Undergraduate research performed by students in the Michigan Tech College of Sciences and Arts, separated by major.
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Applied Computational Mathematics
Radial Basis Function Generated Finite Difference (RBF-FD) Method for Solving Partial Differential Equations (PDEs) over Evolving Curves and Surfaces
There are many numerical methods for solving partial differential equations (PDEs). However, few methods exist to solve PDEs on evolving surfaces. Evolving surface PDEs arise in a number of engineering and medical fields; they can be used to model the stresses over a bending plane wing, the growth of a tumor, or to analyze data from medical imaging equipment. The most prominent methods for solving PDEs on evolving surfaces either converge too slowly and have poor performance over complex geometries or they have a difficult setup. Our method requires very little setup and yields high convergence rates.
Presented by Caleb Jacobs, senior majoring in applied computational mathematics
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Characterization of Aqueous Two-Phase Extraction Systems for Virus Purification
Current techniques for large-scale vaccine production are hindered by low yield and throughput and were designed to purify proteins. Aqueous two-phase extraction (ATPE) is a technique that draws viral particles harvested from a cell broth across a fluid interface into one phase, while leaving protein and DNA impurities behind. Viruses vary in size and surface characteristics, requiring extensive development to purify each vaccine or gene therapy candidate. An understanding of the driving forces of ATPE allows for prediction of appropriate systems and potential additives to purify specific viruses. This work primarily investigated the fundamental mechanisms of virus transfer across the interface during ATPE.Presented by Ethan Burghardt, senior majoring in biochemistry
Analyzing the hydrophobicity of viruses: A comparison of adsorption isotherms and chromatography
The surface chemistry of a virus will determine where it will stick or how it can be purified. The virus charge is easy to measure, but surface hydrophobicity is much more difficult to measure. Yet, hydrophobicity is what will determine if the virus will stick to a vial that contains a viral vaccine. This work examined the hydrophobicity of viruses in a comparison of chemical force microscopy and adsorption isotherm in order to find a way to measure virus hydrophobicity and to optimize the virus purification process.
Presented by Ellie Sempek, sophomore, biochemistry and molecular biology (chemistry focus)
Presence of Spotted-Wing Drosophila in Wild Berry Species of Great-Lakes Region
Spotted-Wing Drosophila (SWD) is an invasive fruit fly that was first reported in Michigan in 2010 (1). SWD targets soft mass fruits, ovipositing its eggs through the fruit surface, and causing premature fruit fall or rotting; all of which could negatively impact human and wildlife species that depend upon these fruits. While much is known about SWD in agricultural plots we know little about SWD in wildberry populations. In this study, we collected data from 2019 and 2020 on percent infestation of SWD larvae in wild berry species in the Northwest Upper Peninsula MI.
Presented by Alexis Shatrau, junior majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology (biology focus)
Accurate Theoretical Prediction of Anharmonic Infrared (IR) Spectra of Neutral Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
The presence of chemically complex molecules such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the interstellar medium and in circumstellar environments, has recently elevated the potential for carbon-based Life outside Earth. While IR spectroscopy allows for the indirect observation of PAHs, the complexity and, yet similarities of these molecules make the interpretation of their spectra extremely challenging. For this reason, anharmonic IR spectra can become a powerful interpretative tool of signals collected by probes. The goal of this project is to contribute to the NASA Ames PAH IR spectral database by determining theoretical anharmonic IR spectra of neutral PAHs.
Presented by Collette Sarver, senior majoring in chemical physics
Determination of Heats of Atomization and Heats of Combustion of PAHs via Accurate Quantum Mechanical Model Chemistries
The description of the physical-chemical properties of single molecules at the electronic structure level is of paramount importance for the understanding of the formation and assembly of particulate matter in various environments and under different thermodynamic conditions. With this in mind, this project aims at the quantum chemical determination and extrapolation of thermodynamic properties such as heats of formation and heats of combustion of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), whose existence and influence on their chemical surroundings span from the origin of Life in the interstellar medium to their formation in the Earth’s atmosphere as the consequence of anthropogenic combustion events.
Presented by Steve Beuther, junior majoring in chemistry
Cognitive and Learning Sciences
Assessing the Accuracy of a Social Collaborative System for Explainable Artificial Intelligence
As artificial intelligence systems are becoming more capable, they are becoming increasingly more difficult to understand. This has led to development of Explainable AI: systems for helping users understand how and why an AI system works. One approach to this is to rely on human users to collaboratively explain AI systems to one another. However, it is important to know whether collaborative explanations generated by novice users are likely to provide correct and accurate information about the AI.
Presented by Hunter Malinowski, first-year majoring in computer science and psychology, and Kenzie Baker, second-year majoring in computer science with a minor in statistics
Understanding the Trends in Physical Activity via the Use of Activity Trackers With and Without the Use of the UNICEF Kid Power Program Among Rural Elementary Students
Children in rural areas are more likely to be obese than their urban counterparts. Given our rural communities, it is important to find interventions which promote physical activity among children. UNICEF Kid Power is an online platform that provides interactive videos for physical activity. The primary objective of this study is to determine the impact of the UNICEF Kid Power program on physical activity, measured as change in mean daily movements over a 7-day period (week 2 v. week 5) in children ages 6-10 years old in Baraga County, Michigan.Presented by Sarah Dix, senior majoring in exercise science
Analysis of the Labor Market & Landscape of 1900 Lake Linden French Canadians
How did ethnic identities affect social and spatial mobility among late nineteenth-century immigrants to the Upper Peninsula? In 1867, Joseph Gregoire arrived from Quebec and started one of the most successful lumber mills in the Keweenaw, drawing many French Canadians to come work for him in Lake Linden. During a previous research project conducted during Spring and Summer 2020, I identified and mapped the immigration of these families from St Jean province, Quebec to the Keweenaw. I continue to follow this group of people through time and space, investigating which families stayed in Lake Linden, their occupational choices after the sawmill ceased operations in 1885, and where they chose to live. By tracing descendants through archival records and the physical landscape, I discovered that the second generation diversified their jobs and moved throughout Lake Linden all while remaining closely aligned with the culture of previous generations.
Presented by Brooke Batterson, senior majoring in history
The Effects of Morning vs. Pre-Sleep Mindfulness Meditation on Sleep Health, Mindfulness and Anxiety
Meditation smartphone applications are now readily available to anyone who owns a
smartphone, allowing a wide range of people to benefit from the sleep benefits of
mindfulness meditation and potentially improving the sleep health of many people.
Many meditation apps have different programs that are tailored to be used right before
going to sleep, but there is no research data to support that the sleep specific programs
improve sleep more than a program that can be taken at any time of the day.
Presented by Thomas Basala, junior majoring in human biology.
Non-invasive Breath Analysis for Testing Blood Glucose Levels in Diabetics
Type 1 Diabetes is a fairly common disease that affects around 40,000 new people annually in the US. The average age of onset is ~14 years old and this disease will stay with them for their entire lives. The most common way to test one’s blood glucose is by finger prick and the average diabetic will end up doing this ~250,000 times in their lifetime. The objective of this research is to determine whether there is a correlation between acetone concentration and blood glucose (BG) by using Raman spectroscopy and breath analysis.
Presented by Noah Wilson, senior majoring in physics
Traumatic injury prevention: Validating a novel high-impact online intervention
Knee injuries are the most common season/career ending sports injury and about 80% of these injuries require surgery. Research shows that the strongest modifiable risk factor for ACL injury, other than sport of choice, is whether an athlete engages in Neuromuscular Injury Prevention Training (IPT). This ACL injury prevention neuromuscular training has been shown to reduce ACL injuries by 50%, yet it is not used as often as it could be. Many coaches know that knee injuries can be problematic, but they lack the knowledge and skills to prevent these types of injuries.
Presented by Bailee Kimble, senior majoring in psychology
Electrophysiological Correlates of Visuomotor Adaption
Motor learning is a specific type of learning that occurs through repetition of a movement. While the neural mechanisms associated with age-related changes in early motor learning are not fully understood, previous research suggests that there are reductions in motor learning tasks in later adulthood. The primary purpose of this study is to advance our understanding of the neurocognitive mechanisms involved in the acquisition of a new motor skill through the use of electroencephalogram (EEG) data. A secondary goal of this study is to better understand how aging affects the neurophysiological and cognitive basis of motor learning.
Presented by Emily Wisz, senior majoring in psychology
Exploring the effects of the emerald ash borer on C cycling in ash-dominated wetlands
The expansion of emerald ash borer (EAB) across the Great Lakes region is threatening ash-dominated forests, particularly black ash wetlands. EAB induced ash mortality will likely affect carbon (C) cycling due to the increased light availability and temperature and changes to hydrology. Changes to soil C quantity, quality, and respiration can provide insights into how ecosystem processes might be changing. The objective of this study is to quantify soil C pools and fluxes at black ash wetlands in MI and MN and to utilize C isotopes to assess changes to C cycling as a result of simulated EAB infestation.
Presented by Alayna Merten, junior majoring in statistics
Sustainability Science and Society
What Are the Best Practices to Integrate Therapy Gardens into Programs Servings At Risk Populations?
Every year in Michigan 103,330 women are affected by domestic violence and some of them are seeking women's shelters that provide temporary shelter and counseling services for residents. One method of healing from trauma comes from therapeutic gardens. Therapeutic gardens are places where women can regain mindfulness after a triggering event leading to healing from trauma. The Barbara Gundlach Shelter Home in Calumet, MI was working with a group of researchers, planners, and public health directors to build therapeutic gardens for their residents. This research studies the best ways to integrate therapeutic gardens within existing programs to ensure they have a successful program.
Presented by: Alannah Woodring, senior, sustainability science and society
Community Response to Renewable Energy Project Siting: A Case Study in L’Anse, MI
This project aims to understand community response to a proposed wind generation project in L’Anse, Michigan, focusing on the role of community engagement in the decision-making process, why the community opposed the project, and ultimately why it failed. Understanding why communities oppose renewable energy project sightings is critical for improving the siting process that will be necessary in the transition to clean energy sources.
Presented by Ava Miller, sophomore majoring in sustainability science and society
The Daily Spaces and Environmental Hazards for Youth in the Industrial City
The built and social environments in which children lived in industrial cities in 20th century America is a valuable yet largely underrepresented area of study. The study of the historic industrial city can provide remarkable insight into child-city dynamics with contemporary implications such as fighting the childhood obesity epidemic, generally improving children’s standard of living, and better-informing the creation of policies that will impact children. In addition, study of this type will provide insights into how children were impacted by environmental factors that have traditionally been studied in adults, such as proximity to noxious land uses and crowding.
Presented by Timothy Stone, senior majoring in sustainability sciences and society
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