Hannah Allgaier, ‘14

Growth and Functionality of Monocytic Leukemia Cells Grown in Non-Animal-Based Media
Major: Biochemistry

It is well known that slaughterhouses have detrimental effects on the environment, but many people do not know that numerous cows are pregnant at the time of slaughter. Fetuses taken from these slaughtered cows are harvested for a substance called Fetal Bovine Serum (FBS), which is a commonly used food supplement used in cell culturing protocols. Since the scientific community provides a large demand for FBS, exploring different options for cell culturing serums would reduce the need for FBS, and therefore the need for slaughterhouses. The goal of this research was to refine a non-animal-based reconstruction of FBS for culturing monocytic leukemia cells. These cells were cultured in either standard or alternative FBS media and experiments were performed to determine the effect of the alternative FBS on both cell growth and migration.

Supported by: FURSCA


Gerard Battersby, ‘14

The Commercial Frontier: Business, Kinship and the Building of the Great Lakes Socio-Economic Network, 1825-1840
Major: Public Economics & Policy

In the first half of the 19th century, the Northwest Territory remained a wild periphery to many Americans based in the Northeast. At this time, a vast majority of our national population had yet to venture beyond the Atlantic coast, and the burgeoning United States government did not yet possess the resources to explore and effectively map the west. Instead, businessmen transplanted themselves into the west from the east, facilitating some of the most impactful early mapping and development in the region. Even before mid-19th century railroad networks provided unprecedented access to the west, the port communities located on the Great Lakes were hotbeds for young businessmen who utilized their esoteric knowledge of the west to efficaciously invest eastern capital in a new commercial frontier. Early partnerships, as well as connections between the businessmen located along Great Lake eastbound shipping routes spawned a small but influential commercial kinship network, and this played a significant role in facilitating the rise of some of the largest port-cities in the Midwest. Scholars such as William Cronon choose to focus on Chicago as the “gateway to the west” following the arrival of the railroads, but such an assertion can be supplemented by evidence that this pre-railroad business network provided the necessary scaffolding for cities like Detroit, Milwaukee, and Chicago to handle industrial demand once western railroads did arrive. By utilizing primary sources from the Newberry Research Library in Chicago, Illinois, my work aims to illustrate the role that this network played in the development of these Great Lake commercial communities during their early days.

Supported by: Newberry Research Fellowship


Edwin Benkert, ‘14

Community Species Composition of Diptera in Sand Shore and Wetland Habitat
Major: Biology

 A few studies have characterized the composition of shore-fly (Diptera: Ephydridae) communities in semi aquatic sand shore and wetland habitats. However, studies characterizing community abundance and richness of all Diptera inhabiting these habitats are wanting. Scattered literature suggests that Diptera play a pivotal role moving energy into semi aquatic food webs. A total of 7647 insects were collected from sand shore, mud shore, and mixed sedge habitats. Shore flies and fruit flies (Diptera: Chloropidae) constitute 17.2% and 34.5%, respectively, of the total community. However, when communities are compared, the Ephydridae exhibit a higher richness (r) than Chloropidae in the habitats studied. Both Ephydridae and Chloropidae are primary consumers of vascular vegetation, a source of food web energy. Also, other shore-fly species are consumers of detritus material, algae, and Cyanobacteria. In sand and mud habitats that lack vascular vegetation, Ephydridae are most abundant. As vegetation cover increased during the spring of 2013, the number and abundance of other families of Diptera, notably Chloropidae, also increased. It should also be noted that shore flies are able to recolonize disturbed habitat quickly, and community species composition changes during the season. A comparison of diversity indices suggests that sand shore, mud shore, and mixed sedge habitats are not significantly different, while the species assemblages are distinct. An understanding of the Diptera community structure of sand shore and wetland habitats may provide a foundation for the study of energy movement into semi aquatic ecosystems as well as determine possible indicator species to judge the success of wetland restorations.


Kathleen Casebeer, ‘17

The Early History of the Study of Chemistry at Albion College
Majors: Chemistry, English

This poster provides a visual overview of the early history of the study of chemistry at Albion College from the mid-1880s to the 1930s. Primary sources from the Albion College Library Archives were used to understand the development of the science curriculum and the beginning of the Albion College Chemistry Department. The historical timeline will include details about the faculty, infrastructure, student involvement, industrial collaborations, and the development of the curriculum and major requirements.

Supported by: FURSCA


Salaina Catalano, ‘14

A New Deal for Michigan: The Story of the Works Progress Administration
Majors: Political Science, History

The Works Progress Administration was perhaps the most iconic program of FDR’s New Deal.  From constructing highways to performing plays, the WPA gave unemployed men and women jobs and hope during the Great Depression.  As one of the states with a large number of participants and a great deal of funding, the Michigan WPA played a significant role during this period characterized by massive expansion of federal power.  Analysis of WPA documents, correspondence, and propaganda has resulted in the production of a comprehensive history of the Michigan WPA.  The successes and failures, criticisms and praises of the Michigan WPA provide an interesting insight into the legacy of this huge work relief program and beg the question; could something on this scale ever be endeavored again? 

Supported by: FURSCA


Robert Cermak, ‘14

Mounds for and by Whom? Using Animal Bones to Determine the Function of Ancient Native American Earthen Pyramids in Indiana
Major: Anthropology

One thousand years ago, Native Americans in the eastern woodlands of the U.S., today known as Mississippians, built monumental pyramids of earth.  What were these mounds used for? Who in Mississippian society used them?  In the summer of 2013, I participated in an archaeological research project at Angel Mounds, a Mississippian archaeological site in southern Indiana, funded by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program.  Here, I focus on the zooarchaeological artifacts, animal bones and shells, from two different earthen mounds at the site.  The animal bones from three excavation areas on two different mounds were analyzed to determine whether these earthworks at Angel Mounds were used primarily as simple residences or if they had more specialized religious or political functions for the people who lived there.  In addition to studying animal bones from new excavations, I also compared my findings to collections of animal bones excavated in 1965 during earlier research at the site.  This allowed me to examine archaeological contexts that had already been excavated while exploring potential biases in past research on mound function.  Specifically, my findings indicate that Mounds F and/or A likely played host to late prehistoric feasts and/or elite consumption at the Angel site.  The probable occurrence of such unusual meals tells us not only about meat consumption practices at Angel Mounds, but may also have the ability to inform on the relationships between power and ritual in Mississippian society.

Supported by: National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)


Marissa Cloutier, ‘14

A Multidisciplinary Approach to Combatting Onchocerciasis
Major: Biology

Millions of people in developing countries have been infected by nematodes that carry the bacterium Wolbachia. When released by nematodes, Wolbachia often cause an inflammatory immune response in infected individuals that gives rise to a disease called Onchocerciasis, which is the world’s second-leading infectious cause of blindness. Currently, there are several global programs and a relatively successful drug treatment regimen that are being used to combat this disease, but due to cost and safety concerns, social factors, and the changing biological nature of Wolbachia, the infection continues to ravage populations in Africa and Central America. For this reason, new drugs and treatment strategies are being sought out to combat the disease. 

In this study, an experiment was conducted to further characterize the effect of drug treatments on Wolbachia titer in Drosophila simulans with the goal of identifying novel drugs that are successful in reducing Wolbachia infection. Drugs were administered to flies through yeast-based food and immunofluorescent and DNA staining techniques were used to score Wolbachia titer in ovaries and embryos. This project also includes an analysis of existing programs aimed at combatting Onchocerciasis, the challenges these programs face, and improvements that must be made before this disease can be eradicated. Scientific, political, social commitment is required to support Onchocerciasis control programs and carry out the research necessary to eliminate this disease. This project aims to address Onchocerciasis from all of these perspectives, which is an approach that is too often overlooked when addressing tropical disease.

Supported by: Prentiss M. Brown Honors Program


Megan Connolly, ‘14

Demon Rum and Fallen Drunkards: The Displacement of Blame in Nineteenth-Century American Temperance Fiction
Major: English (Creative Writing)

Temperance novels are a lesser studied facet of the Temperance Movement’s massive social – and eventually political – reform. They are a type of popular literary propaganda circulated through the public alongside short stories, poetry, and pamphlets. Didactic and sensationalistic, these novels dramatized alcohol addiction in order to advance the agenda of the Temperance Movement. Using the Newberry Library’s rich selection of primary sources, I examine the way in which Temperance novels cast the habitual drunkard as the victim of a larger societal ill instead of as an active agent capable of controlling his own fate. External agents of influence such as tavern-keepers, the drunkard’s peer group, and alcohol itself are blamed for the drunkard’s spiral to a life of violence, poverty, and abuse. Because of this, I argue that the displacement of blame from the drunkard to external agents was a propagandist technique that furthered the Temperance Movement’s agenda to eradicate the sale, production, and use of alcohol in America.

Supported by: ACM Newberry Seminar in the Humanities and the Newberry Library, Chicago, IL.


Scott DesRosiers, ‘15

Alarm Call Modification and Behavioral Responses to Predatory Threats in Breeding House Wrens
Majors: Biology, History

I tested if breeding House Wrens produce unique alarm calls in response to different kinds of nest threats.  House Wrens are faced with many predators, including conspecifics, each requiring a particular response to ensure nestling and parent survival.  Alarm call characteristics may vary by threat or possess functional information, coded messages meant to influence the behavior of the receiver.  In experiments at the Whitehouse Nature Center in summer 2013, I incited alarm calls by using hawk, snake, and House Wren decoys, as well human interference.  Through a system of sound and video recorders placed in and around the nest box, the House Wrens’ vocal and behavioral responses to each decoy were recorded.  Alarm calls were compared visually using Avisoft Sound Analysis Software for differences in frequency, pitch, intensity, and duration.  Although no threat provoked unique notes, the snake decoy elicited significantly more notes per scolding period than the other threats or control.  This variation in alarm call behavior suggests functional information is present within these scolds, meaning House Wrens can distinguish alarm calls triggered by snakes from those triggered by other predators, allowing them to make a proper defensive response.

Supported by: FURSCA, Jean Bengel Laughlin, '50 and Sheldon Laughlin Endowment for Student Research


Sarah Domke, ‘14

Religious Fundamentalism, Cognitive Rigidity, Right-Wing Authoritarianism, and Gender Norm Conformity
Major: Psychological Science

Recent research has suggested that religion may play a role in conformity to gender norms (Vincent et al., 2011; Ali et al., 2008). Religious fundamentalism (RF) in particular has been associated with gender role conformity among men (Ward & Cook, 2011) as well as sexism among both men and women (e.g., Hill et al., 2010).  Given that rigid cognitive styles and ideologies partially account for the relationship between RF and general prejudice (e.g., Brandt & Reyna, 2010, Hill et al., 2010, Johnson et al., 2012), the present study sought to combine these two lines of research and examine the extent to which cognitive rigidity and right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) might account for the RF-gender role conformity relationship.

In this study, 252 adults (119 female, Mage = 35.52, SDage = 12.29) were recruited through Amazon Mechanical Turk. They completed measures of RF, masculine and feminine gender role conformity, need for closure, need for cognition, RWA, conservatism, and social desirability.

Results of the present study support previous findings that RF predicts conformity to gender roles (Vincent et al., 2011).  However, controlling for cognitive and ideological rigidity reduced many of these associations.  Instead, RWA emerged as a consistently strong predictor. These findings are in line with previous research by Johnson et al. (2012) suggesting that RWA may partially account for the relationship between RF and prejudice toward others. The present research suggests that RWA may also account for the relationships between RF and people’s adherence to stereotypical gender roles.

Supported by: FURSCA


Grace Dougherty, ‘14

Anthropology of Obesity: Physicians’ Perspectives, Paradigms Shifts, and New Directions
Majors: Biochemistry, Anthropology

This research explores historical and current perspectives on the causes, effects, and proposed solutions of what has been coined the “obesity epidemic” in the United States in order to understand the ways in which this epidemic is culturally constructed. In America today, body-size and adiposity are often framed in terms of neoliberal economic models of individual morality, personal responsibility, and consumer choice. Educational campaigns and policy solutions aimed at combating the obesity epidemic reflect these values and are proving to be ineffective to reduce America’s average body size and address the root causes of obesity—which are discussed in this study. In addition to reviewing historical and contemporary perspectives on obesity, this study also explores the ways in which the attitudes of physicians practicing in southeast Michigan reflect the changing perceptions of the obesity epidemic today. Overall, this project asks: What role does anthropology play in finding solutions to the “obesity epidemic”? And, how can a culturally relative and intersectional view of obesity help us to understand obesity’s causes and effects and, perhaps most importantly, to inform policy that will better the lives of American people?

Supported by: Prentiss M. Brown Honors Program


John Fleming, ‘14

The Budgetary Reform and Control Act: An Interdisciplinary Critique of the Financial Crisis in the United States
Majors: Political Science, Communication Studies

No matter one's political ideology, it is hard to deny that the United States of the early 21st century suffers from severe budget difficulties at the federal level.  A topic of great discussion in the current American political climate, this thesis examines the historical causes of these difficulties, proposes a public policy solution designed to correct them, and provides an interdisciplinary justification for its implementation.

Supported by: Prentiss M. Brown Honors Program


Stephen Foster, ‘15

Facts, Misconceptions and the Science of Psychology
Majors: Psychological Science, Spanish

A sizable body of literature suggests that students in introductory psychology courses commonly hold misconceptions about specific psychological research findings (e.g., “Mozart’s music can increase intelligence”), which are notoriously resistant to change. A separate research literature has demonstrated that students vary in the extent to which they view psychology as a science. The current study explores the intersection between these two issues. Students enrolled in introductory psychology courses were asked to complete measures of (1) misconceptions about psychological research findings, the scientific method in general (e.g., “Science produces tentative conclusions that are open to change”), and everyday issues (e.g., “Antibiotics are effective treatment for the flu”); (2) a survey assessing their view of Psychology as a Science (PAS; Friedrich, 1996); (3) the Need for Cognition Scale (Cacioppo, Petty, & Kao, 1984); and (4) their interest in the research and clinical aspects of psychology. We expect that students with a greater appreciation of psychology as a science will be less prone to hold misconceptions about psychological research findings and the general scientific method, but not about everyday issues. Moreover, we expect that many of the variables that have been shown to predict students’ views of psychology as science, such as need for cognition and an interest in the research aspect of the discipline will also predict decreased belief in misconceptions about psychological research findings.


Dannie Lynn Fountain-Jagodzinski, ‘14

Implications of Body Modifications on the Hiring Process
Major: Media and Marketing Management (Individually Designed Major)

The purpose of this study is to understand the stereotyping that often occurs during the hiring process in relation to body modifications. The persons in question for this study are those who have in some form or matter permanently modified their body from its original state through the application of piercings, tattoos, scarification, or other forms of body art. The study is twofold – looking at the views and opinions of college aged Midwestern Americans and to those of hiring managers. To study the views of college aged Midwestern Americans, a study was conducted. Participants viewed two interviews of young men approximately their own age and made a hiring decision based on the video interviews and corresponding resumes as to which young man they would hire. To study the views of hiring managers, interviews were conducted asking a set series of questions to determine how a modified individual would be evaluated during the hiring process and if there would be any immediate issues for this person upon being hired, such as adherence to a stricter dress code.


Alysandra Ganem, ‘14

Elton John Meets Aeronautics: Design and Construction of a Subsonic Rocket with Glider Recovery System
Major: Physics

Model rockets provide a very good way to apply many concepts in physics. Getting a rocket to fly is an easy task, but getting it to fly safely and in a controlled manner requires a solid understanding of mechanics and fluid dynamics. There are different ways to build a rocket, and this project involved designing and building a rocket with a glider recovery system. This means that it is intended to fly up like a rocket and glide down like a glider. Previous studies have shown that rockets with slender designs can be easily modeled. However, to get a rocket to glide, wings, which disrupt the model, are needed.

In the design phase, Barrowman’s equations governing rocket flight stability were modified and re-derived to account for the unusual geometry of this rocket. RockSim, a model rocket design software, supplemented with custom vPython code, were used to finalize the design of the rocket. During the construction phase, the rocket was built using a combination of standard model rocket parts and hand-crafted components. Results - and whether or not the rocket flew and landed successfully - will be discussed.

Supported by: FURSCA


Pietro Geisler, ‘16

Using Comparative Genomics Analysis to Study Heterochromatin from Two Species of Drosophila
Major: Biology

The sequencing of genomes of numerous species has been an ongoing project for years. A number of different organisms have all had their genomes sequenced, including Homo sapiens. But while we have sequenced the genomes themselves, we do not fully understand all of the genes involved or their locations. Some organisms, such as Drosophila melanogaster, are very well understood, and we can compare lesser understood organisms to these in order to better understand them. In this project, the dot chromosomes from various species of the genus Drosophila are being compared to that of melanogaster’s. The dot chromosome is of particular interest as it is composed of heterochromatin, a highly condensed form of chromatin that is thought to have a role in the expression and/or repression of genes, and is an ideal area for study.

The project is headed by the Washington University of St. Louis in what is known as the Genomics Education Partnership. Through their resources, such as the Genome Mirror Browser, a Gene Model Checker, and a Gene Record Finder, we can compare and identify genes in various Drosophila species by comparing them to those of D. melanogaster.  The particular portion of the chromosome studied here is that of D. biarmipes, along a site known as contig58. There are estimated to be five genes in this region, with one of them having possibly twelve different forms. A detailed analysis of these genes and their forms will be presented.


Jessica Glazier, ‘15

Boys Don’t Cry: Adult Perceptions of Children Who Defy Gender Roles
Majors: Psychological Science, Music

The purpose of the current study was to investigate adult perceptions of gender atypicality in children, that is, children whose gender identity differs from their biological sex. News stories about gender variant children have increased in recent years, which frequently highlight a lack of understanding of gender nonconformity on the part of educators, school administrators, parents of the child’s peers, etc. The current study was therefore designed to examine adult perceptions of gender atypical children. We used brief vignettes describing a gender atypical child and surveys to measure to what degree and for what reasons participants themselves, or society at large, may view gender atypicality as a problem, what they believe may be the cause(s) of gender atypicality, and whether and how gender atypicality might be modified. Given the findings of research on parents of gender nonconforming children, we predicted that participants would find gender variance more appropriate in girls than boys. In addition, although this issue has not been directly tested, some research suggests that gender atypicality may in part be viewed as problematic because of its potential link with homosexuality. Given that negative views about homosexuality increase with more traditional views on gender roles, we also examine how the participants’ own adherence to conventional gender roles relates to their attitudes on gender atypical children. Finally, we predicted that atypicality would be viewed as a bigger problem in older (16 years) than younger children (8 years) because issues of sexuality become more prominent in adolescence.


Rebecca Guntz, ‘14

Reflective-Based Teacher Evaluation: A Case Study
Majors: Mathematics, Chemistry

The state of Michigan currently evaluates teachers on student performance growth based on test scores and teacher practice. Based on research (Week “Teacher Quality”, Effectiveness), a teacher’s influence only makes up approximately 20% of the variation within student growth, while cultural factors make up the other 80% of the variation.  This means that 40% of a teacher’s evaluation is comprised of the cultural factors of their students within the classroom. My work researched a methodology for teacher evaluation that focused on one teacher’s instruction. This methodology used an observation protocol to examine three elements of teaching; content, versatility, and classroom management.  Furthermore, it incorporates the teacher into his or her own evaluation through a reflection dialogue that asked the teacher to examine the decision making process within the three areas of observation focus. The purpose of this was to change the purpose of evaluations from the measurement of teachers to the development of teachers. Through a case study with one teacher, three observations, and interviews, I found that the observation protocol allowed the teacher to identify her strengths and areas of development and the reflective conversation facilitated a feedback cycle that enhanced her decision-making process. I recommend that a combination of observations, structured goal oriented conversations is a first step in promoting and supporting effective teaching practices.


Brian Wu, ‘14

Wheels: How to Divide by Zero
Majors: Mathematics, Music

Over the years, mathematicians have changed the rules of mathematics in order to compute what was previously thought as impossible. In grade school, we initially learned that we could not take the square root of a negative number.  Eventually, we learned about the set of complex numbers, which was invented in order to calculate all of the roots of any polynomial, including those involving square roots of negative numbers. Additionally, we learned that parallel lines never intersect. Upon looking at them from a new perspective, we learned that in projective geometry, parallel lines intersect at a point “at infinity”.  Recently, mathematicians have changed the rules again. Division by zero was another forbidden operation; now mathematicians have defined two new numbers, | and ∞, that represent the two cases that arise when attempting to divide by zero.  Adding these two numbers to the field of real numbers creates a new type of algebraic structure called a wheel. Our research focuses on the tradeoffs of changing the rules in this way, how basic arithmetic operations work within a wheel, and how polynomials with coefficients from a wheel look.


Christina Hallam, ‘14

The Labyrinth: The Journey of a Pagan Symbol through Christianity
Major: Religious Studies

The labyrinth is a pattern surrounded by much mystery, ambiguity, and misunderstandings. The path begins with Neolithic rock carvings in Europe with unknown origins. The pattern appears on ceramic vessels, clay tablets, and as graffiti on walls. Eventually, the labyrinth’s legendary origins are recorded in the tale of Theseus and the Minotaur. Eventually, the labyrinth made its way onto the floors of cathedrals. After many waves of popularity, the labyrinth once again has found its popularity in Christian practice. More churches and individual persons than ever before have been constructed them for public and personal use. However, with no mention of the meditative practice of walking the labyrinth mentioned in the foundational Christian texts in addition to its origins in pre-historical and pagan culture, many have questioned the labyrinth’s place in Christianity. Others see the labyrinth as a new form for classical Christian mystical thought. This presentation will discuss the appropriateness of using the labyrinth as a tool for prayer and meditation in the Christian tradition. Guidelines for what qualifies as worship in a Christian setting will be given before a discussion of how the labyrinth interacts with those guidelines.


Camille Haslinger, ‘14

Should You Always Think Before You Speak? The Relationship between Social Anxiety and Speech Production
Major: Psychological Science

Why do some people produce more speech errors than others when giving a speech?  Public speaking is one of the most feared forms of communication. Some people fear public speaking because they fear being judged by others; these people experience social anxiety (Schienecker & Leary, 1982). Nitschke and colleagues (2001) suggest that anxiety symptoms comprise of anxious arousal and anxious apprehension.  Anxious arousal involves physiological changes (increased heart rate) whereas anxious apprehension involves cognitive rumination and worry. Voncken and Bogels (2008) found that people with social anxiety disorder make more speech errors like saying “uh” and “um,” during conversations than those without the disorder. This study assesses the relationship between production of speech errors and social anxiety in college students.

In this study, participants completed a Communication Apprehension survey (arousal) and a Fear of Negative Evaluation survey (apprehension). To invoke public speaking anxiety, half the participants were told they would be evaluated (evaluation group). Participants were recorded while telling a story. The total speech errors produced was divided by the total words produced to get a disfluency production rate.

Results suggest that as social anxiety increases, particularly arousal, the disfluency production rate also increases, but only for participants who were not told they would be evaluated. The evaluation seemed to act as a distraction for the participants with high social anxiety, allowing them to produce more fluent speech. The results of this study suggest that when treating individuals with speech difficulties, perhaps finding the right distraction may decrease speech errors.


Christopher Herweyer, ‘17

A Presidential Home: A History of 501 E. Michigan Avenue
Majors: Political Science, History

This project explores the history of the house located at 501 E. Michigan Avenue in Albion. Built over 100 years ago by a local business magnate, the house became the property of Albion College in 1941. Serving first as the home to a number of college presidents, it later became the office for Institutional Advancement. Most recently, it has been utilized as a student annex.  In exploring these transitions from private home to institutional property, my research highlights the impact that a building can have on a community and a college and on connecting the two.

Supported by: Student Research Partners


David Huggins, ‘14

Constraining Extent of Metasomatism with Oxygen Isotope Geochemistry of Zircons from UHP Orthogneiss, North Qaidam, China
Major: Geology

The Luliang Shan locality of North Qaidam UHP terrane, China, contains an eclogite rock unit in a host granitic gneiss. Previous work on this unit identified a hydrated zone in the gneiss surrounding the eclogite blocks. Whole rock geochemistry, loss on ignition data and petrologic analysis has led to the interpretation that metamorphic fluids caused the selvage. In order to prove the existence and understand the nature of these fluids, Menold et al., (in review) collected samples along a traverse between the eclogite and the gneiss. Oxygen isotope analyses of metamorphic quartz and mica in the gneiss and were found to be heavier than typical granite levels (~12-16‰). In order to determine if externally-derived fluids caused the heavy isotope signature, it became important to determine the original igneous oxygen composition. Because oxygen diffusivity is generally sluggish in zircon at 600⁰C metamorphic conditions, zircon should retain the igneous oxygen isotopic composition. Zircon was extracted from four samples in the gneiss, both in and outside of the selvage zone. Cathodeluminescence imaging of sectioned and polished zircon revealed oscillatory zoning within grain interiors surrounded by homogenous overgrowths. The UCLA ims1270 ion microprobe was used to measure O isotopes in the zircons. The δ18O of the igneous zircon from the granite gneiss several meters from the selvage yielded 5-7‰ oxygen isotope values. These results are consistent with a whole rock composition of ~6-8 ‰ for the granitic protolith of gneiss and indicate that it was significantly enriched in 18O during UHP metamorphism. We hypothesize that an externally derived, high δ18O fluid infiltrated the granite gneiss to produce the hydrous selvages observed mantling eclogite.

Supported by: FURSCA


Jalyn Ingalls, ‘14

Leadership Development in 5th and 6th Graders
Major: Health Policy (Individually Designed Major)

Leadership skills are highly valued in our society. Although leadership can take many forms, improving leadership skills could be an important step for students as they learn to navigate the world and work toward future success. There are numerous opportunities for students to develop leadership abilities in their interest areas. Developing skills that empower individuals is an important part of developing self-esteem and helping to develop a confident young person. A study by Barr-Anderson, Laska, Veblen-Mortenson, Farbakhsh, Dudovitz and Story (2012) examined an intervention program designed to increase physical activity for 6th graders that consisted of participation in 25 minutes of physical activity with exercise-based DVD’s, peer-led classroom sessions, and healthy eating homework activity sheets. Peer leaders understand the current social environment, so they can adjust the information they provide to help start positive behaviors. The study found a significant increase in time spent in physical activity outside of school and more awareness of health behaviors.

The current study examines the use of a school leadership program and the ability of a group of children to learn leadership skills, and develop these skills through physical activity time with their classmates. Participating students were tested for their self-assessed leadership skills before and after the program with three questionnaires that asked the students to rank themselves on leadership qualities, compare their skills to others’ skills, and to identify situations in which they might take a leadership role. Children in the leadership skills program showed a significant increase in their perceived leadership abilities.


Sara Jongeward, ‘14

Exploring the Graphic Novel as an Artistic and Narrative Medium
Majors: Art, English (Creative Writing)

The term ‘graphic novel’ doesn’t necessarily elicit associations with fine art or literature; rather, it’s more common to think of the colorful, explosive panels of superhero comics, cartoonish and lighthearted stories like Scott Pilgrim, or the exaggerated, fantastical, and grandiose narratives of Japanese manga. But the form is changing; in the last two decades, the novels and works of artists such Chris Ware, Alison Bechdel, and Daniel Clowes challenge these associations, pushing the medium from the fantastical to the mundane, from the escapist to the realistic, from the entertaining to the philosophical, in both content and art. Using these artists and many others as models, I used my talents as an artist, poet, and journalist to create a process of artmaking and storytelling in the style of the graphic novel. Based loosely on Leo Tolstoy’s opus Anna Karenina, my graphic novel, As If She Were the Sun, tells the story of three college students seeking to forge identities for themselves at the fictitious Climax College as they struggle with burgeoning sexuality, social and familial expectations, tragedy and despair, group identity and the onset of adulthood.

Supported by: FURSCA


Rachel Kohanov, ‘14

Nestling Responses to Alarm and Food Calls of Adult House Wrens (Troglodytes aedon)
Major: Biology

House Wrens (Troglodytes aedon) are small, migratory birds that will readily build nests in boxes.   Two kinds of parental vocalizations may influence behavior of young birds in the nest.  Begging solicitation, or food calls, by adults can trigger begging by nestlings.  Alarm calls by adults can silence nestlings for protection against predators.  Lock and Hauber (2012) suggested that there are pitch differences between food and alarm calls, and that young birds may be restricted in their range of hearing and able to hear only one type of call at hatching.  Because cavity-nesting birds face less threat from predation than do open-nesting birds, nestlings in cavities should exhibit sensitivity to food calls earlier than to alarm calls.  Young nestling House Wrens (age day 1-3) do respond to adult food calls (Mapes 2012).   In 2013, I studied House Wrens in Whitehouse Nature Center and tested the hypothesis that nestlings will show an early sensitivity to food calls and will respond appropriately to alarm calls later in development.  I elicited alarm calls of parent birds and, by means of a small infrared camera placed inside nest boxes, I recorded nestlings’ responses to alarm calls at early and late stages of development.  I collected data on nestling responses through analysis of video playback.   Preliminary results suggest that older nestlings were more silent in response to alarm calls than were young nestlings.

Supported by: FURSCA (Robson Family Fellowship)


Zach Kribs, ‘15

Evidence Based Treatment in a Clinical Setting
Majors: Psychological Science, Music

In clinical practice, there has been growing interest and awareness around the use of psychological therapy that is grounded in empirical evidence. This therapy, also known as evidence based treatment (EBT), is defined by an approach that emphasizes the pursuit of evidence in both theory and technique, and the use of theories and practices that have been demonstrated to be effective by research. Such methods have been proven more effective than other counseling therapies, such as intuition. One of the largest institutional proponents of EBT is the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  Since 2011, five Albion students have completed research internships with the residential Post Traumatic Stress Disorder program at the Battle Creek VA Hospital. EBT has been seen to be especially important in the context of PTSD, as the disorder is often comorbid with substance use disorders and other emotional issues that inhibit the effectiveness of therapy.  Albion students have been involved in evaluating therapeutic interventions for residential patients, especially in the assessment of the effectiveness of EBT such as Cognitive Processing Therapy and Exposure Therapy. Albion’s interns have had direct exposure to EBT research and implementation, building a large database of psychometric evaluations of patient responses to EBTs, as well as observing these therapies in practice. These students have been a crucial part of how the hospital fulfills its commitment to EBT, providing both real-time evaluations of patient progress, as well as the effectiveness of EBT when applied in a clinical context.


Shanti Madhavan, ‘15

Music: A Vessel for Learning English as a Second Language
Major: Psychological Science

In May 2013 I traveled to Costa Rica with two other students in Albion’s teacher education program and our professor, Dr. Kyle Shanton. The purpose of the trip was to become acquainted with Costa Rican culture and school structure. We spent a month in Heredia, observing and teaching at Pará School, a small primary school and interacting with students and faculty at Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica. With the help of our Costa Rican hosts we had a true immersion experience. Another goal of the trip was to complete an inquiry project pertaining to teaching English as a second language at Pará School. I was primarily interested in how music was used in Costa Rican classrooms to help the students learn English. Through classroom observations, interviews with teachers, and introducing some musical activities to first graders I saw how music supported and encouraged Costa Rican students’ English development. Music not only made learning fun but it also comforted students’ fear of practicing a second language. This is yet another example of how education is not only a science but a culturally situated art-form.


Carlos Matti, ‘14

Nanoscale Palladium Catalysis on Charcoal and Diatomaceous Earth
Major: Chemistry

Nanoscale metals offer increased surface area-to-volume ratios in comparison to their bulk counterparts. Thus, transitions towards nanoscale catalysts can reduce industrial and manufacturing costs substantially. One limitation of nanoscale catalysts, however, is the difficulty of removal from the reaction mixture. By anchoring a nanoscale catalyst to a microscopic substrate, microfiltration can separate the catalyst from the reaction mixture; thus, this limitation can be overcome. Here, we present the results of our investigations in the synthesis of palladium nanoparticles on varied substrates for catalysis. Our synthetic approach is facile, occurs at room temperature and utilizes a mild reductant—coffee. Further, it results in the palladium nanoparticles being successfully anchored directly to substrates. We investigated activated charcoal and diatomaceous earth as substrates, using the hydrogenation of methyl-trans-cinnamate to compare the efficacy of our substrates to the literature.

Supported by: FURSCA


Allison McClish, ‘15

Cytoplasmic Incompatibility and Infection Frequency of Wolbachia in a Michigan Population of Drosophila melanogaster
Major: Biology

In some species of Drosophila, Wolbachia infection results in an effect known as cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI).  This effect inhibits the viability of offspring produced from the mating between an uninfected female fly and an infected fly.  Because Wolbachia is transferred through the mother to the offspring, this effect gives a reproductive advantage to those females that are infected, thus raising the infection frequencies of the population.  In D. melanogaster, this effect has been found to be minor or non-existent, and in general this species has a lower infection frequency than D. simulans, which has been found to evidence a very strong CI effect.  In a study of a Michigan population of D. mel in 2012, a very high infection frequency was found.  In order to explain this high frequency, this population was tested for CI.  Three different sets of flies were tested, including originally wild-caught stocks that had been in the lab for several months, freshly caught flies, and the first-generation offspring of wild-caught flies.  In these tests, infected males were crossed to uninfected females and the percentage of eggs hatched calculated.  Though initial crosses using the lab stocks showed a potential CI effect, further crosses evidenced very little or no CI effect for this population of D. melanogaster.

Supported by: FURSCA


Daniel Myckowiak, ‘14

Civic Disengagement and Socioeconomic Inequality: The Role of Labor Unions in Michigan
Major: Political Science

Michigan has traditionally been a stronghold for labor unions. As a result, for many years the state enjoyed high levels of civic participation, and was home to a robust middle-class. In recent decades, much of this has changed. Unions have experienced a dramatic decline in their membership and influence, both nationally and in Michigan. As union membership, popularity and presence have declined, so too has the state’s middle-class population.  Moreover, civic disengagement in Michigan is at an all-time high. This paper explores the relationship among the decline in labor unions, socioeconomic status and civic engagement in historically union-dominant cities in the state of Michigan. Additionally, the paper examines the consequences of the decline in labor unions on civic engagement.


Evan New, ‘14

Invertebrate Paleontology of the Late Mississippian Bayport Limestone, Bellevue, Michigan
Major: Geology

This study describes a moderately diverse fossil marine invertebrate fauna from the Mississippian Period (330 million years ago) of Michigan which was then near the equator and covered by a shallow seaway. 

The fossils are from the Bayport Formation and were collected from the Cheney Limestone Company’s quarries in Bellevue, Michigan. The exposure of the Bayport there is 20 meters of light yellow to grey limestone which has been quarried for cement for over 100 years.  Despite this long history, the fossils from this deposit have never been fully studied or described.  This fauna includes: diverse bryozoans (moss animals) including species of Monticulipora, Cosinium, Fenestella, and Polypora; bivalves (the clams Allorisma and Wilkingia); three corals (the horn coral Zaphrentis, the colonial rugose coral Lithostrotion, and the tabulate coral Syringopora); an indeterminate crinoid (sea lily); a nautiloid (Vestinautilus); and a trilobite (Paladin chesterensis). In addition, several brachiopod species including Anthracospirifer have recently been recovered from a transitional zone with the underlying Michigan Formation. 

The precise age of the Bayport Formation has not been certainly known, but the presence of Palladin chesterensis, Anthrsacospirifer, and Zaphrentis indicate a Chesterian rather than Meramecian age for the deposit.  The Bayport fauna preserved in Bellevue differs from that of the type section in the Alpena area where sandstone, shales, and dolostones are interbedded with the limestone.  These faunal differences may reflect the more open and clearer ocean water present in the central part of the Michigan basin during the Mississippian.

Supported by: FURSCA, Lawrence D. Taylor Undergraduate Geology Research Fund, GLCA NDI Grant


Elizabeth Nykamp, ‘14

Jane Austen and Anglicanism
Majors: English, Religious Studies

Jane Austen was raised as a devout Anglican and carried these beliefs throughout her life and into her writing, even though many critics do not focus on the pervasiveness of her religion’s influence on her novels. Through a close analysis of all six of Austen’s completed novels, a consideration of the doctrines of 18th- and early-19th- century Anglicanism, and a study of critical work by Austen scholars, I investigate how her Anglicanism influenced her novels.

I address Austen’s possible struggling with her own, sometimes malicious, wit against her Anglican morality and Christian exhortation to kindness, especially with Mansfield Park being considered so dreary by many scholars and general readers in comparison to her earlier work Pride and Prejudice. I also concentrate on an idea that Austen most notably foregrounds in Sense and Sensibility, that the right or wrong marriage partner can seriously affect the other’s spiritual wellbeing. The last two chapters deal with moral authority, both of the principal characters and of the clergy, and how Austen is able to mock members of the clergy, yet still be a devout Anglican.

Putting Austen’s novels in their Anglican context can explain several points that tend to confuse modern readers, such as why Sunday travelling is such a weighty problem or why Emma’s joke about Miss Bates prompts such a stern reprimand from Mr. Knightley. Though Austen was not overt about her Anglicanism in her novels, the way she presents her attitudes toward wit, moral authority, and marriage reflect a devout belief.

Supported by: FURSCA


Hannah Pankratz, ‘14

Using Remote Sensing and Field Spectrometry to Discriminate Maize and Soybeans for Cropland Mapping Applications
Major: Geology

Food security is a burgeoning concern globally as population, particularly in developing nations, is projected to continue growing over the next several decades. The resulting increased food demand may be further exacerbated by impacts of global climate change on the world’s agriculturally-productive regions. To meet these challenges, cropland maps that can be compiled with high accuracy at low cost are essential to estimate agricultural acreage and production, characterize changes over time, and aid agricultural policy decision-makers. Accurate cropland maps are typically produced by combining remote sensing imagery with extensive, costly, and time-consuming field surveys. In this study, the use of field reflectance data as reference data for the automatic mapping of these crops in freely-available satellite imagery was evaluated as a potential solution to the need for cropland maps. Measurements of canopy-level reflectance of corn and soybeans were collected from fields located south of Marshall, MI throughout the 2013 growing season using a field spectroradiometer. The field reflectance data were combined into a reference ‘library’ against which a hyperspectral satellite image of the region acquired in 2011 was compared to produce maps of corn and soybean fields using various methods. The resulting maps were assessed for accuracy by comparison with the corresponding portion of the 2011 US Department of Agriculture Cropland Data Layer. Preliminary results indicate that this methodology holds some potential for accurate, low-cost cropland mapping.

Supported by: FURSCA


Holly Paxton, ‘14

Spacing Effect in Escape and Punishment Learning of Earthworms
Major: Psychological Science

Many invertebrates are capable of learning and have nervous systems comparable to those of more complex mammals. A specific type of learning that is often explored is instrumental conditioning, which involves learning about the consequences of a response. Instrumental conditioning was first explored in earthworms as early as 1912 with Yerkes’ study on T-maze learning. Instrumental conditioning has also been found in simple systems such as the spinal cord of rats (Grau, 1998).

Much research has explored a spacing effect in humans that suggests that learning which is spread out over time (spaced) is more beneficial than learning that is crammed (massed). The current study aimed to create a model of instrumental conditioning in earthworms, Lumbricus terrestris, in the form of escape and punishment learning and to explore the impact of the spacing effect. Worms were placed in running wheels and their total movement was measured.

It was found that worms exhibited an increase in movement responses if the movement ended the presentation of an aversive bright light in the escape learning condition. In the punishment learning condition, worms decreased movement when movement caused the aversive bright light to be presented. This suggests an ability of the earthworms to learn about the consequences of a response. The effect of spacing of trials and the ability of earthworms to retain the learned response was explored further by using these forms of instrumental conditioning.

This model of learning in earthworms, a simple invertebrate, has several implications for future research and investigation into the mechanisms underlying learning.

Supported by: FURSCA


Jennifer Polinski, ‘14

Investigating Algal Symbionts in Corals from St. Lucie Reef, Florida
Majors: Biology, Mathematics

Algal symbionts, commonly called zooxanthellae, live within coral tissues and provide energy to hermatypic corals through photosynthesis.  Zooxanthellae density, as well as photosynthetic pigment concentration, can be used as an indicator of coral health.  This study compared zooxanthellae densities and concentrations of chlorophyll a and c between four sites and two species of coral, Montastraea cavernosa and Diploria clivosa, at the St. Lucie Reef.  No significant differences were observed among sites despite increasing depth farther from the inlet, suggesting reduced light penetration closer to the inlet.  Significant differences were found for zooxanthellae densities and chlorophyll concentrations per zooxanthellae cell between coral species. However, there was no significant difference for chlorophyll concentrations per unit area of coral tissue between species. This result suggests that all site locations experience similar conditions despite differences in depth.  It also suggests potentially different types of zooxanthellae.  Ongoing research aims to identify whether genetically different types of zooxanthellae are present in these two species through DNA extraction and sequencing.

Supported by: Florida State Wildlife Grant, Save Our Seas Specialty License Plate Program, and donations from the River Branch Foundation and the Banbury Fund to the Robertson Coral Reef Research and Conservation Program at Harbor Branch


Olivia Potoczak, ‘15

Investigating Creative Nonfiction: Climate Change and the Younger Generation
Major: English (Creative Writing)

For my research project, I explored the use of creative nonfiction as a tool to help reach out to college age people about climate change. Creative nonfiction applies creative writing techniques to true facts and stories, which has the potential to reach a wider audience than other types of nonfiction. For my first phase of research, I read broadly from creative nonfiction magazines and books, such as Creative Nonfiction Magazine, Orion Magazine, and Lee Gutkind’s anthologies, to discover the elements and nuances of the genre to apply to my own writing. Paired with this, I read scientific papers and books by leading climate change scientists like Michael Mann, Richard Alley, and James Hansen to learn the science and facts behind climate change. I also read works by non-scientists like Bill McKibben and Derrick Jensen to learn how to employ the emotional element while writing about scientific fact.

My goal was to learn about the literary techniques of creative nonfiction and then to apply this knowledge by writing about the facts of climate change from my own perspective and the perspective of people my age. I wrote two creative nonfiction essays: the first one states the problems related to climate change (including looking at a local climate change issue in Albion, Michigan with the white tail deer populations), and the second one delves deeper into the reasons behind climate change, offering solutions to the previously identified problems in the first essay. I hope to get college-aged men and women thinking about the climate, and even taking action.

Supported by: FURSCA


Carl Pressprich, ‘15

Securing Wireless Networks through Radiofrequency Identification
Faculty Sponsor: David Seely

Zigbee is an up-and-coming radiofrequency (RF) protocol for wireless sensor and control networks; it is particularly useful for devices that involve low power, low data-rate communications, where long battery life, small footprint and short range sensing are important. Systems which rely on Zigbee communications range from home automation applications to the electric grid. Several security measures for Zigbee already exist; Zigbee packets are encrypted with the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), which scrambles the packets, and the keys to unscramble the packets are stored in each node’s memory. Zigbee networks are structured around a coordinator node surrounded by router nodes, which relay information, and end devices, which are responsible for carrying out commands, like adjusting the flow rate of a release valve in a dam, and sending sensor data, like phasor measurements in the electric grid. The weakness in Zigbee’s network encryption is in the coordinator. When forming networks, the coordinator sends an unencrypted security key to nodes which are attempting to join. This network key can be intercepted by attackers wishing to gain access to the network, and with this key, commercially available exploitation tools are capable of impersonating authentic network nodes maliciously. To add resiliency to wireless networks such as Zigbee, we analyze RF transmissions by looking not at the bytes transmitted, but at the way in which they are transmitted. Our RF authenticator distinguishes packets sent from authentic devices from those sent from impersonators by analyzing correlations between incoming waves and archived RF wave data from authentic network nodes. In low-security Zigbee networks, we exposed over 90% of hacking attempts using this method. By providing a framework for network security through RF authentication, we hope to add resiliency to the control systems of the electric grid.

Supported by: U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge Associated Universities, Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education


Alissa Reddy, ‘14

Phosphonoethylated Polyglycerol Amphiphiles: Liposomal Formulations for Bone Targeting
Majors: Biochemistry, German

In contrast to conventional drug carrier systems, sterically stabilized liposomes with PEG-corona provide several advantages, such as strongly reduced mononuclear phagocyte system (MPS) uptake, prolonged blood circulation time, reduced aggregation of the PEGylated vesicles and improved stability of the liposomal formulations. Similar to PEG, linear and hyperbranched polyglycerol (lPG and hbPG) show excellent biocompatibility, but in addition offer possibilities for further functionalization. Novel types of lipids modified with hyperbranched polyglycerol (hbPG), linear-hyperbranched PEG-hbPG block copolymers and random PEG-lPG copolymers can be prepared via the combined oxyanionic polymerization of different epoxide monomers using lipophilic initiators such as cholesterol. The novel amphiphilic structures are successfully included into liposomal formulations emerging 1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DOPC) as colipid. The interdisciplinary topic provides several tasks, such as the improvement of biodegradability through the attachment of phospholipids to linear-hbPG polymers.  The reason for the formation of phosphonated liposomes is to produce yet another way to deliver drugs to the affected area, specifically for bone delivery. These liposomes will in turn be hollow drug carriers to bones. 


James Reynolds, ‘14

Fluid Inclusion Study of Gold-Bearing Quartz Veins in the Southern Black Hills, South Dakota
Majors: Biology & Geology

This study describes fluid inclusions present in Echo, Luckybird and Rough Rider, 3 sub-economic gold prospects in the Berne Quadrangle, Black Hills, South Dakota. All are several-meter thick quartz veins. All the inclusions are secondary, lying along micro-fractures, and thus record the post-formation history of the vein. Three types of inclusion are present; type 1, regular to semi regular shapes with aqueous fluid + Carbonic fluid +/- carbonic vapor, type 2, small regular inclusions with aqueous fluid, type 3, highly irregular inclusions with aqueous fluid + vapor + halite.  Type 1 inclusions have Tm dry ice (-56.7 to -56.5) suggesting the carbonic phase is nearly pure CO2. Compositions were obtained using % fill (10-95) at Tm clathrate (7.0-12.0⁰C) and Th CO2 (8.6-21.7⁰C). They have between 2 and 3 wt% NaCl and have two groups of CO2, 15-35 wt% and 70-80 wt%. The irregular shape of type 3 inclusions suggests they were decrepitated and healed. Their compositions were obtained using Tm ice (-25.7 to -25.3⁰C), Th aqueous (124.0-158.2⁰C) and Tm halite (138.1-174.2⁰C). They have approximately 70 wt% H2O, 18-20% NaCl and 9-11% CaCl2. The Echo vein has significantly more vacant inclusions and high CO2 inclusions than the other veins, and its high salinity inclusions are associated with sulfides.           

In this regional metamorphic terrain, we assume the veins were in thermal equilibrium with the surrounding rocks and thus the intersection of the isochores with P-T paths gives P-T conditions of entrapment. Regional P-T histories from several published studies, and unpublished data all show similar clockwise trajectories through P-T space. The type 3 isochores intersect this path close to the end of the isobaric heating portion near the peak conditions, or under near recent, low P-T conditions. Their irregular shape suggests that they are relics of earlier, possibly primary, inclusions. All the other inclusions intersect the retrograde path during isothermal decompression. The low-CO2 inclusions intersect at near-peak conditions and as wt% CO2 increases, the pressure at intersection decreases. This means that CO2 is becoming more abundant through time in this part of the path. This study suggests that these veins formed prior to peak metamorphic conditions and if any inclusions we observed evolved from the ore forming fluid, they would be the high salinity inclusions.

Supported by: FURSCA


Ellen Riina, ‘14

Targeting Tourists: The Murals of Belfast
Major: International Studies

During my study abroad experience in fall 2012, I travelled to Belfast, Northern Ireland. There I experienced the effect of the expansive public murals that line the city streets and display the historical conflict between Irish Catholics and British Protestants. Both groups claim territorial rights to Northern Ireland; the Irish minority believes it should be reunited with the Republic of Ireland and the British majority believes that it should remain a part of the United Kingdom. Although this conflict has cooled since the Good Friday Peace Agreement in 1998, there is still a sense of division and mistrust that plagues the city of Belfast.

My thesis provides a visual analysis of the murals in Belfast as a barometer of the ongoing political strife and historical context for the British and Irish residents. The murals are also a tourist attraction that helps to provide substantial monetary funds for the blue-collar city of Belfast. However, some find the exploitation of images surrounding death, civil unrest, and ethnic conflict to be in bad taste and detrimental for the city’s future. The murals in Northern Ireland are important because they are symbolic of the challenges of reconciliation, the struggle to include non-state actors after a conflict, and how opposing sides view themselves and attempt to appeal to outsiders for support.


Rebecca Ruthberg, ‘14

The Haydn Trumpet Concerto: Movements 1 (Allegro) and II (Andante)
Majors: Biology, Music

The stepwise movement which opens the Haydn trumpet concerto is very significant, as the work, composed in 1796 was written for the keyed trumpet, which was developed by Anton Weidinger.  Before the addition of keys, the “natural” trumpet did not have valves or keys, so it could only play notes in the harmonic series which were wide intervals except in the upper register, and only those notes the lips could control.  Weidinger, who was an excellent trumpet player, brought considerable success to the keyed trumpet.   Listen for the chromatic and stepwise motion Haydn uses, which could not be played before the invention of the keyed trumpet. The keyed trumpet’s popularity was short lived however, because soon thereafter the valved trumpet was invented.  This new trumpet had a much more pleasant sound and was easier to play.  Movements I and II of Haydn’s concerto showcased the capability of the keyed trumpet to play in a diverse way, not only stepwise, but with lower octaves and with more emotion.


Luke Salbert, ‘14

Investigation of an α-synuclein-Proteasome Interaction: A Developing Model for Familial Parkinson’s Disease in Drosophila
Major: Biology

5-15% of Parkinson’s disease cases appear to have a genetic origin, yet the etiology of Familial Parkinson’s Disease remains largely unknown. One possible explanation is an interaction between the protein α-synuclein and the proteasome, the main cellular mechanism for degrading proteins. Targeting expression of the genes coding for these to the eyes of Drosophila melanogaster has shown promise of an interaction through eye degradation.  Previous research has investigated each gene individually, but none have investigated this interaction.  I am working towards confirming the presence of our genes of interest through PCR, isolating mRNA coding for α-synuclein, quantifying these transcript levels using qRT-PCR, and comparing them to phenotypic severity.  If a correlation through this comparison is observed, the rough-eye phenotype can be attributed in part to these relative transcript levels and support the hypothesized interaction between α-synuclein and the proteasome in Familial Parkinson’s Disease.

Supported by: FURSCA


Stephanie Sanders, ‘15

Progress in Developing a More Sustainable Shaped Nanoparticle Synthesis on Carbon Substrates
Majors: Chemistry, Mathematics

Shaped palladium nanoparticles (PdNPs) have the potential to be selective catalysts. Unfortunately, their size can limit their use in heterogeneous catalysis because they are difficult to remove from solution after a reaction. Attaching nanoparticles to a support addresses this issue. However, composite formation is typically a two-step process, and the time and energy involved circumvents the energy saving goals of catalysis. Additionally, current shaped nanoparticle syntheses usually occur at high temperatures, which is also counterproductive. We have developed a method to synthesize shaped nanoparticles directly onto carbon supports using a mild reductant at room temperature. Specifically we have developed a method to created shaped PdNPs directly on porous carbon microspheres using coffee as a room temperature reductant. By adding ions, such as Br- and Fe3+, cubic and right bipyramidal nanoparticles can be synthesized. Other additives, such as ethylene glycol, are added to change the reaction kinetics, giving greater control over shape. Analysis by SEM indicates that our synthesized PdNPs are roughly 50 nm in dimension. The size, shape, and distribution of nanoparticles varied based on the ratios of the reactants in the different steps of the synthetic process. Current results from different ratios of reactants and adjustments in the synthetic process will be presented.

Supported by: FURSCA, Faculty Development Committee


Emma Schaff, ‘14

Paper Clips, Puzzles and Parents: Investigating the Relationship between Family and Creativity
Majors: Psychology, Spanish

What factors of a child’s family life can influence his or her level of creativity as an adult? This study was designed to investigate the relationship between various perceived aspects of family and their impact on creative problem-solving. Three key components of family that have been shown to affect creativity are family structure, parenting style, and family environment. In the current study, participants took three surveys to measure each aforementioned component: Family Demographic Survey (to measure family structure), Parental Authority Questionnaire (to measure level of authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive parenting), and Family Assessment Device (to assess family environment). To test creativity, participants were given the Remote Associates Task (RAT) and Guilford’s Creative Uses Task. The RAT is a convergent creativity task where a single answer must be selected. It consists of words (e.g. “duck/dollar/fold”) for which participants must come up with the fourth word that when combined with any of the three makes a new word/phrase (e.g. “bill” to make “duck bill/dollar bill/billfold”). Guilford’s Creative Uses Task is a divergent creativity task where as many solutions as possible must be generated. Our participants were asked to  come up with as many creative uses as possible for a paperclip, a newspaper, a picnic table, and a deck of Uno cards.

After controlling for family structure and environment, both authoritarian and permissive parenting styles were related to decreased levels of convergent creativity (fewer correct RAT responses). Decreased divergent thinking (fewer creative uses) was also related to increased authoritarian parenting, but not to the reported level of permissiveness. The findings of this study indicate that different parenting styles can have varied influences on types of creativity.

Supported by: FURSCA


Alex Schumaker, ‘14

Kinetic and Structural Analysis of the Group I Catalytic Ribozyme
Majors: Biology, Mathematics

Group I introns are catalytic RNAs capable of performing a range of phosphotransesterification reactions including self-splicing and RNA cleavage. Kinetic analysis is a great technique to use in order to gain a better insight into the catalytic abilities and highly conserved folding structure of these ribozymes. This study focuses on Anabaena and Tetrahymena ribozymes as models. Through a series of kinetic assays, one can visualize the time lapse of the reaction between these ribozymes and substrate molecules. The knowledge gained about the kinetic properties of these systems can be used as a model and applied to other systems.

Supported by: FURSCA


Ori Shewach, ‘14

Big Five, Social Dominance, Authoritarianism and Morality as Predictors of Social Beliefs
Major: Psychological Science

Moral conflict is often resolved by aligning factual beliefs with moral evaluations on social and political issues. To our knowledge, no study has examined the extent to which personality and ideological variables underlie moral evaluations of and factual beliefs about social issues. This study tested a model of relationships between the Big Five, social dominance orientation (SDO), authoritarianism, moral evaluations, and factual beliefs about social issues.

We recruited 337 participants (56% women) from a small, liberal arts college and through an online survey service called Amazon MTurk. Participants completed measures of the Big Five, SDO, authoritarianism, and an expanded version of Liu and Ditto’s scales of morality and factual beliefs on real-world issues. The six issues were divided into a liberal and a conservative scale of morality and beliefs. We analyzed fully saturated sequential-mediator path models in which the relationships between the Big Five and factual beliefs were mediated by authoritarianism and SDO, followed by morality.

For conservative issues, significant pathways were found from the Big Five factors of agreeableness to SDO and openness to authoritarianism, which both in turn predicted morality, resulting in the prediction of conservative factual beliefs. For liberal issues, a significant pathway was found from the Big Five factor of openness to authoritarianism, which in turn predicted morality, resulting in the prediction of liberal factual beliefs.

As previous research has established consistent relationships between agreeableness, openness, SDO, authoritarianism, and political ideology, the discovery of the pathways from agreeableness and openness to both liberal and conservative beliefs showed that SDO, authoritarianism, and morality were the mechanisms through which personality is connected to beliefs.

Supported by: FURSCA


Brittney Stanton, ‘14

Annotating Fosmids in Drosophila
ajor: Biology

This research is a DNA sequence analysis project that is part of a larger project being carried out by a group called the Genomics Education Partnership (GEP), using web-based sequence analysis tools developed at Washington University at St. Louis (WUSTL).  Four fosmids were assigned by the Genomics Education Partnership for annotation.  This is part of a much bigger project and the findings will be added to a large database on the GEP website.  A variety of online resources have been used in the annotation of the genes.  The genes were from Drosophila melanogaster, D. ananassae, and D. biarmipes species.  The annotation of the four fosmids is complete and all the projects had gene matches.  Contig5 had two gene matches; contig29 had one gene match but did have two psuedogenes, with pseudogenes being genes that are present in D. melanogaster but not in D. biarmipes; contig58 had two gene matches with one new gene, and contig38 had five gene matches.  Reports for all four fosmids have been submitted to the GEP.

Supported by: FURSCA


Emma Stapley, ‘16

Artistic Creation as a Means of Overcoming the Horrors of Trench Warfare
Majors: English, Biology

The First World War reshaped nations, redefined the idea of international conflict, and had a profound impact on the modern worldview. Amid the carnage of the trenches, it is easy to overlook the incredible creative outpouring that the war produced. To examine this ability to overcome trauma through artistic creation, I researched (utilizing a variety both historical and literary sources) and wrote a 100-page historical fiction novella set in the First World War. The novella’s main character is a young British officer who is completely unprepared for the challenges of leading his men through bombardments, poison gas, shell-shock, and suicidal attacks on the German lines. In an attempt to explain his experiences to his older sister, the main character writes a fantasy story that parallels his struggles to cope with the war’s brutality. The narrative switches between the trenches and a fantasy world that grows from a simple allegory for anything the character feels incapable of describing directly to an indispensable tool that helps him to understand the effects of the war, his fellow soldiers, and his own ability to find meaning in the chaos around him.

Supported by: FURSCA


Joseph Thomas, ‘14

Bio-fuels: An Exploration in Environmental and International Ethics
Majors: Chemistry, Philosophy

In this paper, I examine the recent developments in agricultural bio-fuels and carry out a cost-benefit analysis of both First- and Second-generation fuels. The impact of this new industry reaches beyond the transportation industry and even beyond environmental concerns to questions about global hunger. As we try to find alternative energy sources, we need to be aware of the effects of our new technologies. In this case, that involves weighing the benefits of cleaner emissions and renewable fuels versus the costs of increasingly volatile food prices, which often have the greatest negative effects on those who are growing our fuel crops in the first place.


Elizabeth Tuma, ‘14

The Effect of sJam-C on Monocyte Migration through the ERK Pathway
Major: Public Policy

The migration of leukocytes, including monocytes (MNs), is a major contributor to inflammation in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In RA, MN migration to the joint synovial tissue is aided by junctional adhesion molecules (JAMs) expressed by endothelial cells (ECs). The EC JAMs bind integrins found on leukocytes, promoting their ingress. JAM-C is the ligand for the integrin Mac-1 (Cd11b/CD18). Like some adhesion molecules, JAM-C has been found in soluble form, and our recent work has shown that soluble JAM-C (sJAM-C) is upregulated in RA synovial fluid. Some soluble adhesion molecules have also previously been shown to induce leukocyte migration. Based on this, we hypothesized that sJAM-C promotes THP-1 MN migration by binding Mac-1 and inducing the phosphorylation of Erk.

To test this hypothesis, we cultured THP-1 cells to model MN function. Using qPCR (n=2) we found that THP-1 MNs express the Cd11b portion of Mac-1. Next, in vitro MN chemotaxis assays allowed us to determine that sJAM-C is chemotactic for MNs in a concentration dependent fashion (n=3, p<0.05). In addition, our Western blotting showed that sJAM-C induces the phosphorylation of Erk in a time dependent fashion (n=3).

Our results indicate that THP-1 MNs express Mac-1, and suggests that sJAM-C binding to Mac-1 induces THP-1 migration via the Erk pathway.

Supported by: FURSCA


Laura VerHulst, ‘14

A Markov Chain Analysis of the National Football League’s Overtime Rule
Majors: Mathematics, Economics and Management

My research uses Markov chains to compare the new overtime rule for the National Football League with the previous rule. The old overtime rule stated that whichever team was the first to score in overtime won the game. This rule gives the team with the first possession a significantly higher probability of winning. The new rule, which went into effect during the 2012 regular season, says that a team may only win on their first possession if they score a touchdown. Analysis will be done for the post-season, where ties are not allowed, and the regular season, where overtime lasts a maximum of fifteen minutes and there is a possibility of a tie. This project will also analyze the new decisions coaches must make with the new rule. The purpose of this research is to determine if the new rule was successful in bringing the probability of winning the game closer to 0.5 for each team as well as to determine when it would be statistically advantageous to call riskier plays in order to score a touchdown. Upon analysis of the two rules it is clear that the rule was successful in bringing the probabilities closer to 0.5 although the probability of winning is still higher for the team with first possession. Analysis of the decision a coach must make yielded an equation, depending on the level of risk for the play, to determine if it is advantageous.


Angela Walczyk, ‘16

Comparative Genomic Analysis of a Region (Contig59) of the Fourth Chromosome from Two Species of Drosophila
Major: Biology

Through the resources and help of the Genomics Education Partnership (GEP), a national, scientific investigation that works towards improving genomic sequences, I worked to create gene models for the possible genes found within the contig59 sequence of the D. biarmipes genome by completing a computer analysis of my data through genomic databases suggested through GEP. The goal of the GEP is to annotate, or assign functions to, the genomes of different species of Drosophila. In particular, GEP focuses on genomic regions found within chromosome four so that a finished sequence of this chromosome among various species can be created. The comparisons found among species will be used to distinguish patterns of genome organization in regards to its control of gene expression. The fourth chromosome is particularly important because it is heterochromatic, meaning that it has many repeated sequences and low meiotic recombination. Also, the farthest region of the forth chromosome codes for roughly eighty genes. Through an understanding of chromosome organization and the expression of the fourth chromosome discovered by analyzing the genome of various Drosophila species new discoveries can be made regarding the mechanisms of gene regulation as a general concept.

In my particular sequence of the D. biarmipes genome, contig59, there are an estimated two genes found through the prediction tracks of the genome browser. Regarding these two genes, there are twelve variations of the first gene and four of the second gene. I will present a detailed analysis of these genes.


Heather Waldron, ‘14

The Volcker Rule: The Impact of Bank Inventories on Risk and Volatility
Majors: Biology, Economics and Management

The Volcker Rule’s final regulation, which passed in December of 2013, will have a resonating effect on the banking industry. The goal of the Volcker Rule is to improve the soundness of our economy and to reduce systematic risk by limiting proprietary trading by our largest banks. A market making exemption exists in the regulation, which allows banks to buy and sell financial instruments to meet customer demand. The Volcker Rule specifies that a bank’s inventory, the stock of financial securities held to make markets, must not exceed the expected near-term demand. By limiting inventories, regulators hope that risk and proprietary trading will also be reduced. This presentation will examine the rigor of such a relationship by analyzing the correlation of a bank’s inventory and the volatility of their trading revenue. The data supports that there is a positive relationship between inventories and risk, which defends the efficacy of Volcker Rule. However, various side effects are possible if inventories become too limited. It is key for regulators to find a balance between these two points and understand the market repercussions for too lax or too stringent a policy.


Anna Ward, ‘14

Prevalence and Intensity of Aeromonas hydrophila in Frog Populations in South-Central Michigan
Majors: Biology, Psychology

Amphibian populations have been declining globally due to multiple factors, including habitat loss, pollution, and pathogens.  Several diseases, including fungal infections and ranavirus, have been causing mass mortality in frog populations.  A common pathogen of frogs that may lead to more serious diseases is Aeromonas hydrophila, an opportunistic bacterium found naturally in aquatic systems.  Red Leg disease can result from an infection of A. hydrophila that causes hemorrhaging of capillaries.  The purpose of this study was to gain basic knowledge of the prevalence of this bacterium on the skin of frogs.  In 2013, I caught 81 frogs in several locations in South Central Michigan and swabbed their skin.  I cultured the swabs, and examined the cultures for presence of A. hydrophila.  I found A.hydrophila on 71 (87.6%) of the frogs.  A higher prevalence of A. hydrophila in Michigan may be due to multiple different factors and could potentially impact the susceptibility of frog populations to future pathogens.

Supported by: FURSCA – Bruce A., ’53, and Peggy Sale Kresge, ’53, Science Fellowship, Chickering Endowed Professorship


Danielle Wesolowicz, ‘14

Dr. Google: How the Ordering of Search Results of Health Information Online Affects Health Anxious Individuals
Major: Psychological Science

Major: Psychological Science

Previous research has shown that health anxious individuals tend to shift attention to health information. Seventy-two percent of all Internet users reported having searched for health information in the past year. Self-diagnosers can often misinterpret the ordering of the results as a representation of the likelihood of these disorders. This study was designed to test whether the order of online search results influences health anxious individuals’ memory for health words. It was predicted that health anxious individuals would have better memory for health words when presented with a more serious compared to a less serious illnesses first. Participants, low and high health anxious individuals, were asked to imagine having chronic headaches and then directed to a website that looked identical to the Internet search engine Google. Half of the participants were given a results page that listed a less serious illness first (e.g., rebound headaches) and the other half were shown a more serious illness first (e.g., brain tumors). In order to measure participants’ sensitivity to the health information, they were given a recognition task that included both words from the online reading and general health words. Results revealed that health anxious participants who read about the more serious compared to the less serious illness first were significantly more sensitive to health words from the websites. These results imply that health providers should present less serious illnesses first in order to combat health anxiety.

Supported by: FURSCA