Student Awards

      Student Awards

      List of Awards

      2013 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Student Awards

      Ron Chester



       

      Ron Chester

      Mentors: Dr. Dale Splinter
      Research: Stream Channel Response to Climactic Variability
      Rivers and streams are vulnerable to climactic and anthropogenic influences.  As science looks to explain and understand how climate is changing, historical discharge records offer a great deal of insight to learn from. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has been recording discharge records for many of Wisconsin's rivers for decades.  In 2012-13, a study was completed examining trends in peak discharge and average annual discharge throughout the state; findings suggest regional change in trends with the majority of rivers increasing historically. The efforts of this study will take the existing data and apply further scrutiny to the cause and effect.  River data will be analyzed by daily averages (at least 9,130 records) instead of annual (at least 50 records) per site.  Analysis of this data will employ a series of statistical approaches exploring historical trends.  By weighing extrinsic influences on the rivers (i.e. precipitation, regulation and urbanization), analysis from this study should grant a greater understanding of the future of our waterways. 

      Mitchell Elmer

      Mitchell Elmer

      Mentor: Dr. Lopamudra Mukherjee
      Research: Learning Dictionaries for Visual Recognition
      Visual recognition is the problem of automatic recognition of objects from images and classifying them based on their content. A number of state of the art technologies used in today's world uses some form of visual recognition such as image retrieval, web search, and interactive image editing. The challenge with object recognition is that objects may appear in different poses, scales, illumination and have other intrinsic visual differences across different images, even if the images represent the same object. For example, a cow can be photographed from different angles or can be close to the camera or far away. Thus, the class model for cow must be invariant enough to incorporate naturally occurring intra-class variations and yet discriminative enough to distinguish between different classes (say horse). The goal of this research is to design algorithms and software for learning dictionaries of compact and yet discriminative appearance-based object class models from a set of training images, which will form the components of the visual dictionary learned. There exists methods for supervised dictionary learning focused on learning the discrimination as a maximum margin separation between classes. However, in the testing phase (where new images are categorized or segmented using the dictionary), mostly sparse coding based methodology is used which does not depend on the maximum margin separation but rather on the incoherence between the dictionary elements. Therefore, there exists a disconnect between what dictionaries are trained for and how they are eventually used. Our main contributions in this project is to bridge this "gap" in dictionary learning frameworks. To account for this, we will design a dictionary with the express purpose of making the dictionary elements as incoherent as possible, by leveraging some interesting ideas from linear algebra.

      Grant Francis

      Grant Francis

      Mentor: Dr. Donald Jellerson 
      Research: Producing a Modern Edition of a Renaissance Play
      Originally printed in 1571 and again in 1582, The excellent Comedie of two the moste faithfullest Freendes, Damon and Pithias by Richard Edwards is a work largely lost in history, suffering from being a pre-Shakespearean comedy.  The friendship of Damon and Pithias as characters in the story is a famous example of true friendship.  We aim to modernize this valuable literary work, originally written in cryptic Renaissance English, into a reliable and understandable version for future generations without diminishing the structure and meaning of the original language.  To accomplish this, we have created a diplomatic edition of the play, an exact copy of the original text, using scans of the original document and creating .rtf documents and html mark-ups.  Using this completed diplomatic edition, we will create a modern text version complete with textual notes, glosses, annotations, and history about the play.  When finished, we will have a relevant, complete, and accurately modernized version of Damon and Pithias for digital publication as well as an audio recording of the play produced in conjunction with the Theatre department.   

      Derrek Grunfelder-McCrank

      Derrek J. Grunfelder-McCrank

      Mentors: Dr. Russell Kashian 
      Research: Monetary Policy and its effects on Wisconsin
      Monetary Policy is often viewed from an aggregate level.  While this is highly important it fails to address whether or not monetary policy actions are in the best interests of individual states.  This research project will seek to identify whether monetary policy actions have positive or adverse effects within Wisconsin.  My a priori assumption is that Wisconsin is a state of net savers.  This would mean that the results of recent monetary policy actions to ease the aggregate economy are adversely affecting Wisconsin through reduced interest rates, harming savers within the state. 

      Thomas Haasl

      Thomas C. Haasl

      Mentors: Dr. David Havas
      Research: Reading In-Between the Lines: Effects of Facial Muscle Fatigue on Emotional Language Comprehension
      How does reading language have a way of powerfully evoking emotions in readers? According to embodied theories of emotional language comprehension, neural activity involved in the literal experience of emotion is simulated, or reenacted, while reading emotional language. Studies have shown that people involuntarily execute emotional facial expressions compatible with the emotionality of the sentences they read. Emotional facial expressions and their facial feedback may play a role in this simulation process, and thereby facilitate the comprehension of compatible emotional sentences. For my SURF, I will explore the hypothesis that fatiguing facial muscles involved in smiling and frowning will impair the comprehension of happy and sad sentences, respectively. I will explore this hypothesis through the use of electromyography (EMG), a tool designed to transduce facial muscle activity into electric signals via recording electrodes affixed to the face. Participants will alternate holding smiling and frowning facial contractions until fatigue (i.e., decreased facial muscle activity as measured by EMG), and then read emotional sentences while reading times are measured. Fatiguing facial muscles involved in smiling should lead to increases in reading times for happy but not sad sentences, and vice versa for fatiguing facial muscles involved in frowning. I strongly believe that the SURF will allow me to develop the skills necessary to conduct research using EMG methods, explore the implications of my findings through the 2013-2014 academic year, and contribute to our understanding of how emotion and language interact.

      Katharine Hausmann

      Katharine Hausmann

      Mentors: Dr. Joshua Kapfer 
      Research: Spatial Patterns and Survival of Headstarted Blanding's Turtles  
      The Blanding's turtle is a threatened species in Wisconsin, mainly due to habitat destruction from urbanization. The Blanding's turtle is recognizable by its bright yellow neck and smooth carapace. Given their Threatened status, headstarting programs have been implemented for Blanding's Turtles in Wisconsin. Headstarting is a tool used to offset the high predation rates on turtle nests and juveniles. It involves collecting eggs from nests in the wild, incubating them in captivity, rearing the hatchling turtles through this vulnerable part of their lives and then releasing them back into the wild. However, there is not extensive data available to assess the activities or fate of the headstarted Blanding's turtles post-release. This study will attempt to fill this knowledge gap by assessing the movement patterns, habitat preferences, and associated mortality/ survival of the headstarted Blanding's turtles. In the summer of 2013 20-headstarted turtles (10 males, 10 females) will be affixed with radio transmitters (Model PD-2; Holohil Systems ltd., Carp, Ontario). These headstarted turtles will be released in June (2013) at the site eggs were collected from (a private location associated with Lake Koshkonong; Dane County, WI). We will then track turtle movements with a radio telemetry receiver (Model: RX-10005, Wildlife Materials, Inc.; Carbondale, Illinois). Every turtle will be located weekly with telemetry equipment from May through late October. The exact geographic location of the relocated turtles will be determined via Geographical Positioning System (GPS), and this data will be used to assess spatial patterns. We will record specific habitat characteristics associated with each turtle location, including vegetative community type, and structural components. We will also monitor turtle health, potential mortality, and possible sources of mortality. This study represents a first step towards understanding the ecological requirements of this rare species (spatial and habitat requirements). It will also give insight into the survivorship of headstarted turtles and possible sources of mortality. In particular, we hope to address the suitability of head-starting as a conservation tool for turtles. 

      Frederick Hofstetter

      Frederick Hofstetter

      Mentor: Dr. Michael Bennett
      Research: The Spectrum of Minimalism: Beckett to Hemingway
      I will be exploring the literary technique of minimalism, which is a ground-up method of artistic construction in which the artist uses the fewest elements possible to create the greatest effect. Ernest Hemingway and Samuel Beckett, two master craftsmen in the literary community, are widely considered to be minimalist writers, but are rarely compared for study because their storytelling is very different given their varying uses of minimalism. Hemingway uses minimalism to illustrate a very real environment, while Beckett uses it to create instability and chaos. In analyzing their extreme approaches, I will discover the specific ways in which each writer employs minimalism and offer a refined perspective on the technique in terms of storytelling in great English literature.

      Zachary Olson

      Zachary t. Olson

      Mentor: Dr. Peter Jacobs
      Research: Developing a Predictive Equation for SOC Analysis in Subsoil Horizons  
      Soils perform a vital function in the global carbon cycle. Soils provide the terrestrial foundation for photosynthetic organisms that fix atmospheric CO2 and also function to store compounds derived from decomposition of fixed C. Approximately 33% of the world C is estimated to be stored in soils. This area of soil research is very active in the soil community. Historically studies have used loss-on-ignition (LOI) to measure C, but this method is plagued by the inexact relationship between weight loss from ignition and the actual C content of the soil. There are methods of directly measuring organic C, but require expensive instrumentation. Rectifying this problem Dr. Jacobs and colleagues developed regression equations directly predicting C content of topsoils of the Midwest. Objective 1 of the research is to develop predictive equations that allow the use of an inexpensive method to estimate the amount of SOC stored in subsoil horizons. Another major area of research is what controls the amount of C in the various soil layers. Preliminary research conducted by Dr. Jacobs indicates that soil pH and silt content are the best predictors of SOC. I have investigated this preliminary finding with on-going research, but have not found any statistically significant relationship between these variables. Objective 2 of the research is to examine these controls on SOC stocks in south central Wisconsin. In addition to conducting the lab analysis on the UW-Whitewater campus and sample collecting around south central Wisconsin I will be working with Dr. Konen. A colleague of Dr. Jacobs who collaborated on the previous research on topsoil C analysis, I will be conducting soils analysis in his lab on the NIU campus using a CNHS analyzer. 

      Andrew Phillips

      Andrew Phillips

      Mentor: Dr. Christopher Veldkamp
      Research: Identification of factors contributing to acid stability in proteins  
      Chemokines are small, secreted proteins that direct the migration of immune cells in the body and are also involved in numerous diseases.  The chemokines CCL21 and CXCL12, through activating receptors CCR7 or CXCR4, are involved in recruiting metastatic tumor cells to sites distant from the primary tumor. Chemokine receptors, like CCR7 and CXCR4, contain sulfotyrosine posttranslational modifications in their amino-termini. While these tyrosines are never phosphorylated in vivo as they are extracellular, recent in silico studies suggest phosphotyrosine posttranslational modifications would be interchangeable with sulfotyrosine posttranslational modifications and may add additional affinity for chemokine ligands. The goal of my project is to compare how different tyrosine modifications influence receptor peptide - chemokine binding. I will test the hypothesis that tyrosine phosphorylation generates increased affinity while maintaining pocket specificity as compared to tyrosine sulfation. By defining the optimal characteristics of a molecular probe for sites of sulfotyrosine recognition, this work will aid in the discovery of small molecules that bind CCL21 or CXCL12 and inhibit receptor activation.

      Hannah Reninger

      Hannah Renninger

      Mentor: Dr. Brett Woods
      Research: Marmot Research  
      This summer I will be capturing up to eight woodchucks from local properties. I will control their ambient temperature. I will monitor their CO2 production during the varying temperatures. This gives me an accurate idea of their metabolic rate. I expect to see different levels of CO2 as I vary the temperatures. It is assumed that at a certain temperature I will see that the majority of the woodchucks have relatively the same CO2 levels. This is where the woodchucks would encounter the least amount of stress. I will identify this temperature and be able to monitor other aspects of the woodchucks during the more stressful temperatures, such as feeding, drinking and sleeping. This will give me a good idea of how woodchucks prepare for hibernation based on their ambient temperature.   

      Michelle Storage

      Michelle Storage

      Mentor: Dr. Catherine Chan
      Research: Effects of Salicylic Acid on Arabidopsis thaliana
      There is an accumulation of pharmaceutical products in the environment due to their increased consumption and subsequent excretion by humans.  Additionally, one of the most common ways that unused or expired chemicals are disposed of is through our sewer systems.  These products make their way into wastewater treatment plants and eventually into major bodies of water or the soil through biosolid applications (Kolpin et al., 2002).  The potential growth effects of these products on land plants have not been well documented, and this is the focus of my study.  I will begin with the high volume pharmaceutical aspirin (active ingredient therein is acetylsalicylic acid, ASA) and its metabolite salicylic acid (SA).  These chemicals will be applied to a model land plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, at different concentrations and later growth stages to determine its effects on various growth parameters.  Given that SA is a plant hormone that plays a role in the resistance to pathogens, I am also investigating if SA has the potential to affect the development of Arabidopsis under normal and other physiologically stressful conditions, such as exposure to different wavelengths and intensities of light. My work helps assess whether acetylsalicylic acid and the continuous use of large volumes of aspirin is likely going to have an impact on the growth of terrestrial plants. 

      Ashley Vedvig

      Ashley Vedvig

      Mentor: Dr. John Frye
      Research: Climate Change Across North America According to the Koppen and Thornthwaite Classification Schemes
      Climate change is a highly debated topic among scientists, politicians, and environmentalists, even though the impacts from it will affect each and every one of us. Everybody always seems to blame climate change for extreme weather events all across the country and this research will help to validate whether or not that is an influencing factor. The objective is to develop solid evidence that proves climate change is occurring across North America using the Koppen and Thornthwaite classification schemes. The Koppen system has five main classifications with multiple sub-classifications to better give a more detailed analysis of a climate and the Thornthwaite system uses moisture and temperature divisions, leaving 36 possible classifications within this classification scheme. This research will focus on climate changes, as evidence by the changes in these classification schemes, across North America. It will also identify locations that are experiencing climate change at faster rates than other areas. Temperature, precipitation, and potential evapotranspiration (PE) will be used to classify North America climates based upon the Koppen and Thornthwaite system. These changes will be examined in a statistical software called SPSS as well as displayed visually on a map, using GIS capabilities to identify classification changes. If climate change is occurring then the boundaries between the climate types will be shifting, identifying areas that are experiencing climate change.

      Paeton Wantuch

      Paeton Wantuch

      Mentor: Dr. Robert Kuzoff
      Research: Constructing A Phylogeny of H5N1
      Influenza A, a virus with a segmented genome, is composed of many different lineages, which rapidly evolve and exchange genetic material among themselves. These genomic re-assortment events contribute to variation in the structure of surface proteins allowing the virus to evade our immune system. In so doing, they may increase the virulence of a strain, creating an epidemic or pandemic. Hence, studying the evolution of influenza strains is critical to public health.  H5N1 is an especially interesting clade of influenza A because of the high mortality rate associated with it. As recent articles have shown, with only a few mutations, H5N1 can be readily converted to a form that is transmissible between mammals having deadly effects. Our research seeks to reconstruct the phylogenetic history of H5N1 and related strains using a novel method of inference and evidence from all segments of its genome. Sequences of each protein segment of the genome, encoded by all known avian influenza strains, were collected from the Influenza Virus Resource at NCBI. Once phylogenetic trees for each protein are inferred, we determine the minimum necessary set of viral isolates needed to accurately reconstruct them, a process known as compartmentalization. Phylogenies for each protein, inferred using the compartmentalized dataset, are then compared using a statistical method known as ILD testing and analyses implemented by CladeRunner, a program written in our lab that efficiently compares the shapes of very large phylogenetic trees. Results of these analyses reveal cases in which genomic segments have been exchanged among lineages of H5N1 and its relatives. Instances of genomic exchange are of great interest to epidemiologists because, in general, they precede especially deadly outbreaks of this virus.

      Sarah Wyrick

      Sarah Wyrick

      Mentor: Dr. Joshua Kapfer
      Research: The Effects Pack Territory Densities Has on Wisconsin's Gray Wolves Response to Olfactory and Acoustic Simulated Intrusion

      Gray wolves (Canis lupus) are social animals that live in family units called packs.  Wisconsin wolf packs typically consist of a small number of individuals, which includes the breeding (or alpha) pair and several juveniles. Family units reside in permanent territories which are delineated and defended with olfactory cues and vocalizations.  Olfactory cues may be deposited in urine, via raised leg urinations (RLUs) to advertise territorial boundaries and announce the owners' presence in a territory.  Vocal communication, such as howling, is used for long distance communication within packs as well as the advertisement of territorial boundaries to adjacent packs.  This summer, I will be continuing an ongoing research project focused on the effect that the number of neighboring packs (either a high number or low number) has on resident pack response to simulated intrusions.  Last winter, during the breeding season for wolves in Wisconsin, we completed the initial data-collection, which focused on simulated scent intrusions that we monitored with remotely-triggered camera traps.  The olfactory stimulus used to simulate intrusion was 5 ml of commercial wolf urine (and 5 ml of a control) applied near RLUs found within known wolf territories.  Our preliminary results indicate that packs with few to no neighbors exhibit the greatest response to our simulated invasion of their territory.  This summer we will continue to monitor the same packs with simulated RLUs (or territory intrusions) and camera traps when wolves are likely rearing pups to determine if response varies by season.  This summer we will also monitor the response of wolves to auditory stimuli used to simulate territorial intrusions, where surveyors mimic wolf howls to elicit a response from resident packs.  We expect similar results to our work last winter; packs more isolated from other wolves expressing either a higher frequency or intensity in response to non-pack members' howls. 

      Junxiang Xu

      Junxiang XU

      Mentor: Dr. Jalal Nawash
      Research: Coating Medical Implants Using Atmospheric Pressure Plasma  

      The purpose of 'Metal coating process with Corona Plasma' is to build a reliable corona plasma reactor that can generate constant plasma out of a specified gas or mixture of gases. Then, use the generated plasma as a 'catalyst' to active another binding chemical compound, in which the combination of adhesive and plasma shall allow a successful final coating. The desired choice of material for the final coating is one kind of polymers (I will use polyethylene glycol). The results will have an AFM picture confirmation. The metal coating can be accomplished with other methods, yet, those methods are require some extreme condition, such as  high temperature (arc plasma). Hence, in terms of processing sensitive or fragile materials, corona plasma is an ideal choice because of its low temperature property (basically a room temperature). The applications are many, such as processing medical implants, which requires coating process to avoid interactive with patient's tissues, or metals that require anti-oxidation, corrosive resistance, et cetera. 

      LOCATION

      Undergraduate Research Program
      University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
      800 W. Main Street
      2115 Andersen Library
      Whitewater, WI 53190
      (262) 472-1296
      urp@uww.edu

      CONTACT THE DIRECTOR

      Professor Catherine Chan
      Director of Undergraduate Research
      (262) 472-1296

      UWW URP Student Org

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      23.21.34.188
      https://www.uww.edu:80/