2022 Sargon Partners Undergraduate Research and Practice-Based Learning Showcase Presentations
Below you will find CASL students' virtual research presentations - work done through classwork, lab assignments, internships, or an independent study.
Behavioral Sciences Presentation Abstracts and Videos
COVID Trauma and its Impact on Guardianship Behaviors in Emerging Adults Seeking Romantic Relationships
Student Authors: Christen Abraham and Charles Giraud
- Faculty Co-Author: Michelle Leonard
- Faculty Sponsor: Michelle Leonard
The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated modifications in dating, especially for emerging adults. This is a critical age group since it is when people begin to explore romantic relationships while also developing cognitive skills like problem-solving. However, little is known about how emerging adults have been navigating dating during the time of COVID-19.
Therefore, this study is aimed at understanding guardianship behaviors that emerging adults are engaging in while dating to protect themselves during the pandemic. Data for the study were collected from an undergraduate student sample at a mid-western university via an online survey that identified several COVID guardianship behaviors and measures of COVID-related stress. There were a total of 125 participants with an average age of 20.03 years (SD = 2.98 years). The majority identified heterosexual (72.1%, N = 93) and female (52.7%, N = 68). Of the participants, 50.4% (N = 65) had a diagnosis of COVID for themselves or their family members, and 76% (N = 98) had received the vaccine at the time of participation. Correlations showed that the use of guardianship behaviors were associated with subscales of trauma and danger on the COVID Stress Scale. Regression analysis with multiple predictors accounted for a total of 14.8% of the variance (F (5, 110) = 3.65, p < .01); however the only significant predictor of guardianship behaviors was COVID-related trauma. These findings are critical as they show that early in an emergency health situation, such as the pandemic, feelings of trauma may best predict protective behaviors.
Neuroticism predicts subjective memory complaints but not task-based associative and prospective memory in aging
Student Author: Mariya Churina
- Faculty Co-Authors: Brenda Whitehead, Anda Botoseneanu, Zhong-Xu Liu
- Faculty Sponsor: Zhong-Xu Liu
Prior research investigating associations between personality and age-related memory decline has primarily relied on memory self-reports. Because this association may be due to shared method variance (i.e., both self-report measures), our study aimed to investigate the differential association between personality traits (neuroticism and agreeableness) and subjective vs. objective memory indicators in older adults. We recruited 401 adults aged 60 to 85 from Mturk (M = 66.1, SD = 4.92; males: 34.7%; females: 65.3%), and examined the relationship between their neuroticism and agreeableness scores and long-term memory assessed with self-report questionnaires, a face-name-occupation task, and a prospective memory task. Analyses confirmed that associative and prospective memory performance decreased with age. Consistent with the literature, participants with more self-reported memory problems scored lower on all task-based memory measures. However, when examining our main research questions, higher neuroticism scores, and to a lesser extent, lower agreeableness scores were only associated with subjective memory complaints, but not with lower performance on associative and prospective memory tasks. The results suggest that personality traits, especially neuroticism, primarily affect how older adults perceive and/or report their memory issues, but have limited association with how they perform on more objective memory tasks. This finding may also indicate that personality traits should be considered, possibly as a modulator, when examining how subjective memory complaints are related to objective memory decline in the aging population.
Student Author: Alice Coffey
- Faculty Sponsor: Kaitlin Oswald
Pediatric cancer patients as well as patients diagnosed with ADHD (clinical control group) are at risk for developing depression. However, the rates in which pediatric cancer patients are diagnosed with depression vary alongside the rates of patients diagnosed with ADHD. The purpose of this study is to determine the variability of depression in children treated for pediatric cancer compared to children with a diagnosis of ADHD. Based on prior studies, we hypothesized children with ADHD will display more depressive symptoms than pediatric cancer patients. The study contained children who completed a clinical neuropsychological evaluation, which included parent and teacher questionnaires assessing for symptoms of depression. We found that both the ADHD and pediatric oncology groups found no clinically significant depressive symptoms. However, results also revealed that the ADHD clinical group displayed more symptoms of depression as opposed to the pediatric oncology group. This may be due to several reasons such as resilience and other contextual related variables.
Student Author: William Smith
- Faculty Co-Author: John Chenoweth
- Faculty Sponsor: John Chenoweth
Historical sites are invaluable sources of information that can provide context to present day ideologies. It can be difficult to retain information about historical sites with little historical documents. It can be tedious and difficult to interview and consult many people who may or may not have lived in the community around the not well-known historical site. Thus, gravestones can be used to extrapolate data on not well-known historical sites, and can show gender, religious, class, kinship, and stylistic ideas that occurred over time within a concentrated site. The Free Church Cemetery’s gravestone’s shapes, iconographies, and plot sizes were analyzed alongside historical documents such as maps, tax records, and gravestone inscriptions. These methodologies can show how graveyards, gravestones, and other material culture that is overlooked within communities can be analyzed without the usual destructive tendencies of archeology.
College-Wide Programs Presentation Abstracts and Videos
Student Author: Amani Abuelenain
- Faculty Sponsors: Carmel Price and Natalie Sampson
Environmental Health Research-to-Action is a community-academic partnership focused on building skills and intergenerational knowledge in environmental health, community science, and policy advocacy to address cumulative environmental exposures in Dearborn and nearby communities. Aligning with the mission, EHRA has been progressing towards implementing water pollution and water concerns into the curriculum in response to student interests and concerns raised during the summer 2021 youth academy. In order to implement the topic into the current EHRA curriculum, preliminary research was conducted to determine relevant topics, how to effectively disseminate the information, and resources that could be used to provide students with first-hand experience. Team members also met with community leaders and individuals focusing on similar work to guide the initiative in an effective manner. Following this research, a dedicated day for water has been established in the EHRA curriculum and a, “Water Pollution 101,” presentation has been formed. Despite the completion of the initial research and finalizing of the topic’s direction, the team is dedicated to further adapting and redeveloping the material in the future to ensure the material continues to be relevant to the needs and interests of the community they are working with.
Student Author: Kylie Cornwell
- Faculty Sponsor: Gregory Osowski
During my senior year at UM-Dearborn, I participated in an internship at The Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). My presentation will attempt to give general insight about the agency and what being an intern is like at HSI. I included important information about the different departments, locations, and roles within Homeland Security Investigations. Another thing I have shared within my presentation is the different activities and experiences I was able to gain from being an HSI intern. Due to confidentiality reasons, these descriptions are very general, but they still give a great overview of the internship as a whole. I made a point to include some of my favorite aspects of the internship and what I have gained from these hands-on experiences. The last section of my presentation includes resources that individuals can access if interested in an internship or career within The Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies as well. My experience as an intern at HSI has been extremely rewarding, and I am so happy to be able to share it with others.
Student Author: Justin Mianowski
- Faculty Sponsor: Scott Riggs
This is my CASL research showcase for study abroad. This showcases my trip to Montserrat, a remote island in the Caribbean. This trip happened during spring break 2020- ending only 3 days before COVID shut down all in person classes. This is a very summarized presentation, and a lot is left out. Montserrat is geologically significant because of its active volcano. This is an important spot to monitor not only for research, but also because the volcano is a natural hazard and the population on inhabited parts of the island need to be protected in cases of emergency. We visited the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, where this monitoring took place, and were able to talk to the Vulcanologists as well as see data come in real-time. An active volcano means great data on igneous rock formations as well as the effects of recent volcanic eruptions on the surrounding environment. We were able to enter exclusion zones and see the ruins of the city of Plymouth. We all did our classwork in waterproof geological notebooks, brought with us over the course of the week. They contain tons of notes, data and observations. Definitely a top trip souvenir for me! This is just one of the many trips on offer this and following years at UM-Dearborn! You can most easily see all the trip options available on M-Navigator, and scholarships are accessible to most everyone. Thanks to Dr. Napieralski for planning and hosting this trip for us
Student Author: Naja Nile
- Faculty Sponsor: Georgina Hickey
This research project is a way to look at deeper questions, particularly: How did Maryann Mahaffey’s years of service shape and reflect the politics in Detroit after the violence of 1967 and during some of the most challenging years in the city’s history? Mahaffey, a white Iowa native, moved to Detroit in the post-WWII era. She worked as a social worker and community volunteer, becoming politically active in the 1970s. She was elected to the Detroit City Council in 1973, where she stayed for 32 years, serving as president for 12 of those years. As an activist, educator, social worker and long time city council member, she did work securing safe and affordable housing, advocated for police reform, secured federal resources to address childhood malnutrition, secured LGBTQ-friendly policies in the city, and fought for the rights of women, lending a feminist perspective to the various organizations she was involved in.
Language, Culture, and the Arts Presentation Abstracts and Videos
“It’s Strange on Many Levels”: Primary Care Clinicians’ Experiences Communicating through Telemedicine During COVID-19
Student Authors: Jason Arena, Amber Brewer
- Faculty Sponsor: Nick Iannarino
COVID-19 forced physicians at large U.S. health systems and small private practice offices to rapidly transition to telemedicine (i.e., virtual or phone visits) to provide care while minimizing the spread of infection (Elson et al., 2020). The goal of the current study is to examine the communication factors that practitioners and patients considered most important when forming attitudes toward telemedicine during COVID-19 lockdowns. Two faculty members conducted semi-structured interviews with 24 family medicine or primary care clinicians (i.e., physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners) from June 2020 to January 2021. We are currently analyzing our data using a phonetic iterative approach (Tracy, 2018). Initial findings indicate that individual traits (e.g., age, literacy), condition-specific preferences (e.g., chronic, acute conditions), and uncertainty (e.g., poor leadership) influenced patient and provider attitudes toward telemedicine during COVID-19. Street’s (2003) ecological model also emerged as an important framework to explain future findings. Providers can use these findings to improve their delivery of telemedicine for future patients.
Student Author: Olivia Colborn
- Faculty Sponsor: Sofia Calzada-Orihuela
Through her music, femininity, and two cultural identities, Selena Quintanilla-Pérez encouraged the traditional aspect of latinidad to embrace a more modern, woman-positive approach. Selena’s impact on identity has survived long past her untimely death in 1995. Using the complexity of latinidad and the duality of his own Mexican-American identity, director Gregory Nava successfully immortalized Selena in the 1997 eponymous film. Nava pushed Selena beyond her historical context, using her as an example of a new norm within latinidad that emphasizes a shit in the meaning of feminism. Moreover, the selection of a Puerto Rican for the role of Selena shows Nava's desire to portray a singular Latino identity in an attempt to unite the group. This correlates well with the idea of the "American Dream," which is a prominent theme in the film. The icon of Selena can be interpreted under Jillian Baez’s three paths of latinidad; the figure of Selena is commodified, politicized, and creates connections on a personal level with audiences (Baez, 2007). Today, this is represented in the resurgence of Selena’s popularity. Netflix created a series about the artist, while clothing giant Forever 21 launched collections that emulate her style. The music industry as a whole now includes many singers of a similar background to the deceased star. Selena's character in Nava's film helped build for many a proud Latino identity that is not limited by time, nationality, or gender. Instead, Selena establishes modern latinidad rooted in two traditionally contradictory concepts-- strength and femininity.
Student Author: Briana Wooten
- Faculty Sponsor: Liz Clark
Over the course of the Summer ‘21 and Winter ‘22 semesters (but primarily through the 2021 baseball season) I was given the opportunity to intern with the Premium Service and Ticket Sales staff of the Detroit Tigers. Throughout my experience, I was tasked with managing multiple projects on my own for our premium clientele, as well as being the primary voice of the organization in regard to customer inquiries regarding their previous ticket purchases or upcoming plans to purchase. Though I was not given a book of business of my own, I learned so much from the awesome salespeople and other fantastic professionals I was surrounded by and was able to make my own mark in selling and servicing individual game attendees. I had many opportunities to interact with every department and leader within the organization, and the relationships I built with my coworkers who now have expanded to other organizations all over the country are certain to open doors and opportunities for me and my career in the future.
Mathematics & Statistics Presentation Abstracts and Video
Student Author: Dawson Kinsman
- Faculty Sponsor: Tian An Wong
Developmentally, fields of machine learning and data science have exploded in recent years and have applications in many aspects of daily life leading to many ethical questions, particularly those regarding biased data and the use of predictive algorithms and policing. There are many different types of predictive policing algorithms, many of which are hidden behind patents, and this research focuses on a rederivation of the PredPol algorithm, one of the few predictive algorithms released to the public. The PredPol algorithm is based on an Expectation-Maximization model commonly used in seismology to predict where crimes will occur in the future based on where crimes have occurred in the past. The goal of this research is to use this model of predictive policing to potentially predict where police killings will happen in the future based on where they have occurred in the past. Data fed into the algorithm comes from the Mapping Police Violence database, an open-source collection of fatal encounters with police that has been active since 2013. This project uses a rederivation of the PredPol algorithm in Python from Kristian Lum released in 2016. The results of this warrant further investigation on the accuracy of reporting rates of fatal encounters with police, the accuracy of this model’s ability to predict police killings, and the legitimacy of this model’s ability to predict police killings.
Natural Sciences Presentation Abstracts and Videos
Student Authors: Mauda Abdullah, Yesmine Hamood, Hassan El Ghoul, Nazeh Saad
- Faculty Co-Author: Robert C. Dysko
- Faculty Sponsor: Zhi "Elena" Zhang
Children who suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI) often experience acute and chronic pain, which is linked to a poor quality of life. Buprenorphine (BPN), a FDA approved drug, is commonly used to treat moderate to severe persistent pain in children, however, the efficacy and safety profile of BPN in the pediatric population is still inconclusive. This study investigated the sex-specific effects of BPN on the outcomes in a mouse pediatric TBI model. Male and female littermates were randomized on postnatal day 20-21(P20-21) into Sham, TBI+saline and TBI+BPN groups. Mice in the TBI+saline and TBI+BPN groups underwent TBI, while the Sham group underwent anesthesia without injury. BPN (0.075 mg/kg) was administered to the TBI+BPN mice at 30 min after injury, and then every 6-12h for 2 days. Mice in the TBI+saline group received the same amount of saline injections. The effect of BPN treatment was evaluated at 1-day (d), 3-d and 7-d post-injury. We found that BPN treatment differentially regulated body weight, motor coordination and strength, distribution and expression of mu-opioid receptors (MOR), and neuroinflammation and oxidative stress in a sex-specific manner. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to elucidate the sex specific effects of BPN during the acute phase after pediatric TBI, which provides the rationale to assess potential effects of BPN on chronic pathological progressions after pediatric TBI in both males and females.
Student Author: Muaaz Akhtar
- Faculty Co-Author: Suvranta Tripathy
- Faculty Sponsor: Suvranta Tripathy
Motor proteins are molecules that transport cargo to various places within the cell by moving along tracks or roads known as microtubules. The delivery of these cargo to the right place at the right time is crucial to cell functioning and many diseases develop as a result of abnormalities in the transport process. Although studies have been performed to better understand the behavior of motor proteins, they have mostly been conducted in artificial conditions that do not fully represent the actual conditions inside a cell. This gap in the field hinders our complete understanding of how the intracellular transport process works. The purpose of our research is to experimentally determine the biophysical properties of the single motor protein, Kinesin 1, in an environment that accurately mimics the conditions inside of a cell. This research will utilize Differential Interference Contrast (DIC) imaging and an “optical tweezer” system in order to precisely measure the behavior of the motor. Our future goal is to further expand this experiment to determine how changes in the medium the motor is traveling in can influence its biophysical properties. The outcomes from this research will help us gain a better understanding of the mechanisms behind the cellular processes that many of today’s diseases stem from.
Student Author: Noah Biestek
- Faculty Sponsor: Suvranta Tripathy
Active-passive calibration of optical tweezers was conducted. The calibration was achieved with the implementation of two merging methodologies: active power-spectrum method and passive power-spectrum method. The displacement of a trapped microscopic particle was determined as a function of voltage. A conversion factor was obtained to the displacement in nanometers and with the conversion factor the stiffness determined. The calibration was confirmed and the optical tweezers allowed the lab to determine the force with which a kinesin pulls cargo along a microtubule.
Student Author: Batoul Chami
- Faculty Co-Author: John Abramyan
- Faculty Sponsor: John Abramyan
The upper jaw and nasal cavities of mammals and reptiles (amniotes) are assembled from craniofacial prominences that fuse together to form an intact nose and mouth. Should fusion fail, the individual may form a cleft lip and/or palate; one of the most common birth defects in humans. The prevalence of craniofacial clefts has drawn increasing interest from the scientific community towards the study of how the face forms in vertebrates. The overarching aim of our study is to examine the evolutionary history of the craniofacial prominences that form an amniote’s face by investigating anamniotes, the group comprising amphibians (frogs, salamanders, and caecilians) and fishes. We chose to study the development of the oral and nasal cavities in the axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum), an aquatic salamander species renowned for its regenerative capabilities. Axolotl embryos were examined over six developmental time points using micro-computed tomography (microCT) in addition to traditional histology and immunohistochemistry. We found that, unlike amniotes where craniofacial prominences grow out and fuse together, the nasal and oral cavities of the axolotl develop as independent landmarks that cavitate and expand towards each other, with no fusion involved. Regardless, the cavities eventually form a communication with each other similar to amniotes. Despite the eventual similarity in structure, we did not identify the formation of craniofacial prominences or evolutionary precursor structures in the axolotl. Therefore, we propose that the craniofacial prominences that form the mammalian and reptilian face are novel structures that evolved specifically within amniotes.
Student Author: Hassan El Ghoul
- Faculty Sponsor: Zhi "Elena" Zhang
Mutations in the tissue-nonspecific alkaline phosphatase (TNAP) gene can result in hypophosphatasia (HPP) that characterized by skeletal and dental hypomineralization. Recent studies indicate that cognitive deficits, depression and anxiety, and impaired motor functions are prevalent in both adult and pediatric patients with HPP. The cerebellum not only plays an important role in sensorimotor coordination, gait, posture, speech, and motor functions, but also participates in cognition and mood regulation. Cerebellar dysfunction is evident in a variety of developmental disorders, including autism and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Our previous research demonstrated that TNAP mutation results in significant sensorimotor deficits, however, it is still unclear how TNAP mutation affects the cerebellar function in HPP. The aim of this project is to investigate the impact of TNAP ablation on the cerebellar morphology and function in a mouse model of infantile HPP. Male and female wild-type (WT) and TNAP knockout (KO) littermates were euthanized on postnatal day 14 after behavioral testing. The cerebellum tissues were collected and processed for quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemistry. We found that TNAP ablation caused significant developmental delay, and induced prominent abnormalities in the cerebellar morphology and function. These results shed light on new perspective of cerebellar contribution, especially Purkinje cell dysfunction, to the sensorimotor deficits in hypophosphatasia.
Student Author: Benson Hang
- Faculty Sponsor: Jie Fan
Cells have been recently discovered processing a phenotype-specific chirality: left, right, or neutral bias, which can be seen as directional cell alignment, rotation or migration, etc. Under normal conditions, endothelial cells (ECs) exhibit a strong right bias (or clockwise chirality), and enervating this chirality impairs EC junction formation leading to significant leakage of the blood vessels which might facilitate the intravasation and extravasation of metastatic tumor cells (TCs). However, the effects of TCs on the chirality of ECs are still unknown. Using a Transwell model, we co-cultured the breast cancer cell lines (MCF10A-WT, MCF10A-HRAS, or MCF10A-HER2) with human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). We then measured the chirality of HUVECs seeded on a ring-shaped micropattern with or w/o direct physical contact of TCs. Our data show a significant loss, or partial reversal of EC chirality when MCF10A-HRAS or MCF10A-HER2 cells were directly introduced to EC populations, while without physical contact, either type of TCs only caused a minor impact on EC chirality. Furthermore, we characterized the bias of each EC on the micropattern using a cell organelle-based labeling and image analysis. We found the ECs in direct contact with TCs were trending to reverse their bias, while the “spaced ones” were not. Together, our results suggest malignant TCs could change the EC chirality, but it requires direct physical contact between the two. Weakening EC chirality could potentially compromise the overall endothelial integrity which increases the probability for metastatic cancer spread.
Student Authors: Roukaya R. Najdi, Jonathan Bilko, Brandon Klein
- Faculty Co-Author: Peter Oelkers
- Faculty Sponsor: Peter Oelkers
Introduction: Phospholipid membranes are a crucial aspect to life, as they partake in compartmentalizing organelles as well as cells. AGPAT enzymes, SLC1 and LPT1, are involved in the attachment of two fatty acid tails that make up the phospholipid. Due to similarities existing between humans and yeasts in terms of lipid production, SLC1 and LPT1 microsomes were derived from yeast cells for this study. Radioactive competition reactions were performed to understand if having the shorter acyl chain from Palmitoyl Oleoyl CoA (16:1) will serve as a competitor to the longer Oleoyl-CoA (18:1).
Methods: Six assays were performed: LPT1 (n=3), SLC1 (n=3). Reactions were run with various concentrations of Oleoyl-CoA (18:1) and Palmitoyl Oleoyl-CoA (16:1) to best understand their relationship with the two enzymes of interest. After conducting the reaction, material was centrifuged, lipids were extracted, and then dried using N2 . Lipids were then reconstituted and spotted on a TLC plate that was later stained using iodine. Lipids stained on plates were cut and placed in a scintillation machine to measure radioactivity.
Results: Thus far, LPT1 and SLC1, display that palmitoyl Oleoyl-CoA does result in some inhibitory effects leading to less Oleoyl-CoA in the lipid product. This suggests that in some circumstances lysoPA (16:0) may be best reacted with Palmitoyl Oleoyl-CoA (16:1).
Discussion: There may be more favorable substrate pairings for enzymes involved in phospholipid production which inturn may play a role in the overall composition and interactions of the phospholipid bilayer.
Social Sciences Presentation Abstracts and Videos
Student Author: Samantha Marulli
- Faculty Co-Author: Antonios Koumpias
- Faculty Sponsor: Antonios Koumpias
What determines market entry of Walmart Health clinics across counties in the US? Do Walmart Health and Affiliated Care Clinics offer an alternative to traditional healthcare in underserved areas? To answer these questions, we use a probit regression model to analyze demographic and socioeconomic factors related to healthcare demand and healthcare professional availability and state policy factors related to healthcare supply. Our research indicates that the presence of Walmart Health and Affiliated Care Clinics is more likely in states that did not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Additionally, there is some evidence that Walmart Clinics may alleviate shortages of healthcare workers.