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Undergraduate Research Day 2020

This year's URD will occur during the week of March 12-17, 2021, with an application deadline of February 19, 2021. Applications will be accepted beginning January 3, 2021.

Research Day Application 2020 21 Final



Elizabeth Gwartney, "Homegrown-Antibiotics

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2019 Antibiotic Resistance Threats Report, “more than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur in the U.S. each year, and more than 35,000 people die as a result” (CDC). My research attempts to contribute to the ongoing race to discover new antibiotics by researching bacteria that show potential as antibiotic agents worthy of further research.

Soil samples from my grandparents’ garden were diluted in sterile saline and plated on five different types of media selected to encourage growth of fungi and bacteria, contributing to the diversity of our potential subjects. Four microbes inhibited growth of common pathogens. I am cautiously optimistic that they will be effective against other pathogenic species of interest. Further identification of the agents leading to these results could be a valuable contribution to the race against antibiotic resistance in pathogenic species.

Emily Hernandez, “Readers Digest: Mycobacteriophage and You”

Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (TB) is a worldwide health crisis. According to the World Health Organization, ~240,000 people died from drug resistant TB in 2016. In response to this global emergency, new methods of treatment are being developed and tested, one of which uses mycobacteriophage. Mycobacteriophage are viruses that specifically infect mycobacteria such as M. tuberculosis. This form of therapy will use cocktails of phage to avoid issues with resistance, which calls for identification of unique types of phage that enter the bacteria through different pathways. The goal of our study is to characterize two mycobacteriophage isolated in the OCU biology program by sequencing their genomes and identifying mechanisms of resistance by isolating phage-resistant specimen, then measuring their resistance to other species of phage isolated in different laboratories across the state. We hope that the research being done at OCU will leave a mark on the journey to identifying a solution to drug resistant TB.

Abby Mainzer “A Comparison of Intestinal Parasites between Oklahoma and Tennessee”

Despite the availability of effective parasiticides available today, intestinal parasites still pose a problem for household pets. Intestinal parasites are extremely common and can potentially be life threatening for your dog. A survey of intestinal parasites was done on 1,957 dogs in Tennessee and 316 dogs in Oklahoma. A fecal floatation method was used to diagnose infection in dogs by the veterinarians in both Tennessee and Oklahoma. Recorded intestinal parasites that were similar between the two areas were Coccidea, Whip Worms, Hook Worms, and Round Worms. Hook worms were the most prevalent parasite in the two areas followed by whip worms. Round worms were found in Tennessee dogs but not in Oklahoma dogs. The results from this study were then compared to canine intestinal parasite data nationwide. Parasite prevention is important because some of the intestinal parasites found in dogs can pose a dangerous zoonotic threat to humans.

ID Psychology

Sabrina Bartley, “Heterosexist Behaviors in Greek Organizations and the Overall Sense of Belongingness in LGBTQ+ Members”

The overall purpose of this research was to examine the experiences and attitudes of LGBTQ+ individuals in Greek organizations, as well as the perception of heterosexist behaviors in these organizations. It was hypothesized that individuals in Greek organizations that identify as LGBTQ+ will be more likely to feel that there is heteronormative culture in Greek Life than heterosexual individuals. Additionally, current LGBTQ+ students in Greek Life will have a higher sense of belongingness than those in Greek Life would have 5+ years ago. A 16 question Likert scale survey was used. It was observed that there were mean differences between the heterosexual group and the LGBTQ+ group on one question. It was also found that both groups had a rather high sense of belongingness and acceptance in their chapters, confirming one of the hypotheses, as this is a higher sense of belongingness than what was found in previous studies.

Blake Moore, “Inherent Emotions of Adult Children of Alcoholics”

Much of the research focused on adult children of alcoholics (ACAs) has been centered around the physical consequences of their childhood experiences (Chang, Jiang, Mkandarwire, & Shen, 2019). Previous studies have made it clear that there is a need for more research on the mental effects of growing up with alcoholic guardian while others have speculated a negative consequence to experiencing such conditions (Wright & Hepner, 1991). Among ACAs, avoidance and concealing behaviors have been documented as being a regular occurrence by this group of people (Vernig, 2011). This kind of behavior could be linked to the emotions of guilt and shame (Rodriguez, Young, Neighbors, Tou, & Lu, 2016; Watson, Gomez, & Gullone, 2016; Wiechelt, 2007). The aim of this study is to ascertain the potential of this population being more susceptible to feeling guilt and shame due to their past experiences being raised by alcoholic guardians.

Sarah Schulz, “The 5 Stages of Grief and Recording Attributes in Queen’s 'Bohemian Rhapsody.'”

In this project, I am analyzing Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” from A Night at the Opera. Julie Taddeo notes in her article “Interpreting ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’” that the five sections of the song are connected to the five stages of grief (i.e. denial, depression, bargaining, anger, and acceptance). Using this framework, I am diving deeper to examine the role of recording attributes of the song. In “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the recording attributes are essential to the creation of the overall meaning and are just as vital as the lyrics and melody. They include directional location (left, center, right), distance location (location of the listener in relation to the performers), and environmental location (size of apparent venue). By combining this auditory analysis with the five stages of grief, it can enhance our understanding of the arching narrative of the piece. This project is in poster format with audio aids (i.e. computer and headphones).


Biology Sports Medicine

Liana Forss, “How Sports Medicine Overlooks the Collegiate Dancer”

There is a gap in the healthcare system as sports medicine pertains to dancers, specifically collegiate dancers who have not yet entered the professional world. It is a gap that needs to be tended to on both sides. On one side, the establishments of sports medicine lack research on dancer-athletes and on the other, dancers themselves are prevented from pursuing necessary healthcare as a result of dance culture and attitudes that are embedded early on in training.

This preliminary paper/presentation will focus on the former, how key fields of sports medicine overlook dancers as athletes and the various ways athletic research should be applied to collegiate dance. I will begin by outlining why collegiate dance must be considered its own independent category of athletics and will then discuss how four main areas of sports medicine lack dance-specific applications; physiotherapy, cross-training, nutrition and sports psychology. This focus of this paper is to provide an overview of how the system of sports medicine neglects an overworked and under supported athlete, the collegiate dancer.

Sireene Khader, “Wild yeast associations and the potential for production of lactic acid”

In my study, I sampled wild yeast communities found in flowers and on pollinators, to establish an index of diversity of these wild yeasts, and to cultivate them to determine if they possess any characteristics that may be conducive to the production of new flavor profiles in fermented food and beverages. Specifically, we hypothesize that wild yeasts will produce greater quantities of lactic acid than S. cerevisiae and reference these yeasts to their source. This characteristic, which has been lost in domesticated yeast, would be beneficial to the food and beverage industry which relies on bacteria as a pH reducing component in the production of foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, and sour fermented grains.

Rachel Marr and Hannah Smoot, “The Biology of Beer”

Bacteria and microbes are found everywhere, even in the beer making process. We were able to take and grow the bacteria found, using the beer canning line at the StoneCloud Brewing facility. To identify specifically what bacteria was found we used different laboratory techniques. For example, plating on different growth mediums allowed us to know if the swab site has bacteria or yeast growth. Gram staining let us know if the cell were gram-positive or gram-negative, allowing us to have a initial identification of the bacteria. The genes of the bacteria found is matched against the existing DNA sequences in the GenBank at the OMRF facility.

ID Behavior-Justice

Anna Delony, “Perceptions of Strangers Among OCU Students: A Behavioral Economics Study”

This study intends to identify differences in how people perceive the selfishness/generosity of strangers based on their choices in a coordination game. Participants provide demographic data like gender, sexuality, nationality, etc., and then participate in the game with another player. The players are in separate locations and know nothing about each other in order to ensure that participants make generalized decisions about what they believe about other human beings. In this way, participants will be unaffected by perceptions of how different races/genders would behave. This study primarily aims to identify how demographics like gender, nationality, and sexuality affect beliefs on how a stranger will act, and the probability of playing generously, selfishly, or compromising in the game.

Ánh-Mai Kearney, “Tyson Fury, Sandwiches, and Sounds of Reconciliation in Northeast Oklahoma City”

Today’s climate crisis can be defined by hearing loss. Different communities seem to miss each other in a stratified mumble of melodies, rather than coming together to listen and understand each other. What might happen if we listened more than we spoke? And where is the silence that we ask religion to fill?

Drawing upon recent ethnographic work in Northeast OKC and building a historical framework of sound and social justice, this paper will address the sounds of racial reconciliation. By likening modern racial barriers with the Biblical walls of Jericho, this paper investigates the relationship between sound, construction, and conversation in the mission to overcome racial division in modern America. In the end, I suggest that true racial reconciliation sounds like the needs of the oppressed being met through tangible acts and hushed voices being heard for the first time.

Rilee Sloan, “Billy James Hargis, Anita Bryant, and the Helm Bill”

During the Cold War, anti-communist hysteria infiltrated all aspects of American life. Consequently, the Old Right adopted anti-communism as a critical issue in its platform. This paper evaluates how the McCarthyist attitudes of the Old Right inspired the New Right’s anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric. Furthermore, this paper evaluates the role of anti-communist and anti-LGBTQ+ attitudes in Oklahoma’s communities, legislature, and court systems.

Located in the heart of America, Oklahoma became a battleground for anti-communist and anti-LGBTQ+ activism in the 1970’s. One of America’s most celebrated pastors, Billy James Hargis’ anti-communist activism in Oklahoma and abroad signifies the Old Right’s integration of American conservatism, anti-communism, and evangelical Protestantism. A native of Oklahoma, Anita Bryant utilized the strategies and rhetoric of Billy James Hargis to announce a crusade against homosexuality. The activism of Billy James Hargis and Anita Bryant launched a civil rights controversy that has persisted for decades.

Music Analysis

Gregory Ford, “BATMAN: Third Act Chromatic Mediants”

In this paper I describe the several instances in which composer Danny Elfman employs chromatic mediants (four distinct relationships between two chords) within the score of the third act in Tim Burton’s 1989 film, Batman. I argue that, of the four distinct chordal relationships used, two hold greater significance through their sonic representation of the film’s two main characters. I insist that Batman (the protagonist, and a face of moral ambiguity) is represented by the same harmonic relationship most film music theorists widely accept as representing internal conflict, and that the Joker (the antagonist, and a face of moral bankruptcy) is represented by the harmonic progression theorists largely associate with images of pure evil. I attempt to justify these claims through closely examining the film’s final scenes, along with their accompanying musical score.

Grace Jackson, “Synthesizing Northern and Southern Hemispheres through Art Music; an examination of elements from Alberta Ginastera’s Piano Sonata No. 1, Op.22.”

Drawing inspiration from the open tuning of guitar strings, Alberta Ginastera paints a picture with the use of the gauchesco tradition in his compositional methods while channeling structural standards of sonata form established nearly two hundred years earlier. Ginastera’s piano sonata challenges the listener to engage differently; focus is placed on motivic structure rather than the harmonic structure as seen in classical sonata form. The structural elements of sonata form are present but Ginastera presents them in a way that enlist the Argentinian culture of the 1950’s.

Zac Zubia, “(Re)forming the Definition of Sonata Form: An Analysis of Debussy’s, String Quartet in G minor, movement I”

Often times, classes discuss topics without further diving into the modern-day applications. As music evolves, compositional definitions have to be reinterpreted to fit the once tight-knit form. This paper seeks to identify ways in which the classical sonata form has adapted and evolved (i.e. structure of Exposition, Development, Recapitulation), compared to the works of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. However, I offer an alternative means to approach music that no longer fits the canon and breaks convention. Compositions like the first movement of Debussy’s String Quartet in G minor are not fully realized until several elements has been reinterpreted, such as the definition of a cadence with regards to nonfunctional harmony, the mutation of smaller sections, and how the recapitulation transforms the previously stated material.


Sarbina Bartley, “Evil as the ‘Absence Of’: Good as a Radical and Tangible Notion”

More often than not, we excuse wrongful acts that others have committed by saying things such as “They weren’t thinking” or “They weren’t aware of what they were doing,” asserting that if someone did not intend to do wrong, they did not really do wrong in the first place. Renowned philosophers such as Hannah Arendt, Dante, and Augustine have delved into the exploration of the dangers of the absence of thinking and unconscious decision-making, as well as defining exactly what it means to pursue goodness in a world so plagued with the absence of simple virtues and simple thought. Goodness is something that must be actively and intentionally pursued, as evil is purely the ‘absence of’; absence of God, absence of virtue, and absence of thought. The concept of goodness is a tangible and radical notion, whereas evil exists only as an amalgamation of absences.

Olivia Click, “Plotinus and the Problem of the One and the Many”

This paper examines Plotinus’s concept of emanation in light of the problem of the One and the Many. I look at two different aspects of the One’s causality in Plotinus’s thought, and show how he asserts that multiplicity must necessarily arise out of unity. However, Plotinus does not ultimately succeed in solving the problem of the One and the Many. Although he posits a strong response to the problem, I argue that his concept of emanation contradicts the nature of causality and does not adequately demonstrate how the many is derived from the one.

* indicates category winner

** indicates grand prize winner