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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:

Carolyn Asselin, Graphic Design


Faculty Mentor: Dr. Angiline Powell, Instruction & Curriculum Leadership

Many students suffer from math anxiety, while visual arts have shown to increase students confidence and self-efficacy. My “Math is Art” project will identify if there is a reasonable correlation between middle school students’ self esteem in math and visual arts when the two are presented in an integrated program curriculum. This research addresses the lack of arts education in public schools, low student confidence in mathematics, and integration of core subjects into the visual arts.  By creating, implementing, and observing an integrated 3-day summer course for local middle school students I hope to raise students’ academic and personal self worth, and contribute to the critical field of visual arts integration.


 Ethan BakerEthan, Biomedical Engineering & Physics

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Firouzeh Sabri, Physics

My research involves the synthesis and characterization of Aerogel compounds in a bio-medical context.  Aerogel materials are microporous, lightweight, possess high mechanical strength, and have remarkable insulator properties. For this reason they are an attractive candidate for devices aiding in the recovery of peripheral nervous system injuries. Initial research has shown that polyuria crosslinked silica aerogels (PCSA) treated with laminin1 provides a promising interface for neuron growth. I will be studying the potential effectiveness and progression of this neuronal scaffold through in vivo case studies using long-evans Rats.


Roger BynumRoger, Biomedical Engineering & Physics

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Max Paquette, Health & Sport Science

The purpose of my research is to discern whether or not there is any difference between different foot strike walking patterns in terms of the transference of the ground reaction forces throughout the body. Specifically I will be comparing a rear foot(heel) strike with a fore foot(toe) strike. This will be done in order to determine whether or not the reduction of forces that results from the toe strike in running are also present in walking biomechanics. This study is important because if the reduction of forces is preserved, this information could be very beneficial for a patient recovering from a recent head trauma such as a concussion. This research will be the first step in determining whether these patients should develop a fore foot walking pattern during the recovery time immediately following the injury.

Austin CarterAustin, Mechanical Engineering

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Steven Wayne, Mechanical Engineering

My research involves the testing of various aluminum alloys using innovative entropy emission analysis. Special entropy emission sensors will pick up any micro-damage that is occurring in the aluminum specimen as it undergoes tension testing. After the specimen has gone to failure, we will look at the specimen through a microscope to see what type of damage has occurred. Then we will analyze the millions of data points collected by the sensors in order to better predict the probability of any aluminum alloy specimen being susceptible to random micro-damage that can lead to failure.


 Elizabeth DuncanElizabeth Duncan, Biomedical Engineering

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Amber Jennings, Biomedical Engineering

Non-union of bone occurs in 10% of all fractures and up to 50% of open tibia fractures, which affects patient recovery time and quality of life.  Current treatment for bone fractures or non-union of bone can include expensive growth factors or the additional painful surgical procedure known as an autograft, which is taking bone from another area on the patient (frequently the iliac crest) to facilitate bone healing.  Adenosine has been shown to increase the proliferation rate of various cell types and could be a viable option as a therapeutic to improve bone healing rates.  My research consists of studying the effect of adenosine on the proliferation of MC3T3 bone cells (murine osteoblast precursor cells) and whether adenosine can promote similar bone growth and mineralization as expensive growth factors.  If successful, the next step would involve testing a drug delivery vehicle for the release and activity of adenosine in bone.  Available bone graft substitute materials in the lab include porous calcium phosphate nanospheres, injectable alginate, or calcium sulfate. 


Christopher FrenchChristopher, Earth Sciences & Anthropology

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Andrew Mickleson, Earth Sciences

My research will be a part of the continuing investigations out at the Ames Plantation where the remains of a prehistoric town has been located. This town dates back to 1000 A.D. to 1300 A.D. and is associated with similar sites of the same time period consistent with the Mississippian culture.  I will be investigating over 2 dozen locations that are within the vicinity of the town to locate and identify artifacts that will clarify whether these locations are resource gathering sites or not. Also, I will be looking to see whether these locations are associated with the Ames Town site (40FY7) and hope to see if these associations provide an insight into the regional political structure.


 Keanan JoynerKeanan, Psychology

Faculty Mentor: Dr. James G. Murphy, Psychology

My research focuses on executive functions in the brain as they relate to behavioral economics. My present study will examine how training a specific executive function (response inhibition) will affect lifestyle and decision making processes among college students. Participants will come into the lab and do a computerized task developed for this project that evaluates response inhibition and, subsequently, how that affects many psychological factors involved in decision making. This could have considerable clinical implications if successful, as measuring the reinforcing value of stimuli through a behavioral economic measure is a relatively new addition to the field.


 Daniel KuhmanDaniel, Exercise & Sport Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Max Paquette, Exercise and Sport Sciences

Dr. Paquette and I will be researching the lower extremity kinetic and kinematic variables at different foot striking patterns and different speeds. To accomplish this, we will have habitual heel striking runners complete a series of tests using a motion capture system and a force plate. We will then take this raw data and use it to analyze key variables. Our hope is to show the differences in these variables between a rearfoot strike (heel strike) and a forefoot strike during running at different speeds. This information can be used in relation to both performance and injury prevention. I’m extremely excited about the opportunity I have been given and look forward to working with our outstanding staff this summer.


Elizabeth LongoElizabeth Longo, Health & Human Performance

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Brian Schilling, Health & Human Performance

The project I will be working on is a two-part study on the physical capabilities and injuries associated with members of SWAT teams. The project will include a survey completed by team members across the country about their physical requirements and any injuries suffered during the last year and an analysis of individual capabilities. Since members of a SWAT team are considered to be some of the best law enforcement officers, it’s imperative that each member stays healthy and injury-free. The goal of the study is to add to the current body of research (limited at the moment) and aid trainers and health-care providers in keeping members healthy and well-trained and eventually aid in the development of a nationwide standardized test, which currently doesn’t exist.


Anthony RadfordAnthony, Professional Studies

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Randal T. Cox, Earth Sciences

My research fellowship will be to study to origin of Mima ‘pimple’ mounds in eastern Arizona. Pimple mounds can closely be found in Arkansas and Louisiana. These varied mounds have mystified scientists for many years.  They are of unknown origin and are an enigma in the scientific community. Thought, mainly to be formed from extreme droughts that took place many years ago the mounds appear in open fields in random sequence. I will travel to the Arizona desert to evaluate, photograph, and retrieve soil samples of these mounds for dating and to reveal the layering of the sediment.





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Last Updated: 4/30/14