More than 200 students from each of UNO's six colleges had the opportunity last week to showcase their hard work at the 2019 Student Research and Creative Activity Fair.
The fair, organized by UNO's Office of Research and Creative Activity and held at the Criss Library on UNO's Dodge Campus, featured poster and oral presentations from students at the undergraduate, master's and doctoral levels.
Each year, volunteer judges featuring faculty, staff, alumni and community members, identify the top presentations at each level. This year's winners were:
Undergraduate Oral Presentations
Samantha Sack, Biotechnology; Advisor: Paul Davis, Department of Biology
"Elucidation of the mechanism of action of antischistosomal compound SAS1 by host immune cell functional analysis"
Donovan Orn, Computer Science; Advisor: Hesham Ali, Department of Computer Science
"A Comparative Study for Feature Selection Algorithms to Analyze Gait Patterns for Health Purposes"
Matthew McConnell, Criminology and Criminal Justice; Advisor: Lisa Scherer, Department of Psychology
"Organizational Power and Organizational Tolerance of Sexual Harassment: The Effects on Bystanders in the Military"
Sean Watson, Molecular Biology; Advisor: Paul Davis, Department of Biology
"On the Mode of Action of Antitoxoplasma Compound SW33"
Undergraduate Poster Presentations
Katherine Sindelar, Bioinformatics; Advisor: Dhundy Bastola, School of Interdisciplinary Informatics
"Life in the Phyllobiome: Functional Adaptations in Novosphingobium sp. ‘Leaf2’, a Leaf-Borne Alphaproteobacteria"
Sarah Parcher, Geology; Advisor: Harmon Maher, Department of Geography/Geology
"Geologic history of a metamorphic core complex in NW Spitsbergen"
Matthew Ford, Biology; Advisor: Donald Rowen, Department of Biology
"Large Scale Dynamical Model of Macrophage/HIV Interactions"
Ian Sloan, Biomechanics; Advisor: Nicholas Stergiou, Department of Biomechanics
"Subthreshold Vibration Influences the Posture and Gait of Transtibial Amputees."
Graduate Oral Presentations
Nikolas Papachatzis, Biomechanics; Advisor: Kota Takahashi, Department of Biomechanics
"The Energy Paradox of the Ankle-Foot Complex during Human Walking"
Takashi Sado, Exercise Science; Advisor: Mukul Mukherjee, Department of Biomechanics
"Passive exoskeleton assisted treadmill walking reduces duration and regularity of inter-limb coupling"
Steven Windisch, Criminology and Criminal Justice; Advisor: Gina Ligon, Department of Management
"I am the Master of my Fate: How One’s Locus of Control Influences Entry Type and Level of Extremist Participation"
David Salazar, Mangement Information Systems; Advisor: Jorge Zuniga, Department of Biomechanics
"The utility of 3D printing as a method of pre-operative planning for pediatric skull surgeries"
Graduate Poster Presentations
Sarah Carp, Psychology; Advisor: Jeffrey French, Department of Psychology
"Marmosets Respond Consistently to Threats Across Contexts"
Megan Vande Hei, Exercise Physiology; Advisor: Dustin Slivka, School of Health & Kinesiology
"Skeletal Muscle Mitophagy In Response To Cold Exposure During Exercise"
Namwoong Kim, Exercise Science; Advisor: Brian Knarr, Department of Biomechanics
"Influence of hip abductor fatigue on ACL loading during single-leg landing"
Kelley Jensen, Management Information Systems; Advisor: Sachin Pawaskar, Information Systems & Quantitative Analysis
"Utilizing Technology to Empower Girls"
Included below are just a few of the presentations from this year's fair and thoughts from the students involved:
Tallia Bahar Bozorgzadeh
Campus Involvement: Organizational Psychology/Wellness Research Group
Title: "An Exploration of Napping Behaviors in College Student Well Being"
Psychology student Tallia Bahar Bozorgzadeh wanted to understand if the act of napping, something commonly practiced among college students, was helpful or harmful to night-time sleep cycles and whether naps impacted overall wellness and happiness among college students. While previous research has argued both sides, Bozorgzadeh wasn't able to find any conclusive correlation between naps and these other variables; however, she hopes to continue her research to try and learn more.
"Anyone who wants to participate next year just talk to your professors. They are so open to it and it's such great preparation for graduate school because you are essentially doing graduate level work as an undergrad and that's extremely essential to your success in graduate school to have that background and get the experience by presenting. I would definitely advise people to try it."
Major: Bioinformatics and Spanish
Involvement: Sigma Kappa; University Honor’s Program; Bioinformatics Club
Title: "Precision Medicine: Bioinformatics Assists in Finding Accurate Treatment for HER2 Positive Breast Cancer in Humans"
The research of Elizabeth Russman, freshman bioinformatics and Spanish major, was inspired by a deeply personal event in her life. She is studying the subtypes of HER2 positive breast cancer, which helps personalize treatment options. This is a far cry from just two decades ago when little hope existed regarding life after diagnosis.
“So back in 2015 My mom was actually diagnosed with HER2 positive breast cancer and it's a difficult cancer to treat. Fifteen years ago, if you were diagnosed with this, it was an automatic death sentence basically. My mom met someone who actually had this cancer and then her cancer came back, and when you think about it you say, “Oh, same cancer same treatment plan.” You think that they would be cured the same way. So I was just really curious about that and decided to delve deeper. I chose to study precision medicine, specifically HER2 positive breast cancer, and I discovered that there were four different subtypes that all respond to treatment differently. My research was just a call to do precision medicine and figure out which four of those subtypes that you have because it totally affects the treatment.”
Major: Business administration with a concentration in management; marketing; and entrepreneurship and innovation
Involvement: College of Business Administration (CBA) Scholars Academy; Student Marketing Association, Phi Kappa Phi; Beta Gamma Sigma; University Honors Program; Management student of the year; Marketing student of the year; Entrepreneurship student of the year; CBA student of the year; University student of the year
Title: "The Effect of Two Types of Workload Assignment on Productivity, Performance, and Stress"
Senior CBA student Chris Winchester’s research explored the effects of workload assignments, and whether they were preferred by employees, on different aspects of performance. The results showed that assigning tasks preferred by employees led to increased performance and productivity, while reducing stress.
“I would not be at this level without my mentor Dr. Rodie. She's the nicest person, but she's also the most critical. That is what I prefer because she takes my work from level one to level 1000 and that's just within this project. All the faculty within the College of Business Administration and the honor’s programs, they are phenomenal. I debated where to go to college and I am more than happy that I came here.”
Major: Music with a Concentration in Music Technology
Title: "Binaural Audio Capture and the Exploration of Multidimensional Ambient Composition Techniques"
A music technology major, Gabe Bierman earned a Fund for Undergraduate Scholarly Experiences (FUSE) grant to purchase the technology needed to record 3-D stereo sound that replicates how the human body processes audio waves, making the listener feel like they are physically in the same space as the recording. Bierman spent months recording ambient sounds - everything from traffic outside of his apartment to the near-silence of a forest - as a proof of concept that will eventually allow him to record and produce original compositions.
"I've done a lot of very traditional styles, working in the studio with musicians and I've had to compose very structured, rigid 'you have to use this chord progression, you need to use this type of Neapolitan six-chord in this composition' for music theory classes but I've always enjoyed especially electronic ambient, almost drone and noise type stuff. So I sort of realized that I could integrate that stuff that I felt was very atmospheric; completely insane sounds I've never heard before and I could make it unique and interesting because I now have this tool."
Major: Communication Studies
Involvement: Universities Honors Program, Thompson Learning Community
Title: "Trying to save the game(r): Understanding the meaning-making process of YouTube subscribers surrounding mental health and video game vlogging"
Communication studies major Maria Mickles is a fan of video game-themed YouTube channels and after noticing that many other fans of these same channels were using the comments section to share personal stories regarding their issues with mental health, she decided to explore what it was about the authors, content and community in these spaces that helped individuals talk about and express their experiences.
"This project was mostly just to talk about social media and media communications and how not all media is bad. Also, how we can eradicate the stigma around mental health and understand that while therapy may not be an option for you, through social media and other things you feel more comfortable you can still find ways to express yourself."
Major: Elementary Education with an endorsement in inclusive practices
Involvement: Student Education Association of NE; Residence Association
Title: "Visual Arts in an Elementary School Classroom"
Inspired by a class she took last semester, freshman elementary education student Kathryn O’Connor researched the importance of visual arts in elementary classrooms. With the overwhelming emphasis of subjects like math and science O’Connor saw in schools, she concluded that the presence of art is, indeed, vital to the continued development of students.
“If anyone wants to show their research next year, I would say do it. Honestly, if you study something that you find really interesting and if it’s something you know you can do a lot of research about, then it's something you'll love talking about to people. You’ll love sharing and it'll make the whole process a really fun experience.”
Major: Educational Leadership
Involvement: Assistant Professor of Engineering Education, UNO College of Education
Title: "Perceptions of District Curriculum Administrators Regarding K-12 Engineering Education"
In his research, Nero wanted to understand how current K-12 teachers and future teachers would be impacted by recent changes to Nebraska's core science requirements to include engineering concepts and practices. He found that there is need for school districts and universities, like UNO, to work together to provide professional development opportunities for current and future teachers to ensure the new standards are achievable.
"One of UNO's campus priorities is STEM education so not only are we trying to do outreach with STEM education, which is science, technology, engineering and mathematics, but we are working collectively between the colleges and various departments to partner and create STEM-based courses and so knowing what we're trying to do here at the university and what the state is trying to do helped me to realize we've got to create a continuum between K-12 education and 13-16 education here at the university."
Major: Management Information Systems
Title: "Cloud Control and Monitoring: Personal Food Computer Version 2.0"
Master's student Deepika Jantz developed a project with the goal of addressing two pressing issues in Nebraska: how to grow produce during times of extreme weather and how to get young students interested in STEM education. Her solution was to use open source software that remotely monitors and care for plants grown using food computers to more easily convey STEM concepts to young students in the state.
"The inspiration here is that Nebraska is a state prone to weather changes where you have to depend on the outside to get plants, to get food. The concept is already available from OpenAg, they have already built it, so I wanted to implement this and help educate the students in Nebraska - that way they will have more knowledge and play around with the technology because the more people you educate the more the technology can grow."
Major: Criminal Justice and Psychology
Involvement: Army National Guard,
Title: "How organizational tolerance for sexual harassment influences bystanders of sexual harassment in the military"
A double major in criminal justice and psychology, senior Matthew McConnell and his co-authors took their experiences as service members to begin to address an important issue facing the military: unreported incidents of sexual harassment. Through their research, McConnell and his co-authors found that the reputational and financial damage to an organization due to job withdrawals and lack of commitment by those aware of potential cases of sexual assault outweighs the damage of proactively addressing those same cases.
"After we get IRB approval we plan on presenting the survey to the different branches of the military and hope to get results to see if organizational climates with high tolerances [for sexual assault] actually cause their employees, which in this case would be soldiers, to have job withdrawls, negative job outcomes, also individual effects such as increased depression, stress, substance abuse, risk of suicide - all of these psychological or physical effects that come from organizations where the climate is seen as hostile and not having effective procedures [to address cases of harassment]."
Dawne Frain and Rachel Lubischer
Major: Social Work
Involvement: Phi Kappa Phi; Phi Alpha; Graduate research assistant at STEPs
Major: Social Work
Involvement: Graduate research assistant at STEPs
Title: "The Opioid Crisis: Exploring the Effects on First Responders and Healthcare Professionals"
Masters of social work students Dawne Frain and Rachel Lubischer researched current policies and practices regarding the opioid crisis. Through studying policy responses as well as the many effects of this public health emergency on professionals, Frain and Lubischer look forward to continuing research and finding solutions to the growing opioid problem.
“I really wanted to see what the best practices were, like the evidence-based procedures and policies across the nation in regard to the opioid crisis and opioid overdoses in general. So, this topic was really appealing to me because that's what I want to base future research on.”
“The goal is for the DHHS to be able to use the information that we gained from the literature review, qualitative methods and quantitative methods to be able to develop crisis response plans, allocate resources where they're needed and ultimately to reduce the amount of overdoses occurring in Nebraska.”
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.