Kutztown University
        Undergraduate Research Committee - ScienceKutztown Undergraduate Research Fund

Science Subcommittee - Past Awards

Sam with beluga whaleSamantha Santiago (Marine Science working with Dr. Wendy Ryan) - Behavioral activity in Delphinapterus leucas before and after the introduction of an adult male in a zoological
This project seeks to understand group dynamics before and after an adult male beluga whale is introduced. Specifically, an assortment of behaviors (e.g. swimming speed, vocalizations, etc.) as well as dive duration will be examined. Gender differences, age differences, behavioral patterns as a function of day versus night, and weather patterns on the days data was collected will also be investigated and applied to the research questions. All animals studied are housed in a zoological setting with year-round exposure to the elements and the changing seasons.

(photo: Sam with Juno the juvenile beluga whale)

I will graduate in May 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in marine science, with a concentration in biology. My career goals include getting involved in the rehabilitation of stranded marine mammals after my undergraduate career. This will undoubtedly provide me with valuable, rewarding experience, which will assist me in successfully pursuing further education in this subject at the graduate level. This project helps to expand my knowledge of cetaceans at a hands-on level and prepare me for my future beyond Kutztown.

Jeff Kadegis working on geophysics project with Dr.
              Laura SherrodJeffrey Kadegis (Geology working with Dr. Jacob Sewall) - Orbital eccentricity, clinker formation, and the climate-landscape evolution link in the North American Rockies and High Plains
Surface processes (e.g. stream incision, erosion, etc.) are affected by changes in moisture balance in drainage basins. However, proxies for paleohydrology, especially in singular locations, are rare in the geologic record. Additionally, a strong correlation between orbital eccentricity and high rates of landscape evolution in the Powder River basin of Montana and Wyoming is difficult to explain with only empirical data. High orbital eccentricity, particularly if enhanced by precession, could lead to a highly seasonal climate with strong mind-continental warming and increased precipitation that would drive an increase in local incision rates, the exhumation of coal, and thus the creation of clinker (‘baked’ rock formed by subterranean fire). We test this hypothesis with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Community Atmosphere Model v.3 with maxima and minima changes in eccentricity, obliquity, and precession while maintaining all other boundary conditions static at modern values over a simulated period of 30 years with the final 10 years averaged for analyses. Comparisons across simulations suggest that, under eccentricity maxima, seasonality substantially increases during summer (June, July, and August average) precipitation totals in much of Wyoming, western Nebraska, and Northeastern Colorado (>14 cm precipitation than eccentricity minima). However, under eccentricity minima, summer precipitation is ~33% lower than maximum eccentricity and precession’s impact appears negligible (~4cm change in precipitation). By linking high values of planetary eccentricity and precession to enhanced mid-continental precipitation, these results provide a possible mechanism to explain the observed association between increased erosion, clinker formation, and orbital eccentricity sediments in the Powder River basin and, thus, a direct link between orbital parameters and landscape evolution in this region. We predict similar relationships between surface processes and insolation across much of the central Rocky Mountains and High Plains.

(photo of Jeff working on geophysical project with Dr. Laura Sherrod)

I hope to assist in ensuring and designing methods to provide people and populations with access to clean, safe, reliable groundwater sources and solutions/preventative measures for groundwater contamination. My current research projects more accurately align with this goal as it elucidates the links between climatological changes, geomorphological processes, and methods of measuring and obtaining desired data. This grant will allow me to not only further my skills as a presenter of my work in a professional setting, but it will also allow me to expand my knowledge and skill set regarding my future in addition to meeting and making contacts other professionals in similar fields.

Drs. Erin Kraal and Ed Simpson - Salton Sea Elizabeth Heness  (Geology working with Dr. Edward Simpson – September 2011) – Taphonomy of barnacle and fish shoreline accumulations of the Salton Sea, California, USA
From 1905-1907, the Salton sink, located in southern California, was partially flooded with Colorado River water escaping from catastrophic breaches in a levee and irrigation canal. Since the initial flooding event, the closed lake system level has been maintained largely by agricultural runoff and river inflow. The result through time is an increase in salinity and eutrophic conditions prompting an evolving ecosystem from human impact. Mass die offs of all introduced marine fish species occurred except the hybrid tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus x O. uroepis). During WWII, floatplanes or transfer of marine buoys introduced to the Salton Sea the highly adaptable barnacle (Balanus amphirite). Tilapia, barnacles, and sand-sized clastics presently dominate the Salton Sea shoreline sediments.
During high wind events, overturning of the stratified water column stirs up phosphates and sulfides that generate algal blooms.  A reduction in dissolved oxygen causes anoxic conditions and high mortality events in the tilapia and barnacle populations, barnacles break off their substrates post mortem. This study reports on the application of a semi-quantitative fish articulation scale and describes the fish kill and barnacle preservation across the Salton’s shoreline.
The scale in question describes the rate in which skeletal remains are scattered and relates the preservation of skeletal elements to energy of deposition.  The semi-quantitative scale varies from 1 to 5 with each integer reflecting an increase from whole to total fish disarticulation. Barnacles were described as clustered (two or more attached to one another), whole, or crushed. An overall trend from articulation to disarticulation occurs from the shoreline to the backshore. The storm high-water line reflects the maximum articulation of fish and the occurrence of clustered barnacles. In the swash zone barnacles are reduced from clusters to whole to crushed.  On high lake-level beach ridges, barnacles and fish parts form low-angle, lake-ward dipping foresets. Rare landward dipping forests are present and record storm wash over. Storm washover fans are well developed along some portion of the shoreline and dominated by sand sized clastics, crushed barnacles, and abundant skeletal tilapia parts.

(photo: Elizabeth Heness analyzing sediment in the field with Dr. Edward Simpson)

I am an undergraduate at Kutztown University studying Environmental Science/Geology.  I hope to gain a better understanding of changing climates, how humans have impacted our environment and how sediment is preserved in the rock record using the Salton Sea as an analog for paleoenvironments.

Kelly McGeehan, Meghan Gladu, and Kayla Montgomery  (Psychology working with Dr. Greg Shelley – September 2011) – Nonverbal Communication of Social Orientation
Participants with different Social Value Orientations (Cooperative, Individualistic, or Competitive) were videotaped while they described why they chose the way they did in a series of social decisions problems.  These same participants (targets) were also videotaped while they attempted to lie about their views on controversial social issues.  Naïve observers were asked to rate the trustworthiness of these targets after viewing randomly selected video-only portions of the pre-recorded interviews. Cooperators and Competitors were rated as significantly more trustworthy than Individualists.   Future research (funded in part by the Kutztown University Undergraduate Research Committee) will attempt to identify any differences in the nonverbal (facial) behaviors exhibited by these targets that could account for the differences in these trustworthiness ratings.

Kelly McGeehan psychologyKelly McGeehan:
I am a junior psychology major (in the clinical counseling track) and hope to pursue a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family counseling.   I am interested in understanding more about how personality can be expressed via nonverbal behavior.  I would also like to learn more about how others interpret these cues.  After completing the FACS seminar offered by Dr. Rosenberg and taking the FACS certification test, I believe that I will have more skill in identifying nonverbal behaviors in others (a potentially invaluable skill for a clinician).  I also believe that this skill will make me a more attractive candidate for both research-based and clinical graduate programs.

Meghan Gladu psychologyMeghan Gladu:
I am a junior psychology major (in the clinical counseling track).  I recently began doing research in Dr. Shelley’s lab.  I have always been interested in how personality can be expressed through facial expressions and am excited about the prospect of learning the Facial Action Coding System from a world-renowned expert.  I also look forward to incorporating these new skills in to research projects here at Kutztown University.   

Kayla Montgomery psychologyKayla Montgomery:
I am a senior majoring in both psychology and criminal justice.  I am interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement.  I am currently most interested in a career as a drug enforcement agency (DEA) agent.  In addition to using FACS as part of a research program with Dr. Shelley here at KU, I hope to be able to incorporate the skills I will acquire at the seminar in Pittsburgh in to my career as a drug enforcement agent. 

Chelsea Bressler  (Biology working with Dr. Todd Underwood – September 2011) – An Examination of Microbial Growth on Bird Feeders to Determine Proper Cleaning Methods
Bird feeders are a site where diseases can be transmitted in birds.  A debris pile on and below the feeder contains seed hulls and bird droppings which can be harbor unsafe fungi and bacteria that affects birds.  Twenty bird feeders will be placed at various locations in Southeastern Pennsylvania where bacteria accumulation will be allowed to occur.  Every ten days the feeders and the debris pile below the feeder will be sampled to determine how quickly bacteria and fungi builds on the bird feeders.  After two and a half months the feeders will be collected and cleaned using soap and water, and a ten percent bleach solution then sampled to determine the optimal cleaning method.

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I am a biology pre-professional major, and I hope to get a Master’s Degree in microbiology.  I have taken ornithology, medical microbiology, and applied environmental microbiology which will all help in the study.  The grant will help me gain experience in using microbiology techniques, in collecting data, in analyzing data, and in writing formal reports.

Devin Ferino - MicrobiologistDevin Ferino  (Biology working with Dr. Angelika Antoni – September 2011) – Dietary influence of live cultures on composition of enteric microbiota
This research is being performed to validate the hypothesis that over a time period of one month, with daily ingestion of yogurt containing different strains of live cultures, the cultures will become established in the gut microbiota and will be detected for at least one month following cessation of yogurt ingestion.  This will be done by collecting stool samples over a time period of several months and using PCR with strain specific primers to detect presence of bacteria.  After 1 month, the strain ingested will be switched and the new strain will be eaten for one month.  During the second month, the presence for the first strain as well as the second strain will be tested.  We want to see how long the original strain will stay established in the gut with introduction of a new strain.

(photo: Devin Ferino)

This research is important to me because I suffer from stomach problems and have found that eating yogurt everyday helps me a lot.  I wanted to perform this research to acquire a better understanding of enteric microbiota and how live cultures influence it.  After undergraduate, I want to continue on to graduate school to obtain a Ph.D in virology and infectious diseases.  My goal is to work at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  This grant will help me achieve my goals by providing me with necessary research experience for graduate school and because it is an area that truly interests me due to my family history of stomach issues.

Michael Bani  (Biology working with Dr. Angelika Antoni and Dr. Dan Aruscavage – September 2011) – Production of IFN-Gamma in Macrophages after Ingestion of Cryptosporidium Bacteria
Cryptosporidium parvum is the causative agent of a gastrointestinal disease that involves inflamed epithelial cells in the intestinal lining, serious immune reactions which cause further damage to the intestinal tissues, and results in severe symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, muscle aches and pains, and dehydration through diarrhea and vomiting. The disease is usually noticed and taken care of by the immune system in healthy individuals but in immunocompromised  victims, this disease can be severe and, in certain situations, fatal (McDonald et al. 1992). The scope of this research is to study the location of production of Interferon-γ (IFN-γ), particularly if macrophages present this cytokine during Cryptosporidium infection. IFN-γ plays a major role in the immune reaction that is caused by Cryptosporidium parvum (Lacroix-Lamandé et al. 2002). An over production of the IFN-γ causes a pro-inflammatory reaction that leads to an increase in diarrhea symptoms, fever, swelling of the epithelial lining in the gut, and abdominal pain. These are all symptoms of Cryptosporidium infection and are the reason the infection gets so bad. In immunocomprimised victims, the disease spreads rapidly and causes all of these same symptoms with higher severity. The infection and symptoms strike quickly since no immune system is present to fight the organism.  The origin of the mass production of IFN-γ in the gut is still misunderstood and unknown (McDonald et al 1992). If the location of the origin of the IFN-γ could be established and the concentration controlled, then the immunocomprimised victims may be able to still fight off the infection with a small injection of the cytokine and people that are immune-healthy could be saved by limiting the production to a bearable amount. This research is pertinent in both aspects..

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All my life I have had a fascination with the biological sciences. Most of my high school and college direction has been focused in the sciences and particularly medical sciences. My long-term academic goal is to graduate with a Masters Degree in Microbiology and Immunology and receive my Ph. D. in Neurology. I hope to work in the medical research field studying diseases such as ALS, MS, and Huntington’s.
Jewels Wilk - research at Salton SeaJewels Wilk  (Geology working with Dr. Erin Kraal – April 2011, September 2011) – Beach Processes in a Unique Environment, Salton Sea, California
The Salton Sea, California is a unique environment, specifically the shoreline.  Its shorelines are composed largely of coarsely grained fish bones and barnacles.  This is not a common feature for shorelines which are usually composed of sand washed in by rivers and streams.  I will characterize this unique beach by comparing different sections and collecting morphological data.  The beach morphology includes beach sediment grain and biological debris size, coastline orientation, particle movement, beach slope, and sand cross-section analysis.  Each of these observations will in turn be used to represent the bottom topography and local intensities of turbulence, and wave body dissipation.  This information combined will be used to map and analyze this type of shoreline and compare it to both traditional sediment beaches and paleo deposits of similar “bone” beaches identified in the Newark Basin, New Jersey by Dr. Edward Simpson.

(photo: Jewels using a total station surveying instrument to measure beach features.)

I am a senior at Kutztown University graduating in May of 2011 with a Bachelor's degree in geology. With the support and funding from the Undergraduate Research Committee I am fortunate to have been able to work with Dr. Erin Kraal and Dr. Edward Simpson on this project and to have participated in the progress of science by doing research. l will be presenting our finds at the annual Geological Society of America national convention in October, 2011. Upon graduation I will continue my growth of knowledge and challenge my capabilities by working in the industry of geological employment.

Jennifer Held - psychologistJennifer Held  (Clinical Psychology working with Dr. Laura Koenig – March 2011) – Evangelism and Religious Affiliation: Catholics and other Christians versus the non-Religious
The main goal of this research was to gain a better understanding of the differences between various religions and non religious individuals concerning the way they evangelize and their openness to another’s beliefs. My research found that there are differences and that people who belong to a certain religious affiliation often feel more obligated to share their views and beliefs as well as perform good works. An interpretation of this result is that being part of a group may cause one to feel pressure to spread the word about the group and gain membership. Also, although individuals reported lower scores for doing good works, this does not mean that they are not involved in charity, but that they may not see it as a way to share their beliefs. For future studies it would be beneficial to have larger sample sizes with subjects of various religious affiliations to examine evangelism across different types of Christian religions (e.g., conservative vs non-conservative).

(photo: Jennifer Held)

I am a senior in my last semester at Kutztown University and will be graduating with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. Throughout my two years at Kutztown, I have been involved in research with Dr. Koenig and this semester I have an internship at the Clubhouse of Lehigh County, Allentown PA. I’m very fortunate for the opportunities that I have had and I feel that presenting my research at the APS Convention, will be a great experience. I plan to attend Graduate school in the future and continue my education in counseling and therapy so that I can help people better their lives, which is my true passion. I would like to thank the URC for supporting me in my research and helping me to gain more experience in the field of Psychology.

Sean Snoddy at the APS meeting in
          2011 with Dr. Robert RyanSean Snoddy  (Psychology working with Dr. Robert Ryan – March 2011) – The Role of Semantic Support and Equation Format in Algebra Problem Solving
The study consisted of two experiments, which found that word problems that provide semantic support are easier to solve than the corresponding equation. In the first experiment subjects were either presented with the word problem alone, or with a start-unknown equation, such as (X -64) / 3 = 20.50 alone, or with a result-unknown equation, such as 64 + 3(20.50) = X alone. The first experiment showed the best performance for  subjects who were given the word problem. There was inferior performance on the start-unknown equation and also inferior performance on the result-unknown equation.  Some subjects that were presented with the word problem solved the word problem without using any equation, but some generated an equation.  When they generated an equation after reading the word problem, they almost always solved it correctly regardless of what equation they generated.
We also found that many of the errors made by those subjects who were trying to solve an equation alone were due to working through the equation from left to right as one would read it even if doing so was incongruent with the order of operations. The second experiment found that subjects were much better at solving a results-unknown equation when it was congruent.  The study findings suggest that it may be better to teach word problems before equations, and that there may be a benefit of teaching some equations before others.

(photo: Sean Snoddy with advisor Dr. Robert Ryan at the APS meeting in 2011)

I am currently a second semester sophomore in the general track of the Kutztown University psychology major.  I have been a research assistant to Dr. Ryan since second semester of freshman year.  I wish to continue on to graduate school, and try to obtain a doctorate in psychology.  This grant will help me cover travel costs to the APS 2011 conference to present research.  This gives me a new experience on the presentation of psychological research in the academic community.  In addition to the experience of the presentation, I will also have time to look at other research to help decide what field in psychology I want to go to graduate school for.

Katlin Rhyner and Mara Wilde at
          the APS meeting 2011Katlin Rhyner and Mara Wilde  (Clinical Psychology working with Dr. Laura Koenig – March 2011) – Effectiveness of Study Techniques on Recall Scores
This study sought to find the best method for studying literature when measured in terms of recall. The methods looked at were underlining, highlighting, note-taking, and passive reading. 74 Kutztown students were randomly assigned to one of the four conditions. They were then given reading material as well as the materials needed for whichever group they were in. Shortly thereafter they were tested on their recall of the material they had been given. The results showed that note-taking was significantly better than passively reading; underlining and highlighting were numerically better than passively reading but this finding was not significant.

(Katlin Rhyner and Mara Wilde at the APS meeting in 2011)

Katlin Rhyner
I am a third year psychology major with a 3.65 GPA and I have participated in multiple research projects, two with Dr. Koenig and Mara Wilde and one with Dr. Robinson. One study was presented at the IUP PASSHE Potluck conference. I intend on going to graduate school for psychology and earning my Ph.D. This grant will help because presentation of studies is an essential part of being accepted to graduate school.
Mara Wilde
I am a senior psychology major with a 3.4 GPA.  I have also participated in multiple research projects, both independently and as Dr. Ryan’s research assistant. I intend on going to Law School in the fall of 2011.  This grant will enable me to present my research at the APS conference and also allow me to build my resume which will in turn help me to be accepted into school so that I may further my education.

Shane HarveyShane Harvey  (Biology working with Dr. Dan Aruscavage – February 2011) – The Effect of Enteric Distribution of Escherichia coli and Enterobacter aerogenes on Surface and Sediment Total Coliform counts and Biochemical Oxygen Demand in Synthetic Ponds
This study aims to provide a discerning difference in the levels of total fecal coliforms found in surface level water samples and sediment level water samples. Fecal coliforms are useful indicators of water quality and are commonly used by water testing agencies to determine if a water supply is safe for human use. The differences in total fecal coliform levels in sediment and surface water samples is important because human interaction that disturbs sediment, can release the fecal coliforms that were trapped in the sediment into the rest of the water. This property is pertinent to places such as beaches and lakes where many people could be affected by poor water quality.

(photo: Shane Harvey in the lab)

I am senior at Kutztown University working towards a B.S. in Biology (Molecular/Cell/Micro) with a minor in Biochemistry. After graduation my goal is to attend graduate school and obtain my PhD in the biological sciences. This grant will help me further my research by providing essential materials while at the same time providing me with the experience of doing individual research that is sure to help me in the future.

Philip Abdouche at CPUB 2011Philip Abdouche  (Biology working with Dr. Marilyn C. Baguinon – February 2011) – An Investigation on the Expression Profiles of Uridine Diphosphate N-Acetylglucosamine Pyrophosphorylases in the Red Flour Beetle, Tribolium castaneum
The main goal of the project is to determine the function(s) of the two uridine diphosphate (UDP) N-acetylglucosamine pyrophosphorylase (UAP) enzymes in the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum.  Current literature shows that UAP plays specific roles in the fruitfly Drosophila, however, the specific roles of the two UAP enzymes in Tribolium are still not clearly understood. To gain insight into the roles of the UAP enzymes in Tribolium, we propose to determine the expression levels of the two UAP genes in the different developmental stages of the insect.

(photo: Philip presenting his research at CPUB)

My main career goal is to become a dentist, but as of this time I am interested in getting my degree in order for me to work in a lab. As part of my academic career, working in a lab is a big interest to me. Therefore, in doing this research with Dr. Baguinon, and getting this grant will help me in getting independent research experience working in a laboratory environment.

Lindsay Confer - biologistLindsay Confer  (Biology working with Dr. Cristen L. Rosch – February 2011) – The Anatomical Teratogenic Effects of Salmonella on the Development of Gallus gallus domesticus
This project will determine the teratogenic effects of the bacteria Salmonella on developing chicken embryos.  Six day chicken eggs will be injected with Salmonella, then cracked prematurely to determine any anatomical defects cause by the bacteria.  Measurements will be taken including crown-to-rump length, eye-to-eye width, head circumference, and overall body mass.  Dissections of the brain and spleen will also be done to determine any developmental defects.  Polymerase chain reaction may also be done to determine the level of antimicrobial peptide gene expression in the liver.  Previous work has shown that the expression of this protein may increase in response to a Salmonella infection.

(photo: Lindsay Confer in the lab)

After graduation I am planning on attending graduate school followed by medical school where I hope to pursue a career in cardiology.  This grant will allow me to perform undergraduate research which will not only expand my knowledge in several biology related fields such as anatomy, biochemistry, developmental biology, and microbiology, but it will also increase my chances of being accepted into graduate and medical school.  This grant will allow me to conduct research during which I will enhance my laboratory skills, problem solving and critical thinking skills, all of which will be used in my continuation of higher education, necessary to reach my career goals.

Dustin Greenleaf - researcherDustin Greenleaf  (Biology working with Dr. Matthew Stone – February 2011) – Changes in Maternal Bone Density during Embryonic Development of the Eggshell in Hemidactylus turcicus
The maternal calcium requirement of egg-laying reptiles, such as geckos, increases dramatically during pregnancy.  Large quantities of this rigid and metabolically important mineral are vital to the development of a strong eggshell. Geckos have adapted the endolymphatic sac as a calcium reservoir to be used during this time of embryo development.  It is unknown, however, if this mechanism alone spares the female gecko from bone loss during egg production, or if they, much like some other closely related reptiles, exhibit a decrease in bone density during gestation.

(photo: Dustin Greenleaf in the lab)

I have kept and bred reptiles and amphibians for over ten years as a hobby, and look forward to beginning research with these animals. In addition, I have great interest in histological techniques such as tissue processing, embedding, sectioning, and staining, which I conducted in my Histology course last semester. This grant would allow me to combine both of these interests into one project and would enable me to develop my skills as a research biologist. As a junior, I hope to continue my education and research after Kutztown in a graduate program focusing on histology, more specifically tissue-regeneration using biotechnology.

Dale Kappus  (Psychology working with Dr. Robert Ryan – February 2011) – Using Category Induction to Teach Inferential Statistics
Category induction is beneficial for learning to distinguish types of examples. But does this apply to an instructional method in an actual statistics class? We found that participants who tried to recognize features of examples in statistics performed better on tests of their ability to distinguish different types of examples.

(photo: none provided)

When transferring into Kutztown University from Northampton Community College I had the intent of graduating with a psychology degree and continuing into a graduate program for clinical psychology. However, while at Kutztown the interesting field of experimental psychology has captured me. I now intend to attend a doctoral program in cognitive science with a heavy program focus on research. Attendance to conferences such as, the Association of Psychological Science (APS) in Washington D.C., allows for me to further strengthen my experience and knowledge of experimental psychology.

Ciara Cyr - researcherCiara Cyr  (Psychology working with Dr. Jason Lanter – February 2011) – Trust Issues: How a Rivalry Influences Perceptions of Other Sports Fans
The level of trust between sports fans has been shown to differ for fellow fans and rival fans, with a higher level of trust for fellow fans and a lower level of trust for rival fans (Wann et al., in press).  This research was conducted to examine the trust level for both fellow fans and rival fans, but also including non-rival fans during the regular and post-season.  With non-rival teams having a less intense relationship than rival teams, participants were expected to display a higher level of trustworthiness for non-rival fans than they would have for rival fans.  These differences were expected to be more pronounced during the post-season as opposed to the regular season.  The study found the lowest trust level relating to rival fans, and the highest trust level with the non-rival fans.  The trust level of non-rival fans was even higher than that of fellow fans. 

(photo: Ciara Cyr)

I am completing my Bachelors Degree in Psychology in the Spring 2011 semester and have been a research assistant for four semesters.  After earning my Bachelors Degree I plan on attending graduate school to study Experimental Psychology.  My eventual career goal is to work at a university with a research program.  This grant will help achieve my goals by providing the opportunity to present research at a conference, and giving me experience in the field.

Kirsten_Williams-Samantha_Scott-Bevin_Lustman-Bob_RyanBevin Lustman  (Psychology working with Dr. Robert Ryan – January 2011) – Usixtics
It is important to know what factors affect an eyewitness's ability to perform well when asked to make an identification in a lineup. But performing well means not only being able to identify the correct person if that person is in the lineup, but also to avoid incorrectly identifying someone if the correct person is not in the lineup. One factor that has been shown to affect people's ability to recognize a face is whether they are processing the face as a whole or as a collection of individual features. They do better when they process it as a whole. But trying to verbally describe the face before making the identification has been shown to shift people to processing features. This previous research has shown that when people shift to featural processing, they do worse at identifying the correct person, if that person is in the lineup. The previous research, however, did not examine the effect of this featural processing on people's ability to avoid a false identification, that is, incorrectly identifying someone when the correct person is not in the lineup. The study that Bevin helped to conduct filled in that gap in our knowledge. It showed that when a lineup procedure is used in which the eyewitness looks at one face at a time in a sequence, shifting the eyewitness's processing to the featural mode both impairs their ability to make a correct identification and also increases false identifications. Although this did not occur when the lineup procedure was to have the eyewitness look at all the faces simultaneously, this is still an important finding because the sequential lineup procedure is believed to be the preferred procedure.

(photo: Kirsten Williams, Samantha Scott, Bevin Lustman, and Dr. Robert Ryan at APS meeting in 2008)


Meredith StarrMeredith Starr  (Biology working with Dr. Aruscavage – January 2011) – The Morphological Teratogenic Effects of Non-pathogenic Escherichia coli on Gallus gallus domesticus Development
The objective of this research is to determine whether non-pathogenic E. coli causes morphological defects on chick embryo development when injected into the chick eggs’ albumen.  Six day old chick eggs will be injected with different concentrations of E. coli and cracked prematurely to observe anatomical defects caused by the bacteria.  The hypothesis states that non-pathogenic Escherichia coli will have an overall damaging effect on the development of Gallus gallus domesticus, including low body mass, shorter crown to rump length, smaller head circumference, poorly developed kidneys, and premature death.  Higher concentrations of E. coli are expected to be more damaging than lower concentrations of E. coli, potentially being lethal to the embryos. Chick embryos have traditionally served as a model system for studying vertebrate development.  Thus, an understanding of how non-pathogenic E. coli may affect chick embryogenesis can potentially provide information on the harmful effects of the bacteria on human embryos.

(photo: Meredith Starr working in the lab)

I am a senior biology (pre-professional) major and am graduating in May, 2011.  My goal is to attend medical school and become a physician or medical researcher.  This grant will help me achieve my goals by allowing me to practice multiple lab techniques, critical thinking skills, and problem solving skills.  I am interested in developmental biology because it merges information and skills I have learned in other biology courses, such as genetics, molecular biology, microbiology, and biochemistry.  As an aspiring medical student, techniques and skills learned during this experiment will be useful in preparing me for my continued and higher education.

Kenneth_Rohlfing at science open houseKenneth S. Rohlfing  (Computer Science working with Dr. Daniel Spiegel and Dr. Oskars Rieksts – January 2011) – Using Video Glasses for Assistive Robotics
The project will consist of interfacing a pair of video glasses to a laptop, and using them as a display for a system that will consist of multiple video feeds.  There will be three video feeds:  eye tracking feed, normal frontal feed, infrared frontal feed.  The eye tracking feed will be used in interacting with the computer when there is lack of a mouse to use as a pointer.   The normal and infrared feeds will be used to display what is in front of the user as they use the video glasses.  The infrared feed will be used when there is not enough light for the user to see with ease.  This project can be considered an assistive robotic.

(photo: Kenneth at Science Open House)

Kenneth S. Rohlfing is a junior at Kutztown University majoring in computer science. Following graduation, he intends  to further his education with an ultimate goal of attaining a Ph.D. in computer science, with his research based in virtual reality, human-computer interaction, robotics, or a combination of these areas. The proposed project will serve as initial work in the areas in which he intends to perform research as he works towards his goal.

Johshua_SabatineJoshua Sabatine (Biochemistry working with Dr. Matt Junker – October 2010) – Determine if IAP Self-Association makes it a stronger Caspase inhibitor
The process of apoptosis is highly conserved on a biochemical level by regulator proteins known as caspases .  A caspase is a protease (protein), which breaks down proteins.  The protease does this by hydrolyzing the peptide bonds that hold amino acids together.  Another component of this process are inhibitors of apoptosis (IAPs), which bind to the caspases inhibiting their action.  IAPs bind to caspase to inhibit them from causing apoptosis.  When a competing molecule binds the IAPs it causes a conformational change of the IAP, which causes the IAP to release from the caspase, allowing apoptosis to initiate.  We are testing to see whether a dimerized IAP is a better inhibitor than a monomeric IAP.  Essentially this means that two IAPs in one molecule should be able to inhibit both active sites on the caspase as opposed to two independent IAPs.

(photo: Josh working in the lab)

I am a senior graduating in spring of 2011, my goal is to attend medical school and become a physician/researcher.  I hope to not only contribute to the world as a physician but to also collaborate on research projects with other professionals.  This grant is helping me achieve these goals by allowing to me to take full advantage of the facilities at Kutztown by obtaining the appropriate experimental materials and carry out procedures essential in breaking new ground in this particular research project.  I am very thankful to the donors who made this possible without whom I could not fully carry out this research project and expand my undergraduate research experience.

Erin MillerErin Miller (Biology working with Dr. Dan Aruscavage – October 2010) – Cross-Contamination of Shigella sp. with Spinach Leaves on Cutting Boards
Our objectives in this research are to study the inhabitants of store-bought chicken to better understand if a pathogen inhibitor can be found and if cutting board contamination of spinach is as costly as direct contamination with the chicken source.  Our hypothesis is that Shigella can transfer from chicken to spinach equally from direct contamination and from cutting board exposure due to large amounts of bacteria that will remain behind on the cutting board after exposure.  Due to recent outbreaks and dangers associated with food-borne pathogens, there is a need to get information to the public that may improve our food supply.

(photo: Erin working in the lab)

With background coursework in microbiology and medical microbiology and aspirations of becoming a physician assistant, I’m learning more about cross-contamination of pathogens from human sources as well as practicing aseptic technique when working with microbes.  As a physician assistant, learning more about infections will be helpful in treating patients.  This grant money will fund our research on Shigella and aid us in completing our objectives for the research project.  Thank you very much for your consideration in choosing this project to fund from the Kutztown University Foundation and Dr. Carlos Vargas.

Ashley HahnAshley Hahn (Biology working with Dr. Dan Aruscavage – October 2010) – Persistence of Contamination by Pathogens from Different Food Sources on Kitchen Cutting Boards
The purpose of my research is to determine how long two different pathogens (E.coli and B.cereus) will remain on a cutting board after initial contamination by a sample of chicken breast. From the cutting board surface, residue will be collected and colony counts will be performed. Also, the area will be tested for the presence of different toxins. The toxins that may or may not be left behind on the cutting board are the most common culprit in regards to food borne illnesses that most people get at home or in a professional setting. The objective of my research is to see just how long these bacteria and toxins remain present on the cutting board after initial contact and how persistent they remain throughout different periods of time.

(photo: Ashley working in the lab)

I am currently a senior at Kutztown University working towards a B.S. in Biology (Pre-professional). After graduation I plan to work in a laboratory setting doing research that will hopefully contribute to making the food industry safer. Eventually, I plan to attend graduate school to further my education in Microbiology or something medically related.  This grant has provided me with the opportunity to obtain lab testing equipment that is essential to answering the questions that my research proposes as well as improving my lab skills so that one day I will be able to obtain a career in the sciences. I would like to thank the Undergraduate Research Committee for awarding me this grant and allowing me to broaden my horizons in the Biology track.

Max_Needle_Denver_2010Max Needle (Geology working with Dr. Sarah Tindall – September 2010) – A deeper look into orogenic curvature: Analog models in cross section
Based on field observations, geologists have proposed several displacement patterns through which curved mountain belts form. Though research has been conducted on the analysis of field measurements, reports of analogue modeling of these processes are sparse.  Comparing the cross-sectional differences between primary and progressive orogens could lead to a better understanding of the mountain-building processes as well as better recognition of a specific displacement pattern in the field.  Using thin, rigid plastic sheets and sand in a “squeeze-box” for the construction of analogue models, I attempted to simulate the processes of two of the proposed displacement patterns that form curved mountain belts.  A control of a straight ramp was also used for comparison.  After the sand orogens were formed, the models were dissected to reveal cross-sectional patterns.  The assessment of the cross-sections demonstrated that the fault patterns in the primary arcs were similar to the control ramp, whereas the progressive arc contained varying heights of deformation as well as varying quantities of faults relative to the site of nucleation around the arc.
(click here to read my published abstract)

(photo: Max explaining his research at the national Geological Society of America meeting in Denver, Colorado)

I have confidently found my niche in geology, specifically modeling geologic processes and structural geology.  The modeling aspect of geology exercises spatial reasoning abilities, art skills, and scientific thinking. The personal qualities of which I am proud functioned harmoniously to complete a task and make a contribution to the scientific community.  With the guidance of the geology professors at Kutztown University, I developed an understanding of the process through which scientific research is conducted, funded, and published.  The URC grant enabled me to orally present my research to the scientific community by sponsoring my attendance at a national Geological Society of America conference in Denver, CO.

Shane_Folk_1Shane Folk (Geology working with Dr. Sarah Tindall – September 2010) – Modeled Effects of Deep-Seated Fault Offset and Strike on Supracrustal Geometries in Basement-Cored Uplifts
The Precambrian basement of the Colorado Plateau contains a network of ancient faults, reactivated during a mountain building event. This mountain building event distorted the sedimentary rock above these faults to create unique patterns in the sedimentary rock.In this study, squeeze box models were conducted to investigate how these deep seated faults affect the geometries of the overlying mountains.
      The basement faults were modeled using plastic blocks. The rock equivalent was found in fine grained sand and was separated into individually colored layers. These materials were deformed in a plexiglass squeeze box, with a computer controlled piston. The resulting mountain could then be dissected to reveal its inner geometry. These model results resemble patterns associated with many mountains on the Colorado Plateau and may be useful in understanding basement fault orientation, amount of displacement, and progressive fault and fold growth associated with the mountains.
(click here to read my published abstract)

(photo: Shane explaining his research at the national Geological Society of America meeting in Denver, Colorado)

I am a senior Geology student with a minor in Geography here at Kutztown University. Throughout my time here at Kutztown, I have developed an interest in Structural, Economic and Field Geology. It is with aid from the Undergraduate Research Committee and my professors, that I was able to challenge my potential. I  completed a  research project and was given the opportunity to travel to Denver, Colorado to present at a Geological Society of America national convention. It is uncertain what the future holds, or what careers I may fall into but  I hope to employ all the previously mentioned disciplines of Geology in a mineral exploration career.

Terry_Weller_and_Lawrence_FredericksTerry Weller and Lawrence E. Fredericks III (Biochemistry working with Dr. Matt Junker and Dr. Carsten Sanders – September 2010) – Cloning and functional expression of human cytochrome c hemelyase (CCHL)
Our research entails the amplification and cloning of human CCHL and cytochrome c.  Human CCHL and cytochrome c was amplified in competent E. coli cells.  Once the E. coli was cloned, the colonies will be lysed and the amplified CCHL and cytochrome c can then be used in biochemical tests.  We will study the binding affinity of CCHL and IAP (Inhibitor of Apoptosis Protein) in regards to organized programmed cell death.  This research could further information about cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.

(photo: Terry and Lawrence in the lab)

My name is Lawrence Fredericks and I am in my second of overall four college years at Kutztown University. I major in Biology/Pre-professional and Biochemistry and I also minor in Chemistry. I will be graduating in spring 2012. Subsequent to my graduation at Kutztown University, I would like to attend a medical school or graduate school for a PhD in Biochemistry or Biophysics. I believe that doing research on the mechanism of apoptosis will advance my knowledge and skills relevant for my desired future career path.

My name is Terry Weller and I am a junior at Kutztown University attaining a major in Biology/Pre-professional and a minor in Psychology. After graduation in the spring of 2012, I plan on attending medical school or graduate school to receive a medical degree or a PhD in Microbiology. This research will provide much needed experience since I plan on doing research in the future as well. The medical relevance of this particular project has peaked my interest and I strongly believe it will help me in my future endeavors.

          ChwieckoBrian Chwiecko (Biochemistry working with Dr. Matt Junker and Dr. Carsten Sanders – September 2010) – Probing the pro-apoptotic protein-protein interaction between cytochrome c heme lyase (CCHL) and inhibitor of apoptosis protein (IAP)
This research is designed to determine if there is a physical binding interaction between two proteins. The tow proteins in question are IAP and CCHL. IAP is the inhibitor of apoptosis protein. It prevents the cell from undergoing apoptosis (programmed cell death). CCHL is cytochrome c heme lyase. It is an enzyme that attaches a heme cofactor to cytochrome c and may potentially bind to IAP, allowing apoptosis to commence. The significance of this finding may influence further cancer research and help to complete our understanding of the apoptotic pathway which is involved in many major genetic disorders as well as cancer.

(photo: Brian Chwiecko)

I am a senior Biology major planning on attending medical school once I graduate KU this spring. This research grant has helped me further my findings and potentially will allow me to write a manuscript for publication. The research experience I have gained undoubtedly will affect my future in medicine. I would like to thank the donors and the URC for allowing me this wonderful opportunity.

Laura MoserLaura Moser (Marine Science working with Dr. Cristen Rosch – September 2010) – Effects of Toxins from Common Sources of Pollution on Quorum Sensing and Bioluminescent Capabilities of Vibrio harveyi
My research will observe the effects that three toxins have on Vibrio harveyi’s (a marine bacterium) ability to conduct quorum sensing and bioluminescence.  The three toxins – silver nitrate, acetone, and toluene – are representative of three common sources of marine pollution:  industrial runoff, agricultural runoff, and oil spills, respectively.  Quorum sensing is a process that occurs when there are numerous bacterial cells in a given area at a time.  It is a unique method that enables certain genes – such as the luciferase gene needed for bioluminescence – to be expressed while others are shut down.  Quorum sensing will be determined by measuring absorbance using a microplate reader in order to determine whether or not the bacterial population is still growing.  Bioluminescence will also be measured using a microplate reader.  The expression of the luciferase gene will be determined by first performing reverse transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) using the bacterium’s mRNA and then by observing the PCR product using agarose gel electrophoresis.  All of these components will be measured before and after adding increasing concentrations of each of the toxins to the bacterial cultures to observe their effects on Vibrio harveyi.

(photo: Laura Moser in the lab)

I am a senior at Kutztown University majoring in Marine Science with a concentration in Biology.  Following graduation I hope to obtain a Master’s degree in Microbiology, enabling me to further my education in the field that I would like to pursue professionally.  A future career involving the use of molecular and microbial techniques is desired.  Thanks to the Kutztown Undergraduate Research Committee I will be able to gain more experience in the lab techniques often used in both molecular biology and microbiology, which will be of critical importance in the near future, following my studies at Kutztown University.

Helen MalendaHelen Malenda (Geology working with Dr. Edward Simpson – April 2010) – Investigation of Modern Biological Soil Crusts: Implications for the Rock Record
Helen is working in studying Biological Soil Crusts, which are complex communities composed of bacteria, algae, fungus, and lichens. Biological Soil Crusts are important, because they are most likely the first organisms to colonize the land environment. Helen works with Dr. Simpson to investigate how Biological Soil Crusts may be preserved in rocks in order to aid in their recognition and environmental implications. This work combines both geology and biology, and will hopefully gain some insight into ancient environments of the harsh Precambrian land.
(click here to read my published abstract)

(photo: Helen presenting her research at the national Geological Society of America meeting in Denver, Colorado)

Helen F Malenda is a senior geology student at Kutztown University. She has studied and lived in Germany, Puerto Rico and California pursuing interests in science and languages. She hopes to go to graduate school for environmental geology and will hopefully work both in America and else where to aid in finding clean water and resources for communities. She thanks the undergraduate research committee for allowing her to work on research that investigates early terrestrial flora and environments. She has been able to travel to Utah twice to do field studies as well as present research in Denver and Pittsburgh.

Anne LuggAnne Lugg (Biology working with Dr. William Brown – April 2010)  – Aging House Wren nestlings based on feather tract development, wing chord, and head length
My research involved the characterization of baby house wrens using feather tract development and body measurements.  Additionally we wanted to see if we could develop a method of scoring unknown-aged wrens in the field using one or both of these techniques.  We collected a sample of 42 birds from 10 different nest boxes and recorded wing chord and head length.  We also took pictures from the top and side of each bird.  Using the measurements and pictures for each day, I put together a characterization of each nestling for each day’s age as they developed in the nest. To test the useability of the aging method, I applied it to a sample of unknown-aged birds and was able to accurately estimate age to within 1 day using the body measurements alone.

(photo: Anne presenting her research in New York)

I am a returning student to Kutztown University, already in the midst of my first career change.  I have graduated from the Biology program with high hopes of working in the field.  I hope to obtain employment in the field of biology or ecology, perhaps within a government agency.  I would like to thank the KU Undergraduate Research Committee for their fiscal contribution to my research with Dr. Brown.  Their generosity will help me to present our findings at a professional meeting of ornithologists this May.

          RathmanAshley Rathman (Biology working with Dr. William Brown – April 2010) – The effect of Wood Thrush hosts on the survival of Brown-headed Cowbird eggs and nestlings
Brood-parasitic Brown-headed Cowbirds (Molothrus ater) have a detrimental effect on a wide range of hosts, and cowbird fledging rates differ substantially among those hosts.  The purpose of this study was to explore the effect of Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) hosts on cowbird survival through each nest stage (egg laying to incubation, incubation to hatching, hatching to fledging) as well as the overall survival rate from egg laying through fledging.  Cowbird fledging success among other forest species hosts also was compared to our results.    
There was no difference in survival of cowbird and Wood Thrush eggs from laying to incubation.  Wood Thrushes survived better than cowbirds in the incubation and nestling stages.  Among a variety of forest-dwelling hosts, the success of cowbirds from egg laying through fledging ranged from 0% (House Finches, Carpodacus mexicanus) to 68.5% (Red-eyed Vireo, Vireo olivaceus); 23% of cowbirds in our study survived from laying through fledging.  We suggest this wide range of cowbird success among hosts may be due to host diet, host defensive behaviors, types of nest used by the hosts, or differential mass among host species.

(photo: Ashley presenting her research in New York)

Avian reproductive biology is a topic that is very interesting to me. By completing this project, I expanded my knowledge in the subject and gained experience in presenting research. Ultimately, I plan on attending graduate school to further my study in reproductive biology. This grant allowed me to travel to a major ornithological meeting to present my research, which was highly beneficial to me and my future education goals. I would like to thank the donors and the URC for providing me with the grant money necessary for me to attend this meeting. It was definitely a priceless experience!

          NiczyporowiczLaura Niczyporowicz (Biology working with Dr. Todd Underwood – April 2010) – The effectiveness of constant effort mist-netting in estimating abundance and reproductive success of a Wood Thrush population
I worked with Dr. Underwood on my research project. The goal of our study was to test the effectiveness of Constant Effort Mist-Netting (CEM) at gauging the population demographics of a Wood Thrush population. CEM is a widely used technique, but its effectiveness is found to vary among bird species. We first measured the actual density of Wood Thrushes in the population and then compared those values to the estimates obtained from CEM using linear regression. We found that CEM was only effective at gauging two variables of reproductive success, the amount of juveniles in the population and the ratio of juveniles to adults.

(photo: Laura presenting her research in New York)

I would like to extend my many thanks to the members of the KU Undergraduate Research Committee for awarding me the student grant which allowed me to attend the Annual Wilson Ornithological Society meeting in Geneva, New York. It was a really great experience, and it will no doubt help me to eventually find a career concerned with research in Animal Behavior. I appreciate all you have done in helping me to obtain this experience.

            Luecke and Cory Land at the AITP conferenceChristine Luecke and Cory Land (Computer Science working with Dr. Joo Tan – March 2010)  – Association of Information Technology Professionals National Collegiate Conference Web Application Project Competition
Phase I of the competition was to develop the project proposal and system analysis requirements and present a final document containing a summary of these processes for judging. For this initial phase, the team completed both the Project Planning Phase and the Analysis Phase of the SDLC. During the Project Planning Phase the team gathered information about the specifics of what the client was looking for in the system. A Database was then designed based upon these findings. A Work Breakdown Structure was developed along with the Software Project Plan for the project. Upon completion of the Project Planning Phase, the team moved on to the Analysis Phase. An Information Gathering Report and a Software Requirements Specification Document were developed. Following this, the project was assessed for feasibility. The Phase I Document contains the documents that were developed through these two steps as well as the team’s findings and recommendations for the client.
            Phase II of the competition was to include information about the System Design. After completing the first two phases of the SDLC the team moved into the Design Phase. At this time, the team began to plan the high level aspects using various OO models to capture details of the system in preparation for the Implementation Phase. The team developed a System Design Specification, the Site Architecture, the User Interface Design as well as the design of the Database during this phase. After the Design Phase was complete, the team then moved on to the Implementation Phase. An implementation timeline was developed to aid in ensuring quality and adherence to the schedule. At this time, an overall Development Plan was produced and intensive implementation was started. The Test Specification was also written in preparation for system testing. The Phase II Document contains a compilation of the documents that were developed through these steps.
Phase III of the competition includes all information pertaining to Construction and Implementation of the system. The Implementation Phase was completed and a client acceptance test was scheduled and conducted after system testing was completed. After PADS was fully accepted by the client, it progressed into the Support and Maintenance Phase. The Phase III Document includes details pertaining to the final phases, which also involves writing a user manual and user documentation for the system.

(photo: Christine, Cory, and Dr. Tan at the national meeting)

Christine Luecke is currently a final semester senior, graduation planned for May 2010, who is pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science with a focus in Software Development. She is also a previous graduate from Kutztown University, class of 2007, with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts, focus in Fibers. Upon graduation, she plans to pursue a career in software engineering. This grant would allow her to gain experience both with working on a team as well as with presenting formally at a large conference; it will also allow her to associate with potential professional contacts as well as acting as a resume enhancer.
Cory Land is currently a senior at Kutztown University, earning his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science: Information Technology in the spring of 2010. In the near future, he hopes to land a job in the computer industry working for a prestigious company gaining a career in software development. The AITP Conference web competition will help add experience to his resume, and add an edge when applying for a job. The funding for this grant will allow the project team to travel to St. Louis for the presentation, in an effort to win the competition.

Crystal_HoeflingCrystal Hoefling (Psychology working with Dr. Matthew Heinly – March 2010) – Effect of Stimulus Complexity on Recognition Memory Tests in Simulated Malingering and Normal Controls
The purpose of my research was to determine the effect of stimulus complexity on force-choice recognition tests.  We looked at an existing test (TOMM) which is an extremely easy test given to individuals in neuropsychological clinics. The purpose of the test is to catch individuals who are faking a memory problem (malingerer). The individuals that do have problems with memory do very well on the test and the malingerers purposely do poorly. We devised a test that was to be as similar as possible to the TOMM but used abstract line drawings instead of line drawings of common objects. The study demonstrated that there was a significant difference between recognizing simple line drawings and abstract drawings for persons simulating memory impairment and normal controls. Past research has found similar results for simple verses complex stimuli.

(photo: Crystal Hoefling with Dr. Heinly and research collaborator Katherine Sternbergh presenting their work at the American Psychological Society meeting in Boston, MA)

I am a senior psychology major at Kutztown University. This grant will allow me to travel to Boston for the Association of Psychological Science conference to present the results of my research. I am currently working on completing a manuscript for publication with my advisor and looking forward to continuing research in the future. After graduation, my plan is to attend a clinical psychology doctorate program to attain my PhD and become a licensed psychologist.

Ryan_GeislerRyan Geisler (Biology working with Dr. Carsten Sanders – February 2010) – Uncovering the Holocytochrome c Biogenesis System of Euglena gracilis
The goal of my research is to uncover the mechanism by which holocytochrome c biogenesis occurs in the model organism Euglena gracilis.  C type cytochromes are important proteins involved in the oxidation-reduction reactions of cellular respiration and photosynthesis.  They are usually characterized by covalent attachment of the cytochrome to a heme group through two thioether bonds.  However, E. gracilis displays a unique holocytochrome c in which the heme is attached to the cytochrome through only one thioether bond.  My research will use multiple molecular and microbiology techniques, including polymerase chain reaction(PCR) and the creation of a cDNA library, to attempt to uncover the biogenesis mechanism.  This research is relevant because E. gracilis shares this unique type of cytochrome with dangerous human pathogens such as Trypanosoma spp. and the uncovering of this biogenesis mechanism could provide a potential drug target for these pathogens.

(photo: Ryan in the lab)

I am currently a junior at Kutztown University majoring in Biology/Pre-professional and minoring in Psychology.  Upon graduation from Kutztown, I plan on attending medical school to obtain a medical degree.  I would like to sincerely thank the Kutztown University Undergraduate Research Committee and all of those involved in providing me with this opportunity.  This opportunity will allow me to conduct research I am interested in and it will allow me to go to conferences to present my research to others.  I am truly grateful for the support that allows me to partake in the advancement of my career and most important of all allows me to do what I am most interested it.

John_PonisJohn Ponis (Biochemistry working with Dr. Matt Junker – February 2010) – Measurement of HAP1’s DNA-Binding Affinity
I will measure binding characteristics of HAP1 (a yeast protein that binds to DNA) in order to assist in developing a method for controlling protein association in the laboratory.

(photo: John in the lab)

I am a junior Chemistry major at Kutztown University. I plan on graduating in May 2010, earning a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. I plan on entering graduate school and getting my Master’s Degree and eventually my Doctorate in Chemistry. This research will provide me with valuable experience working independently in a lab setting, and my eventual presentation will hopefully grant insight into my future career path.

Lauren Storm and Ed SimpsonLauren Storm (Geology working with Dr. Edward Simpson – February 2010) – A Mississippian Vertebrate Burrow?
Complex terrestrial communities, represented by significant subsurficial bioturbation, are reported to have evolved in the early Mesozoic Era. This is thought to reflect the fact that the substrate ecospace was the last to be exploited, including depth of burrowing. However, recent studies of the Mississippian-age middle member of the Mauch Chunk Formation have revealed an intensely bioturbated fine-grained sandstone preserved in an ancient channel fill. This new information opens up for discussion the intensity and depth of bioturbation in early (late Paleozoic) terrestrial ecosystems.

(click here to read my published abstract)

(photo: Lauren and Dr. Simpson presenting her research at the Geological Society of America meeting)

This research also resulted in publication of a full, peer-reviewed journal article in the journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology titled Large vertebrate burrow from the Upper Mississippian Mauch Chunk Formation, eastern Pennsylvania, USA (Storm et al. 2010). 

Biographical blurb.

Max Needle with Sarah TindallMattathias Needle (Geology working with Dr. Sarah Tindall – February 2010) – Physical modeling of primary and progressive orogenic curvature
Because of the sparse-nature of the research revolving around the analogue modeling of mountain salient displacement paths, I decided to test the proposed paths in the lab.  My findings within the analogue models may support the proposed displacement paths that form mountain salients.  Secondly, by modeling the displacement paths with sand, I have the ability to cut the models and observe the deformation in cross-section.  This information can benefit the scientific community in helping to identify cross-sectional features that indicate a particular displacement path in the field when studying mountains.
(click here to read my published abstract)

(photo: Max and Dr. Tindall presenting his research at the Geological Society of America meeting)

After almost seven years as an undergraduate college student, I have confidently found my niche in geology, specifically modeling geologic processes and structural geology.  The modeling aspect of my research really exercised my spatial reasoning abilities, art skills, and scientific thinking. The personal qualities of which I am proud functioned harmoniously to complete a task and make a contribution to the scientific community.  With the guidance of my professors at Kutztown University, I developed an understanding of the process through which scientific research is conducted and published.  The URC grant will enable me to share my findings with the scientific community at the GSA meeting as well as receive a broader perspective of other research in my field.

Sarah DelsantoSarah Delsanto   (Biology working with Dr. Marilyn Baguinon – January 2010) – Cloning and sequencing of the gene for UDP-N-acetylglucosamine pyrophosphorylase from the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum
The purpose of this project is to investigate the role of the enzyme UDP-N-acetylglucosamine pyrophosphorylase (UAP) in the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum.  It has been shown that UAP plays specific roles in other  insects, such as Drosophila, however, the exact function of UAP in Tribolium is still not known. To begin to understand the function of UAP in Tribolium, we propose to isolate the gene from the genomic DNA of the insect, then clone, and sequence it. Once sequenced, the gene will be further studied to identify its role or roles in the survival of the insect.

(photo: Sarah Delsanto working in the lab)

I am in the final semester of my senior year as a Biology major. After graduation in the Spring of 2010, I plan on seeking a research career at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical center or other institutions. This independent student research experience will be invaluable towards my aspirations to become a clinical researcher. I look forward to applying the techniques I have learned in the classroom and in the lab towards my future career. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be able to expand my knowledge and hands-on techniques, and I would like to extend my gratitude towards Dr. Carlos-Vargas Aburto and the Kutztown  University Foundation through the Kutztown University Undergraduate Research Committee for making this research possible. This experience is a defining step towards my path to my career goals.
Benjamin Harris (Chemistry working with Dr. Lauren Levine – October 2009)  – Exploring Porphyrins as a Means to Image Gold Nanoparticles used in Anti-cancer studies.
This research project addresses the challenges involved in imaging gold nanoparticles (Au-NP’s) used in biological systems.  Due to its unique physicals properties, there have been many uses for Au-NP’s.  A recent addition has been its involvement as an anti-cancer agent.  Current research has shown that heating the particles with a laser produces enough heat to destroy any cells that have adsorbed the particles or exist in close proximity.  One problem with this treatment is the inability to image the particles.  This severely limits our knowledge in how they interact with cells and if they are expelled from biological systems after the treatment is finished.  This project pursues the development of a ‘tag’ which will allow us to image and track where the particles reside during treatment (in the cells or alongside them).  Porphyrin, a molecule that can be used in fluorescence detection as well as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) will be employed for this purpose.  In order to ensure the solubility of the tagged particles in biological fluids and the prevention of any interference the particle may have on the porphyrin’s imaging ability, the linking molecule polyethylene glycol (PEG) will be used to attach the porphyrin to the Au-NP.

(photo:  none provided)

I am currently graduating this December with a B.S. in Chemistry and double minors in Mathematics and Music.  Medical school has been a strong desire of mine at present but I am still exploring opportunities in graduate level Chemistry programs.  For me, experiencing the challenges, creativity, and excitement of doing something never done before all found in research will greatly assist me in making this difficult decision.  While I have learned much from my chemistry courses, most activities are performed in a very controlled environment. I have greatly desired the ability to experience chemistry on a level where the answer does not already exist, but must be theorized and tested using my intuition.  This research project will not only help me develop these skills, but also assist me in a decision about further graduate education in chemistry.
Marissa Burt (Elementary Education/Reading working with Dr. Carol Watson – October 2009)  – Children’s Perceptions of Diverse Populations
With an ever increasing culturally and ethnically diverse public school population, the need for cultural understanding is at an all time high. When children see negative stereotypes wherever it may be (home, school, media, etc.) children often see people in a biased light. Living in such a diverse society, prejudices against others all too often become normal tendencies. The purpose of this study is to investigate the nature of children’s attitudes towards people from other cultural backgrounds and how their perceptions change as children get older.

(photo:  none provided)

I am currently a senior Honors Elementary Education major with a concentration in Reading. I am also in the process of obtaining my ESL certification. I have presented at the state level of the National Association of Multicultural Education. My career goals are to obtain a teaching position within a school district that has a diverse school setting or a school district that values continuing research based instructional strategies and perspectives. This grant will help achieve these goals by allowing me to present ongoing research to a broader and more rigorous audience in order to get feedback to contribute to future research and practices.
Jeffrey MintonJeffrey Minton (Computer Science working with Dr. Oskars Rieksts – October 2009)  – Sensor Fusion: Combining Input from Cameras and Sonar Rangefinders into a Spatial Knowledge Representation of a Robots Environment
I plan to develop a system for robots that allows it to analyze the environment it is in.  This system will use a camera connected to a computer and sonar rangefinders to determine the constraints of the environment it is in.  I hope to take the data and allow the robot to dynamically create a map of where it has been.  This map should allow the robot to continually refine its understanding of the environment to help it determine what actions it should take.

(photo: programming the robot)