Recently In Research- Kacie Florus

Kacie Florus

Can severe neurodevelopmental abnormalities in cats be the result of a loss-of-function mutation in phosphoprotein enriched in astrocytes-15 (PEA15)? Kacie Florus, a senior majoring in Biomedical Sciences, is using her undergraduate research to answer this question. Florus studies how PEA15 may be involved in normal neurodevelopment by comparing the brains in normal cats (unaffected) to those with the mutation (affected). Florus and her team used an RNAseq analysis technique called cell-type deconvolution to discover changes in the cellular subtype. The cell-type deconvolution study showed that transcripts specific to neuronal cells did not change but transcripts unique to endothelial cells were increased in affected cats compared to the unaffected.

Florus says the most rewarding thing about her undergraduate research experience is “…getting the opportunity to learn so much about the scientific process from my mentor and my lab group.” She adds that her experience has prepared her for work in her future career field, “Research has helped me understand how the things I learn in the classroom can be applied to real-life problem-solving and how collaborating is essential to producing your best quality of work.

Kacie has presented her research at the COSAM Undergraduate Research Fair and College of Veterinary Medicine Undergraduate Research Forum. She is a 2018-19 Undergraduate Research Fellow in COSAM under the mentorship of Dr. Emily Graff from the Department of Pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Recently in Research- Rebecca Mulholland

3-D Printed Piano Action

3D Printing has become a cost-effective option in the building of new materials. Rebecca Mulholland, a Junior in Mechanical Engineering, has decided to use this invention to create a 3D printed adjustable piano hammer that will allow pianos to have a built-in voicing process. This will benefit piano players, designers, manufacturers, craftsmen, listeners, and retailers alike. By creating a 3D printed piano action, Mulholland’s creation has allowed for the everyday consumer to simply tune and voice their piano versus the current method that is tedious and can only be done by a piano craftsman.

To design her action, Mulholland used the process of reverse engineering from a typical grand piano action. By studying the dynamics of a current model and measuring the part dimensions, Mulholland was able to model her own action in SolidWorks™ with manipulated geometries – allowing for the parts to be 3D printed easier. During her research, Mulholland was able to successfully print a working piano action and she has assembled the first prototype of the design.

When asked about the most rewarding aspect of her research experience, Mulholland claimed that it was “…all that I have accomplished and realizing how many skills I have developed. I started the fellowship with no experience in 3D printing and ended with a fully 3D printed piano action.” She went on to discuss how her undergraduate research experience has helped her in her field by saying, “The undergraduate research fellowship has allowed me to explore different sides of engineering and gain more first-hand experience with skills like SolidWorks™. I have learned a lot about reverse engineering, the design process, the research process, and many presentation skills through the fellowship.” Because of her time as an Undergraduate Research Fellow, Mulholland has decided to attend graduate school in the future and obtain a graduate degree in Materials Engineering.

Rebecca is a 2018-2019 Undergraduate Research Fellow with the College of Engineering and is currently being mentored by Dr. Edmon Perkins.

Recently in Research- Pate Brunner

Pate Brunner

To gain a better understanding of the history of his instrument and to observe the specific influences of his playing, a jazz trombonist must ask himself two questions: “How did jazz trombone style and improvisation evolve from the early swing era into the bebop era?” and “What specific influences did the creators of bebop, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, have on the development of trombone improvisation into the bebop era, particularly that of J.J. Johnson, father of the bebop trombone?” Pate Brunner, a junior majoring in Music Performance and Economics, has set out to answer these questions. Brunner considered multiple tunes of various styles and categorized them into six groups. For each tune, Brunner transcribed a solo performance by each of the three players he studies Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet), Charlie Parker (alto saxophone), and J.J. Johnson (trombone). He then used an expanded version of David Baker’s method of improvisational analysis to examine characteristics such as melodic and harmonic pattern, chord alterations, and melody. Brunner found notable similarities in the solo styles of the three performers but was also able to notice improvisational and stylistic differences in each, due to the particular idioms of each performer’s instruments.

Brunner says that from a historical standpoint, his research experience has helped him to gain a better understanding of the origins of bebop style for the trombone and allowed him to grow noticeably in his own trombone playing. His analysis of melodic patterns and improvisational development has advanced his playing skills and his career development in performing arts. To undergraduates interested in doing research, Brunner says, “It is definitely worth it. Not only does undergraduate research offer you the more visible results of expanded professional opportunities, travel opportunities, etc. , but it also creates an enriching learning experience which will prepare you for future endeavors in your field.”

Brunner is a 2018-19 Undergraduate Research Fellow for the College of Liberal Arts and is currently being mentored by Dr. Michael Pendowski.

Recently in Research-Caroline George

Caroline George

In order to test and improve current surgical techniques, researchers frequently perform in vivo procedures on live pigs, whose anatomical structures are extremely similar to those of humans. While these procedures have led to progress, they have also generated concerns. Caroline George, a junior in Chemical Engineering, is seeking to develop more economically and ethically sound approaches to current porcine surgical testing techniques of heart valve repair.

George has designed an ex vivo porcine heart model to improve the currently used procedure. By developing a pulsatile pump that connects to porcine hearts and beats passively, she is able to develop a system that models the motions of a human heart inside the body. To make sure the porcine heart can exactly mimic the functions of a human heart, George attached flow and pressure sensors to the porcine system to collect measurements of ventricular pressure and cardiac output. While the research is still in its refinement stage, Caroline hopes to use these values to compare the functioning of her porcine ex vivo model with that of a live human heart.

George says that the most rewarding aspect of her experience was seeing the porcine model heartbeat for the first time. She also notes that this research opportunity has given her self-confidence and a deeper confirmation of her career goals. Caroline hopes to become a biomedical engineer and focus her work into the development of prosthetic apparatuses. George attended the Division of Fluid Dynamics Conference in Atlanta this past November to present her progress.

Caroline George is a 2018-2019 fellow for the College of Engineering and is being mentored by Dr. Vrishank Raghav.

Recently in Research- Jake Keel

Jake Keel

The protein sources used in broiler chicken diets can vary based on ingredient cost and availability. It is also very common for several flocks of broiler chickens to be reared on the same litter before it is completely cleaned out and replaced. There is some speculation that these factors can influence the microbiome and the environment within a broiler chicken’s GI tract, but there have been few studies on the issue. Jake Keel, a senior majoring in Animal Sciences, is focusing his undergraduate research on exploring the physiological changes that result from these factors.  A better understanding of these changes can help optimize the efficiency of production.

Keel and his team first characterized the effects protein source and litter condition has on cell proliferation and immune presence in the intestine. In broiler production, muscle growth is extremely important, and a rapidly growing intestine or one with a high immune response represents an energy loss that is not being used for muscle growth. This can result in an increase in production cost. Keel’s team conducted a 3×2 factorial experiment in which the broiler chickens were fed diets consisting of one of three commonly used dietary protein sources and then reared them on either fresh or used litter. They then analyzed the samples using cryohistology, immunofluorescence staining, and digital fluorescence microscopy methods. Although his study is not complete, Keel has observed that litter conditions can affect the number of proliferative cells present in the intestine, especially in young broiler chickens.

Keel says that being a part of a research team that can positively impact the poultry industry is very rewarding. Through his undergraduate research experience, Keel has learned the importance of planning and dedication in conducting an experiment and has piqued his interest in a research-based career in the future.

Jake Keel is a 2018-2019 Undergraduate Research Fellow for the College of Agriculture. He is currently being mentored by Dr. Jessica Starkey.

Recently in Research- Jordan Wade

Jordan Wade

Afrofuturism is a term that is becoming popular in contemporary culture. From the blockbuster Black Panther movie to mainstream singers like Janelle Monae, Afrofuturism can be found anywhere you look. Coined only 25 years ago, the term can be defined simply as African and diasporic African people in the arts speculatively projecting themselves into the future. While Afrofuturism is beginning to advance in popularity, its significance has yet to be clearly and critically addressed. Jordan Wade, an Undergraduate Research fellow and senior in Art History, is answering this question.

French-African pop singer Taali M and her Afrofuturist website, www.taali-m.com, is a great example to illustrate this phenomenon. Wade describes Taali M’s website as a unique combination of historical African imagery in a sleek, futuristic setting. Wade has focused her research on studying the role of Afrofuturist imagery in the construction of Taali M’s website. To do so, Wade has examined cultural movements, African scholars, and influencers of the website itself. Her findings show that Afrofuturist collages such as those of Taali M use historically and culturally complex imagery to reframe perceptions about race and cultural purity that affect all people with African heritage.

With the goal of becoming a published researcher and professor, Wade says that participating in an undergraduate research experience has helped her in many ways; the most rewarding part has been watching herself improve as a scholar. Wade was invited to present her findings at the South Eastern College Art Conference in October.

Recently in Research- Sarah Webb

Recently in Research- Sarah Webb

Sarah Webb

The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, the only accredited university art museum in Alabama, contains an exhibit that examines art from Central African tribes Kuba and Luba. These tribes were prominent during the period of African Colonialism, a time when many colonial missionaries would travel to these places to collect African relics and objects. One missionary family, the Mulcay, came to the Belgian Congo in Central Africa in 1943 and collected many every day and royal objects from the Kuba tribe.

Sarah Webb, an Art History major, is examining the relationship between these African tribes and the Mulcay missionaries. Webb is using the Jule Collins Smith Museum’s African art collection to study the expansive depth of African culture and history; in doing so, she aims to give the art collection a voice by which to share their stories.

In her research, Webb discovered many patterns and allusions to specific events in Kuba culture, including details alluding to certain revered figures in their rich history. These discoveries helped her to translate and share the art collection’s stories, which she recounts as the most rewarding aspect of her fellowship. Webb’s research experience has reinforced her career goal of working in a museum studying and discussing the art history in the featured exhibits. Webb plans to apply to graduate programs in the fall and pursue a graduate degree in museum studies. Webb has been chosen to present her findings this October at the Southeastern Museums Conference.

 

Recently in Research-Jordan Wade

Recently in Research-Jordan Wade

Jordan Wade

Afrofuturism is a term that is becoming popular in contemporary culture. From the blockbuster Black Panther movie to mainstream singers like Janelle Monae, Afrofuturism can be found anywhere you look. Coined only 25 years ago, the term can be defined simply as African and diasporic African people in the arts speculatively projecting themselves into the future. While Afrofuturism is beginning to advance in popularity, its significance has yet to be clearly and critically addressed. Jordan Wade, an Undergraduate Research fellow and senior in Art History, is answering this question.

French-African pop singer Taali M and her Afrofuturist website, www.taali-m.com, is a great example to illustrate this phenomenon. Wade describes Taali M’s website as a unique combination of historical African imagery in a sleek, futuristic setting. Wade has focused her research on studying the role of Afrofuturist imagery in the construction of Taali M’s website. To do so, Wade has examined cultural movements, African scholars, and influencers of the website itself. Her findings show that Afrofuturist collages such as those of Taali M use historically and culturally complex imagery to reframe perceptions about race and cultural purity that affect all people with African heritage.

With the goal of becoming a published researcher and professor, Wade says that participating in an undergraduate research experience has helped her in many ways; the most rewarding part has been watching herself improve as a scholar.  Wade was invited to present her findings at the South Eastern College Art Conference in October.

Recently in Research – Haley Maul

There are many different fields of psychology research, one of which is called Judgement and Decision- Making. This field has been growing
rapidly over the last few years, but detailed studies have not kept pace. Haley Maul, a senior majoring in Psychology, is filling this gap. Haley knew she was interested in a career in psychology and decided to become involved in a project on workplace roles in decision making.

Maul’s research focuses on whether roles in the workplace, like subordinates versus superiors, affect risk-taking behaviors and attitudes. Her study was recently approved by the Institutional Review Board and she is currently collecting data. Maul believes her research will produce findings on how the new generation is changing the workplace dynamic, which can be beneficial to the advancement in the field of industrial-organizational psychology.

Maul considers research to be the most rewarding aspect of her undergraduate career, and she credits her fellowship experience as the sole reason for choosing her future career path. According to Haley, undergraduate research sets her apart from her peers and has given her valuable networking experiences. She is confident that these newly developed skills will prove beneficial when she applies to graduate programs this coming fall. Maul has been selected to present her research at the annual Society of Judgement and Decision-Making conference this November.

Recently in Research- Hudson Land

Hudson Land Action Shot

Aquaponics is a term that refers to any system that creates a symbiotic environment for aquatic plants and animals. Algae is used commonly in aquaponics for nutrient reclamation and as a food source for aquatic animals; it also has multiple purposes and applications. However, there are some holes in the process that undergraduate research fellow Hudson Land, a senior in Biosystems Engineering, is trying to fix.

Land is using his fellowship to analyze the protein yield of Oedogonium, a filamentous alga commonly used in aquaponics. He is using a monoculture of Oedogonium grown and harvested in laboratory microcosms to analyze its protein content and its most productive conditions; the goal is to extract all nutrients from Oedogonium to make its protein yield as efficient as possible. While Land’s study is still ongoing, his findings will eventually be utilized to improve the usefulness of other species of algae in nutrient reclamation. This work is extremely significant in the field of aquaponics and beyond.

Land believes his fellowship has given him a great background of experience and marketability to future employers. He has great aspirations for his continuing research and says that the most rewarding aspect for him is that his work may eventually help us understand the numerous possibilities of aquaponics. Because of the influence of his research experience, Influenced by his research experience, Land now plans to work for NASA and explore the possibility of sustainable life in space.