Undergraduate Research Program
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SURF Awards 2014


Ron Chester



Mentor: Dr. Kirsten Crossgrove
ResearchStudying Supplements in Caenorhabditis elegans Using Aging Assays
We are using Caenorhabditis elegans to test the effects of nutritional supplements on lifespan, how many days the organism lives, and health span, how many days an organism is actually active. We are using C. elegans because they have a relatively short life cycle, they are easy to keep alive and feed, and they have similar molecular pathways to other organisms, including humans. We used wild type (N2) worms and daf-2 (e1370) mutants in an aging assay. Previous work has shown that daf-2 mutants are able to live up to twice as long as wild type worms and, therefore, we are using it as a positive control. To conduct the assays, the L1 larvae were synchronized, allowed to develop to adulthood and transferred to agar plates at 20 or 25°C. There were five plates for each strain with approximately 20 worms per plate. The plates were checked almost every day. Animals were scored as dead when they did not move if poked. Results for wild type worms are similar to previously published data. The daf-2 strain, however, did not live as long and more tests are needed to confirm whether the strain is correct. This summer we will work with Standard Process to test their supplements using this aging assay. We also plan to initiate health span assays using pharyngeal pumping rate. If the supplements have a positive effect on the wild type strain, we can then look at C. elegans mutants to see what pathways the supplement affects. 

Mitchell Elmer


Mentor: Dr. Dana Prodoehl 
Research: Queer Women's Literature: Defining the Canon
Although there has been an improvement in recent years of diversity, there is still a limited amount of widely available fictional literature pertaining to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT), or queer, community in the mainstream.  Works within this niche that include queer women ages 18 to 25 with a noteworthy intersection of sexuality and gender, and literary merit, are even rarer and often have formulaic themes.  In order to provide queer university students with readily accessible works that fit this criteria, and to improve the current queer women's writing scene, there needs to be a study of recent fictional works and what is missing from this narrative.  Along with it will be an anthology of fictional pieces that not only break away from common tropes and provide missing elements, but also show literary skill and understanding of diversity.  What is rather interesting about most queer literature is that the genre tends to avoid the common university age group of 18-25, instead focusing on either young adult (13-18) or older adult (35 and older) works.  What is available for students often focuses on self-discovery and coming out of the closet.  Furthermore, there seems to be a larger variety of literature pertaining to both queer men and heterosexual women.  Due to this void found in queer women's literature, there is not only less media portrayal and marketed to this demographic, but a deficient understanding and acknowledgment of their existence from those outside of the target group.  This project seeks to both spread awareness of this issue, and help to remedy the problem through the anthology.

Grant Francis


Mentor: Dr. Donald Jellerson 
ResearchFilm Methodology and Queer Theory  
The Film Studies minor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is a new and growing program which invites students to join the conversation of cinema studies, a field of which involves a unique vocabulary and set of tools for scholarly discussion and writing. To aid with such endeavors, myself and Film Studies Coordinator, Dr. Donald Jellerson, aim to create a complete, comprehensive online Film Studies manual, which will include text and image glossaries, film clips, instructional video segments, downloadable worksheets, and interactive quizzes, available for Film Studies students by the Fall 2014 semester. As the manual is developed, I will also be involved in assisting Dr. Jellerson in research for his academic book on the cinema of mid-century director Max Ophüls, through the theoretical lens of Queer Theory, providing an integrative experience which will guide the formulation of the online manual, as I directly employ the lexicon of terms which the manual will provide. Research will include historical, technical, and theoretical investigation, to be documented in an annotated bibliography which I will contribute to the completed text. To create the online manual, a glossary of key terms will be collected, cross-referenced by research into authoritative texts in the field. The online format allows us to add information to the documents, provide additional worksheets and quizzes, and track the interest of Film Studies students in supplementary material. With feedback from students and instructors, the online manual will develop as a tailored resource for the specific courses and interests of the Film Studies program.     

Derrek Grunfelder-McCrank


Mentors: Dr. Eylem Ersal-Kiziler, Dr. Matt Winden 
ResearchMines in Wisconsin: An examination of Health vs. Wealth effects
This paper examines the effect that the presence of a mine has a community's health levels using data from counties in Wisconsin.  Several types of models are used to estimate the dollar value of health costs imposed by mines as well as the probability that a mine's presence will result in above average healthcare costs.  Additionally, the economic benefits of a mine on a community will be examined.  The costs and benefits of a mine on a community will then be analyzed to determine whether mines bring more economic activity to a community than costs.  These findings will have serious implications for people in communities with mines and the mining industry.

Thomas Haasl


Mentor: Dr. Alena Holmes
Research: Musical and Social Development of Pre-school Children 
Music activities are commonly implemented in American preschools, however most of the time songs and singing games are taught using recordings.  In most preschools, music is taught by preschool teachers and there is no specific curriculum or special lesson time for musical development. A research study with 143 preschools discovered that of those, 69% reported that they did not have regular, structured music programs at all, and only 34% had access to a music specialist (Daniels 1991). Even more shocking, a study done in Wisconsin found that out of their 686 targeted preschools, only 30% had planned music lessons, and those lessons were primarily intended for nonmusical goals, taught by non-music teachers (Tarnowski & Barrett, 1992). Of this 30% of preschool teachers implementing music, there is still a growing problem; "Almost two-thirds of preschool teachers face difficulties when it comes to creating concrete music goals" (Denac, 2008). Taking these findings into consideration, the goal of this research project is to provide a systematic music curriculum in preschool taught by a music specialist.
The following research questions guided this study: (1) How do regular music lessons in the pre-school setting affect a child's musical development? (2) How do music lessons affect social development of a child? (3) What can pre-school teachers do to enrich young children's musical development? (4) Will coaching by a music specialist have a continuous effect on classroom teacher's integration of music into daily routine? This study will begin in May 2014 at the St. Francis Children's Center in Milwaukee. The undergraduate music student and recipient of the SURF grant will teach 30 minute music lessons to four groups of 2-4 year old students daily for a period of 7 weeks. Music lessons will include the following activities: singing, movement, improvisation, playing classroom instruments, musical story time, and musical play.  During each lesson, field notes will be collected regarding development of the most important musical and social skills of the children. Musical and social skills will be assessed using the Singing Voice Development Test, Audie Test, and researcher -developed musical and social skills assessment rubric.  Pre-tests and post-tests will be given to all participating children.  Qualitative and quantitative information will be drawn from these notes and assessment data. We hope that results of this study might help early childhood administrators and teachers to include more meaningful musical activities in their programs, as the positive effects of music are anticipated for this study. Continued growth of music in the center will be through the cooperating teachers, so coaching throughout the 7 weeks will occur on a daily basis. The anticipated result is that teachers will feel more comfortable about teaching structured classes to their students even after the researcher leaves. Master classes, post-test surveys, and meetings with the teachers to discuss continuing music curriculum will continue into the fall and spring, as an intended partnership with the school will continue to grow. 

Katharine Hausmann


Mentor: Dr. Rex Hanger 
Research: Size-Frequency Distribution and Secondary Production of Pleurocera acuta, Mukwonago River, Wisconsin.   
The gastropod, Pleurocera acuta, is a common member of both lotic and lentic benthic macrofaunas in southeastern Wisconsin, and is especially prevalent in the Mukwonago River, in Waukesha County, Wisconsin. In 2011-2012, benthic macroinvertebrate taxa were sampled using Hess and coring samplers in two locations of the Mukwonago River in Waukesha County -gravel substrates immediately downstream from the Phantom Lake dam, and sand substrates further downstream in Wisconsin State Natural Area #417. All of the collected specimens were measured for maximum length and width to generate size-frequency distribution histograms. The results of that study provided baseline data for size-frequency distribution and biomass of P. acuta within the Mukwonago River as related to substrate variability and human disturbance. The proposed SURF project will gather the same data in the same locations for the period of June-November, 2014. Hypotheses of no difference in means and/or variances can be tested for comparisons of both substrates, including seasonal and yearly variation as samples were taken monthly over 8-9 month ranges. These new data have added relevance due to the fact that the Phantom Lake dam underwent major construction repair in October-November of 2012, causing major anthropogenic disturbance.

Frederick Hofstetter


Mentors: Dr. Eylem Ersal-Kiziler, Dr. Yamin Ahmad  
ResearchStructural Change and Productivity Growth in Wisconsin: An Empirical Analysis 
The purpose of this research is to study the pattern of structural changes that have occurred in Wisconsin over the past decades. This study will analyze whether the agricultural, manufacturing or service-based sector in the economy contributes the most to economic growth. In order to answer the question of interest, I will estimate a regression analysis to figure out the economic impact of each sector in Wisconsin. I will collect data on unemployment rates, GDP, and labor productivity, which will help me identify structural changes in the local economy. This analysis will also help me identify productivity gaps within sectors, which will inform me about the way in which inefficiencies in labor productivity and structural changes have shaped the state's economy. I anticipate the manufacturing sector to be the most productive, even though the agricultural sector has the largest state's market share. Using econometric techniques, I will determine the effects of each of the factors that contribute to productivity and economic growth. The development of an econometric and statistical model is crucial to the success of this research and it will allow me to establish if the hypothesis holds true. This research will aid in the understanding of the Wisconsin's economy and it will attempt to shed light on the factors that contribute to economic prosperity in the state. 

Zachary Olson


Mentor: Dr. Kate Ksobiech 
Research: Stalking & Cyberstalking:  Perceptions of College Students on the UW-Whitewater Campus  
Social media sites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) have sprung up online in the past decade and have quickly gained popularity. Due to this new channel of computer-mediated interaction between social media users, stalking has become increasingly common. Undergraduate students of UW-Whitewater have reported experiencing and committing cyber-stalking. Focus groups will be conducted throughout the summer of 2014 to discuss this relatively new topic of cyber-stalking. Online stalking has become more prevalent in social media's expanding empire within the past decade, yet there is limited research pertaining to cyber-stalking among college students. To determine the perception, impact and frequency of cyber-stalking among UW-Whitewater students, several focus groups, consisting of 5-6 participants and conducted by Kate Murley and supervised by Dr. Kate Ksobiech, will be conducted. The topic areas to be discussed in these focus groups include participant awareness/knowledge of what constitutes cyber-staking as well as what their attitudes and personal involvement in cyber-stalking. 

Andrew Phillips


Mentors: Dr. Nadine Kriska, Dr. Jonathan Burkham 
Research: Combat the Spread of Purple Loosestrife: Biological and Community-Based Control  
Wetlands are the most biologically diverse and productive component of our ecosystem.  However, when purple loosestrife, an invasive, non-native wetland perennial, gets a foothold in the habitat where wildlife and fish feed, seek shelter, reproduce and rear young, the ecosystem can quickly become choked under purple flowers. The actual and potential repercussions of this infestation are alarming given that purple loosestrife is now present in all 72 Wisconsin counties (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 2014). 
Fortunately, there is an environmentally sound and DNR-endorsed bio-control agent to control purple loosestrife using Cella beetles (Galerucella spp.; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 2013).  Cella beetles feed largely on purple loosestrife's shoots and leaves and have proven effective at maintaining a stable and sustainable population size in wetland environments (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 2014). Beginning in the spring of 2014, this three-year project aims to control and evaluate the pressing problem of purple loosestrife domination in the Walworth County North Lake conservation easement. During the first year, I will rear, release, and demonstrate the establishment of the bio-control agents in the study site. In the following years, I will focus on the population of bio-control agents, and precisely document the decline of purple loosestrife and changes in the overall plant community. In addition, to garner long-term support, I have sought the involvement of the Wisconsin DNR and other community members through a Wetland Clean-Up Day, held for the first time on May 3, 2014. 

Hannah Reninger


Mentor: Dr. Prajukti Bhattacharyya 
Research: Host Rock Alterations in the Lynne Massive Sulfide Deposit   
In Wisconsin we find VMS deposits along what used to be a volcanic island arc in the north-central region of the state, called the Wisconsin Magmatic Terrane (LaBerge, 1994).  The Lynne Deposit in Oneida County and the Flambeau Deposit in Rusk County are two examples of such VMS deposits within the Ladysmith-Rhinelander Metavolcanic Complex in Wisconsin. Both deposits are considered to have formed in a similar manner (Dematties, 1994).  The Lynne Deposit is composed of various igneous and sedimentary rock layers hosting copper, zinc, and lead ores, as well as some gold and silver (Kennedy, 1997).  The Flambeau Deposit is mostly contained within altered volcanic ash layers, and contains more copper than lead or zinc ores, as well as more gold but less silver ore compared to the Lynne Deposit (DeMatties, 1994). The ultimate goal of the proposed project is to study how hydrothermal fluids bearing the sulfide minerals at both Lynne and Flambeau Deposit chemically altered the host rocks, and whether we can relate the types and extents of chemical alterations to the amounts and types of sulfide minerals present in the ore-bearing layers.  In order to address this goal, I will use the skeletonized core sample from the Lynne Deposit available at the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey (WGNHS) Core Repository.  I will conduct mineralogical and chemical analyses on samples from near a depth of 285 feet (with high sulfide mineralization), and those from near a depth of 224 feet (samples with low sulfide mineralization).  I will use the handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer available in the UWW Geography/Geology Department for collecting chemical data.  I will complement the XRF analyses with mineralogical analyses on petrographic thing sections made from those samples, as well as by X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) analyses.  By doing this I will be able to document and compare the types of chemical reactions that occurred between the carbonate host rocks and the ore-bearing hydrothermal fluids in samples showing different levels of sulfide mineralization.  Finally, I will compare the observations from the Lynne Deposit to those made on the Flambeau Deposit, which have formed in a manner similar to the Lynne Deposit, but show different proportions of sulfide minerals (DeMatties, 1989; 1994). This research will help us understand how sulfide mineralization occurred in the studied deposits, and can potentially help in future explorations for other, similarly formed VMS deposits around the world.    

Michelle Storage


Mentor: Dr. Joshua Kapfer
Research: Spatial Ecology, Habitat Use and Survival Rates of Headstarted Blanding's Turtles (Emydoidea blandingii) in Southern Wisconsin

The Blanding's turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) is a threatened species in Wisconsin. State populations have declined mainly due to habitat destruction and high rates of nest/juvenile predation by mammalian predators. Headstarting (rearing of eggs/juveniles in captivity to reduce predation rates) is a conservation tool frequently employed for turtles.  Presumably, this technique increases turtle size, which makes them more difficult for predators to consume.  However, limited research has assessed the effectiveness of this tool and the behavior of headstarted Blanding's turtles post-release. Our goal was to obtain this information by tracking turtle movements, habitat selection and assessing survival.  We collected Blanding's turtle eggs from wild-caught females in 2012.  Eggs and juveniles were raised in captivity for approximately one year prior to release. In summer 2013, we affixed turtles with radio transmitters and released them at the site where eggs were collected from. After release, the turtles were re-located approximately once per week using radio telemetry equipment. During each relocation, geographic location, habitat characteristics and behavior were recorded.  We also determined survival rates.  Turtles moved less than expected based on past research.  Turtle survival rates were greater than expected based on past research. In 2013, we found turtles most frequently in permanent wetlands dominated by sedge/reed canary grass. The continuation of this study includes a closer analysis of the microhabitats and additional years of tracking the turtles.  In 2014, we plan to continue tracking headstarted turtles to assess long-term survival.  We will also track non-headstarted hatchlings in 2014 to compare survival rates against headstarted individuals.  To-date this project has resulted in two student presentations (one oral and one poster) at professional meetings (the Wisconsin Wetland Association and the Lake Koshkonong Wetland Association), as well as presentations at UWW Research Days and NCUR.

Ashley Vedvig


Mentor:  Dr. Heather Niemeier
Research:  Fit Families Rock:  A Family-Based Behavioral Weight Loss Treatment for Children

Childhood obesity rates have tripled over the past thirty years. Family-based behavioral weight loss programs are extremely effective ways to treat this problem, however they are not accessible in community based settings. The purpose of this study is to create and disseminate an effective family-based behavioral weight loss program in a community setting.  To do this, the summer will be devoted to a review of the literature and creation of a full treatment manual for the study, as well as recruitment for the cohort.  The ten-week long family-based behavioral weight loss program will take place during the fall semester of the 2014 school year and will focus on modifying the eating behaviors of the family, introducing the children to fun ways to increase their participation in physical activity, encouraging the family members to get enough sleep, and teaching stress-management to encourage weight loss in the children and their family members. Previous research suggests family-based behavioral weight loss interventions to be effective weight loss treatments, thus we hypothesize that our participants will lose weight. We expect to find this to be an effective treatment that can be carried out in a community based setting such as a YMCA so that we can disseminate it in order to increase the availability of such a treatment to the public. 

Paeton Wantuch


Mentor: Dr. Christopher Veldkamp
Research: Synthesis of and Solution Structure of CCL19

The goal of this research is to determine the structure and exact binding site of chemokine CCR17 and which part of CCL19 is bound. It is understood, using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, that CCL19 is structured as a typical monomer chemokine containing 77 amino acids forming an α-helix and three antiparallel β-strands.  Using TALOS, certain parts were determined to have high fluidity and are suggested candidates of binding sites.  Understanding Vitamin D Receptor binding sites, which will be thoroughly studied in Dr. Alexander Arnold's lab, I will understand necessary techniques for determining active sites of protein receptors. High-throughput screening, rational design and virtual screening will be used to discover VDR coregular binding inhibitors. Using similar techniques and methodology after some VDR research has been done at UWM, the understanding and techniques will be carried over and continued at UWW with Dr. Chris Veldkamp. Testing on CCL19 will continue and results will suggest inhibitor structures. 

Sarah Wyrick


Mentor: Dr. John Frye
Research: Comprehensive Analysis of Tornadic Daily Cycles from 1979 to 2013  

Tornadoes can occur at any time throughout the diurnal cycle; however, the probability of them occurring is not constant throughout that cycle. History shows that tornado occurrences peak in the United States during and around the mid-afternoon between noon and sunset. The objective of this research is to create a modern extension of research that was last completed in the late 1970s for the most recent 35 years (1979-2013) of tornado data across the United States. In addition, to understand why the mid-afternoon peak occurs an examination of the diurnal shifts in the conditions that lead to tornadoes will be conducted. Specifically, I will analyze the daily and seasonal patterns of tornadoes and the associated meteorological conditions for the United States and then by various physiographic regions. The tornado data collected for the 1979-2013 time period will come from the Storm Prediction Center (SPC). The meteorological data will be collected from the Earth System Research Laboratory's. The tornado data will be compared to the meteorological details to see if we can find any patterns that emerge and overlap. I expect to find a diurnal cycle that peaks in the mid-afternoon. During this peak I also expect to find elevated levels of CAPE and wind shear. 

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