First Year Research Experience – UROP Spring Symposium 2021

First Year Research Experience

¿Es que todos sólo van a mirar?: Discrimination in the Latinx Community

Kamaldeen Akorede | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Structural racism leads to discrimination, health inequities, unemployment and low socioeconomic status (World Health Organization (WHO), 2006). Studies show that the US Latinx community faces a disproportionate amount of structural racism when compared to their white counterparts (Ramirez & Peterson 2020).This disparity is due to ethnic discrimination which causes limitations in the cognitive development of children and into adulthood for the cycle to repeat in subsequent generations (Bickard, 2003). The WHO discusses the structural racism that prevents the Latinx community from attaining healthier environments for better cognitive and physical development. In the current study, we hypothesize that if an individual’s zip code is from a low- income neighborhood, then their children will also experience challenges from discrimination in their environment such as access to quality education for mind development. To test this hypothesis, a novel Spanish-language survey was created using Qualtrics. Data collected included zip code and age of Spanish-speaking participants in the US. The survey also collected socioeconomic (SES) data, parent status and asked about experiences with discrimination. The survey received over 300 responses. SPSS was used to analyze the data and to identify trends of discrimination through US zip codes. Responses were placed in a zip code databank created by the US Census to collect the average income and family orientation of survey respondents (https://www.unitedstateszipcodes.org/ , 2021). Given studies such as Bickard (2003), we predict that Spanish-speaking adults responding to our survey from low-income zip code areas and who are also parents, will have children whose cognitive development is affected by their environment and SES. This project contributes to social science research by investigating impoverished communities, and demonstrating that Spanish-speaking families frequently face discriminatory practices that can affect their children’s cognitive growth.




“What are you laughing at?” Cross cultural investigation into international Chinese students’ understanding of US minority group humor

Yimin Xiao | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Listening courses in graduate EAP curricula typically focus on academic listening, such as in lectures and seminars (Flowerdew 1995). However, much listening occurs outside of the classroom, with students frequently expressing frustration at not being able to understand or participate in peer conversations about cultural issues such as current topics and humor. To expose international students to diverse voices and content in a non-academic listening course, we utilized examples of US minority group humor, Key and Peele videos, from the Chinese media platform Bilibil. We present our first findings from small listening groups discussing one Key and Peele video, showing that students draw on home culture interpretations when encountering unfamiliar US culture and humor. Chinese students specifically are using an internet practice already familiar to them, live commenting (Danmu), as a tool to deepen their understanding of English, general US culture and minority group culture. We hope to create materials for the new culture class by evaluating students’ depth of understanding of important current aspects of US (minority) culture.




3d Online Body Shape Model Development

Shreya Mani | First-Year UROP Research Experience

In the automotive industry, there have been an increasing number of fatalities, easily preventable by building safer vehicles. In the medical field, it is almost impossible to thoroughly test accuracy of medical technology without using a physical model, which are oftentimes very expensive. This study involves the development of realistic user-manipulated 3D body models for usage in the medical, automotive, and engineering fields. Along with my mentor and fellow researcher, we have been building a nuanced body model application using Unity to be put out on the apple store and google play store. While results are inconclusive so far, as the application has not been released yet, it hopefully will facilitate the lives of engineers, researchers, and manufacturers working in a number of industries.




3d Online Body Shape Model Development

Tanushree Parasramka | First-Year UROP Research Experience

In the automotive industry, there have been an increasing number of fatalities, easily preventable by building safer vehicles. In the medical field, it is almost impossible to thoroughly test accuracy of medical technology without using a physical model, which are oftentimes very expensive. This study involves the development of realistic user-manipulated 3D body models for usage in the medical, automotive, and engineering fields. Along with my mentor and fellow researcher, we have been building a nuanced body model application using Unity to be put out on the apple store and google play store. While results are inconclusive so far, as the application has not been released yet, it hopefully will facilitate the lives of engineers, researchers, and manufacturers working in a number of industries.




A 5-year Longitudinal Observational Study of Management of Patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Hamzah Hakkani | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Hepatocellular Carcinoma(HCC), a liver cancer that is linked with hepatitis A and B which are caused by liver cirrhosis, is an increasingly prevalent cancer that affects many people across the globe, majorly in the United States, Asia, and Africa. Treatments and remedies are currently very limited with nothing holding the capabilities of fully healing affected patients. The purpose of this research is to record and analyze the treatments currently used over the course of five years and create a database for future patients who face the cancer. Patients are searched for by project managers and are selected if they have HCC and commit to the project. The chosen patients undergo a health background check and provide documentation of their treatment and checkups every three months for a year and every six months for four more years. Over the course of five years, the patients are monitored and their medical documentation is used as data for the database. The database will allow physicians to categorize the effects of different treatments with the different types of patients to find the best solutions for future patients. After five years, the goal is not necessarily to find a cure or remedy, but rather to have an established database of information to allow doctors to better treat patients with HCC and create research further creating potential for a cure or remedy. The database’s main goal is to allow other researchers to take advantage of the material published and explore different methods of HCC treatment. Currently, the project remains partially complete and will require several years before the database becomes available for publication.




A Comparison of Patient Knowledge and Satisfaction with Tele-neuropsychology Services vs. Standard Practice (pre-COVID Face-to-Face Appointments)

Miracle Nwachukwu | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Introduction: COVID-19 has limited many patients to video-teleconference (VTC) as opposed to face-to-face (FTF) appointments. With this switch, clinicians hope to maintain the same level of patient satisfaction that was seen previously in a traditional FTF setting, including in the field of neuropsychology. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, studies suggested that many patients found VTC just as likable of an experience as FTF for tele-neuropsychology services. Factors such as convenience (staying in the comfort of one’s own home) and cost of travel (gas, flights) all contribute to patient satisfaction with VTC (Seritan et al 2019; Powell et al 2020). However, not all patients have the necessary equipment for telehealth appointments, such as a stable internet connection or a webcam. Additionally, some patients may be uncomfortable with technology and clinician-patient rapport may be difficult to establish (Wilkinson et al 2016). In this study, we investigate patients’ knowledge about neuropsychology prior to VTC and FTF appointments, level of comfort with the technology required for VTC visits, and level of satisfaction with the telehealth services.




A comparison of the Michigan Public Policy Survey and the Canadian Municipal Barometer on Fiscal Health Spring 2020

Alexa Goldstein | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Local government officials play a key role in policymaking in communities nationwide. However, there are a few ongoing surveys of these officials. The Michigan Public Policy Survey (MPPS), conducted by University of Michigan’s Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy, was designed to fill this gap in policy-making research: the survey collects opinions of officials from Michigan’s 1,856 general-purpose local governments (counties, townships, cities, and villages). Each year, the MPPS collects data from these officials on their opinions on a range of local issues, as well as basic financial and demographic information, which allows policy stakeholders to better understand the inner workings of local governments in Michigan. In this project, I look at two questions from the Spring 2020 MPPS regarding local government fiscal health trends and how they may be affected by the impact of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic. I compare responses to these questions to very similar questions asked on the Canadian Municipal Barometer, a similar survey for officials in the municipalities across Canada. Generally, as of spring 2020, Canadian government officials tended to perceive their fiscal health trending more pessimistically compared to officials in Michigan. While there are multiple possible explanations for this difference, the research provides insights into the ways the coronavirus pandemic has affected local governments’ financial health.




A Comprehensive Review of Forms of Sexual Education and Analysis of an mHealth Comprehensive Sexual Education

Anna Hart | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The US has some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy among developing countries with approximately 200,000 babies born to teens aged 15 to 19 in 2016 (1,2). Additionally, nearly 50% of diagnosed STIs are seen in people under the age of 25 (3). These high rates of teen pregnancy and STIs may be due to abstinence-only sex education in schools, which some studies show have minimal effectiveness in preventing STIs and teen pregnancy (4). Michigan state policy requires an emphasis on abstinence, and some schools choose not to provide information on contraceptives at all (5). The purpose of this study was to assess whether abstinence-only sexual education provides the same teen level of education as comprehensive sexual education using a review of relevant literature to compare the two.




A Critical Review of the Literature of Sex-Related Substance Use among Gay and Bisexual Men

Mitchell Scheer | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Although there is significant research on the relationship between substance use and sexual behavior, the existing research typically focuses on heterosexual populations exclusively. Though previous research documents higher use of substances among gay and bisexual, compared with heterosexual, men, less is known about the use of alcohol and other substances specifically within sexual contexts. The goal of the current study was to critically review and synthesize existing research on substance use in sexual contexts and its associations with health outcomes among gay and bisexual men. The study focuses on both sex-related substance use itself, as well as how mental health variables are associated with participation in sex-related substance use. The current study reviews literature on the prevalence of sex-related substance use, mental and physical health outcomes associated with sex-related substance use, as well as attributions about the reasons for engaging in sex-related substance use among gay and bisexual men. Findings from the current review are presented critically, with specific focus on the gaps that still exist within the literature.




A Literature Review on Combustion and Properties Studies of Alternative Fuels

Nicholas Robinson | First-Year UROP Research Experience

A literature review has been undertaken in order to understand more about the ignition behavior of fatty alcohols and to eventually conduct my own experiments. Using Scopus, U of M’s online library, I searched for keywords, such as “fatty alcohols”, “diesel”, and/or “combustion”, in scholarly articles in order to find research that was relevant. After finding the article, I would read through it, occasionally skimming through parts I found non-pertinent, while taking notes on the important information. From there, I would compile all of the information into a three or four paragraph summary, giving a description of each scholarly article. So far, my main takeaway would be that fatty alcohols blended with biodiesel can serve as a substitute for fossil diesel, as they generally produce less emissions, and can make the engine more efficient. This research is necessary to provide insight into if these fuels can replace fossil diesel fuel, in order to transition to a more sustainable source such as biofuels.




A National Study of Barriers and Facilitators of Expedited Partner Therapy Use in Emergency Departments: A Qualitative Study

Maaz Munawar | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Background: Emergency Departments (ED) are the primary source of healthcare for many patients diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Expedited partner therapy (EPT), treating the partner(s) of patients with STIs without an exam, is an evidence-based practice for individuals who might not otherwise seek care. Methods: We conducted semi-structured, open-ended interviews with ED medical directors and key medical personnel within different institutions. Participant enrollment continued until thematic saturation was reached. Our interview guide and initial coding were informed by the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR). Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and iteratively coded, and qualitative thematic analysis was used to identify themes and subthemes by consensus. Results: We interviewed 12 medical directors and key informants, including a resident, follow-up nurse, program director, 2 pharmacists, and a physician champion. Some of the primary barriers to EPT were legal liability, lack of a specific implementation process, and the stigma surrounding sexual health. Facilitators of EPT included a clear delineation of task-sharing responsibilities for prescribing EPT, efficient electronic medical record prescribing, and leadership engagement. Many participants acknowledged the ED’s potential role in improving sexual health especially for marginalized populations and expressed a desire to use this practice if it was streamlined and did not affect departmental flow. Conclusions: The non-traditional processes involved in EPT present many challenges for adoption in the ED. Understanding these barriers and facilitators will assist in designing strategies for the implementation of EPT.




A National Study of Barriers and Facilitators of Expedited Partner Therapy Use in Emergency Departments: A Qualitative Study

Alan Cetkovic | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Background: Emergency Departments (ED) are the primary source of healthcare for many patients diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Expedited partner therapy (EPT), treating the partner(s) of patients with STIs without an exam, is an evidence-based practice for individuals who might not otherwise seek care. Methods: We conducted semi-structured, open-ended interviews with ED medical directors and key medical personnel within different institutions. Participant enrollment continued until thematic saturation was reached. Our interview guide and initial coding were informed by the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR). Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and iteratively coded, and qualitative thematic analysis was used to identify themes and subthemes by consensus. Results: We interviewed 12 medical directors and key informants, including a resident, follow-up nurse, program director, 2 pharmacists, and a physician champion. Some of the primary barriers to EPT were legal liability, lack of a specific implementation process, and the stigma surrounding sexual health. Facilitators of EPT included a clear delineation of task-sharing responsibilities for prescribing EPT, efficient electronic medical record prescribing, and leadership engagement. Many participants acknowledged the ED’s potential role in improving sexual health especially for marginalized populations and expressed a desire to use this practice if it was streamlined and did not affect departmental flow. Conclusions: The non-traditional processes involved in EPT present many challenges for adoption in the ED. Understanding these barriers and facilitators will assist in designing strategies for the implementation of EPT.




A National Study of Barriers and Facilitators of Expedited Partner Therapy Use in Emergency Departments: A Qualitative Study

Carlin Pendell | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Background: Emergency Departments (ED) are the primary source of healthcare for many patients diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Expedited partner therapy (EPT), treating the partner(s) of patients with STIs without an exam, is an evidence-based practice for individuals who might not otherwise seek care. Methods: We conducted semi-structured, open-ended interviews with ED medical directors and key medical personnel within different institutions. Participant enrollment continued until thematic saturation was reached. Our interview guide and initial coding were informed by the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR). Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and iteratively coded, and qualitative thematic analysis was used to identify themes and subthemes by consensus. Results: We interviewed 12 medical directors and key informants, including a resident, follow-up nurse, program director, 2 pharmacists, and a physician champion. Some of the primary barriers to EPT were legal liability, lack of a specific implementation process, and the stigma surrounding sexual health. Facilitators of EPT included a clear delineation of task-sharing responsibilities for prescribing EPT, efficient electronic medical record prescribing, and leadership engagement. Many participants acknowledged the ED’s potential role in improving sexual health especially for marginalized populations and expressed a desire to use this practice if it was streamlined and did not affect departmental flow. Conclusions: The non-traditional processes involved in EPT present many challenges for adoption in the ED. Understanding these barriers and facilitators will assist in designing strategies for the implementation of EPT.




A National Study of Expedited Partner Therapy in Academic Emergency Departments

Rafael Cortes | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Background: Rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the United States are rising dramatically. EDs serve as the primary source of care for many patients diagnosed with STIs. Expedited Partner Therapy (EPT), an evidence-based practice for treating partners of patients with STIs without an exam, can decrease rates of STI reinfection and increase the number of partners treated. Despite the potential benefits of EPT, its use in EDs is poorly understood. Objective: This study characterizes the knowledge, beliefs, interest, and practice of EPT among academic ED medical directors through a cross-sectional survey. We also explore barriers and facilitators to EPT implementation through semi-structured interviews of medical directors and key informants conducted using an interview guide informed by the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Science. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and iteratively coded, and qualitative thematic analysis was used to identify themes and subthemes by consensus. Results: A total of 48 out of 70 medical directors responded. There was a high awareness of EPT (73%), but only 38% knew how to prescribe EPT, and even fewer (19%) had actually implemented it. Most respondents supported EPT (79%), and were more likely to support EPT if they were already aware of it (89% vs 54%). 41% of those who had not implemented EPT thought that it would be feasible, and 56% thought that departmental support would be likely. Many participants cited medicolegal barriers and lack of clarity regarding the ED’s role in STI care as obstacles to EPT adoption. Other participants cited a perceived benefit of EPT use was the prevention of untreated STIs, particularly among a vulnerable population. Conclusion: Our findings show relatively low use but high interest in EPT in academic EDs, and show the need for increased awareness to implement this public health intervention in the ED setting.




A New Narrative on Live Performance in Classical Era Movie Theaters

Megan Lehman | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Live vaudeville performance that played alongside film showings was an affordable and popular form of entertainment for many Americans prior to the 1930’s. When the Great Depression hit in 1929, many sources put forward the narrative that companies gave up on vaudeville and live performances and never looked back. Our team’s research suggests that this narrative is not the case as we look at evidence relating to the perspective of theater managers, company executives, and other influential individuals in relation to the continuation and production of vaudeville in the 1930’s. We have examined articles from entertainment magazines from this time period and have built upon a database cataloging many live acts and performances using Variety show bills from the early 1930’s. Our research, so far, suggests that rather than vaudeville and live performance coming to an abrupt and definitive end, it would continue to fall and re-emerge several times throughout the 1930’s and beyond. Our research concerning the uncertainty and wavering popularity of vaudeville and live performance provides us with more insight into the motivations and nature of the entertainment industry during this time period, especially considering the economic state of the United States during the Great Depression.




A population-based virtual solution to reduce gaps in genetic risk evaluation (GRE) and management in families at high risk for hereditary cancer syndromes

Karina Vallejo Vasquez | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Genetic test results and their implications, which carry weight not only with the patient but with the patients first and second-degree relatives, are currently understudied. The U01 GeneLINK Trail is “a population-based virtual solution to reduce gaps in genetic risk evaluation (GRE) and management in families at high risk for hereditary cancer syndromes.” There are many complexities in the clinical context after initial genetic risk evaluation takes place and even more arise in communicating this to at risk relatives(ARRs). Barriers like language and socioeconomic status can also play a role in determining the likeliness of someone seeking out GRE. That is why this study aims to develop and test a virtual family-centered communication and decision-making platform, the Family Genetic Health Program (FGHP). As well as determine the independent effects of two design features -level of personalized family genetic risk support and cost of genetic testing for relatives.The study population is selected from the Georgia-California SEER Genetic Testing Linkage Initiative, their data spanning from 2013-2019. Uniform surveying will be the main data collection method.With this study we expect to find out more about 1) cancer patients’ appraisal of communication & engagement with relatives about genetic risk evaluation; 2) relatives’ appraisal of decision-making and receipt of genetic testing (primary outcome); 3) relatives’ completion of formal genetic risk evaluation. The hopes are that this will help lower-resourced practices as well as minority communities who may face a number of barriers that bar them from typically seeking out formal GRE.There is huge potential to improve the ways that patients and ARRs navigate GRE and also aid the prevention of heritable cancer syndromes in the US.




A Predictive Machine Learning Model for [18F] SnAr Radiofluorination

Kevin Cheng | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Positron Emission Tomography, commonly known as PET imaging, is a noninvasive, rapid, and accurate imaging system that tracks the distribution of a radioactive tracer. There are many strategies to incorporate radioactive nuclides into tracers for PET imaging, with the most prevalent approach being radiofluorination”” the incorporation of the radioactive nuclide 18F into a bioactive molecule. One of the most common ways of incorporating 18F into substrates is nucleophilic aromatic substitution (SNAr); however, this approach suffers from harsh conditions, exotic leaving groups, and unpredictability, thereby limiting the ease and broad use of this procedure. Herein, a predictive machine learning model will be developed for SNAr using nucleophilic 18F, allowing for prediction of radiochemical yields given a certain set of reaction conditions. An appropriate data structure for machine learning was constructed by encoding literature substrates and conditions. This involved DFT (density function theory) calculations using Gaussian09 to create an optimized structure and determine quantifiable properties, such as HOMO and LUMO energies, steric hindrance, and NMR data. However, due to the time requirements needed to assemble the data set, no concrete results have been produced as of yet. Using this data set, regression models will be generated via several machine learning algorithms in Python, ranging from simple linear models to more complex decision tree and neural network models. The project hopes to build a successful model that will allow for the prediction of radiochemical incorporation given a substrate and reaction conditions. This model may then be validated through further experimentation and generalized to a wider variety of substrates via strategic experiment selection.




A Qualitative Analysis of Rheumatic Disease Patients’ Experiences with COVID-19

Hallie Chabrier | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Background: Little is known about how COVID-19 interacts with rheumatic diseases. Although people with autoimmune diseases are thought to be more susceptible to complications of COVID-19, countless Americans with such illnesses still face uncertainty with how to protect themselves and how to seek medical attention. Objectives: This project consists of two subprojects with slightly different aims. The objective of the FORWARD subproject is to understand the experiences of rheumatic disease patients who displayed symptoms of COVID-19. The UofM subproject serves to uncover the long term impacts of COVID-19 among rheumatic disease patients. Methods: Qualitative data was collected from two cohorts. We conducted interviews with rheumatic disease patients from the FORWARD registry who reported testing positive for COVID-19 or antibodies, or received treatment for COVID-19. We reviewed electronic medical records of rheumatic disease patients at Michigan Medicine who tested positive for COVID-19 or antibodies, or were presumed positive and displayed symptoms for one month or more. Qualitative analysis, particularly through open coding, will serve to identify patterns or themes within patients’ experiences. Preliminary Results: One theme that continuously appears is the uncertainty in seeking help. Many patients were misdiagnosed””despite displaying symptoms””and thus received inadequate treatment. These experiences often had an emotional impact, prompting fear in terms of spreading the virus and suffering complications due to their autoimmune disease. We have analyzed data from 12 FORWARD participants, and will continue with the 45 UofM patients, looking for significant themes to shed light on the experiences of rheumatic diseases patients throughout the pandemic.




A software library for combining, processing and analyzing multi-omic and electronic health record data

Jalen Ballard | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The efficient searching of existing genomic markers is essential for expediting the analysis of key biological information and further manipulating the data in bulk to discover patterns. In particular, the Cutaneous Bioinformatics project aims to process genetic mutations, namely simple nucleotide polymorphisms and insertions-deletions, to deduce how certain mutations facilitate certain epidemiological conditions. To efficiently analyze the genomic markers, a C++ program was developed, tested, and published on GitHub that reads the data from a standard tab-separated value text format and inputs the data into a two-way hash map. The program was developed, tested, and documented by a single individual under the supervision and direction of the leaders of the Cutaneous Bioinformatics project. The software takes command-line arguments and can perform two-way lookups between the markers’ rsIDs and their chromosome, position, and allele sequence. The utilization of a hash table is ideal because it allows lookups in both directions to be performed with constant-time complexity, while manual analysis of the original, multi-gigabyte data file requires linear-time complexity for reverse lookups. The hash table creation was successfully implemented, and, upon deliberations with project supervisors, the syntax of user input for allele sequences in the reverse lookup was taken into account when determining which markers with a particular chromosome and position constitute a match. The incorporation of additional markers and data across other biological disciplines can further augment the ability of researchers to quickly analyze the data and perhaps lead to genetic discoveries.




A software library for combining, processing and analyzing multi-omic and electronic health record data

Nidhi Jaison | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Healthcare research involves the processing and analyzing of collected data, which can cost valuable time. The purpose of this study is to develop a software library as a resource for researchers to process and analyze genetic data. This set of scripts were all developed in the Python 3 language, with the usage of the NumPy and Pandas libraries. The first script, getLoci.py, parses through a .txt file, with each line dedicated to a chromosome, its position, significance (p-value), and other data. It uses this information to identify significant loci within the dataset, and returns a list of the positions and p-values of markers which correspond to each locus. Significance of a locus is defined by a p-value threshold and distinct loci are identified by the distance between markers. As an alternative approach, linkageDisequlibrium.py assigns markers to their loci with respect to their linkage disequilibrium. The next script, compareLoci.py, compares two different sets of loci and identifies which loci are present in each set. The user can input the maximum distance between two loci for them to be considered the same. Lastly, fishersExact.py conducts the Fishers Exact test for enrichment of genetic loci among different features (represented by BED files). These scripts have proven to be efficient, as getLoci.py used 5000MB of memory in 4 minutes with a 20 million line dataset.




A survey of Childhood Cancer Patients and Caregivers Experience during COVID

Maria Murillo | First-Year UROP Research Experience

BACKGROUND The COVID-19 pandemic led to unprecedented change in healthcare delivery. In pediatric oncology, patients and providers were challenged to adapt to evolving circumstances while balancing adherence to well-established oncology treatment and monitoring plans in order to decrease exposure and prevent serious infections in this potentially immunosuppressed population. These changes may have affected healthcare behaviors. OBJECTIVE To evaluate the impact of the first 4 months of the COVID-19 pandemic on the timing of oncologic care and the overall experiences of pediatric oncology patients and families.




A Systematic Examination of Race in Health-Focused Human-Computer Interaction Research

Devon Roe | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The human-computer interaction (HCI) community has a long tradition of health-related research. Epidemiological and public health research has revealed widespread racial disparities in healthcare. We conducted a systematic review of HCI research on race and healthcare, to identify common themes and gaps within health-related HCI research. Beginning with an initial set of 418 articles drawn from two major HCI venues, we applied a set of exclusion criteria resulting in an eventual dataset of 24 articles. We conducted a thematic analysis, with a special focus on examining how race is understood and operationalized. We found considerable variation in definitions of race across articles, with some focusing on skin color, others on socio-cultural differences, and still others not providing any explicit definition of race. This variation was further reflected in common research practices such as the method used to identify participants’ race and the level of specificity used in categorizing participants’ race and ethnicity. We also found that some articles posed racial issues as an area of future work, without including them in their current investigation. We discuss implications for health-related HCI research, including the need for race-consciousness in research design and for specificity in defining race.




Active for Life with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Vidhiyaa Harish | First-Year UROP Research Experience

COPD is a chronic lung-based disease that blocks airflow making it harder to breathe. Studies have also shown that muscle strength in people with COPD is lower than that of age-matched individuals without COPD. The decrease in muscle strength can impede individuals from partaking in physical activity (PA) which has been associated with a slower decline in lung function and reduced hospitalization in people with COPD. Traditional interventions for COPD have focused on moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) but the Active For Life: COPD intervention program designed by Dr. Larson is novel in its emphasis on light physical activity (LPA) and decreased sedentary time. Participants were recruited and sorted into control or experimental groups, followed by 10 weeks of training classes for both groups. The experimental group did functional circuit training and learned self-regulation strategies. The control group did chair exercises and guided imagery for relaxation and health education. Both groups came back at 2 months, 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months to have various measures of strength, endurance, and physical activity tested. A study was undertaken to see the impact of this intervention on isometric strength measures through knee flexors and extensors. Due to the study being ongoing and having a partially blind setup in order to minimize bias, blinded group interim analysis will be analyzed. If this intervention is successful, in increasing physical activity and muscle strength it could change general physical activity guidelines for people with COPD shifting away from MVPA and towards LPA.




Active for Life with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): Physical activity and anxiety

Malaika Pasch | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Individuals with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), tend to live a sedentary life which can increase the risk of mortality and heighten symptoms of COPD. In attempting to prevent this sedentary lifestyle in COPD patients, many exercise programs focus on vigorous physical activity which is not sustainable in the long run. The Principal Investigator of this study, Janet Larson, developed an exercise program, called Active Life. The Active Life program emphasizes light physical activity for patients with COPD. The study conducted is a randomized controlled clinical trial where COPD participants are randomly placed into two groups, the Active for Life intervention and the control intervention. The study is conducted to determine if the Active Life intervention is an effective program in promoting physical activity in COPD patients. The participants in the Active Life intervention complete an exercise program including functional circuit training (FCT), health education, and self-regulation strategies. The participants in the control group complete an exercise program that includes chair exercises, relaxation promotion, and health education. The participants complete 10 weeks of lab-based exercise, then a one-year follow-up which measures activity levels and home-based exercises. Through the data collected from the Active Life study, I decided to look into the effect that physical activity has on anxiety levels in patients with moderate to severe COPD. In the study, data was collected on anxiety levels throughout the study as well as different measurements of physical fitness and activity. I examined the long-term (52-week post-intervention) impact of light physical activity on self-reported anxiety compared to the control group.




Activity of squirrels and rabbits to domestic cats in Detroit, MI

Indira Sankaran | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Domestic cats are known invasive predators on small mammals and birds in urban areas. Due to domestic cats’ presence, concerns have raisen given the detrimental impact these pets can have on the local wildlife of metropolitan cities. In this study, we analyzed the temporal avoidance of squirrels (Sciurus niger, Sciurus carolinensis) and cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus) to the presence of domestic cats (Felis catus) in Detroit Michigan.




Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) diagnosis by image processing

Allen Li | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Despite the vast amount of data available from hospitals on ARDS, much of it is left unused because working with all the available data can be slow and often inconsistent. This project focuses on chest x-ray scans, aiming to turn chest x-rays into privileged information (information that is not always available but can be useful) in order to improve training and increase the accuracy of ARDS classification when available. The project was done largely in Python with the exception of the segmentation algorithm (written in MATLAB), and classification training and accuracy tests for different features were done using a large amount of data from Michigan Medicine. My project’s findings have yielded a 0.72 AUC average score when doing binary classification on chest X-Rays using features extracted from image processing. Privileged information for machine learning is a very important step in ensuring that we harness all the data available, and my project’s findings will help inform future models and serve to show an extra pathway to improve classification accuracy.




Adding problems to interactive ebooks.

Robert Miner | First-Year UROP Research Experience

As many classes are moving away from paper textbooks and toward online ebooks, it is important to use principles from educational psychology to ensure that ebook readers are learning as efficiently as possible. Our research seeks to provide additional data about what types of interactive ebook questions are most effective for learning. We will then apply our findings and findings from prior educational psychology research to create a bank of questions that are proven to be effective. We will accomplish our research goals by writing a free, open-source computer science ebook that is used by tens of thousands of educators and students. We will then collect metadata on the users of the ebook, such as how many attempts it takes to solve a problem or how long they spend on each page. Because our research team is still authoring and revising the ebook, there are currently no results. However, we are expecting and hoping to find that practice with immediate feedback is the most effective for learning. We also hope and expect to find that low cognitive load questions, such as worked examples + practice and adaptive practice questions, will be most effective. Principles of educational psychology tell us that these types of questions will be best. If our findings are contradictory, further study will be needed on alternative, nontraditional educational methods for use in ebooks. The findings of our research will provide guidance to current and future ebook authors and increase the effectiveness of future ebooks in aiding student learning. Our research will also establish a bank of high quality questions that can be used in the classroom for lessons or examinations.




Aerospace Engineering Outreach

Jack Perry | First-Year UROP Research Experience

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing schools to close, effectively teaching students ages 11-18 has created two main challenges: (1) keeping the students engaged in a virtual environment and (2) adapting hands-on activities normally done in a classroom. This project aimed to tackle both of these issues by creating a video and hands-on activities on the core topics of aerospace and physics. Many high schools in Michigan have students who don’t know of any engineers in their lives and as a result these students have no interest in becoming an engineer themselves. In order to reach these students, this outreach project focused on making a video about aerospace engineering concepts related to American football to keep them interesting. Many students have an unbelievable passion for sports, and if only a fraction of that could be focused on an academic area then their futures would brighten significantly. The feedback we have received about this video shows that students were well engaged with the content created and found the hands-on activities to be simple enough to complete at home. The next step in the project is making an entire aerospace engineering course, which is normally taught to undergraduate upperclassmen, adapted to fit the needs of high school students. Ultimately we want to provide teachers with an engaging way to teach students, and to inspire students to follow a career path that elicits a similar passion in them that we have for aerospace engineering.




Aerospace Engineering Outreach

Linnea Lindblom | First-Year UROP Research Experience

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing schools to close, effectively teaching students ages 11-18 has created two main challenges: (1) keeping the students engaged in a virtual environment and (2) adapting hands-on activities normally done in a classroom. This project aimed to tackle both of these issues by creating a video and hands-on activities on the core topics of aerospace and physics. Many high schools in Michigan have students who don’t know of any engineers in their lives and as a result these students have no interest in becoming an engineer themselves. In order to reach these students, this outreach project focused on making a video about aerospace engineering concepts related to American football to keep them interesting. Many students have an unbelievable passion for sports, and if only a fraction of that could be focused on an academic area then their futures would brighten significantly. The feedback we have received about this video shows that students were well engaged with the content created and found the hands-on activities to be simple enough to complete at home. The next step in the project is making an entire aerospace engineering course, which is normally taught to undergraduate upperclassmen, adapted to fit the needs of high school students. Ultimately we want to provide teachers with an engaging way to teach students, and to inspire students to follow a career path that elicits a similar passion in them that we have for aerospace engineering.




Age-Dependent Anti-Predator Behavior in Leptodeira Snakes

Meilyn Ward | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Most animals display some form of anti-predator behavior, from expelling foul-smelling substances to making deafening noises. Snakes, despite their minimalistic form, have a wide variety of anti-predator behaviors. Previous studies surrounding the behavior of snakes have focused primarily on predatory and defensive behaviors of adult snakes. This study tests for differences in anti-predator behaviors between juvenile and adult snakes of the Leptodeira genus. Leptodeira are in the family Colubridae and are primarily found across Central and South America, living in a multitude of different environments. Snakes were captured and each was subjected to a variety of stimuli, including auditory, visual, and physical contact. The resulting responses were videotaped and analyzed to generate an ethogram for each video. The behaviors were then divided into aggressive and passive displays. The frequency and length of each behavior was compared between adults and juveniles. This study predicts that adult Leptodeira exhibit aggressive behaviors more frequently than juveniles. If this prediction is true, the difference could imply that aggressive behavior provides an advantage to adult Leptodeira due to their larger size, but not juveniles. This would mean passive attempts at hiding fail more frequently for adult snakes than for juvenile snakes. If the opposite trend is found, it could imply that juvenile Leptodeira, which have white heads that fade to grey or black at adulthood, are more visible than adults and therefore are incentivized to be more aggressive. This research will broaden understanding of how behavior can change after maturation in nonhuman animals.




Air quality monitoring on Roads in Detroit, and the Influence of Nearby Vehicles

Olivia Prodin | First-Year UROP Research Experience

A study was initiated to investigate the impact of varying levels of traffic in front of a moving vehicle on the levels of air pollution particles detected by the vehicle’s sensors. Over 20,000 images were collected by a front-facing camera on the vehicle. Vehicles within ~50 meters of moving vehicle were then counted and sorted into the categories of heavy duty truck (HDT), commercial vehicle (CV), and personal vehicle (PV); also, noting heavy duty trucks in the adjacent lane and within 20 meters of the moving vehicle. Although the experiment is incomplete, it is expected that the presence of heavy duty trucks within 20 meters of the data collection vehicle will result in raised levels of air pollution particles. The presence of heavy traffic in front of a moving vehicle increases the amount of air pollution particles measured by the vehicle.




Alaska Native Health Research

Lauren Kouassi | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Compared to the lower 48 states, Alaska faces unproportional rates of suicide related death and injuries, especially among the Alaskan Native (AN) youth. From the effects of colonialism to social changes, there are numerous issues plaguing Native youth today, putting them at higher risk of suicide compared to their White counterparts. Another aspect of life that puts youth at higher risk is access to firearms, which are commonly found within rural Alaskan homes. Research is being done to learn about safe firearm storage practices within people’s homes in order to increase safety and reduce the risk of firearm related accidents and suicide. The short intervention we are developing uses motivational interviewing to increase adult family members’ safe firearm storage practices in their households. Building on information generated through local household surveys about home firearm storage practices, communications, responsibilities and preferences, we will develop motivational Interviewing guides. This project will identify key motivations and ways of engaging adults in a universal intervention to improve safety practices related to firearm storage. This project integrates previous motivational interviewing research and guides to be used to adapt our brief intervention–the family safety net–to the local priorities, motivations, values and local language use and norms.




Altered Kynurenine Pathway in Aortic Patients is Linked to CKD Atherosclerosis

Skyelar Herriman | First-Year UROP Research Experience




An Analysis of Types of Tips Collected Using an Anonymous Reporting System (ARS) in K-12 Schools

Molly Oppenheim | First-Year UROP Research Experience

While schools have employed systems for students to report incidents of bullying, drugs, mental health, safety concerns, etc. they are often not anonymous, despite being advertised as so. Often times students are directed to report their concerns to a teacher/counselor directly or to fill out a form of some kind that they ultimately need to deliver to a teacher/counselor, thus defeating the point of “anonymous” reporting. This study aims to investigate how the number and demographics of student reports change when an actual Anonymous Reporting System (ARS) as part of the Safe2Say Something (S2SS) initiative is introduced. This experiment included a school district in Pennsylvania where half of the schools implemented the ARS and taught the students how to use it while the other half of schools carried on with their normal reporting system. At the conclusion of the study, all of the tips were coded and categorized on the basis of type (sexual harassment, drugs, mental health, etc), race, gender, grade/age, and whether or not the victim was the one who reported or if it was a witness. After a careful analysis of the data, we expect to see a higher number of tips related to nonviolent bullying and harassment compared to other types of tips, including violence. This knowledge of how an ARS can be more effective for certain types of tips is part of a growing understanding of how to improve school safety and will lead to new standard legislation and implementation regarding reporting in schools.




Analysis of brain c-fos expression in response to the presentation of two temporally separated stimuli by Protein Immunofluorescence Combined with Intronic Fluorescent In situ Hybridization (PICIFISH)

Angela Suo | First-Year UROP Research Experience

This project aims to develop an understanding regarding the neurobiology of vulnerability to addiction and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Oftentimes when different environmental cues that have been associated with something emotional are triggered, it can lead to an emotional or motivational state that influences the way one behaves and can lead to undesirable consequences. For example, drug-associated cues including seeing or smelling drugs can induce craving which can lead to drug use or relapse. We are particularly interested in the neuronal basis on incentive salience – the cognitive process that attributes a “desire” or “want”, which includes a motivational component, to a rewarding stimulus. To investigate this phenomenon, our lab experiments with animals, particularly rats, and introduces a lever cue followed by a food reward in the cage. A distinction between rats is made: Rats who consistently approach the lever are known as sign-trackers (STs), rats who mainly ignore the lever and go straight to the location of the food are known as goal-trackers (GTs), and then there are unassigned rats who do not particularly show interest in the lever or the place where the food will come down, until the food is given. It is evident that STs attribute incentive value to lever while GT rats attribute predictive value to the lever as they go to the location where the food will eventually come after seeing the lever. Throughout this process, neuronal activity is measured through immunohistochemistry and protein immunofluorescence combined with intronic fluorescence in situ hybridization (PICIFISH). These are methods of staining and amplifying the c-fos MRNA signal through the application of multiple antibodies and blocking serums, which allows us to see the varying levels of c-fos mRNA, a marker for neuronal activity, in various rat brain slices. After these processes are complete, the brain slices are viewed under the microscope, helping us develop an understanding of how much c-fos mRNA was created. By understanding and inspecting the levels of c-fos mRNA expression and neuronal structure of the rats, we hope to develop an understanding of the neurobiology that correlates with addiction and PTSD based on the varying levels of c-fos expression in the distinct types of rats.




Analysis of brain c-fos expression in response to the presentation of two temporally separated stimuli by Protein Immunofluorescence Combined with Intronic Fluorescent In Situ Hybridization (PICIFISH)

Jad Fakhoury | First-Year UROP Research Experience

This project aims to develop an understanding regarding the neurobiology of vulnerability to addiction and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Oftentimes when different environmental cues that have been associated with something emotional are triggered, it can lead to an emotional or motivational state that influences the way one behaves and can lead to undesirable consequences. For example, drug-associated cues including seeing or smelling drugs can induce craving which can lead to drug use or relapse. We are particularly interested in the neuronal basis on incentive salience – the cognitive process that attributes a “desire” or “want”, which includes a motivational component, to a rewarding stimulus. To investigate this phenomenon, our lab experiments with animals, particularly rats, and introduces a lever cue followed by a food reward in the cage.




Analysis of the Human Ovarian Cell Landscape using Histological and Immunofluorescent Staining

Maria Ciarelli | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Improvements in cancer treatments have led to the increase of cancer survival rates in recent decades. While these treatments are life-saving, they have cytotoxic effects on the ovaries, thus depleting the ovarian follicle supply. The number of follicles in the ovaries is nonrenewable, leading to premature ovarian insufficiency (POI). In vitro follicle culture could serve as a broad fertility preservation option for these patients, but much is still unknown about the mechanisms driving early follicle development. Single cell sequencing of ovarian tissue from deceased donors can be used to characterize the role of stromal cells in follicle development as well as transcriptional differences between follicles at the different stages of development. To verify the cell populations identified using single cell sequencing we will use hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) and immunofluorescent staining to characterize the spatial landscape of follicles and stroma in donor ovarian tissue. I will quantify follicles at different stages of development across donors and use immunofluorescent staining to validate and support the sequencing data. This work will deepen our understanding of follicle development and supporting cell types, leading to development of human follicle culture systems and a broad fertility preservation option for cancer survivors.




Analysis of Wheelchair Dimensions

Justin Meyer | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The goal of this project was to characterize wheelchair dimensions to provide guidance to vehicle manufacturers who are designing integrated wheelchair seating stations in automated vehicles. UMTRI has a database of wheelchair crashes that include front and side view photos of hundreds of wheelchairs. My task on the project was to digitize specific wheelchair points using Image J software, calibrating each photo using a known scale dimension on each photo. These data can be used to define key dimensions for each wheelchair, such as maximum length, width, and height. Forty wheelchairs, including both manual and power styles, were analyzed. Results will be used to create generic 3-dimensional wheelchair models that represent the range of wheelchair sizes available.




Analyzing CRISPR-Cas9 Genomic Engineering through Targeted Deletions

Ahsan Ahmed | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Background: Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) is a technology used to edit genomes at very high precision. It enables precise editing of genomic loci with a RNA-guided CRISPR associated protein 9 (Cas9) nuclease that can cleave the targeted DNA complementary to a guide RNA (gRNA). Precise gene editing via CRISPR-Cas9 has great potential in treating inherited diseases (e.g., cystic fibrosis) or correcting genetic defects.

Objective: To test the specificity and function of the CRISPR-Cas9 in a proof-of-principle experiment, we used two human Emx1 (hEmx1) gene-specific gRNA sequences (3.1+4.1) to guide the Cas9 enzyme for the deletion of the targeted region in human 293AD cells.




Analyzing CRISPR-Cas9 through Genomic Deletions

Kyle Rodrigues | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Background: Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) is a technology used to edit genomes at very high precision. It enables precise editing of genomic loci with a RNA-guided CRISPR associated protein 9 (Cas9) nuclease that can cleave the targeted DNA complementary to a guide RNA (gRNA). Precise gene editing via CRISPR-Cas9 has great potential in treating inherited diseases (e.g., cystic fibrosis) or correcting genetic defects.

Objective: To test the specificity and function of the CRISPR-Cas9 in a proof-of-principle experiment, we used two human Emx1 (hEmx1) gene-specific gRNA sequences (3.1+4.1) to guide the Cas9 enzyme for the deletion of the targeted region in human 293AD cells.




Analyzing How to Redesign the University of Michigan Website for the Higher Education of First Generation Students

Fatima Lagunas | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The First-Generation program has grown tremendously within the past few years. One of the key resources is the First Generation website that provides a plethora of information to University of Michigan first-generation students. Ideally, the website is designed for students to build connections and seek support. Our project explores if the website is performing to students’ standards and if the needs of University of Michigan first-generation students are being met. The overall purpose of this project is to improve the performance based on the feedback we get from our participants.




Antarctic Atmospheric Rivers

Namitha Kumar | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Atmospheric Rivers (ARs) are long and narrow areas of concentrated moisture found within the first few kilometers of the atmosphere. When they make landfall, this moisture is released in the form of rain or snow, at times transporting moisture from the tropics or subtropics. Due to their impacts at landfall, there has been an explosion of interest in characterizing ARs. However, the AR definition is largely qualitative and relies on regionally specific case studies from the North Pacific, therefore, a number of AR detection algorithms exist. I will be focusing on the region of Antarctica because there is little studied from that region, and there are large differences between algorithms when applied to that region. The Atmospheric River Tracking Method Intercomparison Project (ARTMIP) aims to identify and quantify the uncertainty in AR science due to algorithm choice. The focus of this project is on a set of AR catalogues from ten algorithms run on MERRA-2 reanalysis (1 hour time intervals and 0.5 degree latitude and longitude intervals). This project seeks to understand and quantify the differences between regional and global algorithms when applied to the region of Antarctica by examining how the number of AR events changes with algorithm and comparing algorithms along transects in Antarctica. We can cross analyze the output of each of the detection algorithms to identify areas of inconsistency in atmospheric river detection and understand the nature and source of those inconsistencies, which is the goal of this UROP project.




Anti-AAPI Hate in the Coronavirus Pandemic: Which harassment incidents get the attention of American media?

Pristina Koon | First-Year UROP Research Experience

As incidents of anti-Asian American hate have spiked since the beginning of the global coronavirus pandemic, leaders, advocates, and members of the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community feel there is not enough media attention given to this rise in racially-charged harassment (Marston). This project investigates the qualitative properties of the most frequently reported harassment incidents (FRHI). FRHIs are defined by appearing in American media at least ten times throughout 2020. FRHIs were compiled after analyzing a database composed of 2020 Newsbank and Proquest articles surrounding the issue of anti-AAPI hate.




APIS Ice Cover Modeling

Manish Venumuddula | First-Year UROP Research Experience

We updated statistical models that model the onset and extent of ice cover along and around the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore(or APIS) – a US National Park that is famous for its picturesque rock formations in winter and accessed by foot. Over the past 50 years, climate has changed dramatically, leading to extreme variability in when and if Great Lakes freeze to a safe amount. We modeled when ice cover reached a specified extent, and if ice cover would reach that specified extent in a certain year. This project models ice cover extent using survival and beta regression models using teleconnections and historical daily ice cover data dating back to 1973. Analysis of results shows a significant increase in ice cover variability after the 1990s. The model accommodates for this change, and can be split into two different models.




Arch Replacement During Type A Aortic Dissection Repair

Marc Titsworth | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Prior to and following aortic surgery, surgeons periodically track the diameter of the aorta to follow growth and determine whether surgical re-intervention is required. By the use of imaging studies such as CT and TEE/TTE, we can examine the data from preoperative and postoperative imaging. This can be used to follow growth, which is a risk factor for reoperation. The different management techniques of managing the aortic arch during acute type A aortic dissection (ATAAD) treatment involves different extents of replacement of the arch. For this project, aortic dissection patients surgically treated at Michigan Medicine in the past year will be added to an online database. Information pertaining to the aortic dissection repair including preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative variables such as age, pre-existing comorbidities, and postoperative stroke will be collected in the database. Through a retrospective chart review and analysis of this REDcap aortic dissection database, aortic dissection patients will be separated into four groups of varying extent of aortic arch replacement during ATAAD repair: (1) the hemiarch (proximal repair beyond the innominate artery without any arch vessels involved) (2) zone 1 (innominate and left common carotid artery) (3) zone 2 (right common carotid and subclavian arteries) and (4) zone 3 (also known as total arch, includes the region distal to the subclavian artery). A statistical analysis comparing baseline characteristics (gender, median age, hypertension, coronary artery disease, and diabetes) using chi-square and fisher tests will be performed to determine whether these are significantly different between groups.




Archaeology of Jebel Barkal (ancient Nubia)

Nami Kaneko | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Gebel Barkal is an archaeological site in Northern Sudan along the Nile River that was a capital city and temple center of ancient Kush (Nubia). The site was first excavated in 1916-20 under the direction of George Reisner, an archaeologist based at Harvard and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. A University of Michigan project is beginning to work at the site with both excavation and conservation, working with the local community to create lasting connections surrounding this site. I have been working to to transcribe George Reisner’s field diaries from 1918 to 1920. By using older information of past seasons (or excavations), my mentor and his colleagues can inform their excavation and gain insight on the best ways to excavate and, in turn, preserve the site.




Archaeology of Jebel Barkal Website Creation

Adia Archer | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Jebel Barkal is a UNESCO World Heritage site in northern Sudan. The Jebel Barkal Archaeological Project at the University of Michigan was looking for an effective way to share its archaeological findings with a range of audiences and found that creating a website would meet these needs. We surveyed different archaeological project websites to determine which features would work well for the project’s needs. This also helped us to determine what website builder would be utilized, as they all have different offerings for features you can include. In addition, we looked into how the websites looked aesthetically to figure out what would appeal most to different audiences, the general public, teachers, students, scholars, and eventually people in Sudan (in an Arabic version). From our previous research we found that the features most important to us were a research portal, one section with older research from the previous director, Tim Kendall, one from the current director, Geoff Emberling, and a news feed/blog to keep visitors up to date with the findings at the site and intrigue possible sponsors to want to donate. We also found that for aesthetic purposes, making sure text passages are not too long and that there are images included helps to keep the user connected to the topic but not overwhelmed. Lastly, formatting of the website was discussed frequently as some audiences have different access to computers and phones; we found that websites generally need a universal format that will look good no matter what device they are displayed on. In conclusion, it will be possible to create an engaging website for this project that will have research available for professionals and researchers to use, but also be useful to the general public with shorter summaries of the research.




Architecture of Dwelling: Considering Design, Social Relations, and Policy in Single and Multi-Family Housing

Stephanie Rosas | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Despite the growing field of architecture, single room occupancy housing in specifically, has not been adjusting to the changing needs of society in affordability, adaptability, and changing demographics. Housing needs to be seen by the perspective of a designer, sociologist, and policy maker all at once and addressed in its complexity. This project re-imagined New Hope Housing in Houston, Texas to more appropriately serve its residents in a series of 3D models of 20 different housing structures. An analysis of the pre-existing environment offered further conversation on what affordable housing can look like when reimagining the intersection of social justice, policy, financing, and construction to provide housing access for all. The study was able to create 20 3D models, using Rhino 3D, and showcase them to a wider audience through a newly developed interactive website and social media page. We interviewed architects whose work surrounds housing, to further include them in the conversation of affordable housing efforts. These models add depth to our understanding of housing and explores the possibilities within housing that not only makes a person’s home affordable, but also livable. There is a widening gap between architectural innovation and residential design that needs to be addressed to meet the needs of a demanding and evolving society and this project will contribute to the future research on this topic.




Architecture of Dwelling: Considering Design, Social Relations, and Policy in Single and Multi-Family Housing

Yin To Wong | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Single room occupancy (SRO) housing in the United States have long been negatively stigmatized due to their housing of impoverished and minority communities in America. While this view of SROs has improved over time, there is still a great amount of negative bias that overshadows SRO’s historic role and future potential as a housing solution. Our research work builds connections with and brings in ideas from organizations experienced with building new SRO housing models as a way to address the issue of housing affordability in cities across the US. Our goal is to share this research with the wider public through a website, that will help dispel the stigma and increase the availability of SRO’s as an affordable housing option.




Assessing Climate Adaptability in Madagascar Through U.N’s AFRice Program

Yasmine Elhagehassan | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Adaptation to climate change has become an important topic in recent years as climate impacts have become increasingly severe. Discussion of adaptation is particularly important in low-income countries, which are more susceptible to changes in climate. One of the recipients of the UN’s adaptation funds, Madagascar, provides an example of how conflict of interest among governmental institutions prevent their citizens from being able to adapt. One of UN’s funding programs, AFRice, attempts to prepare rice farmers within the Alaotra-Mangoro region through a series of training seminars and workshops, rewarding participants with agricultural tools and seeds. In order to understand how efficient the AFRice program was in its goals, a survey was conducted on 600 households (among both beneficiary and non-beneficiary households) to understand the living conditions that could attest to the success of the AFRice program. The collected survey data was analyzed for descriptive statistics in the statistical program R. Three variables were used to determine differences in the adaptive capacity of beneficiary versus non-beneficiary households: Adaptive Capacity, Long-Term Coping Strategies, and Food Security. During the analysis, the averages were determined for each variable, and an ANOVA test conducted in order to understand significant differences between the two groups. It is hypothesized that households that participated in the project will have higher adaptive capacity, rely on fewer coping strategies, and will be more food secure than households that did not participate. These findings would indicate the effectiveness of the UN AFRice project and contribute to better practices of future UN projects that can aid other vulnerable countries as they face climate impacts.




Assessing Men’s Proclivity to Recognizing Subtle Gender Bias Against Women in STEM

Isabella Gorsd | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) frequently encounter gender bias (e.g., questioning of their STEM ability, assignment to secretarial roles). Given the subtle and ambiguous nature of contemporary sexism, people vary in their likelihood of recognizing subtly sexist interactions. Past research demonstrates that women are more sensitive to gender bias and more readily recognize it when it occurs. However, there remains a dearth of research related to men’s experiences in witnessing bias. In the present research, we ask: (1) what are the individual difference measures that contribute to men’s proclivity in recognizing subtle gender bias, (2) what are the affective consequences of recognizing subtle gender bias during group tasks, and (3) how do men’s affective states after witnessing subtle gender bias influence their desire to work with women in mixed-gendered groups? STEM identified men (N=275) read a fake transcript depicting a conversation between 3 STEM identified college students (1 woman, 2 men). Participants were exposed to one of two transcripts in which a man either (a) demonstrates subtle gender bias against a woman or (b) engages in a neutral interaction with a woman. After reading the transcript, participants completed measures related to their affect (state and collective), their impressions of the interaction (open and closed ended), and behavioral measures related to the students in the transcript. Open ended responses were coded to determine recognition of bias. Findings and implications for this work are discussed.




Assessing the Accuracy of sPHENIX Design in Measuring Jet Charge

Alexandra Kucich | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The purpose of this research project is to determine the efficacy of designs for the new sPHENIX detector at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider in measuring the charge of a quark jet with precision. The paper “Jet Charge: A Flavor Prism for Spin Asymmetries at the Electron-Ion Collider” by Kang, Liu, et al. provides the basis for this research by suggesting that determining jet charge could yield valuable clues as to the separation of various quark flavors in jet production and associated spin asymmetries. It is therefore imperative for the sake of later investigations into nucleon spin and flavor structure using sPHENIX to ensure that the detector is capable of accurately measuring jet charge. The study will utilize Monte Carlo simulations to produce known values for the charges of jets and the flavor of a parton initiating them. Code that mimics current sPHENIX detector design will then reconstruct these jet charge values in the jet-producing, simulated proton-proton collisions. Reconstructed jet charge values will then be compared against the known, generated values in order to assess the accuracy of the reconstruction. Assessing sPHENIX’s jet charge measurements will allow for improvements to its jet charge reconstruction algorithm and eventually more accurate probes of nucleon flavor and spin structure as described in Kang et al.




Associations of adverse childhood experiences with chronic systemic inflammation in adulthood

Christine Yu | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Background: Childhood trauma and adverse childhood events (ACEs) contribute to adult physical and mental health. However, little is known about the underlying mechanisms that explain this relationship, which could inform the development of targeted interventions. Recent research has suggested that chronic systemic inflammation and immune dysfunction may play a key mediating role between ACEs and health outcomes across the lifespan. Objectives: The goal of this project was to review existing literature in order to determine the potential for chronic systemic inflammation to explain associations of ACEs with adult health outcomes. Exposure of interest: adverse childhood experiences Outcome of interest: chronic systemic inflammation Methods: Pubmed and Scopus were searched with subject headings “˜Childhood Trauma’, “˜Adverse Childhood Experiences’, “˜Child Abuse’ cross referenced with “˜Inflammation’, “˜C-reactive protein’, “˜CRP’, “˜Interleukin’, and “˜IL-6′. A wide range of studies like literature reviews, human studies, and qualitative studies were considered. Results: Among existing studies, markers of chronic systemic inflammation included C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin (IL)-6, fibrinogen, and tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-a. Findings indicated that chronic systemic inflammation is a mechanism by which ACEs influence health outcomes in adulthood. As an example of this, Lacey and colleagues (2020) observed that specific ACEs like household dysfunction and parental loss were associated with higher levels of CRP and fibrinogen among adults aged 44-45 years. Conclusions: Chronic systemic inflammation likely plays a role in the relationship between ACEs and adult health outcomes. This project highlights the role of early-life exposures in health across the lifespan and the need for strategies that reduce the burden of ACEs. Whether systemic inflammation can be targeted to buffer against the effects of ACEs on health will require further study.




Audio to phone transcription

Jingze Li | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Our goal of this project is to find a method to generate boundaries for each sound (consonant or vowel) in a piece of speech, and label it with the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). There are commercially-available tools to convert audio pieces to words for popularly used languages, such as English and Spanish. There is no such tool for resource-poor languages, many of which do not even have an orthography. An urgent task now is to document endangered languages before they are lost forever, which will benefit people who speak them and researchers. The most time consuming and most difficult task in documenting a language is to convert its recording to transcription. In the current practice, the transcription of an unanalyzed language is still done by hand, and each hour of recording would require 100 hours of an experienced linguist to transcribe. We believe automatic transcription will save time and free our linguists from laborious work. Throughout the year we had worked on identifying acoustic cues, practiced manual transcription, and understanding signals for different features. Currently, I am working on a Japanese audio file and I was able to identify boundaries (about 50% accuracy) for major classes of sounds. If time allowed, we wish to distinguish between different consonants, nasals and vowels and identify the most effective cues we can use (i.e. intensity and sharpness of sounds).




Audio to phone transcription

Jack Moeser | First-Year UROP Research Experience

By the end of this century, at least 50% of the world’s 6,000 languages are projected to go extinct (UNESCO 2013), meaning that they have no living, fluent speakers and have not been transcribed. Linguists are able to transcribe languages phonetically using recorded samples of a language, but this process is highly time consuming and requires a significant quantity of recordings to be transcribed, meaning that humans are not able to efficiently transcribe languages. Clearly, this process should be automated to increase efficiency, but currently, there is not a sufficient program available. The goal of this project is to develop a transcription program that can transcribe audio files into phonetic symbols in order to facilitate the preservation of endangered languages. In order to accomplish this task, short audio samples of Australian English, a known language, will be segmented and transcribed phonetically manually, using the software Praat (Boersma & Weenink 2020). Major classes of phonetic sounds will be classified using the acoustic information in the audio file, including amplitude, pitch, and frequency spectrum, as well as data that can be derived from the provided data, such as the rate at which the amplitude of a wave crosses the horizontal axis. By analyzing this data in Microsoft Excel, hopefully we will be able to clearly distinguish and notate different phonetic sounds automatically and successfully using information that can be obtained without any knowledge of a language. References: Boersma, Paul, & David Weenink. 2020. Praat: doing phonetics by computer [Computer program]. Version 6.1.16, retrieved 6 June 2020 from http://www.praat.org/. UNESCO 2013. Endangered languages. http://www.unesco.org/new/en/culture/themes/endangered-languages/. Accessed 8/21/2013.




Availability of ICU Resources in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

Alexandra Yates | First-Year UROP Research Experience

COVID-19 has increased intensive care unit admissions thereby increasing the demand for the ICU’s resources. This greater demand in the ICU has led to rapid resource depletion and an alarming lack of these needed resources such as beds and staff. This pandemic has taxed the hospitals’ resources particularly in the intensive care units as many were underprepared and were forced to adapt to the changing environment in order to treat the influx of COVID-19 patients. There are numerous studies being conducted elsewhere but this study aims to measure the effects of the pandemic on hospitals in the state of Michigan and study how these hospitals adapted to the changing environment and how they dealt with resource depletion. Surveys have been conducted of numerous hospital ICUs at three points in time (initial, 4 weeks, and 12 weeks) to collect information regarding the effects the pandemic had and changes the hospital’s ICU made to combat these effects. The responses of these studies will be analyzed to find trends and consistencies across hospitals. By collecting information at different times, it is hypothesized that hospitals will have altered in terms of policy and resource availability as these hospitals saw peaks and dips in the number of COVID-19 patients. This study will compile the results to understand how COVID-19 has affected ICUs and how they adapted to deal with the pandemic with the hope that this knowledge can be used within the healthcare field for the betterment of hospital preparedness.




Awareness of Racial Inequality: The Process of Scale Development

Monica Mashkevich | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Racism and race-based discrimination are clearly present in today’s society, but to what extent? To what extent do Black people experience discrimination and understand racism? This can be answered through the process of scale development. This study will outline the process to develop a scale, and will further describe how that scale can be used to measure the psychological phenomenon of racism awareness. In the past, there has been a great deal of scales that have been made for related topics that could be used as an object of comparison. This study will analyze the use of other scales, their effectiveness, and how they can be used to develop a new scale. To develop this scale, 2 middle schools and 2 high schools will be randomly selected. 40 students, balanced relatively evenly across grades 6 through 12, will also be invited to complete a one-on-one interview. These students will have to self-identify as African American or Black, must receive parental consent, and must self consent to participate in the study. Interviews will be conducted with the students, and they will be asked questions about their race-related experiences and understanding of racial inequality. Common themes that students mentioned will be gathered. These themes, along with other scales developed in the past, will be used to develop a scale that thoroughly measures adolescents’ awareness of racial inequality, based on their experiences, education, and knowledge.




Behind “To Make The Slave Anew”: The Editing Process and The Unpacking of Art in the Antebellum South

N'Dea Shelton | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The Antebellum South was a place riddled with change but also so many who wanted to hold onto the past they believed themselves the preservers of. White Southerners took their job of preservation, especially of the slave and plantation culture, extremely seriously and their were several avenues of preservation ranging from full traveling choirs to full on changes in the functioning of everyday life for African Americans. In working with Dr.Young this semester on his book, I have learned so much about these representations and the part that interested me the most was the art and this depiction of the plantation south. What was included and excluded and what symbolism did that hold? Who wanted these pieces in their homes and how did this impact the progression of African Americans. My presentation will address these questions and many others as we dive into Dr.Young’s writing and unpack these questions as well as discuss the process of getting to work on such a project.




Big Cats and Big Data: modeling the ecology of predator-prey dynamics and intraguild predation in the jaguar (Panthera onca) and ocelot (Leopardus pardalis)

Sean Richards | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Although intraguild predation and interspecific killing play a major role in structuring ecosystems and food webs, we lack a mechanistic understanding of the complex behaviors and outcomes for coexistence among carnivore species. Such is the focus of this project; we built an agent-based model (ABM) in NetLogo to simulate competition between felids, specifically jaguars (Panthera onca) and ocelots (Leopardus pardalis). We searched the literature to parameterize t important components of the model such as movement, home range, and intraguild killing frequencies. Simulation runs were performed 1000 times for each level of additional arboreal refuge, recording the number of coexistence outcomes over a predetermined number of ticks to represent time. We used generalized linear models (GLMs) to determine the relationships between spatial refugia on the coexistence outcomes of the jaguar and ocelot model. Progress so far indicates that increased arboreal availability leads to more coexistence between the two species despite overlapping home ranges and occupancy. In a broader context, this modeling approach can give researchers predictive power in complex systems and guide management decisions for protected areas in neotropical ecosystems.




Bioinformatics and Biochemical studies on cancer proteins

Sohavni Singh | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Protein sequence data is abundant, but ancestry information of those proteins and experimental analysis of the structure of those protein sequences are less available, and costly to produce. Thus, machine learning algorithms are being developed to predict protein structure. For structure prediction, available data is collected and parsed for the specific properties one’s algorithm requires, such as torsion angles for tertiary structure prediction. After an algorithm is trained against this data, the algorithm can be tested in its correctness of predicting protein structure. As a new algorithm is developed, an increase in accuracy and precision is expected.




Bioinformatics study on genetic diseases

Sarah Ory | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Bioinformatics study on genetic diseases

Miranda Baumbick | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Missense single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are single point mutations that alter the amino acid produced. By changing the amino acid, protein stability, pathogenicity, or chemical properties of the protein can change. These mutations can also cause various diseases, specifically diabetes, intellectual disability, and speech-language disorder. However, not all mutations are pathogenic. This study’s objective is to research the properties of these mutations by looking at the change in free energy, amino acid change, and pathogenicity and to determine whether or not it’s harmful to humans. The study specifically focused on the forkhead transcription factors, a set of DNA-binding proteins involved in regulating gene expression. Data was gathered from the Uniprot database, and PyMOL was used to determine protein to DNA contact. EvoEF was used to calculate the change in free energy, and SIFT and Polyphen-2 were used to predict pathogenicity. The results showed common trends among most pathogenic mutations such as high ??G values, no DNA contact, and a high damaging score. Therefore, the data collected is useful for making predictions about mutations.




Bioinformatics study on genetic diseases

Crystal Sanchez | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Proteins are responsible for much of the functions and regulation of living organisms and their body systems. Understanding protein function has much to do with protein structure, thus, knowing what form proteins take is very useful. There are millions of different types of proteins, many of which are essential for human survival. Current ways to determine protein structure require knowledge of the genetic DNA sequence, which can later be translated into an amino acid sequence, thus revealing the shape through chemical properties. However, this study aims to create a program that can accurately predict protein structure without knowledge of the amino acid sequence. Instead, cryo-EM density maps are utilized to map the protein structure. The density maps are created utilizing convolutional neural networks (CNN), which are used to predict key atoms. These deep learning techniques are applied to create the program that can accurately predict a protein structure. This research is valuable because other scientists who require knowledge of protein structure could use it, especially if they do not have access to a specific genetic sequence they need. Next steps include perfecting the program such that the predictions reach the threshold for accuracy.




Bioinformatics study on protein structures

Ava Pardo-Keegan | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The majority of proteins are composed of foldable, stable subunits called domains. The structures of these proteins can be made up of a single domain or multiple domains. Determining structures of multidomain proteins is a crucial step in elucidating their functions and designing new drugs to regulate these functions. However, it has been largely ignored by the mainstream of computational biology due to the difficulty in modeling inter-domain interactions. Therefore, almost all of the advanced protein structure prediction methods are optimized for modeling single domain proteins. In this study, we presented a method to construct a multidomain protein structure library with known full-length structures to assist the multidomain protein structure prediction. We collect all multidomain proteins from the Protein Data Bank based on the DomainParser, and multidomain proteins defined in CATH and SCOPe databases are also included in the library. This resulted in a total of 15,293 multidomain proteins in the library. The completeness of the library is examined by structurally matching a set of non-redundant multidomain proteins through the library using TM-align. The results show that most of the cases can obtain at least 1 template with correct global fold (TM-score >0.5) from the library, which indicates that the constructed multidomain protein library can likely be used to guide the multidomain protein structure modeling.




Black Families After the Civil War- Creating Networks of Care

Maia Jackson | First-Year UROP Research Experience

How did African American families survive and care for themselves during the transition for slavery to freedom? Our research investigates this question by following the lives of widows after the Civil War. After the war, the wives of Black soldiers who died filed for pensions from the federal government. These files include biographical information of the families and testimonies from those that could attest to the fact that the woman filing for a pension was married and had found support or taken up with a new husband. The goal of this research is to understand how Black women formed networks of care and how Black families and friends maintained ties from slavery, to freedom–through the Reconstruction period and into Jim Crow period. This research compiles genealogical data from the census, analyzes secondary literature, and examines pension files. We find that Black women held closely to their immediate familial relationships and their friends through common experiences and interactions. However, separation of Black families and friends due to geographical movement caused a strain on relationships. We hope to uncover more intimate information regarding the families being researched. The networks created among Black people represent the past and contemporary need for a sense of community among African Americans.




Black Feminist Approaches to Black Popular Culture Pedagogy – Background/Intro

Maya Ferguson | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Black popular culture and Black feminisms in social media have become generative pedagogical sites in previous years. With the rise of celebrities such as Beyoncé and Lizzo, and the explosion of social media as a primary means of creating cultural discourses, students are increasingly interested in how gender, race, sexuality, class, and other vectors of identity shape their entertainment experiences. Yet, few teachers feel comfortable effectively teaching Black popular culture using an intersectional lens. This project will construct a guidebook for teaching Black popular culture using Black feminist pedagogies and best practices from seasoned educators, to provide educators with a comprehensive framework and concrete strategies for teaching Black popular culture across disciplines. This project uses a variety of sources from interviews to books to educational studies in order to look at what it means to teach popular culture through the lens of Black feminism. Our research team has studied Black popular culture and Black feminism in an academic setting in order to better understand how to ask questions for our interviews we conducted for the project. The questions this guidebook will answer are: 1) What is Black feminism? 2) What methods can I use for teaching that fall under the framework of Black feminism? 3) How can I ensure these methods of teaching allow students to get the most out of their experience, academically and personally? The goal for this guidebook is to be used as a resource for educators across the country. Since Black feminism and Black popular culture have not been taught widely among classrooms, we hope this guidebook will start making these methods and ideas accessible.




Black Feminist Approaches to Black Popular Culture Pedagogy – Expected Results/Conclusions

Jasmin Lee | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Black popular culture and Black feminisms in social media have become generative pedagogical sites in previous years. With the rise of celebrities such as Beyoncé and Lizzo, and the explosion of social media as a primary means of creating cultural discourses, students are increasingly interested in how gender, race, sexuality, class, and other vectors of identity shape their entertainment experiences. Yet, few teachers feel comfortable effectively teaching Black popular culture using an intersectional lens. This project will construct a guidebook for teaching Black popular culture using Black feminist pedagogies and best practices from seasoned educators, to provide educators with a comprehensive framework and concrete strategies for teaching Black popular culture across disciplines. This project uses a variety of sources from interviews to books to educational studies in order to look at what it means to teach popular culture through the lens of Black feminism. Our research team has studied Black popular culture and Black feminism in an academic setting in order to better understand how to ask questions for our interviews we conducted for the project. The questions this guidebook will answer are: 1) What is Black feminism? 2) What methods can I use for teaching that fall under the framework of Black feminism? 3) How can I ensure these methods of teaching allow students to get the most out of their experience, academically and personally? The goal for this guidebook is to be used as a resource for educators across the country. Since Black feminism and Black popular culture have not been taught widely among classrooms, we hope this guidebook will start making these methods and ideas accessible.




Black Feminist Approaches to Black Popular Culture Pedagogy – Methods

Tyleah Tyner | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Black popular culture and Black feminisms in social media have become generative pedagogical sites in previous years. With the rise of celebrities such as Beyoncé and Lizzo, and the explosion of social media as a primary means of creating cultural discourses, students are increasingly interested in how gender, race, sexuality, class, and other vectors of identity shape their entertainment experiences. Yet, few teachers feel comfortable effectively teaching Black popular culture using an intersectional lens. This project will construct a guidebook for teaching Black popular culture using Black feminist pedagogies and best practices from seasoned educators, to provide educators with a comprehensive framework and concrete strategies for teaching Black popular culture across disciplines. This project uses a variety of sources from interviews to books to educational studies in order to look at what it means to teach popular culture through the lens of Black feminism. Our research team has studied Black popular culture and Black feminism in an academic setting in order to better understand how to ask questions for our interviews we conducted for the project. The questions this guidebook will answer are: 1) What is Black feminism? 2) What methods can I use for teaching that fall under the framework of Black feminism? 3) How can I ensure these methods of teaching allow students to get the most out of their experience, academically and personally? The goal for this guidebook is to be used as a resource for educators across the country. Since Black feminism and Black popular culture have not been taught widely among classrooms, we hope this guidebook will start making these methods and ideas accessible.




Black Youth Understanding of Racial Inequality: Scale Development and Validation

Lana King | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Although there is an abundance of research done on the topic of racism, a specific tool has yet to be developed that assesses how adolescents view and understand racism. Most of the current scales on racism focus on experiences, rather than understanding of racism. The goal of this study is to develop a more distinct scale that captures Black youth’s understanding of racism. This will allow professionals to learn more about racial stress in youth and the effects this can have on education. After analyzing the scale responses, professionals can use the results to help Black youth in more appropriate ways, such as designing treatment plans or effective ways to discuss race in the classroom. The scale development process includes multiple phases in order to create the most concise, effective product. Some of the specific phases for this project include one-on-one interviews with school-age children, expert panels, and item analysis. Once that scale is developed and put into use, there will be a better understanding of how youth view racism. This insight will provide valuable information that can be utilized to promote healthy development.




Black Youth Understanding of Racial Inequality: The Ins and Outs of Scale Development and Validation

Lina Magid | First-Year UROP Research Experience

When most people think of racism, the first thing that comes to mind is interpersonal racism, which is a type of racism that occurs when an individual’s own racially biased thoughts are forced upon others around them in ways such as unfair treatment. What most people fail to see is that racism is much larger than that. Racism is a multifaceted system that assigns value, structures opportunities, and unfairly disadvantaged individuals based on their perceived race. Since racism is so prevalent, it’s often inescapable for people of color, and since it’s multifaceted, it has multiple implications for people of color. These implications range from the school to prison pipeline to health disparities. The purpose of our research is to develop a scale that specifically measures Black youth’s understanding of racism, inclusive of its multiple forms. In the past, certain scales have had a tendency of not being generalizable to the population in question. In order to create a scale that can accurately capture all aspects of racism, our team has to create multiple questionnaires and then schedule interviews with Black youth to see if any of our questions are capable of accurately capturing what these youth have experienced. After generating an appropriate questionnaire, the next step of our research would be to determine the validity of our scale in hopes that it could be used by others. Our main goal is to develop a scale that’s able to have multiple implications in the real world, but we are also hoping that the findings of this scale would be generalizable to all Black youth. We hope our scale can be used by schools to help their students unpack racial inequality, we also hope that it can be used by mental health professionals to help guide their communication and treatment plans. In other words, we want this scale to be used by others to tackle racism’s multiple dimensions.




Brain Networks for Fear Learning in Infant Rats

Esha Kaul | First-Year UROP Research Experience

In this lab, we are conducting experiments to seek a better understanding about the correlation between behavior and the brain structure. More specifically, we are using fear conditioning and analyzing certain areas of the brain to see this correlation. This study is able to give insight by using infant rats and looking into how the brain network works when they are encountered by a “threatening stimuli.” Through the process of immunohistochemistry, we are able to examine slices of the brain and use specific proteins to highlight neurons that are associated with the behavior that occurs during the fear learning process. The desired section of the brain that is known to be associated with learning is called the amygdala, which is heavily analyzed in our study. This is important for us to understand how fear impacts our brain networks and can possibly reveal limitations that can be further explored (White).




Brain Networks for Fear Learning in Infant Rats

Robert Maurer | First-Year UROP Research Experience

In this lab, we are conducting experiments to seek a better understanding about the correlation between behavior and the brain structure. More specifically, we are using fear conditioning and analyzing certain areas of the brain to see this correlation. This study is able to give insight by using infant rats and looking into how the brain network works when they are encountered by a “threatening stimuli.” Through the process of immunohistochemistry, we are able to examine slices of the brain and use specific proteins to highlight neurons that are associated with the behavior that occurs during the fear learning process. The desired section of the brain that is known to be associated with learning is called the amygdala, which is heavily analyzed in our study. This is important for us to understand how fear impacts our brain networks and can possibly reveal limitations that can be further explored (White).




Bronze Age Ayia Irini, Kea, Greece

Allison Densel | First-Year UROP Research Experience

A chronic issue in the study of history is the underrepresentation of ordinary people. Primary sources, the documents that traditionally serve as the basis of the historical record, are typically written by the elites of a society, who were often out of touch with the lives and experiences of their less-influential counterparts. Archaeology fills this gap in perspective, as the physical traces of these everyday people remain in the objects and structures they leave behind. This study examines data from Ayia Irini, a Bronze Age settlement on the Greek island of Kea, in order to come to new conclusions about everyday life for the site’s inhabitants. Through the transcription of field notebooks from excavations in the 1960s and 70s under Jack Caskey of the University of Cincinnati, the locations of artifacts and structures in relation to one another can be identified and collected. Of particular interest in this study is the analysis of metal artifacts, as there is sufficient evidence to suggest that metallurgy was an important industry at the site. The overarching goal of this stage of the research is to be able to generate phase plans of the site, showing where artifacts were deposited over the course of Ayia Irini’s history. Organizing the data in this manner contributes to our understanding of the economy and social structure of the site, as it can help us determine who was involved in production, shifting our focus onto the everyday people instead of the elites who dominate the historical record.




Building A Simulated World

Conleth Stead | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Due to the high demand for motor vehicles, one of the key concerns for the automotive industry is to make vehicles accessible and safe. Both real test vehicles and driving simulators are used to assess the quality and performance of vehicles. However, many driving simulators are too expensive to purchase, too complex to use, take too long to run the software, and sometimes lack the desired functional characteristics. The goal of the research is to build a virtual world and an easy-to-use virtual driving simulator platform through the creative use of free software like CARLA and RoadRunner. This driving simulator will be suitable to support research on driver distraction, driver workload, and driver interfaces for partially automated vehicles. This will also inspire qualified people to use the simulation and work on safety on roads.




Business + Tech

Christian Weichsel III | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Despite the University of Michigan Ross School of Business being one of the best undergraduate business schools in the nation and offering prestigious opportunities for students, it lacks the necessary technological education for the future of the world in business. This project is designed to create and nourish a place in Ross, and later to the university as a whole, that combines the concepts of business and technology, uniting them to better prepare students for their corporate futures that will require tech literacy. An opportunity through Business + Tech to enhance student’s opportunities within technology is the annual Ross Datathon which gives students a large dataset and requires them to best optimize the data to the specific problem at hand. In order to gain interest in Datathon, however, corporate sponsors must be present to share their insights and organizations must have options for engagement. This project culminated in the outreach of 240 business individuals and over 100 corporations. Among these companies, 6 formed official partnerships. Additionally, Datathon gave partnerships to 13 business and tech oriented clubs to further engagement among the U of M community. As of February 26th, Datathon had a total registration of 140 students both undergraduates and graduates alike.. Tech at the Ross School of Business has a long journey ahead before it can compare to other top notch universities with business schools like UVA, NYU, and UPenn. Business + Tech and the connections formed these past two semesters will help guide technology to be more than just a project based opportunity but be implemented into classes.




Business + Tech

Grace Aretakis | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The Ross Business School at the University of Michigan is known for its advanced resources, wide reaching recruitment opportunities and skilled faculty, culminating to provide students with a well rounded education in Business Administration. Where Ross offers many resources for students with an interest in major sectors of business such as finance, consulting, marketing etc., there is a gap in resources offered for students interested in the intersection of business and technology. The Business +Tech Initiative at Ross aims to fill in these gaps through the creation of a centralized hub for currently existing tech opportunities at Ross, and new tech opportunities created by the initiative. Preliminary research began with a mapping of the existing tech ecosystem at Ross. This provided the team with a better understanding of what students to target to gain insights from, and what opportunities and events exist/ should exist at Ross. This research then led to the process of reaching out to students to gain insights.




Business + Tech Initiative

Alexandra Greenberg | First-Year UROP Research Experience

There is currently a large divide between the integration of technology and business among students enrolled in universities across the country. As a result, through the leadership of entrepreneur Phillip Brabbs and a team of MBA students and undergraduate researchers, the Ross Digital + Tech Initiative was born. The goal of the Initiative is to align and integrate Digital Business activities to develop business leaders for a digital world; influence digital business practices through data and research, and build connections with industry and policy to shape the future of business. The approach to expanding the Initiative deals with aligning and integrating the Digital Business content, stakeholder engagement and brand in a reinforcing way to amplify and expand the Ross Digital Business reputation through synergies across the 3 areas. The areas span across topics including tech literacy, tech mastery, and tech competency. This study utilizes bi-weekly meetings with fellow tech scholars, weekly meetings with MBA mentors, and bi-weekly all-hands meetings to ensure cohesiveness across the project. Along with that, by utilizing applications such as Basecamp and Excel, we are able to organize data, stay in communication, and create content for the online database. This study is just the beginning of a long journey to equip leaders with tech to build a better world. Although no immediate conclusions have been drawn, long-term goals for the future of the Initiative range from the continued execution of annual Datathons to launching a Tech Founder Speaker Series to establishing the Ross Tech Scholar Program.




C++ Programming for Brain-Computer Interface Calibration Innovations

Akshaya Ravikumar | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The UM Direct Brain Interface Laboratory utilizes the classifier program included in the C++ distribution of the BCI2000 v3 to calibrate a P300 BCI to the brain activity of an individual. “BCI” refers to an electroencephalogram (EEG)-based brain-computer interface which allows participants with physical impairments to directly interact with a computer interface using their brains with minimal motor demands. In order to interact with this interface, participants use the P300 component of the event-related brain potential (ERP) (Farwell and Donchin 1988). Though the technology is promising, there are barriers to clinical implementation that the UM-DBI Laboratory aims to address. It is to aid the efficiency and effectiveness of UM-DBI studies that relevant C++ tool and usability additions are proposed. The P300 BCI Classifier calibrates via machine learning and this classifier program has been the point of focus for this project. Through the addition of various practical additions and refinements, the source code for the P300 BCI classifier may be better modified to provide more meaningful output, and allow for a more accessible and functional user interface when assessing output and input. These additions are made through careful coding and testing practice. The general methodology implemented in this research project includes assessing desired changes/additions to be made, understanding the context in which this modification should be implemented, and carefully testing input and output in order to assess adequate functionality (without any unintended consequences). This work is ongoing, and it is intended that all additions will provide added usability and functionality to UM-DBI laboratory researchers.




C++ Programming for Brain-Computer Interface Evaluation of Choice-making

Dharivi Bansal | First-Year UROP Research Experience

A Direct Brain Interface provides a direct connection between the human brain and various other kinds of technologies. The University of Michigan- Direct Brain Interface (UM-DBI) Laboratory’s current work focuses on creating practical clinical tools for people with physical disabilities. These tools include electroencephalogram (EEG)-based brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). The UM-DBI laboratory has been working on software for cognitive testing and is creating additional test question formats . As a single term project, I have limited goals to achieve in a short time frame. I have picked up on this project and am working on improving the overall layout of the question formats and adding more usability features to the software. The existing code for the BCI to generate questions for cognitive testing is written in C++ and uses the Visual Studio 2010 compiler. It uses Cmake and QT creator to simplify the GUI application development. I used an agile method to work on improving the code and met with my mentor regularly to fix issues. As a result of my work, the lab will now be able to skip certain training pages that are not required during the testing process. The program instead will start from the base level of questions. There are parameter error checking features that are still being implemented. Once completed, it will lower the chances of the software crashing while in use and will make things run smoother.




C++ Programming for Data Packaging

Caitlin Russell | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The University of Michigan’s Direct Brain Interface Laboratory has a backlog of raw data that needs to be systematically processed and saved into a standardized format for later analysis. This project was to create a new Graphical User Interface (GUI) in MATLAB which would allow any user to simply process and package the raw BCI data. The GUI also needs to take in information gathered from surveys for each session for each participant and save them for later use. Using MATLAB’s design environment App Designer, a new GUI was created that incorporated code from previous data packaging projects. The GUI currently allows the user to load in raw data then process it, and administer and save surveys or load in survey data that was administered elsewhere, then save all of the processed data together in a standardized form. This new GUI will work for the lab’s data collected during the keyboard replacement study, with the ability for data from different protocols to be added in the future.




CAD modeling of course to test exoskeletons

Jochanan Satriabudi | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Exoskeletons are being considered for a wide set of applications in several fields, including medical, military, and industrial. The rise of exoskeleton usage requires an assessment of the exoskeleton’s performance, usability, and safety. This research of exoskeleton assessment methods is conducted to develop test methods for exoskeleton testing and assessment in the form of an obstacle course. Literature reviews in relevant topics are conducted to determine the appropriate test methods. Methods of testing consist of stairs, ramps, slopes, and transitions between each test method. Information and data on lower body ergonomics, object sizing standards, and usability are gathered to implement course measures and transitions, as well as layouts within the obstacle course. Currently, the design of the obstacle course is under development. The obstacle course will be designed by utilizing the computer-aided design. The final results of this exoskeleton assessment course have not been found. It is expected that a standard of exoskeleton assessments is formed by the final design of the obstacle course. This standard of exoskeleton assessments is expected to guide future exoskeleton development.




Calibration of a system of measuring indoor radon concentrations using charcoal canisters.

Thomas Kennings | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Radon-222 is a radionuclide present in elevated concentrations in many indoor areas. Radon can pose a health risk to building inhabitants, so accurate and affordable radon screening is needed. Canisters filled with activated charcoal are a common and inexpensive method for testing, with different charcoal batches and canister designs requiring specific calibration. This is typically performed in large volume commercial environmental chambers with controlled and constant temperature, pressure, humidity, and radon concentration. If canisters could be calibrated in less controlled environments both calibration and quality control could be more accessible. The objective of this study was to compare calibrations of charcoal canisters from a controlled radon chamber and a less controlled basement storage room. A group of canisters was sent to a commercial environmental chamber with constant and known radon levels. Another group of canisters manufactured from the same charcoal batch was placed in a basement laboratory with high, naturally occurring radon concentration. Following exposure, each canister was counted using the same gamma-ray spectroscopy system. The data were processed in several different ways before being used to estimate the signal corresponding to a given radon concentration. Certain spectroscopic data processing techniques improved the accuracy of calibrations. Mathematical models were needed to account for radon uptake on the charcoal and the decay of radon and its decay products. Initial results suggest that commercial-grade chambers are not necessary to accurately calibrate charcoal canisters as long as the change in radon as a function of time in the calibration space is measured.




Cannabis Legalization and Familial Factors Effects on Usage in Children and Parents

Andrea Kennedy | First-Year UROP Research Experience

In November 2018, a bill was passed to legalize recreational cannabis usage. In response, FYI-3 (Flint Youth Injury Study 3) decided to study how parenting attitudes and behaviors can affect children’s usage of cannabis. The study included attitudes and perceptions towards the new bill. FYI-3 used a past cohort of participants from a previous study, (Flint Youth Injury 1) and conducted live interviews as well as surveys from both parents and their children from the pool of participants. Risk factors and promotive factors will then be predicted and assessed, based on survey answers and both parental and child responses during interviews, using a codebook. Although the study is not yet completed, these risk factors will show how parental attitudes and usage of cannabis can affect children’s behavior around and toward cannabis. This study will serve to provide insight on familial attitudes and behaviors towards cannabis, in hopes that future states that pass legalization bills will see the effects on families and youth.




Carbon Taxes by Any Other Name

Elizabeth Peppercorn | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Intro and problem statement: Our research has focused on the impact of carbon taxes on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Current international rankings and information is not clearly calculated and has left out a number of taxes that do have an impact on greenhouse gas emissions, although the taxes are not explicitly described as carbon taxes. The goal of this project is to create a broader definition and model of carbon taxes so that we can re-rank countries and determine which strategies are best at reducing global emissions.




Carbon Taxes by Any Other Name

Zachary Marmet | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Our research has focused on the impact of carbon taxes on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Current international rankings and information is not clearly calculated and has left out a number of taxes that do have an impact on greenhouse gas emissions, although the taxes are not explicitly described as carbon taxes. The goal of this project is to create a broader definition and model of carbon taxes so that we can re-rank countries and determine which strategies are best at reducing global emissions.




Carbon Taxes by Any Other Name

Lauren Montigue | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Carbon taxes come in many forms, but the main two are explicit carbon taxes, where carbon emitted is taxed by volume, and emissions trading systems, where governments give companies permits for how much carbon they can emit. International organizations such as OECD and World Bank have created their own rankings of carbon taxes by country. However, neither of these rankings encompasses every carbon tax. Our study incorporates a broader array of taxes to more accurately measure the performance of a country in reducing its emissions, and thus yield a more accurate ranking. Country-by-country and industry-by-industry statistics on taxation, expenditure, emissions, and product mainly from the OECD database were collected. Carbon tax data was also collected from the OECD’s figures on all environmentally related tax revenue in 2016. Calculations involving the data were performed to evaluate each country’s carbon intensity per currency unit of consumption expenditure, which were compared across countries and across industries. By the end of the semester, we will have a new ranking and a paper written on our methods as well as a comparison of our new ranking to the OECD’s previous ranking. We expect our new ranking to be similar; however, countries in the European Union will likely have higher levels of carbon taxes in our ranking since the OECD does not account for their emissions trading systems. Our goal for this project is to give activists more precise data to lobby their governments to increase carbon taxes and curb the effects of climate change.




Carbon Taxes by Any Other Name

Shane Yamco | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Carbon taxes come in many forms, but the main two are explicit carbon taxes, where carbon emitted is taxed by volume, and emissions trading systems, where governments give companies permits for how much carbon they can emit. International organizations such as OECD and World Bank have created their own rankings of carbon taxes by country. However, neither of these rankings encompasses every carbon tax. Our study incorporates a broader array of taxes to more accurately measure the performance of a country in reducing its emissions, and thus yield a more accurate ranking. Country-by-country and industry-by-industry statistics on taxation, expenditure, emissions, and product mainly from the OECD database were collected. Carbon tax data was also collected from the OECD’s figures on all environmentally related tax revenue in 2016. Calculations involving the data were performed to evaluate each country’s carbon intensity per currency unit of consumption expenditure, which were compared across countries and across industries. By the end of the semester, we will have a new ranking and a paper written on our methods as well as a comparison of our new ranking to the OECD’s previous ranking. We expect our new ranking to be similar; however, countries in the European Union will likely have higher levels of carbon taxes in our ranking since the OECD does not account for their emissions trading systems. Our goal for this project is to give activists more precise data to lobby their governments to increase carbon taxes and curb the effects of climate change.




Cardiac Implications of Bipolar Depression Linked CACNA1C Gene Single Nucleotide Polymorphism

Rachel Dow | First-Year UROP Research Experience

There is a connection that has been observed between cardiac functioning and Bipolar Disorder. This study focuses on understanding the functioning behind the CACNA1C gene mutation and it’s role in the cardiac function of patients with Bipolar Disorder. To produce accurate reactions of adult cardiomyocytes in response to these drugs we first propagated the human-induced pluripotent stem cell cardiomyocytes with Matrix Plus, a substrate that closely mimics the environment found in the human body. Next, we continue this propagation in 96 well plates and generating cardiac muscle tissue on which we tested certain drug therapies with voltage-sensitive dyes to measure their electrophysiological reaction. Next, we performed experiments on the effects certain medications have on the cardiac muscle we have propagated to better understand their effects on the cardiovascular system and the body. We hope to discover a way to create a personalized tool for bipolar patients in order to use our newly obtained knowledge of medications to prescribe them the safest drug possible. If we are able to properly understand the mechanisms behind the CACNA1C gene mutation and its role in cardiac function we could revolutionize the field of personalized medicine and medication screening by making the toxicity screening patient-specific, possibly saving or improving the lives of many bipolar patients whose lives are affected by their medications.




Cesarean Deliveries in Mississippi: A Case Study on Reproductive Health Care

Emma Behrendt | First-Year UROP Research Experience

In the Zochowski lab, we are currently studying trends in medically unnecessary surgical (NTSV) births on a state by state basis (NTSV meaning nulliparous (first birth), term (head down), singleton (only one infant), vertex). By looking at a variety of non-clinical factors like hospital location, staffing, presence of doulas/midwives, patient race, ethnicity, insurance status, etc. we hope to be able to better understand how NTSV C-section rates are influenced across institutions. Through data collection, organization, and interpretation, I am helping to build a database of state level information in an attempt to answer why are more and more hospitals pushing for C-section deliveries? My role in this project is to complete a checklist of tasks in order to retrieve data needed for each of the states I have been assigned. This presentation is a further analysis of the data collected in the state of Mississippi.




Characterization of a thermoluminescent dosimetry system for seven different dosimetric materials

Christian Irvine | First-Year UROP Research Experience

A series of experiments was conducted to fully characterize a prototype planchet-based thermoluminescent dosimeter (TLD) reader, the Rexon UL-320-FDR. Seven sets of dosimeters of different TLD materials were used in calibration, dosage, and heating rate experiments. This was accomplished through irradiating a set of 100 3mmx3mmx1mm dosimeters, or chips, for each material. Calibrations were conducted through three trials, with statistical analysis to obtain calibration factors for every chip in each set. Corrections were made for nonuniformities due to position in the field of the Cesium-137 source. Groups of ten chips within a set received a unique dose of between 2.4 and 29 mGy to check linearity and study noise. Heating rate experiments chips irradiate to 15 mGy were processed in groups of 10 with different heating rates for each group of 10, ranging from 1 to 20 °C·s -1 . Preliminary analysis revealed a relative standard deviation in calibration factors of <10% for LiF:Mg,Ti, from both experimental errors and individual chip variations. Linearity in sensitivity as a function of dose was generally observed over the range of doses. Some unusual behavior was observed in the glow curves, or signals recorded as a function of time during heating, for heating rates exceeding 10 °C·s -1 . This work substantially helps improve the accuracy, understand the uncertainties involved, and optimize the heating rates of future experiments conducted with these sets of TLDs and the Rexon UL-320-FDR. Additionally these data sets are of great use in designing and testing glow curve analysis software.




Characterization of the Artemis Human Disease Gene in DNA repair

Itzel Talavera-Vilchis | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Mutations in DNA repair mechanisms can cause life-threatening conditions such as Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disorder (SCID) or Omenn Syndrome (OS). The Artemis protein’s role in non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) repair is especially crucial to cleave DNA hairpins during V(D)J recombination. A mutation in the Artemis gene can impair DNA repair mechanisms, increasing the possibility of SCID and/or OS in young patients. To study the hypomorph missense mutation from glycine to glutamate at position 6 in the Artemis gene, a Q5 mutagenesis kit was used to amplify the mutation plasmid, followed by bacterial transformation, restrictive digests, cell culture, Western Blot Analysis, and transient V(D)J recombination assays to observe what effects the Artemis mutation has on competent E.Coli cells. Recombination frequency calculated from the surviving cells on a double selection plate will be used to determine the effect the missense mutation has on Artemis gene survival. An in-depth analysis of the cells will reveal whether the change was an inversional or deletional phenomenon. Since little research has been done on this specific GGG to GAG at position 6 in the Artemis gene mutation, results will pave a path to further research on its characteristics.




Characterization of TRPM8-expressing sensory neurons

Matthew Eitzman | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The cation channel TRPM8 has been implicated in cold detection, yet no identification of distinct subpopulations of TRPM8-expressing sensory neurons responsible for detecting different levels of cold stimuli (noxious vs. innocuous) has been made. The current study takes advantage of Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs (DREADD), light-sensitive channelrhodopsin-2 ion channels (ChR2), thermal behavioral assays, immunostaining, and RNAscope technology to investigate the role of different subpopulations of TRPM8 sensory neurons in dorsal root ganglia of mice. First, we want to study the function of TRPM8 sensory neurons in vivo by expressing an inhibitory Gi DREADD selectively in TRPM8 sensory neurons in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) of mice. Upon injection of the DREADD agonist clozapine-N-oxide (CNO), the DREADD-expressing TRPM8 sensory neurons could be selectively inhibited to infer neuronal function following cold-plate behavioral assays. Sensory neurons in the DRG can be broadly divided into three groups based on cell body diameter: small, medium and large. From our RNAscope results, “small” TRPM8 neurons expressed significantly higher levels of the trpm8 gene than “medium to large” TRPM8 neurons, potentially providing a basis for differentiation between the two subpopulations. Thermal-related behavioral experiments are still ongoing. We hypothesize that the two subpopulations of TRPM8 sensory neurons serve distinct functions in sensing cold stimuli of different intensities.




Characterizing Black Hole Binary Outbursts: X-ray Characterization of AT2019wey

Ryan Walker | First-Year UROP Research Experience

AT2019wey is a transient optical source discovered in late 2019 and identified as a bright X-ray by the eROSITA X-ray telescope in early 2020. The nature of the source is unknown, with the source location and outburst properties suggesting an origin in a Galactic low mass X-ray binary. Herein, we present an analysis of multiple observations of AT2019wey made by the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory over the course of 6 months in 2020. X-ray spectra in the 1 – 10 keV energy band have been modeled with an absorbed power-law model to study the temporal evolution of the X-ray properties of the source. Over time, the power-law photon index is observed to increase as the source brightened, consistent with the emergence of a prominent accretion disk. We discuss the results of this analysis and place constraints on the nature of this system in the context of models for accreting black holes and neutron stars.




Characterizing different clinical settings for the diagnosis of idiopathic Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Behavior Disorder

Isabelle Havis | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Idiopathic Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Disorder (iRBD) is a disorder characterized by dream re-enactment. RBD is referred to as idiopathic when it occurs in isolation. A majority of iRBD patients will go on to receive a diagnosis of an a-synucleinopathy, a family of neurodegenerative disorders including Parkinson’s and Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB) [1]. In clinical settings, iRBD is likely to be diagnosed by a variety of medical providers including specialists in Neurology, Psychiatry, and Primary Care. iRBD patients often have 10-15 years in between the onset of iRBD and the onset of a neurodegenerative disorder, leaving a considerable length of time in which to intervene with therapeutic approaches. The problem is that as of yet, we are not sure in which clinical settings patients are receiving their diagnoses of iRBD. Our project aims to bridge this knowledge gap, which currently prevents us from recruiting iRBD patients into clinical trials aimed at preventing a-synucleinopathies such as Parkinson’s and DLB. In order to gather our data, we have conducted a retrospective chart review of UM medical records for relevant patients. We hope to gain a clear picture of where patients are receiving their iRBD diagnoses, in hopes of further research in the future. References [1] McKeith IG, Ferman TJ, Thomas AJ, Blanc F, Boeve BF, Fujishiro H, Kantarci K, Muscio C, O'Brien JT, Postuma RB, Aarsland D, Ballard C, Bonanni L, Donaghy P, Emre M, Galvin JE, Galasko D, Goldman JG, Gomperts SN, Honig LS, Ikeda M, Leverenz JB, Lewis SJG, Marder KS, Masellis M, Salmon DP, Taylor JP, Tsuang DW, Walker Z, Tiraboschi P (2020) Research criteria for the diagnosis of prodromal dementia with Lewy bodies. Neurology 94, 743-755.




Child health consequences of migration, a systematic review

Emma Suh | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Despite a large variety of studies on the impacts of migration on children’s health, there is no unity among them. There is no overall consensus that summarizes the effects of migration on adolescents, leaving the field blurry and overwhelming. This systematic review condenses the studies about child migrants in order to understand the trending impacts, if any, on their health. Following the PRISMA approach, the study will be able to sort through various databases to find the most relevant sources. The systematic review is in the beginning of the title review stage, and we are hoping to narrow down from thousands of studies to a couple hundred sources. Given those sources, we will be able to narrow down the sources further, which will give us accurate results on children’s health. The review will provide a foundational piece of literature that will improve the understanding of the health of child migrants. This paper will become a part of a body of research that could help child migrants internationally.




Child Priming of Syntactic Structure

Isabella Tape | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Our lab investigates whether children’s interpretation of sentences with PP-attachment (prepositional phrase) ambiguities can be primed by producing sentences with unambiguous meaning. We are trying to determine if children’s description of an image or selection of an image is influenced by the kind of image they had described to them earlier. Basically, a student will have a modifier and instrument interpretation of a prepositional phrase represented in front of them in the form of images and they are supposed to choose which they think is accurate after being read the sentence. Our hypothesis is that the child will choose the image which we have primed them to choose. In order to prime the child, we will show them two images and read them a sentence with an ambiguous prepositional phrase, and one photo will be of either the instrument or modifier interpretation with the correct nouns and the other will be the other interpretation with incorrect nouns, leading the child to select the interpretation we choose because of the nouns. Then we will give them a couple of images with the correct nouns depicted, one with a modifier interpretation and one with an instrument, and read them an ambiguous sentence and see which they select. We also ask the child to say a sentence and then we select the image, being certain to select the image corresponding with the interpretation we want them to learn. We keep our data in an Excel Sheet and compile the results to see if the interpretation most commonly selected aligns with the interpretation we try to teach them. Though this semester we have mostly done control work, the lab in the past has found that children are most frequently drawn to instrument interpretations of the sentence. The main conclusions of this research are that priming is possible when sentence structure is ambiguous.




Child Priming of Syntactic Structure

Nina Pacheco | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Past research provides that adults are susceptible to linguistic priming, meaning that the presence of one stimulus, in this case a certain sentence structure, can affect their response to another stimulus, their interpretation and production of said structure in a later sentence (Branigan, Pickering, & McLean 2005), but does it work on children? Through our research in psycholinguistics we are investigating whether or not priming can be used to affect how children hear or produce globally ambiguous sentences such as “The lion scratches the giraffe with the pencil,” in which there could be two interpretations; either the lion uses the pencil as an instrument to scratch the giraffe (instrument bias), or the lion uses his hand to scratch the giraffe, while the giraffe is holding a pencil (modifier bias). In this study we present children ages four and a half to six and a half with an image representing a globally ambiguous sentence and ask them to describe it to a puppet as the puppet chooses the “correct” interpretation, whichever interpretation is being primed. The child and the puppet then trade roles, and the participant is presented with a pair of images that correspond to two possible meanings of a sentence spoken by the puppet. Participants are then asked which image best matches the sentence spoken by the puppet, presenting to researchers their interpretation of the sentence. This study is ongoing, however results thus far have shown that while children naturally appear to prefer the instrument interpretation of these sentences, priming can occur with globally ambiguous sentence structures, as the participants often chose the interpretation that matched the structure (instrument or modifier biased) that they were primed for. The results of this study will help us better understand how children’s language develops in terms of sentence structure and whether or not their current understandings are similar to those of adults.




Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cell Design through Systems Biology

Alexa Cotter | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells are a promising solution for treating cancers that are drug resistant, but are currently unsuccessful in solid tumors due to their stronger defense mechanisms that prevent the CAR T cells from recognizing the tumor. This project aims to identify the defense mechanisms in triple negative breast cancer related to infiltrating B cells and plasma cells in order to improve CAR T cell targeting in these tumors. We analyzed publicly available single cell RNA sequencing data from 12 patients with treatment-naive triple negative breast cancer and identified B cell and plasma cell subsets within these tumors. A total of 13 subsets were identified, with different patients displaying distinct subtypes of B and plasma cells. We compared the survival probability associated with the genes identified for each subset of cells. Survival analysis indicated that no single set of genes was associated with increased survival. Interestingly, clusters 1 and 2, denoted by genes IGKV-3, HLA-DRA, and MS4A1, were associated with patients that had increased immune infiltrate, which may indicate that these cells could be used to improve targeting of CAR T cell therapy.




Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cell Design through Systems Biology

Julianna Caton | First-Year UROP Research Experience

CAR T cell cancer therapy is a new, promising treatment that offers an alternative to the existing methods of fighting cancer, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. However, at present it is primarily useful in counteracting blood cancers like leukemia, and is far less effective on solid tumors. To circumvent this issue, sc-RNAseq data from triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) patients was analyzed using bioinformatic techniques in R to identify adjuvant targets. Cells were clustered into groups using genetic markers, allowing for survival analysis on certain genes to predict which pathways were associated with improved patient recovery. Once identified, these genes will be tested in vitro, using CAR T cells to record cessation of cancer cells with and without these pathways enabled. Such findings have the potential to have a significant impact on the field of cancer therapy, as they offer a treatment to tumors such as TNBC that have previously been difficult, if not impossible, to successfully treat.




Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cell Design through Systems Biology

Amogh Angadi | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells are an emerging therapy for drug-resistant cancers. So far, they have only been effective on hematological malignancies such as leukemia, but have had little success on solid tumors such as triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), due to the immunosuppressive nature of solid tumors that prevents the CAR T cells from operating effectively. In this study, we used publicly available single cell RNA sequencing data to study how fibroblasts in diseased and healthy patients affect and communicate with the CAR T cells. We used Seurat to cluster the different cells in the tumor microenvironment in healthy and diseased tissue and ran a survival analysis for each cluster. Our results show us that the cluster containing macrophages, which is defined by the FOS, DNAJB1, ZFP36, JUNB, and KLF4 genes, has a significant effect on the survival of patients with TNBC. We hope to confirm these computational results through in vivo experimentation of mice infected with TNBC. These data will shed light on how to better engineer CAR T cells to make them more effective in targeting solid tumors.




Civic resilience and neighborhood resilience projects and hubs.

Kjersti Swanson | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Anthropogenic climate change is one of the most threatening challenges facing the world today. As global temperatures continue to rise over the course of the next century, a host of issues including dramatic sea level rise, dangerous storm systems, widespread drought and wildfires will impact every facet of American life. Cutting carbon emissions is the most effective short term solution to curb adverse effects, but we must also develop resiliency in our governments, in our communities and in our neighborhoods if we are to successfully mitigate climate change. This research project attempts to build resiliency through understanding and awareness in localized communities to prepare for both short and long term consequences of climate-related issues. A comprehensive compilation of behavior patterns, relating to neighborhood-scaled physical and structural adaptations, are included in this document to help neighborhoods prepare for these climate events. It is meant to be self-directed, so that individuals, neighborhoods, and civic organizations can decide which tools are necessary for local adaptation. A neighborhood, for example, in reasonable proximity to a floodplain will have a very different set of useful patterns compared to one exposed to seasonal wildfires. Neighborhoods that adhere to climate resilient programs will be less vulnerable to the threat of climate events, and will be more likely to sustain themselves in the future.




Clinical factors of BK polyomavirus in kidney transplantation

Madeline Vincent | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Viral infections caused by the presence of the BK virus predispose kidney transplant patients to graft failure and immunosuppression reduction is the only effective treatment for BK infection. However, even transient reduction of immunosuppression medications can cause rejection of the transplanted kidney. Within a single large transplant center, we examined which treatment-related clinical factors are predictive of graft failure or rejection in kidney transplant patients with BK viremia. We identified a group of 400 kidney transplant recipients that had BK viral infections from 2006 to 2017. Using an electronic medical records database, I gathered data on BK treatment, including immunosuppression reduction (MMF dose reduction, MMF hold, tacrolimus dose reduction) and the use of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) therapy and antiviral medications. These were compared to patient outcomes, including the presence of donor-specific antibody (DSA) and death-censored graft survival, as measured by retransplantation or return to dialysis. Regression analysis will be utilized in order to test for the presence of a statistically significant correlation to the development of DSA and a proportional hazards model to determine if treatment was related to graft failure. It is known that the presence of DSA often results in and is predictive of graft failure, however more data will need to be collected to determine if the remaining factors have a statistically significant correlation with graft failure. If we determine that any of the remaining factors are predictive of graft failure, these findings could inform future treatment for patients with viral BK infections.




Colorectal Cancer: Rise in Early Onset, Detection Methods, and Aftermath Due to Covid-19

Isabelle Harber | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Background: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most frequently diagnosed cancers in the United States and has taken thousands of lives annually. One of the key methods in decreasing death rates of those with colorectal cancer is early detection by way of several different screening methods. However, early onset of the disease is a more recent concern that is revealing a dangerous trend. Due to Covid-19, many screening methods and tests have been put on hold as most doctors need to put their effort towards the influx of Covid-19 patients. Purpose: The purpose of the review is to examine the emerging trends in colorectal cancer, specifically young onset, and the different types of screening methods available at the present time (and potential ones for the future). Also, the purpose is to analyze how the pandemic has impacted CRC screening tests and treatments, as well as longer term CRC patient outcomes.




Colorectal Cancer: Rise in early onset, screening and impact of Covid-19 pandemic

Dania Zeidan | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Background: Colorectal cancer is one of the most frequently diagnosed cancers in the United States and has taken thousands of lives annually. One of the key methods in decreasing the death rates associated with colorectal cancer is early detection by way of several different screening methods. Due to Covid-19, many screening methods and tests have been put on hold as many doctors need to put their effort towards the influx of Covid-19 patients. Methods: This review was conducted by a thorough search of peer-reviewed journals from medical databases, as well as articles from other reputable sources. Keywords used included colorectal cancer, incidence, detection, screening method, colon, and Covid-19. Results: There are both advantages and limitations to all CRC screening methods. Unfortunately, administering these screenings has become difficult due to the pandemic. Not only have there been missed and delayed screening procedures, but there have been delayed surgeries, misdiagnoses, and likely missed diagnoses altogether. Consequently, it is predicted that there will be thousands of excess CRC-related deaths within the next decade. Conclusion: Delays in screening methods due to the pandemic are predicted to cost thousands of lives in the future as cancer is harder to control with late detection. With the strain Covid is putting on the healthcare system, many CRC patients have had to forgo not only screening tests but other treatments, including surgeries. The effects of Covid-19 are catastrophic and will continue to unfold over the next several years.




Communication and Behavior in Monkeys

Anna Cress | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Capuchin Monkeys, common to Central and South America, are considered to be one of the smartest types of new-world monkeys due to their complex vocalizations and social relationships within and across groups. Capuchins have a large repertoire of calls, ranging from peeps to gargles or alarms. Through 5-minute vocal follows with individual Capuchins at the Taboga field site, behaviors are compared and analyzed in terms of the monkey’s activity state, the vertical location from the ground to the canopy, the habitat type from the forest edge to the continuous forest, and the distance to the closest group member. These variables are used in an effort to understand how behaviors change in shared territory compared to in their own core territory. While many researchers have observed these vocalizations and variables in the past, very few have studied how vocal behavior may vary across environments associated with different levels of intergroup encounter and predation risk. More specifically, working to gain a better understanding of differentiating a capuchin’s social knowledge versus ecological knowledge will help us to answer necessary questions in our study. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 and the multiple lockdowns, there was very little data collection in the fall of 2020. Beginning in the winter of 2021, the field site is once again active and vocal follows are being recorded as well as data being collected through the Animal Observer app at the field site in Costa Rica. Vocal follows are targeted recordings on an individual in the group where their behaviors are recorded and later analyzed and compared. As the study is on-going a final conclusion is unclear though it is currently predicted that when the risk of predation is high, there will be fewer or quieter vocalizations amongst monkeys due to the likelihood of risk. Furthermore, Capuchins vocalize at lower rates in shared territories when they are on the ground and at the forest edge because they perceive those areas to be riskier.




Comparing Tuberculosis’ and Pneumonia’s Seasonal Dynamics in Thailand from 1980-2020

Ella McKenzie | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Infectious disease seasonality is important for informing public health policy and vaccine distribution. Tuberculosis and pneumonia morbidity and mortality in Thailand are high relative to the rest of the world, and to date, these data have not been sufficiently studied. Tuberculosis incidence at the country level in Thailand exhibits a bi-enniel pattern, though the results have not been examined at the province level. Other research suggests that pneumonia seasonality follows influenza’s bi-enniel patterns in Thailand, however the seasonality of pneumonia has not been analyzed on its own. Here, we examine both tuberculosis and pneumonia monthly case reports from Thailand to identify seasonal patterns at the provincial level (71 provinces) for both pneumonia and tuberculosis from 1980-2020. After digitizing and organizing the data using optical character recognition software, we analyzed the data in R Studio. We will use wavelet analyses and general additive models to reveal the seasonal patterns for each pathogen in each province. Annual seasonality with distinct peaks is expected for both tuberculosis and pneumonia at regional levels. Uncovering seasonal patterns would inform public health officials on when to distribute the corresponding vaccines. If similarities between the two pathogens are found, public health professionals in Thailand will be more informed on their relation (such as in what conditions they are spread). Finally, if no seasonality is found in the data, there will be further evidence supporting the hypothesis that the seasons do not affect the incidence of diseases in Thailand.




Competition and Competitors in the Workplace

Hasan Zai | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Managers often galvanize employees with brief competitions (Grote, 2005; Hazels & Sasse, 2008; Johnson & Dickinson, 2010). For instance, the sales manager at a car dealership – seeking to start the year strong – may offer a bonus to the top salesperson in January. Yet, competition stems not only from organizational structures, but also from the personalities of employees (Mischel & Shoda, 1995). Structural and dispositional sources of competition have both been shown to individually improve productivity (Garcia et al., 2013), but do they have an additive or interactive effect? That is, do highly competitive employees behave any differently when a competitive incentive is introduced? Research on person-organization fit suggests that people thrive best in organizations that are compatible with their personalities; thus, competitive people will excel in competitive environments (Fletcher et al., 2008).




Competition and Competitors in the Workplace

Leilani Fonseca | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Managers often galvanize employees with brief competitions (Grote, 2005; Hazels & Sasse, 2008; Johnson & Dickinson, 2010). For instance, the sales manager at a car dealership – seeking to start the year strong – may offer a bonus to the top salesperson in January. Yet, competition stems not only from organizational structures, but also from the personalities of employees (Mischel & Shoda, 1995). Structural and dispositional sources of competition have both been shown to individually improve productivity (Garcia et al., 2013), but do they have an additive or interactive effect? That is, do highly competitive employees behave any differently when a competitive incentive is introduced? Research on person-organization fit suggests that people thrive best in organizations that are compatible with their personalities; thus, competitive people will excel in competitive environments (Fletcher et al., 2008). Yet, research on the strong situation hypothesis (Cooper & Withey, 2009; Mischel, 1977) tells a different story: personality is only relevant in situations where the “correct” course of action is ambiguous; so competitive people will receive no added benefit from structural competition. Perhaps more troubling, research on the overjustification effect (Deci & Ryan, 1989) suggests that introducing and subsequently removing an extrinsic incentive will undermine intrinsic motivation – harming the long-term performance of competitive employees. Thus, it remains unclear how introducing a competitive incentive will impact the short- and long-term productivity of employees from various dispositional and professional backgrounds. We will address this gap in the literature with two studies – one exploratory and one confirmatory – wherein participants reflect on their experiences in their own workplace. We will also collect information on participants’ professional backgrounds and trait competitiveness. This research will shed light on best practices for motivating employees and potentially reveal a common yet misguided practice in management.




Compiling a Terrestrial Food Web for the U-M Biological Station

Lynnae Gilman | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Large scale ecological network data that includes multiple interaction types has frequently been called for in community ecology texts since the mid 1900s. However, a strong database with interaction data between different categories of organisms is still missing. Constructing a database of this type benefits many aspects of study such as ascertaining the overall health of an ecosystem or the relationship between species, including by understanding the ecological network structure. To construct such a database, we first used student projects to assemble a list of species present at the BioStation. Then, we used online resources of observations, taxonomic records, and academic papers to record all possible species interactions. Each source has different taxonomic specialties. Using these methods, we created a database that includes carnivory, herbivory, pollination, seed dispersal, and parasitism interactions between species from diverse taxonomic groups, including insects, birds, mammals, plants, and reptiles. From these, we assembled a comprehensive multiplex ecological network and created networks of different levels of resolution. Then, we identified gaps in taxonomic resolution and species interaction data available on the species at the BioStation. More research will have to be conducted, e.g., to identify predators of pollinators or record species-specific pollination links. Our database will be available to the public, meaning it can be used for education in classrooms and environmental conservation efforts, as well as available to researchers broadly.




Comprehensive Cataloguing of Clinically Identified MUTYH Variants in Cancer Patients

Grace Clark | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Computational Approach to Determining the Properties of Rhodamine-Based pH Sensitive Fluorophores used in Diverse Biomedical Applications

Seth Woodbury | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Fluorescent probes are excitable by specific frequencies of light and emit bright visible electromagnetic radiation upon their relaxation to a ground state energy. These probes can be chemically modified to tune their properties and impart specific reactivity. In the biomedical sciences, fluorescent probes are widely used in applications including determining the presence and quantity of a specific protein, determining enzyme activity in real-time assays, determining gene expression, and elucidating physicochemical conditions both intracellularly and extracellularly. However, current probes present a significantly high cost, modest fluorescent intensity, and lack chemical functionality for important uses such as site-specific protein labelling, orthogonal click chemistry, and for use in biomaterial constructs. In this study, we aimed at designing high fluorescent yield, tunable pH-sensitive probes which could be synthesized using inexpensive common reagents to illuminate microenvironmental changes in pH, a critical factor in biologic processes including endosomal uptake, lysosome processing, and extracellular matrix resorption.




Computational design of protein binders to block the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway

Caroline Bradley | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The Programmed Cell Death Protein 1 (PD-1)/Programmed Cell Death Ligand 1 (PD-L1) pathway is crucial in the immune system’s response to cells in the human body. When PD-L1 binds to PD-1 it helps to prevent T-cells from killing other cells, including cancer cells which allows for tumor growth. We used an physics-based approach, EvoEF2, to create an artificial protein based on the structure of PD-1 to competitively bind to PD-L1. We are hoping to show through our binding experiment analyses that our designed proteins will have a stronger binding affinity to PD-L1 than PD-1. While PD-1 inhibitor drugs have been developed they are not completely effective, finding more effective ways to block this pathway could be an important step in future cancer drug research.




Computational design of Raf-based protein binders to inhibit mutant Ras-Raf interactions

Jorden Thompson | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Designing proteins in an attempt to create treatments for illnesses is a cutting-edge area of research and has limitless possibilities in the field of medicine. One particular area of illness that could benefit from the protein design is cancer. Cancer occurs when there is a mutation in the genetic sequence that codes for a protein and, when produced by a cell, this mutated protein behaves abnormally in the form of loss of function, a gain of a new function, or hyperactivity. One of the leading ideas for treating cancer is the specific targeting of misbehaving proteins in an attempt to eliminate or correct their behavior. To accomplish this, new programs need to be developed to predict and design the structure of a folded protein and isolate protein-protein interactions that can be used to target the protein in question. This research project uses newly developed prediction programs, EvoDesign and EvoEF2, to design the novel structure of one of the proteins in a protein-protein interaction relevant to cancer and found in nature. The programs aim to accomplish this using energy functions and evolutionary patterns. For this study, an analysis was done on an oncogenic Ras mutant, and novel interacting partner protein sequences based on the native Raf scaffold were designed using EvoEF2. The designed protein partners were then compared to the native one. The analysis showed that the designed partners of this study had greater binding affinities for the mutant Ras sequence than the native partner did, and all protein-protein interactions with the designed partners were more energetically favorable than the native protein-protein interactions. Wet lab testing would be required to test the feasibility and binding of some of the best (most favorable) designs.




Computed tomography reconstruction of fossil vertebrates

Janel Lapalm | First-Year UROP Research Experience

In our research project we are studying CT examination of ancient vertebrates. Understanding morphology can illuminate the possible relationships between ancient fish vertebrates and the niches they inhabited. The fish species that will be examined for this are lungfishes, which are often described as “living fossils.” A “living fossil” is a broadly applied term but can be generally understood as an organism exhibiting a close resemblance to its older relatives found in the fossil record. This project utilizes 3D reconstructions of fossil sarcopterygian fishes to enhance our understanding of their place in the phylogenetic tree. We acquired fossils from various universities and museums across the country, and segmented out their lower jaws using the program Materialize by Mimics. By doing this our work will be turned into 3D models in the program Blender. These 3D models will then be used to “landmark” or flag important differences between the jaw structure in both the same and different species. Based on Landmark data we can better understand their place in the phylogenetic tree and the relationship between morphology, diversity, and the environmental niches of these fishes.




Computing for Data Literacy in Social Studies Classes

Kashmira Reddy | First-Year UROP Research Experience

In many K-12 social studies textbooks, there are a plethora of data visualizations in the forms of graphs, maps, and timelines. However, students are not taught how to understand and interpret these data visualizations. Students who do not learn how to read these data visualizations are at a disadvantage because they often explain important concepts that are not present in the text. The goal of the research project is to create a database with programming tools that social studies teachers can use to teach data literacy in the classroom. The research undertaken in this project derives from feedback taken from social studies teachers in Michigan. Teachers who were interested in using data visualizations in their classroom volunteered to provide input to guide and improve the project. This project’s usability, understandability, and accessibility by social studies teachers in Michigan are in the process of being tested. The project intends to increase social studies teachers’ use of online tools to aid students’ understanding of data visualizations. With increased exposure to programmable tools, the project aims to increase student performance in social studies courses and student interest in computer science.




Connections Between Cell Signaling, Neutrophils, and Tumor Metastasis

Isha Balaguru | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a type of breast cancer that is defined by the absence of estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and the low expression of HER2. The combined absence of these markers, historically, led to TNBCs having poorer prognosis due to the lack of therapeutic targets. Recent research reported by the Egeblad group (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory) was able to identify that neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs), a pathogen trapping structure comprised of DNA, histones, and various other neutrophil-associated proteins, typically produced in the presence of a pathogenic infection, are prompted to form by metastatic breast cancer cells in the absence of an active infection. By studying the effect of inhibiting neutrophil infiltration, NET production, and of breaking down NETs within a short time through the use of DNase I treatment in vivo; the Egeblad group demonstrated that metastasis of the traditionally-metastatic 4T1 cell line could be prevented/delayed simply by targeting the interaction between tumors and NETs – thereby establishing NETs as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of TNBC. Using the same 4T1 and 4T07 cell lines examined by the Egeblad group, we have recently demonstrated that these two cell lines constitutively produce different levels of CXCR-2 ligands in vitro when grown in control/untreated conditions; but produce similar levels when cultured in the presence of a NET-like biomaterial we have developed that we refer to as DNA-histone mesostructures (DHMs). Because 4T1 and 4T07 cells are derived from the same spontaneously-occurring parental tumor, this difference in constitutive expression poses interesting questions: what mutational differences may be present in 4T1 cells (but not in the 4T07 cells) that contributes to their constitutive production of CXCR-2 ligands (which act as neutrophil chemoattractants and induce the production of NETs by infiltrating neutrophils), and what similarities exist between these cells that may underlie their shared response to DHMs in vitro. To address these questions, we have chosen to take a multi-faceted approach that examines transcriptomic data from 4T1 and 4T07 cells grown in vitro (+/- DHMs) and in vivo (+/- DHMs), conducting comprehensive literature reviews on cancer-related intracellular signaling pathways to see what genes and intracellular factors may shed light upon the source of the intrinsic difference between these cell lines.




Connections Between Cell Signaling, Neutrophils, and Tumor Metastasis

Jessica Sepsey | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a type of breast cancer that is defined by the absence of estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and the low expression of HER2. The combined absence of these markers, historically, led to TNBCs having poorer prognosis due to the lack of therapeutic targets. Recent research reported by the Egeblad group (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory) was able to identify that neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs), a pathogen trapping structure comprised of DNA, histones, and various other neutrophil-associated proteins, typically produced in the presence of a pathogenic infection, are prompted to form by metastatic breast cancer cells in the absence of an active infection. By studying the effect of inhibiting neutrophil infiltration, NET production, and of breaking down NETs within a short time through the use of DNase I treatment in vivo; the Egeblad group demonstrated that metastasis of the traditionally-metastatic 4T1 cell line could be prevented/delayed simply by targeting the interaction between tumors and NETs – thereby establishing NETs as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of TNBC.




Consentful Messaging: Giving People Agency over Online Interactions using Network Data

Annie Chen | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Our project works on developing a Chrome extension that allows Twitter users to have more control over their inbox messages and analyzes other accounts to generate potential warnings. This extension tackles the growing issue of online harassment and unsolicited messages on social media by letting Twitter users apply network-based rules on the messages and notifications. We use coding languages such as HTML, Javascript, CSS, Python, and web framework Django to create the frontend of our extension/website as well as the backend where the server runs. Team members can choose to work on the frontend, backend, or both. We will evaluate the extension by conducting a field deployment study on Twitter. We will recruit active Twitter users and ask them to use the extension for at least two weeks. Once the participants are finished using the system, they will be invited to complete a post-study survey and participate in interviews. There aren’t exactly any results or conclusions at this stage of developing the extension. We are currently still working on different parts of the project and individually working on appropriate functions/code. We plan to provide a fully functional and helpful extension that is able to reduce the issue of online harassment (on the user’s side).




Constructs of Race & Ethnicity and Latinx Adults’ Perceptions of Discrimination

Alexis Garcia | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Hate crimes and domestic terrorism have spiked during and following the 2016 US Presidential election (www.justice.gov, 2019). The current project zooms in on the US Latinx and immigrant Latino community, as a demographic perceived to be targeted by President Trump. The FBI’s annual statistics also show an increase racially motivated crimes: begging the question of the relationship between the upticks in hate crimes and the former President’s rhetoric. This study examines how the Trump presidency actually impacted Latinx/o/a community. Secondary research questions include: Is there a relation between residential location and racism, such that people of color feel pressure to assimilate to become more “˜American’? What is the nature of the Expat identity for immigrant people of color in the US, can they really ever ‘belong’? What factors contribute to the disproportionate amount of legislation targeted at immigrants from Mexico, Central, and South America? Data analysis includes statistical models (SPSS) and comparative studies, based on Garcia Coll et al. (1996)’s Integrative Model. This research will serve to educate diverse populations in the US, particularly those that may have also been impacted by the former presidential administration. We conclude with implications for the study’s findings can bring, in terms of population unity and healing.




Consumer Response to Self-Sampling Methods for Cervical Cancer Screening

Lauren Rosenthal | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Cervical cancer is one of the most prominent cancers in the world, as it is the third most prevalent cancer in women across the globe. However, it is also deemed as one of the most treatable cancers as long as there is early detection and diagnosis because of the primary and secondary stages of prevention: “the HPV vaccine and cervical cancer screening have made it one of the most preventable cancers” (CDC.gov). The problem is that most people are unaware that they are infected with the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), and that many women between the recommended ages do not receive a Pap smear since it is not an accessible screening for everyone. Consequently, no treatment will be given to the patient, resulting in a greater risk of obtaining cervical cancer if the patient is infected with high-risk HPV. In this MISSH study, we observe the consumer response to two self-sampling kits used to detect the presence of high-risk HPV. One kit includes the urine sampling method (ColliPee), and the other includes the vaginal method (Eve brush). Women who volunteered to participate in this study were given the options of either using one method of their choice, or using both kits. These self-sampling kits are sent through the mail; and once the sampling is done, extensive phone interviews were conducted to inquire about the patient’s preferences. Through this, we were able to learn what adjustments/accommodations are needed to be made in order to make the self-sampling methods more widely accepted, taking into account that more women feel more comfortable and are more likely to get screened with a self-sampling method.




Contextual Processing Deficits in PTSD and Fibromyalgia

Melina Settineri | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have difficulty differentiating between safe and threatening contexts. Not only do individuals with PTSD suffer from a biased fear response, but individuals with Fibromyalgia (FM) which is highly comorbid with PTSD have a similar trait. In this study, we examined the deficits of PTSD and FM in their reaction to extinction recall and fear renewal by measuring Skin Conductance Response (SCR). On Day 1, subjects are conditioned to an unconditioned stimulus (i.e., electrical current) with a conditioned stimulus (e.g., blue light) in a neutral context (e.g., office). This was followed by extinction learning where they should recognize that the blue light presented in a living room does not induce an electrical shock. On Day 2, these subjects undergo extinction recall to determine how much they react in a non-threatening context (e.g., blue light in the living room) while also undergoing fear renewal to measure reactivity to a threatening context (e.g., blue light in the office). SCR is utilized as a reliable physiological indicator of one’s fear response during these scenarios. The SCR data from both PTSD and FM individuals have been cleaned and analyzed using AcqKnowledge 5.0 software program. The outcome of SCR data will be compared to each other, as well as to healthy controls. There are no tangible results as of now due to the project being slowed because of the current COVID-19 pandemic, but we hope to see that through testing the fear modulation paradigm, we can further our understanding of the differences between PTSD and FM patients versus healthy controls in their reactivity to extinction recall and fear renewal.




Continuous evaluation of instruction

Susan Huang | First-Year UROP Research Experience

We used Mobile Eye-tracking in regular class periods to investigate teacher attention to and teacher response to misbehavior in the classroom. To measure teacher attention, Mobile Eye-tracking follows a teacher’s gaze and their fixations onto a video of the classroom that reflects their personal field of vision. To measure teacher response to misbehaviors, trained coders watched 52 different videos of 26 different 1st through 11th grade classrooms, each taught by an expert teacher and a student-teacher. Class periods ranged from 35 to 45 minutes with 20 to 30 students, who reflected various socioeconomic backgrounds. Preliminary results show (1) that teachers do not see a majority of misbehavior in their classrooms, (2) that teachers do not respond to a majority of misbehaviors they see, and (3) that teachers respond fairly to misbehavior with regards to student gender. While data suggest that teachers’ responses to boys and girls are different, further analysis shows that this is due to the fact that boys and girls misbehave in different ways. This study allows us as educational psychologists to understand more about how and when teachers respond to misbehaviors in the classroom. More broadly, it allows us to evaluate one supposed disparity in the education system.




Continuous evaluation of instruction

Josephine Leone | First-Year UROP Research Experience

How teachers respond to the multiple events going on as they teach was studied using first-person mobile eye-tracking recordings. By learning more about this topic learning can be improved for young children, especially when classes are moved online. During this project, 30 videos of classroom lessons including a mobile eye tracking record from the teacher were coded Teachers often overlook a wide range of “distractions.” Separate coding of distractions shows that children engaged in a range of misbehavior, and were distracted by classmates’ activity. Complicating the situation for teachers is the fact that their responses to distractions often cause further class interruption. Understanding the complex cognition teachers engage in (while also teaching) will help us to understand the nature of expertise in classroom management and teaching..




Conversation

Pedro Fonseca | First-Year UROP Research Experience

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues without a clear end in sight, a higher degree of conversation through digital means has risen. Often through online meetings there are technical boundaries that create odd disturbances within conversation that may make these meetings hesitant, awkward, and uncomfortable. Through preexisting literature on the turn-taking process in conversation, it is obvious that response times between two people conversing is very important in how one perceives the answer that will be given. Considering that technical delays in audio input may increase response time, it is imperative that digital conversations are examined. The basis of our study relies heavily on a similar project performed on non-digital conversation in the Cognition journal (Corps et al 2018). The project involved participants answering yes or no to questions considered either predictable or unpredictable with their response times recorded. This was replicated in the study with the addition of the variables “remote” and “local.” An unrelated member of the team prerecorded the questions from the Cognition journal to be used in data collection. The process involved one on one meetings with participants on Zoom where the audio recordings were played by the researcher through the share feature (remote) and later switched to the participant playing the audio through the share feature (local). The meeting was recorded in attempts to later derive the response times through manual transcription. Reflection on the raw data seems to suggest that response times were indeed larger though this process has yet to be completed. However, results will likely show an increase in response times which – taken with a grain of salt as there are many technical issues at play – can cause the hesitancy, awkwardness, and uncomfortableness that digital meetings may bring.




COVID-19 hidden stories

Ashley Martinez | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Despite the vast studies that exist concerning marginalized populations and discriminatory concerns within the healthcare system, there are little to none focusing on the first-hand narratives of Hispanic individuals who face barriers to accessing healthcare services. Most importantly, there is not enough research that delves into the perspectives of Hispanic immigrants who have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hence, this study, “COVID-19 Hidden Stories,” served to extensively analyze and investigate the various factors that play a role in accessibility to healthcare that has yet been captured by the media. This investigative study was a platform for Hispanic individuals within the Detroit and Grand Rapids communities of Michigan and from Chicago, Illinois, to share their experiences with COVID-19. Through non-contact interviews covering aspects of COVID-19, substantial journalistic research was gathered and analyzed to draw commonalities between the respective recounts of the interviewees; by far, there were high relevance of themes such as loss of family, strained health, financial constraints, and fear of deportation amidst the pandemic. Through this research, there were several barriers and factors that resulted in the silencing of Hispanic immigrants during this difficult period, suggesting a systemic fault in the American healthcare system. Their stories humanize existing statistics and add nuance to the understanding of the intersectionality between immigration policies and health care services. In documenting first-hand accounts of Hispanic individuals, these stories will be compiled to create a podcast that will help the Hispanic community trudge through isolation during the pandemic.




COVID-19 hidden stories of mental health

Grace Tucker | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The upsurge of the COVID-19 global pandemic has brought forth many studies concerning how marginalized communities have been disproportionately affected by the virus: partly due to discriminatory practices embedded within the United States healthcare system, increased proportions of those working essential jobs, and increased probabilities of suffering from preexisting conditions, among other factors. However, there is very little qualitative research regarding the first-hand experiences of these individuals, particularly those within the Hispanic community, nor is there research accessible to Spanish-speaking individuals. Thus, our study entitled “COVID-19 Hidden Stories of Mental Health” searches to collect and empower the experiences of Hispanic individuals who have been affected by the pandemic through virtual interviews in a way that has not yet been amplified by the media or made accessible for the community’s use.




COVID-19-assocaited Kidney Disease Analysis using Ontology and Bioinformatics

Jennifer Roman | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Kidney diseases pose a major threat to human health. Human acute kidney injury (AKI) is a sudden and temporary loss of kidney function. This project examines the relation between AKI and COVID-19 in patients under different conditions. Using International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes, the project aims to better understand COVID-19 on patients under different conditions. In the study, we are given the ICD and UBERON codes (Uber-anatomy ontology) in which we have to decode them and know the conditions associated with the ICD code to then transfer the term label and the information associated with it to an Ontology tree on the Protege application. The ICO Ontology (ICDO) codes are decoded on a Google Sheet and then transferred to the Protege application. When inputting the terms into the ontology on Protege, each group has a Parent Code which then produces the sub groups where they have the same first two numbers of the ICDO code to represent them being in the same group. This makes them easier to identify and input the information where it belongs within the Entities on Protege. The data from the Consortium for Clinical Characterization of COVID-19 by EHR (4CE) were used for our ontology modeling and analysis. Kidney related data were analyzed. Over 200 ICD codes were transferred and ontologized to the ICDO. Our study found COVID-19 targeted to diferent kideny parts. This project established a new ontology-based bioinformatics pipeline to systematically study COVID-19 related kidney disease data, supporting our better understanding of COVID-19 pathogenesis.




creation of digital model of an ancient manuscript

Araceli Rizzo | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The Derveni papyrus, discovered in 1962, is invaluable in its information regarding religion and philosophy in the 5th century BCE. It specifically provides insight into the religious shift happening in Athens around the time, with growing questioning of the polytheistic Greek religion. The papyrus is, however, largely illegible in its natural state, having been charred before its burial, and broken into pieces during and after. Our team is currently using Adobe Photoshop to assemble a digital model, using photographs of the existing fragments of the scroll. The digital model is still being edited, but we have also begun working to improve the previously-written transcription and translation. This primarily includes comparing the number of letters in the transcription to the number of letters in the images of the scroll in order to find discrepancies where too many or too few letters have been supplied. This, in turn, affects the translation. Our work has yielded the results of an improved model with some significant resizing, as well as alterations in the transcription. Many of these transcription changes have been alterations in contractions, combinations, and elisions of Greek words, though some have affected the translation as well. The translation will advance our understanding of 5th century BCE religious philosophy, while the physical composition of the writing itself is also valuable. It shows the potential to deepen our understanding of papyrus writing techniques and rules of the time. Through many forms of study, the Derveni papyrus offers otherwise unavailable information on belief systems of the time, as well as writing conventions.




Creative Writing & Publishing

Lily Price | First-Year UROP Research Experience

There are a wide variety of literary journals today, from college-owned to ones that revolve around a specific interest such as feminist ideas or geographic regions. In this project, I aimed to identify trends among literary journals both structurally in regard to format as well as thematically. These results helped me to select journals that best match my own writing and broadened my understanding of the world of journals. To find these results, I compiled a database of journals with several categories such as types of writing, digital access, editors, and themes in Google Sheets. I also spoke to editors and staff of several literary journals to better understand the behind-the-scenes operations as well as their thought processes when deciding what to include in their issues. I learned that while many journals have different production processes, many have made the switch from print to partly or fully online. I also learned that at the end of the day, the staff makes the journal. From a group of young experimental MFA students to a woman who has been editor-in-chief for years, the staff is ultimately the driving force behind style and form. This research is valuable to writers as it shows that by reading journals, you can identify themes within each that symbolize the style of the journal as whole.




Creative Writing & Publishing

Sabrina Nash | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Introduction: How to get work published is regarded as one of life’s greatest mysteries by many American writers; for this project, our research group decided to comprehensively study American literary journals in hopes of discovering which journals publish which types of work, and what particular journal would be the best fit for each member of our research group. We also practiced our own writing skills and developed our styles. Methods: To accomplish this goal, each group member compiled a database of information surrounding these journals, noting the length of submissions they typically published, the style of writings, and notable features of the journal, including whether or not they had a particular interest in new writers. We also submitted our own creative works (like flash fiction, short stories, poetry, prose) to our research group on a weekly basis for critique to analyze our own styles and determine which journals could be a good match. Results: An analysis of these databases has provided each member with a list of publications to which they will submit work. We have also learned which journals are most likely to print which types of work, and what things editors look for while they are reading submissions. Conclusions: Each member is submitting work now to see if we will be accepted anywhere.




Cross Cultural Negotiation

Arianna Brangman | First-Year UROP Research Experience

As globalization and foreign policy have dominated international relations throughout the 21st century, the need for understanding how to strengthen and extend these bonds has only grown stronger as well. Sectors such as law, business, government, and trade rely on these inter and intracontinental ties in order to build their networks and provide necessary services that benefit both producers and consumers. Without them, productivity and revenue would fall, and very little chance for expansion or cultural exchange could take place. Studying topics such as etiquette, societal expectations, lifestyles, introversion, hierarchy, and individualism all contribute to how each city, state, and country expect to conduct themselves in cross-cultural settings. Not only do they inform diverse parties in how to approach a given situation, but they also provide a chance to bridge the similarities and differences that characterize each culture. Within the context of negotiations, it is essential that these attributes are well understood in order to produce the best possible outcomes for each contingent. In a world where opportunity is limitless, the information from these findings helps to establish a secure foundation from which a progressive dialogue can take place. By examining the inner-workings of cross-cultural negotiations, society stands to gain a more comprehensive interpretation and appreciation of how life differs in each region of the world, and how those changes influence exchanges.




Cultural Cybernetics: Merging Artisanal Tradition with Digital Fabrication

Janice Liu | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Despite outlawing segregation in 1964, America is still a country that continues to struggle with equality. Minority groups are given unjustified stereotypes, putting them at a significant disadvantage in our society. This study attempts to spread awareness to Charles Darwin’s impact on the abolitionist movement through an adventure map game targeted at current students. The high school students would divide into two groups, with one group obtaining the information through a lecture format and a second group learning through the interactive game. Afterward, both groups are provided with the same assessment, determining whether technology is an effective learning technique. Through our findings, students would absorb more of the content when they are engaged in an interactive activity rather than being lectured. From such evidence, technological programs can be applied in future educational settings, ensuring a less divided society for upcoming generations. With a thorough understanding of various minority cultures, they can carry this idea onto their children, creating a snowball effect.




Cultural Cybernetics: Merging Artisanal Tradition with Digital Fabrication

Amarna - Set Lapre | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Before being subjected to the degrading system of slavery, sharecropping, and the Jim Crow era, early African countries had made countless contributions to the start of today’s science and technology thousands of years before the widely accredited European nations. However, very few of us are aware of these accomplishments, as African history, beyond ancient Egypt, rarely gains publicity. With Indigenous STEM being outwardly different from modern STEM, we find more difficulty in distinguishing it as easily as we do western STEM. Despite having various accomplishments and intricate developments of science and technology already woven through the history and culture of many non-European countries, STEM is still not typically equated to African or POC/Cultural communities. This Cultural Cybernetics study is conducted through a restorative justice approach to determine the best recuperative method to give back to the underrepresented communities by making sure these underserved communities maintain significance alongside advancing technology, by reducing the need for competition between skilled labor and machine fakes in the artisanal fabrication process through increasing the understandability of the user interface. After a thorough analysis of the methods of STEM utilized within certain cultures, a concept is developed and implemented through an educationally tailored online platform and are further introduced for approval from each of those specific groups of people, such as the digital cornrow designs software to African braiders, and later to the general public. This process effectively demonstrates an easy and convenient way modern technology can be integrated alongside cultural traditions without undermining or “stealing” from the communities while educating the public on these cultures through creative means.




Cultural Protective Factors for Latinx Communities amidst the Coronavirus Pandemic

Ingrid Ramirez | First-Year UROP Research Experience

During hardships, individuals develop distinct ways of coping and working towards helping their case. While it may not be commonly thought of as a coping mechanism, members of the Latinx community use their cultural teachings and customs to protect themselves during crises and hardships. The study being conducted investigates protective factors influenced by Latinx culture such as familism, where the needs of the family are more important and take precedence over the needs of any individual family member, and multigenerational living, when a household contains different generations living under one roof. As a qualitative research, we will conduct interviews of immigrants, first, second, and/or third-generation Latinx Michigan residents ages 18-30 who are either parents or non-parents. We will ask questions about their lives and experiences before and after the current pandemic. After the interviews, with coding and transcribing, we will analyze their responses to look at the common themes that describe how individuals survive in times of need. We expect to be able to demonstrate the influence of familism and multigenerational living on the Latinx culture and how a community protects itself.




Culturally Tailored Messaging for Hispanic Youth in an mHealth Intervention

Esha Elahi | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Background: Obesity is prevalent among adolescents in America, which puts millions of youth at a risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, and liver disease which can lead to shorter life spans. The prevalence of excess weight among Black and Hispanic youth is particularly high compared to Caucasian youth (40% vs 38% vs 31% respectively). Contributing to this higher risk of obesity for minority youth is the fact that many Black and Hispanic youth live in families with low-socioeconomic status (65% and 62% respectively). The use of mobile health applications incorporating personally relevant content such as culturally tailored messages and images, is a promising means of helping Black and Hispanic youth achieve and maintain a healthy weight. We sought to examine the correlation, if any, between Hispanic youth’s ethnic identity and their image and language preferences used in a health app to prompt Hispanic youth to make healthier choices at fast-food venues.




Current practices in sleep and circadian medicine

Ali Abdalla | First-Year UROP Research Experience

One crucial hurdle to the effective treatment of circadian misalignment in shift workers is a lack of knowledge about differences in circadian rhythms of workers with and without Shift Work Disorder (SWD). The objective of this study was to examine how circadian rhythms differed in SWD in order to help shift workers avoid developing sleep disorders as well as provide a stronger base for the development of successful treatments for those already diagnosed. We recruited 83 fixed night shift workers and examined melatonin profiles, circadian misalignment (Dim Light Melatonin Onset), and sleepiness profiles (Karolinska Sleepiness Scale). Melatonin profiles were determined and DLMO was assessed by means of 24 hourly saliva samples collected in dim light conditions (<10 lux). During these hourly collections, sleepiness was also measured using subjective patient judgment. Participants diagnosed with SWD on average secreted 26.6 pg/ml less melatonin from DLMO to DLMOffset than those without SWD. Further analysis also found that the amplitude of all participants' melatonin values amplitudes were significantly correlated with the amplitude of their sleepiness but not with average sleepiness. The correlation between melatonin and sleepiness was also comparable between the two groups, with both groups showing a 2 hour lag between subjective sleepiness and increases in melatonin. This study provides support that sleepiness in SWD is associated with changes in melatonin. Furthermore, it contributes new evidence that night shift workers with SWD secrete less melatonin on average than their counterparts while still experiencing increased symptoms of excessive sleepiness and other health problems.




Dark Matter searches with LZ

Ethan Flosky | First-Year UROP Research Experience

In the universe, the orbital mechanics of stellar objects is explained by their gravity and hence their mass. For example, our understanding of gravity tells us that when an object orbits an amount of matter gets farther away from that mass, the object’s orbital velocity will decrease. Using optical observations of galaxies we observe that their matter is concentrated at their center. However, we measure the velocity of stars at the fringe of galaxies, their velocities are much faster than what we would expect. To explain this observation, many scientists believe that some sort of invisible matter exists that causes these observations. It is known as Dark Matter. The LUX Zeplin team is currently building a detector one mile underground to discover if this matter exists. Later in 2021, the LZ detector will finally go online and start to collect data. It is expected that if Dark Matter exists, it is a particle that would have a mass of 1 GeV or thousands of GeV heavier. The team hopes that the detector will be able to observe particle interactions, among them rare dark matter interactions, and be able to analyze them to search for these Dark Matter events. Then LZ physicists will analyze this data and will come to a conclusion on dark matter’s existence. If found, this new type of matter will help explain orbital velocity observations and may even deepen our understanding about the development of the universe.




Dark Matter searches with LZ

Jessica Middleton | First-Year UROP Research Experience

After observing that the expected velocities of stars in the outer parts of galaxies is much faster than expected, scientists conclude that in order for stars in all locations of galaxies to move at the same velocity, another force must be present. This invisible matter, which does not exist with electromagnetic forces or gravitational forces, was named Dark Matter. The LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) experiment, located at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in South Dakota, uses a time projection chamber (TCP) filled with several tons of liquified Xenon in order to directly detect dark matter particles. Surrounding the Xenon chamber is a second chamber containing thousands of gallons of water, ensuring that the experiment reaches maximum sensitivity. Ultimately, it is expected that dark matter will interact with the Xenon particles through WIMPs (weakly interacting massive particles). As this experiment progresses, we expect to collect large amounts of data regarding interactions between dark matter particles and Xenon particles. Though dark matter makes up almost one-third of all the matter in the universe, scientists have yet to directly detect it. Through graphically analyzing LZ’s data, we hope to detect and document dark matter’s direct interactions with Xenon. Furthermore, we hope to expand our understanding of dark matter’s properties, and to use them to explain both the development and the functionality of our universe as a whole.




Data is asset – Evaluating the market value of databases

Qianyue Dong | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The world is encountering a remarkable transformation to the digital economy. Uber, Alibaba, Airbnb…More and more large companies are having no real capital. What is the truly valuable things today for a company? It is data. Data affects a company’s valuation, from the simple question of revenue earned to different metrics that show a company’s ability. Valuation is, however, a tricky work to do today: most data are not transparent to the public, and factors are complex behind. The project aims to determine the exact factors behind company valuation, and how stock prices react to data changes.




Data is asset – Evaluating the market value of databases

Po-Tsun Chen | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Data is an asset Motivation: Our motivation is to analyze how the digital economy, which has increased the market cap hundred times for the last two decades, developed and boomed. For instance, what is the key makes Twitter grow to a billion-market-size company and have sustainable cash flow in the last decades. On the other hand, we want to predict how the digital economy will be in the future, and what will be the next trend in the digital economy. Methods: The mentor created a sample of 250 listed companies across different industries in the digital economy. We went to the SEC website to read the financial statements and quarter statements of these companies and capture certain financial metrics like revenue sources, revenue region, monthly active user, etc. Also, we made a short summary of the business model for each company. Finding: As we combine the business model with their financial metrics, we understand why certain companies are relegated after a few years while other companies become a unicorn company. Certain keys to success we found are “ability to develop loyal users”, ” ability to grow the user base”, ” ability to convert users to subscribers that pay money and contribute to the revenue.” Conclusion: This study helps us to understand the success factors of companies in the digital company. As we collected the significant data in the last term, we will further breakdown the data to find out which metric is most significant for the company’s success and analyze them to assess how these companies will be valued in the future.




Data is asset – Evaluating the market value of databases

Ke Zhang | First-Year UROP Research Experience

With growing attention to “big data” and data storage for firms in recent years, the productivity of data assets is questioned heatedly. The question of “what is the value of data” becomes complicated due to the lack of tracking and manipulating. Our project assumes that data can be processed and converted into information to achieve its ultimate value. We are trying to answer the question of “can firms’ data be the basis of competitive advantage”. More generally, we want to understand the mechanism: how data is contributing to firms’ value. The project analyzes internet publishing and broadcasting companies around the world. We measure the firms’ data strategies by collecting firms’ financial metrics and revenue breakdown from their annual reports and analyze the exact factors influencing their data strategies by running regression analysis and doing industry classification. The analysis yields the conclusion that different sectors do have different data strategies and these strategies differentiate their advantages. The project will give firm managers some insights into how to manage data and improve their operations.




Data mining for modeling drivers’ behavior in passing a parked vehicle

Nathan Tsiang | First-Year UROP Research Experience

This project’s goal has been studying US drivers maneuvering responses to specific driving scenarios which will help in the process of developing automated vehicles. These findings study how drivers will respond as they pass a parked vehicle. This study analyzed data contained within UMTRI’s extensive database containing various measurements of vehicles as they interact with their surroundings. In order to filter the data contained within the UMTRI database, we developed an algorithm using the Structured Query Language. The algorithm uses various parameters to limit the search, such as the dynamic of the ego vehicle (speed, acceleration/deceleration), the interaction between the ego and other vehicles (reaction for brakes, and lateral clearance), and driver’s decision-making. The algorithm discovered around 1,300 instances, of which around 1,050 were correct. MATLAB is being used to perform logistic regression on the studied variables such as speed, curvature, lateral clearance. The variables that have been found to be statistically significant are then analyzed with SVM and decision tree modeling systems. This is to discover whether or not drivers adopted any collision avoidance maneuver when passing parked vehicles, what the deceleration/acceleration profiles of the driver was, and whether the driver braked when passing the target. These results will allow us to conclusively say what kind of responses drivers have to these driving scenarios and provide insights to the development of automated vehicle features.




Data mining for modeling drivers’ responses to cutting-in and out of traffic

Jason Hu | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Human drivers often perform and react to high speed maneuvers unpredictably, cutting in and out of traffic on highways with varying rates, acceleration, reaction time, and more. By analyzing naturalistic driving data from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute database, it is possible to determine some relevant distributions and tendencies of these variables. Data was queried from a large database with Structured Query Language, and then processed in MATLAB to find instances of vehicles cutting in and out. After the cutting events were manually verified, culminating in 857 cut in events and 866 cut out events, the variables associated with the events, including range, range rate, lateral rate, and average acceleration were analyzed using methods from statistics and machine learning, including logistic regression, support vector machine, and decision trees. Correlations between key variables were found, as well as models for predicting the impact of cutting events on traffic. More specifically, range and range rate were found to be significant variables in determining the braking behavior of a vehicle in response to a cut in, with decision trees and variants being used to predict the behavior. These results have implications on future design of autonomous vehicles, such as the safe integration with human drivers and minimizing risk during partially unpredictable events.




Data mining for modeling drivers’ responses to cutting-in and out of traffic

Jim Vega | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Understanding drivers’ maneuvers can help improve the technology that assists drivers, from the perspectives of user-friendliness, acceptability, and safety. In the past few years, UMTRI has applied driving data sets to conduct studies for the investigation of driver’s behavior and vehicle control characteristics: use of turn signal at intersections (Sullivan et al., 2015) and on the highway (Lin & Bao, 2019), distraction (Li et al., 2018; Wang et al., 2017), aggressive driving (Feng et al., 2017), and interaction with bicyclists (Feng et al., 2018), etc. Mining these naturalistic data sets provides great objective evidence to infer drivers’ behaviors. This project aims to investigate US drivers’ maneuver profiles in the scenario of having a leading vehicle cutting in and out of the lane on highways, by analyzing information extracted from UMTRI’s SPMD (Safety Pilot Model Deployment) database. To tackle the research questions, we collaboratively focused on extracting and validating the desired samples from the database using SQL. Finalizing our querying algorithm, we found an approximate 80% accuracy rate on the validations we made through the video viewer. Current steps in our approach involves analysis and categorization of the information we have in order to formulate a solid conclusion of our findings.




Data Reduction in Resonant Inelastic X-ray Scattering for Determining Cobalamin Electronic Structure

Joel Huang | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The development of high-energy ultrafast Free-electron X-ray Lasers (XFEL) has enabled the characterization of excited state dynamics at the femtosecond scale. The methodology for processing the data from XFEL experiments is not yet established. Data from the Linear Coherent Light Source (LCLS) at Stanford in the 7.7-7.8 keV range from various Cobalamin samples excited at ~530nm was examined. The study found that the absorption spectrum was most effectively extracted by measuring x-ray fluorescence through an integration of intensity data from an area detector aligned with a normal perpendicular to the x-ray beam. This isotropic fluorescence was then normalized with anisotropic scattering intensity from a separate area detector placed behind the sample and directly in the x-ray laser’s path. Integrating azimuthal angles of between 1.8 and 2.2 (peak scattering for H2O) provided the best results. The data showed a ~1ps drift in UV-vis versus x-ray pulse delay between successive runs, rendering femtosecond scale time-resolution unreliable with the existing data. However, the ground state spectrum, and the excited state spectrums at 0.8, 8.0 and 250 ps were obtained. Interpretations of the spectrums are pending. A separate analysis of data from European XFEL in Hamburg revealed that non-linearity found in JUNGFRAU gain-switching detector counts can be corrected with a gain-dependent linear polynomial.




De novo design of PD-L1 protein-based inhibitor

Christine Wu | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Certain types of proteins, such as PD-L1, enable a cancer cell to bypass T-cell immune checkpoints. This results in cancer cells being undetected in the body and time for cancer cells to grow and multiply. This investigation attempts to create a favorable PD-L1 protein inhibitor so that the cancer cells that it resides on will be detected by the body’s immune response. Through the usage of PERL programming, EvoDesign, and FoldDesign, the best protein inhibitor will be determined by its binding affinity to the protein and its stability and will be tested in a wet lab in the future. The results of this study will eventually be used and tested to see whether the designed inhibitor is suitable for usage.




De novo Design of Protein Based HER2 Inhibitor

Anusha Tekumulla | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Protein function is determined by protein structure, which is in turn determined by the corresponding protein sequence. Because we understand how a protein adopts a particular structure, it is possible to redefine the function of a protein by working backward from the desired structure to the sequence. De novo protein design is used to design new protein structures from scratch based on loose constraints supplied by the user. The ultimate goal is to develop inhibitors to the HER2 receptor to prevent ERK and AKT cancer pathways from being activated. The hope in doing this is to prevent unnecessary cell signals from replicating that ultimately lead to breast cancer. To design mini protein inhibitors, we will first extract the native interfaces from experimentally solved structures of known HER2 binding proteins. The next step will be determining the proposed topologies for the designs. These topologies will be fed into FoldDesign to generate the inhibitor structures. The resulting scaffolds will then be fed into EvoDesign to design sequences for these structures. The results can be validated in either a wet lab or using computations. The designs will be tested for their binding affinity and folding stability. We expect to be able to design an inhibitor to HER2 with high affinity and demonstrate stability with computations.




Defining Surface Polysaccharide Diversity of Serratia marcescens

Leandra Kingsley | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The Gram-negative bacterial species Serraita marcescens is an opportunistic pathogen capable of causing a variety of infections in humans, including bloodstream infections. S. marcescens produces multiple surface polysaccharides, macromolecules vital for mediating interactions between a bacterium and its environment. Three surface polysaccharides of interest are capsular polysaccharides (CPS), exopolysaccharides (EPS), and the O-antigen of lipopolysaccharide. Each of these surface polysaccharides plays a different role in mediating interactions with the infection environment. Previous work has identified two CPS genetic types highly associated with bloodstream infections. The goal of this study is to determine the level of genetic diversity within the EPS and O-antigen loci and correlate genetic types to sources of S. marcescens isolates. The EPS locus of 89 S. marcescens strains from infection and environmental sources were characterized using the NCBI Genome database and compared by multisequence alignment using MAFFT. The same process was repeated with the O-antigen locus of 90 S. marcescens strains. MAFFT alignments were used to construct a phylogenetic tree of the EPS, O-antigen, and CPS loci. The genetic clades established with the previous CPS analysis were only partially maintained in the EPS and O-antigen loci, suggesting that each surface polysaccharide locus is subjected to different selective pressures and that the three loci vary independently from each other. Strong correlations were also observed between clade structure and strain isolation source for all three loci. Understanding the level of genetic diversity within the CPS, EPS, and O-antigen loci has provided insight into the evolutionary relationships of these loci and may have implications for the interactions of S. marcescens with host cells during infection.




Defining the Impact of Liver Metastases on Disease Trajectory

Priyal Bajaj | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Design of a PPI Inhibitor to Treat AAV

Alyssa Anderson | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Many diseases, such as ANCA-associated vasculitis (AAV), are caused by mutated proteins involved in protein-protein interactions (PPIs) that can be inhibited by designer proteins that would serve as small molecule inhibitors. In the case of AAV, the targeted interaction is between TNF-alpha and its associated TNFR1 receptor, which induces the activation of neutrophils in endothelial cells, causing inflammation in AAV patients. By designing a protein which will bind to TNF-alpha, its interaction with TNFR1 can be decreased, thus decreasing patient inflammation. UniDesign from the Zhang Lab was used to design de novo protein sequences from a PDB model of the TNF-alpha and TNFR1 interaction. The results were then analyzed by comparing the binding energy of the designer protein against the native sequence. These results are very promising in the development of protein design as a viable treatment method for rare diseases. This new protein could provide a novel type of treatment to AAV patients that would mitigate the use of glucocorticoids, a common anti-inflammatory agent with long-term side-effects such as increased risk for infections, heart disease, etc.




Design of an engaging fully-immersive virtual reality game to teach radiation protection principles

Daniel Calco | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Virtual reality (VR) is a rapidly developing field with many applications as it progresses in accessibility. One such possibility is the idea of using VR as an immersive simulation for career exploration and training. This team aimed to create such an experience with the technology of a virtual reality headset, creating a game to teach radiation protection principles in a safe and controlled environment. Dealing first hand with radioactive materials requires many layers of paperwork and protection to show a live demonstration, while this technology gives a gateway to the next-best opportunity: an experience where one is able to move in a three-dimensional space and interact with objects on a semi-realistic scale. The game was developed in the Unity game engine, and produced for the Oculus Quest. Using the tenants of iterative game design, the team worked to produce a game that felt engaging, yet realistic to play. While the game is still in development, the project has still revealed many facets about the efficiency of modelling a game with these tools. While the Unity engine does have dedicated assets for VR game production, development with the quest can be arduous at times, requiring long wait times to build new iterations of the game. Along with this, the Quest is still an expensive technology that may not be accessible to all interested parties. Due to this, the team expects the game to be a valuable training asset, but still one that could be improved with different technology or implementation on a different platform.




Design of cancer proteins

Isabella Merem | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The goal of this research project is to develop a form of gene therapy for someone who has been diagnosed with cancer. In order to do so, it is essential that we change a protein protein interaction (PPI) between a cancerous cell and the protein it is interacting with so that the cancerous cell can cease to both mutate and produce even more cancerous proteins.




Design of cancer-treating proteins

Vibha Shivakumar | First-Year UROP Research Experience

One of the most elusive diseases known to man in terms of treatments, cures, and diversity is cancer. Despite how far the medical field has come, there are still no cures for any type of cancer and treatment options vary drastically in terms of success depending on the type and stage the disease is caught at. When looking to find better treatments or even possible cures for cancer, the most important factor to consider is how proteins produced by cancer cells differ from normally produced proteins and how these proteins interact with one another. In addition knowing things like a cancer protein’s binding sites and what could interfere with and inhibit the function of cancer proteins is critical when coming up with possible treatments and cures. By analyzing these protein-protein interactions and performing a de novo protein design, it is possible and feasible to find proteins that can target cancer-related proteins and slow or stop the spread of the disease in the body.




Design of Novel Protein to Inhibit PD-1/PD-L1 Protein-Protein Interaction for Cancer Immunotherapy

Serena Gupta | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States and around the world. All cancer is a result of gene mutations, which can cause the formation of abnormally functioning proteins that change a cell’s behavior from normal to cancerous. Contrary to prior cancer treatments focusing on treatments not native to the human body, this research study aims to harness the natural immune response. This project involves the design of a novel protein sequence using a computational protein design program called UniDesign. This novel protein will be designed to inhibit the PD-1/PD-L1 protein-protein interaction, which is responsible for preventing T-cells from destroying other cells. In cancer patients, the new protein could be used to inhibit the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway, which would allow T-cells to destroy cancer cells. Thus, this treatment utilizes the native immune response as a source of cancer therapy. In order to determine the effectiveness of the novel protein at inhibition, the binding affinity of the new protein sequence will be compared to that of the original PD-1/PD-L1 PPI. As such, the protein developed in this project will have the potential to target the PD-1/PD-L1 PPI to ultimately treat cancer in patients.




Design of novel proteins targeting the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway

Alex Sheinberg | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The PPI being analyzed is PD-1 to PD-L1. Programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) is a protein involved in regulating the immune system’s T-cell induced apoptosis system by suppressing T-cells. Therefore, PD-1 suppresses and prevents cell apoptosis. PD-1 performs this function in unison with PD-L1 or Programmed Death Ligand 1. The suppression of T-cells can only occur when PD-1 is bound to PD-L1, therefore, this a very important protein-protein interaction. Because this PPI is highly involved in cell cycle regulation it is a common target of cancer treatments. One common cancer treatment is a drug that blocks PD-1 and prevents it from complexing with PD-L1. By hindering this PPI, T-cells’ ability to kill possibly cancerous cells is increased. Using an evolutionary-profile based approach program called UniDesign, 300 possible different peptide sequences were created for PD-1 while keeping PD-L1 the same. Although results have not been obtained we hope to show through the experimental analysis that the designed sequences will have a stronger binding affinity to PD-L1 than PD-1. This research is important because better understanding this PPI plays a large role in cancer treatment research.




Determining Cobalt electronic structure from resonant inelastic x-ray scattering

Kevin Moser | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Metal-containing molecules like cobalamines have interesting properties when exposed to EM waves like visible light or X-rays. This makes them useful for a variety of applications such as drug delivery, biosensors, and solar energy capture. Measuring the behavior of these molecules helps us create models to better understand changes in their structure. Specifically, we studied cobalamins which differed slightly in structure due to having different ligands. We intend to measure the effect these ligands have on the molecule’s structure. In our experiment, we scanned samples of different molecules over a range of X-ray energies and measured the absorption as a function of incoming X-ray energy. These measurements were taken a the SSRL synchrotron at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. From this data, we can calculate the electronic structure of the molecule using a quantum chemistry program called Quanty. So far, it looks like we have discovered a shift in peak absorption at the L-edge depending on which ligand is attached to the molecule, which is a promising result. This means that the ligand likely has a large impact on the absorption of the molecule. We are expecting more results once we are able to do the structure calculations, which should tell us more about how these molecules differ in their structure.




Determining Cobalt electronic structure from resonant inelastic x-ray scattering

Lauren Mleczko | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is an essential biological cofactor. In our research, we specifically looked at the absorption of light in cobalamins– this creates a variety of excited states that have previously been characterized using femtosecond time-resolved transient absorption spectroscopy. The overall goal of this research project is to look at the change in cobalamin structure after excitation using XANES (X-Ray Absorption Near-Edge Structure), and analyzing the spectroscopy specifically for the K-edge absorption. Using various computer programs including fdmnes (a finite-difference XANES simulation program running on the GreatLakes cluster), and Matlab programs that we wrote, we sought to emulate the effects of changes in the cobalamin molecules on the XANES. Our results show that there are few differences in the ability of these molecules to absorb the x-rays as their synthesized spectra only differ in a few ten-thousandths.




Determining Cobalt electronic structure from resonant inelastic x-ray scattering

Rebecca Zeitman | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is an essential biological cofactor. In our research, we specifically looked at the absorption of light in cobalamins– this creates a variety of excited states that have previously been characterized using femtosecond time-resolved transient absorption spectroscopy. The overall goal of this research project is to look at the change in cobalamin structure after excitation using XANES (X-Ray Absorption Near-Edge Structure), and analyzing the spectroscopy specifically for the K-edge absorption. Using various computer programs including fdmnes (a finite-difference XANES simulation program running on the GreatLakes cluster), and Matlab programs that we wrote, we sought to emulate the effects of changes in the cobalamin molecules on the XANES. Our results show that there are few differences in the ability of these molecules to absorb the x-rays as their synthesized spectra only differ in a few ten-thousandths.




Determining Reliability of Google Earth Audits in Assessing the Effects of Built and Social Environments on Stroke Risk

Safra Arevalo | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. The REasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke – Built and Social Environment study’s ultimate goal is to try to determine whether the type of neighborhood or general environment, also known as built and social environment (BSE), one lives in will give them a higher risk of stroke or not. Thousands of neighborhoods across the United States were audited in Google Earth to determine whether specific BSE amenities could lead to higher stroke risk. Set questions based on what was available in Google Earth for each location were answered on the REDCap program. This data was used to perform inter-rater reliability (IRR) tests examined in this presentation. This analysis used data from 226 audits conducted by two independent raters. Cohen’s kappa (K) was used to estimate agreement, as an indicator of the reliability of audit items. BSE measures evaluated include presence of driveway, building height (in feet and number of stories), and number of trees. Presence of driveway had the highest agreement (K= 0.77), followed by building height (feet) (K= 0.77), building height (stories) (K= 0.51), then number of trees (K= 0.41). Until all audits are complete, concrete results for the project cannot be provided. Nevertheless, IRR tests have rendered verification that audits for many items are reliable. Items found to be reliable will be used in future analyses to examine the association between BSEs and stroke risk.




Determining the kinetic parameters of CD39 – an enzyme with multiple substrates and products

Aman Tahir | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Enzyme kinetics are often summarized in the form a Michaelis-Menten type model with parameters representing the maximum velocity of the reaction and concentration of substrate where the reaction is at half of the maximum velocity. Traditionally, these parameters can be experimentally determined by using linear regression between the reciprocal of the rate of reaction and reciprocal of the concentration of substrate (ex: Woolf-Augustinsson-Hofstee plot, Lineweaver-Burk plot) [REFs]. Implicit within these methods is the assumption that the enzyme of interest has a single substrate and single product. For enzymes such as CD39 with multiple substrates and products, these methods are likely inappropriate to accurately determine their Michaelis-Menten parameters. CD39 is an ectonucleotides that can hydrolyze ATP and ADP into ADP and AMP, respectively. In this study, we develop and analyze the behavior of a model of CD39 enzyme kinetics accounting for substrate competition. Simulations with our model using Michaelis-Menten parameters for CD39 ATPase and ADPase activity determined by the Woolf-Augustinsson-Hofstee method do not acutely explain kinetic data of ATP, ADP, and AMP concentrations reported by Kukukski et al. [REF]. Using non-linear parameter estimation, we determine parameters for our CD39 model that accurately capture the kinetic data. Uncertainty in our model predictions is quantified using 95% confidence and prediction intervals.




Determining the kinetic parameters of CD39 – an enzyme with multiple substrates and products

Anna McGuinness | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Enzyme kinetics are often summarized in the form a Michaelis-Menten type model with parameters representing the maximum velocity of the reaction and concentration of substrate where the reaction is at half of the maximum velocity. Traditionally, these parameters can be experimentally determined by using linear regression between the reciprocal of the rate of reaction and reciprocal of the concentration of substrate (ex: Woolf-Augustinsson-Hofstee plot, Lineweaver-Burk plot). Implicit within these methods is the assumption that the enzyme of interest has a single substrate and single product. For enzymes such as CD39 with multiple substrates and products, these methods are likely inappropriate to accurately determine their Michaelis-Menten parameters. CD39 is an ectonucleotides that can hydrolyze ATP and ADP into ADP and AMP, respectively. In this study, we develop and analyze the behavior of a model of CD39 enzyme kinetics accounting for substrate competition. Simulations with our model using Michaelis-Menten parameters for CD39 ATPase and ADPase activity determined by the Woolf-Augustinsson-Hofstee method do not acutely explain kinetic data of ATP, ADP, and AMP concentrations reported by Kukukski et al. Using non-linear parameter estimation, we determine parameters for our CD39 model that accurately capture the kinetic data. Uncertainty in our model predictions is quantified using 95% confidence and prediction intervals.




Determining the Mechanism Mediating the Upregulation of Chemokines by DHMs

Mary Kritikos | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Neutrophils, which are immune system cells, express the chemokine receptor CXCR2. It has been shown that the ligands of CXCR2 are found at higher levels in triple negative breast cancer. In a previous study about the interaction between a tumor and the immune system, it was found that stimulated neutrophils may lyse – releasing a material made up of DNA/protein referred to as neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs). It was recently found that these NETs can promote tumor metastasis in triple negative breast cancer. Previously in our lab, a DNA-histone mesostructure (DHM) was created to mimic the functions of a NET. A DHM is a simplified version of a NET containing only DNA and histones. Metastatic 4T1 cells and non-metastatic 4T07 cells have a similar genetic background (being derived from the same parental tumor), yet in vitro, 4T1 cells have been shown to constitutively produce CXCR2 ligands while 4T07 cells do not. However, in the presence of a DHMs the two cell lines produce similar levels of CXCR2 ligands – possibly recapitulating aspects of the interaction between NETs and these tumor cells in vivo. In order to determine what the mechanism is for the difference in neutrophil infiltration between 4T1 and 4T07 tumors in vivo, we are looking at multiple genes involved in the expression of CXCR2 ligands to better understand the interaction between NETs and these tumors. In these experiments, we will be examining gene variants and changes in the activity of three signaling pathways: PDGF R beta, SCF R, and FLT-3.




Determining the thickness of glaciers in regions without measurements

Eliel Sosis | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Glacial erosion is a major contributor to the global rise in sea level so it is important to be able to predict the long-term fate of a glacier. One important factor is ice-thickness, which can in turn tell us the total volume of a glacier and how it fluctuates over time. However, although the surface elevation of glaciers can be directly measured, it is much more difficult to determine the elevation of the bed of the glacier. Direct measurements of the ice-thickness through boreholes are expensive and time-consuming, so a previous study examining the Columbia Glacier in Alaska estimated ice-thickness using the mass continuity equation between adjacent flowlines. They used available data for velocity fields covering different portions of the glacier, the surface mass balance (the difference of ice accumulation and ablation), and several digital elevation models (DEMs) over a span of about fifty years. Comparisons with existing direct measurements of ice-thickness demonstrated the accuracy of this method, but this amount of data is not available for many other glaciers around the world. We are working with the same DEMs and plotting the surface elevations in different years. We will then try to determine the ice-thickness by calculating the surface slope and driving stress of the glacier, and we will compare our results to direct measurements as well as previous studies. If this approach is successful, we can then apply it to accurately estimate the ice-thickness of glaciers for which more data is lacking.




Developing a forecasting model for the Great Lakes

Jenna Sherwin | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The Laurentian Great Lakes constitute the world’s largest freshwater lake system, and support hundreds of different animal and plant species, as well economic activity for many Americans and Canadians living in the Great Lakes basin. However, fluctuations in observed water levels over the past decade indicate a possible shift in regime, leading to uncertainty regarding the future of water levels and water resources in the region. This research sought to develop and expand upon a rudimentary simulation model for forecasting Great Lakes water levels across different time horizons to explore climate scenarios. In R, I used the copula package to generate stochastic series of precipitation, evaporation, and runoff based upon historical observed water supplies records. I also fit a log-linear regression model of water levels on each lake to outflow on each lake. Using the copula produced net basin supply and the log-linear outflow model, I generated a number of possible 12 month forecasts for water levels on Lake Superior, Lake Michigan-Huron, and Lake Erie given their respective beginning of month January water levels. Then the 95% confidence interval was found to create a range of likely water level values for a given future month. This model can be used to explore different long-term and short-term plausible scenarios for future water levels on the Great Lakes, due to perturbations like climate change or the implementation of a diversion of freshwater to other states.




Developing a Liquid Biopsy Diagnostic Technique for Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Uma Hornish | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC) is the sixth most common cancer in the United States and has one of the highest recurrence rates. The cancer is frequently caught late, especially in recurring cases, as most diagnostic techniques are highly invasive. Research was conducted to develop a liquid biopsy technique which would use circulating tumor (ct)DNA, also known as cell-free DNA, to track cancer markers in the blood. This technique could be used as both a prognostic and diagnostic technique for patients with HNSCC or those who have a chance of recurrence. We have had success using cell-free DNA extraction procedures to separate the ctDNA from patient blood samples. Now we are looking towards developing a diagnostic technique using this data. This technique would be incredibly useful for monitoring HNSCC patients’ responses to treatment because it would be fast and non-invasive. Particularly, the research is currently focused on HPV positive patients because the HPV ctNDA marker can be easily identified in patient blood. The liquid biopsy technique could also be extended and used for the detection of other types of cancers. This could significantly improve cancer diagnosis times and would help provide frequent and non-invasive tracking of the responses of cancer patients to treatments.




Developing a Novel Drug Agent for EGFR Mutant Lung Cancer Patients

Brody Mayoras | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients affected by mutant EGFR are often treated with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). However, new mutations in EGFR during treatment often limit the overall efficacy of these TKIs. As a result, patients suffering from EGFR mutations have been left with no long-term treatment options. In order to combat this clinical crisis, the Nyati Lab has developed a novel molecule, DPI-503, which acts as a prolonged and more effective treatment for the EGFR mutations commonly observed in NSCLCs. This molecule works to impair EGFR dimerization, degrade activated forms of EGFR, and therefore, selectively target NSCLC tumors, including those that have developed resistance to existing TKIs. The success of DPI-503 has been confirmed in over 6 different mouse tumor models. Further, both in vivo and in vitro tests have resulted in EGFR driven cancer cell specific cytotoxicity. In order to contribute to the progress of the lab, I have researched and presented information regarding EGFR biology, inhibition mechanisms, and signaling pathways as well as facts and figures detailing the role of EGFR in the success of KRAS-G12C inhibition pathways in colorectal cancers. Additionally, I have engaged in weekly lab meetings to maintain a high degree of understanding regarding lab activities and updates. Overall, the studies produced through the Nyati Lab highlight a novel method for selective targeting of mutant EGFR and indicate that DPI-503 has the potential to improve clinical outcomes for patients with pancreatic, colorectal, and lung cancers. In the future, the Nyati Lab plans to initiate IND enabling studies with the aim of beginning Phase I clinical trials for the above-mentioned patient population.




Developing a Novel Drug Agent for EGFR mutant Lung Cancer Patients

Gabrielle Ajja | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Mutant epidermal growth factor receptor(EGFR) spurs on lung cancer. Currently, tyrosine kinase activity inhibitors(TKI) have been used to combat this, however, unfortunately, roughly a year later patients develop resistance to this type of therapy and are left with no other intervention options which have proven to be deadly. So, our goal for the research we have conducted is to find a solution to this problem for patients in this position and give them a chance with a drug agent that is able to function regardless of kinase function. It has been shown by us, and others, that the degradation of EGFR has a very significant effect on whether or not cancer cells remain alive. So, the goal of our research was to test if a drug that causes the degradation of EGFR without anything to do with ATP will improve the odds for patients in these scenarios. In order to explore these ideas, we screened novel drug agent DGD1202 next to osimertinib in various lung cancer lines. We then took these results and were able to see their correlation with EGFR degradation. We currently are still working on this research, and we believe that once completed, a new, safe alternative intervention to lung cancer patients will be available that will greatly improve their odds.




Developing an eHealth Yoga Program for Children

Joseph Drennan | First-Year UROP Research Experience

With the rise in popularity of children’s yoga and a greater emphasis on both mental and physical health it is important to establish potential benefits that are reliable and backed by evidence found with strong methodology. Recent systematic reviews, focusing on school aged yoga studies, concluded that methodological limitations such as not measuring fidelity of program implementation (FOI) make it difficult to provide trustworthy conclusions. A component of FOI assessment is establishing Inter-rater reliability for observational measures. This study will explore the potential benefits in children as a direct result of a virtual yoga program implemented into the school day, looking specifically at levels of physical activity, stress, and interoceptive awareness, as well as sleep patterns. Trained raters will identify whether children are on task or off task during the virtual yoga sessions. To measure outcome changes, parents/guardians will complete online surveys using valid and reliable scales. In order to limit statistical ambiguities between raters, they completed three rounds of trainings and practice using recorded yoga sessions. Percent agreement and Cohen’s kappa were established, and necessary adjustments were made to the coding system before the next round of practice. Agreement between the raters improved over the practice trials demonstrated by a change in Cohen’s kappa (k = 0.56 to 0.80). Having reliable participation data will allow the researchers to compare levels of participation with data collected from the parent/guardian surveys. Results will establish reliable new evidence for the field and have important applications for future yoga research in school-based settings.




Developing an Eye for EDITing

Kylie Lynne | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The revision process has been intertwined with the writing process arguably the birth of the written word in the Sumerian civilization. But for as long as the revision process has existed, there have been and still are still debates on the best methods to review the work of both yourself and others. This project will debrief my findings as a reviewer of Law classes, Massive Open Online Courses, and books for publication by Professor Patrick Barry regarding how we can improve our writing. An analysis of my progress and the content of these materials reveal that the optimal revision process is largely subjective with a few objective parameters needed: 1) a thorough understanding of why there should be changes, 2) a clear explanation of the changes that need to be made, and 3) a constructive delivery of change suggestions. My work on this project can be applied to future and current students who may struggle finding their footing in the world of revision and editing by giving them confidence with a flexible framework to use in their writing. It will also point out key errors or changes to look for in communicating to their audience through this new online learning format.




Developing computational tools for next generation sequencing applications to assess aneuploidy in human embryos

Rayyan Khan | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Less than 35% of infertility cases across all maternal ages are successfully treated. Furthermore, miscarriages, infertility, and birth defects continue to affect families despite the great advances being made in the medical field. One of the leading causes of these tragedies is human embryo aneuploidy. Aneuploidy occurs when the embryo has missing or extra chromosomes. In order to treat infertility, the use of preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidy (PGT-A) is key. However, there are still many unknowns about PGT-A. As a result, we will isolate single cells from IRB-approved/consented/donated human embryos used for human embryonic stem cell derivation.




Developing fast and unbiased computer vision algorithms

Luis Zapien-Guerra | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Computer Vision Algorithms are a fast-developing technology, and we have seen from example that they are currently not as accurate and unbiased as we hope they can be. Our project aims to develop a more efficient system and algorithm to reduce bias in computer vision programs. One way bias may be introduced into these algorithms is through issues with light levels in images and videos. Since many computer vision algorithms rely on video cameras, as opposed to infrared or another type of light, the lack of light in videos introduces uncertainty in a program, which can produce bias, where some categories of images are more accurately processed by the algorithm than others. This bias can manifest itself in different scenarios, such as during nighttime or when recording people with darker skin, and these are the biases that we aim to correct. My part in the project involved labelling the videos that are going to be used for analysis for the algorithms, and attempting to help create a standardized method of labelling in order to have a set of videos with which the algorithm can be trained with. Our sample set was purposefully selected to have a variety of videos with different light levels and skin tones. Our ultimate purpose was to label as many videos as possible to use later on in the project, where other groups are working on developing the algorithm and all other overarching parts of the project. The main project was not completed, and likely will not for some years, but we achieved our loose goal of labelling videos.




Developing fast and unbiased computer vision algorithms

Aina Zaidi | First-Year UROP Research Experience

In an effort to improve driver safety and autonomous vehicle testing, video recordings of drivers allow for data to be analyzed. These videos are first examined by human coders, but a more efficient, automated algorithm would prevent the need for human coders entirely. However, in order to build the algorithm, human coders need to analyze videos of drivers and label various actions, such as if the driver is turning or tilting their head, or hand movements, such as texting, and if their hand is obscured. Once these labels are implemented, they are tested against each other for accuracy, so that the final algorithm is unbiased enough to be implemented into vehicle safety.




Developing Fast and Unbiased Computer Vision Algorithms

Oluwakemi Johnson | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The research project I am participating in is “Developing Fast and Unbiased Computer Vision Algorithms” through the Multidisciplinary Design Program and the Transportation Research Institute. We’re trying to make a computer vision algorithm that could detect if drivers are paying attention to the road or distracted such as being on their phones. The algorithm itself should be as efficient and reliable as possible. To get our results, we look at frames of videos of people driving and create data sets and coding logs based on what the driver is doing. We have multiple people log the videos to create a benchmark of what the driver is doing. We also change our operational definitions of what we are looking for in the videos. The coding logs give us a benchmark for the algorithm so it can accurately judge what actions are distracted driving. By changing the variables we’re analyzing and improving the benchmark, we can make the algorithm more efficient, especially when we have a lot of different types of videos with varying lighting, subjects, and difficulty. Our research is vital because while transportation safety is important and an accurate algorithm detection distracted driving could help reduce the number of car accidents and car deaths, on a larger scale, our improvements of this computer vision algorithm would help improve how computer vision algorithms are created and applied in general. Overall, computer vision algorithms have shown to be biased especially with variables like skin color, sex/gender expression, and lighting. Those variables negatively affect the accuracy of the algorithm. Through our research, we could use our same methods and data to help other computer vision algorithms become more accurate and efficient.




Developing fast and unbiased computer vision algorithms

Claire Wan | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Images and videos are a common way to easily store data for research. However, turning these into usable and analyze data is much more time consuming and costly. In order to help research teams save time and money, DEVIATE is developing a computer vision algorithm to label image and video data for them. An essential part of the development process is to consider and mitigate any possible bias. In order to reduce bias, DEVIATE is using human coders to label the training and testing data. In addition, the pool of data represents a diversity of skin tones as well as different light levels. It is especially important to reduce bias since this product will be used by other research groups. If the algorithm was biased, it would affect countless other research studies as well, so it is essential that DEVIATE is able to minimize any harm coming from its product. As this is still an ongoing project, it is expected that the final product will be an unbiased comprehensive computer vision algorithm that can help research teams label data stored in images and video.




Developing GPCR-based sensors for neuromodulator detection

Mingcheng Li | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Synthetic opioid is often used for the purpose of reducing pain. The pathway of opioid binding with its receptor is essential to understanding the side effect of opioid such as addiction. The importance of this study is to develop a consistent fluorescent sensor to observe the action of opioid and its receptors in the brain at a cellular level in order to provide a tool for studying all the functional effects of opioid. PCR is the main technique used: by cloning the DNA of fluorescent protein cpGFP with its inhibitor NB39, a sensor is created to monitor the activity of opioid receptors. The sensor DNA can thus be applied in hek cells to screen opioids for its receptors. The results of this experiment are shown with pictures of the cells transfected with sensor DNA: when the opioid binds to the receptor, the sensor is activated and the cells show high green fluorescence. When the opioid does not bind, the cells has low green fluorescence. The approach of the study proves to be efficient since a difference in green fluorescence intensity can be observed depending on the binding of opioids to its receptor; however, improvement of the sensor could be used to make the cells brighter and more easier for observation.




Development and Assessment of an In-Vehicle Cardiac Monitoring and Severe Event Prediction System

Aayush Singh | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Cardiac issues are serious medical issues that affect a large part of the population. Many studies have looked into using programs to automate the identification process and help discover symptoms early without the need for a doctor’s visit. The project focuses on developing machine-learning algorithms that can rapidly detect cardiac issues, specifically arrhythmias, to be implemented directly into motor vehicles. This project involves conducting training and testing of non-parametric machine learning algorithms on the publicly available MIT-BIH Arrhythmia Database. Models are created on MATLAB and tested based on statistics such as accuracy, specificity, and sensitivity through a confusion matrix. So far, decision tree based models have shown accuracies around 90% on smaller datasets after tuning various hyperparameters. Testing is to be continued with different models such as Support Vector Machines (SVM) and Convoluted Neural Networks (CNN) on larger datasets that will ideally result in significant improvements to the final model. These models will be better suited to accurately predict cardiac issues even with the extra signal noise when built into embedded systems within motor vehicles. These systems will add an extra layer of security to vehicles and help identify symptoms earlier than traditionally possible.




Development of Handheld Magnetometer Prototype

Diego Suazo De La Rosa | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Equipment for detecting magnetic fields can often be a burden to carry, calibrate, and use effectively with ease. While some handheld magnetometers are commercially available, not all meet the desired ease of use, accuracy, or price. As such, with the help of the company PNI, I, through the assistance and guidance of the Michigan Moldwin Magnetics Lab, have been working towards developing a prototype for a handheld magnetometer with these desired qualities. In order to accomplish this, I spent the first months of my research developing 3D modeling skills with the Solidworks software, as well as developing understanding of the C++ coding language and the Arudino coding software. Afterwards I spent time reading over documentation for PNI magnetic sensors to extract data collected from them, and I’m currently in the process of writing code, along with other lab members, that will allow this magnetometer to function with accuracy and ease. The current problems are: converting data into a readable format and connecting multiple sensors with one single central processing unit. Currently I have developed a basic design for the sensor housing , as well as worked with a team towards designing the circuitry and code for this magnetometer that we expect to be completed by the end of the semester. While the prototype will currently be just that – a prototype, we hope that its use in the lab is extended to the greater scientific community that deals with such sensors, and perhaps even commercializing the design through PNI.




Development of PROTAC-based degrader of ERG transcription factor in prostate cancer

Victoria Zeng | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Development of protein property prediction methods from sequence based on deep learning

Harry Yang | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Although proteins have become increasingly easier to sequence, experimental determination of a protein’s structure remains difficult and time-consuming. Therefore, the prediction of a protein’s structure and properties based on its sequence is a key challenge in making better use of the vast amount of sequencing data. Our project seeks to develop a deep-learning-based method that uses a protein’s sequence to predict its properties, such as phi/psi angles and solvent accessibility. The initial goal of the project was to design and write the deep-learning program using the PyTorch library. After completion of the program, we assembled a training and testing set based on existing data from the Protein Data Bank and used the training data to train the model. We then ran the testing dataset and analyzed the results by comparing the predicted properties to the experimentally determined ones. While we do not have any results yet, we hope to be able to make conclusions about the relative effectiveness of the model we design compared to existing models for prediction. The results we obtain could help us determine which prediction techniques or algorithms are well-suited to this task, or which ones lead to errors and thus may need to be avoided in future research. The results could also contribute to improving the accuracy and efficiency of computational protein structure prediction, allowing scientists to make better use of the available sequencing data without the difficulties of experimental determination.




Development of R Packages for the Machine Learning for Learning Health Systems Lab

Kiran Sequeira | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Awareness and adoption of machine learning (ML) are growing in the medical field, where ML models can support clinical decision-making when linked to interventions. The process of developing and evaluating ML models is an important precursor to their deployment in a health setting. This process can be made transparent, reliable, and reproducible through the development and dissemination of open-source software packages. My project focuses on the development and dissemination of runway, an R package that evaluates and compares prediction models using statistics and plots. My primary aim is to understand the lifecycle of an R package””from creation to completion to dissemination””by working through each of the steps in the runway package. Fixing issues submitted to the GitHub page for runway and using Git to update changes to the package were important steps in the process of preparing for submission to the Comprehensive R Archive Network. Runway is in the final stages of development. The final product will be submitted to CRAN, making it widely available and easy to install for researchers around the world.




Differing Road Types in Urban Areas Impacting Coyote-Rabbit Relationships in Detroit

Emily Xin-Yi Teh | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Over the past decades, Americans have moved to urban cities across the country. In an effort to cope with increasing populations, many cities have elected to build ever-expanding roadway systems, which increases wildlife habitat fragmentation and reduces connectivity. Detroit, the largest urban center in the state of Michigan, has a park system made up of a few dozen parks, which offers a number of resources to wildlife, including food and water. However, most of Detroit’s parks are separated by roads and buildings, hindering the ability for animals to move between green spaces. Here we assess the effect of various types of roads (residential, city transit, and highways) separating the parks on the potential predator-prey relationship between coyotes (Canis latrans) and cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus).




Digital Dialogue

Myles Williamson | First-Year UROP Research Experience

In the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans find themselves depending on technology and virtual meeting tools more than ever. Though these resources are highly effective, their use tends to be more awkward when compared to face-to-face interaction. This project aims to evaluate the similarities and differences between in-person and virtual language processing. In order to do this, we utilized the Michigan SONA system to meet with 44 students over Zoom. We created a list of 56 yes/no audio questions (each one marked “predictable” or “unpredictable” depending on how easy or hard it would be to understand the question before it ends) and split them into two sets of 28. One set was to be played over Zoom from the experimenter to the student, while the other was to be played locally by the student. After having them answer the questions, we recorded the amount of time it took for participants to respond to each question. Data collection has been completed for this experiment, but the data is not yet fully organized. Though there are currently no reportable results, we hope to observe a significant difference in conversational flow and language comprehension depending on the medium of communication.




Digital phenotyping and electrophysiology in mice

Deniz Kirca | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The molecular, synaptic, and neuromodulatory variations in a variety of brain regions, namely the the prefrontal cortex, nucleus accumbens, and the ventral hippocampus1, have been associated with changes in behavior quantified by metrics such as the Forced Swim Test (FST)2, Sucrose Preference Test3, and the Open Field Test4. While the behavior of mice exposed to chronic stress has been extensively studied, there is a need for more information regarding the behavior of these mice over a longer span of time. Additionally, due to the difficulty of recording electrical activity for extended periods of time in specific regions of the brain, there are few studies that analyze the longitudinal alterations in electrophysiology that may be correlated with exposure to chronic stress.




Discrimination Towards Latinx Adults in U.S. Healthcare

Victoria Villanueva Guzman | First-Year UROP Research Experience

This study’s focus is on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and aims to examine the US healthcare system. Research shows persistent racial and ethnic disparities, in health services provided, particularly for people of color (Journal of Infectious Diseases). The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic brought to light major disparities in Latinx adults’ hospitalization and death rates during the last year. Specific research questions include: “Does the US healthcare system accurately portray treatment for Latinx adults? What factors may lead to possible disparities within the healthcare system? How might such disparities affect the overall system, particularly in the Latinx community?” To study these questions, data are collected from N>300 Spanish-language surveys administered online to Spanish-speaking respondents across the US. The survey was designed to assess levels of self-affirmation in relation to ethnic and racial identity (ERI). Survey data will be analyzed using SPSS. We predict that survey participants will elicit responses of self-identity rejection in questions indicating discrimination within the US healthcare system and with healthcare professionals (authority figures). The current study of ERI contributes new data to research on the effects of perceived or actual discrimination in healthcare systems, especially for Latinxs, the largest growing US demographic.




Diversifying Congress though Protest

Hadin Sayed | First-Year UROP Research Experience

More recent elections in the United States have seen an increase in minority and women representation. Since the conception of the nation, there have been pushes in order to make the people that we elect truly representative of the people who work for them. The 2018 election marked a historic increase in female identifying members of Congress, or a Women’s Wave as it has been called. Our research revealed how external factors such as the Women’s Marches and the Black Lives Matter movement directly influenced recent elections. We compiled research on Congressional candidates’ biographies such as their age, race, gender identity sexual orientation, political party, and their history of activism. This data was used in connection with information that we collected on protests such as Black Lives Matter and the Women’s Marches. Our research highlights the impact that these social movements had on the increased representation in Congressional elections.




Diversifying Congress through Protest

Amelia Gifford | First-Year UROP Research Experience

More recent elections in the United States have seen an increase in minority and women representation. Since the conception of the nation, there have been pushes in order to make the people that we elect truly representative of the people who vote for them. The 2018 election marked a historic increase in female identifying members of Congress, or a Women’s Wave as it has been called. Our research revealed how external factors such as the Women’s Marches and the Black Lives Matter movement directly influenced recent elections. We compiled research on Congressional candidates’ biographies such as their age, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, political party, and their history of activism. This data was used in connection with information that we collected on protests such as Black Lives Matter and the Women’s Marches. Our research highlights the impact that these social movements had on the increased diversity in Congressional elections.




Documentary Film Team

Michael Maynard | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Despite media being virtually everywhere, there are issues that are under covered. This project aims to create a network of filmmakers that can work together to cover important problems ignored by mainstream media and to reach out to students that hadn’t before imagined that they could go to college and inform them of their opportunities. To gain knowledge to share with the rest of the network editing techniques have been explored through countless video tutorials, databases, and skill sharing sites. After the exploration phase these techniques were put to the test by creating a sample piece. Finally the best methods were combined and detailed in step by step tutorials on how to create the previously described samples. As the repertoire of tutorials and knowledge expanded it has been noticed that there are more opportunities to assist other filmmakers with their works. It has also been noticed that as the repertoire grew other filmmakers tended to listen to your suggestions and criticism on their projects more often. This project is still ongoing and more conclusions can be drawn at a later time as soon as more data is available.




Documentary Film Team

Allison Baker | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Documentaries are a way of telling stories in a visual form. Through learning about the process that goes into creating documentaries one can develop communication, research, and film-making skills as well as connect with others interested in film. In order to expand our knowledge of the documentary process, we were given tasks to explore the pre-production, production, and post-production aspects by looking at old documentaries, filming, editing, and reviewing video footage. As a result of our project, we plan to create a short documentary of our own with the combined knowledge we gained. Learning the process of documentary making allows one to discover and share stories that haven’t been explored.




Documenting Criminalization and Confinement

Lauren Ors | First-Year UROP Research Experience

“Documenting Criminalization and Confinement” is a project housed within the “University of Michigan Carceral State Project” and is focused on creating a comprehensive database containing different elements and evidence from within incarceration facilities and the lives of incarcerated individuals. The intent of the project is to create a space for academic researchers, legal teams, incarcerated individuals, and activists to find and utilize different sources of information about incarceration. The research for this project includes data processing and translating each research object into a line of metadata. Each object is analyzed and interpreted in terms of title, type, creator, date, source, subject, language, rights, description, and spatial coverage. All these different lenses will help future database users to quickly and easily find what they are looking for within the system. This project will help the larger process of decriminalization and hopefully will be able to spread correct and meaningful answers and information about the current state of incarceration and the criminal justice system in the United States today. Those who are currently incarcerated and those who are victims of a poorly created and maintained system will benefit from the increased exposure of the current prison conditions and the negative environment created by the criminal justice system in the United States. The increasing accessibility to the knowledge of the topic will hopefully inspire and inform many.




Documenting Historical Change in South African languages

Ella Simon | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The history of Africa is as convoluted as the origin of life itself. Filled with over 500 cultures, it is difficult to pinpoint the validity of any historic event because other cultures might speak differently about it. Many historians have dedicated their lives to discovering Africa’s hidden history but there is still a lot of work to be done. Professor Raevin Jimenez is one of these passionate historians and she works to unlock the secrets of Africa’s history. Our project is devoted to finding the linguistic distance between several Bantu languages. These languages are the following; Zulu, Swati, Xhosa, Northern Ndebele, Southern Ndebele, Zimbabwe Ndebele, Phuthi, Mpondomise, Bhaca, Thembu, Hlubi and Mpondo. By using statistical analysis with the linguistic data, we will be able to write about different aspects of the history of South African languages. When we group words that are common in multiple languages, we can use this context to create the travel history of different people. For instance, if Zulu and Xhosa languages share certain farming words, we can write about their shared experiences of farming and how they interacted as two different groups of people. This can also be applied to the time frame of when people traveled and interacted, different gender roles through the different cultures, and any difficulties they may have shared. This process is long and meticulous because it needs to be revised and perfected before shown to the public; results will most likely not be available by the year-end. This information will clarify the unknown history of the Bantu people and help inform the public about the formation of Bantu cultures and the languages they speak today.




Does air-breathing constrain skull function and diversity in fishes?

Audrey Safir | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The anabantoids are a diverse clade of tropical and subtropical freshwater fishes distributed throughout Africa, Asia, and the Indian subcontinent notable for possessing air-breathing organs (ABOs). The ABO allows the anabantoids to breathe outside of water, making it a key innovation: a trait critical to diversification within a particular lineage. While it is unknown if these organs developed independently or from a single ancestral phenotype, fishes with ABOs are dependent on atmospheric oxygen, even drowning without it. The size and arrangement of the ABO influences the skeleton around it (phenotypic integration), and we predict that the ABO will covary in size and shape with skull structure. We visualized skull anatomy with micro-computed tomography (CT) scanning and then used linear morphometrics to capture skull shape variation. By plotting ABO shape changes against skull shape, this study investigated whether fishes with ABOs have more strongly integrated skulls. Using these data, this study will reveal the evolvability of the ABO itself, and the skulls of fishes with or without these organs. We expect: (1) that skull shape will co-vary accordingly with ABO shape and (2) that fishes with ABOs will have less diverse head shapes. Our dataset can also demonstrate how many times ABOs have evolved in anabantoids and whether these complex organs are capable of being lost, perhaps if no longer needed in certain habitats. We found that the ABOs have evolved two to three times independently across anabantarians.




Does the Presence or Anticipation of Orgasm Explain Gender Difference in Sexuality? (Manual Simulation)

Keithan Lee | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Women are less likely to orgasm during their sexual encounters with men. Despite attempts to understand gender differences in the orgasm gap, researchers have yet to determine the reason for these differences. The purpose of this study is to determine the effectiveness of manual simulation in explaining the orgasm gap between women and men. This is a four-phases study where 35 mixed-sex couples, at least 25 years of age and in a committed relationship and sexually active for a least six months, will be recruited through flyers, handouts, and online. Participants will engage in two sexual encounters at home, first with no instruction and second with guided instructions. During the second encounter, participants will be instructed to engage in genital simulation until either orgasm has occurred or until at least 10 minutes has elapsed. After their encounter, the participants will complete an exit survey asking if participants orgasmed, their experience during the sexual encounter, and whether or not the participants felt the simulation they received was sufficient. While we do not have the results yet for this study, we expect there to be no statistically significant difference in orgasm occurrence between women and men. If there are statistically significant differences, then we expect the orgasm goal pursuit will be able to better account for the orgasm occurrence compared to gender, meaning that those who score higher on the orgasm goal pursuit will be more likely to have orgasms.




Dysfunction of insulin producing pancreatic beta cells – The Central Problem in Diabetes

Syed Mustafa | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Dysfunction of insulin producing pancreatic beta cells – The Central Problem in Diabetes

Alexander Deck | First-Year UROP Research Experience

This lab and experience over the past school year has involved two separate components. The first component was in a wet lab doing actual work. The work I was doing was genotyping different mice and their offspring to test for genetic mutations. This was done through a tail snip being taken from the mice and digested to release the DNA. The DNA is then placed in a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to replicate the DNA strand. The results of this PCR were then ran through a Gel electrophoresis system in order to measure the base pair lengths of genes being investigated. This in person lab research coincides with the auxiliary research I was doing. I was told to investigate how Beta cells measure the glucose level of blood and release the correct corresponding amount of insulin. This knowledge can then be used to see if certain genetic mutations in different mice result in differing insulin production or even a stop of insulin production.




Effect of aging on human induced pluripotent stem cell generation

Jerry Juratli | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Coronary stents are used to relieve patient symptoms of angina, or chest pain, due to obstruction of blood flow in coronary arteries. After stents are implanted, endothelial cells grow over the stents. Before that occurs, patients are at risk for developing a clot, or thrombus, inside of the stent. We are seeking to find novel ways to accelerate the coronary stent endothelialization process. We aim to understand if human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC-ECs) are a viable option for pre-endothelializing stents prior to implantation. In addition to aiming to determine stent growth properties on coronary stents, we aim to discover if there is a phenotypic difference between the endothelial cells created from hiPSC-ECs taken from younger and older patients by using a sample of their mononuclear blood cells. We are currently taking blood samples from older subjects having a procedure in the cardiac catheterization lab. After obtaining consent for the patient, approximately 8 mL of the patient’s blood is drawn from the patient’s IV into a vial with an anticoagulant. The vial is centrifuged for 30 minutes at 1800 RCF in order to isolate the mononuclear blood cells. Afterward, the sample is transported to the Cardiovascular Regeneration Core Laboratory, where the cells are converted to hiPSC-ECs and placed on commercially-available coronary artery stents to observe their growth. Thus far, one blood sample has been recently collected, with results from the cardiovascular regeneration core lab pending. Separately, subjects in the young age group will be recruited through the www.UMHealthResearch.org website. In total, we aim to test cells from blood samples acquired from 20 different patients over the course of the year. Potentially, hiPSC-ECs from older patients can be reprogrammed to more closely resemble cells from younger patients.




Effective ways of communicating research on language learning by children and adults

Karen Jo | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Media use has been a beneficial tool for education in schools, especially over the past year, and can expand the knowledge that can be known by any individual person. While it advances education in the school systems, it may also have some negative effects regarding how children adapt to language acquisition, especially those who are not native to English in the U.S. In this study, we observed 23 children from Spanish-speaking homes. We asked about both the children’s and their parents Spanish and English media use through a questionnaire asking them to report their time spent on certain categories of media. In addition, two animated videos aiming to teach English possessive nouns and verbs were shown to the students. They were tested on English vocabulary, through the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, Spanish vocabulary through the Spanish version, TVIP, and on English and Spanish grammar through morphosyntax tests. The results of this project reinforce that educational content is beneficial for children’s language development. However, the results also show that parent’s media use negatively impacted childrens English morphosyntax scores, as well as their English and Spanish vocabulary knowledge. For future research, it would be beneficial to understand which aspects of educational media benefit bilingual children’s ability to develop their non-native language. Additionally, it would be interesting to see the impacts of interactive educational media compared to passive animated media.




Effective ways of communicating research on language learning by children and adults

Sabrina Andrei | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Language can be taught in a variety of ways, but is there a specific way that helps young children benefit the most? The present study of English language learners was conducted in order to see if children’s acquisition of possessive and past tense in English could be facilitated by watching “passive” but targeted child-centric animations, and if a child’s first language plays a role in their second language acquisition. For this study, native Spanish- and Mandarin-speaking children were tested on their English vocabulary and grammar before and after being shown immersive language-learning animations where both implicit and explicit teaching methods were used. Although this study is still in progress we found that both the Spanish and Mandarin-speaking children were able to learn English vocabulary and grammar from the animations. One question that we now have is whether children who received the same exposure to the target learning material but in an interactive game would be better able to learn and whether their learning would be affected by the amount of media exposure children get in their day to day lives.




Effects of Chinese-English Bilingualism on English literacy development

Xinyi Xu | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Words in a language are generally represented by sound, meaning, and print. Learning to read words often involves building interconnections among the three components. Thus, sound and meaning-based language skills become essential precursors of children’s word reading competency. In particular, phonological awareness, or the ability to break down words and distinguish them into smaller units of sounds, morpheme, is a critical skill and foundation for later literacy development. Morphological components refer to the words created from sounds; it’s the system for word construction. Morphological awareness is especially important for word reading and comprehension skills. Languages like Spanish or English are phonologically transparent because they map letters directly to individual phonemes. In comparison, Chinese is a morphologically transparent language that maps characters to meaning units, morphemes. This study aimed to examine whether being bilingual in Chinese and English would affect children’s morphological awareness when reading in English due to bilingual transfer. We hypothesized that bilingual children may show a strong sound-to-meaning association compared to monolingual children. Standardized language behavioral tasks were conducted to bilingual and monolingual children between age 5 to 10 to assess their reading comprehension and syntactic abilities in both English and Chinese. The findings of this research might indicate that bilingualism experience alters how bilingual children learn to read compared to monolingual children, despite the fact that some bilinguals are equally proficient in both languages. Findings might also inform theories of bilingualism and literacy instruction practices on linguistically diverse children.




Effects of Rapamycin on Age-Associated Vasculature Transcription Profiles

Emily Eitzman | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Rapamycin (Rapa), an mTOR1 inhibitor, is one of the few therapies shown to prolong lifespan. It also may mitigate the adverse effects of age on the vasculature. To explore the vascular transcription profiles of age-associated pathways in mice treated with Rapa, mice were 1? treated with varying dosing regimens of Rapa beginning at 20 months of age?. The mice were checked twice daily for health status and were euthanized at 22 months of age. The aortas of mice were collected, and RNA was extracted from the aortas. RNA was then tested to ensure the collected samples were of adequate quality for RNA-sequencing analysis. We expect that the mice experiencing prolonged lifespan in response to Rapa treatment will have differences in their transcription profiles compared to young and old mice which had not been treated with Rapa. This information may provide insight related to the effects of Rapa towards prolongation of lifespan and may direct future studies in humans.




Effects of temporomandibular joint disorder in chewing cycle

Yoshiki Kawase | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJD) are a series of disorders that affect the joint articulating the mandible and the skull, which is responsible for jaw movement. Abnormal jaw movement and abnormal temporomandibular joint (TMJ) shape are typical symptoms in TMJD patients. It is yet unknown whether abnormal TMJ movement is a result of the alterations in the TMJ in TMJD. In this study, we will use Evc2 mutant mice, which bears TMJ in abnormal shape, to understand if abnormal joint shape may lead to abnormal jaw movement. Currently, video of one mutant mouse, which has its Evc2 gene deleted in neural crest derived tissues, and one control mouse were taken to analyze jaw movement. After tracking fiducial markers planted in the mice with a program called XMALab onto a 3D coordinate plane for four consistent chews, we discovered a difference in chewing pattern between the mutant mouse and the control mouse by looking at the distance between the mandible and the skull in the duration of its chewing. We found that while the control mouse clearly had two types of chewing patterns, the mutant mouse only had a scattered chewing pattern with one noticeable type of chewing pattern. The chewing range of the mutant mouse was approximately half of that of the chewing range of the control mouse. Possible explanations of this is that the mutant mouse possibly is not physically capable of moving the jaw to do two cycles or the mouse could be in possible pain, preventing the two chewing patterns we saw in control. There is a notable difference in the chewing patterns between the control mouse and the mutant mouse, indicating that abnormal TMJ impacts chewing cycle.




Elections Around the World: The Constituency Level Election Archive

Beverly Liu | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Despite the vast amount of information available about different elections from countries around the world, this data is not organized in an easy to access and read format. There is data about local elections that are disorganized, incomprehensible, and even contains inaccurate information. This research project develops a large database called the Constituency-Level Elections Archive (CLEA). CLEA organizes the election results at the constituency level for lower chamber and upper chamber legislative elections from around the world. Data is collected from government agencies as well as various sources online, and this research helps create a repository of detailed election results to be used to a range of audiences for research, education, and policy-making. CLEA consolidates valuable data in one comprehensive and reliable resource so that it is ready for analysis and publicly available at no cost. This information is used in geo-mapping to visualize raw data on election results and map it to a location and a certain constituency to visualize trends. In organizing information found on various elections and ensuring the data is valid, this project will contribute to future research that uses these election results.




Elections Around the World: The Constituency Level Election Archive

Morgan Vanderleest | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The Constituency-Level Elections Archive (CLEA) is a database that provides information about lower-house elections around the world. Data is gathered from mainly official websites and may be cross-checked through Wikipedia and other secondary sources if needed. The data can contain information about the candidates, parties, and overall voting statistics if applicable. There is a specific format that is used to systemize the data which makes it easier to compare across years and countries if desired. We also take the data and create decimals to better represent the results of each candidate and the overall voter turnout. This representation allows for a quicker scan of the data to identify winners and potential trends across constituencies. If a person wants to see how voter turnout has changed across the years or as a result of a natural catastrophe, they can use the data we have gathered provided that our sources contribute the information needed to determine voter turnout. Currently, we have one client who wants to see 2020 election results to analyze if COVID-19 had an impact on voter turnout and the overall election. Along with certain people asking for specific elections or dates, the public can also use the information however they desire. If a researcher wants to include data about an election, analyze the results, or compare it to illustrate trends, they can use CLEA data which is presented in a way that should make it easier than just looking at the official sources that we use.




Elections Around the World: The Constituency Level Election Archive

Lily Grills | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Throughout the world, there are various countries that have constituency-level elections, and there is endless data coming from these elections. Elections in many countries go back hundreds of years in history, and though all of this data already exists and is recorded, it can be very fragmented, and can be difficult to use for research. Through the Constituency Level Elections Archive (CLEA), a comprehensive election database with election data from all around the world, we strive to establish a centralized database that contains reliable and consistent election data. CLEA’s first election dataset release was in 2008, and has been updated every year since its inception. CLEA data is collected and preserved meticulously through collaboration of professors, graduate students, undergraduate students, and other research associates. The data is consolidated through collecting election data directly from repositories of different countries, and then recording the data necessary for our research purposes – region, country, constituency information, number of seats and who gets elected to them, votes and names for each candidate, each party, as well as information about voter turnout. Through collecting, consolidating, and preserving this election data, CLEA is able to make it publicly available to anyone who needs it at no cost. Through this easily accessible public good, multitudes of audiences will be able to use the data for research, education, and policy-making to understand important topics and create change in global society.




Emotion Regulation in Daily Life during COVID-19 Pandemic

Nayomie Allen | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The aim of this study is to assess individuals’ day-to-day emotional experiences and how they regulate their emotions, especially in context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through conducting a 9-month longitudinal online study, we hope to identify the characteristics that are most vulnerable to COVID-19 stress and anxiety. Furthermore, we aim to examine individuals’ pattern of emotion regulation strategies to reduce COVID-19 stress and anxiety. All participants are above 18 years old, located in the University of Michigan. Recruitment was sent by a link 2,000 random University of Michigan students through the Office of Registrar. Using UM Qualtrics we first collected self-report measures of coping and emotion regulation strategies. Second, we conducted a follow-up survey using an Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) approach among participants who are interested in the follow-up study. During the study, EMA survey data was collected at 6 time points/per day for 5 days in spaced out intervals. The results from part 1 online-survey provide evidence that emotion regulation strategy patterns have an association with several mental health outcomes and COVID-19 related anxieties. Through these findings we acknowledge the importance of taking a person-centered approach to emotion regulation strategies especially using EMA measurement. Recently, we started another wave data collection using online-survey to understand factors that are associated with the attitude towards COVID-19 vaccinations. We hypothesized that there would be correlation between attitudes (positive/negative) towards COVID-19 and several factors across domains (cognitive, emotional, and behavioral).




Empirical modeling of the solar wind

Reyna Wood | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Though the phenomenon of solar wind has been studied for years and we have data regarding its composition, velocity, and temperature, among other things, there is still much to learn about its evolution and how its internal forces interact. Our team aimed to create an empirical model that can accurately predict the behaviour of variables such as temperature and velocity in the solar wind as a function of distance. We created two different models, one using a Markov Chain Monte Carlo system, and another using gradient descent. By repetition and comparing results against a database of previously recorded solar wind measurements, parameters in a starting equation are allowed to randomly change, and the best fitting model is iteratively chosen. These results will not only give insight into the evolution of solar wind, but they will pave the way for other, more advanced techniques to produce more accurate models. Additionally, understanding the evolution of solar wind will provide guidance on the design of instrumentation to be launched aboard Solar Orbiter satellites.




Empirical modeling of the solar wind

Horacio Moreno Montanes | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Though the phenomenon of solar wind has been studied for years and we have data regarding its composition, velocity, and temperature, among other things, there is still much to learn about its evolution and how its internal forces interact. Our team aimed to create an empirical model that can accurately predict the behavior of variables such as plasma density, temperature and velocity in the solar wind as a function of distance from the Sun. We created two different models, one using a Markov Chain Monte Carlo system, and another using gradient descent. By comparing results against a database of previously recorded solar wind measurements, parameters in a starting equation are allowed to randomly change, and the best fitting model is iteratively chosen. These results will not only give insight into the evolution of solar wind, but they will pave the way for other, more advanced techniques to produce more accurate models. Additionally, understanding the evolution of solar wind will provide guidance on the design of instrumentation to be launched in future space missions.




Enhanced MEAGA (Minimum distance-based Enrichment Analysis for Genetic Association)

Justin Li | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The goal of the MEAGA (Minimum distance-based Enrichment Analysis for Genetic Association) is to help researchers understand complex traits derived from the correlation between genes. More specifically, this project aims at creating a network of genes with edge weights being their correlation with each other. This will allow researchers to test hypotheses between genetic pathways/functions and the correlation between specific genes. There currently exists a genetic network consisting of genes, but their connections/edge weights are binary (weight of 1 or 0). The goal right now is to convert the existing binary network into a continuous network, so the edges can have continuous values indicating the correlation between genes. The project focuses on graph algorithms such as Prim’s, Dijkstra’s, and Kou’s algorithm to create a genetic network that can create Steiner trees of indicated genes. Thus far, a gene to gene correlation file has been created with different correlation cutoffs of 0.3, 0.5, 0.7, and 0.9. This research can be valuable in identifying associations between genes and certain traits or diseases. This research may help the medical field when identifying the causes of conditions.




Enhancing physical activity & psychological well-being in college students during COVID-19 through WeActive & WeMindful interventions

| First-Year UROP Research Experience

Purpose: The aim of this study was to investigate the association between PA intensity and mental health, subjective well-being, and quality of life among college students. Participants: The sample included 1276 undergraduate students (mean age = 21.5 ± 3.6 years).




Enriched Biological Processes of Human Genes Interacting with SARS-CoV-2

Roshan Desai | First-Year UROP Research Experience

SARS-CoV-2 has imprinted itself on our modern society, bringing lives around the world to a grinding halt. For this study, we focused primarily on the pathways leading to Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) and investigated how we could map this into Ontology. We started with looking at pathways to AKI, and with the use of BioGRID, a database compiling protein and gene information regarding SARS-CoV-2, and DAVID Bioinformatics, and the goal was to map pathways involved in SARS-CoV-2 manifestations. Much of our research involved trying to find an effective way to study the multitude of information presented with the open resources provided by the internet. To do so, we looked at other studies to understand how they used BioGRID and other protein databases for their studies.




Entry and Exit in the affordable care act market

Manli Zhao | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The affordable care act is promised to be a win-win solution for both healthcare insurance companies and individuals. Still, we saw healthcare insurance firms have been claiming that they suffer a significant loss in the market, and many of them exit the market after a short period of operation. We want to understand the rationale behind the entry and exit and generate practical implications for businesses and policy implications for the government. First of all, we want to learn about the diversification and performance of insurance firms, focusing on the change of portfolio performance before and after related/unrelated diversification. Also, we summarize and compare the advantages and disadvantages of the related and unrelated diversification Secondly, we try to investigate the influence of diversification on insurance firms, how they reach the economics of scale or economics of scale through diversification in their portfolio or business in the healthcare industry, including the cooperation with hospital and brokers.




Entry and Exit in the affordable care act market

Yun Zhai | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The background information regarding my research project is about how does the insurance companies enjoy benefits in both ACA and Medicaid markets in order to To prove why insurance firms both present in these two markets would benefit more than firms which don’t. These might relate to the big picture that how the US government would issue health insurance in the future and how firms and people can enjoy it. The social benefits are for the firms or people who involve in the insurance plan to realize their benefits. I am using the economic concept of economics of scope and capability to conduct my Project. Economics of scope (eos) is a possible benefit enjoyed by related diversifiers and Capability is the unique asset that helps a firm outperform others. I have been searching for articles or papers that support the advantages of presenting both in these markets. My main conclusion is that even though the firms who present in both markets would gain a lot of advantages, however, there are some disadvantages presented.




Environmental Health Research to Action (EHRA) for Air Quality

Elena Delacruz | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Due to the vast amount of air pollution in Southeast Dearborn, Michigan and nearby communities, Environmental Health Research to Action (EHRA) was formed to build skills and knowledge in environmental health. EHRA is a community-academic partnership that runs an annual intensive summer academy for youth. In recent times, due to COVID-19, EHRA has added a virtual series for youth and by youth. Currently, EHRA is developing additional community-led monitoring and policy and media advocacy efforts, as well as conducting interviews with Steering Committee members to determine next steps and priorities for achieving environmental justice. (RESULTS ARE PENDING)




Epigenetic Mechanisms of X-chromosome Inactivation

Reina Brodeur | First-Year UROP Research Experience

X chromosome inactivation (XCI) is a dosage compensation method thought to equalize gene expression between males and females through the silencing of one of two X chromosomes in eutherian mammals. This process is carried out by the long non-coding RNA Xist, which is expressed from the prospective inactive X. Xist then recruits polycomb group proteins to help mediate gene silencing. One such protein, EED, which is a part of the polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2), has been shown to help deposit and maintain histone H3 lysine 27 trimethylation (H3K27me3) on the inactive X. This epigenetic tag is commonly associated with gene silencing and thought to play an integral role in XCI. However other components of the PRC2 complex, specifically the roles of the catalytic proteins EZH1 and EZH2 are less known and this project seeks to better understand their impact on XCI.




Evaluating how anesthesia trainees identify and treat malignant hyperthermia in the team-based simulation training with Epistemic Network Analysis

Rima Abdulrahman | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Technological advances in society have given the opportunity to modify and refine the education and experiences that occur within medical schools and the training provided to healthcare professionals. Clinical simulations provide team-based training to students and healthcare providers in ways that they otherwise may not receive through lectures and real-life settings. This study aims to analyze team communication during team-based training simulations on malignant hyperthermia (MH). The simulations were made available for analysis and evaluation through about 25 video recordings that were collected by the Clinical Simulation Center at the University of Michigan. MH is a rare but severe reaction to certain anesthetic drugs which requires the teams to work together to identify the symptoms (increasing end-tidal carbon dioxide, heart rate muscle rigidity, and temperature), properly treat the patient, and recognize the patient’s response to appropriate and inappropriate management interventions. The videos consist of different teams doing the same training on MH which may give insight as to why some teams are more successful than others. The analysis will also focus on how trainees allocate tasks efficiently within a group and develop individual/team skills in treating MH. The ability to automate computer assessments will also be evaluated to identify technical and nontechnical skills in team-based simulation training while treating MH. With improved training in a simulation environment, healthcare professionals will be able to improve their ability to work together in real environments where patient lives may be at risk.




Evaluating Novel Cancer Drugs and Drug Delivery in Preclinical Studies

Emily Fischbach | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Cancer prevention and treatment in the United States has seen many advances over the last few years, however, breast cancer continues to be one of the most widespread diseases, affecting the lives of approximately one in every eight American women. There is a pressing need for a more effective and less invasive treatment for breast cancer, specifically those cancers that originate in the epithelial cells of the milk ducts or lobules, also known as adenocarcinomas. Heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) has become an important target of many drug treatments. At the molecular level, over-expressed signaling proteins that lead to uncontrollable cell growth are stabilized by HSP90. Recent in vitro studies of the specific HSP90 inhibitors, KU757 and KU758, suggest this drug is effective in treating certain types of cancer, such as thyroid cancer and triple negative breast cancer respectively. This study aims to investigate the efficacy of KU757 and KU758 in treating the breast adenocarcinoma cell line called MCF7. Cell proliferation will be measured by MTS assay, and drug efficacy will be analyzed by calculating inhibitory concentration 50 values.




Evaluating the efficacy of proteasome inhibitors in plasma cell leukemia

Raheem Ahmed | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Plasma cell leukemia (PCL) is a rare variant of multiple myeloma (MM), defined as >=20% plasma cells in peripheral blood by the International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG). Patients with PCL have worse outcomes than MM patients despite aggressive treatment with proteasome inhibitors, such as bortezomib, along with other agents. However, few studies have investigated the efficacy of proteosome inhibitors in PCL patients. This study is a single-center, retrospective study using previously collected data from 63 adult patients treated at Michigan Medicine between 1996 and 2019. Statistical analyses included Kaplan-Meier survival and Cox regression analyses. Patients were predominantly white (79%), with a mean age of 62 years, and received a median of four lines of treatment with 85% receiving bortezomib. Our study demonstrated that the use of bortezomib did not significantly improve overall survival (OS) compared to those that did not receive bortezomib (HR 0.85, p=0.7). The overall 12-month survival for PCL patients treated with bortezomib was 68% compared to 50% for those that did not receive bortezomib. We also investigated the efficacy of other treatments such as immunomodulators (IMID) and autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT). There was significantly improved OS in patients that received IMID therapy (HR 0.23, p=0.001), as well as those that received ASCT therapy (HR 0.31, p=0.0002). Our study demonstrates that bortezomib and other treatments have efficacy in PCL, though further studies with larger patient cohorts are warranted.




Evaluating the Role of Claudin 4 protein in Inflammatory Retinal Lesion Pathogenesis Using an IR Mouse Model

Julian Peregoff | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Diabetic retinopathy is a debilitating complication of diabetes and a leading cause of blindness in the U.S. The blindness is caused by increased permeability of the blood-retinal barrier within the eye and also accumulation of fluid within the retina, called edema. Tight junction proteins in the vascular endothelial cells confer the blood-retinal and blood-brain barrier properties while diabetes alters these tight junctions contributing to vascular permeability. One family of tight junction proteins, claudins, have been shown to confer barrier property to tight junctions. Additionally, a recent study revealed that claudin 4 expression was associated with repair of ischemic damage in the brain. However, claudin 4 was expressed in glial cells, creating a glial limitans, rather than in endothelial cells. Given this interpretation, the current study aims to identify whether or not claudin 4 increases in astrocytes within an ischemic eye model. For the ischemic eye model, the lab used ischemic reperfusion to mimic the similar permeability induced in diabetic retinopathy. This study will also utilize immunofluorescence staining of whole mount retinas with astrocyte marker GFAP and claudin 4 antibodies, confocal microscopy, and imaris imaging analysis software. With this data, more conclusions can be drawn regarding the functionality and relationship between the levels of astrocytes and claudin 4 in the mouse model that mimics diabetic retinopathy.




Examining Anxiety Outcomes following Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia

Gabriel Noel Pascua | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Data collected from a randomized controlled noninferiority trial testing cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia (CBTi) delivered face to face versus telemedicine was used to examine the relationship between insomnia and anxiety. Measurements of general anxiety disorder (GAD) and insomnia severity index (ISI) were collected from 65 adults with chronic insomnia before CBTi treatment, immediately post-treatment, and again 12 weeks post-treatment. ISI scores were measured using a seven- item test with higher scores indicating more severe insomnia. Anxiety was measured using the GAD-7 (General Anxiety Disorder – 7), a seven-item survey that measures anxiety severity with higher scores representing more severe insomnia. Baseline measures have shown that as the severity of insomnia increases, anxiety severity increases as well. Measurements of ISI and GAD taken at post-treatment show CBT-I decreased ISI scores by 8.8 and 9.34 points in both treatment groups, indicating there was a decreased insomnia severity following CBT-I. GAD-7 scores reduced by 3.0 and 2.7 points at post-treatment in both groups, indicating decreased anxiety severity.




Examining Anxiety Outcomes following Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia

Sarim Syed | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Data collected from a randomized controlled noninferiority trial testing cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia (CBTi) delivered face to face versus telemedicine was used to examine the relationship between insomnia and anxiety. Measurements of general anxiety disorder (GAD) and insomnia severity index (ISI) were collected from 65 adults with chronic insomnia at before CBTi treatment, immediately post-treatment, and again 12 weeks post-treatment. ISI scores were measured using a seven- item test with higher scores indicating more severe insomnia. Anxiety was measured using the GAD-7 (General Anxiety Disorder – 7), a seven-item survey that measures anxiety severity with higher scores representing more severe insomnia. Baseline measures have shown that as the severity of insomnia increases, anxiety severity increases as well. Measurements of ISI and GAD taken at post-treatment show CBT-I decreased ISI scores by 8.8 and 9.34 points in both treatment groups, indicating there was a decreased insomnia severity following CBT-I. GAD-7 scores reduced by 3.0 and 2.7 points at post-treatment in both groups, indicating decreased anxiety severity.




Examining Differences in Familial Impact During and After NICU Hospitalization

Jessica Hsu | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The purpose of this study was to examine differences in familial impact during and after a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) hospitalization. We used the Impact on Family Scale (IFS) to assess the impact of infant illness on families in the areas of social relationships, financial burden, and personal strain, with higher scores indicating greater impact. It is important to understand how family life changes as a result of a child’s illness because the home environment and interactions can influence caregiving ability and infant growth and development. Knowing the differential effects of how family life is impacted before and after discharge may help providers prioritize support and resources at the right time. Survey data was collected from parents of NICU infants who were hospitalized after January 30, 2020. The survey included questions about demographics and the IFS measure. Our sample (n=132) includes 41 parents in the hospitalized group and 91 in the discharged group. Infant diagnosis ranged from prematurity (n=94), congenital birth defects (n=4), neurological (n=13) and other (n=20). We used Stata 15.1 to conduct our analysis, including sensitivity analysis to detect any differences between the two groups and demographics, and then used t-tests to see if there were any significant difference in the IFS scores. Significance was set at p-value of <0.05. There was a statistically significant difference between the scores from the two groups (0.0004, p-value<0.05) with the IFS total score being significantly higher (0.0002, p-value<0.05) for the hospitalized parent group. There was no statistically significant difference in the IFS financial scores between the two groups (0.55, p-value>0.05). Our findings suggest that parents may be more affected in terms of social relationships prior to NICU discharge while their financial burden did not appear to change prior to or after discharge. Based on our findings, parents may be in need of the most support while their infant is still in the hospital. Further research could help identify what types of support are most desired by parents in and out of the hospital.




Examining how COVID has affected African American women with Hypertension

Paige Chapman | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Forty seven percent of African American women are living with hypertension, which increases their risk of contracting COVID-19. We asked 100 African American women living with hypertension (ages 21 to 64) to complete a questionnaire using qualtrics. Using a cross sectional descriptive survey, participants were asked to self-report their blood pressure during COVID. A portion of the survey was used to raise the questions of how paticipants have been maintaining their health through eating and exercise patterns as a result of the virus. Sixty one percent of participants reported that they have not had to change the way that they manage their blood pressure since COVID-19. Participants that reported that they did have to change the way that they managed their blood pressure, ensured that they have had to exercise more, practice healthier eating habits, and that they haven’t seen their physician since COVID-19. In addition, the majority of participants did not lose their job or income due to the “Stay at Home” mandate, nor are they concerned about their ability to get their medications and supplements used to control their blood pressure. Our findings raise the question regarding if participants are considering all factors that have been impacted in their lives by COVID and how participants have been managing their hypertension in the first place.




Examining International Baccalaureate Credit Policies in Higher Education

Jason Deng | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) exams are two of the most prominent tests for college-bound high school students. Higher education institutions often have policies in place to grant college credits for achieving a high score on both of these exams. The topic of my research is to discover how different institutions grant either equivalent, or non-equivalent (general) college credits based on AP and IB test scores. Equivalent credits directly correspond to a specific course and non-equivalent credits do not match the courses at the institution and are used for meeting distribution and/or major requirements. My specific research question is how do Big Ten institutions grant equivalent or non-equivalent credits from IB exams scores in different subject areas and how do these policies differ between institutions? Differences between test subject areas and institutional types are examined and the implications for high school students and how IB credit policies could affect their choice of college attendance are discussed.




Examining Kinematic Differences of Vestibular Gait

Jaden Levinson | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The vestibular system is a sensory system found in the inner ear that provides the brain with information about motion and spatial orientation. It helps maintain balance, stabilize the head/body during movement, and maintain good posture. If the vestibular system is impaired, a patient may experience dizziness, imbalance, and difficulty walking. Vestibular disorders are difficult to diagnose as they can stem from a variety of underlying conditions and require specialized equipment to ascertain a diagnosis (e.g., dynamic posturography, rotational chair). The long-term goal of this study is to use kinematic data to develop gait assessment technology that can automatically identify individuals with vestibular disorders. In this project, we used motion capture technology (MOCAP) to collect and analyze full-body kinematic data from subjects with vestibular issues and healthy controls to better understand kinematic differences between healthy and vestibular gait. Twenty-one subjects (11 with vestibular deficits and 10 healthy) were recruited to participate in the walking study. The subjects performed a series of tasks that required them to walk with varying speed and constraints (eyes closed, walking backwards, etc.) while wearing a set of full-body MOCAP markers. The data collected was then used to compute descriptive gait metrics, including step length, step time, and head/trunk rotations, using a motion-analysis software called Visual3D. Inferential statistic tests (t-tests) were then performed to compare the various metrics of healthy individuals with subjects with vestibular deficits. Conclusions have not yet been drawn as the study is still in the data processing phase. However, we plan to leverage gait metrics that show statistically significant differences between the two groups in order to develop automatic vestibular gait detection algorithms.




Examining Links between Critical Motivation and Academic Self-Efficacy: Implications for Adolescent Development

Jai Narain | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Critical Consciousness and its three components: critical reflection, critical motivation, and critical action are overlooked assets that can positively contribute to the education and development of children. Previous studies suggest that focus on developing critical consciousness in educational settings increases the levels of critical reflection, critical motivation, and critical action in adolescents, which in turn leads to higher academic achievement, greater social involvement, and more successful career development (Diemer, Rapa, Voight, McWhirter, 2016). This study examines the levels of critical consciousness, particularly the subcomponent critical motivation, in BIPOC and low SES adolescents in a few cities in the Eastern United States, and its relationship to their self-efficacy. Critical motivation refers to one’s belief in their ability to address injustice around them. We hypothesize that higher levels of critical motivation will be associated with higher levels of academic self-efficacy. Paper surveys were administered in the fall of 2018. Correlational analyses indicate that critical motivation is positively associated with academic self-efficacy, which corresponds to our hypothesis. These findings suggest that cultivating critical motivation in students is a way to increase their confidence, which allows for a more open and successful life.




Experiences of uncertainty among patients with rheumatic illnesses during Covid-19

Charlotte Cochrane | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Despite the fact that Covid-19 is known to be more severe in patients with other comorbidities, the experiences of people with rheumatic illnesses during the pandemic are seldom discussed. In reality, their experiences are important to understanding both the virus’ physical and emotional effects on at-risk populations. Specific questions were in regards to the main sources of anxiety and uncertainty felt by rheumatic patients, and how many felt impacts to mental health. Using Nvivo analysis software, our research team qualitatively coded deidentified patient transcripts and case reports from FORWARD, the National Databank for Rheumatic Diseases. The software allowed us to compare the data presented in order to find common issues between patient experiences. These comparisons revealed that many of the patients, whether diagnosed or not with Covid-19, felt great anxiety and uncertainty during the pandemic. Further analysis showed that these feelings came from deaths of friends or family members, worsened symptoms in conjunction with their illness, or general lack of knowledge of the effects the virus could have. Although each patient as an individual had their own experiences, the qualitative coding allowed us to find that uncertainty was a major issue that still affects the mental well-being of these patients, their family members, and their friends. This project will allow health care providers and other stakeholders to understand the rheumatic patient experience with viruses from an emotional level, as well as a physiological one.




Experimental studies of high-energy quantum chromodynamics

Nicole Kuchta | First-Year UROP Research Experience

With the advent of new technologies in the world of particle physics comes a realm of new areas of exploration within the field. One of these areas is hadronization within quantum chromodynamics, the study of interactions between quarks and gluons, which has largely been unexplored. To fill in some of the gaps in scientists’ knowledge in this area on how quarks and gluons, elementary particles that are part of the standard model, form hadrons, composite particles made from quarks, my research will investigate jet substructure observables along with correlations between strange and anti-strange particles within jets in proton-proton and electron-proton collision simulations generated with Pythia. As these topics are fairly new to the field of quantum chromodynamics, the measurements we take will be the first of their kind. These measurements will be done through Pythia for digital event generation and data organization will be done through ROOT in the form of ntuples and histograms. Following simulated data generation, ROOT will be used for data analysis to achieve final measurements on the topic. Research work from a former member of Dr. Christine Aidala’s research group, Dr. Joseph Osborn, on jet hadronization will serve as a comparison and motivation point for the research we will complete. The findings of this research will then motivate further studies in the study of hadronization and quantum chromodynamics and serve as a base comparison point for others who choose to measure strange and antistrange particles within jets.




Explaining the variability in C. elegans wild-type longevity

Richard Sukpraphrute | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Aging is a dynamic and complicated process, and although it affects every organism, the topic remains poorly understood. The topic is also very hard to study on humans because of the time requirements. To circumvent this limitation, scientists utilize model organisms and study cellular physiology to determine the molecular pathology of aging. A common model organism for aging experiments is the Caenorhabditis elegans (the roundworm) because it is small, inexpensive, has a short lifespan, and its developmental anatomy has been very well characterized–making it a perfect model organism for studying aging. The N2 strain is used as a control and is standard for laboratory experiments. However, it has become apparent after experience in published literature that there exists an inherently variability in the N2 C. elegans lifespans. In order to address this issue, approximately 1,000 experiments extracted from primary published literature were analyzed from around the and data was extracted from the N2 wild type C. elegans. We then performed a metanalysis of our primary data based on a set of conditions explicitly extracted from these experiments. While data collection is ongoing, we aim to identify seemingly “soft” conditions to create standard models of lifespans of C. elegans under specific conditions to aid other researchers with their aging experiments with C. elegans.




Exploring Feeding Cues in Older Hospitalized Infants: A Survey Among Hospital Staff and Feeding Specialists

Caroline Falahee | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Some hospitals feed infants on a provider-driven schedule, which emphasizes quantity of the oral feed over the quality and frequently ignores infant oral-feeding engagement and disengagement cues to quickly meet oral feeding goals. Infants who are fed using this type of approach quickly learn that eating is a scary process that should be limited or avoided entirely. Alternatively, a cue-based feeding approach focuses on responding to behaviors infants use to communicate oral-feeding readiness and disengagement. Cue-based feeding promotes safe, efficient oral feeding skill acquisition and avoids negative feeding experiences that result in oral aversions. Currently, the majority of the cue-based feeding literature focuses on premature infants and newborns, and there is a lack of research for implementation with older infants (6-12 months). The research that does exist primarily focuses on behaviors observed in typically developing, healthy infants; however, behaviors of older hospitalized infants can differ dramatically from healthy infants. Consequently, cue-based feeding guidelines for older hospitalized infants do not exist. To address this gap in the literature, we used a brief 15-question online Qualtrics survey to gather information about (1) the use of cue-based feeding in older hospitalized infants and (2) specific feeding behaviors observed in older hospitalized infants. Participants included nurses, feeding therapists, and unit techs. Participation was incentivized with the chance to win a gift card. Data analysis will include frequency counts and chi-square tests to identify relationships between hospital position, length of employment, and cue-based feeding beliefs. The information gleaned from this study, in combination with existing literature on cue-based feeding, will add critical knowledge to enhance the implementation of a cue-based feeding protocol hospital wide, ensuring that even older infants will be protected from scary and overwhelming feeding experiences that place them at risk for long-term feeding issues.




Exploring Leader Information Sharing and Withholding in the Workplace

Aileen Ji | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Exploring the CRISPR-Cas9 System through Human EMX1 Gene Deletions

Rawdat Hussain | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) is a technology used to edit genomes at very high precision. It enables precise editing of genomic loci with a RNA-guided Cas9 nuclease that can cleave target DNA that is complementary to a guide RNA (gRNA). Then, the CRISPR-Cas9 system can be used to achieve various goals such as treating inherited diseases (e.g., cystic fibrosis). The objective is to test the specificity and function of the CRISPR-Cas9 system in deleting a targeted sequence in mammalian cells. Mammalian 293AD cells were first transfected with the Cas9-expressing plasmid and human EMX1 ()-specific 3.1+4.1 gRNA sequences. 72 hours after transfection, the DNA was extracted and purified from the cells. The hEMX1 modified region was amplified using a set of primers in the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The PCR products were run in a 2% agarose gel for gel electrophoresis where the sizes of the DNA fragments were compared to a marker. Results from gel electrophoresis showed that the Cas9 system was successfully able to target the hEMX1 gene when 3.1+4.1 gRNA was present. However, pNTAP posi-tag, a plasmid without the hEMX1 sequence, also showed unexpected cuts which lead to DNA fragments of various sizes. The results show that the CRISPR-Cas9 system was propitious in targeting the hEMX1 DNA sequence. The unexpected cuts made in pNTAP posi-tag will require further experimentation, with one possibility being to extract, purify, and sequence the unanticipated DNA fragments in order to explain the results.




Eye tracking to determine cognitive load during programming practice

Conner Morgan | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Novice programmers need scaffolded instruction to maximize their ability to learn how to program. Parsons problems are an increasingly popular solution. These problems require learners to place mixed-up code blocks in the correct order to solve a problem. We are conducting think-aloud sessions and a within-subjects experiment to understand the efficiency and cognitive load of solving adaptive Parsons problems versus writing the equivalent (isomorphic) code. We are also investigating the impact of prior programming experience on students’ experiences and changes in students’ self-efficacy. This study will report on cognitive load and self-efficacy ratings before and after the task for the two problem times. We expect students to exhibit greater learning gains on fixing code with errors when solving Parsons problems with distractors than without. We also expect to find a correlation between self-efficacy and cognitive load ratings. The implications of this study are to improve programming learning tools for novice programmers.




Eye tracking to determine cognitive load during programming practice

Pari Shah | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Novice programmers need scaffolded instruction to maximize their ability to learn how to program. Parsons problems are an increasingly popular solution. These problems require learners to place mixed-up code blocks in the correct order to solve a problem. We are conducting think-aloud sessions and a within-subjects experiment to understand the efficiency and cognitive load of solving adaptive Parsons problems versus writing the equivalent (isomorphic) code. We are also investigating the impact of prior programming experience on students’ experiences and changes in students’ self-efficacy. This study will report on cognitive load and self-efficacy ratings before and after the task for the two problem times. We expect students to exhibit greater learning gains on fixing code with errors when solving Parsons problems with distractors than without. We also expect to find a correlation between self-efficacy and cognitive load ratings. The implications of this study are to improve programming learning tools for novice programmers.




Factors Affecting Asian American Students’ STEM Career Choice

Frances-Denise Fajardo | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Asian Americans are one of the smallest minority subpopulations in the United States, yet they comprise the second-highest, first being white Americans, percentage of persons employed in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) workforce (Martínez & Gayfield, 2019). Although a vast variety of articles examine the reasons why other racial/ethnic groups are underrepresented in STEM fields, fewer authors have examined the reasons why Asian Americans are overrepresented in STEM fields.




Factors Affecting Sentence Processing

Vivian Ku | First-Year UROP Research Experience

This psycholinguistic study examines sentences with filler-gap dependencies, which are sentence constructions where its related clauses are not next to one another and require instantaneous predictions from the reader to connect these relative clauses.




FADD amplification in lung cancer promotes G1 to S cell cycle transition

Aalaynah Nathoo | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most malignant primary central nervous system tumor and once diagnosed, the patient outcome does not look good. Currently, there are no curative treatment options for GBM, and the survival rate of patients diagnosed with the disease remains low. RAD51 is highly expressed in response to radiation and chemotherapy which is required for DNA repair from after these genotoxic therapies. Using small molecule drugs that modulate the RAD51 function, we have shown that they enhance chemo- and radio-sensitization in GBM due to inhibition of DNA repair. My UROP project will involve the purification of RAD51 protein so that the binding site and mechanism by which the RAD51 targeted drugs function can be delineated using X-ray crystallography. We hypothesize that the inhibition of RAD51 will sensitize GSCs to radio and chemotherapy which will further improve the survival of GBM patients. Although there are currently no results, this research and experiment is valuable because there are no effective therapies for GBM.




Family Caregiving of COVID-19 Patients: A Qualitative Study

Samuel Uribe-Botero | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Background: More than 130,000 people in the United States have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 associated illness (March 2020 – January 2021). After hospital discharge, close friends and relatives of COVID-19 patients are responsible for the bulk of non-professional caregiving. Although caregiving has been well-researched in other diseases, not much is known about non-professional caregiving for COVID-19 patients within the constraints imposed by a global pandemic. Objective: The objective of this study is to catalog patients’ and caregivers’ perspectives on barriers and facilitators to caregiving during COVID-19 illness, hospitalization, and recovery.




Family Caregiving of COVID-19 Patients: A Qualitative Study

Sadia Rahman | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Background: More than 130,000 people in the United States have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 associated illness (March, 2020 – January, 2021). After hospital discharge, close friends and relatives of COVID-19 patients are responsible for the bulk of non-professional caregiving. Although caregiving has been well-researched in other diseases, not much is known about non-professional caregiving for COVID-19 patients within the constraints imposed by a global pandemic. Objective: The objective of this study is to catalog patients’ and caregivers’ perspectives on barriers and facilitators to caregiving during COVID-19 illness, hospitalization, and recovery. Methods: Trained interviewers conducted semi-structured interviews with 16 patient-caregiver dyads. All patient-caregiver dyads were aged 18 and over and resided within the United States. Caregivers were family or friends without medical training. Patients were hospitalized in an ICU for a COVID-19-related illness. Transcribed interviews were analyzed using the RADaR qualitative analysis technique. Results: Analysis is ongoing, but preliminary themes have emerged. Themes of caregiving barriers include the fluidity of care roles, knowledge deficit, financial challenges, and isolation. Themes of caregiving facilitators include technology, emotional support, and formal support. Conclusion: Unique but overlapping themes of facilitators and barriers to caregiving were identified among both caregivers and patients. The isolation caused by the pandemic has added a new dimension to both the caregiver and patient experience. Looking at other types of caregiving may help provide context to these findings. Implications: Identifying the current barriers and facilitators of COVID-19 caregiving can help us understand what is needed to improve the overall well-being of COVID-19 patients. This research is important because it can help reduce rehospitalization rates through the caregiving role and inform public health interventions to support caregivers and patients during pandemics.




Financing and Counter-Financing of Violent Non-State Actors Project

Yujin Park | First-Year UROP Research Experience

There are numerous ways to deter terrorist groups from being active, one of them being obstruction of financing of the terrorist groups. It is a very important method governments and institutions take to stop violence, yet there is only a few organized dataset on the economic counterinsurgent actions taken against terrorist groups. This project collects and organizes data of counterinsurgent actions that hinder financing of the terrorist groups. Through a database Nexis Uni, this project records relevant events through articles from 1990 to 2018. The dataset classifies the counterinsurgent incidents into specific actions, showing clearly the frequency and impact of each type of actions. The dataset aims to cover most terrorist groups in the world and the project is still in the process of collecting data. The project provides analysis on the impact and effectiveness of each action, which will be useful in fighting against terrorist groups. It also gives further insight in how the actions and attitudes towards these violent non-state actors have changed over the last 30 years.




Financing and Counter-Financing of Violent Non-State Actors Project

Thomas Frost | First-Year UROP Research Experience

I am working on data collection for the Countering the Financing of Violent Non-State Actors Project. The goal of the project is to develop the first comprehensive database of actions that obstruct the finances of terrorist groups in hopes to measure the efficacy of these actions and whether or not certain counterinsurgent actions either harm or embolden terrorist groups. This project is one of the first of its kind. The data used for this database is obtained from newspaper and online article entries regarding the different groups from the years 1990 to 2018. The articles are accessed on NexisUni then codified by a team of coders. Different coders code the same groups in order to ensure reliability of the data. There are no results yet for the project, as it is projected to take more time to complete the database. When the database is nearing completion, statistical analysis of the data will be performed in order to determine the efficacy of certain counterinsurgent actions.




Financing and Counter-Financing of Violent Non-State Actors Project

Rachel Hilburger | First-Year UROP Research Experience

With the threat of terrorism constantly evolving, anti-terrorist policy is constantly in need of reevaluation. The utilization of economic means to stifle the actions of violent groups varies in prominence by region and through time, and never before has a comprehensive data set been collected detailing its employment against specific groups during particular years. “The Financing and Counter Financing of Non-Violent State Actors Project” supervised by PhD candidate Corina Simonelli intends to create such a dataset and reveal patterns in the utilization of economic counterinsurgency tactics as they vary through time and across groups. Coders have been presented a list of violent actors and tasked with utilizing an evolving list of search terms and database Nexis Uni to gather news articles dating between 1990 and 2018. By streamlining the processes by which researchers sift through large sums of articles, evaluate convoluted information, and translate qualitative data into quantitative, a thorough codebook is being developed to allow for consistency and replication. While a sufficiently large dataset has not yet been achieved, the research team expects to witness variance in the prominence of particular counterinsurgent tactics when comparing groups operating across the globe and through time. This information will yield insight into the effectiveness of economic counterinsurgency when coupled with knowledge on the persistence of violent activity. Such information is valuable for policymakers and will influence which tactics are employed to thwart violent activity on regional and global scales.




Floating LiDAR development project

Emma Remien | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Floating LiDAR Development Project

Corinne Pita | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Focused ultrasound for appendicular soft-tissue sarcomas: Three-dimensional targetability assessment

Ibrahim Alnassar | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Focused ultrasound has been investigated as a noninvasive, nonionizing, repeatable treatment for appendicular soft tissue sarcomas (STSs), and standardized targetability criteria are needed to guide future clinical trials. Promising focused ultrasound modalities for STSs include high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) and histotripsy. HIFU is typically MR-guided and uses an extracorporeal transducer to focus continuous, high-intensity ultrasound in a controlled manner, inducing thermal necrosis of a tumor. Thermal spread in HIFU can cause damage to critical anatomic structures located within 2 cm of the tumor. Histotripsy treatment is also delivered via an extracorporeal transducer but is ultrasound-guided and uses short pulses of high-intensity ultrasound to produce primarily mechanical tissue ablation. In contrast to HIFU, histotripsy treatments are tissue-selective (e.g. spare critical structures) based on differences in the mechanical properties of tumors and surrounding tissue. Previous targetability studies of focused ultrasound treatments for solid tumors have used exclusively 2D imaging and failed to account for potential tissue-selective effects. This study aims to develop a three-dimensional focused ultrasound targetability assessment for thigh STSs that includes consideration of tissue-selectivity. A subset of appendicular thigh STS patients from the Michigan Medicine Sarcoma Archive with sufficient pretreatment imaging is identified. Materialise Mimics software is then used to construct 3D renderings of tumors and significant surrounding nerves and blood vessels. Calculations of treatment parameters including distance from tumor edge to the nearest critical anatomic structure and depth from skin surface to tumor center are made using 2D MRI imaging and 3D reconstructions. Depth measurements in 3D use a calculated center of mass. The assessment finds that there are significant differences in measurements obtained from 2D imaging and 3D reconstructions, particularly measurements of tumor depth. Accounting for 3D anatomical detail permits a more standardized focused ultrasound targetability assessment for STSs and other solid tumors. We also identify a subset of STSs that would not be safely accessible to HIFU due to thermal spread but could potentially be treated using tissue-selective histotripsy. The risk of thermal spread is shown to limit the applicability of HIFU and illustrates the potential utility of histotripsy for tumors located near significant neurovascular structures.




Focused ultrasound for appendicular soft-tissue sarcomas: Three-dimensional targetability assessment

Piush Sarkar | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Focused ultrasound has been investigated as a noninvasive, nonionizing, repeatable treatment for appendicular soft tissue sarcomas (STSs), and standardized targetability criteria are needed to guide future clinical trials. Promising focused ultrasound modalities for STSs include high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) and histotripsy. HIFU is typically MR-guided and uses a transducer outside of the body to focus high-intensity ultrasound in a controlled manner to induce thermal necrosis of the tumor. However, thermal spread in HIFU can cause damage to critical anatomic structures located within 2 cm of the tumor.




Follow the Leader? Rethinking Leadership and Hierarchy in the Workplace

Helen Devine | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Previous research has demonstrated that information sharing is important to group and organization functioning and performance. However, leaders and managers often have the option to withhold information from their subordinates or other lower-level employees. Leaders and managers are privy to information about organizational issues, challenges, successes, and opportunities that their subordinates are not. Although this information might be useful or beneficial to disseminate, leaders often keep information from their subordinates, especially in times of crisis. In this research, we explore leader information withholding, which we define as the intentional suppression of information from a subordinate that a leader has on group, organizational, or other contextual circumstances. For this project, our objectives are to explore (1) what types of information do leaders withhold (2) when and why leaders withhold information, specifically in times of crisis, and (3) the effects of leader information withholding on group or organizational dynamics and performance. We will conduct, transcribe, and codify interviews with various organizational leaders and managers, in conjunction with analyzing preexisting research to determine when leaders withhold information, placing emphasis on information dissemination during times of crisis. We hope to observe whether there is a difference between what leaders tend to do and what is actually beneficial to organizational performance.




Follow the Leader? Rethinking Leadership and Hierarchy in the Workplace

Mitchell Davidson | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Follow the Leader? Rethinking Leadership and Hierarchy in the Workplace

Jaden Pendola | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Follow the Leader? Rethinking Leadership and Hierarchy in the Workplace

Jiayang Tang | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Follow the Leader? Rethinking Leadership and Hierarchy in the Workplace

Vidhi Pandya | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Follow the Leader? Rethinking Leadership and Hierarchy in the Workplace

Claudine Waggoner | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Follow the Leader? Rethinking Leadership and Hierarchy in the Workplace

Brian Lyu | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Fostering trust in state authorities during COVID-19 pandemic

Brooke Beccari | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Functions of Newly Evolved Proteins in Meiotic Drive

Leila Brandt | First-Year UROP Research Experience




FYI-3

Jacob Small | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Despite the recent increase in US states where recreational marijuana is legal, little is known about how these policies affect low-income communities and families in difficult circumstances. The overall idea is that recreational marijuana usage is a double edged sword; helping people overcome mental health obstacles or eating disorders in some situations, but creating more dangerous neighborhood environments in others. This study analyzes the perspectives of families in Flint, Michigan on the state’s marijuana policy through qualitative interviews with over 100 clients in the Genesee County Area. An analysis of these interviews yields the clients’ own personal experiences with recreational marijuana; how it has influenced their past and now currently affects their children. Depending on the client, interviews may either certify or challenge the following arguments about legal recreational marijuana: 1) recreational marijuana disparages communities and contributes to an addiction cycle that increases life’s challenges; 2) recreational marijuana helps relieve stress, anxiety and other domestic problems; 3) legal marijuana has little effect on day-to-day life because it is still primarily sold on the streets without tax. The stories add nuance to our understanding of the positive and negative consequences of legal marijuana in lower income communities in the Genesee County area. This study, titled FYI-3, is the third stage of a longitudinal interview collection of Flint residents and their personal experiences with marijuana. In using a frequently underrepresented sector of the American population”” truths from low income and minority communities””this project will contribute to future research on similar topics and influence future policy decisions.




Gamification of Diversity Training in STEM: Testing the Efficacy of the Academe Dream Board Game

Andrew Carriero | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Now, more than ever, diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the forefront of the change happening in society. Our project explores and presents current structural discrimination, aggressions, and inequities people of a vast array of communities face every day. The project itself is important because it not only displays these degrading structures in broad daylight, but it also facilitates discussion between people to help open their eyes to privileges they hold, or at the very least to recognize that these things do in fact happen in real life. As of now, the project has been developed (or is currently in the process of polishing over minute details) and is almost ready to perform pilot testing. The project consists of a “board game” or rather virtual game (due to COVID-19) which has people choose character cards, action cards, and game upgrades – simulating a competitive game atmosphere. The characters themselves are intended to be very unrelated from the player so as to produce a new perspective to consider. Inevitably, the players that make it the furthest/complete the game first are the more privileged communities of people and the people that fall behind are the players that experience discrimination in various settings. Because this study is in the stage of development, we haven’t collected much usable data – this will take place soon this Winter 2021 semester and in the coming 2021-2022 academic year. The hope is that our findings will be one of the contributing factors to much-needed change within the STEM field (specifically with the IRB and research mentorship).




Gamification of Diversity Training in STEM: Testing the Efficacy of the Academe Dream Board Game

Saam Martin | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Now, more than ever, diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the forefront of the change happening in society. Our project explores and presents current structural discrimination, aggressions, and inequities people of a vast array of communities face every day. The project itself is important because it not only displays these degrading structures in broad daylight, but it also facilitates discussion between people to help open their eyes to privileges they hold, or at the very least to recognize that these things do in fact happen in real life. As of now, the project has been developed (or is currently in the process of polishing over minute details) and is almost ready to perform pilot testing. The project consists of a “board game” or rather virtual game (due to COVID-19) which has people choose character cards, action cards, and game upgrades – simulating a competitive game atmosphere. The characters themselves are intended to be very unrelated from the player so as to produce a new perspective to consider. Inevitably, the players that make it the furthest/complete the game first are the more privileged communities of people and the people that fall behind are the players that experience discrimination in various settings. Because this study is in the stage of development, we haven’t collected much usable data – this will take place soon this Winter 2021 semester and in the coming 2021-2022 academic year. The hope is that our findings will be one of the contributing factors to much-needed change within the STEM field (specifically with the IRB and research mentorship).




Gender Differences in Sexuality As Represented by the Orgasm Gap

Kaiyu Qin | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The “orgasm gap” refers to the phenomenon that women orgasm less than men. With great amounts of research and efforts to publicize this concept over the past years, the orgasm gap became smaller but is still an ongoing issue. This project aims to study why the orgasm gap still exists and how it is linked to the way people understand the orgasm gap. About 100 college-aged students are recruited via Qualtrics to participate in a qualitative survey that asks about their knowledge about what the orgasm gap is, where they learned about the orgasm gap, why they think there is an orgasm gap, how they believe the orgasm gap could be narrowed, as well as their sexual experiences. An analysis of these survey responses will be made. This project will add more understanding to why there is still an orgasm gap, which is taking a step forward to give people more satisfying sex lives.




Gender Differences in Sexuality with Regard to the Orgasm Gap

Rachel West | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Sex in our society is inherently gendered. One of the ways this is best exemplified is through what’s called the “orgasm gap.” Here, the gap exists between straight women and all other demographics, meaning women who have sex with men are having the fewest orgasms. Current knowledge in the field suggests that this is because of sexual scripts, the unspoken norms between sexual partners regarding whose pleasure is important and whose isn’t. Our research aims to build on a study (McClelland, 2014) of men’s and women’s individual definitions of the term “sexual satisfaction.” For women, the concept of satisfaction is less orgasm-focused and more dependent on other factors such as safety, comfortability, and self-confidence. This is partly because women are so much less likely to have an orgasm during partnered sex that they rarely expect to. In our study, we want to gain knowledge about men’s and women’s familiarity with the orgasm gap. Our survey aims to shine light on how misunderstood and complex female sexuality is, and how important it is to close the gap. Reference: McClelland, Sara I. “”˜What Do You Mean When You Say That You Are Sexually Satisfied?” A Mixed Methods Study – Sara I McClelland, 2014.” SAGE Journals.




Gender Experiences in Reactions to Casual Sex Encoutners

Camden Treiber | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Gender’s Effect on Healthcare Decisions within the Proactive Community Case Management to Reduce Child Mortality (ProCCM) Trial

Sasha Rozenshteyn | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Mali, especially its rural communities, has one of the highest under-five mortality rates in the world. The Proactive Community Case Management to Reduce Child Mortality (ProCCM) experiment is a three-year analysis created to examine health care access and treatment among infants and young children. This project will assess whether a door-to-door health service, rather than families coming to clinics, as well as referrals provided by these trained community health workers, will present an improvement in early access to health care and decrease the numbers of deaths among children under 5. This study includes creating and conducting an annual survey of all households in the study area to collect information about members of the household, their health, and recent illness and use of health services over three years. The focus of this sub-study specifically lies in analyzing the independence of women making health care choices, and how their position in the family impacts their ability to make decisions. Furthermore, whether distance to a clinic or hospital results in better antenatal care for mothers will be considered, as well as how the time of year changes the amount of care they receive. It is necessary to create a literature review and analyzing certain data points to understand the trends of this research topic. It is expected that the results of the entire trial will inform public health practices and policies in low and middle-income countries around the world.




Genetic Impact on Low Diversity Microbiomes in Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Sommer Motley | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), a term that is used to generalize Ulcerative Colitis (UC) and Crohn’s Disease, is a disorder that involves chronic inflammation in the digestive tracts. UC is restricted to the colon, while Crohn’s disease can involve all segments of the GI tract. The pathogenesis of IBD is still unclear but several proposed mechanisms are being investigated which lead to a loss of homeostatic host-microbe interaction in the GI tract. Our study focuses on one of those mechanisms whereby a mutation in a gene that encodes an NADPH oxidase called Duox2 might lead to a loss of host-microbe homeostasis in the gut. In addition, we aim to better understand the possible environmental and hereditary factors that may contribute to IBD. Our study aimed to recruit 100 sibling pairs to take a survey that asked questions about diet, sleep, exercise, and their living environment. One of the siblings had IBD while the other was a control subject. Each sibling pair had a first degree relative with IBD, indicating a possible genetic component (e.g., Duox2 mutation). There was a parallel study conducted in Taiwan to also compare differences in ethnicity. Through our survey, we predicted that results will show trends among families who have IBD. The second phase of the study, identified patients who may be more likely to have a mutation in the Duox2 gene by screening for congenital hypothyroidism known to share a common genetic risk gene in Duox2. By collecting a blood and stool sample from families, we predict that we will be able to better understand the determinants of genetics, environment, and gut microbiota in the pathogenesis of IBD.




Genetic Influences on Self-Construal

Shi Xin Ooi | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Previous literature has established apparent cultural distinctions between more independent, Western cultures and more interdependent, Eastern cultures that contribute to differences between self-construal, or the individual sense of self. In addition to the cultural differences between Western and Eastern countries, researchers have also examined this difference within countries that have high in-group cultural variation, such as China, and found that Northern wheat-growing provinces in China were more independent compared to Southern rice-growing provinces, which were more interdependent. Previous research has also provided evidence of a genetic link with individual levels of independence and interdependence, specifically related to genes involved in the DRD4 (dopamine receptor) sensitivity. Thus, this study aims to examine the levels of independence and interdependence in the context of comparing individuals from Northern wheat-growing provinces and Southern rice-growing provinces in China.




Geospatial analysis of wildland fire-PM2.5 in relation to geographic location of susceptible populations in California

Matthew Brodsky | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Wildfires are becoming more frequent and more intense due to climate change, forest management practices, and settlement patterns. There are well-researched negative health effects caused by wildfire smoke, such as increased instances of respiratory disease like COPD and asthma, and particulate matter is causally associated with cardiovascular diseases. Particulate matter (PM 2.5) from wildfire smoke contributes to these health conditions. Children (18 and under), pregnant women, the elderly (65 and older), people with pre-existing conditions (COPD, asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, people with cancer), and outdoor workers are at higher risk for these negative health effects due to biological susceptibility and social vulnerabilities. . We conducted a e study of exposure to demonstrate possible co-occurrences of fire-PM2.5 and vulnerable populations in California. This study uses modeled Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) estimates of fire-PM2.5 exposure, US Census data, and California Department of Public Health data to map multiple demographic characteristics of communities in California alongside concentrations of fire-PM2.5 pollution. The resulting quantification of risk factors compared to fire PM2.5 concentration estimates in California can help inform the decisions of public health officials and policymakers in regards to protection of communities from the negative health effects associated with fire PM2.5.




Geospatial analysis of wildland fire-PM2.5 in relation to geographic location of susceptible populations in California

Gabrielle Demott | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Global Electric Vehicle Strategies

Siyao Lu | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Battery electric vehicle (BEV) sales have continued to break records in 2020. However, the progress does not seem to translate evenly across all vehicle segments. In this research, two sets of data are collected and analyzed. First, historical and current BEV models are sorted into segments (model data). Second, model specifications such as range, MSRP (manufacturer suggested retail price) and battery size are collected for each model across different years (specification data). The analysis focuses on the US, Chinese and European markets, and 2018 is taken as the base year. Based on the model data, the number of existing and new models in each segment is steadily increasing. However, the large and full-size vehicle segments are lagging behind. In the specification data, performance and price display a direct relationship and controlling for price reveals similar per unit performance increases across segments. We conclude with a brief comparison to the internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle segments. As an ICE vehicle becomes larger, fuel economy and price actually changes inversely. Manufacturers benefit from minor functionality and comfort upgrades in larger and more expensive ICE vehicles. In conclusion, a healthier growth in the large and full-size vehicle segments is needed to support the momentum for electric vehicles. This means the industry will probably adjust its production to provide greater price differentiation, especially in the large and full-size segments, as the EV industry matures.




Glow Curve Analysis Software with Background Removal, Data Smoothing, and Automated Peak Identification for Thermoluminescent Dosimeter Data

Wenjin Yu | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Thermoluminescent dosimeters integrate incoming ionizing radiation dose and release photons proportional to it. When heat is applied to the material, peaks in the emitted light occur at different temperatures corresponding to characteristic quantum states. Separating these peaks may be done through fitting the data to thermoluminescence models, in a process called glow curve analysis. This analysis reveals information about signal fading and has the potential to improve dose quantitation. Dosimeter readings can have discontinuities due to experimental phenomena such as incineration of dust particles, which can result in imprecise glow curve fits. Additionally, the light emitted as a result of the readout process makes the initial fit inaccurate. As manual removal of the noise and the curve fitting process itself is time-consuming, an automated program is more efficient. This research creates software using C++ that automatically subtracts the background noise from raw data, removes any discontinuous spikes, and further smoothes the data. Peaks are identified by implementing custom functions and existing algorithms such as the Savitzky-Golay algorithm and the method of gradient descent. The final software fits the approximate curve for each peak according to first-order kinetic physics and outputs a figure of merit for the fit. An executable compatible with different computer systems allows greater portability. The software can help other researchers clean raw data and analyze peaks with efficiency and accuracy. The resulting software should result not only in greater insights into the thermoluminescent process and better radiation dosimetry, but may lend itself to applications to other fields.




Golgi biogenesis, function, and deffects in diseases

Naomi Veidlinger | First-Year UROP Research Experience

It has been observed that the Golgi apparatus is involved in signaling and in cell adhesion and migration. Additionally, the unique Golgi stacking structure is an essential aspect of Golgi function. Our lab has demonstrated that GRASP55 and GRASP65 are required proteins for Golgi stacking. It has also been shown that integrin a5ß1 is downregulated in GRASP KO cells and that integrin a5ß1 is involved in Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Using this information, our lab is working to find a possible mechanism that shows that Golgi stacking formation is required in EMT.




Good with Words: Speaking and Presenting

Simran Singh | First-Year UROP Research Experience

While serving on Professor Barry’s research team, we operate on the assumption that speaking, writing, and problem solving skills are necessary in the legal field. However, we have found that we must do a better job of addressing that need. The current teaching plan being utilized is not enough in terms of the content and the scale. The key question of this project is: How do you scale meaningful professional training in speaking and writing to be both useful to the masses as well as the individual? In trying to answer this question we have focused in on certain classes at University of Michigan Law School, and we are working to pinpoint key areas in need of improvement. We do this by observing a class lecture each week and noting: areas for improvement, areas that can be cut or condensed, and areas that should be emphasized. Also to address this question, we are trying to implement the use of virtual reality headsets, which helps contribute to the larger scale of feedback as a student can actually be placed into a courtroom where their actions have no consequences. Students can use the simulation multiple times until they can successfully finish and understand it. The final results, to be collected over the semester, will provide a clear idea to address scaling lessons for students speaking, writing, and problem solving. This plan can then be applied to other classes to create a generation of highly professional, prepared lawyers.




Good with Words: Speaking and Presenting

Sarina Patel | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Working alongside Professor Patrick Barry and his research team, I have been able to identify what makes good sentences good. The motivation behind this project is to teach speaking, writing, and problem solving skills to aspiring lawyers on a large scale. Professor Barry has identified a need for improving these skills and plans to tackle this by producing professional writers and speakers through the use of his online public courses and classes through the Michigan Law School hoping to address the question of how we can improve student writing in order for them to become better advocates. As a research student on this project, some strategies I engage in to address the research question are consistently trying to test and improve them with tasks such as conducting close editing and reviewing of papers, attending the Good with Words class, taking and providing feedback on MOOC courses, etc. Personally, I started off with the Writing and Editing MOOC where I had to present feedback on what should be changed by crafting a weekly E-D-I-T memo. As a result, the critiques of the courses and classes allows Professor Barry to improve each platform. We hope to find that this enhances writers and speakers around the world. We predict that specifically improving the online MOOC courses will allow Professor Barry to scale his teaching to reach a large number of people. In broader terms, everyone who wants to become a better speaker and writer would benefit from the course.




Good with Words: Speaking and Presenting

Saket Kulkarni | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The Good Sentences project started by Professor Patrick Barry is about answering one question: what makes good sentences good? Knowing this can help us improve our own writing and speaking. This project started out in the law school in order to enhance the writing and speaking skills of law students, but over the years, it has expanded greatly: it’s now composed of many sub-projects all dedicated to the same cause. To actually determine what makes good writing good, the research team analyzes popular pieces of literature that society deems to be good writing. We analyze the most memorable phrases and break them down grammatically so that we can learn what aspects of those phrases are the most powerful. Professor Barry then shares these phrases within his class, sparking a discussion on them that allows for further analysis. Next, those class discussions are published as books by Professor Barry and his team. The sub-projects within Good Sentences are all fundamentally based on the material within these books. To address our fundamental research question, I as a member of the team reviewed Professor Barry’s class at the University of Michigan and his Coursera courses. I also took part in the editing process of his books, which are transcripts of prior classes. While these methods along with others get us closer to answering our question, the research is always ongoing; however, we can use what worked for other pieces of good writing/speaking and teach others to implement it within their own writing.




Grassroot Protests during the Presidency of Donald Trump: America’s Growing Dichotomy

Sumayah Basal | First-Year UROP Research Experience

“Party in the Streets: Grassroots Protests during (and Beyond?) the Presidency of Donald Trump” is a political science based research project. The work done for this project will help to contribute to Dr. Michael Heaney’s next book, America under Democracy. This project examines the connections between protests and social change, with a specific interest in the areas of Women’s March, protests and rallies under and after the Trump presidency, and protests surrounding COVID-19. This project focuses on studying different protests and movements to see how they relate to political parties and the approval of different presidencies. Overall, this project seeks to answer the questions: will different parties adopt different movements? How has this tactic of taking issues to the streets expanded under recent leadership?




Head CT image analysis for detecting edema

Angela Deng | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Cerebral edema, which is swelling in the brain, is commonly found in patients suffering from head trauma, injuries, or other diseases and can be fatal. The purpose of this research project was to develop a method for automatically detecting and segmenting edema in head CT scans in order to make it faster and easier for clinicians to diagnose and treat traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients. However, edema is difficult to segment due to its unclear boundaries and its similarity in pixel value to other brain tissue. In previous research, most methods for segmenting edema have either been semi-automated or for MRI scans. More accurate methods require MRI scans, but even though an MRI scan is more detailed and can make it easier to segment edema, CT scan is the gold standard for evaluating brain injuries and is faster and more widely available. Therefore, automatic segmentation of CT scans will be very beneficial. In this project, the active contours without edges method, developed by Chan and Vese, is used with manually segmented hematoma as the initial contour. The method was developed in MATLAB. The segmented edema was then compared with the manually segmented images, and the DICE score was used to measure the accuracy. Currently, this method successfully segments select CT scans. However, it needs improvement in order to be more generalizable. In the future, I will look further into other techniques such as deep learning that can help improve accuracy and generalizability in automatic edema segmentation.




Health and Sexual Education for Adolescents with Spina Bifida

Mieke Hart | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The dearth and unsatisfactory delivery of disability-specific sexual health knowledge and credences discounting the disabled population’s sexuality have precipitated a concerning health disparity between able-bodied and disabled patients. The increased life expectancy and relatively higher rates of child-bearing among females with Spina Bifida (SB) necessitates a sexual health intervention to mitigate instances of STI transmission and unintended pregnancy. Collated data from surveys of females aged 10-19 with SB and their parents suggested an accessible, online platform is optimal for transmission of sexual education respective of SB’s distinctive physical and cognitive features. The project is currently in the phase of intervention prototype formulation, after which a clinical trial will be conducted to assess effectiveness. Further trajectory includes monitoring long-term effects and circulation of the resource on media platforms. Conclusive results have not yet been drawn; however, we hypothesize this intervention will enhance sexual health efficacy and frequency of medically recommended practices within the population of females with SB. In turn, this will decrease risk of STIs and unintended pregnancy, diminishing the aforementioned disparity, and fostering a greater number of ideal health outcomes.




Health Equity Management Repository

Madelyn Yake | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Health equity is ideal. However, in practice, it can be difficult to pinpoint and implement the most effective solutions. Promoting and working to implement health equity in the workplace, classroom, and communities is one of the chief goals of the University of Michigan Health Equity Leadership Pipeline Collaborative (The Collaborative). Despite the large volume of academic writing regarding public health and health equity, there are few resources that effectively compile existing literature for public use and access. In light of this, The Collaborative began its work on the Health Equity Repository, a resource intended to aggregate and disseminate contemporary academic articles and toolkits pertaining to public health. The Health Equity Leadership Pipeline Collaborative provides innovative, relevant, and scholarly research on health professions and health education training methods to increase the impact of healthcare leadership addressing health equity issues.




Health Equity Management Repository

Zoha Khan | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Health equity is ideal. However, in practice, it can be difficult to pinpoint and implement the most effective solutions. Promoting and working to implement health equity in the workplace, classroom, and communities is one of the chief goals of the University of Michigan Health Equity Leadership Pipeline Collaborative (The Collaborative). Despite the large volume of academic writing regarding public health and health equity, there are few resources that effectively compile existing literature for public use and access. In light of this, The Collaborative began its work on the Health Equity Repository, a resource intended to aggregate and disseminate contemporary academic articles and toolkits pertaining to public health. The Health Equity Leadership Pipeline Collaborative provides innovative, relevant, and scholarly research on health professions and health education training methods to increase the impact of healthcare leadership addressing health equity issues.




Health-related Quality of Life Instrument for Inherited Retinal Degenerations, an Advancement in Cost-effectiveness Analysis

Rafid Farjo | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Inherited retinal diseases (IRDs) are a diverse group of progressively-worsening genetic diseases that can lead to blindness and irreversible vision impairment. Inherited retinal diseases are one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide. However, IRDs are heterogeneous in their nature and studying them through research can be very difficult. Presently, cost-effectiveness analyses (CEA) in the field of IRDs face multiple limitations which can lead to a degree of uncertainty in results, such as: the variance in disease progression rates amongst different IRD phenotypes, the difficulty of estimating disease-related expenses, and the absence of condition-specific health-related quality-of-life measurement instruments. This study seeks to decrease CEA uncertainty in the field through designing a health-related quality-of-life instrument that can be used in upcoming CEA studies done for IRDs’ novel nearly-approved treatments. Decreasing the uncertainty of CEA done for the novel therapies will assist in decision making related to funding or rejecting these treatments by policy makers. A health utility (health-related quality-of-life) index will be established for the Michigan Retinal Degeneration Questionnaire Utility Index (MRDQ-UI), a patient reported outcome measure that was designed specifically for IRDs. One hundred participants with IRDs will complete MRDQ-UI and will have their health utility values obtained through conducting time-trade off (TTO) interviews. In TTO, patients are asked to trade a specific number of years in perfect vision for a set number of years in their current eye condition. Upon study completion, MRDQ-UI will be an accurate health utility estimator which can be utilized for futuristic CEA studies.




Help with different research projects in Global Health

Sadie Hertz | First-Year UROP Research Experience




HGTV: Understanding Home Improvement Media Influence in the Architecture, Design, Planning, and Development of the US Metropolis

Tess Davis | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Media has a large impact on the functioning of society, dictating common norms, procedures, and ways of living. However, often overlooked is the impact that media has on the built environment. With such a large influence over communities, architecture can be swayed by the same social components that divide people, especially diversity. In order to examine the media’s impact on diversity in architecture, I examined the racial makeup and family structure makeup, (whether or not the family is a nuclear family, has disabilities, a same-sex couple, single-parent households), of HGTV shows. In order to do this, I watched the first and last available seasons of the shows, and cataloged the race and makeup of each family featured in each episode, as well as of the hosts. From this data, I calculated the percentage of POC and non-nuclear families featured in the shows within the seasons and compared the percentages calculated from the first season to the last season to track the progression in racial diversity. After watching the shows, I found that there was a decrease in racial diversity and an increase in non-nuclear family compositions overall from the first to last seasons of the chosen shows. These findings continue to highlight the lack of diversity and representation of different family groups in HGTV. Therefore, the media’s influence on the built environment disproportionately represents a white, nuclear family, rather than the diverse makeup of the communities featured on the shows.




HGTV: Understanding Home Improvement Media Influence in the Architecture, Design, Planning, and Development of the US Metropolis

Tia Brown | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Hispanic Youth Nutritional Messaging Preferences in an mHealth Intervention

Jackson Bergman | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Background: There is a disparity in the prevalence of obesity for Black/African American and Hispanic/Latinx adolescents living in the United States compared to non-Hispanic White youth. One factor that influences this disparity is a lack of culturally relevant nutrition education for the Hispanic population. Previous studies have identified the need for more effective cultural tailoring and improved translations in order to overcome linguistic barriers and enhance the understanding of nutritional topics. Advances in technology, and obtaining messaging content preferences from Hispanic youth may provide a means of rectifying these cultural barriers and increase the efficacy of health behavior interventions.




Hollywood’s Lost Celebrities: Live Performance in Classical Era Movie Theaters

Mackenzie Hubbard | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Prior to the 1930s, “going to the movies” was a very different experience that consisted of either attending a vaudeville theater or a movie theater where short live acts would appear on the same bills as films, cartoons, and newsreels. However, most scholarships attests that after this point, theaters switched almost exclusively to showing only movies, possible due to a number of factors. The common belief is that this shift happened quickly due to the growing popularity of sound films and the looming Great Depression which rendered live performance too expensive to program. However our research suggests that this story of demise and the reasons for it are overly simplistic at best, and frankly incorrect at worst. We demonstrate that live performance in movie theaters did decline during this time, but it was still widely used in the largest theaters in the country. We have primarily used two methods to explain and track the changing use of live performance in movie theaters. We have constructed a database of theater programs printed in Variety by inputting data such as city, theater, and acts into a Google Sheets spreadsheet. This data allows us to visually demonstrate the number of acts performing in certain years and shows that the common narrative that the death of vaude happened suddenly. In order to at least partially account for the changing prevalence of live performance, we have also traced the decisions of major film studios regarding the use of live performance in theaters. My case studies of Paramount and Fox, for example, show that this was not an instant decision, but rather a back and forth process where they would increase or decrease the use depending on what was profitable at the time. More broadly, these conclusions might tell us that vaude did not simply disappear, but rather the studio’s usage of it shifted back and forth for much longer before it’s demise.




Hospital Compliance with Online Dissemination of Standard Charges for Health Care Services

Joshua Agius | First-Year UROP Research Experience

In the United States, prices for healthcare services have remained largely concealed from patients. Although patients pay high prices for care that they receive retrospectively, these prices are largely unknown when seeking care initially. For the first time ever, federal Policy CMS-1694-F now requires hospitals to post a list of standardized charges for all health care services online. Although hospital compliance with this policy is essential to achieve its intended purpose, there has not been a comprehensive evaluation into hospital compliance to our knowledge. In this study, we use a cross-sectional survey of a stratified random sample of 500 US hospitals drawn from the pool of 3,451 US general medical and surgical hospitals in the 2018 American Hospital Association Annual Survey. The data collection took place between July 10, 2020 – January 03, 2021. We searched for a list of standard charges posted on hospital websites. If the list was present, we determined if the data was provided in a machine readable format and included the CMS specified shoppable services (evaluation & management services, laboratory & Pathology Services, Radiology Services, and Medicine and Surgery Services). We then looked to see if the list included Diagnosis Related Groups, listings of professional fees and if services were abbreviated. After removing 9 hospitals from our sample that closed or did no longer exist, we determined that 93% of the 491 hospitals in the sample had posted their standard charges. In this sample, however, only 35% of the lists were machine-readable, and 91% of hospitals used abbreviations for their services. The vast majority of hospitals included CMS-defined shoppable services (between 87%-99% for each type of service). In multivariable models, we found that hospitals that were a part of a health system were more likely to provide their standard charges online (odds ratio 3.1, 95% confidence interval 1.5-6.5, P=.003). As CMS considers new federal policies to further improve price transparency for healthcare services, this research allows us to have a much stronger understanding of hospitals’ compliance with price transparency initiatives. Additionally, we can better understand their effectiveness in order to communicate information to policy makers.




Host-Parasite Interactions Around Douglas Lake, MI

Julia Klinkman | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Parasites can play significant roles in populations, communities, and ecosystems through their interactions with their hosts. Carlson et al. found that between 3 and 33% of parasite species may be facing extinction, but a general lack of long-term parasite studies has made it difficult to identify drivers of population changes (5). Understanding how and why parasite populations change over time can supply important information about the changes the entire ecosystem is experiencing, and it can lead to a better understanding of what factors have the greatest impact on an ecosystem. The University of Michigan Biological Station archives contain parasite data collected during the first half of the 20th century. I have organized and cleaned data on parasites found in Rana frogs at Douglas Lake. I will present results exploring what changes in host-parasite occurrences over space and time. Finally, the parasite data will be input into the GIS mapping software to create visuals that can demonstrate other variables at play. These data approaches will allow us to identify if there are parasite hotspots around Douglas Lake and if those hotspots may have changed over time. Lit Cited: Carlson, Colin J., et al. “A Global Parasite Conservation Plan.” Biological Conservation, vol. 250, Oct. 2020, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006320719319937?via%3Dihub.




How Algorithms are Reinforcing Oppressive views towards Black Women

Alia Cummings | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The internet and search engines are used daily by most people in the U.S. However, most users are not familiar with the idea of algorithmic bias and how algorithms impact our communities and society. Algorithmic biases and the ethics of various technological algorithms can affect how gender, race, class systems, and many other categories are viewed and experienced from a societal lens. This project investigates the concepts of bias, discrimination, and ethics in current and emerging technological algorithms. This research will explore how Black Women are viewed from a societal and historical standpoint when searched for in various internet search engines and how these search results affect Black Women from an oppressive standpoint. From this investigation, educational YouTube content is created along with lesson plans based on the topic to be taught in the classroom. These lesson plans are taught in two separate classrooms, one in Detroit, MI with a majority African American community and the other in Ann Arbor, with a majority white population. An analysis of these two interactions along with reports of what has been learned about algorithmic bias and visuals gathered, awareness of the topic will be spread along with looking to find solutions to the algorithmic problems at hand. This research is able to provide a critical understanding of algorithms in technology. From this research one can see how bias, discrimination, and ethics show up in the media we constantly use and how these biases affect various societal communities. Minorities and social groups will also be able to heavily benefit from this research along with the companies that are creating these algorithms.




How Can Social Support Impact Life Perspectives in the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Yunseo Cho | First-Year UROP Research Experience

This study aims to examine life perspectives during the COVID-19 pandemic by surveying university students. Relevant studies that were used to help with this study include “Stress and the environment” (Baum et al., 1981) and “The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: Rapid review of the evidence” (Brooks et al., 2020). One question that is examined within this topic is: does social support encourage optimistic perspectives on life during adverse events? For methods, 238 university students were recruited from two psychology courses at a large public university in the midwest of the United States. Ages ranged from 18 to 27 years, and there was a variety in race and the level of education attained by the parents of the respondents. In regards to the survey itself, there were four measures”””How Life Is Changing,” “Social Interaction,” “Retrospective Advice for the Self One Year Ago,” and “Time Perspectives.” Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected. Although results are preliminary, they provide some evidence in how promoting greater social interaction during global health crises””such as the COVID-19 pandemic””can help to potentially protect or foster optimistic views about one’s future. Further surveying and research will be able to reveal more. With this data, measures to take during global health crises to help mental health can be more educated and better informed.




How Do Companies Respond to Consumer Boycotts? A Deeper Understanding of the Interplay between Social Movements, Corporations and Political Actors.

Isaac Matti | First-Year UROP Research Experience




How Do Motivations and Identities Affect Racial Dialogue?

Vimukthi Rupasinghe | First-Year UROP Research Experience




How Do Motivations and Identities Effect Racial Dialogue?

Lauren Lott | First-Year UROP Research Experience




How do Undergraduate Research Programs Help First-Generation College Students?

Lucas Campbell | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The existing literature on first-generation college students (Ives and Castillo, 2020; Antonelli et al., 2020; Keefe et al., 2020) centers primarily on the unique obstacles they face on their path to success upon entering college. Though some authors (e.g., Almeida et al. 2019; Chang et al., 2020) have studied how first-generation students can overcome these barriers, few have mentioned how undergraduate research programs can be an effective method for doing so. Palmer et al. (2015) suggest that students can benefit greatly due to the many mentoring relationships involved in undergraduate research programs. To synthesize these studies and identify these benefits, I conducted a literature search of multiple databases (i.e., PsychInfo; ERIC) to identify articles related to first-generation college students’ participation in undergraduate research programs. In my review of the 31 articles I collected, I found that first-generation college students can utilize undergraduate research programs as a social capital intervention. This intervention allows first-generation college students to gain social capital, which refers to the benefits and resources (i.e., psychological and academic support, increased retention, field socialization, a communication network) received from a social support network (Parnes et al., 2020). These benefits and resources aid students in their college career and are obtained through interactions with faculty and peer mentors in the research setting. I discuss mentoring techniques to facilitate social growth and additional improvements to undergraduate research programs that can further benefit first-generation college students’ transition to higher education.




How does ERI resolution impact depressive symptoms within adolescent Latinos, Asian Americans, and African Americans?

Sophia Grewal | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Adolescents go through a lot of change throughout their youth including an increased understanding of themselves. Within these increased understandings, adolescents are capable of resolving what ethnic-racial identity means to them. Considering this how would have a stronger resolution of ethnic-racial identity impact depressive symptoms shown in adolescent minorities? To answer this question we surveyed adolescents from Latino, Asian American, and African Americans.




How Technology Discriminates: Education and Outreach Project

Phoebe Sarandos | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Algorithms and Society works to educate young technology users on the associated risks and societal implications of information technology. The project focuses on how bias is embedded in the algorithms behind information technology. To build lesson plans for high school students, I analyzed the Algorithms + Society five-part YouTube video series, designed by researchers on the research team. These videos are short and informational and provided me the premise of each coordinating lesson plan. Based on the Algorithms + Society videos, I did my own research to contextualize and expand on the basic information. The culmination of this work is a set of high school lesson plans to be taught in coordination with the Algorithms + Society Youtube video series. Each lesson contains step-by-step, scripted instructions for teachers, questions for class discussions, and engaging activities for the students. Algorithms and Society explores how algorithmic bias embedded in search engines, social media, smart devices, etc, perpetuates discrimination and bias in our society. In an increasingly digitized world, it is imperative that students understand the risks associated with information technology. Through education, we can raise a generation of technology users and developers who are cognizant of algorithmic bias and actively work against it.




Human Rights and Indigenous Rights in Africa

Demitria Wetzka | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Indigenous Africa began as a way to spread awareness of evictions and land grabbing against the Maasai people in Tanzania. The project serves to be a center of information for various groups of people. The project now encompasses many different countries and ethnic groups. Today, we cover all regions of Africa and have nearly 80 cases covering a diverse array of both peoples and issues happening across the continent. We break down cases into seven different categories: Conservation, Agribusiness, Infrastructure, Refugee Crises, Mining, Farmer Conflicts and Urban Expansion. Every case is listed under a file. It provides an overview of each case’s name, where it is occurring, who it is assigned to, when it was last updated, when it was last posted to our social media accounts, and the relevant bit.ly link we use when promoting it. Our shared Google Drive account contains a folder for every country we have researched. This is where we store all relevant articles, case drafts, blog posts, research papers, photos, etc. In the past two decades, indigenous peoples in Africa have experienced a sharp increase in violations of their human rights and intensified efforts to appropriate their land and water resources. Indigenous peoples include pastoralists (herders), agro-pastoralists (who mix herding with farming), and hunter-gatherers (who forage and hunt small game). These communities depend heavily on land and water resources that they have accessed for generations, hence the loss of these resources threatens their livelihoods and existence. Violations in indigenous communities do not receive enough media coverage of the injustices that impact them, and this lack of attention continues to hinder support for indigenous peoples to maintain their traditional lifestyle.




Human Rights and Indigenous Rights in Africa

Sarah Sexton | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Many indigenous peoples of Africa face violations of their rights to land and other resources. This project works to create a website that documents and archives an array of case studies concerning indigenous peoples from across the continent. Those who have long standing rights to specific land territories and who preserve their own cultural, linguistic, and social practices in the continent are considered to be “indigenous”. The research being done aims to increase public awareness of violations that otherwise can be difficult to locate as indigenous people count for approximately 5% of the global population and their concerns rarely make it into mainstream media. We divide the violations into six categories, covering conservation, agribusiness, infrastructure, refugee crises, mining, and farming conflicts. Cases are built by researching the actors involved and collecting informative sources regarding the violation, and each is paired with accompanying images/maps/and videos. A narrative outlining the violation’s causes and consequences as well as the additional media are uploaded onto the website and neatly organized with tags referencing relevant keywords. In addition, all of the bibliographic sources are archived in Zotero. From here, social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are used to broadcast each case. By both building a comprehensive online resource to inform people of these violations, and then using various platforms to extend the audience of the information, it is hoped that attention will be brought to the injustices occurring.




Human Rights and Indigenous Rights in Africa

Melanie Hawkins | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Introduction: In this project, we cover a diverse array of both peoples and issues happening across all regions of Africa. We have nearly 70 cases, each of which were carefully researched and written up as a case study for the general public to learn about on our website . We break down cases into six different categories: Conservation, Agribusiness, Infrastructure, Refugee Crises, Mining, and Farmer Conflicts. The issues that we find in regard to the crisis’ indigenous peoples of Africa face are constantly expanding. In partnership with various NGOs, we are working hard to expose these issues for the purpose of helping to raise awareness and potentially bring change to the indigenous communities of Africa. Methods: Each member of the project is assigned a certain number of cases in which we are responsible for updating information and links on the website (maintenance for older cases), researching and finding information on developing cases, and taking turns writing a case study to be featured on the website and our social media platforms. In order to make sure citations are standard across all case studies, we import them into a system called Zotero which accurately alphabetizes each citation and puts them in the same format. To do site maintenance we use wordpress and ArcGis. The data collected is qualitative. Results and Conclusions: There are constantly new developments and updates to many cases in that these issues are prevalent and still continue today. There are no finalized results for any of the cases because none of these issues have been “solved”. There are cases that have not had any development in the last few years but because these communities still exist and in most cases still in danger, our research has not been concluded.




Human Rights and Indigenous Rights in Africa

Cecilia Galle | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Throughout the world, indigenous peoples’ ways of life are being threatened due to surrounding governments and economic conquests. In 2007, the United Nations signed the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which states that indigenous peoples have both individual and collective rights to their culture and identity along with other human rights such as education, healthcare, employment, language, etc. It also prohibits the discrimination of indigenous peoples and allows indigenous peoples to continue their traditional ways of life. Despite all of this, indigenous people’s rights that were outlined in this document are being violated. This project investigates the current violations against the rights of indigenous peoples in Africa and the implications on certain indigenous groups. By researching articles that describe these violations and creating case studies that summarize numerous violations across the continent, this project aims to create an interactive website that documents these violations in a way that is easy to access and understand. The purpose of this project is to present these violations to the United Nations in order to get justice for these indigenous populations.




Husband Education and Family Planning: Is there a connection?

Arwa Hassaballa | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Many factors play a role in deciding whether or not a married couple will use a form of family planning. Past research has shown that a large factor is the education the couple has. Both the husband and the wife’s knowledge affects whether or not the couple decides to use a form of family planning. However, is the education of the husband as important as the wife’s education? In cultures where the husband plays a large role in decision making, the husband’s education can be just as important or even more important than the wife’s education. In my project, I would like to determine if a husband’s educational attainment plays a role in use of family planning. Using data collected from the cluster-randomized controlled trial titled: Proactive Community Case Management to Reduce Child Mortality Rates, the goal of my project is to analyze the relationship between husband’s education and Family Planning. When looking at husband education and family planning, the hypothesis is that the more the husband is educated, the more likely family planning is taking place between the couple. The Proactive Case Management trial started in 2017 and was implemented until 2020. Households were surveyed beginning the year before the intervention started and then every year after that until 2020. Looking at a control group and an intervention group, the data collected in the questionnaires will help determine if the intervention is successful in lowering child mortality rates. The intervention consists of community health workers (CHW) who visit the families’ homes while the control simply gives the families access to a health center and CHW. The idea behind the intervention is to see if giving easier access to healthcare will lead to higher rates of child survival. Using the data collected during the baseline survey for this project, statistical analysis will be used to determine if there is an association between husband education and family planning.




Identification of Cell Types in scRNA-seq Data Using Machine Learning Algorithm

Adam Tisch | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Identification of Cell Types in scRNA-seq Using Machine Learning Algorithms

Stephen Blough | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Identification of novel genetic drivers of pediatric tumors

Audry Rakozy | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common cancer among pediatric patients and is characterized by fewer mutations than adult cancers, suggesting that aberrant gene expression is a critical factor in treatment and prognosis. Gene expression data can identify targeted therapy pathways by identifying more precise cancer profiles based on genetic expression. To assess effectiveness of RNA expression analysis at identifying target genes, mRNA copy counts from tumor samples of 32 pediatric ALL patients were gathered. Sample grouping was explored using principal component analysis, t-distributed stochastic neighbor embedding, and uniform manifold approximation and projection. The samples were then split according to expression levels of known neuroblastoma driver ALK and then analyzed for differentially expressed genes using the DESeq2 and limma workflows. As part of the preliminary findings, differential expression analysis revealed differences within the group in expression of known neuroblastoma drivers MYCN, ALK, PHOX2B, and TERT. This also revealed limitations of RNAseq analysis due to noise at low expression levels and outliers that skewed mean expression data. Analysis of RNA expression data shows promising results by identifying groups of similar cancer profiles and identifying differentially expressed genes as therapeutic targets.




Identification of novel genetic drivers of pediatric tumors

Naum Raskind | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Cancer-causing processes such as smoking and exposure to UV-light leave behind unique mutational signatures among the DNA of cancer patients. The analysis of mutational signatures in raw tumor data to produce/solidify a diagnosis would greatly benefit cancer patients and help streamline their prognosis. My project deals with the analysis of variant data obtained from tumor samples in order to determine which mutational signatures are present, utilizing technologies such as deconstructSigs, siglasso, and quadratic programming, as well as the well-established COSMIC mutational signatures.




Identifying Brain Edema in CT Scans Using Machine Learning

Lydia Lee | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Brain edema is the swelling of the brain as a result of traumatic brain injuries, strokes, tumors, and infections. This affects the patients cognitive and motor function and can lead to lasting adverse health risks and death. Early and accurate identification of edema can prevent these hazards. Studies have found that brain edema is difficult for clinicians to accurately identify, as it often blends in with other brain matter. Additionally finding a link between the volume of edema and the effect on the patient is considered valuable, but there is currently no standard software in place for this end. Even when clinicians are able to identify edema, they are not able to quantify the volume present. Convolutional neural networks were used for training the model to segment the edema region. Images from the PROTECT III collection at the University of Michigan hospital were used for this research. Some images were previously annotated by clinicians and these images were subsequently used in the process of training the machine learning model. The performance of the model was evaluated using quantitative techniques such as dice, sensitivity, specificity, accuracy, and AUC. The goal of this software is to decrease adverse effects and death related to brain edema by creating a system to quantitatively measure edema and make informed decisions on how to treat the patient based on the information collected.




Identifying Hopes and Fears Among School Re-engaged Youth

Amber Yaldo | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Many students who are newly re-engaging in school are facing many difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This study examined how the pandemic has impacted the lives of secondary school students enrolled in a school re-engagement program. The overall purpose of the study was to understand how youth re-engaging in school can best be supported during the pandemic. A systematic review of the literature was conducted to examine the use of peer mentors with school-disengaged youth as a strategy to support school re-engagement. Data from surveys completed by students enrolled in a school re-engagement program were also analyzed. As part of the survey, students were asked to report their hopes and fears for the future. Each response listed by participants was coded into 1 of 18 categories by two independent reviewers. Any discrepancies in coding were discussed until a final category was agreed upon. Common categories for both hopes and fears included academic success, occupational success, interpersonal relationships, and financial resources. These findings provide insight into common hopes and fears faced by students during the pandemic. School re-engagement programs have proven to be an effective way to support youth who have disconnected or dropped out of secondary school. Study findings provide insights into how to support newly school re-engaged youth during this time of increased stress and isolation. The goal of this work is to translate these findings into programs and services to support student success.




Identifying neuronal components necessary for cool temperature sensing

Ilma Rovcanin | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Temperature sensing is necessary for homeostatic regulation, probing the environment for pleasant or aversive cues, and must be reliable across a broad range of temperatures. Under normal conditions, cool temperatures are not painful. However, patients suffering from chronic pain perceive normally innocuous cool temperatures as an unbearably painful sensation known as cold allodynia. How innocuous cool temperatures are signaled in the spinal cord has not been well studied. This study aims to uncover the basic neuronal components necessary for cool temperature transmission in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. To accomplish this, an intersectional genetic strategy was implemented to ablate several different cell-type markers in the dorsal horn, then tested for temperature sensing impairments. Interestingly, Calbindin 1 (Calb1) neurons, which are mostly local interneurons, were necessary for the detection of cool but not cold stimuli. Calb1 is a heterogeneous population. Using In Situ Hybridization and immunohistochemistry, the Calb1 population was characterized based on markers for excitatory/inhibitory neurons, laminae layer, and somatosensory neurons for pain and itch. By understanding these different subpopulations, the role Calbindin 1 neurons play in transmitting cool and cold sensations can be further investigated. This study provides insight into the neural basis of cool temperature transmission in the spinal cord, which may lead to treatments for patients suffering from cold allodynia.




Identifying physiological and behavioral mechanisms linking discrimination and subclinical cardiovascular disease among racially diverse young sexual minority men

Christopher Giang | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains a leading cause of death for men in the United States. This is in part due to stress and substance use being closely associated with early risk factors of CVD prevalence. While little research exists on potential protective factors against the negative effects of stress, one possible mechanism that may mitigate the effects of stress exposure is social support. This cross-sectional study seeks to examine the association between physiological stress, substance use, and Carotid Intima-Media Thickness (CIMT). Approximately 50 participants, comprising of young sexual minority men (YSMM) between the ages of 18-35 years old, will be enrolled where these participants will have to fill out an online survey, providing information on stress and experiences of discrimination in childhood stress , adulthood stress, substance use behaviors, and current PSS. Participants will also be asked to take part in a non-invasive ultrasound to obtain CIMT measurements to evaluate possible signs of pre-clinical CVD. In addition, participants will be asked to provide saliva samples to measure salivary cortisol. At this current time, our project has not been able to produce results, however the investigation team hypothesize that YSMM that experienced higher in discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or racial/ethnic identity will have higher cIMT measurements than those lower in discrimination. The final conclusions and implications of this study might provide increased knowledge to the scientific community and clinical practice when it comes to understanding of CVD risk factors.




Identifying physiological and behavioral mechanisms linking discrimination and subclinical cardiovascular disease among racially diverse young sexual minority men

Nathan Hershberger | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains a leading cause of death for men in the United States. This is in part due to stress and substance use being closely associated with early risk factors of CVD prevalence. While little research exists on potential protective factors against the negative effects of stress, one possible mechanism that may mitigate the effects of stress exposure is social support. This cross-sectional study seeks to examine the association between physiological stress, substance use, and Carotid Intima-Media Thickness (CIMT). Approximately 50 participants, comprising of young sexual minority men (YSMM) between the ages of 18-35 years old, will be enrolled where these participants will have to fill out an online survey, providing information on stress and experiences of discrimination in childhood stress , adulthood stress, substance use behaviors, and current PSS. Participants will also be asked to take part in a non-invasive ultrasound to obtain CIMT measurements to evaluate possible signs of pre-clinical CVD. In addition, participants will be asked to provide saliva samples to measure salivary cortisol. At this current time, our project has not been able to produce results, however the investigation team hypothesize that YSMM that experienced higher in discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or racial/ethnic identity will have higher cIMT measurements than those lower in discrimination. The final conclusions and implications of this study might provide increased knowledge to the scientific community and clinical practice when it comes to understanding of CVD risk factors.




Image mosaic stitching/blending for large scale neuronal tracing from mouse brain images

Jeremy Margolin | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Existing knowledge of how brains work is limited. Specifically, there are major gaps in our understanding of the fundamental building blocks and the procedures by which they work together to achieve higher-level brain functions. Modern microscopy techniques permit imaging large brain volume by taking overlapping image tiles with high resolution. This study aims to implement image processing algorithms to stitch such overlapping tiles and blend them into a seamless continuous image. The blended images can then be used to map and functionally reverse engineer the lower-level functions of mice brains. Currently, progress is still being made in the model construction phase. When completed, these models will hopefully allow advanced machine learning algorithms to identify patterns in the neural maps to reverse engineer the brains which has can lead to subsequent breakthroughs in areas like medicine and thought-controlled devices.




Impact of a Web-Based Naloxone Training on First Responders

Rohan Patil | First-Year UROP Research Experience

In the midst of the pandemic, the United States continues to experience an opioid epidemic. Fatal opioid overdoses have risen significantly during the pandemic. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, and is an effective public health intervention to reduce opioid overdoses. Law enforcement officers are often first to arrive at the scene of an overdose. To equip law enforcement officers to respond to opioid overdoses, a web-based naloxone training program was developed in collaboration with our community partners (www.overdoseaction.org). The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of our First Responder web-based naloxone training program. We aim to use descriptive statistics and paired samples t-test to analyze pre-test and post-test data to assess the law enforcement officers’ improvements in knowledge, confidence, and attitudes towards naloxone and overdoses. We anticipate our results will show an increase in knowledge, confidence, and attitudes among law enforcement officers who participate in our web-based naloxone training.




Impact of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives on Faculty Mentoring and Black Women’s Persistence in STEM

Emily Warden | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives are increasingly implemented in academia to promote an inclusive learning environment, but particularly fall short in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, which are commonly perceived as cold and unwelcoming (Ceglie, 2020). DEI initiatives affect how faculty members act as mentors and how minority students experience education, especially those with intersecting underrepresented identities like Black women. However, there is a gap in the literature about how DEI and faculty mentoring practices converge to impact Black women in STEM. This literature review was conducted utilizing 3 academic databases. Abstract reviews and Zotero citation manager narrowed the results from 207 sources to 43 useful scientific articles which examine how DEI initiatives impact faculty mentoring and consequently encourage Black women to pursue a career in STEM. After extracting information from the literature using virtual annotations, the results were organized in the literature review. The findings indicate that multidimensional, purposeful DEI initiatives encourage multicultural mentoring styles, allow faculty members to recognize the biases they hold, and develop mentors who can professionally and emotionally support the unique experiences of Black women. A mix of formal and informal mentoring, when guided by DEI values, best helps Black women feel more comfortable and persist in the STEM environment. The fundamental takeaway is that universities must actively implement DEI initiatives, rather than passively utilizing colorblind values, to more effectively train faculty mentors who can better encourage Black women to pursue a career in STEM.




Implementation of a virtual reality radiation protection game in Unity for Oculus Quest

Xinyi Zheng | First-Year UROP Research Experience

At its core, virtual reality (VR) technology seeks to create virtual experiences that reflect as closely as possible the movements and responses users would have to reality. While commonly used for entertainment, it has also found use in virtual training for jobs or tasks that require hands-on experience. This is especially relevant for radiation protection training, which requires familiarity with a variety of equipment, sources, and emergency procedures. The main question is how to implement this VR training effectively. On the most basic level, the core physics and user movement must be as realistic as possible. These objectives can be achieved by choosing a game engine that supports VR development, and a target VR device with a wide range of user mobility. For this project, Unity was chosen for its versatile VR support, including support for specific devices (Oculus Quest) and more generalized support systems that allow the game to be run on any device with the proper movement controls. Care was also taken in making in-game detector models and radiation physics scripts as realistic as possible. A well-designed VR game recreates and even exceeds the limits of hands-on training, as the player can be placed in complex and potentially dangerous situations without worries of cost or potential harm. A game which fully takes advantage of the VR platform teaches players proper handling of equipment and procedures while also providing more open-ended scenes (i.e. emergencies, high-risk scenarios) that are difficult to simulate in real life.




Implications of Grammaticality on Code-Switching in Spanish-English Bilinguals

Sydney Kelly | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The Hispanic population is projected to compromise 29 percent of the total US population by 2060 (Colby & Ortman, 2015). Consequently, the Spanish language is finding itself in the spotlight more often than ever before. Understanding how Spanish-English bilinguals communicate can help inform teaching methods for language-learners and curb social taboos that impact Hispanic populations. This study aims to understand the effect of social and grammatical factors on code-switching in Spanish-English bilinguals. Through the use of Qualtrics surveys, bilinguals of varying proficiency levels rated sentences based on how “good” they sounded. They were shown an image and four corresponding sentences: two that were code-switched where one was grammatical and one ungrammatical, and two non-code-switched sentences where one was grammatical and one was ungrammatical. As predicted, ungrammatical sentences were rated more poorly than their grammatical counterparts. While its cost was not as great as that of the grammaticality of the sentence, sentences that contained a code switch were rated more poorly than those that did not. This could be chalked up to the fact that there is a negative connotation associated with code-switching in regions of the US; those that code-switch may face social isolation or pressure against their language use. Understanding this concept through data will allow us as a society to better address this stigma. The data also gives us a more comprehensive understanding of how bilinguals communicate. This can be used when developing more applicable teaching approaches for those that are learning Spanish or English as a second language.




Improvements to the design of a low cost, smart, and easy to build Geiger-Müller radiation detection system for use in the classroom

Loris Jautakas | First-Year UROP Research Experience

This project was created to develop a simple, smart, and low cost alternative to the commercially available Geiger-Müller (GM) radiation detection systems for use in the classroom. Unfortunately, the complexity of circuitry and software of professional grade equipment is too large for most students. A kit was developed that consists of GM tubes recovered from fallout shelters, a Raspberry Pi computer, assorted basic electronics components (resistors, capacitors, inductor, transistors), and a printed circuit board (PCB). All components have through hole technology (THT) mounting to facilitate students learning soldering. The limited number of components allows for an affordable design that someone with basic electronics knowledge can build and understand. The system features a command line interface and smartphone application, enhancing opportunities for students learning not present with commercial systems. The original design for the project had a flaw where the circuit would attempt to put 5V on a 3.3V GPIO pin on the Raspberry Pi which would damage it. This work reports on a new design that has a reworked circuit that uses an operational amplifier to protect the general purpose input output (GPIO) of the Raspberry Pi and add stability to the circuit to ensure the components operate in their intended voltage regions. In addition, there were test points that were added to help debug the circuit and the PCB was redesigned to make it easier to solder. The smartphone application was also improved for publication on both Android and iOS platforms.




Improving Student Mastery through Question Interleaving

Zhongqi Ma | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Our research focuses on improving student masteries through question interleaving. Although previous researches by Rohrer and Taylor have shown that interleaving questions enhances student learning, there has been little research on question recommendation models that utilizes this concept to maximize student learning. We assume that question interleaving helps student learning. We aim to identify metrics that allow us to optimize the ordering of question interleaving and build a question recommendation model based on our findings. We are utilizing two datasets from online tutoring platforms that contain questions answered by students to analyze if our proposed metrics are statistically significant to base decisions on. We will also run simulations with Python on potential recommendation algorithms to see how well the result matches with a simple student ability model. The result of our findings aim to provide a question recommendation method that only relies upon the concept a question tests, but can be used in conjunction with further information. We hope our findings will align with our goal of having a question recommendation model that maximizes student learning. This allows for personalization in intelligent tutoring systems even before significant amounts of student/question data has been generated. The ultimate goal/implication of our research is to help improve learning results for all students simply by changing the order of their practice questions, without increasing their workload.




Improving Student Mastery through Question Interleaving

Zhihao Su | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Intelligent tutoring systems often recommend questions based on the estimation of students’ current ability estimates, the randomness, or the expectations from the instructors. To help students improve their masteries in a concept, we are going to propose a question recommendation model by utilizing question interleaving. Previous researches in math classes have shown that interleaving questions enhance student learning. Hence, assuming interleaving will benefit students’ learning, we examine how to effectively reordering the concepts of the questions within a session. Analyzing mainly on two online skill-builder datasets, we demonstrate that there exists a statistically significant difference in what we call sub-abilities from which interleaving can be optimized. We come up with a simple method that only depends on knowing a question concept id and a binary outcome for correctness. We are writing a Python library for simulation to compare how ideal results match with the proposed recommendation algorithms. The result of our findings aims to generate a personalized question recommendation for the students without gathering extensive data from them while maintaining the flexibility to include other models. The ultimate goal of our research is to provide students from different backgrounds with an efficient way to improve learning results.




Improving the accuracy of detecting single-exon deletions in human cancers

Rami Shams | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Current algorithms that analyze data from Next-generation sequencing(NGS) systems have a blind spot for Copy Number Variants(CNVs) involving one or two exons. This involves the insertion or deletion of entire exons or coding regions of the DNA. This is an important complication because deletions involving one or two exons are usually associated with the deactivation of an entire gene. The purpose of this research project is to design a novel algorithm which can detect single exon CNVs and quantify how common these aberrations are in human cancers. This project utilizes the R programming language and popular R packages such as Bioconductor to design the algorithm and parse genetic data. The algorithm will be built using existing statistical techniques such as the Hall and von Neumann estimates for variance. The data is obtained from a database of hundreds of samples in order to accurately describe the per-exon variance. Results are expected that allow for more consistent identification of single exon CNVs in human cancers. It is also possible that this increase in sensitivity and accuracy will be associated with a decrease in specificity when compared to current algorithms. This research can improve the ability to characterize different cancers which can help inform clinical diagnostics and ultimately improve outcomes for patients.




In silico drug design for pain and addiction therapeutics

Maria Fields | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Traditional opioids target the mu opioid receptor and remain the de facto treatment for pain management. However, they are responsible for a myriad of unwanted side effects, such as addiction and respiratory depression, limiting long-term clinical utility. The kappa opioid receptor has emerged in recent years as a viable drug target as a means to avoid the undesirable side effects stemming from the mu opioid receptor. Thus, identifying a novel kappa opioid receptor agonist would be of great therapeutic value. To better understand the preference of the kappa opioid receptor’s preference for agonists or antagonists, opioids known to target this receptor were subjected to molecular docking against the agonist- and antagonist-bound structures to predict whether either had preference for an opioid type. After ranking ordering based on the docking score, no preference was observed for either receptor. Additional optimization of the docking protocol, such as the use of pharmacophore constraints, would potentially improve results. Structurally, a better understanding of opioid preference for the kappa opioid receptor would aid in the selection of compounds following a virtual screen for experimental validation.




Incidence of Hypertension in Pediatric Cancer Patients associated with Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor (TKI) Therapy

Chetana Ghantasala | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Increasing access to STD treatment in the Emergency Department through EPT

Ethan Chang | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Background: Rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the United States are rising dramatically. EDs serve as the primary source of care for many patients diagnosed with STIs. Expedited Partner Therapy (EPT), an evidence-based practice for treating partners of patients with STIs without an exam, can decrease rates of STI reinfection and increase the number of partners treated. Despite the potential benefits of EPT, its use in EDs is poorly understood. Objective: This study characterizes the knowledge, beliefs, interest, and practice of EPT among academic ED medical directors through a cross-sectional survey. We also explore barriers and facilitators to EPT implementation through semi-structured interviews of medical directors and key informants conducted using an interview guide informed by the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Science. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and iteratively coded, and qualitative thematic analysis was used to identify themes and subthemes by consensus. Results: A total of 48 out of 70 medical directors responded. There was a high awareness of EPT (73%), but only 38% knew how to prescribe EPT, and even fewer (19%) had actually implemented it. Most respondents supported EPT (79%) and were more likely to support EPT if they were already aware of it (89% vs 54%). 41% of those who had not implemented EPT thought that it would be feasible, and 56% thought that departmental support would be likely. Many participants cited medicolegal barriers and lack of clarity regarding the ED’s role in STI care as obstacles to EPT adoption. Other participants cited a perceived benefit of EPT use was the prevention of untreated STIs, particularly among a vulnerable population. Conclusion: Our findings show relatively low use but high interest in EPT in academic EDs, and show the need for increased awareness to implement this public health intervention in the ED setting.




Increasing Diversity in the Medical Workforce

Kayla Cox | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Despite evidence that having a diverse physician workforce has a multitude of benefits, it is still not representative of the total United States population. Evidence supports the conclusion that minority doctors are more likely to work in underrepresented minority communities in need of healthcare expansion, as well as aiding in the reduction of health-related disparities (Ibrahim 2019). This study examines what influences minorities’ decision to continue or leave the pipeline to medicine, in hopes of identifying potential barriers. In order to better understand the issue, preliminary research was conducted to find out current statistics about underrepresented minorities in medicine. After examining past research, we formulated our own hypotheses of potential barriers including inadequate mentorship, an unstable educational foundation, and hostile learning climates in post-secondary education, and used these hypotheses to draft focus group questions. We will host interviews so that students of color can discuss and share their experiences pursuing the pipeline to medicine. We anticipate that the data collected will support our hypothesis that foundational issues and lack of support have impacted retention rates of medically-interested students. Based on that data, we plan on drafting a survey that will allow us to garner more responses. After the conclusion of this data collection process, we hope to draft a manuscript that could be used by medical institutions in order to understand how to recruit and retain higher numbers of underrepresented minority students.




Individualized Cancer Care Follow-Up Study: A study examining women’s health care experiences since diagnosis with breast cancer

Michael Regan | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Improvements in breast cancer screening and treatment have led to a positive but difficult complication – the healthcare system is suddenly faced with an overwhelming influx of survivors it has little experience in managing, and the lasting effects of the disease and its treatments make long-term follow-up care necessary. Socio demographic disparities and the exponentially growing number of survivors necessitate the involvement of both oncologists and primary-care physicians (PCPs) in survivorship care, and this adds further potential obstacles in the way of universal high-quality care for survivors. To better understand these disparities and the current reality of how survivorship care is delivered by oncologists and PCPs, we conducted a five-year follow up survey of 2500 women with a history of breast cancer in California and Georgia. PCP involvement in survivorship care was assessed, with an emphasis on discovering any disparities therein. Overall disparities in the quality of survivorship care based on socio demographic factors were also investigated. Lastly, we assessed whether increased PCP involvement in survivorship care led to an increase in the quality of survivorship care received. We hypothesized that oncologists would play a primary role in survivorship care with the PCPs role lacking consistency across the sample population. We also hypothesized that clear care-based disparities would exist across socio demographic lines and that greater PCP involvement would reduce these disparities. Assessing the current status of survivorship care will help reveal the system’s flaws in more detail, allowing for a focused approach on specific improvements moving forward.




Information Geometry: Unified Framework for Information, Machine Learning, and Statistical Inference

Xun Wang | First-Year UROP Research Experience

This study aims at computing around KL-divergences of probability density distributions around different metrics. We try to compute 2nd/3rd derivatives for different metrics, affine connections and levi-civita Connections in particular, under these distributions in order to have an idea about the flatness of the different spaces we are working on. Given the nature of this independent study, most of these computations and results have already been proven before. We computed KL divergences, Jacobian and Fisher matrices under different metrics. We then derive some integral forms for Fisher Information matrices, affine connections, dual connections and derivative forms for coordinate transformation for these parameters. We found out that for metrics in exponentials, the affine connections turn out to be 0 everywhere, while in expectation coordinates, the dual connections are 0. This means that in either case, we are working with a flat space. Nothing spectacular has been found out around the normal metric(namely, (mean, standard deviation)).




Innovating Innovation: Unpacking URM Engagement in NSF I-CORPS

Jesse Gilbert-Sovern | First-Year UROP Research Experience

NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) is a 7-week entrepreneurship education program that brings academics and industry experts together for an opportunity recognition project and business model creation. While the program has met with success since its inception, it has had challenges attracting and engaging racially minoritized populations (i.e., people who identify as Black, Latinx, or Native American). Diversity is not only critical in entrepreneurship, but beneficial in problem solving and innovation. This study aims to better understand how I-Corps can better attract and engage racially minoritized populations and unpack how to help foster an inclusive environment for racially minoritized participants in I-Corps. To address this challenge a series of interviews were conducted with I-Corps participants who identified as racially minoritized and a subset of those interviews were analyzed. Two themes emerged: 1) I-Corps must improve on recruiting racially minoritized populations and 2) racially minoritized participants experienced additional barriers while participating in the program. To combat these issues several implementable policies and guidelines are proposed.




Integrating patient-reported outcomes into rheumatology practice

Faith Reger | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Background: Many patients with rheumatic diseases have symptoms like pain and fatigue in spite of their treatment [1,2]. Patients also often disagree with their health care providers (HCPs) in their perceptions about their disease [3]. One method that helps facilitate better patient-provider communication about symptoms is the use of patient reported outcomes (PROs). PROs are a patient’s self report of their health status or symptoms. Many HCPs in the Division of Rheumatology do not use PROs in their clinical practice. Objectives: The aim of this study is to assess the impacts, barriers, and facilitators of incorporating PROMIS measures for pain, physical function, and sleep disturbance into clinical rheumatology practice.




Integrating patient-reported outcomes into rheumatology practice

Neda Kortam | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Background: Many patients with rheumatic diseases have symptoms like pain and fatigue in spite of their treatment [1,2]. Patients also often disagree with their health care providers (HCPs) in their perceptions about their disease [3]. One method that helps facilitate better patient-provider communication about symptoms is the use of patient reported outcomes (PROs). PROs are a patient’s self report of their health status or symptoms. Many HCPs in the Division of Rheumatology do not use PROs in their clinical practice. Objectives: The aim of this study is to assess the impacts, barriers, and facilitators of incorporating PROMIS measures for pain, physical function, and sleep disturbance into clinical rheumatology practice.




Interactive ebooks

Sravani Battula | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Past research by Dr. Barbara Ericson has indicated that interactive elements are preferred to static textbooks in classes. An interdisciplinary study was undertaken in order to investigate better educational methods for introductory computing classes like Engineering 101. In order to understand what problems and sort of questions best foster learning, static books were converted into interactive electronic books and developed to integrate lower cognitive level practice – multiple choice questions, mix-up code, and parsons problems among others. Prior research has shown that students learn better when they get immediate feedback. Peer instruction allows for greater depth in learning and aids the process of understanding difficulty areas. The books are to be used to gather data regarding difficulty and develop adaptable elements to foster better teaching methods catered to students. The books are coded, and structured to foster maximum success in introductory courses




Investigating heme acquisition properties and corresponding conformational changes of heme oxygenase 1

Kelly Deng | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Investigating How the Presence of Neutrophils Impacts Tumor Metastasis

Madilyn Gaydos | First-Year UROP Research Experience

This research is dedicated to learning about the role of neutrophils in the immune system and how they are involved in the disease progression of different cancers. 4T1 and 4T07 cell lines both originated within the same primary tumor, however, 4T7 is metastatic and the 4T07 cell line is not. When cultured in the presence of DHMs, both cell lines behave similarly which means that when NETs are absent (in vivo), the 4T1 cell line stops metastasizing.This suggests that the interaction between 4T1 cells and NETs is important for the metastasis of these tumors. We found that when cultured in vitro, 4T1 cells constitutively express/produce neutrophil chemoattractants (CXCR1 and CXCR2) while 4T07 cells do not, and when cultured in the presence of DHMs, both cell lines begin expressing/producing roughly equivalent, high levels of these chemokines.




Investigating the Consequences of Critical Pedagogy Against the Backdrop of Eurocentrism

Danielle Goodstein | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Youth are most influenced by their education when it comes to how they compose themselves in society and perceive worldly events. There is an extremely large gap in the American education system emphasized by a streamlined Eurocentric pedagogy that does not reflect the current state of the nation. The United States is a country made up of immigrants and people of diverse and drastic backgrounds. Yet, the education system has not deviated from idealizing the power of being a White christian to celebrating the many rich cultures that fill this nation. In effect, students, specifically non-white students, suffer from feeling detached from their education due to increased marginalization in the classroom. This literature review explores the effects of critical pedagogy on youth development and academic achievement. We hypothesize that the implementation of critical pedagogy in classrooms would allow non-white students to feel more connected to their education and therefore stimulate an increase in academic performance. Results from the literature review show a positive correlation between a culturally relevant curriculum or ethnic studies on academic success for non-white students in the United States.




Investigating the exposure of nonhuman primates on an elevational gradient to contemporary climate change

Zongqi Yu | First-Year UROP Research Experience

My research investigates the impacts of anthropogenic climate change on primates and their environments. To accomplish this, I compiled fourteen years of weather data from the Cabang Panti Research Station in Gunung Palung National Park, Indonesia. Specifically, I used R computing software to organize, analyze, and visualize trends in temperature and precipitation over time. Results have shown upward trends in average temperature and corresponding increases in precipitation, although the magnitude of these trends differs across forest types. Integrating these results with additional datasets on primate abundance and food availability will be valuable for anthropological and ecological studies, as well as primate conservation.




Investigating the Identity of an Ancient Fish Fossil Using CT Scanning

Wesley Liao | First-Year UROP Research Experience

This research project examines Wardichthys cyclosoma, an extinct species of fish that lived during the Carboniferous period (around 350 million years ago) from Scotland. In the past, Wardichthys cyclosoma has been classified as a platysomid, a type of Paleozoic (540-252 million years ago) fish known for their deep, flat bodies. However, this classification is based on limited evidence since there is little detail visible on the fossil. This project applies X-ray computed tomography to examine the anatomy of a fossil of Wardichthys that is still enclosed in rock. Using past scientific literature, we found several points of similarity between Wardichthys cyclosoma and confirmed members of platysomid group. Major observations that are consistent with this placement within this platysomid group include the shape and arragement of the postclethrium, clavicle, cleithrum, and sclerotic ossicle. By corroborating past hypotheses, this research project helps refine the understanding of the early evolution of these ancient fishes.




Investigating the role of the Immune Microenvironment in Esophageal Adenocarcinoma

Rachel Anderson | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) develops from chronic inflammation, termed Barrett’s Esophagus (BE), that then progresses through stages of increasing dysplasia before tumor development at the esophagogastric junction. The impact of the EAC immune microenvironment on patient survival at each stage has yet to be fully understood. This study provides quantitative descriptions of immune populations in EAC and surrounding tissue and its correlation with survival. Core tissue samples showing varying stages of dysplasia to cancer were stained for the T-cell proteins CD3 (general T-cell marker), CD4 (memory T-cells), CD8 (cytotoxic T-cells) or FOXP3 (T-regulatory cells). T-cells remove foreign and cancerous cells from the body. Immune checkpoint proteins normally regulate the immune system and suppress overactivity. In cancer, these proteins promote tumor survival. Immune checkpoint therapy, inhibiting checkpoint suppression, has shown promise in treating certain cancers. Tissue samples were stained for immune checkpoint markers, CTLA4, TIGIT and PD1. Linear regression and correlation matrices compared the overall makeup of the different T-cell and immune checkpoint microenvironment populations during each stage of disease progression and relationships between these populations. Cancer cells were also treated with two cytokines, IL6 and IL8. Previous studies indicate that IL-6 promotes tumor cell survival through chemo-resistance. Results from this study aim to understand if IL-8, which we have shown is upregulated in EAC, acts similarly. The goal of this project is to better understand immune cell interactions with EAC tumors. Our hypothesis is that high concentrations of T-cells in dysplastic or cancerous tissue could indicate a positive patient response to immunotherapy.




Investigation of South America Atmospheric Rivers

Madelyn Chau | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Previous studies have identified that atmospheric features with low-level moisture transport, known as atmospheric rivers (ARs), are connected to extreme precipitation events around the globe. While these ARs provide vital water resources to communities, they are also known to cause fatalities resulting from flooding and landslides. The severity of their impacts is expected to increase with climate change due to increased atmospheric moisture. Our understanding of what drives changes in AR behavior is still incomplete. While there has been a wide breadth of research conducted on ARs in the North Pacific region, much work has yet to be done in order to fill gaps in knowledge about ARs across the globe. The investigation of South America ARs aims to quantify how our understanding of ARs depends on algorithm choice. This specific study focuses on detection algorithms run on JRA-55 reanalysis (55 km resolution). The dataset consists of six different algorithms, namely the ARConnect, GuanWaliser, IDL, Mundhenk, Payne and Reid algorithms. Python is used for intercomparison and visual representation of the differences and strength of various detection algorithms, focusing on the understudied region of southern South America (15°N-60°S, 110°W-16°W). This project aims to identify algorithms that perform poorly and common AR characteristics where there is agreement. In doing so, it is the hope that affected communities across this region will better be able to respond to incoming extreme weather associated with AR events.




Jejueo Talking Dictionary

Catherine Jiang | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Jejueo Talking Dictionary is a project that aims to preserve the Jejueo language through an interactive online dictionary. Jejueo, a variant of the Korean language spoken in Jeju Island, South Korea, is an endangered language. This means that not many people speak it today, and those that do are aging. It is important to prevent this language from disappearing and that is the goal of this project. The website housing Jejueo Talking Dictionary was built using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript on a Bootstrap framework. The dictionary includes words and phrases that are translated between Jejueo, Korean, and English, and there are audio/video files in which native Jejueo speakers use each word. There are multiple pages to navigate to in addition to the main search feature, such as an ability to add suggested words and lists of the words by category. As the online dictionary is improved upon and published on the web, the aim is to have users interacting with it to learn more about Jejueo and hopefully increase speakers of the language. Future developments of adapting the dictionary to an app format and creating a language learning app directly accessible to viewers will help to streamline the learning process.




Jejueo Talking Dictionary

Rishma Balakrishnan | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The Jejueo Talking Dictionary is an online web-based application that is intended to serve as an online dictionary and language-learning tool for a critically endangered language, Jejueo. Jejueo is spoken by roughly 5,000 to 10,000 people living in the Jeju Province, located in South Korea, and is currently undergoing contact from Standard Korean. On top of this, most fluent speakers of Jejueo are over 75 years of age now. To preserve this language in a digital form, we are compiling videos, audio files, and text entries together into a website and a mobile Android application. All of this data will be made available in Jejueo, Korean, and English, so that users of this technology can use any of those languages to browse the Jejueo Talking Dictionary. Our presentation will entail the process of creating this product, from gathering data to building the website itself.




K-12 Science Pedagogy Research and Development

Omer Abdullah | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Various formats of media have had their influence on children for a very long time, however, in recent decades there has been a substantial influx of new media technologies. Consequently, students have been immersed in the digital world therefore educators should strive to accommodate the latest technological tools to replace or aid their conventional pedagogical tools. The process of teaching and learning is not only dependent on the delivery of the material but, in order to ignite motivation and enthusiasm in students for a more active and enjoyable environment, a teacher must be innovative, clear, and creative in his/her delivery methods. Teaching media can have a significant role in increasing students’ motivation in the learning process since it is an effective and efficient support tool that can be used to explain the material, actively engage the students during the learning and achieve the learning objective. Learning media can be divided into several types: (a) graphic media is a visual representation of information in the form of Figures or signs, for example, such as diagrams, posters, illustrations, etc. (b) audio media, namely the sound which is recorded and conveyed through a device, for example, such as radio, podcast, telephone, etc. ; (c) Audio-visual media, such as television and voice slides; (d) Multimedia, such as interactive media, hypermedia, virtual reality, and multimedia kits. By using these instructional media, the learning process becomes more varied, making the presentation of material less verbalistic and more engaging. My research reviews a selection of studies on digital media and learning and found that integration of media in the curriculum increased the knowledge and skills of children to think, plan, observe, solve problems, construct and test hypotheses, be creative and collaboratively learn.




K-12 Science Pedagogy Research and Development

Jacob Stein | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The current state of the learning crisis has limited the potential of both teachers and students all around the world, but at the root of the crisis, many teachers are not being put through the adequate training or have the proper motivation. Current models of teaching quality over years of experience show that teaching quality can become stagnant or even worsen during the later points of their careers. Many studies from U.S. and European schools K-12 have looked at the impact on student outcomes through means of specific teacher qualifications, motivational factors, and classroom practices, but these studies are overly inconclusive on a unified and holistic approach for teacher reform. In this study, we review existing literature to determine what types of training and resources will make a good teacher and what level of support that teachers need. This particular project intends to give insights into reformulating the current conceptions, structure, and content surrounding teacher training and the corresponding classroom practice in order to improve the current climate of professional development in school systems. In addressing the teaching crisis, we focus on reforming teacher education programs for certain qualifications and characteristics and instilling passion and intrinsic motivation to both educators and students. Answering how to give teachers the proper training, support, and feedback at all points in their career will ultimately allow them to yield successful student outcomes through higher levels of engagement, retention, and motivation towards the curriculum. Overall, teacher development and commitment are effective steps yet very broad topics, but a unified paper on investigating the role of active learning, motivational factors, and pedagogical knowledge in effective training programs will prove very beneficial for effective classroom strategies.




K-12 Science Pedagogy Research and Development

Maryam Haltam | First-Year UROP Research Experience

There is a great disconnect between existing research and policy makers who determine the curriculums in schools. Rather than using the traditional approach of a single, summative benchmark that prohibits students from accessing certain opportunities, we should be focusing more on formative ways of assessing students, and incorporating check-ins while kids are learning in order to benefit both instructors and students. This study aims to determine how cognitive science can inform the learning of students below the age of 10, as well as what factors influence their mastery behavior development. Specifically, it investigates how to best assess student success as well as how to help young students who are struggling to rebound from failure due to lack of equitable support in their classrooms and institutions. The methodology for this research includes compiling papers on cognitive processes and educational systems and extrapolating their central concepts to identify core education problems and effective learning methodologies. The goal of this investigation is to create feasible solutions that address student learning, teacher readiness, and the learning crisis. Special attention was given to longitudinal studies with participant sample sizes over 1000 for reliability. The research suggests that feedback, in the form of formative assessment, is one of the best tools for improving student understanding of material and long-term memory retention, regardless of whether the student completed a task incorrectly prior to receiving feedback. It can be used as diagnostic data to adjust and differentiate both instruction and learning. On this basis, the concepts of feedback and formative assessment should be taken into account when designing instruction methods that are attuned to success.




K-12 Science Pedagogy Research and Development: Cognitive Science Focus

Tara Velappan | First-Year UROP Research Experience

In the United States, nearly half of students in the 2014 Gallup Student Poll report being either not engaged (28%) or actively disengaged (19%) in school in a survey completed by 825,000 students. My findings will directly impact how Moonshot Labs designs its lesson plans, pedagogical processes, and teacher training programs. The question I am working towards answering is what are some critical issues children face when learning or when developing mastery behavior?; My research perspective is through the lens of cognitive science and seeing how kids learn and mastery behavior development. At the start of every week, I review a minimum of 12 research articles to gauge credibility, relevancy, and insights. I then select the top 4-5 research papers I’d like to examine for the week. So far, I have collected all this information to create a literature review. Through my research, I found that there are many factors that contribute to a child’s development and early learning. I was able to categorize factors into four main groups: cognitive development, intellectual habits, social emotional development, and overall health. It is important to note that though these concepts are separated, each aspect enables or assists learning and development in the others. The best way to improve the way students learn in a classroom is to create solutions that address these factors. My research hopes to analyze the growing body of research on K-12 pedagogy, and see how this research can be used to maximize student learning. With the collaboration of my peers, we will be combining various perspectives (cognitive science with media and teacher training)””this project will contribute to possibly improving the way students learn.




Khichri

Andy Gu | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Although there is abundant evidence that humans are altering the climate in drastic ways, this information is not always readily available to the general public, especially in developing countries around the world. To combat this issue, this research project focuses on studying the general perception of climate change and its impact on food scarcity in Pakistan, and it utilizes foundational design elements to create an interactive web app that would help inform Pakistani youth about the harms of climate change and its impact on food security and costs.




Khichri

Yousif Askar | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Known to our scientific community are the inevitable impacts of Climate Change – catastrophic effects on agriculture and food availability, an increase in extreme weather, and a grander spread of deadly diseases and viruses as a result of more humid and hot climates. However, there is a problem with this information: It’s not being communicated to the general public, especially educated, Urban Pakistanis. There is a large gap between research and research communication; thus, the general public – especially young students and adults – are unaware of the upcoming effects of this global change. Khichri aims to bridge that gap, to bring this information to the jury of the common citizen, and to finally create this urge among the younger generation to take control of their own future. This project focuses on Pakistan (specifically the city of Karachi), the fifth-most vulnerable country to long-term anthropogenic effects of climate change and a country unable to address their own climate concerns. We look into the students’ current understandings of climate change by means of interviews and surveys.




Khichri

Ann Wang | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Climate change is causing destruction on our environment and in turn, affecting our daily lives. This is most widely known in the form of natural disasters that cause destruction onto our homes, extreme heat waves in summer, etc. In fact, climate change is also causing a shortage in our food and water supply. Although climate change is an issue that should be taken seriously, many people are still oblivious to the scale of its effects. This project is a non traditional look on the effects of climate change on underdeveloped countries, especially Pakistan. We experiment with different factors to create an interactive website that is fun and creative to inform users of the possible effects of climate change on our food systems. The users will take a look into the future on how the supply of ingredients will increase or decrease based on climate change. In practice, this site can be adjusted for many scenarios in other countries. This will be beneficial for the planet as a whole when users communicate and spread their knowledge.




Kinematic Distributions and Higgs Decay

Ivan Jane | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The use of relativistic kinematics to study individual elementary particles is critical in understanding what specific motions and processes take place in experimental settings at high-energy particle physics accelerators. The purpose of this research project is to analyze the relativistic kinematics present at the Large Hadron Collider for different particles and better understand the mechanics of such targets while they are being influenced by special relativistic effects. Moreover, we investigate two-body decay events of the Higgs boson particle and how this may play a role in laboratory settings. Using kinematic distributions with Python software to vary certain parameters, such as incident angles or mass, we can understand how this may affect the energies of particular particles, for example. We hope to use these methods to understand Higgs decay to various particles and investigate how various factors may influence these events. This study helps to interpret how the effects of relativity play a role in Higgs decay and the motions of elementary particles so that one may be able to predict behaviors that would take place in the lab. We hope to find consistent behaviors of these particles in regards to the special theory of relativity and better understand what is taking place during Higgs decay and at the Large Hadron Collider.




Large scale neuron image storage solution using HDF5 file format

Haochen Zhang | First-Year UROP Research Experience

In Neuroscience and Neuro-biomedical research, it is crucial for researchers to understand the connections between different neurons to fully realize the mechanism for the brain’s functionality. We have proposed a light imaging-based approach to resolve neural circuits, that is first gathering Brainbow images from the microscope by scanning brain sample sections, and then neuronal structures, including synaptic connections can be reconstructed from these images. It is crucial to let researchers specifying requests that retrieving the spatial range and spectral channels of a subvolume of the images as the Brainbow image files generated from modern high-throughput microscopes are rather large. This causes bottlenecks not only for the software to deliver its functionality due to lack of memory but also for file transferring via the internet, which all brought the necessity of designing a new data storage system to efficiently store and process such files. Our project introduces a customized back-end infrastructure by storing compressed Brainbow images using the HDF5 file format that enables easy access and modification of subvolume images. We explored the influence of file segmentation size on the read and write performance of the Brainbow images, and the data compression and storing pipeline. Finally, we discuss the possibility of designing a distributed system for large scientific data hosting.




Leader Career Narratives

Sarah Williams | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Leader Career Narratives

Emily Kagan | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Leader Career Narratives

Zihao Li | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Leading Design in Architecture

Ximena Zuleta | First-Year UROP Research Experience

“Leadership through Architecture” led by Taubman professor Irene Hwang can be described as an interdisciplinary and independent project that works on redirecting architectural education in combating outdated practices and perspectives that impact design within different realms of architecture. My role in this project is to develop an understanding of how the built environment can impact community living and opportunity. This educational foundation further allows me to create an inventory of a series of interviews that reflect the diverse interpretations residents have of their environments.




Legal Features of Intergovernmental Organizations

Seth Flynn | First-Year UROP Research Experience

International diplomacy and cooperation have never been a hallmark of authoritarian governments, yet these states routinely participate in the establishment and continued operation of Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs). However, the extent to which IGOs systematically differ based on the authoritarian or democratic character of their member states remains unexplored. This study utilizes previously compiled lists of IGOs to compile a massive excel dataset comparing the legal features of each organization. For each organization, the foundational documents are searched for before attributes are entered into the dataset. Specified features are marked as either present or absent and unusual characteristics are noted. As the dataset is developed, the variables across the IGOs will be compared, along with different rankings of their member states’ authoritarianism. The study currently continues to compile data from the different IGOs, however, some analysis has begun. Expectations from anecdotal evidence and previous qualitative research on IGOs leads us to anticipate that organizations with more authoritarian member states will enjoy significantly less autonomy than those with more democratic member states. From the findings, the study will analyze how these different IGOs work and help governments understand what features of these intergovernmental organizations are associated with authoritarian and democratic IGOs. This research will help legal scholars and government officials to better understand why states establish IGOs and evaluate whether IGOs actually have enough in common to be treated as a single category for purposes of analysis and the development of legal rules.




Lessons learned from a team-based approach to developing a qualitative manuscript

Alexis Smith | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Title: Lessons learned from a team-based approach to developing a qualitative manuscript Background: In the research world the quantitative analysis team process has been studied for best practices greatly, whereas in qualitative research settings less has been done to create a procedural team-based regime from analyzing and developing qualitative manuscripts. Methods: By assessing a team-based approach to developing a manuscript from a thematic analysis of qualitative data pertaining to police role in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA), specific lessons were pulled from the process to replicate in later team settings. A qualitative manuscript was developed by a team of 7 through 4 phases over a period of 1.5 months in a team-based remote setting. These phases were framing, drafting, revising, and polishing. All manuscript development meetings were analyzed for lessons learned in team based environments along with best practices with a hope to better inform qualitative research. A researcher attended all qualitative manuscript meetings and took notes.Three researchers then met to review notes and determine the best practices of team-based work in the realm of qualitative manuscript development.




Life perspectives of college students during COVID-19

Guiying Liao | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to massive disruptions in students’ lives and studies. I will report on two rounds (Winter 2020 and Winter 2021) of a survey of undergraduates on how the pandemic has affected their lives and expectations for the future .




Lift Every Voice

Clara Braun | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The topic of my research is “lifting every voice”: a closer look at how individual voices can be amplified in local government to create widespread change. The project looks deeper at community organization at a local level using organizations aimed at reforming the idea of a town meeting on a national level. By examining different counties that these organizational programs have been implemented in, such as Surry County, Virginia, we are hoping to draw conclusions on the most effective way of community organizing at a local level to promote amplification of individual voices within low income communities. Through weekly meetings with my mentor, websites, databases, and books, I am piecing this information together in order to write a script for a video essay, which will be combined with photos, videos, and interviews. This video will be spread to promote the idea that this action must be taken at local levels with help from powerful individuals. I have found that the best way of amplifying individual voices is a reformed town meeting using electronic means, where people are divided into what Donald Anderson calls an Assembly, groups of 50 people with one leader and 7 subsections with their own leaders. Each group has individual advocates who come together and discuss changes that must be made in communities. These findings promote a coherent and concrete method of organizing people in low income areas. Although complex, these organizational structures must be implemented in order for people to participate directly in their government.




Literature Review of Human Factors Armored Vehicle Research Conducted by the United States Army

Emma Nigrelli | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The topic of this research is driver user interfaces for autonomous Army vehicles and the associated workload, usability, and other related factors. The Army has done experiments on autonomous and tele-operational vehicles and their interfaces for the last 20 years, without any overarching studies to display the results across all of the experiments. The question this project is answering is: what are the important trends and general direction of this Army work on autonomous and tele-operational vehicles over the last 20 years? The purpose of the project is to go through 2 decades of Army literature and experiment reports and write literature reviews to summarize them. After finishing the literature reviews the important information will be condensed into tables to create a method to compare and contrast the findings of each report in a way that has not been done yet. This research is being done by reading Army Reports and writing literature reviews to summarize the important information. These reviews will be analyzed by creating summary tables encompassing all of the findings from the reports that have been read so that similarities, differences, and trends can be identified. The information is still being condensed into summary tables and are not yet ready to identify conclusions and trends. However, when conclusions are found, they will likely identify trends in soldier preferences, where the army should go next, and what systems are more and less successful, and how that can influence future decisions.




Literature Review of Human Factors Armored Vehicle Research Conducted by the United States Army

Sean Anderson | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The topic of this research is driver user interfaces for autonomous Army vehicles and the associated workload, usability, and other related factors. The Army has done experiments on autonomous and tele-operational vehicles and their interfaces for the last 20 years, without any overarching studies to display the results across all of the experiments. The question this project is answering is: what are the important trends and general direction of this Army work on autonomous and tele-operational vehicles over the last 20 years? The purpose of the project is to go through 2 decades of Army literature and experiment reports and write literature reviews to summarize them. After finishing the literature reviews the important information will be condensed into tables to create a method to compare and contrast the findings of each report in a way that has not been done yet. This research is being done by reading Army Reports and writing literature reviews to summarize the important information. These reviews will be analyzed by creating summary tables encompassing all of the findings from the reports that have been read so that similarities, differences, and trends can be identified. The information is still being condensed into summary tables and are not yet ready to identify conclusions and trends. However, when conclusions are found, they will likely identify trends in soldier preferences, where the army should go next, and what systems are more and less successful, and how that can influence future decisions.




Literature Survey and Ontological Modeling of COVID-19 Related Acute Kidney Injury Manifestations

Easheta Shah | First-Year UROP Research Experience

COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus known as the SARS-CoV-2, has many different phenotypic outcomes, or observable characteristics that result from molecular and cellular host-coronavirus interactions. One of these outcomes is Acute Kidney Injury, or AKI. When the virus enters the host cell by binding to the ACE2 receptor, the regulatory Renin-Angiotensin (RAS) hormone system is activated resulting in untoward effects on multiple organs, of which those pertaining to the kidney are of interest. As reported in existing literature, pathophysiological mechanisms associate the novel coronavirus to outcomes related to kidney damage closely following the RAS system as well as signaling pathways like complement activation, yet much of the specific interactions are still under close study.




Machine Learning in Cardiovascular Medicine

Boyang Huang | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of heart arrythmia in humans, and our goal is to develop a method of characterizing medical data signals to assist cardiologists to better manage atrial fibrillation. Predicting atrial fibrillation from ECG signals because ECG patterns may change from patient to patient, and include noise. In our study, we provide a comparison across different existing methods of classifying ECG time series using machine learning models. We tested two different machine learning models: a Fully Connected Neural Network and a Support Vector Machine, and compared their performance and accuracy on the Physionet Atrial Fibrillation Challenge Dataset (www.physionet.org). We found that although a Fully Connected Neural Network as a deep learning model is pretty robust when given large amounts of data, the Support Vector Machine method performed better than deep learning when limited data is available to use. Potential applications of this include live analysis of ECG signals that could assist cardiologists to perform diagnosis in real time.




Machine Learning Methods for Robust ECG Beat Detection

Anastacia Gusikhin | First-Year UROP Research Experience

This research was conducted to determine what types of machine learning algorithms were best to determine whether an individual is experiencing heart arrhythmias—such as atrial fibrillation, a type of arrhythmia that can lead to a number of fatal conditions such as blood clots, stroke, and heart failure. Using Python and the sklearn library, a number of machine learning models were tested for accuracy of ECG peak detection, which included Logistic Regression, Linear Discriminant Analysis, K-Nearest Neighbors, Classification and Regression Trees, Gaussian Naive Bayes, and Support Vector Machines. The accuracies varied based on the proportion of noise within the ECG file, so an introspective algorithm was developed to choose the optimal peak detection algorithm based on the estimated noise level measured in an ECG. This can be used in the future as a convenient way to accurately determine the presence of heart arrhythmias using wearable devices such as a smart watch.




Making Learning Visible in the Clinical Team-based Simulations

Ava Gizoni | First-Year UROP Research Experience

In the medical field, the technique of “breaking bad news” is incredibly important for future doctors and social workers to practice and receive meaningful feedback on. Our research team transcribed, analyzed, and interpreted over 150 medical simulation videos to analyze body language, tone of voice, and responses to see how students reacted to feedback from debriefers. A methodology was employed for multimodal sentiment analysis, which consists of gathering sentiments from available simulation videos by extracting audio, visual, and textual data features as sources of information. Then, this information can be used to predict and analyze a trainee’s emotional states when receiving feedback. As this study is still in process, conclusive findings cannot be stated but thus far the findings show a range of different reactions to the feedback ranging from negative deactivating to positive activating. Overall, the goal is to optimize the feedback given in order to fully prepare future medical professionals for the critical task of delivering bad news. This research is valuable to the future of medical education, as analyzing the quality of feedback given can help to optimize these patient simulations and better prepare medical students for real-life situations.




Making Learning Visible in the Clinical Team-based Simulations

Coco Yu | First-Year UROP Research Experience

In the medical field, the concept of “breaking bad news” is incredibly important for future doctors and social workers to practice and receive meaningful feedback on. The moment a medical professional tells a family member bad news, that instance stays with the patient’s family for the rest of their life. Our team transcribed, analyzed, and interpreted over 150 medical simulation videos to analyze body language, tone of voice, and responses to see how they reacted to feedback from debriefers. Our goal is to optimize the feedback given in order to fully prepare future medical professionals for this critical task. This study was conducted on a sample of over 150 fifteen-minute videos of medical students debriefing with supervisors about their breaking bad news patient simulation.




Making Learning Visible in the Clinical Team-based Simulations

Nicole Meimaris | First-Year UROP Research Experience

In the medical field, the concept of “breaking bad news” is incredibly important for future doctors and social workers to practice and receive meaningful feedback on. The moment a medical professional tells a family member bad news, that instance stays with the patient’s family for the rest of their life. Our team transcribed, analyzed, and interpreted over 150 medical simulation videos to analyze body language, tone of voice, and responses to see how they reacted to feedback from debriefers. Our goal is to optimize the feedback given in order to fully prepare future medical professionals for this critical task. This study was conducted on a sample of over 150 fifteen-minute long videos of medical and social work students debriefing with supervisors about their breaking bad news standardized patient simulation.




Management by Design: Mental Health and its Gendered Discrepancies in the Workplace

Natalie Mietus | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Beginning in 1967, most office spaces in America were transformed to follow an “Action Office” Design created by Robert Propst. This invention, backed by psychological and behavioral research, was meant to minimize worker fatigue, increase collaboration without too much distraction, and overall boost productivity in the workplace with employees working faster for longer without much realization. The consequences of this new approach, however, weren’t realized until much more recently. Our research project sought to explore and assess the changes in workplace design from 1967 to 2017, focusing on awareness of mental health and gender fairness. Have work conditions improved? Is employee health a concern for corporations? Why is there still a prominent, gendered difference in employee treatment within the workplace? Using Robert Propst’s The Office and the Henry Ford Archives, we were able to get a sense of what was happening behind closed office doors in 1967.




Mapping Innovation Ecosystems in High-Tech US Metros

Andy Ho | First-Year UROP Research Experience

A study was undertaken to investigate the relationships between the U-M Business Engagement Center (BEC)’s relationships with societal and industrial organizations. The goal of this study includes understanding and analyzing the varying relationships (units of analysis: hard ties, and soft ties) that bind the 200+ year old research and innovation institution within the modern high-technology sectors of the world-system. In order to operationalize the units of analysis (hard ties, and soft ties), we collected over 10,000 Twitter accounts in the 2nd and 3rd-degree social network of the U-M BEC, the U-M Office of Tech Transfer, and the U-M Office of Vice President for Research, and expanded the database with further meta-data (e.g., account type, region, year founded, industry categorization, R&D budget, etc.) — thus, our units of observation were Twitter accounts and their associated primary and secondary meta-data. In the current phase of work, we aim to use these units of observation to analyze the institutional social network of the University of Michigan through a focus on: industry, region, and human capital.




Mapping Innovation Ecosystems in High-Tech US Metros

Shaan Patel | First-Year UROP Research Experience

A study was undertaken to investigate the relationships between the U-M Business Engagement Center (BEC)’s relationships with societal and industrial organizations. The goal of this study is to analyze the varying relationships (units of analysis: hard ties, and soft ties) between U-M and innovation institutions within the modern high-technology sectors of the world-system. In order to operationalize the units of analysis (hard ties, and soft ties), we collected over 10,000 Twitter accounts in the social network of the U-M BEC, the U-M Office of Tech Transfer, and the U-M Office of Vice President for Research, and expanded the database with further meta-data. Thus, our units of observation were Twitter accounts and their associated primary and secondary meta-data. In the current phase of work, we aim to use these units of observation to analyze the institutional social network of the U-M through a focus on: industry, region, and human capital. After the analysis, we expect to find that many of the connection’s affiliated institutions are established a long time ago and the main industry of U-M BEC’s connection is university institutions. The advice for U-M BEC is to connect with more startups as these companies which started their business need more resources to carry out research. U-M BEC can, therefore, connect and create cooperation opportunities with these institutions. In conclusion, this study helps U-M BEC to understand their own connections better in order to create more cooperation opportunities between the University of Michigan and other societal and industrial organizations.




Mapping Innovation Ecosystems in High-Tech US Metros

Chin Wai Lee | First-Year UROP Research Experience

A study was undertaken to investigate the relationships between the U-M Business Engagement Center (BEC)’s relationships with societal and industrial organizations. The goal of this study is to analyze the varying relationships (units of analysis: hard ties, and soft ties) between U-M and innovation institutions within the modern high-technology sectors of the world-system. In order to operationalize the units of analysis (hard ties, and soft ties), we collected over 10,000 Twitter accounts in the social network of the U-M BEC, the U-M Office of Tech Transfer, and the U-M Office of Vice President for Research, and expanded the database with further meta-data. Thus, our units of observation were Twitter accounts and their associated primary and secondary meta-data. In the current phase of work, we aim to use these units of observation to analyze the institutional social network of the U-M through a focus on: industry, region, and human capital. In conclusion, this study helps U-M BEC to understand their own connections better in order to create more cooperation opportunities between the University of Michigan and other societal and industrial organizations.




Mapping Ptolemy’s Star Catalogue

Moon Maria Joy | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Almagest is the most important and complete text of Astronomy of antiquity, written by the Greek mathematician and astronomer, Claudius Ptolemy in the second century AD. Although the book served as an important guide for astronomers for centuries and even today, there are still some uncertainties regarding how Ptolemy mapped the constellations mentioned in his book into the sky. In this project, we reconstruct Ptolemy’s constellations according to his descriptions and also as seen in the sky during the time the book was being written. We work using Toomer’s English translation of Almagest as a basis and create digital drawings of all 48 of Ptolemy’s constellations with computer graphic programs; these reconstructions will be displayed on a free website to be easily accessible to the public. Ptolemy’s account of astronomy and mathematics in his book provide a deep insight into ancient Greek astronomy. These constellations are also a product of human imagination when people connect the stars in the sky to form shapes and figures that may or may not have been real. Comprehending the meaning behind these descriptions of constellations also allow us to look into their lives through a different perspective and the visual reconstructions also aid us to better understand them.




Mapping the Effect of Disaster-induced Displacement on Social Behavior: The Case of Hurricane Harvey

Edward Rapa III | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Motivation/problem statement With the growing influence that social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, have on the political ideologies of an individual, our project aims to see if we can track regional political trends through these platforms too. In addition to this we are also looking at ties between climate change based migration and shifting political majorities in the counties around Houston, Texas after Hurricane Maria in 2017. The team at Christopher Fariss’s lab consists of eight urop students who are in a wide variety of schools, from computer science to art, working together in the first year of a multiyear/on going project concerning how social media plays a factor in regional political majority and the impact that climate change has on coastal communities.




Mass spectrometry based assessment of the Tryptophan catabolism in Chronic Kidney Disease accelerated heart disease

Julian Meza | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Despite the improvements in renal replacement therapies, cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains one of the leading causes of mortality for chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients with a 10-fold increase in mortality rate compared to individuals without CKD. The reason behind this increased risk is not fully explained through classical risk factors; however, non-traditional risk factors like inflammation play an important role in the pathogenesis of CKD atherosclerosis. More specifically, tryptophan metabolism has been linked to inflammation in CKD patients through the kynurenine pathway (KP). In our previous study, tryptophan metabolite levels were associated with incident CVD in CKD patients. With this knowledge, this current study intends to prove that tryptophan catabolism is disproportionately upregulated in atherosclerotic lesions of CKD patients. Plasma and aortic tissue of CKD patients varying in CKD stage will be matched with CVD patients with normal renal function with the objective of finding the disproportionate tryptophan catabolism in atherosclerotic lesions. Aortic tissue will be homogenized and both plasma and tissue lysates will be extracted for tryptophan metabolites using organic solvents. We will use Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry to measure a panel of tryptophan catabolites from these extracts. We expect to find significant differences in KP metabolites in atherosclerotic lesions compared to controls, and correlate lesion KP metabolites to circulating KP metabolites and further prove the strength of using KP metabolites as prospective measures for detecting CVD in CKD patients.




Measurement of Coronary Artery Diameter using Image Processing and Geometric Modeling

David Paylan | First-Year UROP Research Experience

While doctors use their eyes to understand and interpret coronary artery data provided by Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) or Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA), researchers have been looking for ways to use technology to automatically track coronary arteries. This document looks to combine two methods of interpreting angiograms, Kalman filtering and a geometric vessel model in order to glean a fuller estimate of a coronary artery’s radius. So far, I have created an algorithm in MATLAB to detect radii across different artery connections. The next step is to compare these radii results to formulae referenced in other research papers and apply the two aforementioned methods to improve the accuracy of my radii measurements. A better estimate of a coronary artery’s radius will prove vital to doctors, who, in relying on their eyes to interpret coronary artery data, might struggle to differentiate noise from weak stenosis requiring treatment. Further, these doctors, though they differ from each other on how they treat varying levels of stenosis, would love to have a standardized way of understanding how severe the stenosis is, and having a more reliable radius will provide exactly that.




Measuring and Visualizing How Gut Microbiome Bacteria Catabolize Carbs

Nicole Guibord | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Despite the vast research by scientists across the world on the microbiome of the human gut, little is known about how concentrations of carbohydrates affect the rate of transcription. In my research, we focused on the level of expression of three targeted genes of Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron (Bt), a member of the human gut microbiome. The general assumption of scientists was that the level of expression of three genes depends on the concentration of carbohydrates. The three genes include 1760, 4668, and SusG, all of which code for glycoside hydrolase which hydrolyzes glycolic bonds. Real-time PCR is used to measure the amount of transcription of these genes of Bt in different solutions containing various concentrations of glucose and maltose. Ct values are then calculated to understand the amount of genetic material that has been transcripted in that solution compared to the 16S normalizer. From the Ct values, we estimate the fold change of each gene compared to the solution with a lower concentration of carbohydrates. Preliminary data suggests a relation between the concentration of the carbohydrates to the amount of the gene transcripted. This experiment sheds light on the mechanisms of regulation of the transcription of these three genes in Bt. A possibility for future study would be to use fluorescent microscopy to confirm our results.




Méliès and the Modern World

Salwa Ibrahim | First-Year UROP Research Experience

This project looks in depth at the work of early filmmaker Georges Méliès who was a pioneer of special effects and story films during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Furthermore, we are looking to highlight the importance of Madeleine Malthête-Méliès, who had perhaps the longest active career of any film historian and whose main concentration was documenting her grandfather Georges Méliès, including locating his many lost films. Our focus has been supporting the publication of a translation of a key historical source that has long been unavailable in English, the late Madeleine Malthête-Méliès’ biography, Georges Méliès, L’Enchanteur, which is under contract with the University of Michigan Press. This book will make Méliès’ work better known to a wider audience including readers of English. We have worked to document the author’s work by arranging English subtitling of a video interview with Madeleine Malthête-Méliès, and have compiled a complete bibliography of the research publication connected with the organization she founded, Les Amis de Georges Méliès. We are summarizing relevant articles for discussion in the introduction to the biography and assisting in the publication of another book, Méliès Boots: Material Contexts for Early Film Manufacturing (University of Michigan Press, under contract). To further show how Georges Méliès has impacted the modern world, we are preparing a short film that will summarize research on Méliès at the University of Michigan undertaken since 2011 told from the point-of-view of a new generation of media makers who draw continuing inspiration from learning about Méliès and his work.




Mental Health During COVID-19: The Effects on Suicidality

Hannah Sliwa | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Objective: Various studies indicate that the COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly worsened community and individual well-being around the world. Of these psychological effects, rates of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, insomnia, and suicidality have been rapidly increasing, according to mental health screeners. This study seeks to further understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has specifically impacted suicidality in adult psychiatric clients. This abstract presents on the impact of COVID-19 on clients with psychosis at risk for suicide in a community mental health setting. Methods: Quantitative and qualitative data were gathered in surveys among 6 adult clients in Washtenaw County Community Mental Health, Michigan. Findings: Participants reported that COVID-19 has made it harder to access or receive treatment (67%), their mental health has been worse (83%), and thoughts of suicide have increased (n=3, 50%). Qualitative themes related to the desire for support, transportation challenges, and service delivery changes (e.g., no virtual group therapy). Implications: Findings suggest that access to services has been a challenge due to COVID-19 and suicide prevention is a critical concern. Therefore, plans for suicide care and prevention must be examined and implemented to avoid increased suicide rates as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.




Mentions of goals and subgoals in different activities of the purpose-first programming curriculum

Helen Zhu | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Over the last few years, more and more students who do not major in computer science or plan to become a programmer take computer science classes. Furthermore, the number of conversational programmers and end-user programmers is growing. Traditional learning and teaching of computer science focuses on how code works, using activities like code tracing. However, some novices have a preference for learning code applications rather than how it works including the syntax and logic behind it. Therefore, they have less motivation to learn with the traditional code tracing way. The Ph.D. student I worked with created a “purpose-first” curriculum for web scraping with an emphasis on goals/plans and subgoals. It was evaluated by conducting think aloud sessions with novice programmers who plan to become conversational programmers or end-user programmers. The interviews were qualitatively coded using thematic analysis. I analyzed the think aloud session transcripts to identify uses of goals and subgoals. We found that participants mainly used goals and subgoals to complete the writing activities, while they didn’t use them as much in debugging and explanation activities. Moreover, some participants mentioned goals and subgoals when they described their thought processes, while others mentioned code, depending on their previous experiences with programming. It turns out that students found purpose-first programming motivating and the students able to solve problems using plans with goals and subgoals.




Metabolism and Histone Deacetylases: A Systems Biology Perspective

Namit Padgaonkar | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Histones are proteins that provide structural support to chromosomes and help condense nuclear DNA into chromatin. Histone acetylation is a process that diminishes the affinity between histones and DNA so that gene transcription is more permissive. This process is regulated by the opposing actions of histone acetyltransferases (HATs) and histone deacetylases (HDACs), both of which are critical to many cellular processes such as DNA damage repair and proper transcription. HDACs are sensitive to the metabolic state of the cell, and the dynamic between metabolism and histone acetylation impacts several biological processes, including development and immune function. HDAC inhibitor drugs are currently being explored for treating various conditions, including cancers, viral infections, inflammation, neurodegenerative diseases, and metabolic disorders. However, it is currently a significant clinical challenge to identify subsets of patients sensitive to HDAC inhibitors. Thus, this review compiles recent applications of systems biology methods such as high throughput drug screens, cancer cell-line profiling, single cell sequencing, proteomics, and metabolomics that can help to determine the interplay between metabolism, HDACs, and HDAC inhibitors. Compiling these systems approaches can ultimately help identify epigenomic and metabolic biomarkers for patient stratification, enable the design of synergistic combination therapies, and illuminate the gaps in our knowledge regarding this interplay. For future studies, metabolic modeling and machine learning methods can be used to analyze gaps in our current understanding and identify additional potential biomarkers for patients sensitive to HDAC inhibitors.




MetabolonR: An Intuitive R Shiny Application for Metabolomics Analysis

Zyad Shehadeh | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Methods of Exploring the Effect of Verb Causativity on Reaction Time

Lila Tappan | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Our research focuses on methods of studying how causativity of verbs affect our processing of them and therefore our reaction time, and how these reaction time effects can be isolated from other sentence processing effects like general lexical prediction. In a previous study conducted by Dr. Levinson, it was found that there is an added level of complexity in transitive variants of causative verbs as compared to transitive variants of non-causative, or activity, verbs. This was concluded by measuring reaction times in self-paced reading tasks of sentences with verbs of transitive and intransitive, as well as causative and non-causative variants. For example, a causative transitive verb appears in the sentence “The sun melted the ice”, whereas an example of a causative intransitive verb appears in the sentence “The ice melted”, which differs from an activity verb, such as “ate”. The complexity of causative verbs vs. non-causative verbs is something that has long been debated, and helps to better understand linguistic processing. Our research mainly focused on using different methods of studying this causativity phenomenon other than self-paced reading tasks, as well as determining the best methods for disentangling verb representations from lexical confounds.




Michigan Self-Screening Home Health (MISSH) Study

Priya Kaur | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Cervical cancer is mainly caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and is easily preventable by performing HPV screenings every five years, a PAP smear every three years, or both every five years for women over the age of 30. While a number of women are getting regularly screened, there are still populations of women who are under-screened because of cultural beliefs, lack of access to screening, the burden of taking time off of work, and other factors. In this study, women from under-screened populations recruited through community partners are sent HPV self-sampling kits to be used at home which include a vaginal sample and a urine sample. The participants are then interviewed over the phone to collect quantitative and qualitative data for the feedback for self-sampling. The study is ongoing and the results are yet to be analyzed. Results from the study can be used to help approve self-sampling HPV testing to be used by physicians and women which will provide women an opportunity to be screened easily and provide access to cervical cancer screening to women in under screened communities and countries.




Michigan Self-Screening Home Health (MISSH) Study

Citlali Rivera | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The Michigan Self-Screening Home Health (MISSH) 2 research project that is being done by the Harper Lab is about research on HPV (human papillomavirus) at-home testing kits that could potentially be the future of cervical cancer screening. Getting screened for cervical cancer is important for many reasons. HPV causes nearly all cases of cervical cancer and there are different strains, including HPV 16 and 18, which are considered high risk for developing into cervical cancer. If women get tested regularly, these strains can be detected early and any issues can be treated before developing into cervical cancer. Traditionally, cervical cancer screening has been done by a doctor using methods such as a Pap Smear, which collects cells from the cervix and looks to see if they show any changes caused by an HPV infection. These tests can feel invasive or not be accessible for many people. To increase cervical cancer screening, the Harper Lab is looking into new HPV self-screening devices that can be used at home without the need to go to the doctor. MISSH is sending volunteers HPV at-home testing kits, participants are either able to choose 1 of the 2 kits or are asked to try both of the testing kits. After using the kits they answer some questions through phone surveys conducted by the MISSH 2 staff in which they are asked how they felt about the kit they chose or which of the 2 kits they preferred. They are also asked if they prefer these testing kits to the standard Pap screening that the Doctor performs. MISSH 2 is still an ongoing project that is still conducting surveys of participants but we hope to see a preference for these at-home testing kits for HPV and see if people would be more willing to get screened for cervical cancer using this method.




Microbes on a Bottle: Determining the role of microbes in the long-term fate of plastic pollution

Isabelle Montilla | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The accumulation of plastic waste in the environment is one of the most pervasive environmental concerns of our time. Its presence has now been documented in marine, freshwater, and atmospheric environments, and an estimated 4.8-12.7 million tons of plastic enter the ocean in a single year, a number that is only expected to rise exponentially to reflect the global rate of plastic goods production. From both an environmental health and resource sustainability perspective, it is imperative that the amount of plastic debris in the Earth’s waterways is reduced. Macroplastic debris prevention and mitigation options are continuously emerging, yet microplastic (<5mm) debris mitigation is still an undeveloped field. To effectively target the major sources and pathways of these microplastics, the question remains: What is the physical fate of plastic once it enters the ocean and fresh waterways? Several weathering mechanisms of plastics have been examined individually, but this study will take a more holistic approach by determining the rates of fragmentation and particle size distribution, biofilm formation, UV degradation, and biodegradation as both an individual process and as a microbial consortia on the fate of polyethylene.




Midfacial Defects with Ectopic Cartilages through Ectopic X Chromosome Inactivation by Enhanced Bone Morphogenic Protein Signaling

Daniel Andary | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Craniofacial defects have affected some humans from birth, running rampant without many methods to lessen the impact. We aim to explore potential solutions to the phenomenon using model mice. We recently reported that transgenic mice with enhanced bone morphogenic protein (BMP) signaling in neural crest cells induced midfacial defects along with ectopic cartilages in the face but not in trunk neural crest cells (NCCs). Here, we hypothesized that enhanced BMP signaling in NCCs formed ectopic cartilages, resulting in midfacial defects. Single-cell RNA sequencing identified candidate genes that may be involved in the ectopic cartilage formation. Among them, Xist, a central component of X chromosome inactivation, is our focus because it was significantly increased in cranial NCCs from mutant mice but not in trunk NCCs from mutant mice. That led us to the idea that ectopic X chromosome inactivation by increased Xist is responsible for the ectopic cartilages in the face since Xist is not increased in trunk NCCs, and ectopic cartilages did not form in the trunk. To analyze that, we counted inactivated X chromosomes of cranial and trunk NCCs, allowing us to analyze how they impacted ectopic cartilage formation. Female cells normally inactivate one of two X chromosomes in a nucleus. Here, we showed that some of the cranial NCCs from mutant mice have two inactivated X chromosomes in a nucleus, which means ectopic X chromosome inactivation. Moreover, trunk NCCs from both control and mutant mice did not have two inactivated X chromosomes in a nucleus as we expected. Our preliminary results indicated that cranial NCCs from mutant mice have ectopic X chromosome inactivation, and trunk NCCs from mutant mice did not have ectopic X chromosome inactivation. That outcome supports that ectopic X chromosome inactivation in the cranial region is partially responsible for ectopic cartilage formation. That area could be a target for clinical treatment of the ailment. Considering the increased Xist in mutant mice, an inhibitor would be ideal for treatment, allowing X chromosome inactivation.




Mind-Body Therapies for COVID Related Stress

Zoya Qayyum | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a global mental health crisis. Studies in the US in December 2020 revealed that more than 42% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety and depression compared to 11% the year prior1. Long-term effects of the pandemic’s physical and emotional stressors are unknown. Our study is a randomized control trial that examines the efficacy of remotely-administered mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) in improving mood symptoms and resilience among communities of color most impacted by COVID. Our study population includes Michigan residents who self-report pandemic-related stress and anxiety and live in zip codes with high rates of COVID infection and a significant non-White population.




Misbehavior in the classroom

Ebraheem Karaein | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Misbehavior has been a problem in classrooms worldwide. Studies in the past have attempted to link misbehavior within the classroom to student race and gender showing that there is potentially some connection between misbehaviors and how a teacher disciplines the student in terms of response. This study builds off of those of the past by utilizing Mobile Eye-tracking in regular class periods to discover the types of misbehaviors most common within the classroom, which misbehaviors teachers see and respond to, and whether these answers differ by student gender. By utilizing multiple cameras at different angles to record all misbehaviors within classrooms, we can code for misbehaviors according to a standard coding rubric. Trained coders watched 52 videos of 26 different 1st? through 11t?h? grade classrooms and noted the frequency of misbehaviors for each of 20 to 30 students, whether the teacher noticed, whether the teacher responded, and the gender of the student committing the misbehavior. The coding is essential in tracking misbehavior frequency as well as teacher response in a hope to identify a common misbehavior and response effects within the classroom. If a link between a common misbehavior and a certain response that prevented future misbehaviors could be identified, we would have new knowledge on what the best way to respond to a common misbehavior would be. We are early in the research process and expect to establish a link between whether boys and girls perform certain misbehaviors in the same frequencies and whether teachers respond to boys and girls fairly. Our end goal of this research study is to identify what method of dealing with misbehaviors is most effective. This expected finding could help inform teacher education programs by preparing pre-service and in-service student teachers to pre-empt their response biases and use Mobile-Eye-tracking technology in reflective practice. This effort may then result in less misbehaviors overall, creating a better environment for both teachers and students that encourages more efficient education.




Mitochondrial trafficking is altered in insulin receptor knockout dorsal root ganglion sensory neurons

Emma Bersch | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Diabetes is a global epidemic that affects 463 million individuals. Approximately 50% of diabetic patients develop a serious complication called diabetic neuropathy (DN) that can also develop in patients with pre-diabetes and obesity. DN is characterized by tingling or burning, sharp pains, and eventual loss of sensation in the hands or feet that results from significant nerve damage. Despite the severity of DN, there are no disease-modifying treatments for DN associated with type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, or obesity. Recent studies indicate that dyslipidemia correlates with DN, suggesting that fatty acids may contribute to DN onset or progression. Dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons are a cluster of primary sensory neurons located just outside the spinal cord that extend axons into the nerves and transmit sensory information from the peripheral nervous system to the central nervous system. DRG neurons depend on mitochondrial trafficking and function to produce ATP in the axons, and it has been reported that insulin signaling regulates mitochondrial function. In this study, we sought to determine whether the presence of the insulin receptor regulates axonal mitochondrial trafficking in fatty acid-treated DRG neurons. DRG neurons from insulin receptor knockout mice (IRKO) were given six different treatments to explore the effect of saturated fatty acids (SFAs) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) on axonal mitochondrial trafficking. A kymographing analysis was used to analyze mitochondrial transport in individual DRG axons and identify the percent of mitochondria that were stationary or motile. Interestingly, we found significantly fewer motile mitochondria in the IRKO DRG axons compared to wild type DRG axons. The SFA treatments impaired mitochondrial trafficking, while the addition of MUFAs prevented the reduction in mitochondrial trafficking in both wild type and IRKO DRG neurons. This study suggests that the loss of the insulin receptor reduces basal mitochondrial trafficking in DRG neurons but does not contribute to fatty acid-induced alterations in mitochondrial trafficking.




Mixed Methods Assessment of Diabetes Adjustment in Adolescent and Young Adult Patients with Type 1 Diabetes

Jiyoung Song | First-Year UROP Research Experience

As most of us recognize today, various psychological factors go hand in hand when managing physical health. In various illnesses and diseases, not only is it important to physically care for the patient, but to take care of their mental health and other variables as well. For type 1 diabetes (T1D) in adolescent and young adults, this study aimed to see what these other aspects are so that patients can better manage T1D. Therefore, this research study aims to improve tools to screen the psychological adjustment (including mental health, quality of life, and coping) of youth with T1D. Better screening tools may allow both medical and mental health providers to provide more individualized care to patients. Participants were recruited who were 14-24 years old with type 1 diabetes via phone and email based on the data provided by the diabetes clinic under the U-M hospital. Questionnaires were administered (via Qualtrics) regarding their diabetes adjustment, stress, etc., as well as their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to questionnaires (quantitative), we will conduct interviews as well (qualitative). After compiling and analyzing the questionnaires (with various scaling methods) and results from the interviews, we expect to find results that are helpful in developing and improving tools to screen the psychological adjustment of youth and young adults with T1D. Our research will be valuable because it will help health care providers better care for teens with T1D in the future.




Mixed Methods Assessment of Diabetes Adjustment in Adolescent and Young Adult Patients with Type 1 Diabetes

Hannah Knoll | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Our research is important to assess key aspects of psychological adjustment to type 1 diabetes (T1D) in adolescents to allow further improvement in their lives. This study aims to improve tools to screen for the psychological adjustment of youth with T1D. We used a mixed methods approach which includes data collection via questionnaires, medical records, and interviews. We found people who were eligible from U of M medical records, called them, and emailed them the questionnaire if they were interested. If the participant was under the age of 18, they received a Consent form and Assent form to review before completing the questionnaire. We will soon ask people to complete interviews to further explore their perspective on adjustment to T1D. We are analyzing 115 participants using depression data from the PHQ-8 and their hypoglycemic fear using the Fear of Hypoglycemia Survey (FHS). Higher scoring on both surveys shows greater depression and fear of hypoglycemia. The mean score on the PHQ-8 was measured on a scale of 0-24 with a mean score of 5.95 and the mean score on the FHS was 61.39 in a range of 27-135. We found no significant correlation between PHQ-8 scores and HbA1c, p = .221 but a significant positive correlation between FHS scores and HbA1c levels, p = .047. These findings will help researchers understand the gaps that exist in medical treatment. With this information, medical providers can work towards better interventions at the psychological level to improve adjustment to T1D.




Mixed Methods Assessment of Diabetes Adjustment in Adolescent and Young Adult Patients with Type 1 Diabetes

Bonnie Spence | First-Year UROP Research Experience

This mixed-methods study was performed to identify a subset of questions from a variety of validated psychological screening questionnaires to be compiled into a brief psychological screening battery and used to screen major aspects of an adolescent’s adjustment to type one diabetes, as well as to explore patient perspectives and experiences with T1D adjustment. 130 adolescent and young adult patients ages 13 to 24 were recruited via phone and email to complete an online questionnaire containing validated screenings for depression, diabetes distress, anxiety, fear of hypoglycemia, diabetes-related disordered eating, diabetes-related parent-patient conflict, substance use, social support, resilience, and flourishing, as well as their experiences with COVID-19 in order to obtain quantitative data. A subset of participants were then interviewed to obtain qualitative data about the patients’ experiences with and perceptions of diabetes in order to assess whether or not the adjustment measures accurately captured diabetes adjustment or if additional measures were needed to assess the need for psychological support. Information related to diabetes management was also obtained from electronic medical records. The results of Pearson correlations generated to compare the relationships between the psychological assessment questionnaires and electronic health record data showed statistically significant correlations between recent A1c data and both diabetes distress young adults and anxiety, as well as significant relationships between adolescent diabetes distress and both the frequency of review data and the frequency of insulin dosage changes. These significant relationships indicate these questionnaire totals may have clinical utility in indicating the physiological health of young people with type 1 diabetes.




Mixed Methods Assessment of Diabetes Adjustment in Adolescent and Young Adult Patients with Type 1 Diabetes

Chiemerie Amanze | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The goal of this study was to determine what contributes to adjustment to life with type 1 diabetes (T1D) by using a mixed-methods approach to gather and analyze data. To collect quantitative data, 130 adolescents (ages 12-17) and young adults (ages 18-25) with T1D were recruited to complete a survey composed of multiple questionnaires (PAID, PHQ-8, FHS, Flourishing, T1DAL, Resilience (DSTAR), GAD-7, Family Conflict (DFS), Substance Abuse (RAAPS), and COVID 19 (CEFIS)). Each questionnaire had a cutoff score to differentiate the levels of a participant’s score. Diabetes management behaviors of each patient were collected to assess glycemic control (HbA1c). To collect qualitative information, 10 percent of the participants were interviewed to gather in-depth information about their lives regarding T1D. Data was analyzed using statistical analysis through SPSS software to observe correlations between each questionnaire and HbA1c data. Although the results are not yet determined, diabetes-related factors such as stress, depression, and/or quality of life mediate between management and adjustment to life with T1D. Results could reveal that higher PAID-T scores are associated with higher A1c or that higher depressive symptoms are correlated with lower reported quality of life. An analysis of the interviews could reveal certain ways that T1D affects daily life. This study is part of a growing body of research on the impacts of T1D among adolescents. Clinical care should focus on ways to aid adjustment for adolescents and young adults managing diabetes.




Modeling cardiac aging with stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes carrying a mutation for advanced aging

Elijah Hall | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Using various images taken through a confocal microscope, the area of the nuclei in the heart cells of mice were measured in an effort to compare two varieties of cells. Those that were extracted from mice suffering from Hutchinson Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS), a severe and rare cardiovascular disease. Comparing these two types of cells provided a better idea of the meaningful ways in which cell morphology is different in regards to the presence of HGPS. Differences reflecting statistical significance were identified between the heart cells of “healthy” mice and those afflicted with HGPS. This data collection helps build upon the foundation and overarching goal of the lab which is to model cardiac aging through the use of stem cell derived cardiomyocytes.




Modeling Cas9 efficiency in cutting Long Interspersed Nuclear Elements 1 through Biopython

Aryn Booker | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Transposable elements (TEs), DNA sequences that can change their position within the genome, can result in mutations associated with somatic and heritable diseases. TEs are repetitive in the genome and are therefore hard to map. In this study, we determined definitive mapping of one set of TEs, called Long Interspersed Nuclear Elements 1 (L1), through the utilization of recent technology, specifically CRISPR-Cas9 and nanopore sequencing. However, the cutting precision of Cas9 must be deduced for efficient mapping of these elements. This study aims to better understand the cutting preferences of Cas9 in the context of the L1 sequence by exploring how Python can map transposable elements in the genome. The biological analysis and mapping of these reads through the use of Biopython will result in a better understanding of the cutting preferences of Cas9 and its efficiency. Through an RNA guide, Cas9 targets and cuts at a specific region of DNA, where nanopore sequencing will then read the L1 retrotransposons. This data will be processed through the use of Biopython’s modules. A “for” loop was used to: extract individual reads contained within the input data files; perform a local alignment of each read to L1; and obtain the positions of the alignments with respect to L1. We also accounted for reads that align to the reverse complement of the L1 sequence by comparing the two scores obtained from the local alignments. Our data demonstrates that the median starting alignment position is consistent between alignments of the reads to L1 and its reverse complement. Thus, we conclude that Cas9 cutting occurs approximately 5900 bp downstream in L1. However, further analysis of the location of PAM sites and the RNA guide is necessary to confirm Cas9’s efficiency and function.




Modeling Cas9 efficiency in cutting Long Interspersed Nuclear Elements 1 through Biopython

Preston Parana | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Transposable elements (TEs), DNA sequences that can change their position within the genome, can result in mutations associated with somatic and heritable diseases. TEs are repetitive in the genome and are therefore hard to map. In this study, we determined definitive mapping of one set of TEs, called Long Interspersed Nuclear Elements 1 (L1), through the utilization of recent technology, specifically CRISPR-Cas9 and nanopore sequencing. However, the cutting precision of Cas9 must be deduced for efficient mapping of these elements. This study aims to better understand the cutting preferences of Cas9 in the context of the L1 sequence by exploring how Python can map transposable elements in the genome. The biological analysis and mapping of these reads through the use of Biopython will result in a better understanding of the cutting preferences of Cas9 and its efficiency.




Modeling Depth of Interaction: A Neural Network Approach

Lauren Fuller | First-Year UROP Research Experience

One of the key elements underlying successful second language (L2) learning is the interaction with other language users in the target language (Gass & Varonis, 1985). While the expectation exists that learners will use their linguistic skills in theStudy Abroad (SA) context (e.g., Fraser 2002; Freed, 1990; 2000; Hernández, 2010; Martinsen, 2011; Mendelson 2004; Vande Berg et al., 2009, Whitworth, 2006), it is also known that many SA learners interact substantially less with native speakers (NSs) than they initially anticipate (DeKeyser, 1986; Dewey et al., 2014; Rivers, 1998; Wilkinson, 1998a, 1998b; García-Amaya, 2017). Recent research further shows that SA learners’ target-language use decreases over a six-week SA experience (García-Amaya, 2017; forthcoming). While interaction in the L2 is essential for achieving L2 gains, research has found that learners must negotiate meaning to notice gaps in their acquisition and benefit from their interlocutor(s)’ efforts to adjust interaction and facilitate comprehension (Long 1981, 1983, 1986). One could thus argue that deeper conversations, involving such negotiating of meaning, may be necessary for facilitating L2 learning. Along with this hypothesis, several questions come to mind. How can we distinguish deep from shallow interactions? How can we understand interaction depth without necessarily observing learners’ interactions in real time? In this presentation, we will discuss modeling depth of interaction through neural networks (cf. Frank, Monaghan, Tsoukala, 2019). Instead of asking participants to self-rate the depth of their interactions via online questionnaires, we have designed a predictive model that takes as input several structural parameters of interaction, including length, interactiveness, activeness, and number of participants involved. In terms of precision and recall, our model’s preliminary results are 76% and 82%, respectively. These results will be discussed in light of our modest dataset and future steps.




Modeling Molecular Pathogenesis of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis associated Lung Cancer (IPF-LC) in mice

Vicky Wang | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Lung diseases are prolific killers in the United States each year. Of the major respiratory illnesses and cancers, lung cancer (LC) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) are especially notable. In the US alone, there is estimated to be 250,000 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed annually, and around 130,000 patients die from the disease as well (Cancer.org). Meanwhile, IPF affects close to 200,000 people in the United States with a 3-5 year survival rate of 50% (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute). For each of the two diseases, treatment options are very different, making it especially difficult to provide sufficient care. In addition, around 22% of IPF patients will go on further to develop non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC), or lung cancer (The Lancet). While it is not completely clear as to why this happens, it is likely due to increased inflammation in the lungs, providing an optimal ground for tumor growth.




Modeling Spinal Cord Decompression Sickness

Joshua Symonds | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Decompression sickness (DCS) occurs when dissolved gasses in the body exit the solution they’re contained in; upon depressurization, the visualizable bubbles form inside the body and compress surrounding tissue causing symptoms ranging from soreness to central nervous system damage. The current treatment for decompression sickness is to have the patient breathe 100% oxygen and be recompressed in a hyperbaric chamber. In the event that initial treatment does not completely resolve symptoms, treatment is repeated. This study investigates the impact of current treatment of DCS in the spinal cord by building a finite-element multiphysics model using COMSOL to simulate gas diffusion in the spinal cord and the mechanical response to a growing gas bubble. The model is developed through pressurizing spinal cord tissue from cows to simulate DCS and observing gas bubbles in the tissue through a series of MRIs taken during decompression and recompression. In the multiphysics model, we can analyze the simulated tissue for damages following the decompression and recompression. Currently, we have developed software to extract a 3D model from a series of MRIs of spinal cords. Our next step is to integrate this 3D model with a multiphysics model developed by another researcher in our group in order to run the aforementioned simulations.




MODS (Military Occupation Data Set)

Jacob Berch | First-Year UROP Research Experience

My research project, the Military Occupation Data Set, or MODS for short, involves analysis of various military conflicts over the last 200 years to determine whether or not the conflict involved an occupation and whether or not the occupation was a success. This research could help the world by shining a light on the risks of military occupations and the frequency in which they fail, hopefully leading to aggressive countries pursuing occupations less in the future. Thus far I have researched 2 conflicts, one of which I have completed research for. The conflict I have completed work on was a war between China and Tibet in the early 20th century. I had to read through multiple books and papers on the war to find and confirm information regarding the conflict. Then I proceeded to put the information I found into codebooks for the project that took in details about the war. I found that the Chinese occupation ended in failure due to the 1911 revolution that ended the Qing dynasty. These findings will add to the data set and lead to a general conclusion on how often military occupations lead to failure, which strategies lead to the best outcomes, and what costs countries incur when taking on an occupation.




Multicultural Content Areas Faculty Feel Least Confident Teaching

Aisha Ibrahim | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Faculty in Schools of Social Work has the important task of educating graduate students for future Social Work practice and/or future research in the field. There are limited studies investigating faculty’s confidence in their teaching abilities surrounding Social Work content. This study will investigate faculty’s attitudes towards content that they reported feeling the least confident teaching and whether this has any association with their sex, race, and academic rank. Therefore I propose to examine whether faculty’s teaching confidence of Social Work content varies from differing sex, race, and academic rank. Two-hundred fifty-eight faculty members from across the United States in Schools of Social Work participated in the Faculty Attitudes Survey, an online survey that examined faculty’s attitudes towards content in School of Social Work programs. Specifically, the question we will thoroughly examine is the responses to, “In which areas regarding diversity, human rights, or social and economic justice content do you feel the least confident teaching?”. Participants responded to this open-ended question with teaching content they felt the least confident in teaching. Using qualitative content-coding of responses to open-ended questions and cross-tabulations with chi-square tests, we will be able to examine this question and how it may vary within the different race, sex, and academic status of the participants. This study suggests that the Areas of Multicultural Content MSW faculty feel the least confident teaching does not vary by their sex, race, or academic rank. Also, the results revealed a specific area in MSW multicultural content that faculty felt the least confident teaching. Specifically, findings revealed that content surrounding Other forms of Systemic Oppression (Not race) is an area in which many faculty of different sex, race, and academic rank felt the least confident teaching. Another content area that was most commonly identified by faculty was Critical Social Theories & Frameworks.




Multidomain protein analogous templates detection based on TM-align

Jingtong Zhao | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Protein structure prediction is a crucial step to understanding and transforming biological and cellular functions. Most proteins exist with multiple domains in cells for cooperative functionality. However, due to the technical difficulties in structural biology, most of the multidomain proteins have only single domain structures solved. To guide the multidomain protein modeling, we present a two-step procedure method to detect the analogous templates from the multidomain protein structure library which includes the multidomain proteins with known full-length structures through the structural alignment. In the first step, individual domains are used to evaluate each template by TM-align, regardless of the overlap between the alignments of different domains, and the average TM-score of all domains is calculated as the local score of a template. In the second step, the top 500 templates selected from the first step are evaluated by the TM-align again with no overlap allowed in the alignments of different domains, and the average TM-score is defined as the global score of a template. Finally, the template with the best global score is selected as the best template. We test the method over 2,269 non-redundant proteins with 2 domains. With homologous templates with sequence identity >30% to the targets excluded, the results indicated that >80% of target proteins have at least 1 template with a TM-score >0.5 and alignment coverage >90%. The data demonstrate that most interdomain orientations can be inferred from the template library, which probably can be used to assist the multidomain protein structure assembly from the independently determined/predicted domain models.




Multimodal Retinal Imaging of Usher Syndrome Animal Model of Photoreceptor Degeneration

Ashley Brown | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Multimodal Retinal Imaging of Usher Syndrome Animal Model of Photoreceptor Degeneration

Emilie Gilligan | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Multivariable Thinking with GIS

Lauren Greenspan | First-Year UROP Research Experience

This research is aimed at understanding strengths and weaknesses of multivariable thinking in humans: how individuals can apply their thoughts and reasoning in one situation to another that on the surface may seem different, however involves similar approaches and applications. This study uses a Geographic Information System tool called the Opportunity Atlas to have participants walk through factors that may contribute to poverty, specifically household incomes. We ask the participants to create a model of the various factors after to see how they retained the information. After, the participants will also be asked to create an explanatory model of what factors might contribute to different performances on a math test. These results will then be compared to a control group who is asked to create both models without being primed with the Opportunity Atlas beforehand. We are aiming to see that the factors that the participants come up with on the math test model will be similar to those relating to household income. The sample is 30 participants, 15 in each group, and interviews are conducted over Zoom where the interviewer takes them through the process. There have not been any conclusive results yet. The project hopes to shed light on multivariable thinking and how humans can improve upon such abilities which can be beneficial in schools and workplaces. Specifically, we hope that there will be a difference between the models of the experimental and control groups, with the models of the experimental group including more factors and strengths that would not have been as obvious without the Opportunity Atlas.




Murdering the Leviathan: State Death since 1815

Alexander Elan Constantino | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Murdering the Leviathan: State Death since 1815

James Rendleman | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Museums and Publics: Engaging Detroit, Berlin, and the Future of the City

Oscar Nollette-Patulski | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The Museums and Publics project seeks to answer this question through the creation of short films analyzing an aspect of how the Cultural Campus and Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) renovation and integration projects connect with everyday Detroit citizens. Zeroing in on the topic of transportation, I seek to answer the question, what is the effect of current public transportation infrastructure in Detroit on equitable access to the Detroit Square project? Analysis and interviews done for the film shows that there is a disconnect between transportation provided and transportation desired, a major hurdle in creating equitable access to the Cultural Campus. As part of the interviews, I hope to seek out people that use the DDOT or SMART transportation systems regularly, or those who want to but face logistical hurdles. The interviews put real voices to the problems often mumbled about in the Southeast Michigan political sphere – the lack of a regional governing transit authority, and therefore a lack of a true regional public transportation system. In order for the Detroit Square and DIA project to be accessible and a community oriented cultural campus, these discrepancies must be addressed in some manner.




MyVoice- Examining the Relationship between Youth Health and spending time in Nature

Jack Nawrocki | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Purpose: Both physical and mental health issues among youth have been on the rise, yet there still is a challenge in how to combat this growing problem that is damaging the overall health of the younger generation. Methods: In order to get youth’s perspectives, the MyVoice team fielded a series of 4 open ended text message questions designed to gauge the opinions of the youth (ages 14-24) on the impact of nature on their health. Once the data was collected, it was coded and frequency of codes were summarized. Results: From this, it was found that 51.6% of youth stated that being in nature helped them feel at peace or more calm (“I always feel calm when I am in nature”) while 22.1% stated that it improved their mental state by calming their anxieties or stress (“It reduces my anxiety”); however, the data also showed that over 20% of youth claimed that they were unable to spend as much time in nature due to other engagements that limited their ability to go into nature as much as they would have liked (“My busy schedule doesn’t allow me.”) Overall, the youth polled agreed that being in nature improved both their physical and mental health. Conclusion: Using this information, policy makers can help youth spend more time in nature by promoting accessible and safe outside areas for recreation.




Nanoparticle Synthesis

Timothy Zamarro | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Many engineering problems stem from the issue of weight. Engines can only give so much propulsion, buildings can only hold so much weight, and wings can only provide so much lift. The Hammig Research Group is currently researching nanoparticle synthesis. The group already has basic recipes for them, but experimentation is needed. Several syntheses have taken place, including one lead-telluride sample and three aluminum samples.




Nanoparticles and bacteria – chasing data!

Nicole Sorensen | First-Year UROP Research Experience

There is a vast amount of research currently available regarding the discovery of new nanoparticles and their effectiveness in terms of killing bacteria. However, much of the literature is highly unorganized and fails to address the question of whether the nanoparticles’ ability to kill bacteria would render it a useful antibiotic. To address this issue, this study has gathered 8000 papers regarding such nanoparticle research to date. Each paper is judged twice, once by a machine learning algorithm and once by a human researcher, to determine whether the data provided in terms of the nanoparticle-microbe interactions is sufficient. If the paper is approved, it is included in the nanoparticle-microbe database, where data regarding such nanoparticle-microbe interactions is extracted. As this research is ongoing, the database has yet to be completed. However, the completed database will likely serve as a basis for future researchers and standardize the amount and types of data that should be collected. Additionally, further research should be conducted upon the nanoparticles included in the database to determine their potential for antibiotic or antimicrobial use.




Nanosemiconductor-base Sensor Development

Madison Grenke | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Existing sensors of x-rays and nuclear radiation suffer from either poor energy resolution or high cost or both. Solution-based synthesis allows one to achieve facile, scalable, low-cost synthesis. Nanosemiconductors allow one to control the thermal noise in the material which governs the energy resolution. We therefore have developed nanosemiconductor, solution-based sensors composed of lead telluride (PbTe) nanoparticles to create high resolution, low cost radiation detectors. We make PbTe nanoparticle semiconductors via an aqueous process, with particles that are then filtered through an aramid nanofiber (ANF) to create a semiconductor. The resulting solid is then tested after creating an electric field across the material. The nanocomposite detectors are exposed to gamma-ray sources and the resulting spectral distributions are measured. Our bare PbTe-ANF detectors have energy resolutions comparable to single-crystalline cadmium-telluride detectors. We have also developed conductive contacts composed of copper and lead nanoparticles that are under optimization, the goal of which is to improve the uniformity of the electromagnetic field and thereby increase the intrinsic detection efficiency of the solids.




Navigating faith identities in college: The Role of Community for Sustaining Faith in College

Sarah Gargouri | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Navigating faith identities in college: The role of student organizations in shaping college experiences and identity development

Gayoung Yang | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Navigating faith identities in college: The role of student organizations in shaping college experiences and identity development

Lyndsay Kluge | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Neural Mechanisms Involved in Contextual Processing in PTSD and Fibromyalgia

Esther Choi | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Fear modulation, the ability to contextualize fear learning in different settings, is a vital mechanism related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Individuals with PTSD have impairments in extinction recall and fear renewal, for they continuously overreact or fail to recognize dangerous circumstances. There is strong evidence that people with fibromyalgia (FM) also struggle with fear modulation. One of the main goals of this research project is to use skin conductance response (SCR) to examine group differences in extinction recall and fear renewal in PTSD, FM, and control subjects. The subjects recruited are right-handed adults between ages 18 and 45. On Day 1, participants completed tasks related to fear learning. They were fear conditioned to learn that blue light in the office setting induces an electrical current, whereas blue light on the bookshelf does not, which is called extinction learning. On Day 2, they completed extinction recall and fear renewal for the fear learning task (acquisition and extinction of what they learned on Day 1). During these tasks, participants’ event-related skin conductance responses (ER-SCR) have been recorded, for SCR is a reliable indicator of one’s fear response. We anticipate that PTSD and FM groups will demonstrate significantly greater SCR during extinction recall and fear renewal. ANOVA will be used to compare data in the areas of interest between subject groups. We hope the results of this study will create a better understanding of cognitive and neurological deficits involved in PTSD and allow for the development of more targeted, improved treatment.




Neural Mechanisms Involved in Contextual Processing in PTSD and Fibromyalgia

Karan Kamath | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition characterized as impairments in fear modulation (e.g., extinction recall and fear renewal). There is a high comorbidity between PTSD and fibromyalgia (FM), a condition that results in chronic pain and memory issues. By better understanding the differences in fear modulation and hippocampal function, treatments that target the underlying mechanisms may be more effective. This study seeks to understand the differences between fear modulation in participants with PTSD, FM, trauma controls, and healthy controls using skin conductance response (SCR) to measure their reactivity to stimuli. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition characterized as impairments in fear modulation (e.g., extinction recall and fear renewal).




Neural Mechanisms of Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Patrick Eagen | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) results from events that are especially frightening, horrible, or traumatic, and is accompanied by symptoms of intrusive thoughts, avoidance, hyperarousal, and guilt. While PTSD is often associated with combat veterans, it can affect anyone who has experienced a traumatic event. Our project, Neural Mechanisms of Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), is looking to utilize mindfulness as a treatment for PTSD and to investigate the neural mechanisms behind symptom improvement. Mindfulness-based therapies have already proven to be effective in treating psychiatric conditions and increased connectivity between the central executive network and default mode network based on previous studies with combat-related PTSD depression, and nonclinical populations. We now want to apply these results to people with civilian PTSD.




NeuroInsight: A novel toolbox to study the mechanisms of epileptic seizures

Daniel Najarian | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Millions of Americans suffer from epileptic seizures that result in a temporary loss of consciousness. The majority of our understanding of neural dynamics during seizures is based on extracellular recordings, with intracellular neuronal recordings not yet possible in patients. Here, we create a toolbox – called NeuroInsight – that can allow for the decoding of estimated intracellular potentials based only on extracellular single neuron recordings. NeuroInsight’s algorithms can approximate the intracellular membrane potential of neurons and identify periods of excessive depolarization that may correlate with increased seizure likelihood. We streamline the analysis process by including multiple built in visualization tools. Furthermore, the isolation quality of sorted single units can be evaluated with two included metrics. This novel toolbox has the promise to be an important resource for both clinicians and researchers studying the mechanisms of multiple forms of epilepsy.




Neutrophil depletion’s effect on lung cancer

Jason Manassa | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide, with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) making up 85% of lung cancers. NSCLC is comprised of adenocarcinomas and lung squamous cell carcinoma and develops primarily in individuals over the age of 55 who regularly smoke. Current research on the tumor microenvironment revealed that neutrophils, a type of white blood cell responsible for fighting infections, actually aids tumor progression by allowing the creation of chemotaxis that promote tumor metastasis. Additionally, current immunotherapies are only 30% effective. This study looks specifically at how neutrophils affect the tumor microenvironment (TME). We hypothesized that if neutrophils depleted in mice with adenocarcinoma they would decrease in tumor burden, as the chemotaxis transport mechanism for cancer cells would be gone. We have established a murine model of lung cancer, wherein expression of oncogenic Kras and p53 can be controlled genetically, allowing activation of oncogenic Kras to initiate tumor growth, tumor eradication upon Kras depletion and re-activation as a means to model relapse, and p53 speeds up tumor progression. Control mice were used alongside our cancer inducible mice, to test the effects of neutrophil depletion. Half of the mice were given the antibody IgG that has no effect on neutrophil depletion while GR-1, a neutrophil depleted antibody was given to the other half. After 4-week treatment, we took lung tissue; paraffin embedded it and stained it with HE. Tumors were counted and the subsequent analysis revealed 1) Mice with both Kras and p53 on have more tumors than those with just Kras on 2) Neutrophil depletion resulted in lower tumor counts for mice. In summary, neutrophils play likely a tumor-promoting role in lung cancer. Depletion of neutrophils by antibodies resulted in a decrease in tumor burden suggesting new treatment option for lung cancer patients by modulating TME.




Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste: How Will New Mobility Initiatives in the Auto Industry Come Out of the Pandemic?

Weiqing Li | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Mobility as a Service, also known as MaaS, is a crucial part of our society’s transportation system. Under its broad umbrella are businesses such as ride-hailing, car-sharing, subscription services, microtransit etc. Together they supplement traditional public transportation services by providing customers with more customized and more convenient traveling solutions. Just like most other businesses around the world, players within MaaS have been hit hard by the pandemic. But as we gradually shift towards the “new normal”, some of the business models in MaaS are also seeing increasing opportunities, compared to their pre-COVID operations. In our project, we conducted case studies on various players in different parts of MaaS to see how they have responded to the pandemic, what are some of the innovations and measurements they have taken to survive and thrive, and how are they going to move forward in the “new norm”. Specifically, we looked at and compared key player’s financial reports at different stages into the pandemic, monitored their active app user data through an online database called AppAnnie, and examined their service updates and special measurements through official apps and websites. The results, aligning with our initial hypothesis, concluded that ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft had suffered painfully from the pandemic and will likely keep their underperformance as we enter 2021. On the other hand, car-sharing businesses, namely Kuro and Zipcar, bounced back quickly from their initial loss, and will see their businesses continue to thrive thanks to the nature of their operations. Finally, although we have not yet finished the analysis on microtransit and subscription services, we do expect to see patterns similar to that of car-sharing companies. These findings will serve as references for not only MaaS companies, but also investors who have strong interests in this market.




New Materials for Nonaqueous Redox Flow Batteries

Jerick Hartono | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Advancement in renewable energy harvesting has led to a demand for large-scale energy storage — redox flow batteries are good candidates for this purpose. However, commercially available redox flow batteries face some challenges: their narrow stable electrochemical window of water (<1.5 V), their high cost of the metal salts used in them, and low energy density due to poor solubility of organic molecules in an aqueous system. A solution to this problem is using non-aqueous redox flow batteries; since it's a relatively new technology, more redox-active molecules are still being discovered and characterized. N-containing heterocycles, like 1,8-Napthalic anhyrdride, are promising candidates due to their electron-acceptor properties. 1,8-Napthalic anhydride molecules have been reported to undergo reversible reduction. The electrochemical stability of 1,8-Napthalic anhydride molecules can be explored via cyclic voltammetry and symmetric bulk electrolysis cycling to simulate a battery environment. These studies will help us conclude if 1,8-Napthalic anhydrides are, in fact, promising candidates for redox flow battery applications: the cyclic voltammogram must be reversible and show no loss in current over several cycles; the bulk cycling for the molecule should also have a minimal capacity loss over 100 charge/discharge cycles. Promising results from 1,8-Napthalic anhydride's electrochemical stability in non-aqueous solvents will allow us to explore the effects of different substituents to improve its electrochemical properties; in doing so, propels the benefits of renewable energy while simultaneously breaking the cycle of environmental damage.




News Media and the Impact of Historical Stereotypes on Black Female Political Figures

Lauren Weaver | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Historically, Black women in the U.S. have been largely disadvantaged in part due to the role of their dual race-gender identity. Whether on magazines, television shows, or music videos, controlling images and discourse have been used to preserve hegemonic power through stereotypes. There are three central stereotypes, rooted in America’s systemic, prejudice systems, that American modern media have created to spur perceptions of Black women; the “mammy”, “jezebel”, and “sapphire”. In our project, we set out to answer the following research question: Do black women experience more negativity in news segments than their white female counterparts?. We expect the aforementioned historical tropes to shape and impact how Black women are discussed within modern day news. In order to answer the proposed research question, we conduct a manual sentiment content analysis of roughly 1700 television news transcripts extracted from ABC, NBC, FOX, and MSNBC from the past three years. Currently, nearly 77% of all Americans receive their news by watching television. Based on the recurrent perpetuation of the aforementioned stereotypes across modern-day media, examining the role of these stereotypes in news is an important step in mitigation and intervention.




Next Generation Combat Vehicles: Safety and Usability

Zachary Phillips | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The U.S. Army has been conducted research on advanced technology for several decades, summarized in about 30 reports and presentations. A major theme has been the use of automation and new technology to support the operation of ground vehicles, both manned, remotely operated, and autonomous. Topics have included partial automation of the driving task, various designs for displays to present information to drivers and commanders (e.g., head-mounted displays), the design of controls used for driving, requirements for training, the effect of degraded visual environments on driving, automatic target recognition, and a range of other topics. The presentation will provide an overview of the research methods and tools used, as well as a summary of the findings.




Nonviolent Resistance in Evereg and Fenesse

Kristen Bagdasarian | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Current research on the Armenian Genocide of 1915 (??? ?????) is thorough and comprehensive, but when it addresses Armenian resistance to these crimes, it tends to focus on armed resistance rather than nonviolent resistance. Additionally, research on individual Ottoman Armenian towns and villages is generally cultural in nature, and while this is extremely important, it also tends to overlook the village’s nonviolent resistance to genocide, when present. This results in the belief that provincial Armenians were either passive to the atrocities they faced, or that they could only protect themselves through reactionary violence. This study aims to show that the Armenians the twin towns of Evereg and Fenesse (modern Develi) were able to nonviolently resist their complete erasure from this world through the foundation of the Evereg Mesrobian and Fenesse Roupinian educational societies by using a combination of historical analysis and interviews of the descendants of the survivors of Evereg and Fenesse. An analysis of these texts could show that the curriculum inspired a revolutionary mentality, or that the subjects studied at these educational institutions allowed for the preservation of the cultures of Evereg and Fenesse as its inhabitants (the few who were lucky enough to survive massacre, that is) made their way to Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and eventually the United States. Hopefully, this research will show that the existence of these educational societies aided in the survival of Evereg and Fenesse Armenians themselves. These pre-genocide and post-genocide accounts will show that when armed resistance to ethnic cleansing is not an option, nonviolent resistance through the creation and maintenance of educational institutions and societies can ensure not just the survival of human beings, but also the continuation of their culture.




Nuestra batalla interna: How Race Impacts Middle class Socioeconomic Status in the Latinx Community

Irene Lopez | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Studies demonstrating the link between race and socioeconomic (SES) status (Graham-Bailey et al., 2019; Rich, 2011) often fail to take into account numerous individual factors in people of color, such as self-identification, discrimination, and health. This study seeks to understand psychological and environmental factors that middle class Latinx adults face, and how such factors affect the individual’s self-perspective and social class. To study the question of how the Latinx community’s views of themselves affects self-perception within the society. We examine responses from N>300 Spanish-language surveys that were administered online to random US-based Latinx adults. To evaluate the proposed variables, we analyze survey participants’ responses on their own ethnicity. We also examine indications of self-identity rejection, by analyzing participants decision to the respond to Spanish survey prompts in Spanish or English, as a way of operationalizing the language to deduce any signs of viewing their language as a burden. We hypothesize that the Latinx respondent will see themselves as inferior to the racial majority in the United States. Hence, their perceptions of themselves will be reflected in how they respond to the survey questions about their culture and ethnicity, based on our adapted Spanish ethnic and racial identity (ERI) scale. Ultimately, our study predicts that respondents will demonstrate cultural and ethnic identity hesitation, lower perceptions of SES, and feelings of inferiority when compared to US Anglo counterparts. This study contributes to the larger research on race and SES by providing new information on the daily psychological and environmental factors which Latinx middle class families endure, as well as the questions these factors prompt.




Observational Studies of the Solar System with the DECam Ecliptic Exploration Project

Christiano Wang Beach | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Our solar system is filled with yet undetected objects ranging from small asteroids to possible planet candidates. Such objects, such as the asteroids that are a part of the Main Belt between Mars and Jupiter present a unique challenge in detecting and tracking as their fast movement usually sees them moving out of the field range of a telescope on a given night. However, by linking long-stare asteroid streaks with shorter triple frame exposures taken as part of the DEEP DECam collaboration’s usage of the CTIO telescope, we are able to process 24 to 48 hour orbital arcs for these fast moving objects. In this presentation, we present and analyze data from near a thousand newly detected main-belt asteroids. Each component of the methodology is explained, and its processing efficiency demonstrated. A brief overview of the linking algorithm is also included.




Olivine Geochemistry of Igneous Intrusions in the Duluth Complex, MN

Amartya Kattemalavadi | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The Duluth Complex is a series of rock formations in northeastern Minnesota that formed 1.1 billion years ago. On the southwestern side of the Complex, there are 14 different igneous intrusions containing minerals rich in iron and titanium, known as oxide-bearing ultramafic intrusions (OUIs). Although little is known about the genesis of these OUIs, there are many minerals present which can act as proxies to gain insight as to how they formed, such as olivine, a silicate mineral. Since olivine can have a range of compositions with varying amounts of iron and magnesium (from Mg2SiO4 to Fe2SiO4) and it is one of the first minerals to crystallize out of magma as it cools, we can discover a lot about the formation and emplacement these OUIs from its composition alone. Rock samples containing olivine were analyzed with microscopic techniques to find shapes and textures of formation. This analysis indicated that olivine forms in many shapes, such as tubular and trapezoidal in the Titac and ropy and striated in the Longnose. Chemical analysis indicated that the Longnose intrusion had more magnesium rich olivine, and the magnesium content increased with depth (from ~60-~70% Mg), while the Titac had higher amounts of magnesium at the top, but iron dominated lower in the intrusion (from ~60% Mg at the top; ~30% Mg at the bottom). These compositional differences give insight into the magma composition of the OUIs, and help us understand how they formed.




Online Homophobic and Racial Discrimination and Cardiovascular Health among Young Sexual Minority Men: Preliminary Evidence

Sai Meghana Paidi | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Background Much research documents the deleterious impact of discrimination on health outcomes of minority populations. In particular, emerging evidence suggests that experiences of discrimination can lead to physiological dysregulation which, in turn, can lead to poor cardiovascular health outcomes among racial/ethnic minorities. However, experiences in online environments (e.g., Twitter, Facebook) have been underexplored in the research literature despite the fact that they are pervasive among young adults. In particular, young sexual minorities may experience discrimination online due to their racial/ethnic identity and/or sexual minority identity. This, in turn, may impact processes of mental and physiological health among this population. The current study seeks to bridge the gap in the literature by exploring the association between experiences of homophobic and racial discrimination online and cardiovascular health among a sample of young sexual minority men (YSMM).




Ontology-based machine learning towards COVID-19 drug understanding

Eray Sabuncu | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The pandemic caused by COVID 19 marked its one-year anniversary on March 12, 2021. Since last spring, millions have been victims of this terrible disease and millions have been infected across the globe. In the United States alone, there have been almost 30 million cases, and over 500 thousand people have passed away. Vaccines have been manufactured and distributed around the globe, however, officials predict that COVID 19 will never be fully eradicated, similar to the flu. That is why the objective of the COVID-19 Bioinformatics research project is to determine a drug or a cocktail of drugs using COVID-19 virology data and machine learning that can potentially provide treatment. The process of implementing the algorithms began with feeding data into an algorithm titled OpA2Vec that transformed ontology-based axioms into high dimensional vector representations using cosine similarities. These high-dimensional vectors will be compressed into two dimensions by running them through a t-distributed stochastic neighbor embedding (t-SNE) analysis in order to graph them on two dimensions. The vectors represent how effectively different drugs will react with the different target proteins of COVID19. The graph will help determine clusters or patterns to develop a proof of concept and a potential hypothesis for future experimental verification. A linear neural network modeling is also being implemented. The results will be able to demonstrate a potential drug design for the COVID19 virus that has completely transformed the world as we know it today. Our results will provide a proof of concept to potentially support the experimental verification of our theoretical findings.




Optimal Exchange-Rate Policy Under Collateral Constraints and Wage Rigidity Research Paper Presentation

Houston Scott | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Optimizaing a Daily Mindfulness Intervention to Reduce Stress from Discrimination among Sexual and Gender Minorities of Color

Frances Knapp | First-Year UROP Research Experience

There is emerging evidence to suggest that mindfulness interventions reduce the impact of stress for people who identify with both a sexual and racial minority and thus increase wellbeing. However, there is little research that has been done to pinpoint what combination of mindfulness interventions most effectively reduce the impact of stress. This study seeks to determine what combination of the intervention components of mindfulness of purpose, connection, and awareness are most efficient and effective at reducing the impact of stress from discrimination in sexual racial minorities and promoting well-being. While the study has only just begun, I predict that the intervention that incorporates awareness, purpose, and connection will be the most effective at reducing stress in sexual and racial minorities.




Optimizing a Daily Mindfulness Intervention to Reduce Stress from Discrimination among Sexual and Gender Minorities of Color

Jessica Li | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Sexual and gender minorities of color face a disproportionate amount of stress from microaggressions, discrimination in the workplace and in the social world, and other sources on a daily basis as a result of their identity. This study will ask sexual and gender minorities of color to participate in a week of mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness is a practice designed to have positive effects on an individual’s mental health by focusing on “the four pillars of the science of training the mind”: awareness, connection, insight, and purpose. This study will be administered remotely through the mobile application Healthy Minds Program. It will ask participants to take a survey to measure stress at the beginning of the study, act out guided meditation exercises, and a final survey at the end of the study. This study will randomize which guided meditation exercises a participant will receive in order to determine which ones have the greatest positive effect on their stress levels. In addition, participants will log nightly diary entries detailing their daily activities and how meditation impacted their mood throughout the study. This project will then compile and measure the difference in stress levels before and after the meditation exercises to see whether mindfulness will significantly reduce participants’ stress levels. We expect that these mindfulness sessions will reduce their stress levels because we believe that purposeful reflection will especially help participants manage how they view their stressors, which are often beyond their control.




Oral Scripture in Early Judaism and Islam

Alexander Hailman | First-Year UROP Research Experience

In helping my mentor research for her manuscript, I have explored how the medium of oral scripture shaped Jewish religious practice in Late Antiquity. To provide a comparative lens to this research, I examined how the formation of the Qur’an and the practice of ?if? differed from ancient Jewish practice, using secondary sources available online. It seems that Muslims embraced oral scripture from the beginning, but for different reasons than in Rabbinic Judaism.




Overuse of Helicopter Transportation for Burn Patients

Emily Azhari | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Far too many burn patients are experiencing additional suffering through the use of unnecessary helicopter transportation to specialized burn facilities. This study looks at gathered burn patient data in the state of Michigan and looks at the factors related to helicopter transport of certain patients. Inappropriate helicopter burn patient transport to specialized burn centers is often costly, excessive, and traumatic for patients- particularly those who only have minimal burns. However, it is clear that the burn centers are benefiting from this excessive transport, as it does help certain burn units meet their patient quotas and remain in business. We are examining current burn education, telemedicine opportunities, faulty and discriminatory practices, and other factors, to determine if these areas are in need of improvement. Overall, we aim to help transform medical practice and reduce unnecessary helicopter transport of burn patients. These findings may be generalized to burn care providers everywhere, even beginning with reforms in schooling. In advocating for the patient, our team of health science-minded professionals aims to provide quality patient and family-centered care for burn patients everywhere, without additional healthcare costs.




Overuse of Helicopter Transportation for Burn Patients

June Chung | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Far too many burn patients are experiencing additional suffering through the use of unnecessary helicopter transportation to specialized burn facilities. This study looks at gathered burn patient data in the state of Michigan and looks at the factors related to helicopter transport of certain patients. Inappropriate helicopter burn patient transport to specialized burn centers is often costly, excessive, and traumatic for patients- particularly those who only have minimal burns. However, it is clear that the burn centers are benefiting from this excessive transport, as it does help certain burn units meet their patient quotas and remain in business. We are examining current burn education, telemedicine opportunities, faulty and discriminatory practices, and other factors, to determine if these areas are in need of improvement. Overall, we aim to help transform medical practice and reduce unnecessary helicopter transport of burn patients. These findings may be generalized to burn care providers everywhere, even beginning with reforms in schooling. In advocating for the patient, our team of health science-minded professionals aims to provide quality patient and family-centered care for burn patients everywhere, without additional healthcare costs.




Pancreas Segmentation via Image Processing and Machine Learning

Agam Kohli | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Pancreas segmentation is consistently one of the least accurate out of all organ segmentation due to its low contrast in its boundary and high anatomical variability in its geometric properties. Many hospitals and biomedical laboratories therefore do not have accurate methodologies for cancer detection, 3D modeling, etcetera for pancreas scans. This paper serves to improve current pancreas segmentation methods by making use of a type of Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) called a U-Net in addition to image processing techniques such as an Integrated Hausdorff-Sine Loss Function for preprocessing and 3D Gaussian smoothing for post processing. The CNN was trained on Computed Tomography (CT) images in n-fold cross-validation from a public NIH dataset and a private dataset from Michigan Medicine. Data augmentation was performed on the CT scans using Keras, an open-source neural network library. Accuracy and precision of the CNN was tested using a Dice-Sørensen Similarity Coefficient (DSC) and Jaccard Index (JI). The mean DSC and JI achieved for the proposed methods are expected to be at least 70.00%.




Participation in Computing

Molly Ketner | First-Year UROP Research Experience

This qualitative analysis project is very relevant in the current world we are living in. With COVID-19 impacting students form of learning from the classroom to their house, it is important to remember that not all students have the same luxury. For example, some students may not have access to Wi-Fi or a laptop. Therefore, schools need to join the movement for broadening participation in computing (BPC) because there are many ways that people, especially students, can engage with computing. The relevant work for this study focuses on changing students’ perceptions of computing to be more ‘positive’. This project also focuses on a figured world and how students have a social position in it. Ultimately the study works to understand the question: what do women who participated in BPC programs view as participation in computing? Especially now during a pandemic, when everything is online.




Party in the Street: Grassroots Protests during (and beyond?) the Presidency of Donald Trump

Alexander Newman | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Many Americans have relied on biased or incomplete news coverage to conclude that grassroots protestors are a monolithic group all motivated by the same ideals. Meanwhile, there has been very little formal research conducted to accurately determine the political and social motivations of grassroots protestors during Donald Trump’s Presidency. This research project conducts, codes, and analyzes surveys filled out by participants from several grassroots protests between 2017 and 2020. Its goal is to get a better understanding of the sentiments of individual grassroots protestors. Through close analysis of completed surveys, the project team has determined that the motivations of grassroots protestors are both varied and complex. Although most grassroots protestors identified themselves as either Democrats or Republicans when asked about their political affiliation, their responses to more specific questions about social identity, values, and interests proved that grassroots protests feature diversity of both identity and thought. This research project serves to challenge common knowledge about grassroots protests that has been skewed by political bias in the United States. It will also assist future researchers studying and further analyzing why individuals felt called to participate in grassroots protests during the Presidency of Donald Trump.




Party in the Street: Grassroots Protests During the Presidency of Donald Trump

Patrick Pullis | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Many Americans have relied on biased or incomplete news coverage to conclude that grassroots protestors are a monolithic group all motivated by the same ideals. Meanwhile, there has been very little formal research conducted to accurately determine the political and social motivations of grassroots protestors during Donald Trump’s Presidency. This research project conducts, codes, and analyzes surveys filled out by participants from several grassroots protests between 2017 and 2020. Its goal is to get a better understanding of the sentiments of individual grassroots protestors. Through close analysis of completed surveys, the project team has determined that the motivations of grassroots protestors are both varied and complex. Although most grassroots protestors identified themselves as either Democrats or Republicans when asked about their political affiliation, their responses to more specific questions about social identity, values, and interests proved that grassroots protests feature diversity of both identity and thought. This research project serves to challenge common knowledge about grassroots protests that has been skewed by political bias in the United States. It will also assist future researchers studying and further analyzing why individuals felt called to participate in grassroots protests during the Presidency of Donald Trump.




Pathological Factors Affecting the Detection of BK Polyomavirus in Kidney Transplant Biopsies

Jahnavi Rajagopal | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Background: Effective immunosuppression places kidney transplant patients at risk of BK polyomavirus infection, which can cause graft damage or loss. Aggressive treatment is started if BK virus is detected in a transplant biopsy. However, a local infection may not be seen in a biopsy, particularly if it is in the initial stage and limited to the medulla. We seek to determine how BK titer and proportion of medulla affect the likelihood of detecting BK virus in a transplant biopsy in the initial stage of infection.




Pathways for Women to Obtain Positions of Organizational Leadership

Anneka Lindsay | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Over the last decade, scholars have established that women and men are equally likely to be hired into elementary positions of white collar work, but that women are less likely than men to earn promotions and be hired into upper-managerial positions of leadership in corporate America. Although much research has focused on how women are less likely than men to obtain positions of leadership in the workplace, not much research has looked into how organizations can increase female leadership. To formulate solutions for companies to increase female leadership, this study analyzes literature regarding the promotional gap and hiring processes in corporate America. The analysis of these literatures finds that female organizational leadership can be supported through engaging in networking and sponsoring. Organizations should thus provide networking and sponsoring opportunities in order to increase female leadership.




Patient specific heart muscle for testing new heart therapies in vitro

Bianca Angela Gunawan | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is one of the most prevalent heart diseases in the world. In HCM, gene mutations lead to abnormal thickening of the heart muscles and makes it harder for the heart to pump blood. Previous research also indicated that abnormal structure and function of mitochondria is common in HCM. One of the biological pathways in the cell signaling network that contributes to HCM is the ERK1/2 pathway that consists of a series of proteins activation and signals for cell growth. Mutations that cause abnormally high activity of this pathway causes excessive cell growth. One of the proteins in this pathway is called MEK, and lately, there have been several highly-specific inhibitors studied for this protein. This research uses human stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes with MYH7 mutation-caused HCM to study the effect of MEK inhibition in relation to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The stem cell was cultured into cardiomyocytes monolayers and treated with 6 different doses of MEK inhibitor PD0325901 (0.1, 0.5, 1.0, 5.0, and 10 µM. Afterwards, we studied the cells shape and sizes by staining the cells with Wheat Germ Agglutinin that binds with cell membrane, and Phalloidin that binds with actin. Another focus in this research is also observing the mitochondria structure and health using mitotracker red dye to get a clear picture of the organelle. We also separated the cell proteins and performed Western blotting to observe the effect of the MEK inhibitor on the ERK1/2 pathway. We hope to find that MEK inhibitors are effective in restoring the mitochondria in cardiomyocytes and improving overall heart cells condition. The results of this study could potentially advance heart-related research and public health.




Patterns in Canadian Political Contributions

Matthew Beaubien | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Despite the relative ease of obtaining Canadian federal election data, there are few studies looking at trends and contributor statistics in this data. Most of the data we have looked at thus far comes from the Elections Canada website. We use the R programming language to convert the large .csv files from the website to smaller and easier to work with .RData files. We then used these files to collect some summary statistics about the types of contributors (individuals, businesses, trade unions, etc). We have also employed the use of a normalized Damarau-Levenshtein edit distance to link identities that may have slightly different names (“John Doe” and “Johnny Doe” for example). Thus far, we have found a higher than expected amount of business donations for elections where businesses were still legally allowed to contribute. We have also had some success in tracking identities using the edit distance. This should help us see how people’s donations and preferences change over time. These findings have broad implications for government policy. It is generally important in democracies for less economically franchised citizens to feel like they still have a voice when compared to their wealthier counterparts. This research will hopefully help politicians to shape policy to ensure that Canadian democracy remains healthy.




PbSe Nanocrystalline Radiation Detector Development

Gaurang Vaidya | First-Year UROP Research Experience

In various applications of detecting ionizing radiation, the primary methods of detection are through high purity Germanium (HPGe), and silicon (Si) detectors which have remained the status quo for decades, despite their fundamental disadvantages including requiring significant cooling due to the thermal generation of charge carriers for the HPGe detectors, degradation of Si from the ionizing radiation, and high cost. PbSe nanocrystalline (NC) detectors aim to solve disadvantages by providing cheap, and effective detectors that are comparable if not superior to HPGe/Si detectors in detecting ionizing radiation. The bottleneck preventing the use of PbSe NC detectors is the access to large yields of uniformly fabricated PbSe NCs. Chemical syntheses were performed by combining lead and selenium (Se) precursors at a predetermined temperature with rapidly injecting Se, introduced as tris(dimethylamino)phosphine selenide (TDP-Se). Following each chemical synthesis, an absorbance measurement is typically carried out to understand the overall uniformity and yield of the colloidal solution. With the help of absorbance, here, we plan to also understand the longevity of the supposed air-enhanced PbSe NCs produced with this new synthetic strategy. Various modifications within the synthesis have been carried out in efforts to produce/replicate the best results of uniformity and air-stability, for they could be the new prerequisites for use in nanocrystalline-based radiation detectors.




Pedagogy in a Pandemic: Undergraduate Student Perceptions of Online Instruction

Kate Battaglia | First-Year UROP Research Experience

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, students have experienced a shift in learning from the traditional classroom to pursuing education through virtual and remote learning. This study aims to understand what the relationship is between students’ perception of online classes and their perception around the pandemic as it relates to their lives. There is also an interest in examining what the major changes were for students during their experience of transitioning from the traditional educational setting to taking online classes. The study compares the previously mentioned perceptions for students in the U.S. and China and relies on data collected from a survey distributed to undergraduate students from a Midwestern University and a University in China. The respondents include 252 U.S. students and 162 Chinese undergraduate students. The data is currently being examined in detail, however, a basic analysis displayed similarities in the perspective of the students in the different countries. Textual comments from students illustrate that students seem to view the opportunity to spend more time with family and focus on health and exercise while spending more time outdoors as a positive implication of the pandemic. There are also similarities in what is perceived with a more negative outlook as students in both countries expressed experiencing difficulty of study and accessing educational resources along with less social interaction and loss of freedom. Understanding the student response to alterations in education during unprecedented times can present beneficial insight that may be applied to future instructional and institutional learning methods. Obtaining an understanding of these perspectives will enable educators to make pedagogical recommendations and prepare for possible future disruptions in learning. The research could also have implications for how colleges identity and factor student needs into planning student safety measures and learning experiences in the current pandemic and any similar future event.




Perceived Mental Health Effects and Social Media Use During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Erica Williams | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Since March of 2020, the United States of America has been in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that has created uncertainty and forced many people to live in the unknown. Social media has always been a platform for many users to express themselves and to use in their downtime, but since the pandemic social media may have been used more often. During the pandemic, recommendations were issued by government officials to stay home and reduce as much person-to-person interaction to slow the outbreak, but those orders have been associated with adverse mental health effects. A short online survey was distributed to fellow peers to report social media habits before and during the pandemic. Survey responses showed that during the pandemic, feelings of sadness increased in 63% of respondents, anticipation increased in 55.6% of respondents, and the feeling of depression increased in 59.3% of respondents. On the other hand, during the pandemic the feeling of happiness decreased in 59.3% of respondents, joy decreased in 51.9% of respondents, and the feeling of excitement decreased in 59.3% of respondents. Before the pandemic only 3.7% of the respondents spent more than 20 hours weekly on social media, but since the pandemic that number has increased to 33% of the respondents being on social media for more than 20 hours a week. This study is part of a growing body of research regarding behavior change during the pandemic. Data illustrate how social media usage may be related to experiences and may impact users’ emotions.




Perceptions of COVID Risk

Nainika Mateti | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic has forced every American to make difficult choices as to when they find it acceptable to possibly expose themselves to this deadly virus. An individual’s decision is based on their perceptions of how likely they are to contract the virus. These perceptions are influenced by many factors such as age, preferred political ideology, financial status, occupation, etc. This project focuses on a person’s perceived risk of contracting COVID-19. Two studies were conducted for this project: in Study 1, we asked participants to look at one of two scenarios where a person might be exposed to COVID-19 and rate the likelihood of that individual contracting COVID. In one scenario, the person was in a risky situation but had encounters with only one person, while in the other, they had brief yet safer encounters with multiple people. Participants in response to the first study perceived having only one contact as safer, even though this was not the reality. In Study 2, participants judged how many people they believe would die from COVID and Influenza out of 1000 people, and were then asked to state their political preferences. Results showed that Biden and Trump voters estimated the fatality of COVID-19 and Influenza similarly, however, thoughts on how society is to handle the COVID-19 pandemic were significantly different between both groups.




Perceptions of COVID Risk

Soha Tariq | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic has forced every American to make difficult choices as to when they find it acceptable to possibly expose themselves to this deadly virus. An individual’s decision is based on their perceptions of how likely they are to contract the virus. These perceptions are influenced by many factors such as age, preferred political ideology, financial status, occupation, etc. This project focuses on a person’s perceived risk of contracting COVID-19. Two studies were conducted for this project: in Study 1, we asked participants to look at one of two scenarios where a person might be exposed to COVID-19 and rate the likelihood of that individual contracting COVID. In one scenario, the person was in a risky situation but had encounters with only one person, while in the other, they had brief yet safer encounters with multiple people. Participants in response to the first study perceived having only one contact as safer, even though this was not the reality. In Study 2, participants judged how many people they believe would die from COVID and Influenza out of a 1000 people, and were then asked to state their political preferences. Results showed that Biden and Trump voters estimated the fatality of COVID-19 and Influenza similarly, however, thoughts on how society is to handle the COVID-19 pandemic were significantly different between both groups.




Percolation modeling

Jiayi Zhao | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Under Professor Ziff, our research group devised various methods of modeling types of percolation. These models were initially based in C and were unoptimized for large-scale run times. We rewrote these programs in C++ and implemented various algorithms and memory structures which helped reduce the runtime of the simulation algorithms. These small improvements yielded a boost in productivity as percolation models have to be run for hours on end to yield large enough outputs to provide viable research data. These small improvements are very important, as improvements in program runtime compounded over hours can have a huge impact and allow researchers to get more done in less time.




Percolation modeling

Chirag Bangera | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Under Professor Ziff, our research group devised various methods of modeling types of percolation. These models were initially based in C and were unoptimized for large-scale run times. We rewrote these programs in C++ and implemented various algorithms and memory structures which helped reduce the runtime of the simulation algorithms. These small improvements yielded a boost in productivity as percolation models have to be run for hours on end to yield large enough outputs to provide viable research data. These small improvements are very important, as improvements in program runtime compounded over hours can have a huge impact and allow researchers to get more done in less time.




Percolation modeling

Wei Jie Lee | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Under Professor Ziff, our research group devised various methods of modeling types of percolation. These models were initially based in C and were unoptimized for large-scale run times. We rewrote these programs in C++ and implemented various algorithms and memory structures which helped reduce the runtime of the simulation algorithms. These small improvements yielded a boost in productivity as percolation models have to be run for hours on end to yield large enough outputs to provide viable research data. These small improvements are very important, as improvements in program runtime compounded over hours can have a huge impact and allow researchers to get more done in less time.




Physiological Reactions to Emotional Images in Individuals with PTSD

Sinit Lijam | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition known for its cause of exaggerated fear and emotional responses to perceived threats. Recent findings have suggested that those with PTSD and fibromyalgia (FM), which is highly comorbid with PTSD, may show excessive fear when in safe contexts and not enough fear in dangerous ones, thus suggesting that the ability to contextualize information is hindered. In order to examine this, this study will compare group differences (i.e., PTSD vs. FM vs. healthy controls) in skin conductance response (SCR) during extinction recall and fear renewal phases. Participants ages 18-45 years old were recruited and assigned to one of the three diagnostic groups. On Day 1, participants underwent fear conditioning, in which they associated an unconditioned stimulus (an electrical shock) to a conditioned stimulus (e.g., blue light) and neutral contexts (e.g., an office), and extinction learning, in which they associate extinction contexts (e.g., a living room) with a conditioned stimulus. On Day 2, participants went through extinction recall, which measures the reactivity to the extinction context (i.e., blue light in relation to the office and living room) learned on Day 1, and was measured using event-related SCR. Participants were then shown conditioned feared stimuli through fear renewal, in which their reactivity to the fear learning context was measured. Through this, we hope to find an effective data cleaning process, as well as gain a better understanding of the neural mechanisms of PTSD and FM to look for effective treatments.




Physiological Reactions to Emotional Images in Individuals with PTSD and Stress-Related Disorders

Roshni Mohan | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have impairments in fear modulation, the ability to change fear responses when an unsafe situation becomes safe or vice versa. Fear modulation deficits can be shown by an overreaction during extinction recall and fear renewal, where we measure patients’ reactivity to the previously presented extinction and fear learning context, respectively. Research has shown that the fear modulation deficits common in PTSD patients also occur in patients with fibromyalgia (FM), which is often comorbid with PTSD. This study aims to examine group differences in their response to extinction recall and fear renewal. We hypothesize that PTSD and FM groups will demonstrate significantly greater skin conductance response (SCR) during extinction recall and fear renewal phases. Participants ranging from 18 to 45 years old have been recruited for each subject group-PTSD, FM, and healthy controls. They went through fear conditioning and extinction learning on Day 1 where an unconditioned stimulus (electrical current) was paired with a conditioned stimulus (e.g., blue light) in a certain context (office vs. bookshelf). They then learned that the same conditioned stimulus is not dangerous in a different context (extinction learning). We have not reached our target sample size and are currently collecting data. We hope that the results of the current study will help us understand these disorders to eventually create a better-suited treatment option targeting the improvement of their fear modulation deficits.




Physiological Reactions to Emotional Stimuli in Individuals with PTSD and Fibromyalgia

Aruna Ganesan | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The project research aims to understand how people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and fibromyalgia (FM) react to fear modulation tasks (i.e., extinction recall and fear renewal) by examining skin conductance response (SCR) data, which is a reliable indicator of one’s response to threats. The Duval Lab study aims to examine the contextual processing deficits during fear modulation in PTSD and FM. We are testing FM in addition to PTSD because these disorders are highly comorbid and both demonstrate impairments in fear modulation, which is the ability to flexibly shift fear responses from one stimulus to another if a once-threatening stimulus becomes safe. The study spans over two days, where on Day 1 participants underwent fear conditioning and extinction learning, and on Day 2 participants underwent extinction recall and fear renewal in regards to context. We are currently examining the results of the SCR data collected from three different groups, which consists of individuals with PTSD, FM, and healthy controls, and specifically examining the amplitude and count of the SCR. We have not gotten to the part of analyzing the data presented yet (we are still working on organizing and cleaning the data using Acqknowledge software), but we hypothesize that there will be a significantly greater SCR during extinction recall and fear renewal phases among individuals with PTSD and FM. We hope the outcomes of the current study help improve treatments for PTSD and FM.




Political and Financial Power as Determinants of International Adaptation Assistance: An Analysis of Households in Madagascar

Holly Teeters | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Climate change is one of the great threats that humanity faces today. It is imperative that policymakers and governments provide their citizens with the tools necessary to handle potential natural disasters and slow-onset crises. The United Nations (UN) Paris Agreement of 2016 attempted to address the issue of climate insecurity by allocating funds to countries in need. Among the countries particularly vulnerable to climate change and in need of funds for adaptation is Madagascar. Madagascar, along with my other countries, is vulnerable due to its low capacity to adapt with weak government management and infrastructure. This study analyzes how effectively the UN and Malagasy government have implemented a climate adaptation program in rural Madagascar, where many households are vulnerable to climate crises both financially and physically. The study analyzes 600 household surveys collected in three intervention sites of a UN adaptation project, including both participants and non-participants in the program. Relevant survey data consists of banking access, land ownership, religion, food security, total household assets, political connectivity, and quantity of benefits a household received from the program. Qualitative data were given numerical values and imported into R statistical software to uncover any trends regarding correlations between financial security, political connectivity, and a household’s benefits. Multivariable and single variable regressions were conducted to find correlations between household characteristics and project benefits. The study hypothesizes that the allocation of funds favored households that have political connections and are already more financially secure. The implications of this study are very important for the international community and policymakers. If the hypothesis is correct, that the world’s most vulnerable are not getting the funds they need to adapt, it is a critique of international policy and a representation of the larger problem of corruption within leadership bodies.




Pollutant Data Prediction: Protecting our Watershed Through Sensing

Gina Kittleson | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Watershed health largely influences quality of life, but it is difficult to quantify. Tracking and reducing pollutants is one way to improve watershed health. Total suspended solids (TSS) is an invaluable measurement in determining the amount of pollutants in a body of water. Despite many studies relating TSS to turbidity (water opacity) or doppler backscatter (sound refraction), there is yet to be a way to accurately predict TSS on a long term basis. This study takes previously calculated correlations between suspended solids concentration (SSC) and doppler backscatter using linear regression and conducts a gaussian process on the data to determine a more accurate model. The model created is based on probabilistic computations with a 95% confidence interval. This model will require initial data points from a site before a model can be developed, unlike the previous model, but the confidence interval will decrease in size as more data points are added. Therefore, we will be able to determine a more accurate model for each specific site. The model developed in this study will then be used to predict TSS values for new sites as TSS and SSC are related measurements, and TSS is a more widely used measurement in regulations. This result allows us to continue with further research into the number of true TSS/ SSC samples necessary to determine an accurate model and how the model will react to changes in flow rate implemented by controlled valves.




PowerED

Rohan Nanwani | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Recently, opioids have been used more often to treat pain in the US, especially in the emergency department. With the increased use of prescribed opioids to manage pain, however, non-medical use of opioids (use of opioids that is not consistent with prescription) has also increased. This study was undertaken to test the effectiveness of remote intervention, such as reinforcement learning (RL) and motivational enhancement (ME), to adult patients who received opioids in the emergency department (ED), to patients who are prescribed opioids at ED discharge, or to patients with recent non-medical opioid use who do not receive opioids in the ED and are not prescribed opioids at ED discharge. 600 ED patients were recruited and randomized to the remote intervention. Participants completed follow-up surveys via email, text, or phone call at 1 month, 3 months, and 6 months after their ED visit to find out the level of non-medical opioid use. Although results have not been fully found, patients who have finished their final 6 month follow up survey have found this study to be effective, which falls in line with the goal of this study. By the end of this study, the project is hoping to find this remote intervention to be successful in managing non-medical opioid use for patients who have visited the ED. If this study is successful, it has the potential to lead a new approach to opioid safety and remote intervention, which can be completed more conveniently than in-person intervention.




Powertrain Strategies for the 21st Century: The Tesla Effect

Julia Mocny | First-Year UROP Research Experience

For the Tesla research project, I, along with my mentor Bruce Belzowski and research assistant Daniel Nemmert, helped formulate and evaluate the results of a survey that asked automotive industry experts including executives, managers, from auto manufacturers, suppliers, as well as academics, consultants, government officials, and NGOs for their opinions on Tesla’s unique technology, distribution methods, and company strategies. The survey also inquires about Tesla’s future global expansion and market share. Tesla’s recent rise and success within the exclusive electric automotive industry coupled with their unorthodox approach and advanced technologies make them a potential game-changer within the industry. Additionally, the world’s seemingly inevitable shift to electric vehicles, a sector in which Tesla is a global leader, makes them all the more relevant. This critical transition period to electric vehicles poses a problem for automotive companies tasked with undergoing a major operational and technological shift into the new market. Thus, this survey, which will be distributed in February and analyzed in March, will be used to further evaluate which of Tesla’s unique company characteristics are their strengths and weaknesses and to establish predictions regarding the future of the electric vehicle market including major players and imminent advances. The survey results will give insight that will inform competing automotive companies about other methods that, based on the methods’ successes, can assist and guide them in how they conduct their business in the future. Overall, this research will help automotive companies prepare for and adapt to consumer needs and preferences more effectively, creating more efficient businesses and better customer experiences.




Precision Medicine for Patients with Glomerular Disease

Colette Cooper | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Frequently relapsing/steroid dependent nephrotic syndrome (FR/SDNS) is a chronic health condition in children that is treated with long term immunosuppression therapies with variable response and significant treatment-associated toxicities. Precise, safe and effective therapies are needed. Objective: in order to address drug development needs, we undertook a project to prioritize FR/SDNS clinical trial outcomes and generate standard of care outcome estimates for use in clinical trial design. Methods: A clinician-investigator stakeholder group was polled to elicit input on FR/SDNS trial endpoint priorities. A literature review was conducted using PubMed and enriched with assessment of trial listings from Clinicaltrials.gov. Search terms included: Idiopathic Nephrotic Syndrome and Minimal Change Disease. Publications were required to be clinical trials in humans for inclusion. Data collection included population type, year of publication, age of participants, trial treatment groups, participants in each arm and the prioritized outcome relapse rate. A summary of the results by treatment arm was generated using forest plot of relapse rate point estimates and 95% confidence intervals by trial treatment arm. Results: Relapse rate was one of two prioritized FR/SDNS clinical trial endpoints. From published clinical trials, relapse rate point estimates varied by clinical trial treatment groups but were generally between 0.02 and 0.2 relapses per patient month. Conclusions: The identified relapse rates and distribution can be used in the design of FR/SDNS clinical trials for power and sample size estimations.




Precision Medicine for Patients with Glomerular Disease

Maisha Pal | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Introduction: Nephrotic syndrome is a rare, chronic disease in children that results in severe edema, poor quality of life, extended treatment with immunosuppressive medications, increased risk for acute kidney injury, thromboembolism, hypertension, growth disturbances, hospitalizations, and mortality. Beyond long-term corticosteroid use, therapies are used off-label and have significant toxicities. 50% of cases will develop frequently relapsing or steroid-dependent disease (FR/SDNS). To improve treatment options for these patients, the UM Pediatric Nephrology Research team is developing clinical trials. Objective(s): To inform clinical trial design for FR/SDNS, we 1) elicited input from a clinician-investigator stakeholder group on endpoint prioritization and 2) conducted a systematic literature review to aid in the development and use of FR/SDNS endpoints in trial design.




Predicting Pathogenicity of Clinical Mutations through Deep Learning

Katherine Lee | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Recent developments in gene sequencing and personalized medicine provide a remarkable opportunity to revolutionize healthcare. Many single-nucleotide polymorphisms (nsSNPs) are associated with disease-causing mutations. Because these mutations are often eliminated from the gene pool through purifying selection, the opportunity to determine their relationship to human disease is rare. Previous studies have developed neural networks that can identify pathogenic mutations to an adequate accuracy, but success with solely human variants is still lacking. Here we will train a deep neural network with a large data set of clinically annotated human variants from the dbSNP database. Each input layer is comprised of a sequence containing a clinically annotated variant from the dbSNP database, as well as an evolutionary profile of closely homologous sequences generated from multiple sequence alignment. This input is fed through multiple layers of feature extraction to achieve a final output determination of benign or pathogenic. The final trained network will then be tested on a smaller, separate data set of disease variants to gauge the efficacy and accuracy of the training. Our aim is to develop a neural network that is able to identify pathogenic mutations in human disease patients with high accuracy. This will hopefully allow future studies to utilize this network in the diagnosis or treatment of rare disease patients.




Prediction and Assessment of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome: Effects of Assumptions in Imputation Methods

Sion Kim | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a life-threatening lung condition that is under-diagnosed in the clinical setting. With a 43% hospitalized mortality rate, it is critical that diagnosis is made in a timely manner for ventilation strategies to be instituted. The Biomedical and Clinical Informatics lab at U-M has been developing a real-time clinical decision support system to detect ARDS through machine learning methods, specifically a modified support vector machine. A clear distinction from other ARDS-related support systems is the use of “privileged information” “” data accessible at the time of training themachine learning model but which is not available in deployment. In the context of this project, we define privileged information to consist of CT scans, which are required for ARDS diagnosis. Such information is not available to the clinician during the early period of a patient’s stay. Therefore, by incorporating such privileged information, we expect the model to lead to faster ARDS diagnosis in clinical practice. This research investigates the electronic health record (EHR) pipeline of the model. With inconsistencies and missing values, some EHR features are absent from one patient while present in another. We aim to improve the model’s accuracy in ARDS detection by testing a unique data imputation method against different machine learning models and settings. Specifically, missing values will be imputed under the assumption that data is not missing at random but as a result of the clinician’s decision that the patient had optimal health in such cases. This method is implemented by imputing data taken from the Michigan Medicine’s established reference ranges when possible. The proposed method will be compared with different machine learning models and feature reduction techniques.




Predictions of Core Dynamo Formation in Super-Earths

Charles Weber | First-Year UROP Research Experience

As we continue to search the galaxy for habitable planets, our attention has turned to super-Earths, large rocky planets with the potential to support life. The increase in size and mass is expected to change several significant properties, including the planet’s magnetic field. Planetary magnetic dynamos are crucial for life to develop, and scientists have long debated the mechanics of dynamo formation and operation. Utilizing data on the planetary composition in our solar system and relevant material properties under high pressures and high temperatures, we will predict the likelihood for the development of a super-Earth dynamo. Earth, the largest of the four rocky planets in the Solar System, may have sustained its dynamo the longest, but Mercury, the smallest, is the only other planet to have a still-functioning dynamo. This indicates that size is only one of many factors that impacts dynamo evolution. Thus, various corroborating effects must be accounted for in our analysis. To model the internal dynamics of exoplanets, samples of core material will be compressed to high pressures. The experiments will offer data on whether a planetary core would be molten, how it would transfer heat and undergo changes with pressure. Additionally, models will be created to form predictions about the impact of mass, radius, and other properties on the formation of core dynamos. Once the extent of internal convection is defined, the model will allow for the estimation of a range of masses or radii for a super-Earth to produce a magnetic field.




Prefrontal-Hippocampal Interactions Supporting Memory Consolidation During Sleep

Joseph Haddad | First-Year UROP Research Experience

In this research I will explore how short term memories are supported by the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. For this project, I trained a cohort of rats on a trace fear conditioning task to evaluate hippocampal-dependent learning and memory. Trace fear conditioning is a hippocampus-dependent learning task that obligates the cohort of rats used to associate an auditory conditioned stimulus (CS) and a minor shock used as the unconditioned stimulus (US) that are separated by an empty trace interval time period. I am currently analyzing the behavior of this cohort through characteristics such as ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs), freezing, and other behavioral traits. With this preliminary data, this project will exploit the effective methods of chronic electrophysiological and calcium imaging recordings in the future. These techniques will be used to probe how sleep influences long-term changes in cortical neurons following learning of a trace fear-conditioning memory task.




Programmable Tools for Teaching Data Literacy in Social Studies Classes

Benjamin Steinig | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Participation in high school computer science classes has always been low, especially among students from traditionally underrepresented or underserved groups. This research project aims to explore an approach of creating opportunities to integrate computer science into existing non-CS classes which creates the opportunity for students to engage with computer science and gain an introduction to programming. By creating curriculum and proprietary data visualization tools for high school social studies classes, this project hopes to create computational tools that social studies teachers will actually adopt, and that will then identify an increase in student’s self-efficacy in regard to computer science. Our procedure to obtain student success data in learning data visualizations will be conducted through data logging of the proprietary software DV4L (Data Visualizations for Literacy). The product created for this study includes our own proprietary tool DV4L, as well as curriculum for high school teachers to understand and teach existing data visualization tools. I have been working to create minimal manuals hosted on the project web book that help teachers use data visualization tools. Additionally, I have been working on creating slow reveal graphs that allow students to understand the components of various data visualizations. Finally, I have been supporting the underlying infrastructure that hosts these manuals and tools by creating a new server platform for the project web book. With these products we hope to be able to change high school social studies instruction in the state, and eventually change the social studies classes on a nationwide basis. Our project hopes to see an increased understanding of data visualizations in high school students, and in the future see an increase in computer science class participation.




Programmable Tools for Teaching Data Literacy in Social Studies Classes

Aryan Banerjee | First-Year UROP Research Experience

A missed opportunity in K-12 education is the introduction of computer science principles and data literacy. The research project, Computing for Data Literacy, aims to give educators the ability to teach data literacy in their social studies classrooms. This is a design based research project in which we are introducing a potential solution to a problem and then analyzing how well our solution works. This is different from traditional hypothesis testing research. Our solution is through the prototype web tool named DV4L, “Data Visualization for Learning”. DV4L allows for students to ask historical driving questions and then get the relevant data visualizations so they can inquire about the answer. The contribution that my team and I are making is tracking the activity of each user on the website to determine whether they are gaining educational curiosity. My team and I make sure to never attach student identification information to our log files as to maintain the privacy of the students.”Gaining educational curiosity” is measured through many different fields. First, the student would be gaining educational curiosity if they were asking driving questions that were out of the syllabus or assignment given to them. It also tracks whether they write down notes to go along with their new graphs. Lastly, it also checks if the students were looking inside the underlying script, or source code, for each of their graphs. With those measures and more we are going to be able to analyze whether students are benefiting from data visualizations. This project is still ongoing, and we are hoping to have our tools in actual classroom settings sometime this semester.




Programmable Tools for Teaching Data Literacy in Social Studies Classes

Alexandra Rostkowycz | First-Year UROP Research Experience

In the world of teaching social studies to k-12 students, one of the key learning objectives that teachers lack the proper resources to teach is data literacy. This study includes the key components that interviewed teachers wanted as part of their data literacy tool. An important takeaway from these interviews was that teachers believed that not many interactive or useful digital timeline tools existed for use in their classrooms. From the established criteria from the interviews, an interactive timeline allowing students to create event blocks that would then appear on a timeline would be the most useful tool for the team to create. First, three individual mockups were created from the criteria and then put together into a finalized mockup on Figma. From the Figma mockup, the best development tools needed to be decided to achieve the cleanest and most functional result. The working prototype was created by splitting up the development into a timeline and event block component which were then joined to create a final functional prototype that satisfies the initial design requirements. This study is part of a larger effort to incorporate useful programmable and interactive tools into classrooms across the country to aid with teaching and learning effectively.




Programmable Tools for Teaching Data Literacy in Social Studies Classes

Brandon Geng | First-Year UROP Research Experience

In a rapidly evolving world centered around connectivity and technology, data literacy and basic programming knowledge have turned into some of the most valuable skills children can learn in school. The problem is, however, learning data literacy and programming skills can be daunting even for college students and adults, and research needs to be done on ways to make learning these key skills easier for children. In order to introduce foundations of data literacy to students, one option is to combine data skills with other, more traditional, classes. This project is about creating a timeline tool for middle school students. We hope this tool will allow students to provide data on important historical events and generate a visualization of the data in the form of a timeline. While the project has not finished, we currently are hoping to create a tool that is both easy for teachers to teach and students to use, all while being helpful in advancing student’s knowledge of history and data literacy. In doing this, we hope that this will result in satisfied teachers who are comfortable combining non-data based subjects with data-based learning through this timeline tool and beyond. we hope to see an increased interest in programming and data among students as well as an increase in data literacy. In the end, we are aiming for an easy-to-use timeline creator that will empower students to learn about programming and gain basic data literacy.




Progress Towards Developing a Quantitative Definition for Atmospheric Rivers

William Chung | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Atmospheric Rivers (ARs) are channels of water vapor in the atmosphere that result in a large amount of precipitation. They cause over 1.1 billion dollars of damage annually in the United States. As a result, accurately interpreting the presence of an AR has become crucial to ensuring the safety of citizens, especially those who live in regions frequently impacted by ARs. Progress is difficult, however, because the accepted AR definition is largely qualitative, and researchers who have tracked ARs use different identification methods. Therefore, an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of various detection algorithms is of great interest. The Atmospheric River Tracking Method Intercomparison Project (ARTMIP) is a multicentered, collaborative effort to quantify the differences among AR detection techniques. This study focuses on eight AR detection algorithms run on ECMWF’s ERA5 reanalysis product. The time intervals among the ERA5 datasets range in hours and the time frame generally covers the years 1980-2019. To facilitate comparison among detection approaches, we compared transects of AR landfall from East Asian countries using the Python Programming language. Assuming that each algorithm identifies the presence of an AR perfectly, the transect plots should be identical among the eight datasets. However, some plots differed significantly from the others. For future studies, one should develop a standardized approach to detecting and interpreting ARs. An accurate interpretation of these weather systems will not only save lives but help countries economically.




Progressive Policy in Architecture

Rainbow Huang | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The power structures within architecture firms have remained stagnant and do not fulfill the potentials of the architects within. The overall perspective within the industry is that these institutions need to work towards a progressive format of power. The research in this project intends to change the power structures of these firms based upon the successes in leadership structures of other industries, as well as their progressive policy implementations. This study looks at the measures of productivity, diversity, and other factors of industry progression in the fields of architecture and other institutions such as government structures, law firms, and business corporations. The power structures of these other industries are compared to the power structure of architecture to find and develop the policies needed to push architecture firms forward in the realm of leadership structures. We hope to find that through the means of governmental legislation, architecture firms will be able to incorporate more progressive means into their power structures. This legislation should implement the necessity of progressive policies that contain standards developed through this research.




Promote breast and Cervical Cancer Screening in Asian American Women of Metro Detroit, MI

Deborah Chung | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Breast and cervical cancer is one of the most common diseases among Asian American women; thus, it is extremely important for women to be vigilant about breast cancer prevention, by being well aware of the habits they must exercise such as regularly attending screenings and consulting healthcare providers. However, Asian American women are statistically less likely to receive mammograms and pap smears than non-Asian Americans. Bangladesh-American immigrant women specifically tend to have high breast cancer rates, as there is a lack of awareness for breast cancer screenings and little motivation to pursue screenings and treatment in Bangladesh, and these patterns translate after immigration, causing Bangladesh-American women to continue to have these mentalities. Additionally, due to a lack of English proficiency, Bangladesh American women are less susceptible to adapting to new mentalities and more fearful of taking action. The purpose of this project is to better understand the practices of breast and cervical cancer screenings in Bangladesh American women in the Detroit metropolitan area, and the role that bilingual community health workers play in facilitating Bangladesh Americans in the enrollment of the Michigan Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Navigation Program (BC3NP).




Promoting Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening among Asian American Women in West MI

Amber Wei | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Breast and cervical cancer disparities are growing issues among Michigan’s Asian American communities due to various barriers. Early detection and screening play an essential role in decreasing cancer morbidity and mortality, nevertheless, Asian American women are less likely to receive pap smears and mammograms due to language, cultural, socioeconomic, and healthcare access barriers. This reveals the pressing need for services tailored for ethnic groups to increase breast and cervical cancer screening for Asian American (AA) women in Western Michigan regions. The purpose of this study was to explore and compare the differences in perceived barriers for breast and cervical cancer screening and study the roles bilingual community health workers play in facilitating three Asian American groups. Specifically, our study includes Chinese, Vietnamese, and Nepali patients in Western Michigan enrolling in the Michigan Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Navigation Program (BC3NP). Research Questions are 1. What are the major barriers related to receiving breast and cervical cancer screening among AA women? and 2. What are the roles that bilingual community health workers in Western Michigan have in facilitating women’s enrollment into the Michigan BC3NP. Tracking form that measures demographic including insurance status, age, as well as screening status and results, will be collected. The results and conclusion of the survey are yet to be determined. The results will yield evidence-based recommendations to effectively promote breast and cervical cancer screening among AA women in Western Michigan, ultimately increasing screening rates in this population.




Promoting Flu Vaccination among Chinese Americans; Providing Flu Education through Trusted Messengers

Kelly Yan | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Objective: The flu is a severe respiratory disease that can cause severe complications, including hospitalization, and is responsible for 290,000-650,000 [6] global deaths per year. The flu vaccine is safe and the best way to prevent the spread of the virus. However, there remains a lot of hesitancy and misinformation regarding the vaccine and the virus itself especially within the Asian community [2]. This study sought to examine reasons for flu vaccination hesitancy as well as to increase influenza knowledge, specifically among the Chinese American community. Methods: Eastern Michigan University Center for Health Disparities Innovations & Studies held 11 CDC funded mobile flu clinics in Michigan in Fall 2020 and provided vaccinations to 337 individuals; during the clinic, bilingual trusted messengers provided flu education. This project reported the results from pre and post flu vaccination surveys with 11 questions about influenza knowledge and demographic information. The results were based on data from 39 Chinese participants. Statistical analyses were conducted in order to measure the efficacy of the flu informational sessions for overall and Chinese participants. Results: The survey data showed that the main reason why the Chinese sub-population had not gotten vaccinated in the past was due to lack of access to the vaccine. Paired t-tests showed that the flu education resulted in significant improvements in overall participants’ knowledge on various aspects about flu, for example, timing of the flu season, vaccination timeline, ways to prevent flu, and others. Conclusion: This study indicated that education on flu and flu vaccination is necessary in order to promote increased vaccination, specifically among Asian communities. Increased education and vaccination will ultimately slow the spread of the virus and improve health outcomes of underserved communities. However, due to the small sample size of the Chinese participants, further research with a larger sample will provide more information about this specific Asian American population. Future intervention efforts can be focused on addressing flu vaccination hesitancy which will provide additional insights for effective strategies to promote COVID-19 vaccination in this population.




Protein Kinases in Cancer

Emma Collins | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Even after years of researching cancer cells, the scientific and medical communities still have a lot to learn about how these types of cells function. This study focuses primarily on utilizing protein kinase inhibitors to degrade kinases that drive cancer progression. We are using a variety of drugs and cells, to attempt to gain a better understanding of how these drugs can control the behavior of these cancerous cells. The main goal of this project is to discover the extent of the degrading effects of Proteolysis targeting chimera(PROTACs). PROTACs are able to degrade kinases by binding to both the kinase itself, as well as an ubiquitin ligase. In order to accomplish this goal, pipetting techniques are utilized to administer chemicals to the cells, which are then analyzed under a microscope. Various chemistry and biology techniques are being used to develop the most complex understanding of these molecules. Recently, one of the drugs that was being tested had a significant effect on the number of cells that were able to survive, and we are continuing to investigate at what dosage this drug became the most effective. These findings help us to understand the type and dosage of drug that is most effective in controlling the cancerous cells, which can help us in our overall study of cellular inhibitors.? This research plays a vital role in understanding how kinase inhibitors can help stop the progression of cancerous cells.




Protein Kinases in Cancer

Jessica Furtado | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Even after years of researching cancer cells, the scientific and medical communities still have a lot to learn about how these types of cells function. This study focuses primarily on utilizing protein kinase inhibitors to degrade kinases that drive cancer progression. We are using a variety of drugs and cells, to attempt to gain a better understanding of how these drugs can control the behavior of these cancerous cells. The main goal of this project is to discover the extent of the degrading effects of Proteolysis targeting chimera(PROTACs). PROTACs are able to degrade kinases by binding to both the kinase itself, as well as an ubiquitin ligase. In order to accomplish this goal, pipetting techniques are utilized to administer chemicals to the cells, which are then analyzed under a microscope. Various chemistry and biology techniques are being used to develop the most complex understanding of these molecules. Recently, one of the drugs that was being tested had a significant effect on the number of cells that were able to survive, and we are continuing to investigate at what dosage this drug became the most effective. These findings help us to understand the type and dosage of drug that is most effective in controlling the cancerous cells, which can help us in our overall study of cellular inhibitors.? This research plays a vital role in understanding how kinase inhibitors can help stop the progression of cancerous cells.




Protein Structure Prediction Using CryoEM Density Maps

Jeonghoon Hyun | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The goal of my research was to prepare my own dataset, which includes a training set and a test set, and build my own neural network in order to predict protein backbone with cryo-EM density map as my input. In order to get to know more about deep learning and neural networks, I completed 2 coursera courses recommended by my mentor to gain the skills needed to start building my own neural network by using python software. I also read one major literature that focused on cryo-EM technologies to further learn about how incorporating density maps of proteins can provide us with important structural information of proteins. A density map can be obtained using cryo-electron microscopy in order to obtain atomic-resolution models of the protein, including the coordinates of the backbone protein atoms. However, the index/connection of these atoms are lost during the process of obtaining the density map. Predicting the protein backbone will allow us to restore the connectivity of the backbone atoms in the protein and improve the CR-I-TASSER, which incorporates both deep learning and I-TASSER force fields in order to provide accurate structures of the protein backbone.




Quality Challengers in Senate Primary Elections, 1956-2020

Katharine Alltop | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Current research on U.S Senate elections has primarily been focused on general elections. Due to this, the project is expanding election research by examining primary elections and the factors that influence candidate emergence. In order to compile all of the primary election statistics, data was collected from CQ Voting Collections for each primary in all fifty states from 1956 to 2020. After information pertaining to the election was collected, such as the cote totals and percentages each candidate received, then categorical data were collected to help assess the quality of each challenger. Each Candidate’s occupation was collected from Newspapers.com and coded to signify their level of prior electoral experience. The data will be analyzed to assess the quality of each challenger and to examine the difference between amateur candidates and experienced candidates. This research will likely have implications on senatorial campaigns and experienced candidates. This research will likely have implications on senatorial campaigns and other features of senate races such as funding and election predictions.




Quality Challengers in Senate Primary Elections, 1956-2020

Daniel Kennedy | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Elections are an important trademark of just about every modern democracy and help to facilitate expressions of public opinion into the government. Because elections are an important part of democracy it makes sense to analyze them in order to better understand human behavior and electoral outcomes. Quite often elections are studied in order to try and predict how candidates perform in the election and possible reasons as to why they did as well as they did. One part that is often analyzed is the differences between quality and amateur candidates. This relationship has been examined for congressional primary elections, but has not been observed in regards to Senate primary elections. This study seeks to discover how being a quality challenger correlates with success in a senate primary election. Quality challengers are characterized by their previous political careers. Previous political experience, successfully running a campaign for elected office, separates quality challengers from their amateur counterparts. Success in a primary election is characterized by the percentage of votes they received, with the winning candidate receiving a majority of the vote. This methodology also takes into account other variables that may significantly affect results in Senate elections, for example the type of Senate primary election. In order to examine this relationship, different levels of political experience and non-political experience are given a number from 0-30 that indicates their level of quality. This number has 0 as the lowest indication of quality and 30 as the highest level of quality. This number is then attached to the candidate’s success in the election, and through Microsoft excel a correlation will be generated between success in elections and quality level. In the future, the information found in this study can hopefully be used to better understand how people vote and therefore able to effectively anticipate the results of future senate primary elections with moderate success.




Quality Challengers in Senate Primary Elections, 1956-2020

Elise Brice | First-Year UROP Research Experience

“Quality Challengers in Senate Primary Elections,” examines U.S. Senate primary elections between 1956 to 2020. The focus of the study is on the extent to which quality challengers outperform amateur challengers. A quality challenger is an electoral candidate that has previous experience running in a government election. An amateur challenger is a candidate who has not had previous election experience. The project requires archival data collection of candidate’s backgrounds as well as election information specific to each candidate in order to complete the data set. The data collection involves accumulation of information from various websites pertaining to individual candidates and primary election information. For example, the following information is collected: the candidate’s name, the state, political party, number of candidates running in the election, the incumbent, total number of votes, candidate’s votes, percentage of votes, gender, type of primary, candidate’s party versus the incumbent’s party, quality challenger, and quality are variables of interest. Thus far, there has been a trend that people who have had previous election experience (quality challengers) also have more votes and a higher success rate in senate elections compared to those who had have no prior experience (amateurs). These data will be further analyzed to examine the differences between amateur candidates versus the quality challengers. This research has important implications for the selection of senatorial candidates, for campaign fundraising, and for campaign support of senatorial candidates.




Quantifying Gene Regulation in HNSCC

Anisha Aggarwal | First-Year UROP Research Experience

My project focuses on developing precision medicine for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Many HNSCC tumors are caused by human papilloma virus (HPV) infection. E7, an HPV protein, has proven to occasionally change the expression of certain genes in HPV positive tumors. My project aims to analyze RNA expression patterns to determine what triggers HPV-mediated gene regulation. We collect RNA from patient-derived cell lines and generate a complimentary DNA (cDNA) sample. We then use the process of qPCR to replicate the cDNA and measure the CT value. This value quantifies RNA expression where a low CT value implies higher amounts of RNA in the original sample meaning increased transcription of our gene of interest. Finally, we will use a script written in R Code to create a summary table of qPCR data along with a graph of CT values. We have already generated, and verified using qPCR, cell lines that express HPV genes. We expect that the expression of the HPV E7 gene will decrease the expression of the HLAA, HLAB, and HLAC genes, all of which are needed for an antiviral and anti-tumor immune response. By measuring the effect HPV genes have on the transcription of immune response genes, we will be able to understand the mechanism by which HPV evades the immune system. As of now, treatments for HNSCC are similar to those for the majority of cancer types. This research will help develop treatment tailored to HNSCC which can hopefully improve recovery for afflicted patients.




R Commander Tutorial

Renata Martell | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The Speech Production Lab (SPL), housed in Michigan’s Department of Romance Languages & Literatures, utilizes various coding programs and software to complete many studies and projects. To utilize them most efficiently, the SPL began to ask how students learn to use programming languages best. Through various trials and group teaching methods, the SPL inferred that students learn best through independent learning at their own pace. Managing students’ varying schedules and a teaching team proved that group learning is not the most practical method for this software. This presentation will discuss a tutorial focused on independent learning to manage the RStudio software. Our goal was to help prospective coders with almost no computer science experience to become comfortable using RStudio. With this aim in mind, we have created a total of 150 slides in our tutorial. Each slide focuses on learning points such as acquiring basic coding skills, understanding the language, problem sets, and anything else necessary for learning to code in RStudio. After completing the entire tutorial, research assistants in the SPL will use RStudio for several tasks, including assigning variables, completing math problems, utilizing vectors, plotting data using SQL graphs, and creating data frames. Overall, they will have gained a universal understanding of coding basics. Though the tutorial is still in development, we expect the outcome to be a clear and concise document. We hope that fellow lab members can complete the tutorial in an estimated time of two weeks and become proficient in RStudio. We plan to introduce the tutorial to a small group of members first to collect feedback and redesign the lesson plans as advised. This tutorial’s more substantial outcomes will be transferable knowledge of research skills that anyone at Michigan can utilize as an open-source tool.




R Commander Tutorial

Amelia Turco | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Within the Speech Production Lab, members utilize coding software in order to research Spanish accents, linguistics and language acquisition. In order for members to fulfill this research, knowledge of complex, coding languages is required. Previous tutorials in the Speech Production Lab have demonstrated that group teaching may not function best for the whole group; and to manage varying schedules and learning styles, an individual, at-one’s-ease program is the most effective option to pursue. In a group of three students, I have developed a tutorial that breaks down the use of R Commander coding to terms which beginners in computer science may understand. These slides span 150 pages, each teaching or applying a new skill, with problem sets and their respective answers laced in between. After completing the entire program, researchers will be able to use RStudio to assign variables, complete math problems through code alone, utilize vectors, plot data using SQL graphs, create data frames, and have gained a universal understanding of all coding concept basics. Though we are still receiving feedback, we are expecting the results to be positive towards the clear, digestible document which the researchers may complete in an estimated two weeks for RStudio proficiency. We plan to have a small group participate in the tutorial first, receive feedback, and redesign the lesson plans if necessary before opening it to the entire lab. Larger effects of this study will be transferable knowledge of research coding that may be utilized not only for the Speech Production Lab, but other research and employment opportunities of current lab members.




Racial Bias in Medical School Admissions

Stuti Shankar | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Currently, the diversity of doctors and healthcare workers is not matching the increasing diversity of Americans (Boscardin, 2015). This lack of diversity contributes to health inequities – many patients of color avoid hospital visits because they feel as if they will not be listened to. In fact, it is proven that Latinx people and African American people utilize healthcare less, even when they have adequate access to healthcare (Ashton, 2003). Additionally, White clinicians may have a negative internal bias (e.g., implicit bias) towards patients of color which affects their treatment decisions. Research (e.g. Steiner, 2013) demonstrates that BIPOC physicians are less likely to have internal biases towards patients of color. Other research (e.g., Dennis, 2001) indicates that African American physicians are four times as likely to provide care to patients of color. Therefore, by increasing the diversity of healthcare professionals, patients of color will be more likely to receive the treatments they need, resulting in the reduction of some healthcare inequities. Diversity in the physician workforce can be facilitated by increasing the number of BIPOC students that are admitted to, and retained in, medical school. However, students of color may be discouraged from pursuing a career in medicine due to racial bias. My review focuses on various types of racial biases that BIPOC applicants face in the admissions process. Across the 15 articles I reviewed, I found that racial bias can occur in many critical stages: during reviews of application materials and letters of recommendation, applicant interviews, and the interpretation of MCAT scores. Additionally, I reviewed articles to identify some strategies that medical schools might implement to minimize the effect of racial bias. I discuss the implications of these studies, and future strategies that medical schools should take to combat racial bias.




Rb Magnetometer Evaluation for nEDM Experiment

Daniel Colleran | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The neutron electric dipole moment (nEDM) experiment at Los Alamos National Laboratory will require the magnetometers to monitor the temporal change of the magnetic field and gradient of the magnetic field in the apparatus with precision of 50 femtoTesla (fT) and 100 fT/15cm, respectively. We evaluate commercial rubidium based magnetometers as candidates for use in the experiment by investigating their clock frequency bias, internal noise, and gradient drift sensitivity. We make these measurements in our lab with an apparatus consisting of three magnetometers linearly spaced, and parallel to the axis of a solenoid surrounding them. The solenoid produces a uniform magnetic field and is surrounded by a two or three layer magnetic shield. Measurements from all three magnetometers are used to gather the individual magnetometer readings, difference of pairs, average of three, first order gradients, and second order gradients. These metrics are evaluated with Allan Deviation studies to quantify their stability. QuSpin’s Total-Field Magnetometer (QTFM) shows promising results because its clock frequency bias is negligible, and it has a field sensitivity below 40 fT when averaged over 10 seconds. Additionally, we plan to evaluate custom magnetometers from Twinleaf, LLC.




Realist Synthesis Review of Post-Overdose Interventions: Quick Response Teams

Mary Dwan | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Introduction: The opioid epidemic is a public health crisis that killed over 46,000 people in the United States in 2018. Quick Response Teams (QRTs) have been formed as a community response to prevent subsequent overdoses and decrease opioid-related deaths. Each QRT is composed of interdisciplinary team members that encompass public health officials, law enforcement, EMS, and peer-recovery supports. Though each QRT differs in team composition, the primary purpose of QRTs is to engage overdose survivors with recovery support and treatment services. However, limited research exists in evaluating QRTs and understanding their successes and failures in practice. Therefore, through a realist synthesis review, we seek to identify how different QRTs operate within their communities. Methods: Realist synthesis review is useful because it investigates how and why community-based interventions with multiple components work within the context of their environments. We will begin by conducting a literature search by generating search terms and questions central to the purpose of QRTs. We will then describe the different QRTs, identify what strategies lead to positive outcomes for QRTs, and in what contexts. Results: Through our literature review, we aim to understand how, why, and under what circumstances do QRTs work in engaging overdose survivors to prevent subsequent nonfatal and fatal overdoses. Conclusions: This realist review synthesis will aid community partners and policy-makers in understanding the contextual factors of how QRTs work and do not work to inform policy and future funding.




Realistic implementation of radiation physics for a virtual reality game

Aiden Sable | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Currently, providing hands-on, educational radiation health physics experience to those unfamiliar with the field is difficult due to financial and safety constraints. To create an engaging and more accessible way to teach radiation and health physics principles, we designed and developed a virtual reality video game that realistically implemented radiation sources, shields, and detectors. How the radiation physics was implemented into the virtual reality game while balancing the accuracy of the physics and the game’s performance is discussed. In particular, the approach to the problem, the associated scripts developed to simulate the physics, and how this code was implemented into the virtual reality game in the Unity game development platform are emphasized. We aim to educate people by accurately portraying the physics in an accessible, captivating, and memorable way. With the VR game, we are able to provide interactive demonstrations of radiation principles such as geometric attenuation, shielding, and dose. Further, we provide exposure to using detectors and dosimeters for health physics applications.




Redesigning Prenatal Care: A National Project to Improve Equity in Prenatal Care Delivery

Bradley Hartman | First-Year UROP Research Experience

As the Coronavirus pandemic has moved across the globe, telemedicine interventions in healthcare have become an integral part to the clinical and public health responses for the pandemic. Specifically, involving prenatal care delivery where little policy change has occurred since the early 20th century, telemedicine has become a catalyst for the largest shift in patient care on both the practical and policy front. The Michigan Plan for Appropriate Tailored Healthcare in pregnancy (MiPATH) team at the University of Michigan (U of M) conducted six systematic reviews utilizing the PICOS (Population, Intervention, Comparator, Outcomes, and Setting) for study inclusion/exclusion. The resulting data following abstraction was rated utilizing the Rand Corporation – University of California, Los Angeles (RAND-UCLA) Appropriateness method covering interventions in telemedicine, remote monitoring, and frequency of visits across both low and high-risk patient populations. The data was evaluated by a panel comprised of experts in realms of policy, clinical practice, and patient representation and following evaluation crafted an updated clinical guideline through the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Articles involving telemedicine interventions meeting the requirements for inclusion were found to be of high incidence with fifty articles ultimately captured in the review. Overall, telemedicine interventions saw positive impacts in the management and monitoring of high-risk conditions such as diabetes, reductions in patient visits, and patient satisfaction. Through the review conducted, future applications of telemedicine in prenatal care are expected to be utilized, even following the Coronavirus pandemic.




Redesigning Prenatal Care: Social and Structural Determinants of Health in Prenatal Care

Buu-Hac Nguyen | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Prenatal care guidelines have not changed substantially in almost a century. Following COVID-19, many new approaches to prenatal care, including reduced visit schedules and telemedicine, were incorporated into practice. The purpose of this project is to generate the evidence to directly support these new prenatal care guidelines. This presentation will focus on the social and structural determinants of health (SDoH) in prenatal care. Social and structural determinants of health (SDoH) are factors that affect health and health outcomes, such as socioeconomic status, educational status, and exposure to discrimination. Formal attention to SDoH is atypical in standard prenatal care services, prompting the evaluation of prenatal care structure and content. This presentation provides information on the barriers and opportunities to change current prenatal care guidelines in addressing SDoH needs.




Rediscovering Italy: Neorealism in Postwar America: 1945-1960

Lily Anderson | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Global politics and economics no doubt shifted and changed significantly in the early and mid 20th century as the world battled through two world wars and the American Great Depression, wreaking havoc on the international economy. There also began a change culturally as well. One thing to come out of the Great Depression was a collection of photographs detailing poverty, pain, and death. This collection of photographs was one of the first times that poverty had been so widely broadcasted in America. The American government used these photographs in an attempt to show the success of the New Deal, but these photos were not receiving attention just in America. Overseas in Italy, these photos were enthusiastically received in Italian cities such as Milan and Rome, centers of Italian film and publishing. What came after this was a movement of Italian film that sought to represent the lifestyle that so many lived: poverty, low socioeconomic status, and hardship. These films, referred to as neorealist films, became an international sensation, driving the Hollywood film industry to transition their films away from plots of glamor and wealth to plots that were more believable and relatable.




Reducing racial disparities in pulmonary and critical care

Alex Caches | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Despite recent efforts and movements for racial equity and equality in the United States, racial disparities are evident in ICU care, specifically related to medical ventilation practices. Timely and effective care for respiratory failure is essential for saving lives in ICU care, however, the effectiveness of mechanical ventilation practices is underscored by the lives of racial and ethnic minorities, who are twice as likely to develop respiratory failure as Whites. This study grasps the enduring problem in critical care of detecting, understanding, and eliminating racial and ethnic inequities through a systematic review process and meta-analyses of medical literature. An analysis of this literature yields evidence of the pervasive disparities in rates of respiratory failure between Blacks and other ethnic groups and Whites as well as the rise of mortality rates among racial and ethnic minorities. There is an urgent need to wage the knowledge gap of understanding the decision-making process of ICU clinicians and intervention called for mitigating racial disparities in ICU care, which in turn can save lives. The overall objective of the research is to reduce inequitable outcomes of respiratory failure by improving ICU care. The results of analyzing the literature are a growing part of this research that involves designing an intervention to promote racial equity in respiratory failure, prototyping through patient, family, and clinician engagement and piloting at two ICUs.




Reducing Racial Disparities in Pulmonary and Critical Care

Marilyn Li | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Research has shown that racial minorities are twice as likely to develop respiratory failure than Whites, but remain inconclusive on whether minorities are more likely to die after respiratory failure. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a unique opportunity to study these disparities and what interventions are needed in the ICU. This research project will focus on how care processes in the ICU contribute to racial health disparities in mechanical ventilation for adult patients. Our central hypothesis is that care processes related to mechanical ventilation such as sedation, fluid balance and end-of-life practices are contributors to differences in survival rates among different races. For example, the level and frequency of sedation given to a patient has shown to impact survival rates during mechanical ventilation. Critically ill minorities disproportionately receive deep sedation, and there is an association between higher mortality and deep sedation. Furthermore, clinical decision-making such as end-of-life care and palliative care consultations can be influenced by race and result in differing health outcomes. Systematic searches for clinical processes contributing racial disparities in respiratory failure the US were identified through Pubmed, Google Scholar, and ProQuest. Literature that has met the inclusion criteria were then assessed by the two independent readers conducting the systematic review. The findings report care processes for mechanical ventilation contributing to variation in risk-standardized mortality for respiratory failure by race. These results will provide a basis for researchers studying care processes that contribute to racial disparities in respiratory failure and inform hospital administration and other stakeholders to implement interventions.




Regional constructions still need learned after adaptation

Ilana Mermelstein | First-Year UROP Research Experience

This study investigated the extent to which American English speakers can learn the grammatically correct usages of syntactic constructions in regional dialects of standard American English (SAE) through exposure. Previous studies have been conducted on whether or not the correct formulation of regional constructions can be learned through exposure (Kaschak & Glenberg, 2004), but the results were inconclusive, as it was unclear whether participants were learning the constructions or simply adjusting to the unfamiliarity of the sentence structures. This study aimed to better evaluate participants’ learning of regional syntax through exposure. Two syntactic constructions from regional dialects were studied: double modal (“I might could do that”), and “needs V-ed” (“The dishes need washed”). Participants were undergraduate students at the University of Michigan enrolled in an introductory psychology course. Each participant completed the study online while being monitored by a researcher over Zoom. Participants in experimental groups were exposed to sentences using their respective groups’ syntactic constructions, and participants in control groups were exposed to similar sentences in SAE. Reading times were recorded to provide data on the initial training phase. All participants then read a variety of sentences, including both grammatically correct and incorrect sentences with each regional syntactic construction and in SAE, and evaluated their grammatical acceptability, serving as the generalization phase. Results indicated that participants in the experimental groups did not learn the correct usages of the constructions, rather they simply adjusted to the unfamiliarity of the sentence structures, so the null hypothesis was not rejected. These results imply that, to learn a regional dialect of one’s native language, one must use methods more engaging than mere exposure.




Reimagining Current Messaging Systems of Social Networks

Jolie Kaplan | First-Year UROP Research Experience

While social networks have enabled improved communication globally and the widespread Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), it has also exasperated unsolicited communication and harassing messages which consistently target vulnerable, marginalized groups. Consentful Messaging offers Twitter users the ability to filter potential message senders before the risk of receiving unsolicited messages through a system built on Twitter’s API, Python, and JavaScript. The field deployment of Consentful Messaging will reveal how social media users choose to receive messages and to what extent they wish to customize potential message senders. Consentful Messaging is made of four possible customizable functions: the user can set a threshold of number of followers required for a potential message sender, the Consentful Messaging user can verify whether they follow the potential message sender, the Consentful Messaging user can determine whether the potential message sender is followed by at least one account that the Consentful Messaging user follows, and verify whether the Consentful Messaging user has ever replied to a message from the potential message sender. The result is that Consentful Messaging Twitter extension will be deployed in March of 2021. This field study will show how and to what extent Twitter users choose to protect themselves from unsolicited messages with the help of technology. Consentful Messaging will offer not only a customizable layer of protection to marginalized social media users by providing a board for healthy interactions among users, but also information as to how Twitter users interact with and modify personalized computer settings.




Reimagining current messaging systems on the social internet

Eleanor Desmond | First-Year UROP Research Experience

While social networks have enabled improved communication globally, it has also exacerbated unsolicited communication and harassing messages which consistently target vulnerable, marginalized groups. Consentful Messaging offers Twitter users the ability to filter potential message senders before the risk of receiving unsolicited messages through a system built on Twitter’s API, Django, MySQL, Python, and JavaScript. The field deployment of Consentful Messaging will reveal how social media users choose to exercise agency over receiving messages and to what extent they wish to customize potential message senders. Consentful Messaging provides the following customizable functions that a Twitter user can use to carve out the network that can initiate interactions: the user can set a threshold of number of followers required for a potential message sender, the system only allows notifications or messages from accounts that the user follows, the user can determine whether the potential message sender is followed by at least one account that the user follows, and verify whether the user has ever replied to a message/tweet from the potential message sender. In short, Consentful Messaging aims to offer a customizable layer of protection to social media users, especially marginalized groups, by providing a board for healthy interactions among users. We plan to deploy the system and conduct a field study sometime in the spring. This field study will help us understand the effectiveness of the approach, and show how and to what extent Twitter users choose to protect themselves from unsolicited messages with the help of technology.




Relationship Between Depression and Subjective Executive Functioning in Parkinson’s Patients

Ava Henness | First-Year UROP Research Experience

In addition to physical symptoms, Parkinson’s patients are often diagnosed with mental complications including depression and cognitive dysfunction. However, little is known about the correlation between Parkinson’s patients’ depression and subjective cognitive skills, including executive functioning. This is important because executive dysfunction can cause difficulty in Parkinson’s patients’ ability to complete daily tasks. The main goal of this research is to examine how mental factors such as depression impact a Parkinson’s patient’s subjective executive functioning. In order to compare these two variables, archival clinical data was analyzed in a sample of 175 patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD; N(men) = 120, M(age) = 64.41, SD = 8.58). The Geriatric Depression Scale – Short Form (GDS-SF) was used to measure depression, the Frontal Systems Behavior Scale (FrSBe) was used to measure subjective executive functioning, and the Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) Part III was used to measure PD severity. Pearson’s correlation revealed a significant relationship between the GDS and FrSBe scores, such that higher depression scores correlated with higher self-reported executive dysfunction, R = .42, p < .001. The partial correlation revealed that this relationship remained significant while controlling for UPDRS Part III, R = .45, p < .001. Findings were consistent with this study's hypothesis, such that Parkinson's patients with greater depression were more likely to self-report executive functioning problems. A possible explanation for this is that depressed Parkinson's patients are more likely to have negative self-perceptions, which may cause them to rate their executive functioning skills more poorly.




Religiosity or Socioeconomic Status: What Predicts Forgiveness Among Couples?

Maryam Romio | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Two of the arguably influential factors that shape a person’s perspective on life are religiosity and socioeconomic status, which can be examined through income or education. While many researchers have examined the effect these two factors may have on a person’s outlook and patterns towards forgiveness, not much research has been conducted to compare whether religiosity or socioeconomic status have a greater influence on a person’s willingness to forgive a loved one, such as their spouse. This study will use multivariate regression to examine participant responses from the Detroit Community Study. Data were collected via a telephone survey focused on three racial and ethnic groups prominent in the metro-Detroit area: Arab Americans, African Americans, and Non-Hispanic White Americans (N=907). The analysis will focus on those in the sample who are married/partnered (N=415) and report on the likelihood of forgiving their significant other following an incident in which their spouse/partner hurt them. Given that financial strain represents a major complication between couples, this study hypothesizes that socioeconomic status will have a greater influence than religiosity on the likelihood to forgive a spouse/partner. The results of this study will clarify factors important to relationship outcomes and offer direction for future studies that aim to better understand predictors of forgiveness among couples.




Rendering Realistic Models of Radiation Sources, Shields, and Detectors for Implementation in Games

Nikita Abbaraju | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Astounding visuals can be experienced throughout a plethora of video games. While it may only take a couple of seconds to view the breathtaking visuals presented in a game, each model may have taken days, months or even years to complete! The objects presented in a given game evolve through a long process, starting from initial modeling to eventual rendering for gameplay. Since this research focuses on teaching players about radiation detection, some of the objects required for the game, such as radiation sources and detectors, must be modeled from scratch as these are not available as standard objects in asset libraries. Such items require careful research concerning their overall appearance and dimensions in the real world, and their suitability for inclusion in a game in which technical realism may be desired. In order to allow the game to run as efficiently as possible, the models must hold a low polygon and vertex count, or be “low-poly”, so that the game may operate smoothly as a player moves throughout the virtual space. Objects optimized for gameplay should additionally possess fewer textures as these may also consume memory and slow gameplay. Even if the objects are low-poly models, they can look very detailed through the use of lighting, shading, and texturing to create the stunning visuals often visible in professional games. By attending to gameplay related requirements and using those techniques without compromising portrayal of actual items, an optimal game with realistic radiation sources, shields, and detectors can be created. This creates a more effortless and enjoyable learning experience for the players.




REPAIR: When and How to Improve Broken Objects, Ourselves, and Our Society

Drew Trygstad | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The previous year and its seminal events pays homage to the chaotic underpinnings that shape life as we know it. Project REPAIR is an open interdisciplinary research project that’s main objective is to give theoretical substance to practical applications of approaches and techniques designed to help mediate the chaotic potential of the world around us, to not only develop functioning systems that we superimpose, but also those of the natural world. These systems include, but are not limited to objects, structures, societies, relationships, and even ourselves. With a focus in complex systems and social psychology, this project covers a wide range of fields and servers as a true interdisciplinary project hoping to change our social order in hope to repair our misdeeds of the past so that we can create a better future. My main role in this project is to write monthly literature reviews on a wide variety of disciplines to provide support for my mentor’s book and also to create a two-dimensional self-organized criticality model. These two tasks contrast each other in a very beneficial way so that I not only understand the theoretical side of these topics, but also how to model them. Project REPAIR hopes to change the world for the better by channeling the chaos around us into repaired structures of order.




Replication of Genetic Influence on Risk Aversion

Ethan Messeri | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Humans vary a lot in their willingness to take risks. An individual’s willingness to gamble, use recreational drugs, or engage in risky financial behavior, among other behaviors, are a part of a characteristic that researchers and academics call risk aversion (Linnér et all, 2019). Researchers have begun to understand the contribution of an individual’s genetics in explaining varying levels of risk aversion. In our study we try to replicate and build on the body of research regarding risk aversion and genetics. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a longitudinal study following American elders and retirees from 1992 to the present, over 20,000 individuals are asked to hypothetically gamble their future income, in exchange for increasing their lifetime income. The income gambling questions allows us to observe how much risk each individual is willing to take. We wanted to replicate the finding of a large 2019 study identifying 124 specific single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs; Linnér et all, 2019). We used polygenic risk scores (PRS) to determine how genetically prone each individual is to risk aversion. We then checked if these individuals displayed risk aversion in the HRS data. By replicating the work of other researchers, academics will have a better idea of how individuals engage in risky decision making and a better understanding of the biological underpinnings of risk aversion. The study will also help researchers in the genoecomics field build credibility.




Research Administration Advisory Council (RAAC) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Workgroup Research Support

Zeina Reda | First-Year UROP Research Experience

At the University of Michigan, about 90% of research administrators identify as white. With the university’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiative permeating academic spaces, there is a need to evaluate DEI consciousness among research administrators. This study aims to assess the awareness and needs of research administrators in terms of diversity and inclusion in their individual work setting and the effectiveness of the university’s DEI efforts at an institutional level. The survey will be conducted using google forms and will be distributed to University of Michigan research administrators. The survey will include questions on workplace diversity and experiences, evaluations of the UM institution, and future RAAC DEI Workgroup initiatives using validated research survey methodologies. Ultimately, this study will further inform how the RAAC DEI Workgroup can promote its mission to develop, foster, and guide a diverse and inclusive research environment at the University of Michigan.




Research Database Design and Implementation

Michael Green | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Research efforts are extremely important. However, many times researchers lack a database that is easy to control and understand. Through a well-designed, relational database, researchers will be able to better understand and connect to their data. I particularly hope to utilize meta-data from their data to further researchers’ understanding of the information they store. I plan to implement such a database, and discover its effectiveness when applied to a research project.




Residential College Podcast Audio/Video History Project

Rellian deGraaf | First-Year UROP Research Experience

I am working as the assistant producer of the Residential College (RC) Podcast. I assist in interviewing people – collecting qualitative research – and editing the audio. I also produced a video that highlighted the experience of RC students (mostly first-years) during Covid and showed my visual research of the spaces in which this new kind of college experience takes place. I led the production of the podcast episode focused on the experience of queer individuals at U of M and in the RC. In general, we work to make podcasts about either current events or the history of the RC. These podcast episodes provide students with more information and a variety of perspectives. This is designed to provide listeners with new ways of understanding the events that they have experienced and a better understanding of how these events affected individuals in different ways. The production of each podcast begins with identifying what information would be valuable to the community as a whole and identifying people who have first-hand experience or are experts. We collect qualitative research by interviewing a wide variety of people, from staff to students to teachers. We record narration to connect the pieces and edit the audio for brevity and clarity. After a review process, we publish the episode online. My main conclusion from doing the research involved in these podcasts is that the RC has a rich history and a wealth of information to share with a genuinely interested audience.




Residue Depth Computation

Anagha Shah | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Proteins, a class of macromolecules essential to biological processes, are characterized by their structure which directly correlates to functionality. Residues are considered the building blocks of proteins and studying their positions has been crucial in understanding the role a protein plays in a biological system. This research project investigates different measures of residue depth through calculations of RSA, DPX, Residue Depth, HalfSpace Depth, and L1 depth. The L1 depth function surpasses other residue structure predictors in that it can obtain positions of residues buried under the protein surface, or nested in pockets. In addition, the function uses O(N) time complexity, making it much more efficient than the HalfSpace predictor. Values of depth have strong correlations with properties such as physiochemical propensities, flexibility and polarity. Data was obtained from CULLPDB, Phospho3D, and PLB datasets. After reading in necessary information into an IDE, residue depth of each protein in the datasets and the correlation coefficients between the means of depth values of amino acids and hydrophobicity index of amino acids were calculated through an algorithm written in C++. These results showed that the means of depth values were strongly relative with hydrophobicity of amino acids. In addition, the secondary structures of the residues are also associated with L1 depth values, as residues in sheets are deeper under the surface in comparison to residues in coils and helices.




Residue Depth Computation Project

Kavya Manocha | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Proteins, a class of macromolecules essential to biological processes, are characterized by their structure which directly correlates to functionality. Residues are considered the building blocks of proteins and studying their positions has been crucial in understanding the role a protein plays in a biological system. This research project investigates different measures of residue depth through calculations of RSA, DPX, Residue Depth, HalfSpace Depth, and L1 depth. The L1 depth function surpasses other residue structure predictors in that it can obtain positions of residues buried under the protein surface, or nested in pockets. In addition, the function uses O(N) time complexity, making it much more efficient than the HalfSpace predictor. Values of depth have strong correlations with properties such as physiochemical propensities, flexibility and polarity. Data was obtained from CULLPDB, Phospho3D, and PLB datasets. After reading in necessary information into an IDE, residue depth of each protein in the datasets and the correlation coefficients between the means of depth values of amino acids and hydrophobicity index of amino acids were calculated through an algorithm written in C++. These results showed that the means of depth values were strongly relative with hydrophobicity of amino acids. In addition, the secondary structures of the residues are also associated with L1 depth values, as residues in sheets are deeper under the surface in comparison to residues in coils and helices.




Resin Optimization and Organism Toxicity for iTIE (in situ Toxicity Identification Evaluation)

Evelyn Faust | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Toxicity Identification Evaluation (TIE) is a laboratory bioassay developed by the USEPA and used for assessing sites with multiple chemical contaminants. To determine the predominating environmental stressors and primary toxicity concerns at these sites, this method physically and chemically fractionates various compounds from water samples in a laboratory setting. However, the method is resource-intensive and does not require in situ toxicity analysis, which limits the results’ ecological realism. To improve the effectiveness and validity of assessments at sites with multiple contaminants, the in situ Toxicity Identification Evaluation (iTIE) has been developed to separate and expose fractionated waters to organisms directly within the field by use of resin adsorption technology. Specific resins are used for target removal of ammonia, heavy metals, polar organic, and nonpolar organic contaminants of concern from site water prior to organism exposure within chambers in the iTIE unit. The purpose of this study is to inform specific amendments to the iTIE prototype and to optimize the effectiveness of resins by ensuring that they cause no adverse effects to test organisms. In laboratory toxicity experiments, cladoceran Daphnia magna larva were exposed to each of the resins and analyzed for reproduction. Results suggest that the tested resins cause no significantly toxic effects. Using this supporting information, resin optimization for the iTIE system can reduce costs for future ecotoxicological assessments and impact management decisions by identification of the primary contaminants of concern in a site with multiple stressors.




Restoring regulatory T cells in cigarette smoke-induced emphysema

Danny Jandali | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Our research seeks to develop novel therapies to prevent chronic obstructive pulmonary disease progression (COPD), and associated mortality, through the demonstration that regulatory T cells, otherwise known as Tregs, reduce lung injury in a murine cigarette smoke exposure model. We hypothesize that by restoring regulatory T cells in subjects with COPD, natural killer cell (NK) cytotoxicity (percentage of cell death that occurs over the baseline) will be inhibited, therefore reducing the impact of natural killer cells on lung damage. Presently, our studies show that natural killer cell cytotoxicity positively correlates with epithelial cell apoptosis, indicating their relationship with tissue pathology. Additionally, we have shown that regulatory T cells are diminished in COPD, and that murine Tregs suppress NK cytotoxicity in vitro and in vivo following adoptive transfer. To further our murine exposure model, we utilize a Jaeger-Baumgartner Smoking Machine to expose the subjects to cigarette smoke for one hour per day for five days of the week to emulate the NK cytotoxicity observed in COPD subjects. These exposed mice will then be transferred nTreg, eTreg, mTreg, and Tconv or vehicle (negative controls) to later be euthanized and evaluated for Treg suppression of NKs, Treg phenotype stability, Treg migration and measurements of lung injury/inflammation, Treg suppression of T cell cytokine production, and Treg transcriptional signatures.Through sequencing, data processing and cell-type identification, power calculation and statistical analysis, and bioinformatic analysis for scRNA-sequences, we anticipate suppression of NK cytotoxicity with the transfer of mTregs, although we do expect for this suppression to decrease following sustained CS exposure. We also expect positive correlation between the stability of the Treg phenotype and the ability to inhibit natural killer cells.




Restoring regulatory T cells in cigarette smoke-induced emphysema

Ashley Hwang | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Our research seeks to develop novel therapies to prevent chronic obstructive pulmonary disease progression (COPD), and associated mortality, through the demonstration that regulatory T cells, otherwise known as Tregs, reduce lung injury in a murine cigarette smoke exposure model. We hypothesize that by restoring regulatory T cells in subjects with COPD, natural killer cell (NK) cytotoxicity (percentage of cell death that occurs over the baseline) will be inhibited, therefore reducing the impact of natural killer cells on lung damage. Presently, our studies show that natural killer cell cytotoxicity positively correlates with epithelial cell apoptosis, indicating their relationship with tissue pathology. Additionally, we have shown that regulatory T cells are diminished in COPD, and that murine Tregs suppress NK cytotoxicity in vitro and in vivo following adoptive transfer. To further our murine exposure model, we utilize a Jaeger-Baumgartner Smoking Machine to expose the subjects to cigarette smoke for one hour per day for five days of the week to emulate the NK cytotoxicity observed in COPD subjects. These exposed mice will then be transferred nTreg, eTreg, mTreg, and Tconv or vehicle (negative controls) to later be euthanized and evaluated for Treg suppression of NKs, Treg phenotype stability, Treg migration and measurements of lung injury/inflammation, Treg suppression of T cell cytokine production, and Treg transcriptional signatures.Through sequencing, data processing and cell-type identification, power calculation and statistical analysis, and bioinformatic analysis for scRNA-sequences, we anticipate suppression of NK cytotoxicity with the transfer of mTregs, although we do expect for this suppression to decrease following sustained CS exposure. We also expect positive correlation between the stability of the Treg phenotype and the ability to inhibit natural killer cells.




Reviving Growth Keynesianism

Jackson Overpeck | First-Year UROP Research Experience

At a time defined by the collapse of longstanding capitalistic systems and institutions, Keynesian economic thought began its ascent to prominence in what would kick off an era of unprecedented growth and prosperity. John Maynard Keynes revolutionized the field of macroeconomics with the publication of his general theory in 1936, yet he was hardly the only economist contributing to the profession’s shift away from traditional neoclassical ideas. Throughout the mid-20th century, Keynesianism grew intertwined with American political institutions and common economic thought, yet a changing political landscape and an adverse economic climate halted Keynesian advances shy of their full potential. As we enter a new period defined by bold proposals to combat economic injustice, an unprecedented climate crisis, and the ever-looming threat of financial crisis, Keynesianism is once again taking center stage, and it is the goal of the RGK project to rekindle this living tradition of American political economy for a prosperous 21st century.




Reviving Growth Keynesianism

Sophie Stukenborg | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The Reviving Growth Keynesianism Project is a podcast and blog meant to start a conversation about Keynesian economics. Keynesianism is an economic theory that is generally associated with John Maynard Keynes, an economist from the 1930s. His ideas became popularized during the Great Depression. Keynesianism is the idea that the economy cannot grow if there is not demand for the products being sold. It argues that economic equality is important to the growth and stability of an economy. Keynesianism was the widely accepted form of economic thought until the 1970s. Currently, many economic solutions being floated such as Universal Basic Income draw on Keynesian ideas.




Rhythm Wheels: Using Music as a Mathematical Learning Tool

Lisa Tarsavage | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Though ample research has been conducted studying how education can be improved, the research being done with CSDT – Culturally Situated Design Tools – is unique in that it combines STEM lessons, cultural art, and modern tech with the aim of simultaneously improving STEM education and reducing the implicit racism that devalues certain cultures. One component of the CSDT suite (csdt.org) is Rhythm Wheels, the program this study uses. It employs animations to educate users in the ways traditional music from the African diaspora (Carribean, hiphop, salsa, etc.) have math concepts like least common multiple embedded in them. Musicians from these traditions know this math in a form that is unfamiliar to Western education systems, but can be “translated” through a computational medium. This study will introduce Rhythm Wheels to high school students, drawing largely from underrepresented demographics. It will use a pre/post test contrast to examine how this may have impacted their understanding of the math and computing concepts, as well as how they think about culture. We hypothesize that combining computing, math, and culture studies together in education might enhance all three. These results may add to the ever-growing body of evidence for the idea that math and computing ideas already exist in traditional cultural practices, and that allowing students to translate them through computational media can create enjoyable activities that aid the decolonization of STEM.




Risky On-the-road Driving in Night Shift Workers

Nivedhita Nagarajan | First-Year UROP Research Experience

This study investigates whether there is a relationship between risky driving behaviors in night shift workers and circadian rhythms, an internal biological clock in humans. The participants chosen for this study are night shift workers, meaning they work predominantly during the night hours. Data was collected through sleep diaries filled out by night shift workers for every time they went to sleep or took naps and actigraphs were worn to document rest and activity cycles as well as light exposure. Saliva samples were also collected and assayed for melatonin, a hormone important for elucidating circadian timing of sleep by determining the time of dim light melatonin onset and offset. As the data has not yet been analyzed, results have not yet been produced. However, the expected results for this study are that there will be a higher likelihood of risky driving behaviors shown through hard braking, aggressive acceleration, phone usage while driving, and speeding when driving during the time interval of dim light melatonin onset and offset compared to driving outside of this time interval. The main conclusion from the expected results would be that circadian misalignment independently from sleep affects driving behavior.




RNA Sequencing Analysis of the Early Response to Retinal Ishemia-Reperfusion Injury

Raaim Farooqui | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Ischemia-reperfusion (IR) injury causes damage is caused when a tissue is deprived of blood flow blood (ischemia) followed by a sudden reflux of blood into the tissue (reperfusion). This injury can occur in the retina and contribute to several different issues in the eye, such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. In order to get a better understanding of this injury, we used a retinal IR model in C57BL/6 mice where ischemia is caused by injecting saline to raise pressure in the eye, thus shutting off blood flow. Reperfusion naturally occurs when the injection is halted. The design of this study was to use RNA sequencing to examine retinal transcriptome at different points in time following the injury. This report focuses on deferentially expressed genes (DEG) identified by comparing sham treated (control) and IR injured retinas at two early time points, specifically 6 hours and 1 day after reperfusion. iPathwayGuide was used to perform bioinformatics analyses, including KEGG pathway identification, for the sets of DEG identified. The RNA sequencing and analysis identified 4358 DEG at 6 hours and 6664 DEG at 1 day. Cytokine-cytokine receptor interactions were identified as the most significant KEGG pathway for DEG sets at both 6 hours and 1 day. Direct comparison of 6-hour and 1-day transcriptomes showed that cytokine mRNAs were particularly upregulated at 6 hours, while mRNAs for their receptors were more upregulated after 1 day. This suggests a rapid and robust chemoattraction of leukocytes from blood into the retina in response to IR injury. DEG corresponding to additional markers for leukocyte subsets were examined to indicate if these cells had actually entered the retina by 1 day after injury. The results provide an insight into the inflammatory response to retinal IR injury, including the chemokines that may be responsible for the attraction and retinal infiltration of immune cells into the injured retina.




Role of Actin in Health and Disease

Cyndi Edelman | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Our research culminates to answer the question: what is extracellular actin’s role in health and disease? By examining three different forms of extracellular actin – cell surface bound, free circulating, and those associated with the extracellular matrix – we can understand their application and how they can be used to innovate the tools we currently have to work with diseases.




Role of Actin in Health and Disease

Maanasa Bommineni | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Our research culminates to answer the question: what is extracellular actin’s role in health and disease? By examining three different forms of extracellular actin – cell surface bound, free circulating, and those associated with the extracellular matrix – we can understand their application and how they can be used to innovate the tools we currently have to work with diseases.




Role of Actin in Health and Disease

Christopher May | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Our research culminates to answer the question: what is extracellular actin’s role in health and disease? By examining three different forms of extracellular actin – cell surface bound, free circulating, and those associated with the extracellular matrix – we can understand their application and how they can be used to innovate the tools we currently have to work with diseases.




Role of the MYRF transcription factor in retinal development

Athera Yakoo | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Vision is critical to quality of life. Diseases of the retina, which senses light and sends signals to the brain, can lead to significant vision impairment. One such disease called nanophthalmos affects the overall growth of the eye and can be associated with genetic mutations in the myelin regulatory factor (MYRF) gene. In this project, we use a mouse model to examine the role of the MYRF as a regulator of eye development and disease in the RPE, and to define new genes that could be implicated in retinal disease. Myrf is a transcription factor expressed in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), a supporting cell in the retina. We utilized single cell RNA sequencing, scRNA, from mouse eye cups, at varying stages of development to compare gene expression profiles with wild-type eye cups to those loss of Myrf. We used Seurat software for analysis to identify genes that are differently expressed in these two genotypes among different cell types to provide clues into how MYRF impairs eve development. We hypothesize that genes involved in pigmentation and structure of the RPE will be most affected by loss of MYRF, given that mice lacking MYRF have pigmentary defects and develop retina degeneration. To identify which of the genes regulated by MYRF could be implicated in retinal disease, we have also used Clinvar, an online database to search for diseases associated with genes and their allele variants. We have found approximately seventy-seven genes that are likely regulated by MYRF, but not yet linked to human disease, which will now be screened for variants in disease populations. This project will further our understanding of eye disease caused by MYRF mutations, discover genes regulated by mouse Myrf in eye development, and may lead to new targets for treatments.




Ross Business+Tech

Breana Ang | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The Business + Tech initiative of Ross’ primary goal is to promote tech literacy among business students, both BBA and MBA, as well as throughout the university in partnering with several initiatives, classes, and more. There are several parts of Business + Tech which focus on a different aspect of promoting tech literacy, such as hosting a conference related to sports analytics and sports business, or learning emerging technologies, or hosting the Datathon for 200-300 student participants. The specific aspect of Tech Startups includes initiatives such as hosting a podcast interviewing startup founders, a speaker series along with a pitch competition in partnership with other initiatives, and a blog post series to be published on the website for both Michigan students, faculty, and the general public to view. Another aspect of this team includes putting together a tech startup ecosystem of startups in the Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Southeastern Michigan area, as well as putting together data for how different initiatives within the University of Michigan, such as alumni, current students involved in tech initiatives, student organizations, faculty, and coursework which relate to tech and help promotes the tech literacy throughout the university. As for the website, methodology includes those who read blog posts learning more about the tech startup space, including a self-survey which can be taken at any time to track the progress of concepts of tech that are learned in perusing the website’s blog posts. Currently, the Business + Tech team is hosting initiatives and backlogging blog posts to have content on the website when it is published and released to the public. Similar to Harvard’s business and tech initiatives and other such schools, the goal is to build a tech pillar within Ross for both MBAs and BBAs, helping bolster the reputation of Ross in the tech community and providing resources for students to become tech literate.




Ross Digital Business and Technology: Michigan Sports Business and Technology

Siena Mizel | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The multi-billion dollar sports industry captivates millions of fans around the world and intersects with a multitude of various other industries from business, to health, to technology. Within these industrial vertices lie opportunities for growth and changed within sports, and mark intellectual territory ready to be explored. The Ross Business and Technology Scholars Group is devoted to examining the ways in which technology can improve the development of obtaining, and ease of using, data and statistical information. We are looking at the various ways these new technologies and data synthesis platforms can be leveraged to advance and aid professional and collegiate sports.




Sandy Hook Promise Evaluations

Mehar Chhatwal | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The goal of the Sandy Hook Promise is to improve the lives of students by increasing safety and comfort in both schools and the broader community. The program achieves this through the implementation of the Say Something Program, which encourages students to report troubling or abnormal behaviors to the administration before situations spiral out of control. To gather results for further analysis of the effectiveness of the Say Something and Sandy Hook Promise programs, numerous surveys have been conducted on students and teachers involved in the process. Furthermore, interviews have been conducted on administrators inquiring about the ease of implementation and use of the program throughout the school year. These results have been collected across some of the largest school districts in the U.S., including LA and Miami-Dade counties. Although the program is still in effect and results are being collected in real-time, certain conclusions about the effectiveness of the program can already be drawn with data from previous waves of students. Overall, after using STATA and SPSS software to conduct data analysis, it is evident that rates of depression and violence, along with feelings of unsafety, all decrease amongst students after the program has been present for over a year. This shows clear evidence that the program truly does have a positive impact on students’ safety. This research is extremely valuable, as protecting our future generations is amongst the top of our priorities, especially when they are in educational spaces. After numerous threats to student safety following school shootings such as Sandy Hook, programs such as this one have a chance to truly improve the school environment and the lives of students as they seek to better themselves through education.




Sandy Hook Promise Evaluations

Maura Burns | First-Year UROP Research Experience

While schools have employed systems for students to report incidents of bullying, drugs, mental health, safety concerns, etc. they are often not anonymous, despite being advertised as so. Often times students are directed to report their concerns to a teacher/counselor directly or to fill out a form of some kind that they ultimately need to deliver to a teacher/counselor, thus defeating the point of “anonymous” reporting. This study aims to investigate how the number and demographics of student reports change when an actual Anonymous Reporting System (ARS) is introduced. This experiment included a school district in Pennsylvania where half of the schools implemented the ARS and taught the students how to use it while the other half of schools carried on with their normal reporting system. At the conclusion of the study, all of the tips were coded and categorized on the basis of type (sexual harassment, drugs, mental health, etc), race, gender, grade/age, and whether or not the victim was the one who reported or if it was a witness. After a careful analysis of the data, we expect to see a higher number of tips related to nonviolent bullying and harassment compared to other types of tips, including violence. This knowledge of how an ARS can be more effective for certain types of tips is part of a growing understanding of how to improve school safety and will lead to new standard legislation and implementation regarding reporting in schools.




School Climate and School Safety: Systematic Review

Kiara Siebler | First-Year UROP Research Experience

U.S. schools are encompassed with violence, victimization, and bullying. Addressing these concerns in regard to unique school contexts requires a multidimensional approach through an analysis of causal factors concerning school climate. This review aims to determine whether school climate is associated with improved school safety and/or reduced school violence in addition to which aspects of school climate, if any, are associated with improved school safety and/or reduced school violence? Our team will systematically review the published literature for research evaluating the relationships between aspects of school climate and school safety/school violence. We will measure school climate through aspects including school connectedness, student engagement, school belonging, school culture, etc. To systematically review the literature, we intend to use a protocol informed by the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines to search research databases, screen published studies, apply inclusion and exclusion criteria, and select relevant literature for review. After reviewing the full texts of studies, our research team will develop a data extraction tool to extract the various information from studies.




School Climate Systematic Review

Sydney Boland | First-Year UROP Research Experience

For this creation of a systematic review about school climate, a team of around a dozen people began to research school climate and how it pertains to violence in a school setting. The main research question is “to figure out how school climate is associated with improved school safety and/or reduced school violence and which aspects of school climate are associated with that” in order to help schools across the nation become more safe for everyone. To conduct this systematic review, the team was tasked with first beginning to narrow down studies to use in the overall review. The team gathered thousands of studies by searching a few key words and then read the titles and abstracts and began to weed a majority of them out based on inclusion and exclusion criteria. The team also used an online application called Covidence to do this. This is by far the longest step as it takes a lot of reading and careful consideration. Next, the team read the entirety of the studies that were chosen to keep and started analyzing them more in depth to continue to narrow down the studies that will be included in the systematic review. Later, the team extracted data from the specific studies to draw conclusions based on the research other people have conducted. The final step is the creation of the systematic review with all of the findings summarized.




Schwann cell-derived signals on skeletal muscle growth

Ahmad Abu-Mahfouz | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Schwann cells play a pivotal role in the maintenance and regeneration of axons in the peripheral nervous system by directly communicating with motor neurons. Under conditions of acute oxidative stress, Schwann cells produce cytokines and neurotrophins to communicate with immune and nerve cells to orchestrate the nerve repair process. However, less is known about the direct communication that occurs between schwann cells and myofibers. In an in vitro setting, the communication between schwann cells and myofibers, as well as the effects of oxidative stress on myogenesis were investigated. Schwann cells were activated with hydrogen peroxide to induce growth factor and cytokine expression. Conditioned media from both activated and non-activated Schwann cells were then added to skeletal muscle progenitors cells (C2C12) to assess the effects of treatment on myogenesis. We hypothesized that the C2C12 cells receiving the conditioned media derived from activated Schwann cells would display larger myotubes than C2C12 cells that were treated with non-activated conditioned media and non-treated controls. Images were taken with a fluorescent microscope six days after treatment and the results showed that myotube diameter was not significantly different between the three groups. More experimentation and analyses are needed to fully understand the communication between Schwann cells and myofibers, especially in conditions of elevated oxidative stress such as aging. Further analysis of such data and gaining a thorough understanding of the relationship between these cells can be vital in the discovery and implementation of new treatment methods for neuromuscular diseases.




Scoping review on the impact of type 2 diabetes self management programs in Asian-Americans

Seo Young Jang | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is among the top reasons for deaths in Asian-Americans (AA). While this group consists of people from over 20 different countries, existing research often does not reflect the diversity and differences among AA, including many existing diabetes self-management programs (DSMP). No previous studies have compared existing DSMPs targeting AA. This scoping review includes adult AA participants and T2 DSMPs. DSMPs were defined as managing an individual’s condition, including self-care, symptom management, family management, medical-management, emotional management, or resource utilization. Keywords used to search for relevant articles included type 2 diabetes, Asian Americans (and its different subpopulations), and self-management. We searched for relevant articles with no data range in six databases, yielding 2581 results. DistillerSR was used to screen and extract data. After screening for titles and abstracts, 311 articles were included in the full-text screening. After screening the full-text articles, 31 articles were included in the final analysis. Articles were excluded if they were non-primary research studies, did not focus on T2D or AA adults, and did not include DSMPs. Data on different interventions and outcomes were extracted and analyzed using a charting form. We hypothesized that there is a need for more research focusing on minority subgroups. We also hypothesized that there is a need for more specialization of DSMPs to overcome many barriers AA face in healthcare, so that specific cultural and ethnic needs are addressed. Improved understanding of existing research may improve and guide future research in developing T2D self-management interventions for AA.




Scoping review on the impact of type 2 diabetes self management programs in Asian-Americans

Samreen Ali | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is among the top reasons for deaths in Asian-Americans (AA). Although AA consists of people from more than 20 countries, existing T2D research often masks the differences. According to the Office of Minority Health (2019), about 11.5% of AA adults have T2D, compared to 8% of White Americans. The data also suggests that the rate of T2D in AA adults increased from 8.7% in 2017 to 11.5% in 2018. As Asian-Americans face challenges in healthcare, including linguistic, cultural, and literacy barriers, it is essential to research existing diabetes self-management programs (DSMPs), as many studies aggregate Asian Americans as a monolith group and disregard Asian-American subgroups’ heterogeneity. A scoping review is vital to establish foundational knowledge for DSMPs focused on AA. This scoping review defines DSMPs as managing an individual’s condition through self-care, problem-solving & decision making, resource utilization, and symptom, family, medical, or emotional management. We searched six different databases for relevant articles with no date range. The initial citation lists from all databases by keyword search yielded 2581 results. After screening for titles and abstracts, 311 articles were included in the full-text screening. Articles were excluded if they were non-primary research studies, did not focus on T2D or AA adults, and did not include DSMPs. After screening the full-text articles, 31 articles were included in the final analysis. DistillerSR was used to screen and extract data, including method, intervention duration, participant setting and demographics, theoretical framework, number and details of DSMP intervention groups, and results. We hypothesized that there is a higher need to focus on minority subgroup research. There is a need to tailor DSMPs to address the barriers that AA face in healthcare so that distinct cultural, linguistic, ethnic needs and preferences are met. Improved understanding of existing research may enhance future development of DSMPs for Asian-Americans and its subgroups.




Sexual Education for Children With Spina Bifida

Neela Nallamothu | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Sexual education in America has many gaps, but one of the most glaring is the lack of sexual education for adolescents with physical disabilities. Children with Spina Bifida often enter puberty earlier than their peers. Therefore, it is crucial for them to learn about and prepare for their adult bodies at a young age. A comprehensive sexual education program was developed for each stage of a child’s physical and mental development by, first, creating a preliminary curriculum based on an analysis of existing sexual education programs for able-bodied and physically-disabled children. Qualitative interviews with physicians of varying specialties and with adults living with Spina Bifida were then performed in order to adapt the program to the specific needs of children with Spina Bifida. The program is designed specifically for children, adolescents, and teenagers with Spina Bifida and incorporates information that is appropriate for each successive life stage: childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. The curriculum is separated into these three stages, and each stage includes videos and discussion topics about changing bodies, navigating adulthood, and handling sexuality. Those who opt to engage with the program are encouraged to discuss these sensitive topics with their parents and doctors and find their agency regarding their sexuality and their independence. The program will be beta tested with a cohort of children ages 10-19 with Spina Bifida, who will be asked to complete surveys and knowledge tests, in order to determine the efficacy of the curriculum. This program is one of few that specifically address sexual education for children with disabilities. While students are left out of their sexual education programs due to their conditions, this campaign aims to normalize sexuality and aid young kids with Spina Bifida in preparing for adulthood.




Sexual Scripts and Casual Sex

Obiari Ugwu-Uche | First-Year UROP Research Experience

My project studies casual sex as it relates to many things, among them, orgasm, gender, and sexual scripts. Women and men learn sexual scripts from media and from prior experience. They enact sexual scripts according to the type of sexual situation they are in. Casual sex situations have their own sets of scripts and norms, including norms about which partner is likely to orgasm and the types of sexual activities the partners engage in. Different scripts may lead to different outcomes of the sexual encounter, such as greater regret, more perceived stigmatization, or more sexual satisfaction. In this study, we use an online survey to investigate people’s experiences with casual sex. We report on patterns found among different sexual scripts.




Short-term Self-regulation of COPD

Jennifer Weir | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease creates long-term obstacles for patients, which can result in exacerbations and mortality. Previous clinical trials focus on a patient’s physical well-being, utilizing bronchodilators or inhaled therapy as an attempt to alleviate symptoms and prevent future exacerbations. Short-term Self-regulation of COPD is focused on a patient’s self-regulation and provides an alternative hypothesis that a more active lifestyle will result in improved diligence of self-regulation as a short-term outcome. Participants were recruited from the Ann Arbor and Flint area and severity of their disease was measured prior to randomization. As intense physical activity is not practical for these subjects, this study utilizes chair yoga and imagery in the control group and squats, leg lifts, arm curls, oblique twists, and similar activities led by a kinesiology specialist as part of the experimental group; while group placement is randomly generated, both groups participate in activities that have the potential to improve outcomes. Our analysis involves evaluations taken at baseline and an assessment taken approximately 3 months after completion of the 10-week training classes. This data is taken from the Active for Life with COPD data set that includes testing visits, seven-day activity monitoring, the Chronic Respiratory Disease Questionnaire Self-Administered Standardized (CRQ-SAS), Multidimensional Outcome Expectations for Exercise Scale, and the Self-Regulation for Physical Activity Scale responses. Intervention elements during weeks 1-10 consist of lab-based exercises and an educational program with further intervention elements measured at approximately six months into the study; coaching phone calls and a booster session also occur. Data collection is done with blind testing, surveys, and numerous physical measurements for fatigue and mastery of activities like the six-minute walk. This research aims to support the hypothesis that a less-sedentary lifestyle leads to improved self-regulation in COPD patients.




Sidewalk Walkability and Physical Activity

Andrew Hoover | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Relevance: Sidewalk walkability may affect how one interacts with their community and can have significant impacts on their level of physical activity. Objectives: This study examines the relationship between sidewalk presence, continuity, and condition, and level of physical activity among adults in the REasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke study. Methods: Sidewalk characteristics were measured through a Google Earth auditing tool, where auditors viewed a participant’s living location and answered questions relating to sidewalk presence, continuity, and condition on the participant’s side of the street and the side opposite of the participant. Data on level of physical activity was collected from telephone interviews. Chi-square tests of association were estimated for each sidewalk measure and physical activity in a sample of 1,182 participants. Results: Participants reported their frequency of physical activity as none (36%), one to three times per week (35%) or more than three times per week (30%). Fewer than half of the streets had sidewalks (44% participant side; 44% opposite side). Nearly three-quarters of the sidewalks were continuous, and most sidewalks (69%) were well-maintained, on both sides of the street. None of the associations between physical activity and the sidewalk walkability measures were significant. Conclusion: The results of this study have several implications. The types of physical activities participants engaged in, that had them break a sweat, may not have taken place in their neighborhood. Future research should explore how other forms of physical activity are impacted by various aspects of the built and social environment.




Silicon Oxynitride Derived from Rice Hull Ash (RHA) as An Anode Material for Lithium-ion Batteries

Clara Huang | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Climate change has increased the urgency to replace current energy production and storage techniques with more eco-friendly ones. Of all efforts that have been dedicated to improving the performance of the lithium-ion batteries (LIB) present in the market, Ulvestad et al. demonstrated that LIB anodes containing SiNx exhibit significantly higher capacities than commercial graphite anodes. Herein, we explore and optimize the performance of silicon oxynitride as an anode material for LIB. Carbothermal reduction of rice hull ash, an agricultural waste that is composed of carbon and SiO2 that intimately mixed in nano-scale, was used as the production methods in attempts to access high-performance anode materials in environmental- and economical-friendly processes. Factors such as temperatures, atmosphere, heating duration were adjusted to investigate their effects on Si2N2O yields in the products . Heretofore, it was found that: 1) higher reaction temperatures (1350-1600 °C) and longer treating durations (2-8 hours) lead to higher conversion of SiO2 in the starting materials; 2) the gaseous atmosphere (N2, NH3, N2+H2) is an essential factor determining the Si2N2O:Si3N4 ratio in the products. Future plans will focus on the influence of different densities of starting materials (pellet vs. mound powders). Testing and analyzing the electrochemical performance of the optimized products would be the goal for the longer-term.




SIMPL User Engagement

Ayda Qureshi | First-Year UROP Research Experience

This study aims to assess the impact of sending a list of the 5 most active faculty and residents to programs on the program’s engagement with a trainee operative performance assessment mobile application known as SIMPL. SIMPL is a mobile app that allows trainees to request evaluations of their operative performance and also supports supervising attendings submitting evaluations independent of the trainee. Because the evaluation process is dependent on a person going into SIMPL and submitting the evaluation, engagement with the application has been historically low. General surgery programs were randomly assigned to two cohorts of the intervention arm of the study. The A cohort were sent their top 5 list weekly and the other B cohort recieved it bi-weekly. Each program was emailed a slide of the top 5 faculty & resident users for the designated time period according to the cohort to which the program has been assigned. Faculty and trainee engagement data were recorded for the designated time period and will be used to create the “top 5” slides. A third cohort, Cohort C, where no action was taken was identified and engagement data tracked. An analysis of the engagement data among the three cohorts will be conducted to determine what if any impact sending a leadership board has on user engagement with the SIMPL application. If engagement was improved by sending a leadership board, an effort to automate the manual task of sending a leadership board will begin. This information can also be helpful to improve engagement with other medical education applications.




SIMPL User Engagement

Zoe Nepomnayshy | First-Year UROP Research Experience

SIMPL User Engagement This study aims to assess the impact of sending a list of the 5 most active faculty and residents to programs on the program’s engagement with a trainee operative performance assessment mobile application known as SIMPL. SIMPL is a mobile app that allows trainees to request evaluations of their operative performance and also supports supervising attendings submitting evaluations independent of the trainee. Because the evaluation process is dependent on a person going into SIMPL and submitting the evaluation, engagement with the application has been historically low. General surgery programs were randomly assigned to two cohorts of the intervention arm of the study. The A cohort were sent their top 5 list weekly and the other B cohort recieved it bi-weekly. Each program was emailed a slide of the top 5 faculty & resident users for the designated time period according to the cohort to which the program has been assigned. Faculty and trainee engagement data were recorded for the designated time period and will be used to create the “top 5” slides. A third cohort, Cohort C, where no action was taken was identified and engagement data tracked. An analysis of the engagement data among the three cohorts will be conducted to determine what if any impact sending a leadership board has on user engagement with the SIMPL application. If engagement was improved by sending a leadership board, an effort to automate the manual task of sending a leadership board will begin. This information can also be helpful to improve engagement with other medical education applications.




Simulating Magnetic Fields for nEDM

Nicole Baalbaki | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The Los Alamos nEDM experiment measures the electric dipole moment of a neutron, which could improve our understanding of the dominance of matter versus antimatter in the universe. For the experiment, we need to know the magnetic field and track the neutron spin along its path from the neutron source to the experiment. The magnetic field was calculated with a commercial program, which integrates currents in magnet windings. A component of the field was reverse engineered by comparing it to a map of the magnetic field of two coaxial solenoids. We altered the current, windings, lengths, and inner and outer radii for both solenoids. It was determined that a radii ratio of 0.55 and a winding ratio of 6:5 yielded an excellent match to the data. The solenoid field combined with calculations of fields produced by a combination of additional coils will be used to generate the fields over the full neutron path and used to predict the effect on the neutron spin and guide design modifications.




Simulating the Effect of Interspecific Competition in Invaded UMBS Pollination Network

John Kelly | First-Year UROP Research Experience

While the effects of pollinator visit quality and quantity on the success of alien plant invasion have begun to be well characterized (Valdovinos et al. 2016, 2018, 2020), the effects of interspecific competition within the plant community are mostly unknown. Classical models have shown that greater intraspecific competition within a population relative to interspecific competition between two plant species ensures species coexistence. In nature, invasive plant species are quick to crowd out other plants’ access to resources like sunlight and water, causing population declines and collapse. However, invasive success is also mediated by their ability to attract and reward successful pollinators, compared to native plants. This experiment aims to investigate the effect of this interspecific competition on the plant-pollinator interactions of the community. We simulate the introduction of 10 alien plant species to an empirical pollination network using Valdovinos’ 2018 model, varying for the aliens’ interspecific competition coefficient, expected number of seed per pollination event, and ability of plants to effectively produce and attach pollen. We focus on characterizing how interspecific competition leads to variability in plant abundance and persistence. We identify the driving factors of successful plant invasions.




Single Molecule Dynamics of RNAs in Stress Granules

Rebecca Perelman | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Stress granules (SGs) are condensates of RNAs and proteins formed in the cytoplasm of the cell when exposed to acute stress. Though recent studies have concluded that SGs appear to play an important role in tumor progression, gene expression, and neurodegeneration, the exact function of SGs is not completely understood. Furthermore, the dynamics of the mRNAs near the surface of the SGs is an area of active research and may provide important clues about the granules’ function, for example, how they can govern the exchange of materials in the cell. To study the dynamics of the mRNAs near the granules’ boundaries, we developed an algorithm which delineates the boundaries in highly inclined and laminated optical sheet (HILO) microscopy images. The simple but fast and robust algorithm we developed to be used with ImageJ is capable of finding the SGs’ boundaries with diffraction limited accuracy and works even on highly inhomogeneous cell images and for granules of arbitrary shape, size, and internal structure, which is an advancement compared to existing methods. After identifying the mRNA molecules in the same field of view using single molecule microscopy, we will use our approach to compare the mRNAs’ locations and SGs’ boundaries over time to study the dynamics of mRNAs on the SG surface. We are now applying this algorithm to study the dynamics of the mRNAs in the cell in order to better understand the interaction of mRNAs with SGs.




Skeletal Growth Abnormalities in TSP1/2 Double-Knockout Mice

Emma Wessels | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Thrombospondins (TSPs) are proteins crucial to the development of bone. In mice with TSP1 and TSP2 knockout genotypes, referred to as double knock-outs (DKOs), exostoses, or bone growth outside of normal bone (particularly in soft tissues), and other abnormal skeletal growth phenotypes have been observed in the femoral-tibial joint, particularly the patellar region, specifically extending proximally in the quadricep tendon of older cohorts. To further explore these abnormalities, longitudinal radiographs of DKO mice and wild-types (WT), consisting of C57/Bl6 and functional WT were obtained. These X-ray images were taken of mice at 6 weeks, 9 weeks, 12 weeks, and 20 weeks old, in addition to images collected while conducting fracture research, which span from 13 to 94 weeks old. Mice from fracture surgeries consist of TSP1-null, TSP2-null, and CD47-null genotypes in addition to DKO and WT. All of the radiographs were then collated to compare development of these exostoses in relation to age and genotype, and semiquantitative analysis was performed to gain a better understanding of the severity of the observed abnormalities and determine the age at which they begin to develop. Overall, the current data leads us to conclude that exostoses is present by 24 weeks of age by radiography, with potential of developing even earlier.




Skilled Reaching Performance in a Model of DYT1 Dystonia

Bradley Zousmer | First-Year UROP Research Experience

DYT1 Dystonia is a neurological condition that causes abnormal, sustained twisting postures, resulting from a Delta-E mutation in the torsinA gene. Mice with this genotype have few motor abnormalities, making it difficult to test treatments in this model. However, previous attempts to phenotype these mice used simple motor assays. The project in which I am assisting is the first project aiming to find the relationship between mice with a DYT1 Dystonia mutation and their ability to perform skilled reaching, a demanding task that requires fine motor coordination. To gather results, I am scoring hundreds of videos of mice reaching for pellets on a pedestal to see how the DYT1 genotype impacts a mouse’s ability to reach. In scoring videos, I watch each video numerous times and give it a score 1-10 based on how/if the mouse reaches for and grasps the sugar pellet. I put these results in a spreadsheet, and will analyze them to determine if DYT1 mice are significantly impaired compared to wildtype mice. Because this is a brand new project, there have been no results. I just started scoring videos this week, however, the lab suspects that these will have issues obtaining the pellet This would suggest that they have subtle motor abnormalities that could be used to test therapies. The results of this experiment are important because they can be the first steps in finding treatment for humans with DYT1 Dystonia.




Skin Conductance Responses During Extinction Recall and Fear Renewal with PTSD or Fibromyalgia

Ashley Laplant | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Previous studies on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Fibromyalgia (FM) showed changes in extinction retention and fear renewal that could be recorded through skin conductance responses (SCR). Extinction retention and fear renewal are two cognitive processes that are essential for one to understand what they should fear and what they should not fear based on their surroundings. With this information, this study uses SCR to better understand the deficits in context processing that are a result of these stress-related disorders. Individuals with either PTSD or FM are being recruited to participate in the study; individuals with no stress-related disorders are also being recruited as healthy controls. On the first day, participants will undergo fear conditioning to learn that colored light (e.g., blue light) in a certain context (e.g., in an office) will signal an electrical shock, while the same light in a different context (e.g., on a bookshelf) will not signal an electrical shock. Then on day two, extinction recall and fear renewal tests will be conducted by displaying the same cues to the participants but now without electrical shocks. SCR from the participants will be collected, cleaned, and analyzed; however, at this time, the target sample size has not yet been reached, so participants are still being recruited and SCR data is still being collected. The predicted conclusion from this study is that those with PTSD and FM will display higher levels of SCR during extinction recall and fear renewal. Understanding the emphasis on one’s contextual processing will help promote and facilitate better treatments for those with PTSD and FM.




Skin-Conductance Response in Patients with PTSD and Fibromyalgia

Charan Talwar | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Fibromyalgia (FM) are serious psychiatric conditions that are characterized by fear modulation deficits, which is the inability to accurately differentiate fear context from non-threatening context. The exact underlying mechanism of how these processes are impaired is not yet known. Our research looks to learn more about these mechanisms in PTSD and FM by looking at various physiological responses in individuals with PTSD or Fibromyalgia along with healthy controls while they underwent fear-based learning. Specifically, we are looking at reactivity to extinction recall and fear renewal, which are two processes involved in being able to shift a fear response between different stimuli as their threat levels change. We are working with Skin-Conductance Response data (SCR), which is the electrical conductivity of the skin that varies based on emotional arousal. SCR data is a good indicator of one’s fear response, and we are specifically looking at event-related SCRs that are in response to extinction recall and fear renewal cues. We are using the Acqknowledge 5.0 software to clean the data and identify meaningful responses. Once we have cleaned and analyzed the data, we will look to identify any differences in the SCRs of patients with and without PTSD and Fibromyalgia in responses to the fear response stimuli. This will help us build our understanding of the neurocognitive mechanisms affected by these diseases and potentially treat patients more effectively.




Social media, youth, and election violence in Francophone Africa

Alena Honig | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Election violence remains a regular occurrence in many countries around the world. This project aims to identify and better understand the online atmosphere of politically affiliated groups on social media during violent elections in sub-Saharan Africa. We consider specifically the case of Côte d’Ivoire, where multiparty elections have been routinely tainted by violence since the 1990s. In the most recent presidential elections, at least 87 people were killed in election-related violence. Data for this project are collected from CrowdTangle, a Facebook API, that tracks social media posts in public Facebook groups. The dataset (N=2,073,664) includes all posts in 169 public Facebook groups supporting the five main political candidates in Côte d’Ivoire from 1/1/2015 to 12/1/2020. This time period covers two presidential elections (2015 and 2020), one legislative election (2016), and a constitutional referendum (2016). UROP students were tasked with coding photo and video content from the 6,248 posts that received at least 500 likes and the 2,963 posts that had at least 100 shares. The students also collected the names of the posters in order to infer ethnicity. We anticipate finding variation in support for democracy or violence conditional on political party affiliation. Trends in content may help uncover key tensions behind election-related violence in Côte d’Ivoire. Understanding the political dynamic of Ivoirians on social media will better help us understand the proliferation of violent rhetoric around elections, who is likely to use it, and perhaps inform policy interventions on reducing election-related violence.




Social Network Composition, Age, and Racial/Ethnic Pride

Madison Konja | First-Year UROP Research Experience

It has been found that certain ethnic and racial groups’ social networks are composed of more people with the same ethnic and racial identity. There is little to no information on how this has changed for younger generations. This study introduces a new focus regarding social networks by exploring the ethnic/racial composition of social networks in different generations, which is defined by age. Also, I examine the correlation of these social networks with an individual’s level of pride in their racial and ethnic identity. Data are from the Detroit Community Study, a cross-sectional survey of social relations among Arab Americans, African Americans, and White Americas (N=907). The survey did not directly ask participants about their pride; therefore, pride will be measured by examining participants’ reactions to situations of racism towards their identity. The following hypotheses will be tested by using descriptive bivariate correlation analyses. Findings include there is a significant correlation between age and one’s racial/ethnic social network composition. The younger a person is the higher the proportion of people in their social network share the same identity as them. Older generations contain a more diverse ethnic and racial composition than their respective younger generations. There was a not significant difference between races/ethnicities and the proportions of homophily in social networks. Also, more research is needed to make conclusions regarding the connection, or lack of, between pride and the racial/ethnic homophily of one’s social network. The potential findings would demonstrate that who we surround ourself with does not necessarily impact the pride we have, so we should not limit ourselves to forming relationships with only certain types of ethnicities or races. The study introduces a new perspective in analyzing social networks to determine pride correlations. Also, it poses the question for researchers, why are there generational differences regarding ethnic/racial homophily in social networks?




Social relations and risk factors for cognitive health decline

Maham Adnan | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Research has documented that physical and mental health outcomes (e.g., having diabetes, stress, depression) can increase risk for cognitive health decline. Other studies, however, have shown that more negative (i.e., demanding) relationships can lead to worse perceived emotional well being yet better cognitive health. To help better understand the ways in which social relationships may protect or contribute to cognitive health decline this study aims to examine how negative and positive relationship quality are associated with physical and mental health outcomes. This study uses data from the Detroit Community Study (N=907), which were collected in 2016. Descriptive, bivariate, and multivariate analyses will be conducted to examine study research questions. Data analyses for this study are not yet complete, however, based on previous research it is hypothesized that those who report more negative relationships will be less likely to have diabetes, but report more stress and experience more depressive symptoms. In contrast, it is hypothesized that more positive relationships will be linked with decreased odds of having diabetes as well as lower stress and depressive symptoms. Given that specific chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, stress, and depression are known risk factors of cognitive decline, understanding the complex ways in which social relations affect these factors can help guide development of interventions aimed at promoting cognitive health.




Social Support and Eating Disorders in Transgender Youth

Elina Kang | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Anorexia nervosa has the highest death rate of any mental disorder. The overall consensus is that stronger emotional connections moderate relationships between social support and eating disorder symptomology. However, the precise role that different types of social support play in the etiology of eating disorders, especially in gender minority youth, remains unclear. This study examined 50 transgender adolescent patients receiving treatment at the University of Michigan Adolescent Gender Services Clinic who completed the Child and Adolescent Social Support Scale and the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire. Analysis will include descriptive statistics and t-tests to investigate the relationships between perceived support and eating disorder symptomology, and also to investigate whether the type of perceived support plays an important role in the effect of disorder eating in an individual. Potential results would demonstrate that perceived regard from others directly impact perceived regard for oneself, which, if low, would have a higher chance of manifesting as disordered eating. This study adds to a growing body of research on the association between social support and eating disorder symptomology and will contribute to future similar research.




Solar Optics Active Nanostructures and their Applications

Annyn Howle | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Water scarcity is a pressing issue that impacts over two thirds of the global population. With populations growing and atmospheric temperatures rising, this problem will only worsen with time. Desalination is considered to be a great solution to this issue, but it can be very costly and energy intensive. This study was carried out to determine the viability of solar optics active nanostructures in water desalination. These nanoparticles have the ability to generate intense localized heat when exposed to sunlight. By creating a panel containing these nanoparticles, we could convert the heat into usable energy. These panels have the potential to power individual, decentralized water treatment plants. In this project, we envisioned the technology to be used for this application by review the current solar water treatment technologies. Furthermore, we created an engineering design for the nanostructure panel by computer-aided design method. We anticipate that our approach could help address the water scarcity issue in addition to being a more sustainable option.




Solidarity Not Charity’: Thematic Analysis of Definitions of Mutual Aid Activism in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Sarah Stolar | First-Year UROP Research Experience

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues in the US, many individuals have been unable to receive necessary resources due to economic struggles, concerns over contact with the virus, or a lack of governmental support in connecting with essential services. Mutual aid groups, who have played an active role in helping their communities for decades, have played an integral role in providing needed services with the knowledge that current systems and institutions have failed to provide these resources to Americans. This study analyzes the role of mutual aid and how different organizations have defined themselves during the pandemic. We examined and discussed academic literature on past and current mutual aid efforts and collected data, such as location, target populations, services, and self-definitions, about mutual aid organizations in 20 of the most populous metropolitan areas in the US. Data was collected through online research on organizations’ websites, social media pages, and newspaper articles and through thematic analysis. The analysis focuses on the definitions and agendas of mutual aid groups and how they differ from one another. By mapping the efforts of mutual aid groups and determining how they present themselves this study will increase discussions on community-level activism, inequalities within American society, and the flaws of established governance and institutions.




Song of America: The Spiritual on the Concert Stage

Jordan Key | First-Year UROP Research Experience

As stated by W.E.B. Du Bois, the African American spiritual is one of the most significant and impactful genres of American music. Spirituals originated among enslaved African Americans and were influenced by both African and European traditions, including Protestantism, African music, the ring shout, and the camp meeting. Although spirituals were traditionally sung in daily life and religious gatherings, the spiritual transformed after the Civil War as musicians began arranging spirituals in classical styles for performances by professional musicians. My research focuses on the evolution of “Wade in the Water,” an important spiritual from the Antebellum period and one of the most performed concert spirituals in the modern era. Throughout its transformation into a concert spiritual, many aspects of “Wade in the Water,” including melodic and harmonic elements, accompaniment, singing style, and performance practices, were adapted into classical music styles. In this study, library sources, scores, performances, recordings, and lectures were analyzed to determine influences behind stylistic changes in “Wade in the Water” and how the concert spiritual impacted perceptions of African Americans. Through my analysis, I concluded that “Wade in the Water” experienced several important alterations at the dawn of the twentieth century, as spirituals were arranged for trained vocalists. This paper will contribute to research on the musical influences of concert spiritual, an important topic in studying the development of American music.




Spatial Stereotypes and Racial Inequality

Odri Suero Medina | First-Year UROP Research Experience

A study was done to understand the impact of how a space looks and how certain features of a space are associated with one racial group and how other features are associated with another racial group and on how race and space stereotypes support each other.. Through the use of coding we have created a survey that allows us to understand how people group certain aspects, such as the looks, of a city and use them to make an inference of what racial group of people lives in that city. In our study we have used the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as our representative city to see how people think when it comes to race and space. We sampled images from google street view and inserted them into our survey. With this survey we hope to understand if people associate one racial group with wealth and prosperity based on the pictures they are shown of that space and if they associate a different racial group with poverty and privation. Through understanding the assumptions of how people of a certain race may live in a different quality area than another, and through understanding how we may view a person differently based on the place they are see in we can find a way to better this disparity in where people live and also find ways to educate people and remove that bias that may come with associating one group with wealth and another with poverty.




Spatial Stereotypes and Racial Inequality

Sophie Shao | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Is space racialized? Often, we overlook this association between race and space even though segregated neighborhoods and other public institutions provide a compelling case for such an association. Centuries of discriminatory policies have exacerbated the separation of race, creating explicitly and implicitly demarcated spaces for Blacks and non-Blacks. These aforementioned Black spaces are often entrenched in concentrated poverty and ghettoization, precipitated by disinvestment and discriminatory policies. The existence of these segregated spaces are suspected to have created spatial stereotypes, in which negative associations have been made about the spaces that Black people occupy. This project’s overarching goal is to investigate how associations between impoverished urban spaces and African-Americans influence the broader social perception of race. To do so, we used a sample of google street view images of both high and low income census tracts in urban cities. After presenting a series of photographs from either low or high SES neighborhoods, survey takers were given a racially ambiguous face and asked to identify the face’s race. Moreover, we are seeking to answer the question of whether space is racialized.




Species Distribution Modeling of Pseudopipra pipra in the Neotropics

Caroline Wang | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The Neotropics is one of the most species-rich regions in the world (Condon et al., 2008). Its diverse landscape and complex history has allowed for population isolation and subsequent diversification (e.g. Berv et al., 2021). While our knowledge of phylogenetic diversity in the Neotropics has dramatically increased in recent years (e.g. Berv et al., 2021; Tello et al., 2009), our understanding of how species’ have adapted across a myriad of climate regimes in the Neotropics is less well understood (Weir, 2006).




Stakeholder perspectives on using patient-reported outcomes: a qualitative study

Adam Chalak | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Stakeholder perspectives on using patient-reported outcomes: a qualitative study Authors: Adam Chalak, Yomei Shaw, Faith Reger, Neda Kortam, Yujia Li, Dinesh Khanna Background/objectives: Patient-reported outcome measures (PROs) are questionnaires that provide patients coping with disease a medium that essentially places them at the forefront of the decision-making and treatment process. The questions aim to measure patient perceptions of symptoms and health status. Quite recently, we have seen a surge in literature based on this healthcare tool in rheumatology. Although reviewing PRO results helps patients and health care providers communicate about impacts of disease on wellbeing, we see a significant lack of clinical implementation in rheumatology. This qualitative study serves as the pilot study for an upcoming clinical trial of strategies to promote PRO use in rheumatology. We conducted interviews with stakeholders to assess the acceptability of study procedures and materials to rheumatology health care providers and patients. Methods: Semistructured interviews were conducted with healthcare providers and patients in rheumatology over video or phone call. Interview transcripts were transcribed and were subsequently analyzed by qualitative coding through NVIVO software. Results: Eight health care providers, two patients, and three research team members participated in the interviews. Based on comments extracted from the interviews, we see that many HCPs and patients find great significance and relevance in the utilization of PRO data in treatment and patient-self management. However, many clinicians note various logistics issues (such as time management, patient motivation, data interpretation, question difficulty) that hinder implementation. Conclusion: This study provides insight on how PRO measures can be integrated more effectively in the clinical setting while also revealing misconceptions on the tool by HCPs.




Star Switching Power in Global Bollywood

Yuyao Sun | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The author identifies that Bollywood movie stars have changed the perception of India as a country globally. Often, one movie star with his masterpiece is able to break into one or more foreign markets, thus becoming the soft power of India, both politically and economically. The author has collected multiple sources to prove the existence of soft power. After the information gathering stage, both qualified and quantified methods were used to analyze the data. For instance, for the China section of the research, the movie 3 idiots, directed by and starring Aamir Khan, was one quintessential example. Movie comments were scraped from the Chinese parallel of IMDb, Douban. These comments were then translated into English, and a word cloud was created to demonstrates the most common ideas associated with the movie from the Chinese audience’s perspective. Moreover, using the word cloud as a hint, the full version of comments that contained these popular ideas were being further investigated. The result shows that the hypothesis is significant, that the soft power of Bollywood movie stars indeed change the political, economic, and social image of India as they become popular in foreign countries. This research has great implications in the policy-making domain because to expand one country’s influence in the age of globalization, the increase of soft power is clearly shown to be an effective means to the traditional increase of hard power such as military and technology advancement, which might provide an alternative development path for many countries.




State Trends in Medically Unnecessary Surgical Births

Mackenzie Zuiderveen | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The United States currently faces the issue of high rates of Cesarean-sections performed in hospitals across the nation. Among all developed countries, the U.S. maintains one of the highest C-section rates at 31% of births completed by Cesarean. These C-sections have been linked to increased marital and neonatal complications, including increased morbidity, and they are also very costly toward patients. Studies suggest that many of these C-sections are classified under the category Nulliparous Term Singleton Vertex (NTSV), which are done on low-risk women and hence are likely avoidable procedures. This study aims to understand differences between NTSV C-section rates across the United States. The type of data reviewed includes each state’s C-section rate, NTSV C-section rate, number of deliveries/year, and whether the state has C-section reduction programs. It has been found that California, Michigan, New Jersey, and Florida, despite all being states with C-section reduction programs, are still experiencing high rates of NTSV C-sections. It has also been determined that the accessibility of information regarding C-sections varies greatly among different states. We plan to move forward in this study to find other nonclinical factors that may be confounding C-section rates in each state, in hopes of revealing improvements that could be made toward reducing the regularity of NTSV C-section rates in the United States.




State trends in medically unnecessary surgical births

Megan Corbe | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Recent studies in the United States have shown that over one third of birthing women have primary cesarean (C-section) sections to deliver their children. C-section surgeries pose risks to the mother and her child, carrying a longer, more involved recovery than a traditional, noninvasive vaginal delivery. In many cases, a birth is considered ?NTSV (?Nulliparous, Term, Singleton, Vertex?), or low-risk, and a c-section is given despite a lack of medical indication. The United States has one of the highest incidences of NTSV c-sections in the western hemisphere. We are interested in examining the non-clinical and social factors that may influence c-section rates and interventions among women with low-risk pregnancies that end in cesarean section, NTSV c-sections. To do this, we collected data from all fifty states’ previous studies and statistics on births, c-sections, health collaboratives, and demographics, and compiled it into a database to find statistical significance with each factor. When comparing the states, we found that the access to information differed greatly depending on the state being studied. With these findings, we hope to then go further to identify specific nonclinical factors, socioeconomic status, race, insurance, and other demographics that may influence c-section rates within each state. These conclusions will inform improvements to the healthcare system that can aid the reduction of NTSV c-sections in the United States.




State trends in medically unnecessary surgical births

Maria Williams | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Recent studies in the United States have shown that over one third of birthing women have primary Cesarean sections to deliver their children. C-section poses risk to the mother and her child, and carries a much longer recovery time than a vaginal delivery. In many cases, a birth is considered NTSV (Nulliparous, Term, Singleton, Vertex), or low-risk, and a c-section is given despite a lack of medical indication. The United States has one of the highest incidences of NTSV c-sections in the western hemisphere. In this study, we are interested in examining the non-clinical and social factors that may influence c-section rates and interventions among the NTSV or low-risk population. To do this, we collected data from all fifty states on births, c-sections, health collaboratives, and demographics, and compiled it into a database to make statistical analysis on each factor. When comparing the states, we found that the access to information differed greatly depending on the state being studied. With these findings, we hope to then go further to identify specific nonclinical factors that influence c-section rates within each state. These conclusions will then inform improvements in obstetric healthcare practices that can aid the reduction of NTSV c-sections in the United States.




Stories from the Galveston Immigration Project

Elizabeth Tower | First-Year UROP Research Experience

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the United States saw a large influx of Eastern European, Jewish immigrants to its major cities. Because of widespread antisemetic views among Americans at the time, the Galveston Immigration Project was established to disperse Jewish arrivals to cities across the United States in an effort to prevent the growth of the Jewish populations in east coast cities like New York. Due to their purposefully designated destinations across midwestern states, immigrants who arrived to the U.S. via the Galveston Project had very different experiences in the U.S. than their counterparts in eastern states. In order to investigate the lives of Jewish immigrants who immigrated through the Galveston Project, this research project utilized resources like ancestry.com and various newspaper databases. Information was also collected from the living descendants of the immigrants via qualitative email interviews that aimed at uncovering more intimate stories about the lives of the immigrants of the Galveston Project. Through these methods, information was gathered pertaining to the personal lives of several Galveston Project immigrants. Data regarding their U.S. citizenship, employment, family life, education, travel, and residence was obtained and will be used to reconstruct their personal narratives and used as anecdotal examples in a book on the Galveston Project and its creator. The nature of the information gathered allows for a window to be opened into the lives of Jewish immigrants whose lives were shaped by the Galveston Immigration Project. This intimate approach allows one to see the impact of the project on an individual level and compare it to the impacts of immigrating to a major city during the same era. Because this study investigates lived experiences, the personal data collected creates room for better understanding of the Galveston Immigrant experience and the Galveston Project as a whole.




Stress and Affiliative Responses in Couples

Miriam Bartleson | First-Year UROP Research Experience

As described by Taylor and colleagues (2000), the tend and befriend theory suggests that women are more likely than men to show affiliative responses when stressed. For example, women may use affiliative language, such as the word “we”, to create or maintain social connections (Slatcher et al., 2008). However, others expanded on this theory and argued that men may also affiliate when stressed (Geary & Flinn, 2002). In the current study, we will examine whether men and women show different associations between changes in cortisol, a physiological stress marker, and affiliative word use. Previous studies show mixed results: in some studies, men affiliated more than women when their cortisol was higher, in other studies women affiliated more than men (Berger et al, 2016; Sherman et al., 2016). To examine the association between changes in cortisol and affiliation, the current study looks at heterosexual couples performing the fast-friends task (Aron et al., 1997); this closeness-inducing discussion task contains questions that progressively increase in levels of self-disclosure in comparison to a “small-talk” discussion that is designed to elicit less self-disclosure. We will measure participant cortisol levels before and after the discussion task and analyze their language during the discussion to measure affiliative word use. We will also explore differences in affiliative word use in the high and low self-disclosure conditions. We expect to find that both men and women who show cortisol increases will use more affiliative words in the discussion task. We also expect that women and those in the high self-disclosure condition will use more affiliative words in comparison to men and those in the low self-disclosure condition.




Structural prediction of Ypq1

Victoria O'Donnell | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The cell responds to changes in its environment by changing the protein composition on the plasma membrane (PM). Many proteins are regulated based on their substrate concentration, including the lysine importer on the vacuole membrane (VM) of yeast, Ypq1. While it is well known that E3 ubiquitin ligases selectively ubiquitinated proteins in response to environmental cues, the mechanisms of this selectivity are poorly understood, particularly in the transmembrane region. Ssh4 is the yeast E3 ligase adapter that recruits Ssh4, the ubiquitin ligase, to the membrane. Ssh4 selectively recognizes Ypq1 in a lysine depleted environment. However, the structures of Ypq1 and Ssh4 are not solved. We used homology modeling and docking prediction programs to generate predicted structures of Ypq1 and Ssh4. Predicted models are useful for providing estimates of locations of critical regions of each protein, such as the active site of Ypq1, ubiquitination sites, and the interaction sites between Ssh4 and Ypq1.




Student Learning of Qualitative Methods in a Team-Based Tiered Mentorship Approach Through Analysis of Police Role in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest

Jessica Flohr | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Qualitative analysis, and an associated team-based approach in learning these methods, has grown increasingly popular. However, many students find learning qualitative analysis difficult due to limited exposure in early higher education and the absence of a standardized process for qualitative inquiry. Prior studies on teaching and learning qualitative methods highlighted the importance of group work, asking questions, and openness to discussions. However, to the best of our knowledge, there is not much in the literature about the role of a tiered team-based mentorship program in its teaching. We sought to foster improved understanding of qualitative research for undergraduate trainees, as well as conduct exploration of the influence of a team-based approach on learning qualitative analysis. A core team of research mentors conducting qualitative analysis of data collected on police role in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) led trainings for four undergraduate students over the course of seven months. These training sessions leveraged data from the OHCA study to facilitate presentations and group discussions dedicated to qualitative methods. Mentors and trainees convened on a weekly basis for one hour to discuss aspects of qualitative research.




Study of Pandemic Publishing: How Scholarly Literature is Affected by COVID-19 Pandemic

Borui Zhang | First-Year UROP Research Experience




Study of Substance Cravings Versus Ordinary Urges

Noelle Bedard | First-Year UROP Research Experience

While there are many studies of cravings and addiction to substances such as cigarettes, it is difficult to pinpoint one universal craving scale that is used to compare all the results on an even plane and to compare them against an “everyday” craving for something such as junk food. This study creates a standard craving scale that can be used to compare the cravings that one has for cigarettes and that one has for junk food. In this experiment, prior smokers in an online smoking quitters forum were surveyed using a questionnaire style scale adapted from the scale used for trichotillomania ,a compulsive hair picking disorder used in a prior study, the Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence, the Yale Cravings Study, the Questionnaire of Smoking Urges, the Cigarette Dependence Scale, the Fagerstrom Tolerance Questionnaire, the Minnesota Nicotine Withdrawal Scale, and the Wisconsin Smoking Withdrawal Scale. This exact scale with in depth questions about strong cravings was used to evaluate the same subject pool but instead describing their strong cravings for junk food. The means and standard deviations for both types of questions can be compared with the same exact scale, and we expect that the cravings for unhealthy junk food will be similar in ranking. We expect that the ratings on the craving scale will be around middle range. This study can be further implicated in various research studying cravings and addiction, and it can bring attention to the need for a universal craving scale to compare data across studies. This research can also prompt further research on cravings and how they are not the only driving factor when it comes to addiction. These findings can be applied to further discussions about the ability to control “everyday” cravings and what makes them socially acceptable or non-addictive.




Study of Substance Cravings versus Ordinary Urges

Corinne Packel | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Smoking addiction is one of the most widely studied phenomena, yet the characteristics of urges to smoke are not widely understood. This research project focused on comparing the severity of smoking urges to the severity of everyday cravings such as the urge to eat unhealthy foods. As these everyday cravings are experienced by most people, it offered a great mode of comparison to gain a more nuanced understanding of smoking cravings. We found participants on an online forum who experienced cigarette cravings and participants who experienced unhealthy food cravings to report their urges on a variety of different scales indicating the intensity of craving, the frequency of their cravings, and more. In our preliminary research, we found that cigarette craving strength means across a variety of studies was only a little over .5, which was not as high as we had originally predicted that urges to smoke would be. We hypothesize that results will show that the strength of smoking cravings are actually more similar to everyday cravings than one might think. These results may help clinicians understand the smoking addiction and the intensity of smoking cravings and help with treatment strategies.




Studying sounds via instrumental acoustic analysis

Mara Estrict | First-Year UROP Research Experience

As the world’s second most popular mother tongue, the Spanish language is immensely diverse in its speakers, geographic breadth, and linguistic components. Under the vast umbrella of phonetics, there have been extensive studies on the open vowel usage of Andalusian Spanish speakers; however, there remain few comparable examinations of native speakers from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Using Salamanca Spanish speakers as a control group, the University of Michigan’s Speech Production Lab has recorded interviews of 40 native speakers from Buenos Aires for inspection in the linguistic analysis software Praat. Having examined the duration and pronunciation of the vowels “˜o’ and “˜e’ in various contexts, we anticipate a significant difference in the opening patterns of speakers from Buenos Aires versus those from Salamanca, with particular emphasis upon instances when “˜e’ precedes “˜r’. With these anticipated results, we aim to cultivate a better understanding of the phonetics of Buenos Aires Spanish as a unique subset of the Rioplatense dialect.




Studying speech sounds via instrumental acoustic analysis

Elya Kaplan | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The Buenos Aires Vowels project examines vowel production in the Buenos Aires, Argentinian variety of Spanish, and how vowels lower prior to the consonant /r/. At this stage, there is impressionistic evidence that Buenos Aires speakers of Spanish lower their vowels prior to /r/, but there are not any published reports on this phenomenon using spontaneous speech. By analyzing data from a corpus of 40 speakers of this variety (20 men and 20 women) using an acoustic analysis software called Praat, we are able to systematically explore the phenomenon of vowel lowering prior to /r/ in comparison to the phenomenon in the control group of students in Salamanca, Spain. The larger implications of this project are twofold: (i) linguistic — the phonetic variability attested in Buenos Aires Spanish is also attested in varieties of European Spanish, which demonstrates that apparent changes in different dialects are not “sporadic” or “isolated”; and (ii) social — by researching dialects such as Buenos Aires Spanish, we give a voice to the speakers of underexplored language varieties and to the social value of their linguistic innovations. Very often, linguistic innovations can be stereotyped and lead to negative associations. Through this research, we aim to avoid such harsh value judgments on linguistic innovations.




Studying speech sounds via instrumental acoustic analysis

Madrid Spain | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Despite the breadth of existing research in Spanish Linguistics, there remains a deficiency in phonetics literature focused specifically on Buenos Aires Spanish. My current project attempts to remedy this by investigating the nature of intervocalic /p/ production by native speakers of this dialect. The Buenos Aires region has a large and diverse population whose phonetic variation in relation to other varieties of Spanish is underexplored. One example concerns the production of intervocalic voiceless phonemic stops (i.e., /p t k/), which are known to be variably produced with voicing in intervocalic position in Peninsular dialects, such as North-Central Peninsular and Andalusian Spanish (Hualde et al., 2011; O’Neill, 2010). If this phenomenon is the result of phonetic and phonological properties characteristic of Spanish generally, it stands to reason that this tendency could be developing in other geographically distant varieties. Considering other phonetic similarities between the Spanish of the Cono Sur and Spain (i.e., aspiration of syllable-final /s/), our team selected Buenos Aires as a starting point to pursue this possibility. My role in this project has been to annotate the read speech of 40 Buenos Aires speakers for the duration of each intervocalic /p/ produced in word-initially or word-medially and each following vowel.




Studying the Impact of Mentor Feedback on Preservice Teacher Satisfaction

Syafawani Abdul Rahim | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Feedback has been pointed out as a prerequisite for professional growth for experts and novices alike. In the education field, researchers have argued that preservice teachers, or student teachers, need high quality feedback to become exemplary teachers for their future students. One of the goals of the Mentors Matter initiative was to study what constitutes quality feedback during clinical placements from mentor teachers and university supervisors. In our project, we coded 4,010 comments to 394 student teachers for the content and quality that student teachers received as part of their clinical assessments. In our presentation, we will discuss how comments on Teacher Attributes (TA), Connections across Observations (CaO), Data Driven Feedback (DDF), and Actionable Recommendation (AR) relate to student teachers’ satisfaction with their clinical placements. Our results can help establish a guideline for having mentor teachers and university supervisors to provide high quality feedback to student teachers to train and prepare stronger teachers.




Studying the Role of Feedback and Assessment in Teacher Preparation

Elise Zander | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Educator preparation programs train aspiring primary and secondary school teachers by pairing them with advising instructors to receive mentorship through observation, co-teaching, and independent student instruction. Until recently, little attention was given to the impact of effective mentorship from advising instructors. This study examines the impact of instructionally effective mentorship on aspiring teachers by categorizing over 4000 entries of written feedback, provided by the Tennessee Department of Education, that mentor teachers have given to training teachers. These feedback entries are coded into any applicable number of the 16 different categories of instructional improvement, including areas of both instructional content and quality of instruction. The area of study specific to the UROP project focuses on the role of feedback in student assessment. Results are expected to demonstrate that student teachers receiving feedback about their skills in student assessment feel more confident in assessing student learning following their completion of the educator preparation program. This study is part of a growing body of research on student teacher preparation reform. By determining specific areas of instructional feedback to be effective or ineffective, this research will contribute potential policy changes in educator preparation programs.




Studying the Role of Feedback and Assessment in Teacher Preparation

Lauren Fisher | First-Year UROP Research Experience

While student-teachers are regularly observed and evaluated by their mentor teachers and university field supervisors, there is little data about how feedback differs across field placement schools, where student-teachers complete their in-classroom experiences, and how these differences may contribute to their development. Schools with poor working conditions may provide less infrastructure and support for teachers in their mentorship which we expect to be reflected in the quality of their feedback to student-teachers. This study considers the content and quality of feedback given to student-teachers and evaluates how the quality of feedback varies depending on the location of their field placement. By considering the open ended component of evaluations provided to student-teachers from Tennessee Technical University at their field placement schools, we were able to qualitatively code for factors of quality and content. Analysis has not yet been completed so there are currently no results to evaluate, but we expect to see that feedback will be of higher quality in schools with lower teacher turnover rates, which is representative of better working conditions. The results of this study will inform standards of written feedback for evaluators and will be used to aid in the preparation of more effective teachers in Tennessee.




Supporting Critical Consciousness: Links between Parental/Teacher Support and Youth Critical Action

Kesha Patel | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Despite burgeoning research on critical consciousness, little is known about the factors that contribute to critical action – one of its three components (Diemer et al., 2020). Critical consciousness consists of critical reflection (the ability to question the systems and structures that generate social injustices), critical motivation (the desire and commitment to address social injustices), and critical action (taking measures to create change, whether individually or collectively, in order to address perceived injustices) (Diemer et al., 2016). Since little attention has been paid to critical action, and given its links to desired developmental outcomes (Diemer et al., 2020), this study takes a more in-depth look into critical action and how adult support within youth organizing groups supports engagement in critical action. Data for this study come from a sample of adolescents, specifically Black, Latinx, and other youth of color from low socioeconomic backgrounds. The sample is also geographically diverse, with participants coming from states like New York, New Jersey, California, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. Participants completed pen and paper surveys with a series of questions about their critical consciousness, experiences in youth organizing, and other developmental competencies. We hypothesize that a positive correlation exists between parental/teacher support and critical action because students are able to see the potential they hold with the help of mentors in the learning environment and at home. Findings highlight the significance for learning spaces such as universities and homes to support critical pedagogy in order to encourage youth to challenge and take action against perceived injustices in their community. With support from adults, youth is given the opportunity to engage in environments surrounded by meaningful discourse about social injustices, thus fostering critical action.




Supporting Students’ Understanding of Variables in an Inverse Context through Targeted Questions

Andrew Spiteri | First-Year UROP Research Experience

While international and U.S. mathematics standards expect secondary students to develop connected meanings of inverse functions (Bergeron & Alcantara, 2015), previous research has found post-secondary students, pre-service teachers, and practicing teachers often struggle to construct these productive meanings (Brown & Reynolds, 2007; Engelke, Oehrtman, & Carlson, 2005; Even, 1992; Lucus, 2005; Paoletti, et. al, 2017; Vidakovic, 1996). We began our study by using Anotemos software to qualitatively code (Corbin and Strauss, 2008) two implementations of a problem-based lesson on inverse functions that we designed in collaboration with a teacher from a large midwestern public school. We coded for student conceptions of inverse (Stevens et. al, 2020) as well as problem statements and questions posed by the teacher (Milewski & Strickland, 2020). We observed the teacher asking students to consider “any value” and connected this idea to the concept of conceptualizing quantities as variables (e.g., Thompson & Carlson, 2017). We then created a table matching the questions that ask students to consider “any value” with the inverse conceptions expressed by the student the teacher is talking to. We argue the teacher selectively asked these “any value” questions to students he viewed as having inadequately generalizable inverse conceptions. Finally, to learn how teachers view this way of launching an exploration of inverse function, we designed three different ways of launching the problem (solving for an unknown value, generalized number, variable) and asked eight teachers to depict the remainder of the classroom discussions. Teachers employed different conceptions of variables to make sense of the different framings.




Suppressing heterotopic ossification and fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva in mouse models through targeting BMP type 1 receptor kinases

Jade Lindenau | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva (FOP) is a rare genetic condition distinguished by the development of bone in soft tissue, known as heterotopic ossification (HO). FOP is a gain-of-function mutation, causing substitution of an arginine by histidine (R206H) within BMP type 1 receptor ACVR1 protein. This disorder severely impacts an individual’s life, as it leads to body malformations and disabilities. While the exact mechanism of HO progression is still unclear, studies have found that HO development is accompanied with an increase of BMP-SMAD signaling and inflammation. In this research project, we aim to discover methods to decrease HO in FOP mouse models, by attempting to decrease BMP signaling. ACVR1, BMPR1a, and BMPR1b are BMP type 1 receptors. Our previous studies showed that BMP-SMAD dependent signaling is decreased by the knockout of BMPR1a or ACVR1 in specific tissues. By deleting one and/or multiple of these receptors, we predict that it will decrease BMP signaling, ultimately suppressing HO. We use the constitutively active ACVR1 model (caACVR1-Q207D), which develops massive HO within two weeks after activation of BMP signaling with tissue injury. But our study showed our anticipation was wrong. We found that the HO was not inhibited in ACVR1-Q207D mouse model by knocking out BMP type 1 receptors. Additionally, the BMP-SMAD dependent signaling pathway was not inhibited by knocking out BMP type 1 receptors in the HO mouse models. Due to the fact that the outcomes of this project did not support our initial hypothesis, we need to analyze other ways to decrease BMP signaling to suppress HO formation. This research hopes to bring us closer to finding the first effective treatment for FOP/HO, helping the individuals whose lives are permanently impacted by this genetic disease.




Suppression of Heterotopic Ossification Using a TAK1 Inhibitor

Isabelle George | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Heterotopic ossification (or HO) is the abnormal growth of bone in soft tissues, such as muscles, tendons, and more which cause the subject to develop excruciating pain in their joints. After seeing how negatively HO affects a patient’s life, there is a clear need for prevention of the lesions to help improve the life of someone with HO. The host lab previously found that genetic or pharmacologic suppression of TGF-beta activated kinase 1 (TAK1) is efficient to mitigate HO. A next logical step of the study regarding HO is that the lowest possible dose of a TAK1 inhibitor, Takinib, with co-treatment of an anti-inflammatory drug, rapamycin, will suppress the growth of heterotopic ossification in mice. After induction of HO in our genetic mouse model for HO, a suboptimal dose of Takinib was orally administered with a range of rapamycin. Tissues with resulted HO were scanned by the micro-CT 500 microscopy scanner. CT scans of experimental mice with HO were investigated using a software called ITK Snap, which helps find the volume of the HO throughout the mice. The volumetric measurements revealed that combinations of suboptimal doses of Takinib and rapamycin effectively suppressed the growth of HO, or bone growth in soft tissues. Our findings suggest that co-treatment of TAK1 inhibitors with anti-inflammatory drugs, such as rapamycin, is the way to suppress the growth of heterotopic ossification with minimal side effects of each chemical. The study hopes to identify the lowest dose of the main anti-inflammatory chemical and how this dose will be effective in reducing the growth of HO. The identified chemical dose will ultimately serve as an efficient treatment for HO without adverse reactions not only in mice, but also in humans.




Surveying the Gas Supplies around Supermassive Black Holes at the Centers of Galaxies

Priscilla Pitiak | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Despite the many studies conducted and research findings produced which illustrate a stronger understanding of cosmic functions within the universe, there is still very little known about the processes of galaxy growth and evolution. Researching the distinct mechanisms by which galaxies grow and evolve will further elucidate the state of the universe following the Big Bang and the creation of celestial bodies. This project takes a chemical approach in studying the mystery of galaxy growth and formation by focusing on the composition of large scale gas reservoirs around galaxies with supermassive black holes known as quasars. These gas reservoirs provide fuel for supermassive black hole growth, yet also harbor information regarding the events which induce galaxy evolution. This project uses Python graphical user interfaces and data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to measure the incidence of gas observed around quasars. Through measuring the Magnesium II absorption strength within foreground and background quasar spectra, and then running a statistical analysis of the data, this project intends to determine the trends that exist between gas and quasar properties, and what drives the correlations between these and that of their chemical composition.




Synthesizing reactions between metal chlorides and hexamethyldisilazane

Christina Said | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The reaction of metal chlorides with hexamethyldisilazane (HMDS) provides a novel set of syntheses generating metal-hexamethyldisilazide compounds (M-HMDS), which can be used as precursors for functional ceramic materials. The current methods to synthesize M-HMDS are expensive and require multi-step processes; for example, at the moment lithium aluminum hydride is needed to create Al-HMDS, which creates harmful hydrogen gas. Our method of synthesizing Al-HMDS is proving to be a much more efficient method that does not create hydrogen gas: it is easily controlled, low-cost, and scalable. Applications of Al-HMDS include the creation of aluminum nitride (AlN) and silicon carbide (SiC), which are semiconductors that can be used as films or coatings for solid-state batteries. The current methods to synthesize AlN and SiC require high temperatures, are prone to impurities that decrease conductivity, and must undergo multiple processes. It is expected that the novel method can allow for commercial use of AlN and SiC more accessible than it is currently, permitting solid-state batteries to be more viable.




System for Opioid Overdose Surveillance (SOS): Genesee County Project

Maanas Sharma | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Background: The opioid epidemic has grown across Michigan with very few areas having access to real-time data on opioid overdoses. A project was conducted by the CDC-funded University of Michigan Injury Prevention Center and Michigan High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) to develop a system for near real-time opioid surveillance. This system, called the System for Opioid Overdose Surveillance (SOS) was designed to inform data-driven opioid overdose prevention and response efforts with the goal of reducing overdose injuries and fatalities. Methods: In a Genesee County project, community stakeholders composed of public health, public safety, and community outreach service providers were gathered for a focus group, and then interviewed to evaluate how near real-time opioid overdose data can inform prevention work and barriers to prevention efforts. Stakeholders received SOS data reports for their jurisdiction on a regular basis for eight weeks, and their feedback was solicited over time through a survey. A final focus group emphasized the mobilization of data-driven coordinated community responses through near real-time reports. Data was analyzed to create a coordinated community response toolkit. Results: Findings suggest SOS is being used to impact local planning and responses to opioid overdoses. One major finding from the Genesee County project was the application of zip codes in aiding community stakeholders. The use of zip codes, one of many data visualizations in the SOS, allowed for stakeholders to pinpoint locations most affected by opioid overdoses within the community. Conclusions: Through the Genesee County Project, the SOS dashboard helped aid in creating “best fit” strategies for specific areas within larger communities. The Genesee County Project also showcases how near real-time data surveillance can benefit communities. Keywords: Opioids, Surveillance, Genesee County




Systemic discovery of rare, pathogenic, germline variants in pediatric neuroblastoma.

Isabella Imirowicz | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Pediatric cancers often appear pathologically similar to their adult counterparts, yet they have different genetic makeups. Germline variants are common in pediatric cancers with approximately 7-8% of malignancies carrying a germline mutation.While it is understood that germline variants are important pathogenic drivers of pediatric cancers, there have been few studies to systematically identify pathogenic variants in pediatric tumors. Identifying pathogenic germline variants will play a central role in advancing understandings of pediatric cancer. This project seeks to systematically identify statically significant rare, pathogenic germline variants from a cohort of pediatric nuroblastoma tumors. Both patient tumor and genetic information was sequenced using with a matched normal. Variants were then annotated to produce a list of calls that were then matched with relevant database information when applicable. Following annotation of variants, functions were developed in R in order to sort and filter which variants are germline, pathogenic by both known association and protein impact, and rare using a GNOMAD allele frequency of less than 0.005. A separate filter was applied for variant quality. The resulting high confidence calls were then queried against databases to identify their relevance in nuroblastoma. Finally, the rare, pathogenic, germline variants were visualized using various plots. The project has yet to finish, however we hypothesize a moderate number of rare pathogenic germline variants to be present in each tumor sample based upon preliminary data. Identification of these rare variants will aid in oncologist’s understanding of the genetics of neuroblastomas and inform the development of personalized medicine




Taking a Stand: The Effect of Social Issue Stance-Taking on Human Capital Attraction

Cole Young | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Companies can attract human capital, or potential employees, through wage incentives and non-wage incentives, such as commitments to causes like workplace diversity and environmental sustainability. This project examines the question of as these commitments to social issues become more prevalent in recruitment efforts, does this make companies more likely to support them. A data set of every job posting in the United States over the past decade is being analyzed by a code written in the program R that automatically sorts job postings based on keywords relating to specific non-wage incentives. In order to test the functionality of this code, smaller samples of the data set are being analyzed by manually searching for these keywords. The expected results of my role in this project is that by analyzing the smaller samples of the dataset, the main code will be validated in classifying job postings. We hope to find that this is a reliable way to find a company’s commitment to social issues and if so, that we can apply this technique to other demographics regarding the job market.




Teaching Social Justice Content: Faculty Teaching Methods and Confidence

Humnah Wasi | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Diversity content in the School of Social work has become more incorporated into schools and curriculum as time has gone on, and in a study conducted by researchers from the Praxis Lab at the University of Michigan, the attitudes of faculty towards teaching this diversity content was observed in the form of a survey. One aspect of this survey was looking at what topics social work instructors felt least and most confident teaching in relation to social justice content as well as questions about how these instructors teach social justice content. Based on this, a question can be raised about whether there is a correlation between methods used for teaching social justice content and the confidence faculty in the school of social work possess about teaching this content. In order to answer this question qualitative content-coding was used and the open-ended responses provided from these instructors were what was focused on. The data is still in the process of being evaluated, but based on trends that have been visible so far it can be hypothesized that there will be a significant relationship found between methods used for teaching social justice content and the confidence faculty in the school of social work possess about teaching this content.




Tech and Innovation in K-12 Education

Ellis Mason | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Across the globe, 617 million of 1 billion students are not achieving the minimum proficiency levels in reading and math. Our research is focused on exploring technology that can help counteract this learning deficiency. To develop a comprehensive solution to this learning crisis, our research team has conducted an extensive review of scientific research related to integrating technology into education. Our solution contains a wide variety of technologies, of which are designed to improve several aspects of education, including: motivation, personalization, comprehension, feedback and assessments. Our intention is that these technologies will improve the educational experience and learning outcomes of current and future students.




Tech and Innovation in K-12 Education

Nisha Patel | First-Year UROP Research Experience

A meta-analysis was undertaken to investigate different learning styles, educational gamification, and the use of technology to determine the effectiveness of K-12 students learning and educational development. Relevant studies used in this study include Wirkala & Kuhn, 2011; Duncan & Chinn, 200; Schmidt, Loyens, van Gog, & Paas, 2007. Over 30 other studies were analyzed and categorized into five different categories: Learning, Motivation/Engagement, Teacher Certification, Tests and Assessments, and Online Learning. These studies were also ranked using an A/B/C grading scale. Various learning mechanisms that significantly increased understanding, student motivation, long-term retention were drawn from these studies. The most prominent learning mechanisms include problem-based learning, machine learning, collaboration within teams, and simulation-based learning. Machine learning and gamification incentives proved to be the most effect “non-tradition” learning mechanism. These results are in line with the goal of this analysis. Additionally, our project is hoping to find out more information about the impact of teacher qualifications on the extent of K-12 student learning.




Teen Social Media Use & Well-being in Real-Time

Adelaide Ward | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Almost all American youth use social media at least daily, usually several times a day (Anderson & Jiang, 2018; Scott et al., 2017; Smith & Anderson, 2018). The almost constant connectivity is often accompanied by fears from parents and clinicians that it is harming these young users, including being responsible for the rising rates in depression, anxiety, and suicide (Keles et al., 2020). Despite the widespread concern, the evidence is far from conclusive. Recent reviews find mixed, often conflicting, and small (at most) associations between screen time and mental health outcomes (Jensen et al., 2019; Odgers & Jensen, 2020; Orben & Przybylski, 2020). What may matter more is social media engagement — the quantity and quality of different types of activities youth engage in while online. Using a 16-week ecological momentary assessment (EMA), we aim to add to and refine this growing and conflicting body of knowledge by exploring how social media engagement relates to teen (ages 13-17) depression and anxiety in real-time, and how these relationships are mediated by negative social comparison, envy, and rumination. The overarching goal of this study is to move beyond measures of screen time and determine when, under what circumstances, and for whom does social media engagement create opportunities for anxiety and depression, amplify the risk for, or neither. We aim to recruit a diverse sample of at least 100 teens from across the U.S. To date, 85 are enrolled and participating. While results are forthcoming, we expect that teens who self-identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), sexual/gender minority youth, and those with preexisting health conditions will engage in social media-related rumination, envy, and/or negative social comparison more often, and in turn, report higher daily rates of anxiety and depression. Findings will inform the design and deployment of future mHealth just-in-time adaptive mental health intervention for the most at-risk youth.




Teen Social Media Use & Well-being in Real-Time

Olivia Lambert | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Almost all American youth use social media at least daily, usually several times a day (Anderson & Jiang, 2018; Scott et al., 2017; Smith & Anderson, 2018). The almost constant connectivity is often accompanied by fears from parents and clinicians that it is harming these young users, including being responsible for the rising rates in depression, anxiety, and suicide (Keles et al., 2020). Despite the widespread concern, the evidence is far from conclusive. Recent reviews find mixed, often conflicting, and small (at most) associations between screen time and mental health outcomes (Jensen et al., 2019; Odgers & Jensen, 2020; Orben & Przybylski, 2020). What may matter more is social media engagement — the quantity and quality of different types of activities youth engage in while online. Using a 16-week ecological momentary assessment (EMA), we aim to add to and refine this growing and conflicting body of knowledge by exploring how social media engagement relates to teen (ages 13-17) depression and anxiety in real-time, and how these relationships are mediated by negative social comparison, envy, and rumination. The overarching goal of this study is to move beyond measures of screen time and determine when, under what circumstances, and for whom does social media engagement create opportunities for anxiety and depression, amplify the risk for, or neither. We aim to recruit a diverse sample of at least 100 teens from across the U.S. To date, 85 are enrolled and participating. While results are forthcoming, we expect that teens who self-identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), sexual/gender minority youth, and those with preexisting health conditions will engage in social media-related rumination, envy, and/or negative social comparison more often, and in turn, report higher daily rates of anxiety and depression. Findings will inform the design and deployment of future mHealth just-in-time adaptive mental health intervention for the most at-risk youth.




Testing a New Search Engine for Class Videos

Paulina Flores | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The current research project investigates the relationship between a new search engine for instructional videos and the academic performance of university-level students and instructors. During the new-age of virtual learning, the hindrance of social interaction combined with the sudden increase in digital screen time has negatively impacted the mental health and in turn, the academic performance of many students because they are not being able to focus or concentrate on their work. A study proposed to determine if a new academic tool provides help for students academically utilized participants, who were recruited through email communication to various universities across America, to use the engine and record their grades on academic assignments and poll their opinions on the product. Currently, the research is still in progress and has no definite conclusion.




Testing a New Search Engine for Class Videos

Trisha Chatterjee | First-Year UROP Research Experience

The current research project investigates the relationship between a new search engine for instructional videos and the academic performance of university-level students and instructors. During the new-age of virtual learning, the hindrance of social interaction combined with the sudden increase in digital screen time has negatively impacted the mental health and in turn, the academic performance of many students because they are not being able to focus or concentrate on their work. A study proposed to determine if a new academic tool provides help for students academically utilized participants, who were recruited through email communication to various universities across America, to use the engine and record their grades on academic assignments and poll their opinions on the product. Currently, the research is still in progress and has no definite conclusion.




Testing a non-invasive field method to measure body size in wild gelada monkeys

Priya Varshika Ganji | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Across the animal kingdom, body size is known to influence male-male competition and affect male reproduction. However, for several long term animal research studies, estimating body size in the wild through non-invasive methods is not always straightforward. Here, we develop and validate a non-invasive field method to measure body size of wild gelada monkeys (Theropithecus gelada) – a close relative of baboons that are endemic to the Ethiopian highlands. Using digital photogrammetry, we analyzed photographs to measure the maximum lengths of the distal forelimbs and hindlimbs from 67 individuals.




Testing a Novel Drug Agent on Glioblastoma multiforme

Blake Czapla | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer which begins in the brain. In many GBM cases, there are mutations in Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR), like EGFRvIII that is the most common variant. Currently, there are no treatments for GBM besides chemotherapy and surgery because a drug would need to cross the Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB) to target GBM. We have developed a novel small molecule, DPI503, that can cross the BBB, binds with EGFR, and promotes its degradation by blocking EGFR dimerization. Preliminary in vitro data show that DPI503 kills U87 glioblastoma cells stably transduced to express EGFRvIII with IC90 of 3 micro M. Therefore, we expect DPI503 to be effective against EGFRvIII expressing tumors. To test this, we will prepare an orthotopic brain tumor model by implanting luciferase-expressing U87-EGFRvIII tumor cells into the brains of SCID mice. The growth of the tumor will be monitored using an IVIS Lumina imaging system after intraperitoneal injection of Luciferin. After confirmation of established tumors, mice will be treated with 4 dose levels of DPI503 (0, 10, 30, 100 mg/kg) via daily oral gavage. We have found that DPI503 treatment is effective against EGFR driven HNSCC and lung flank xenograft model. We expect DPI503 to be effective against the GBM model as well. If single-agent activity is not curative, we would combine radiotherapy with DPI503 treatment in follow-up experiments.




Testing requirements for cannabis products vary by US state

Huei-Hsuan Lu | First-Year UROP Research Experience

As an increasing number of states in the USA legalize medical and recreational cannabis (i.e., marijuana) use, testing of cannabis products (for potency, contaminants, etc.) should be a priority to ensure safe cannabis use by consumers. The present study compiled the testing requirements for cannabis products from the 29 states that currently have legalized medical or recreational cannabis. Results found that the testing requirements for cannabis products varied considerably by state. In order to maximize the benefits and minimize the harms of retail cannabis, policy makers should develop a universal and comprehensive framework for testing requirements. The standardization of cannabis testing requirements would promote safer use for medical and recreational cannabis consumers.




Testing requirements for cannabis products vary by US state

Ethan Gilman | First-Year UROP Research Experience

As an increasing number of states in the USA legalize medical and recreational cannabis (i.e., marijuana) use, testing of cannabis products (for potency, contaminants, etc.) should be a priority to ensure safe cannabis use by consumers. The present study compiled the testing requirements for cannabis products from the 29 states that currently have legalized medical or recreational cannabis. Results found that the testing requirements for cannabis products varied considerably by state. In order to maximize the benefits and minimize the harms of retail cannabis, policy makers should develop a universal and comprehensive framework for testing requirements. The standardization of cannabis testing requirements would promote safer use for medical and recreational cannabis consumers.




Text Analysis of International Trade Agreements

Yixin Zhang | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Our project aims to analyze the sentiment and its impact reflected by the wording of trade agreements. We use machine learning to identify topics in the text of trade agreements and then using python to estimate the importance of these topics. Our contribution will be both identifying these topics that have the potential to affect trade flows through text analysis and estimating the sign and size of their impact.




The application of genomic tools for monitoring aquatic economically important, invasive and endangered species

Jeremy Angelo Abapo | First-Year UROP Research Experience

Environmental DNA (eDNA) is genetic material from urine, waste, mucus, or sloughed cells collected from aquatic habitats that can be analyzed for species detection without ever seeing the actual organism. It is an emerging management tool that is useful for monitoring invasive, native, and endangered species. Traditional me