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Posters at the Capitol

Posters at the Capitol celebrates the research and scholarly achievements of undergraduates from across the state of Tennessee. The event highlights the high caliber of research being conducted by undergraduate students at state universities in Tennessee, and it helps members of Tennessee's legislature and the governor realize the importance of providing undergraduates with the opportunity to engage in scholarly research.

Each year, some of the best students from the University of Memphis are chosen to represent the university in Nashville. The 2017 Posters at the Capitol participants are below.


Brandon Coldicott

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Ebrahim AsadiBrandon Coldicott

Grain Boundary Relaxation and the Phase-Field Crystal Method

The phase-field crystal (PFC) model has been shown to replicate many phenomenon that occur during the solidification of periodic lattice structures, but has yet to agree with molecular dynamics simulations on the grain boundary free energy at special low energy boundary misorientations. This may be due to PFC models not correctly modeling the grain boundary relaxation. This research will attempt to characterize the boundaries created by the PFC model and contrast them to the boundaries after relaxation, in order to possibly develop methods of adding a relaxation term to the PFC model. If the PFC model could accurately model the special misorientation grain boundaries between crystals, its use for the modeling of metals during solidification could be extended to provide a more complete picture of what happens realistically..

J. Grayson Cupit

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Leah WindsorJ. Grayson Cupit

Conflict Forecasting Using Deep Neural Architecture

While the forecasting of political instability and conflict using solely political event data can be successful when data are numerous, the current reality of political event data is a trade-off between volume and quality. Computational linguistic analysis of political discourse has shown that different types of regime exhibit different linguistic features; moreover, in authoritarian regimes these features are sensitive to crisis events. Proposed is a method to enhance predictive models of noisy or sparse political event data in the context of authoritarian regimes. A corpus of news stories disseminated by state-controlled media in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is analyzed and the resulting data is used to construct new predictive features. A recurrent neural network is trained on the data to predict trends in conflict or cooperation. The model's performance is then assessed using a test set of data under a variety of configurations.

Raven Davis

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Helen SableRaven Davis

The Effects of Diet and Exercise on Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor and Activity-Regulated Cytoskeletal Protein in Rats Following a Working Memory Task

This study used a sample of 28 male Long-Evans rats to examine the effects that two different diet and conditions, the Western Diet (WD) and Daniel Fast (DF) diet, as well as two different exercise conditions, exercise (E) and sedentary (S), had on working memory performance. Automated operant conditioning boxes were used to examine working memory performance on a delayed spatial alternation task. In addition, we collected tissue samples from the hippocampus in order to evaluate the expression of two different proteins, brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) and activity-regulated protein (Arc), both known to regulate brain plasticity associated with learning and memory. The best DSA performance occurred in the DF-E group, especially during the intermediate testing sessions and at longer delays. Using Western blotting, we are in the process of quantifying BDNF and Arc levels within each sample and expect to see higher BDNF and Arc expression in the DF-E groups compared to the other treatment groups. Such results will confirm the importance of a healthy diet and exercise not only on working memory performance, but also on the expression of brain plasticity and learning/memory-related proteins.

Caleb Harris

Faculty Mentor: Dr. John HochsteinCaleb Harris

Diffuser Optimization for Harnessing Hydrokinetic Energy

Current research at the University of Memphis involves the design of a new machine for hydrokinetic energy conversion which utilizes open-channel flow with an inlet and diffuser. Initial experiments have shown the potential for 24/7 power with zero carbon footprint in operation. Machine optimization began with a study of the influence of inlet area ratio on the kinetic energy available for capture. The objective of the present research is to further optimize the design of the machine through a study of the influence of the diffuser angle on kinetic energy flowrate ((KE) ̇). This research again involves computational simulations of the interested flow situation. This computationally intensive task is supported by University of Memphis's High-Performance-Cluster, a computer cluster of significant capability in which the simulation tasks is scattered across multiple computers. It is expected that optimization of the diffuser angle will require consideration of both performance in maximizing (KE) ̇ and the influence of the angle on overall machine geometry. Preliminary results suggest that the optimal angle is within the range of 6° to 15°.

Jacob Sinowetski

Faculty mentor: Dr. Ryan ParishJacob Sinowetski

Analysis of Prehistoric Tool-Stone Workability in Direct Relation to Different Tool Stone Treatment Processes.

Prehistoric peoples used chert and flint heavily across the world in order to make stone tools. Stone tools such as these comprise a large portion of the archaeological record. Experimental archaeology leads the field in the analysis of lithic artifacts and attempts to discover how prehistoric people manufactured stone tools. Experimental archaeology gives archaeologist insight into prehistoric human behavior and traditions. One debate within archaeology is over the prevalence of heat treatment within the archaeological record and the effects it has on the workability of tool-stone raw material. The study details the effects that water and heat treatment has on the workability of four different types of tool-stone including Novaculite, Fort Payne, Flintridge, and Hornstone. These tool-stone types are common materials that are found throughout stone assemblages in the archaeological record. The workability of each tool-stone sample is measured in each treatment state using average flaking force, average flake weight, and average flake size as determining factors to establish what effects each treatment method had on each tool-stone sample. There is a direct and distinct effect that these treatment methods have in relation to affecting the workability of tool-stone material and especially in the measurable force needed in the manufacturing process.


Ashton Toone

Faculty mentor: Dr. Amanda EdgarAshton Toone

"She Made Angry Black Women Something That People Would Want to Be": Examining Identity Expression and Interpretation Through Lemonade

Popular media saturates most of our lives either as fans or merely consumers, and media allows fans to develop an identity based on what they consume, even if media does not necessarily remain consistent with fan ideas. Through a series of interviews, this project explored fan identity and media interpretation through Lemonade. This study demonstrates the transformative potential of popular media and its ability to integrate identities and ideologies within the understanding of media. In particular, this study allowed Black women to use popular media, something that typically does not cater to them, and use it to shape and comprehend how they are allowed to express their individual identities as Black women rather than allow identities portrayed in the same media to be placed on to them. The significance of the project further demonstrates and reinforces the relevance of popular media and its impact.


Courtnee Wall

Faculty mentor: Dr. Omar SkalliCourtnee Wall

Intermediate filament proteins are cytoskeletal proteins that form complex cytoplasmic networks in all cell types. These networks are important for cellular processes such as cell motility and cell division. IF proteins are found in nearly all vertebrate cells, across all tissues and all life stages, but the 70 different kinds of IF proteins are also expressed in a tissue- or cell-type dependent manner. The purpose of this project is to identify the stages of development where certain intermediate filament proteins are first expressed. Using zebrafish as the model organism, samples of zebrafish taken from each stage of development were analyzed through Western blotting, allowing tissues to be tested for specific IF proteins based on the protein's reactivity with antibodies. Tracking IF protein expression during development will provide insight into the first differentiating and regulating mechanisms in the cells of zebrafish, but as a vertebrate model, research into embryogenesis will also contribute and allow for comparisons to mammal and human cytoskeletal development.