Honors Summer Research Fellows
The Helen Hardin Honors Program is pleased to provide funding for a summer research
fellowship to promote research and creative activity among honors students. The purpose
of the program is to provide honors students with the time, financial support, and
faculty mentoring to pursue meaningful research and creative projects in the summer.
The Honors Program will enhance the experience of the Fellows through a series of
enrichment programs, both professional and social, which will include bi-weekly lunch
workshops focused on presentation techniques, critical evaluation of research, ethical
issues, and how to prepare for graduate or medical school. Additionally, selected
Fellows will receive funding to present their research at the National Conference
for Undergraduate Research and other national or regional honors conferences. By participating
in the extensive research requirements of the program and by presenting their research
at conferences, Fellows will earn the University’s “Undergraduate Research Scholar”
designation on their transcript. Listed below are this year's Summer Research Fellows!
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Andrew Hussey, Economics
My research will examine the possible connection of pet (dog and cat) over-supply
in animal shelter populations on adverse outcomes such as dog attacks, incidences
of animal cruelty, and illegal dogfights. I will gather monthly intake data from municipal
animal shelters in fifteen cities and use this data as my measure of over-supply.
Data concerning abuse of animals by humans, dog attacks, and dog-related fatalities
in these cities can be found on several online databases. I expect to find a correlation
between the measures, indicating that pet over-supply is associated with greater adverse
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Charles Blaha, Psychology
My research applies neurochemical recording procedures to study neurotransmitter pathways
in the brain of a mouse model of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Lurcher mutant mice will
undergo stereotaxic surgery in order to microinject a lentiviral vector into a region
called the reticulotegmental nuclei which is just outside of the cerebellum. The lentiviral
vector will block the reuptake of glutamate, which will increase the concentration
of glutamate in the synapses between neurons. I will be studying whether the lentiviral
vector significantly increases the neurotransmission of glutamate from the cerebellum
to the reticulotegmental nuclei, since the ASD model has a weaker transmission of
glutamate in this particular area when compared to normal mice.
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Matthias Kaelberer, Political Science
The purpose of my research is to explore how the process of violating IPR’s (Intellectual
Property Rights) explains the process of developing countries’ modernization, particularly
China. I have chosen China because it is the fastest growing developing country in
the international system. Like developing countries before it, China is violating
the IPR’s of the most advanced economy. Similarly, the United States also developed
by violating IPR’s of the most advanced economy in its epoch, the British Empire.
IPR policies of developing countries are consistent with mercantilist practices of
catch-up countries. By comparing China’s current IPR policy to the United States’
policy two centuries ago my research will develop new insights into the process of
William Hunter King
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Erno Lindner, Biomedical Engineering
My research consists of developing a platform to measure urinary partial pressure
carbon dioxide (pCO2) levels to risk assess patients in severe sepsis and shock. Specifically, the research
would first attempt to adapt and validate a carbon dioxide sensor for the use of urine
carbon dioxide measurements. The research would also seek to develop an Institutional
Review Board proposal for a pilot study involving intensive care unit patients with
severe sepsis or shock to ascertain whether pCO2 levels in urine are correlated with development of multi-organ failure and death.
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Michael Kennedy, Biology
My research focuses on parasitic ticks and their effect on mammalian hosts in Western
Tennessee. Diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are detrimental to this area
and are responsible for many human deaths. It is essential to study the patterns of
the parasites to learn how to better control these diseases, and save lives. By trapping
the mammalian hosts such as the Raccoon and the Virginia Opossum, these parasites
will be collected and identified, as well as the diseases they may carry.
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Matthias Kaelberer, Political Science
For my honors thesis in economics and political science, I will be identifying and
evaluating the governmental actions taken by the United Kingdom and Germany during
the 2008 Financial Crisis. These two countries practice very different forms of capitalism,
and their subsequent responses carried very different trends and results both domestically
and internationally. My analysis will focus on the different policy responses and
theoretical implications of the those policies. I will demonstrate that the policy
differences between the two countries clearly indicate the need to have more economic
and political tools in order to stabilize their domestic and regional markets.
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jeffrey Berman, Psychology
I will be examining the relationship between awareness of time and performance on
a task. Though there have been many studies that have looked at timed and untimed
tests, as well as test anxiety specifically, most of these studies are connected by
a common factor: direction of attention. By looking at how the awareness of time might
affect ones' concentration determined by the performance of the task at hand, I hope
to find out if the salience of time is a positive or negative tool when completing
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Frank Andrasik, Pschology
For my honors thesis in psychology, I am investigating the relationship between the
level of expertise with the English language (i.e. early/late acquisition of the language)
and the ability of native Japanese speakers to discriminate between the /l/ and /r/
phonemes. Brain responses will be recorded that will indicate the native Japanese
speakers’ ability to discriminate between the /l/ and /r/ phonemes. These brain responses
will ultimately correspond with the native Japanese speakers’ age of acquisition and
reveal the level of expertise with the English language. We predict that native Japanese
speakers who learned English at a very young age will show the same brain responses
as native English speakers. Also, native Japanese speakers who learned English later
on in life will show smaller brain responses in comparison to native English speakers.
Furthermore, native Japanese speakers who are currently in the process of learning
English will show brain responses that fall in between early and late second language
English learners in comparison to the native English speakers.
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Joel Bumgardner, Biomedical Engineering
My honors thesis in biomedical engineering creates an innovative design of a unique
device for a client with a mobile disability. Mobility disabilities are often specific
for each client, and many off the shelf devices do not meet individual needs. This
design project provides a custom device to an individual suffering from loss of mobility
due to disease or injury that will improve the quality of life and self-sufficiency
of the client. In order to design such a device, collaboration is necessary between
me and local engineering firms, other engineering students, disability centers, and
the client. Once the design is finished, the design will be produced and tested with
the client. When the thesis is completed, the device will be used by the client in
their daily life, and can perhaps be recreated for other clients with similar disabilities.
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Firouzeh Sabri, Physics
My research concerns two behavioral parameters of the RTV 655 and thin metal film
bilayer system. I'm currently installing software and equipment to obtain resistance
measurements as a function of temperature. I will be measuring resistance as the sample's
temperature decreases from 20 to -160*C. I have constructed a vacuum chamber to eliminate
the problem of frost condensation on the sample. The cooling stage is an INSTEC liquid
nitrogen cooled device and is operated by WinTemp mk1000 software. To make the electrical
measurements a specialized electrode frame was created to house the sample as it cooled.
The frame will be connected to a Keithley 2000 Digital Multimeter, which will be operated
by a MatLab or Keithley designed program and record data. Dr. Sabri predicts that
the resistance vs. temperature graph will form a hysteresis as it is cooled and then
returned to its original temperature. Preliminary tests suggests Dr. Sabri is correct,
but more tests must be carried out.
Secondly, optical intensity of the samples reflection pattern will be monitored as
a function of temperature. The luminance will be detected by a photodiode sheet and
the data will be recorded with MatLab. The Intensity peak distribution and power output
will be used to characterize the material as the temperature of the RTV 655 substrate
decreases in the same manner as in the resistance measurements.