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Undergraduate Research Day 2019

This year's URD will occur on March 29, 2019, with an application deadline of February 22, 2019. Applications will be accepted beginning December 1, 2018.

Research Day Application 2018 19

ANY ORIGINAL WORK created during the 2018 calendar year (either Spring or Fall semester) is eligible for submission. To get an idea of the types of work submitted, the 2018 URD abstracts are available below:



Vladislav Izda, Melissa Eldredge, and Kayleigh Peters, “Probiotic Inhibition of Pathogenic Bacteria”

The human gastrointestinal (GI) microflora is a complex community of microorganisms, containing the largest number of species of bacteria in the human body. We examined the antagonistic effects of probiotics, composed of microbes commonly found in the GI tract, on four common GI pathogens. We spread culture plates with one of the four pathogens and introduced a probiotic into a well in the middle of the plate. If the probiotic prevented the growth of the pathogen near the well, a zone of inhibition was observed. By measuring the zones of inhibition, we quantified the extent of bacterial antagonism.

Of the four brands that we tested, we found that TruBiotics™ and Ultimate Flora™ were the most efficacious at inhibiting the pathogens. Our results indicate that some probiotic bacteria inhibit the growth of pathogens at a distance, which may indicate how they compete with pathogens in our bodies, and thus benefit our health.

**Laura Jardine, “The impact of fire on nitrogen availability during early and late succession on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, AK”

Arctic fires are increasing in severity and frequency, resulting in direct and indirect changes to permafrost ecosystems. Due to slow rates of decomposition, nitrogen (N) is a highly limiting resource in the tundra. The availability of N can be substantially altered following fire as a direct result of combustion of organic matter and also due to long-term changes in ecosystem structure and function (i.e. fire-induced permafrost degradation).

We collected active layer and permafrost soil and vegetation samples from unburned, 2015 burn scars, and 1972 burn scars in peat plateau tundra in the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska. We measured carbon and N pools, extractable inorganic N and potentially mineralizable N. Our findings suggest that 45 years after disturbance by fire, there is still a large potential for N assimilation, nitrification, aquatic export, or nitrous oxide production in tundra ecosystems.

Tammy Phillips, “Gold nanoparticles regulate lipid droplet formation in ovarian cancer cells”

Ovarian cancer is the deadliest gynecological cancer, accounting for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. Its lethality is due to its ability to develop resistance to current treatments available, which highlights the need for novel chemotherapeutic targets.

Much research has been dedicated to understanding the mobilization and regulation of fatty acids within the body since ovarian cancer commonly metastasizes to high fatty tissues. Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) could potentially help elucidate and even harness these processes. Herein we demonstrate that AuNPs regulate lipid droplet formation in ovarian cancer cells.

Abbey Renner, “Bacteriophage—a Potential Replacement for Antibiotics”

Bacteriophage (“phage”) are viruses that infect and replicate in bacteria. Since phage infect bacteria very specifically, there is considerable interest in exploiting them as antibacterial agents. Phage are found in natural environments such as soil, where there are complex bacterial ecosystems.

We extracted phage from nutrient-rich soil by mixing the soil with a buffer (SM buffer), and filtering out the large particles and living organisms using a 0.45 micron syringe filtration system. Phage were added to cultured bacteria (Bacillus cereus or Serratia marcesens), mixed with top agar, and plated on LB-media. After incubation, the plates were checked for zones of clearing (“plaques”), indicating the presence of specific bacteriophage.


Paige Caldwell, “Effects of High Protein Diet for Weight Loss in Dancers”

Dancers use a variety of ways to lose weight, some of which are healthy and some are not. The purpose of this study was to see if a short term, high protein diet would lead to greater weight loss than control. The participants were seven female dancer students (4 control, 3 experimental) at a liberal arts institution.

The study was three weeks in duration with the first week being a familiarization week for the experimental group. Weight, waist circumference, and body composition via handheld bioelectrical impedance were measured three times a week for two weeks.

Results were analyzed with a repeated measures ANOVA (for each variable). Only the waist circumference in the experimental group was significant (Base: 73.5cm to measurement seven: 71.9cm) from baseline to measurement seven. A high protein diet may be an effective way to decrease waist circumference over two weeks of dieting for college dancers.

*Marideth Grimsley, “Dance for All: How we deliver dance to children with autism”

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) typically have below average motor skills, increased social impairments, as well as higher rates of obesity and inactivity. Because of this parents and teachers must find creative ways to get their children interacting with others in a physically active environment.

While traditionally parents have turned to gym classes and special sports teams, many are now opting to enroll their autistic children in dance classes. This paper explores the advantages and challenges that go along with introducing an autistic child to dance classes. Conflicting views on structure of these classes leads to deeper investigation as to what is most beneficial for the students.

Brooke Winegardner, “Sexism in Ballet”

How does gender discrimination in ballet affect today’s American entertainment industry? Gender discrimination began in early dance history and is perpetuated by the “seen and not heard” attitude in ballet schools. This sexism led to today’s lack of female choreographers in the world of professional ballet.

This essay explores the differing gender roles found within the art of ballet. It evaluates stereotypes and expectations within ballet learning and working environments using a brief historical analysis. It also explores possible aspects of this unique environment that may perpetuate gender-based discrimination.

Mass and Social Media

*Anna Delony, “Sex Trafficking and its Representation in Crime TV”

This project examines how sex trafficking is being represented, and misrepresented, in television crime shows. There is a lack of education about sex trafficking in the public, and television is a source of information for many people on this topic.

A review of sex trafficking episodes from popular crime TV series on the Internet Movie Database, revealed that most episodes are accurate in their general demographic portrayal of sex trafficking victims (age, gender, and race). However, each episode portrays different types of victims, who each receive varying amounts of screen time and varied narrative representation.

Across these victim types, minor roles represent a more accurate portrayal of sex trafficking while major character roles are given to people who do not fit the demographic of the majority of victims, i.e., almost all of the main characters are white. In this way, these television shows present a misrepresentation of sex trafficking victims.

Elina Moon, “Viral Advertising: Successful Strategies”

In an age where video content is becoming increasingly more popular, especially online, many advertising agencies find themselves racing to figure out how to best navigate this trend. Everyone wants their content to be successful and earn high viewership, but some say that there is no formula to viral videos—they simply earn fame by chance.

While there may not be an exact formula, viral videos certainly have common factors that can be emulated, giving brand videos a better chance of being successful. I did a content analysis focused on finding factors that contribute to viral success of brand videos on social media.

My study found that ads with happy emotions, elements of surprise, and upbeat music continue to be the most common factor in viral advertisements. However, there has been a rise in the success of more sentimental, philanthropy-based, often international, story ads that tug at the viewer’s heartstrings.

Zoe Travers, “Publication Development: OKC Green”

For my Publication Content, Development and Design class with Dr. Kenna Griffin, I spent the entire semester designing a theoretical publication from scratch along with setting advertising costs, organizing marketing materials, and contacting local printers. The purpose of the project was to familiarize media producers like myself in the process of starting an independent publication.

I chose to launch a monthly newspaper for the environmentally-conscious consumer in Oklahoma called OKC Green. I designed 20 pages of newsprint complete with photo credits, mastheads, and logo design, and I completed 43 pages of detailed descriptions of potential readers, color palettes, font design, distribution locations, scheduling, budgeting, and staff descriptions.

The result was a complete example of a newspaper ready for publication, with even the smallest details accounted for like the cost of chairs in the newsroom, inclusion of a business loan, and design of potential news apps for readers.

Mental Health Studies

Megan Francis, “Religion Turns Guilt into Prosocial Behavior”

This study investigated the influence religion has on behavior. Undergraduates from a small southern Christian university completed a questionnaire to record guilt and prosocial tendencies. Participants were randomly selected into a primed or controlled group. For the priming manipulation participants unscrambled sentences provoking religious concepts. Likewise, the controlled group were asked to unscramble sentences containing neutral words.

The groups were compared to determine if further responses of behavior and guilt feelings were dependent on the spiritual priming. Despite, group assignment, gender, or religious importance, participants did not experience guilt immensely through provoking scenarios. Religious priming participants were less generous than participants who underwent the controlled assignment. Concluding, the results were not linked to the hypothesis.

Participants who considered themselves religious were less prosocial to split points between themselves and an imaginary receiver. Our findings suggest that religious coercion or spiritual involvement does not promote feelings of guilt or prosocial behavior.

*Brooke Horinek, “Behavorial Factors Predicting Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Among Young Adult College Students”

Recent research and clinical experience indicate that young adult college students are at increased risk of depression, anxiety, and stress. However, further exploration of the behavioral aspect of these three mental health factors is recommended in the literature.

This study aims to evaluate the influence of physical activities, drug-use, alcohol risky behaviors, and demographics on young adult college students’ mental health factors. In a cross-sectional study, 508 undergraduate students aged 18-24 completed mailed surveys assessing their mental health factors using the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale-21 (DASS-21) (Lovibond & Lovibond, 1995). Their physical activities, drug-use, and alcohol risky behaviors were evaluated using an adapted set of questions from the American College Health Association Survey (2009).

Multiple regression analysis was utilized to examine the relative influence of the independent variables on the dependent ones. Findings indicate that exhibiting alcohol risky behaviors was the main predictor of the three mental health factors, depression, anxiety, and stress. Physical activity was not a significant predictor of any of the three mental health factors. Implications of these findings include regular screening for risky behaviors, depression, stress, and anxiety among college students.

Special attention should be paid to vulnerable students such as females and those who don’t have sufficient social support resources. Developing on-campus stress-management training programs to target students’ depression, stress, and anxiety is recommended.

Willa Pendley-Griffin, Jules Soper, and Jimmy Francis, “Visual Modality and Mental Toughness: Effects on Human Performance”

We conducted the present study to examine visual versus blindfolded performance, and how that relates to mental toughness. There was a total of 13 participants, age range from 20 to 61. Two surveys were administered that measure the participants age, gender, race, and prior rowing experience. And the second survey measured the participants mental toughness.

Using a between subject design, the participants were asked to two 250 meter pieces. One of the pieces was done with a covered monitor, and the other piece was uncovered. In the covered condition the participant could only see how many meter were remaining in the piece.

We found a significant difference between the covered and uncovered conditions. There was also an interaction between mental toughness and the split score. The results suggest that a covered monitor resulted in lower split scores. In addition, the higher the mental toughness score, the lower the split score


Compositions and More

Joe Harris, String Quartet in C minor, “Der Einsteiger”

The String Quartet in C-minor, “Der Einsteiger”, an original composition by Joe Harris, was composed as the final project for Composition I class with professor Jamie Whitmarsh in the Fall of 2017. Written in the idiom of late baroque and early classical styles, this quartet features rhythmic and melodic motives which are developed via transformation and imitation throughout the piece, as well as temporary modulations to closely related key areas.

As part of the final project, I made a creative video which features multiple angles of each performer, captured by me at UHD 4k resolution and 10-bit color using state of the art video and audio hardware. I wrote the quartet, filmed, edited and produced the video, totaling up to roughly 150 hours of work for this project. As my first attempt at writing a String Quartet, I have accordingly named the piece “Der Einstieger," the German word for “Beginner."

Lisa Levy, "Mother Moon"

This piece is about a young woman who has hit a rut in her career in theater after her mom has died. She thinks she gets a sign from her mother and decides it’s time for a change in her life. I originally wrote this as a short narrative with references to novels and works we had read in that class. I am now in a screenwriting class and I’m looking to turn this into a screenplay and could perform an excerpt of it. I’d also like to extend the narrative, write more, explore my options with this work.

Jeremiah Rupp, Motion and Emotion: A String Quartet

The work, Motion and Emotion, is a string quartet with the cello substituted for double bass. The piece came from a single melody that was a variation of a melody composed for a class assignment. The composition primarily uses monophony and polyphony to create an experience for the listener. Another technique that is prominent is the obscuring of beats by using syncopation and ties over bar lines. Variation, repetition, and dynamic and timbral changes provide developmental material. All material from the piece comes from the opening measures, and each instrument has an equal part in presenting the melodic material.


Interdisciplinary Fine and Performing Arts

Valerie Gose, “Fine Arts Integration Through Co-Curricular Instruction”

Co-curricular education has been greatly discussed and debated among educators in recent years as new legislation declares the necessity of a “well-rounded education”. Evidence supports fine-arts inclusive instruction as essential to producing well-rounded citizens, improving the economy, reducing unemployment, and generating community involvement.

I examined these claims by analyzing co-curricular institutions- namely Finland. According to the Organization for Cooperation and Development, Finland has consistently scored near the top of the Program for International Assessment results since 2000 (Partanen, 2011). Statistics also show a ninety-three percent high school graduation rate, while spending thirty percent less per student than the United States. (Hancock, 2011).

I explored the process of adopting their curriculum by investigating the economic and cultural impact of arts education on surrounding communities, the correlation between core and arts subjects, and by interviewing current educators about its impact on class engagement, student work quality, and pedagogical autonomy.

Emily Haan, “Benesh Movement Notation and Its Applications to the Modern Entertainment Industry”

Benesh Music Notation (“BMN”) influenced today’s entertainment industry by evolving as one of the most prominent attempts at writing choreography. It furthermore serves as a study of choreomusicology (study of the relationship between sound and movement within any performance genre).

In 1997, the Royal Academy of Dance in London incorporated the Benesh Institute, helping to protect thousands of existing BMN scores. Benesh Notation is also used to record exercises in the RAD syllabi, allowing technique exercises and longer works to be preserved for future use. BMN is also used outside of the performing arts world for projects such as notating the movement of robots.

*Joe Harris, “Mozart’s Klavierstück in F, K. 33b: Adaptation or Original Work?”

The miniature keyboard piece in F, K.33b Klavierstück, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, listed under series IX: Piano Pieces vol.2: Individual pieces, of the Neue Mozart Ausgabe collection, has been considered by researchers and historians to be an original composition by Mozart written when he was 10 years old, in October of 1766.

The research presented in this paper reveals compelling evidence which proves that the piece Klavierstück K.33b is not an original composition by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, but instead an adaptation of an existing piece, named “Pimpanella”, which is concordant in at least five different 18th century manuscripts of tablature written for the 13-course d-minor Baroque lute.

In this research paper, detailed comparative technical analyses of both the lute and Mozart versions are presented, as well as extended information regarding the background historical and musicological facts concerning both the Mozart and lute versions of the piece.

Lisi Livy, “Auditions for College? Or Auditions for Life?”

This is a form of a research paper we worked on composition 1, but our professor referred to it as a “Threesearch” paper because we were to use our own experience as the first source, interviews with others in the flied as our second, and print sources as the third.

I wrote about the college audition experience for theater students and about how grueling, time-consuming, and financially straining it is. Yet, it can also be rewarding, giving students audition experience and helping them make connections.

Overall, I am passionate about the subject and want to create a presentation about it because information about auditions for theater programs is not as widespread as it should be and I wish to supply more information, advice, resources to those who plan on going through the audition experience at the end of their senior year of high school.

Lindsey Todorovich, “A Caplin-Style Analysis of Prokofiev’s “Classical” Symphony

This is a presentation of my essay, “A Caplin-Style Analysis of Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony,” which analyzes the first movement of Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1, Op. 25 as a sonata, and how the movement both adheres and deviates from this form. In addition to outlining the parts of the form and the key areas, the presentation also compares elements of the movement to other pieces and discusses how the movement deviates from sonata-form expectations.

Interdisciplinary Humanities

Lucas Freeman, “The Enduring Marks of Slavery”

The presentation explores the intricate ties between racism (and racist policies/practices), housing, and the creation of neighborhoods that elevate the rates of crime due to institutional problems. This presentation also incorporates ideas of how the racial inequalities of mass incarceration further exacerbate problems in such neighborhoods by removing citizens’ most fundamental methods of change: their right to vote.

By examining literature and studies on redlined and segregated areas, the strong evidence is that many of the problems minority neighborhoods face today were begun nearly 100 years ago. Even at 100 years, the seeds of the problem trace back further, to the discovery of this land by Europeans and the founding of the country. While there was no solid conclusion, ideas are provided on how to alleviate some of the issues plaguing these areas.

*Kaylila Pasha, “International Child Slavery: Pakistan”

Child labor trafficking adversely affects the lives of millions of children worldwide, especially in developing countries such as Pakistan. The origin and magnitude of this issue is complex, and the employment of children can range from cases of extreme brutality to cases of shelter and opportunity. Several humanitarian organizations are actively fighting child labor trafficking, but they cannot do so effectively when billions of people around the world are blind to the crimes committed against children every day.

I created this presentation with the intention of enlightening my audience about how this horrific reality occurs, and to inform them of its effect on children. Through the inclusion of philanthropic resources, I aim for the audience to feel informed and empowered by this presentation, hopefully raising their voices in the fight against child labor trafficking.

Minh Ton, “Love as a Mode of War”

Since the beginning of human history, war has always been a magnet attaching itself to the history of every nation. Kant considered the state of nature to be the state of chaos, which ultimately causes war. “Chaos” in the traditional sense means to be in a state of disorder and confusion. War, often time, start with the organization of massive force.

Can the state of chaos really generate such massive following? One can choose to disagree. Love, however, can generate such a force. Love of country, material, or even oneself all have the potential to give rise to fear and hate. After all, the opposite of love is indifference. If one love nothing at all, then he is indifference about everything. Only when one chooses to love that hatred and fear can proliferate. Which bright light, comes a dark shadow.

Journalism and Media Studies

*Sophia Babb, “Instagram Usage and Young Women’s Body Images”

This study aimed to answer the question, “What are the effects of regular Instagram usage on young women’s body images?” Women’s body images, body positivity, and social media consumption have become topics rich for discussion in academic research and conversations in the news media. 23 percent of girls ages 13 to 17 use Instagram every single day (Pew, 2015), meaning Instagram has become a part of young women’s daily rituals and social lives.

The sample of this study consisted of young women ages 13-21 years old selected through purposive sampling. Participants answered survey questions and were interviewed about their body image and Instagram usage. After analyzing the survey and interview results between the six participants, the effects of Instagram on the body images of young women ages 13-21 were found to be primarily negative.

Elina Moon, “War Photography: Unnecessary Risk or Necessary Remembrance?”

When people think of war, many might think of battleships and fighter planes, soldiers in trenches, uniformed men in noisy rooms making life or death decisions, brave men risking their lives for their country, and other common images and ideas shown in films and photographs.

But there is a whole specialized group of people also putting themselves in danger that are often forgotten or overlooked. They aren’t there to directly help. They’re there to record history. They aren’t shown in the photographs because they are the ones behind the lens. They are the photographers. The nature of the job requires these people to make many decisions that an uninformed citizen may consider unethical. But does that mean the job itself is unethical? While war photography does have many unethical components, the ethical good of the work outweighs the bad.

Zoe Travers, “Women in radio: The impact of the pitch of a woman’s voice on reputability”

For my Mass Communications Research Strategies and Skills class with Dr. Matt Hamilton, I organized a research project throughout the semester for a subject related to media consumption using general research skills. My topic was the impact of the pitch of female radio presenters’ voices on their reputability.

To study this, I ran a focus group in which I played a local podcast with two female presenters and asked students to give their thoughts on the voices. I also did a thorough analysis of peer-reviewed journals related to the research question.

What I found, ultimately, was that listeners consider a deeper-voiced woman to be more reputable, while a high voice connotes unprofessionalism and editorializing. I compiled my findings in a 32-page essay. The goal of this assignment was to familiarize students with research strategies, answer a research question, and analyze at least 10 similar studies in the same area.

Natural Sciences

*Alanah Hosford: “Feeding and Breeding: Population Decline in Black-Borrowed Albatrosses (Thalassarche melanophris) at South Georgia Island”

The black-browed albatross (Thalassarche melanophris) was endangered from 2003-2012 due to sharp declines caused by fishing bycatch, but are now listed as ‘near threatened.’ This is primarily due to rebounds in the Falkland Islands, the largest breeding colony. However, numbers at the South Georgia colonies continue to decline. Bycatch has been reduced due to negligible rates in areas frequented by black-browed albatrosses. Meanwhile, climate-related factors have been shown to have minimal impacts on population growth rates.

Allee effects have been seen in the South Georgia populations. Instead of dense populations harming individual fitness due to competition, Allee effects occur when aggregation increases individual fitness. Density-dependent breeding success rates and local enhancement have been seen in the black-browed albatross breeding population at South Georgia. Thus, declines seen in this population that were caused by fishing bycatch could be continuing as a result of illegal fishing bycatch, climate change, and Allee effects.

Tesa Martin and Kyle Copp, “Use of Enclosure Space by Macaques at Mindy’s Memory Primate Sancutary”

This project investigates how long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) at Mindy’s Memory Primate Sanctuary are using their enclosure space and comparing differences in enclosure space use between former pet macaques and former lab macaques. We hypothesize that overall the monkeys will prefer the platforms and firehose, and when comparing the monkeys based on their backgrounds, we hypothesize that there will be no difference in enclosure space use. We analyzed narrated videos of ten macaques to determine if any areas of the enclosure are being used more than expected.

All of our results are being shared with the primate sanctuary, in order to enhance how captive macaques utilize their habitat. This study will be important in aiding how future macaque habitats can be designed better for optimal efficiency and provide the most stimulating and natural habitat to best reduce the macaque’s chronic stress.

Tammy Phillips, Emily Brown, and Kyle Copp, “Is the ketogenic diet a healthy practice?”

The ketogenic diet was introduced in the 1920s as an epilepsy treatment but is now popularized as a weight-loss miracle. Some studies have shown the diet to be effective while others have found the diet to be intolerable with adverse side effects.

In an effort to embrace the idea of healthy skepticism, we evaluated some representative studies from the scientific community to determine whether the healthiness of the ketogenic diet is a scientific controversy. Herein we conclude that the ketogenic diet is indeed safe and effective for ill or obese patients, but we do not believe it is a healthy practice for an otherwise healthy individual

Political Science

*Nicole Baumann, ‘Militancy and Massacres – The Rationale Behind the Mass Murders of ISIS and AlShabaab”

The news is riddled with horrific stories entailing high numbered body counts of attacks carried out by various militant groups. Two of these groups, ISIS, the “Islamic State” and Al Shabaab in Somalia come to the forefront as groups that have carried out large-scale massacres. While their tactics are ruthless and their targets underserving, it is not to say that these massacres are indiscriminate or lack rational.

Beginning with a look at cases from the Groupé Islamique Armé (GIA) in Algeria during their times of extreme violence and civil unrest in the early 1990’s, it is evident that militant Islamist groups are intentional with the groups that they target. In an attempt to understand their rational, it is necessary to understand the ideology these groups have adopted, and then to view their actions under this lense to see the purpose their attacks attempt to achieve in their plans.

Joshua Hertz, “Mandatory Minimum Sentencing and its Effects on Modern Society”

In looking at criminal justice, the concept of a mandatory minimum penalty has existed since the founding of the United States. But how has this concept of prescribing mandatory minimum sentences changed over the centuries if at all? This presentation looks at the historical changes of mandatory minimum sentencing and analyzes the effects that such a policy has had on society as a whole.

Upon studying the effects of mandatory minimum sentencing at the federal level, what is found is a wide array of negative societal implications. The definition and usage of mandatory minimum sentencing has drastically changed from its original usage in 1790 to today, and the most prominent change lies in the usage of mandatory minimum sentencing for non-violent drug crimes. Through implementing mandatory minimum sentencing for drug crimes, the United States has created a plethora of negative societal consequences.

Kali Jenkins, “Brexit”

In June 2016, the United Kingdom voted in favor of leaving the European Union. While much is still unknown and changes on a daily basis, there are some clear issues that will affect economic development nationally, regionally and locally. This staggering effect on the British economy raises uncertainties surrounding how a country separates itself from a regional economic bloc. The Brexit vote also revealed major weaknesses in the dominant reliance on political mechanisms to give recognition to the constitutional significance of devolution, as well as the potential disintegration of the European community.

The reality of Brexit also raises questions about the future relationship between the United Kingdom and United States. The United Kingdom could become much less useful as a diplomatic and economic partner to the United States having left the European Union. The purpose of this research is to examine and analyze the causes for Britain exiting the European Union, as well as analyze political, economic, and social consequences on both Great Britain and the European Union. By reviewing the literature, we can evaluate if the Brexit vote will trigger a domino effect of similar defections in the European integration project?

* indicates category winner

** indicates grand prize winner