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DePauw Student Research

This page showcases samples of student and student-faculty collaborative research at DePauw University.

Examples of Recent Collaborative Publications and Presentations

Maria Esposito

Maria Esposito - Aesthetic Encounters Beyond the Present: Historical Materialism and Sonic Pedagogies for Resisting Abstraction  

Major: Education Studies and Psychology

Research: Basing ourselves on Marx’s method of historical materialism, this article builds on Marxist literature on capitalist abstraction and focuses on the struggle for differentialization. This amounts to a critique and, more importantly, an affirmation: elements of the future exist in the present. This is a future in which the force of...

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Funding:  Asher Summer Funding for Research at DePauw

Fall 2022 Poster Session

Aidan Power

Aidan Power, Christian Mugisha, Boanerges Bamaca, Asmita Mahara, Mark Wilkins, PhD - Effects of nitrogen fertilizer on the sugar and ethanol production of C. Sativa  

Department: Agricultural Products Center, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Project Mentor: Mark Wilkins, PhD

Research: With the decrease of fossil fuel-supply and increase of greenhouse gasses, biofuels are needed now more than ever. This includes bioethanol, an alternative fuel that can be made from waste materials, including C. Sativa (commonly known as hemp). The common belief in biological engineering is that the sugars from hemp can attract fermenting organisms to produce the needed ethanol. The question remains, however, of how external factors play into...

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Funding:  National Science Foundation

Dali, Basnyat, PassarelliAnimesh Dali, Suhana Basnyat, Robert Passarelli, Nipun Chopra, PhD - Inhibiting S100β and Troubleshooting Cell Growth

Department: Biology, DePauw University

Project Mentor: Nipun Chopra, PhD

Research: S100B is a protein that is upregulated in neuronal injury. The upregulation of S100B has been observed to start multiple cascades that result in neuronal death. The inhibition of S100B would be a promising treatment for neuronal injury. In our research, we attempt to do exactly so.

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Funding:  J. William Asher and Melanie J. Norton Endowed Fund in the Sciences, Science Research Fellows Program, Douglas and Phyllis Smith Fund


Bennet, Collier, Davis, Gilmco, Mallery, Trautman, WakefieldAyden Bennet; Delaney Collier; Elizabeth Davis; Daniel Glimco; Braden Mallery; Ellen Trautman; Beck Wakefield; Sharon Crary, PhD; Dan Gurnon, PhD - Investigating rare genetic variants in a human enzyme

Department: Chemistry and Biochemistry, DePauw University

Project Mentor: Dan Gurnon, PhD and Sharon Crary, PhD

Research: Our genome is like a parts-list for all of the molecular machines that make us human. Choose any two people on earth, and their DNA will be 99.9% identical- but in the context of our vast amounts of DNA, 0.1% equates to about 10,000 differences in the makeup of each individual’s machinery. These variations make us unique at the molecular level- but in some cases, they can also cause...

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Funding: J. William Asher and Melanie J. Norton Endowed Fund in the Sciences, J. William Asher and Dorothy A. Asher Fund in the Social Sciences, Science Research Fellows Program

Chirag GiriChirag Giri, Adam Liebman, PhD - Diagnosing the Present with An Ecotopian Lexicon 

Major: Urban Studies and Computer Science

Project Mentor: Adam Liebman, PhD

Research: The book An Ecotopian Lexicon (2019) presents a collection of thirty terms and concepts from speculative fiction, anthropology, and the sociology of subcultures, each explored by a different author. The lexicon intends to address our collective “poverty of imagination” when it comes to avoiding global environmental collapse and building a different world, evidenced by the increasing dominance of apocalyptic narratives in popular culture. Although the book’s primary aim is to explore diverse concepts for imagining better futures, we have analyzed the form and content of the book for what they tell us about the present.

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Funding: J. William Asher and Anne F. Harris Endowed Fund in the Humanities

Chris ShannonChris Shannon; Ken Brown, PhD; David McGarvie, PhD; Matt Loocke, PhD - Magma Mixing in the 874 AD Hrafntinnuhraun Rhyolite Eruption

Department: Geology & Environmental Geoscience, DePauw University

Project Mentor: Ken Brown, PhD

Research: The exposed Icelandic crust contains ~10% rhyolite and ~90% basalt, and there is ample evidence in both recent and ancient rocks of interactions between rhyolitic and basaltic magmas. A spectacular and little-studied example is the c. 874 AD rhyolite eruption of Hrafntinnuhraun at the Torfajökull volcano, where after an initial explosive (Plinian) phase a large rhyolite lava field formed. In this lava field, one vent produced a...

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Claire WolfeClaire Wolfe; Ken Brown, PhD; Matt Loocke, PhD; Claire McLeod, PhD - Megacrystic Potassium Feldspar Magmatism In The Southern Mojave Desert, California  

Department: Geology and Environmental Geosciences, DePauw University

Project Mentor: Ken Brown, PhD

Research: Investigating the textural, chemical, and chronological records preserved within crystal populations can provide insight into the processes which operate during magma ascent, emplacement, and crystallization. K-feldspar megacrysts offer an excellent opportunity to explore these records, particularly in chemically-evolved systems. Understanding megacryst formation bears on a fundamental issue in granite petrogenesis, namely whether...

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Funding: Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences, DePauw University

Hieu Nguyen and Tom NguyenHieu Nguyen; Tom Nguyen; Dr. Mamunur Rashid, PhD; Dr. Jyotirmoy Sarkar, PhD - SD Prisms 2D & 3D: Visualizing the Standard Deviation

Department: Mathematical Science, DePauw University

Project Mentor: Mamunur Rashid, PhD and Jyotirmoy Sarkar, PhD

Research: SD Prism is a graphical R package used for visualizing the standard deviation of a data set. Given a raw data set, the standard deviation (SD) is defined as the square root of the sample variance. Sarkar and Rashid (2017) interpret the sample SD as the square root of twice the mean square of all pairwise half deviations between any two sample observations. This interpretation leads to... 

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Funding: J. William Asher and Dorothy A. Asher Endowed Fund in the Social Sciences

Tran, Le, DoHieu Tran; Tuan Le; Anh Do; Tram Vu; Steven Bogaerts, PhD; Brian Howard, PhD - Emotion-Aware Music Recommendation

Department: Computer Science, DePauw University

Project Mentor: Steven Bogaerts, PhD and Brian Howard, PhD

Research: People often listen to songs that match their mood. Thus, an AI music recommendation system that is aware of the user’s emotions is likely to provide a superior user experience to one that is unaware. In this paper, we present an emotion-aware music recommendation system. Multiple models are discussed and evaluated for...

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Funding: J. William Asher and Melanie J. Norton Endowed Fund in the Sciences; Kranbuehl, Roberts, Hillger Endowed Fund for Faculty Summer Research

Kuhl, CoondiahIan Kuhl, Ashna Coondiah, Howard Brooks, PhD - Extended Duration Studies of Energetic Particles in the Stratosphere

Department: Physics and Astronomy, DePauw University

Project Mentor: Howard Brooks, PhD

Research: The Balloon Assisted Stratospheric Experiments (BASE) program aims to measure atmospheric muon concentration at the Pfotzer Maximum with Geiger Counters carried by weather balloons. The most intense radiation is found at the Pfotzer Maximum 18 - 22 km (11 - 13 mi) above ground level. During this summer, seven flights were conducted to attain maximum time in the Pfotzer Maximum using different strategies like underfilling and multiple balloon systems.

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Funding: J.William Asher and Melanie J. Norton Endowed Fund in the Sciences

Kelsang ShresthaKelsang Shrestha; Ken Brown, PhD; Matt Loocke, PhD - Distal Exposures of the Miocene Peach Spring Tuff in the Marble and Ship Mountains, CA 

Department: Geology and Environmental Geosciences, DePauw University

Project Mentor: Ken Brown, PhD

Research: The Peach Springs Tuff (PST) is a uniquely identifiable ignimbrite deposit formed by a large caldera-forming volcanic eruption during the early Miocene era. Previous investigations (e.g., Miller et al., 1986; Neilson et al., 1990) have suggested that distal ignimbrite deposits located within the Mojave region of southern California belong to the PST eruptive event. To address this hypothesis, this study investigates...

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Lidya Araya, Thanh Ngoc Thien Nguyen, Daniel Rhodes, and Henning Schneider, PhD - Nicotine-Seeking and Avoidance Behavior in Zebrafish Mutants

Department: Biology, DePauw University

Project Mentor: Henning Schneider, PhD

Research: Nicotine activates nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the brain and peripheral nervous system and triggers nicotine-seeking or nicotine-avoidance. There is evidence from genome-wide association studies in humans that genomic variances of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor genes of the types alpha3 (chrna3), alpha5 (chrna5) and beta 4 (chrnb4) contribute to heavy smoking and early onset of smoking. This project explored the role of...

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Funding: Science Research Fellows Program, Steven S. Clark Endowed Fund for Student-Faculty Environmental Research

Mahnoor ZahidMahnoor Zahid and Robert West, PhD- Investigating Conflicts in Mind Wandering and Neural Oscillation Studies

Major: Neuroscience

Project Mentor: Robert West, PhD

Research: When presented with a repetitive or an undemanding task, our mind tends to disengage from the external environment to focus on the inner trains of thought. This phenomenon, commonly known as "zoning out" is termed as Mind Wandering. Across various literature, this effect has been mainly studied under two states: while performing a low-demand task, or under a meditative state. Neural oscillations such as...

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Funding: J.William Asher and Melanie J.Norton Endowed Fund in the Sciences

Maggie KellerMargaret Keller and Ken Brown, PhD - Linking Historical Redlining Maps to Present‐Day Environmental Hazards in St. Louis

Major: Environmental Geoscience and Global Health

Project Mentor: Ken Brown, PhD

Research: Many of America’s cities were mapped by the Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC). This practice led to structurally racist housing policies and practices, namely redlining. The practice of redlining directed both public and private capital to native‐born, white families and away from Black, Latinx, and immigrant families that lived in these areas. While redlining is illegal today due to the Fair Housing Act of 1968, its impact is still evident in...

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Funding: J.William Asher and Melanie J.Norton Endowed Fund in the Sciences

Nan Lin Wah Sin HtooNan Lin Wah Sin Htoo - High-Risk Behavior of Students Carrying Weapon to School

Major: Computer Science and Mathematics

Project Mentor: Naima Shifa, PhD

Research: The rise of personal and mental issues in students has been accompanied by an increase in the number of students carrying guns and the frequency of mass shootings at schools in the US. A recent study (Dong, 2021) pointed out that future researchers should focus on recognizing high-risk youths and tackle their issues early on in life most appropriately according to individual differences such as age and personal circumstances.This research discusses the contributing factors to...

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Funding: J. William Asher and Dorothy A. Asher Endowed Fund in the Social Sciences

Ngan TranNgan Tran and Naima Shifa, PhD - Gender Disparities in NLSY97: Educational Attainment and Income Level

Major: Economics and Mathematics

Project Mentor: Naima Shifa, PhD

Research: This paper is designed to examine gender differences in education and their impact on education and occupation status, following the research Economic Rationale for Sex Differences in Education conducted by Janice Fanning Madden. Data was collected from the NLSY97 (National Longitudinal Survey) on American youth born between 1980-84. The sample originally included 8,984 respondents when first interviewed in 1997.

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Funding: Science Research Fellows Program

Ngoc TranNgoc (Valerie) Tran and Jeff Hansen, PhD - Visualization for Better Learning in Chem 120

Major: Biochemistry and Chinese Studies

Project Mentor: Jeff Hansen, PhD

Research: Many concepts in organic chemistry relate to spatial reasoning and the ability to translate two-dimensional representations into a three-dimensional mental image. It is critical that students gain a thorough understanding of visualizing atoms, orbitals and their interactions in three dimensions. By developing an E-book with computer graphics, 3D animations, H5P films, and...

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Funding: Tenzer Technology Initiative and the J. William Asher and Dorothy A. Asher Endowed Fund in the Social Sciences

Patrick McInerney

Patrick McInerney - High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) for Ampicillin and Cefuroxime

Major: Chemistry and Biochemistry, DePauw University

Project Mentor: Rich Martoglio, PhD

Research: Appropriate levels of an active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) in medicines must be present in a medical product for the patient to receive therapeutic value. High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) was used to develop a methodology to test for the API in Ampicillin and Cefuroxime drugs. Following the regulations of the...

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Funding: Science Research Fellows Program, Larry and Lesley Stimpert Endowed Fund for Student-Faculty Research, and Student-Faculty Collaborative Research Fund

Dingtong TanRuitang Deng, PhD; Winifer Ali, Qiwen Chen, Dingtong Tan - Biomedical Research Laboratory Techniques and Procedures

Department: College of Pharmacy, University of Rhode Island

Project Mentor: Ruitang Deng, PhD

Research: Farnesoid X receptor (FXR) is the master regulator of bile acid homeostasis while estrange receptor a (ERa) cross-talks with FXR signaling. Bile salt export pump (BSEP) is responsible for biliary excretion of bile acids and plays a critical role in maintaining intrahepatic as well as systemic bile acid levels. The long-term goal of this research program is to...

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Sarah TigglemanSarah Tiggleman - Outdoor Leadership in New England

Major: Education Studies, DePauw University

Project Mentor: Adam Liebman, PhD

Practicum: How do we expand youths' curiosity and joy for nature in outdoor spaces? During the summer of 2022, I worked at Overland Summers as an outdoor leader guiding 5th and 6th graders through the outdoor spaces of New England. This leadership role allowed me to understand the importance of teamwork and independence for young students, and critically analyze the work these types of programs are doing in respect to the concept of wilderness.

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Claypool, DouglasShiley Claypool, Tim Douglas, Dr. Rose Keith, PhD - Latex Induction and Effects of Herbivory on Apocynum cannabinum  

Department: Biology, DePauw University

Project Mentor: Rose Keith, PhD

Research: Apocynum cannabinum, also known as hemp dogbane, is a species of perennial native to the U.S. This species has been found to be extremely plastic, meaning that its environment has significant effects on its phenotypic traits (Ransom et al. 1998). Plant-herbivore interactions, such as herbivory, can drive this plasticity. One of these responses includes the induction of Latex, a white sappy fluid that exits leaves and stems induced by damage (Agrawal and Konno 2009). This project investigates the effects of early-season vs. late-season herbivory on hemp dogbane, as well as how latex induction is influenced by these plant-herbivore interactions.

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Funding: Program Start-Up Fund

Suleman Bashir BalochSuleman Bashir Baloch - ChemWeb: A 2D Molecular Builder Game

Major: Computer Science, DePauw University

Project Mentor: Jeff Hansen, PhD

Research: The research is based on the development of a 2D molecular builder game for CHEM 120 students. The game allows students to draw and check their structures for a given formula against a database of possible correct structures. The game consists of 8 levels, each based on drawing the maximum possible isomers from a given chemical formula. It is created as a...

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Funding: Tenzer Technology Initiative, J. William Asher and Dorothy A. Asher Endowed Fund in the Social Sciences

To Uyen (Anita) NguyenTo Uyen (Anita) Nguyen and Richard Martoglio, PhD - Method Development for the Analysis of Pharmaceuticals Using High Performance Liquid Chromatography  

Department: Chemistry and Biochemistry, DePauw University

Project Mentor: Richard Martoglio, PhD

Research: Since 2013, there have been 1500 reports of counterfeit drugs to WHO, especially from African, American, and European regions 1. Tackling the problem of poor drug quality, the Distributed Pharmaceutical Analysis Lab (DPAL) provides a quality analysis to quantify active pharmaceutical ingredient contents with a goal to trigger a report to the MRA or WHO2. With the support of DPAL, we would like to...

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Funding: Science Research Fellows Program, Larry and Lesley Stimpert Endowed Fund for Student-Faculty Research, and Student-Faculty Collaborative Research Fund

Tran NguyenTran Nguyen; Nancy E. Levinger, PhD; Bridget L. Gourley, PhD - Impact of Urea on Size and Red-Edge Emission Spectroscopy of Reverse Micelles

Department: Chemistry and Biochemistry, DePauw University; Chemistry, Colorado State University

Project Mentor: Bridget L. Gourley, PhD 

Research: We use reverse micelles (RMs) as our model system to study the impact of osmolytes on water at the nanoscale. Reverse micelles are characterized by w0 = [polar component]/[surfactant]. In our experiment, we focus on 5 different w0 (w0 = 1, 5, 10, 20, 40) and 3 concentrations of urea (0.5M, 1M, 2M). The Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS) illustrates a linear relationship between reverse w0 (the ratio) and size. Additionally, the DLS data indicates that the impact of osmolytes on size for small reverse micelles is not significant. Furthermore, Red-Edge Emission Spectroscopy shows a bigger impact on emission for smaller reverse micelles compared to the larger w0 samples.

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Funding: National Science Foundation and J.William Asher and Melanie J.Norton Endowed Fund in the Sciences

Rased, Jiang, MaZaheen Rashed, Yuchen Jiang, Zimo Ma - The Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Undergraduate Students’ Interest in the STEM Field

Department: Neuroscience & Psychology, DePauw University

Project Mentor: Pamela Propsom, PhD

Research: The deadly consequences of COVID-19 have been well documented, as have the social, emotional, and cognitive effects. These sequelae extend to the educational system. Much less investigated have been the potential positive outcomes of the pandemic. Given that STEM education relies heavily on hands-on laboratory experiences, STEM students may have been...

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Funding: Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)