuit Gifts (cura personalis, solidarity, service rooted in justice and love, magis, reflection, discernment). Journal reflections occurred at four periods throughout the semester creating time-series data to observe potential changes. After an initial review, a coding scheme was developed with the following themes: attitude change; advocacy intention; power of narrative; issue involvement; and understanding of Jesuit Gifts. Three coders thoroughly reviewed 28 student journals totaling 119,522 words on 79 items. T-tests were conducted with interval coded data. Students who connected a story to attitude explanations had significantly greater attitude change, strength, and were significantly more knowledgeable compared to those who did not communicate stories. Also, Chi Square results indicated a significant increase in the types of rationales against the death penalty. Several quotes were categorized and support the quantitative results. [BACK]

 

Martin Vo    (Dr. Wilber Escorcia, Biology)

A bioinformatics approach to assess how mutations in lipid regulator genes contribute to human cancers

Cancer is a leading cause of death in the U.S. It is estimated to affect four out of ten Americans in their lifetime. A diet rich in saturated fats and a sedentary lifestyle are key contributors to cancer metabolism. Based on this observation, we used a statistics and bioinformatics pipeline to examine how disruptions to lipid regulator genes promote cancerogenic conditions in different tissue types. We employed the Catalogue of Somatic Mutations in Cancer (COSMIC) database to extract sequencing information of candidate lipid regulator genes for all human cancers. We analyzed mutation load, type, and frequency distribution to assess common features of functional domain disruption. To determine if mutations were drivers or passengers in cancer tissues, we use the analytical tool CRAVAT. This analysis reveals the likelihood, based on established driver mutations in oncogenes, of alterations to lipid regulator genes that cause, not simply contribute to, cancer. Finally, we used PyMOL and FoldIt to simulate changes in protein folding that result from driver or pathogenic mutations. From nucleotide to structure change, we follow the fate of lipid regulator genes that were altered in human cancers. Our work dissects and fully explores potential mechanisms by which lipid regulators contribute to or cause a shift cell metabolism, thereby promoting cancer progression. [BACK]

 

Olivia Wakefield   (Dr. Benjamin Chamberlain, Music and Theatre)

Investigation of the Inclusion of Female Composers in Music Streaming Services

Although music streaming services accounted for 83% of the music industry in 2020 according to the Recording Industry Association of America, and diversity continues to be an important topic in choosing music for performances, little research has addressed the role of music streaming services in promoting inclusion. This project focused on music played by orchestras in the United States to compare the representation of women composers in search results of four music streaming services—Apple Music, Idagio, Spotify, and YouTube—to works programmed for live performances. Among the top results found for U.S. orchestras across these services, only 3.62 percent of the works were written by female composers. This is less than the 7.85 percent of works by female composers that were programmed for these orchestras in the 2019-20 season, according to a study by the Institute for Composer Diversity. Analysis of the data and factors influencing search results suggests that, although streaming services likely do not intentionally discriminate against works written by women composers, popularity bias has created feedback loops where composers who are already popular continue to be recommended and listened to, making it difficult for composers who have been historically underrepresented to gain exposure today. [BACK]

 

Kierston Whitlock   (Dr. Diane Ceo-DiFrancesco, Classics and Modern Languages)

Student Perspectives on the Impact of Immersive Learning

This study investigated student’s descriptions of immersive learning experiences integrated into academic courses during the 2020-2021 academic year. A total of 18 students participated in focus group reflections at the end of the fall and spring semester. Qualitative analysis of transcripts yielded seven themes: pandemic, previous assumptions and stereotypes, change of perspective, reflection, extension, impact on career, and solidarity. Findings further an understanding of student’s perceptions of the impact of these high-impact learning experiences. [BACK]