Research on FYRE

First Year Research Experience

Take your passion beyond the classroom

Offered by the College of Arts, Sciences, and Business (CASB), the First Year Research Experience (FYRE) is an opportunity for first year and transfer students to work one-on-one with a faculty mentor on a specific research project.

FYRE students can ask questions, check data and create knowledge. The program helps students improve critical thinking, communication, presentation and leadership skills while fully engaging in their education.

APPLY TO TAKE PART IN FYRE

Applications are due Friday, November 8, 2019. FYRE is only available to students who are majoring in an academic program within the College of Arts, Sciences, and Business.

 Learn how to apply

First Year Research Experience showcase their research on posters in the Havener Center atrium.

Students are taking a look their research on posters at the First Year Research Experience(FYRE) showcase in the Havener Center.

Students and audiences are talking in the First Year Research Experience showcase about their research on posters in the Havener Center.

A students is explaining her The First Year Research Experience(FYRE) research in the Havener Center.

FYRE Project Options

You do not have to major in the discipline that matches the FYRE project. In fact, many extraordinarily successful partnerships have resulted from FYRE students and mentors from different disciplines. Students may apply for up to three projects.

Over 30 research projects are available for the 2018-19 cycle. Please take some time to study them and talk to the professors involved to learn more about a project.

The FYRE program emphasizes one-on-one mentorship, so only one FYRE student will be selected to work on each project.

Biological Sciences

Faculty Name:  Katie Shannon
Department:  Biological Sciences
Title of Research Project:  Domain analysis of a protein-protein interaction important for cytokinesis

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words):

Once chromosomes are separated by mitosis, cytokinesis takes place. During cytokinesis a ring containing actin and myosin forms and contracts, pinching the cell into two daughter cells. In budding yeast cells the gene Iqg1 is the only IQGAP gene and is necessary for proper actin ring formation and contraction. We have shown that Iqg1 interacts with the yeast formin proteins. This project will determine which domains of Iqg1 mediate the protein-protein interactions, which is important to understand the function of the binding between Iqg1 and formins in cytokinesis. Because the human homologs of Iqg1 have been implicated in cancer, learning about the role of Iqg1 may lead to development of new therapeutic targets.

Brief description of FYRE student's responsibilities during Spring 2020, including expected outcomes and rough timeline (maximum 200 words):

The student will use a GST pull down assay to study the binding of Iqg1 to the yeast formins Bni1 and Bnr1. The student will compare binding of formins to full length Iqg1 to the ability of formins to bind deletion mutants of Iqg1. January and February the student will prepare reagents for the experiment, and will perform the experiment in March. The expected outcome is that using the assay, the student will identify which region or regions of the Iqg1 protein are required for binding to the formins. This data will allow us in the future to probe the functional consequences of disrupting this interaction in cells.

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project?

The student will learn how to purify GST-formin proteins from bacteria and how to make yeast cell extracts. The student will learn how to run polyacrylamide gels and perform Western blots, common techniques in Cell Biology and Biochemistry.

Faculty Name:  Robin Verble
Department:  Biological Sciences
Title of Research Project:  Optimization of Berlese extraction methodology

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words):

Leaf litter siftation and Berlese extraction are two common techniques to sample forest arthropod communities.  Significant variation in Berlese sampling protocols across studies results in difficulty with comparisons among studies.  I am seeking a student who will test individual components of Berlese funnels and leaf litter sifting techniques to optimize the methodology.  We seek to experimentally test a range of light intensities, sifting durations, and funnel deployment durations to determine sampling endpoints.  This project should result in development of a methodological manuscript and at least one undergraduate presentation.

Brief description of FYRE student’s responsibilities during Spring 2020, including expected outcomes and rough timeline (maximum 200 words):

Student responsibilities will include sifting leaf litter, tracking samples, and completing sample microscopy.  The student will be expected to independently collect leaf litter and process samples, once they have been appropriately trained.  The student will be guided on experimental design and protocol development.  The student will play a minimal role in statistical analyses and manuscript preparation.

Rough timeline— The student will be taught experimental design and methodologies in February/March.  Once weather has warmed enough to allow insect activity (March/April), student will collect field samples and complete microscopy of samples.  Statistical analysis and data summarization will occur in late April/May.

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project?

Students interested in some combination of field ecology, insects, development of protocols and methodologies, microscopy, and statistics should apply.  This will enhance a student’s ability to work outside, awareness of basic field hazards, fine motor skills, ability to use scientific instruments, and knowledge of basic insect taxonomy.

Faculty Name: Chen Hou
Department:
Biology
Title of Research Project: Why do insects grow fast but end up with small body size at high temperature.

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words):

We are going to investigate the well-known temperature-size rule of ectothermic species from a novel angle. At higher temperatures many ectotherms grow faster, but have shorter developmental periods and smaller adult size. Our lab has recently proposed a new hypothesis, aiming to solve this long-standing puzzle. High temperature results in high growth rate and metabolic rate (energy consumption rate) of organisms, both of which lead to high oxidative cellular damage. We hypothesize that there is a threshold of damage level before the organisms become adult, and it is a constant for organisms growing at high or low temperatures. To avoid having damage level higher than this threshold, organisms reared at high temperature must stop growing earlier than those at low temperature, and therefore end up with smaller adult size.  We will measure the metabolic rate, growth rate, somatic maintenance efforts, and oxidative damage in several insect species to test this hypothesis.

Brief description of FYRE student’s responsibilities during Spring 2020, including expected outcomes and rough timeline (maximum 200 words):

The first-year undergraduate student will be trained to operate the state-of-art respirometry equipment, and measure the metabolic rate (carbon dioxide production rate, which will be converted to energy consumption rate) of several insect species at different temperatures.

Responsibilities: taking care of the animals regularly with other lab members’ help; performing respirometry; measuring body mass and growth rate of animals; analyzing the data.

Timeline: January: respirometry training; February-April: collect metabolic rate and growth date from three insect species; May: data analysis.

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project?

Student will gain the skills of respirometry and using simple statistic program to analyze quantitative data.

Business & Information Technology

Faculty Name: Li Li Eng
Department: Business and Information Technology
Title of Research Project: Ratio Analysis of Financial Statements

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words):

The project would involve doing a literature review of academic papers on ratio analysis of financial statements. The student will then download sample financial reports from company websites. The student will extract some accounting data from the reports. The student will then enter the data into a spreadsheet, and calculate financial ratios. The student will then conduct an analysis of the data using a statistical program. Finally, the student will write a report on the research and findings.

Brief description of FYRE student’s responsibilities during Spring 2020, including expected outcomes and rough timeline (maximum 200 words):

Weeks 1-2: library research of academic papers

Weeks 3-4: literature review of papers

Weeks 5-8: downloading financial reports

Weeks 9-12: entering data, analysis

Weeks 13-16: writing final report

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project?

The student will learn how to conduct library search of academic papers, read academic papers, summarize relevant literature, calculate financial ratios, do statistical analysis, and write an academic report.

Faculty Name: Fiona Fui-Hoon Nah
Department: Business and Information Technology
Title of Research Project: Understanding Factors Influencing Flow Experience (aka Focused Engagement) in Software Development

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words):

Flow experience is characterized by focused concentration that causes people to lose track of time and their surroundings. It involves intense focus and concentration, which lead to increased productivity, creativity and learning. In this research, we are interested to identify factors that facilitate/increase or hinder/disrupt/reduce flow experience in a work context involving software development or programming. This research uses the interview approach for data collection and the grounded theory approach for data analysis. At the conclusion of this research, a report that includes the findings will be written up. This research provides a better understanding of environmental design to promote and facilitate productive IT/IS work.

Brief description of FYRE student’s responsibilities during Spring 2020, including expected outcomes and rough timeline (maximum 200 words):

Students will be involved in data collection and data analysis of this research, and will write up a report on the findings. In January and February, students will collect the data for this research, and in March, April and May, analyze the data and write up the report.

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project?

Interview and interpersonal skills, analytical skills, and writing skills.

Chemistry

Name: Amitava Choudhury 
Department: Chemistry 
Title of Research Project: Developing electrode materials for Li- and Na-ion Batteries 

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words): 

In this project we aim to synthesize new materials or modify a well-known electrode materials for enhanced efficiency for lithium and sodium ion batteries. Several synthesis routes including hydrothermal and high temperature ceramic methods are employed to synthesize new materials. The materials are then characterized by employing X-ray diffraction techniques. Lithium or sodium ion cells are then fabricated with the synthesized materials and then tested for their performances. The goal of this project is to understand what structural features of the materials make it a good lithium or sodium ion battery electrode and how we can improve the performance by modifying the chemistry/structure of the materials. 

Brief description of FYRE student’s responsibilities during Spring 2018, including expected outcomes and rough timeline (maximum 200 words): 

The FYRE student will be trained by a graduate student of Dr. Choudhury on how to carry out a synthesis of material. After that the student will be given a problem where he/she would try to synthesize a target compound by employing different synthesis routes. As the student makes progress in the project, the different characterization techniques will be introduced slowly as and when it is needed. The students can come at any time in the laboratory as permitted by their course work schedule. In one semester nothing much can be expected but the students can at least learn how scientific research is carried out in a laboratory and with some luck they may get some interesting results. If the students are interested in continuing the research beyond the FYRE period, they have the option to apply for OURE fellowship. 

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project? 

  • The students learn different materials synthesis techniques 
  • They get training on how to handle and interpret X-ray diffraction data 
  • They learn how to fabricate a lithium- or sodium ion cells/batteries 
  • They learn electrochemistry and how lithium/sodium ion batteries work 
  • They learn about solid state/materials chemistry being involved in this research 
  • They develop skills to analyze and present scientific data 

Faculty Name:  Rainer Glaser
Department:  Chemistry
Title of Research Project:  Kinetics and Mechanism of Oscillating Chemical Reactions

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words):

The classical Belousov−Zhabotinsky (BZ) oscillating reaction refers to the oscillatory cerium-catalyzed bromate oxidation of citric acid. In the overwhelming number of chemical reactions, reagent concentrations decrease steadily, product concentrations steadily increase, and in some cases, one or more intermediates may form and later disappear. In oscillating reactions, however, some species concentrations oscillate periodically (with thousands of oscillations) as the reaction progresses. How can that possibly happen?

Since the discovery of the BZ reaction many similar oscillating chemical reactions have been discovered that use dicarboxylic acids (malonic acid, malic acid) as the organic substrate and are catalyzed by other metals such as Fe, Ru, Mn, and Cu, or by combinations of catalysts such as Fe/Ce. The study of this set of reactions is at the core of the field of “Nonlinear Dynamics”, a modern, exciting, and growing field in reaction kinetics.

It is our goal to understand these reactions so well that we can simulate their kinetics without any simplifying assumptions and considering consumption of substrates and the formation of a myriad of products. To meet this challenge, we combine experimental studies of the reaction kinetics, mechanistic studies to explore plausible reaction mechanisms, and computational simulations of the complete multi-equilibria systems.

Brief description of FYRE student's responsibilities during Spring 2020, including expected outcomes and rough timeline (maximum 200 words):

Students interested in working with us are expected to bring interest, enthusiasm, curiosity, and dedication to the project. No specialized prior knowledge is required. Students will be mentored, instructed, and guided by Dr. Glaser and his advanced graduate and undergraduate students. We will teach the students the skills they need to progress with their projects.

Studies of oscillating reactions involve several stages: (1) setting up and running oscillating reactions, (2a) direct recording of the reaction kinetics using UV/Vis spectroscopy and/or (2b) video-recording of the reaction and subsequent mathematical image analysis to determine the reaction kinetics, (3) oscillation pattern analysis of the reactions as a function of reaction time using mathematical methods, (4) formulation of the chemical equations that will be described by mass action kinetics, and (5) mathematical simulations of the reaction kinetics by numerical solution of the kinetics differential equations.

Students may be involved in all or some of these components. More chemically oriented students may focus on (1) and (2a) and (4), for example. Mathematically skilled students might prefer to work on Mathematica notebooks for image and/or pattern analysis and simulations in (2b), (3) and (5).

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project?

The Glaser group has been working on BZ reactions for a few years and we published papers on several aspects. We will build on this foundation.

Student working on this project will learn laboratory skills for chemical experimentation and instrumental analysis (UV/Vis spectroscopy), gain knowledge about the formulation and exploration of complicated multi-reaction systems, conceive of new reaction paths and explore their viability with modern theoretical methods of electronic structure theory (structural studies, thermochemistry, reaction rate constants), learn and develop mathematical methods for image analysis and oscillation pattern analysis, and apply and develop mathematical fitting algorithms to determine and/or improve reaction rate constants of elemental reactions.

Importantly, students will learn about the process of research and best practices in collaborative group work, and students will have various opportunities to disseminate their results at conferences and by way of publication in scientific journals.

Faculty Name:  V. Prakash Reddy
Department:  Chemistry
Title of Research Project:  Novel Synthetic Methods for the Fluorine-Containing Small Molecule AGE-inhibitors

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words):

In this project we will develop synthetic methods for fluorinated organic compounds, focusing on the antioxidants and AGE-inhibitors. We will explore the antiglycating and AGE-inhibitory effects of these organofluorine compounds through fluorescence and NMR studies.

Brief description of FYRE student's responsibilities during Spring 2020, including expected outcomes

The FYRE student will collaborate with the graduate students in developing novel synthetic methods for organofluorinations, and synthesize novel fluorinated versions of the polyphenolic compounds toward the goal of developing pharmaceutical candidates for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and traumatic brain injury.

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project?

The FYRE student will learn organic synthesis, and will gain expertise in the characterization of organic compounds using NMR and mass spectroscopy.

Faculty Name:  Garry "Smitty" Grubbs II
Department:  Chemistry
Title of Research Project:  Quadrature Detection Schemes in Chirped Pulse Fourier Transform Microwave (CP-FTMW) Spectroscopy

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words):

CP-FTMW spectroscopy is a broadband technique that determines gas phase molecular structure through the determination of rotational spectra. Rotational spectra are a product of transitions that couple to a molecule’s electric dipole moment (made up of vector components along each molecular axis), which can be interpreted to give placement of the nuclei in the molecular system of study. The CP-FTMW experiment works by detecting the response of a molecular electric field to the broadband excitation. Until recent work by the Grubbs group, it was unknown if this response was completely in-line with the excitation (copropagation) or if it went out in more than one direction. We now know that a field can be detected at least going against the excitation on the broadcast antenna and that, when post-processed, can be used to increase signal when compared to spectra excited with the same amount of input power. This project will seek to understand if that signal can be detected in the quadrature (90 degrees) from the typical excitation and collection and, if so, what information is contained in the quadrature information.

Brief description of FYRE student's responsibilities during Spring 2020, including expected outcomes and rough timeline (maximum 200 words):

The student will be responsible for helping construct and integrate quadrature detection into a CP-FTMW experiment with a graduate student, running experiments on molecular systems for calibration, and interpreting the data for signal differences.

Timeline

  1. Early spring first 2-3 weeks: Learn the use and construction of the CP-FTMW experiment
  2. Mid-Spring, Weeks 3-7: Run experiments to determine quadrature detection and reflections data.
  3. Late Spring, Weeks 8-12: If successful, process and determine information delivered from the quadrature detection.
  4. End, Weeks 13-final: Work up documentation and presentation for FYRE program.

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project?

The student working on this project will gain skills in chemistry as a result of collecting and interpreting rotational spectra. The student will gain physics skills as a consequence of understanding the interaction of the excitation with the molecular beam and the electric field response. The student will learn about microwave and radiofrequency engineering as they have to decipher signal reflections from pure molecular signal. Lastly, the student will learn about programming and CAD software in order to understand instrument design, construction, and implementation as well as interpretation of the data.

Faculty Name:  Paul Nam
Department:  Chemistry
Title of Research Project:  Soy-based polyurethane foam for structural insulated panels

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words):

The objective of this research is to develop soy-based high insulation polyurethane foams that can be used as core material in structural insulated panels for energy-efficient and modular building construction. Soy-based polyurethane insulation foams utilize renewable agricultural resources and have less impact on the environment in comparison to the conventional petroleum-based products.

Brief description of FYRE student's responsibilities during Spring 2020, including expected outcomes and rough timeline (maximum 200 words):

The FYRE student will work with a chemistry graduate student to:

(1) investigate varying synthetic formulations in order to produce soy-based polyurethane foams with optimum thermal and mechanical properties (2 months duration)

(2) manufacture and evaluate the performance of lab-scale structural insulated panels injected with soy-based polyurethane foams (2 months duration)

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project?

(1) Learn how to research journals, plan and conduct experiments, interpret data, and communicate research results in meetings

(2) Acquire polymer synthesis and evaluation skills

(3) Interaction with interdisciplinary collaborators (mechanical engineers)

Faculty Name:  Thomas Schuman
Department:  Chemistry
Title of Research Project:  Synthesis of modified cement particles and characterization

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words):

Portland cement is dehydrated limestone mixed with gypsum (calcium sulfate), which inhibits hydration from instantaneous reaction to a mostly reasonable ~5 hours. If the cement mixer truck gets stuck in traffic or has to wait too long to dump its load, the cement ‘sets’ right in the truck and ruins the mixing drum. Or, in 3D printing of cement structures, we need an ability to quickly set the cement as a repetitive process so that it becomes load bearing in (much) less than 5 hours per print step. We seek to produce cement grains that hydrate how and when desired, that can be activated to set on command.

We intend to control particle hydration based on applied coatings, which are quantitatively measured using thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) with hydrolysis kinetics rates measured by isothermal calorimetry. It is a real-world, problem solving opportunity to learn TGA, XPS, calorimetry, polymer chemistry and surface modification techniques.

Brief description of FYRE student's responsibilities during Spring 2020, including expected outcomes and rough timeline (maximum 200 words):

Learn surface modification and characterization techniques, including being checked out for use of the department’s TGA and calorimeter. Perform surface modifications of cement, quantify the modification, measure resulting hydration rates, correlate modifications to hydration rate, and test potential hydration initiation methods and measure resulting hydration rates.

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project?

Chemical modification and processing techniques. Quantitative measurements and data processing. Operation of technical equipment. Interdisciplinary research and communication (civil engineers). Working within a team.

Faculty Name: Manashi Nath
Department: Chemistry
Title of Research Project: Developing Efficient Nanobiosensors for Continuous Blood Glucose Monitoring and Neurodegenerative Diseases

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words):

Diabetes has long been recognized as one of the leading causes of death in the United States and worldwide second only to cancer and heart-related ailments. Diabetes is a silent killer and early stage diagnosis and controlling blood glucose level is the key to maintain and control the disease. Blood glucose levels are typically monitored with the help of glucose detection through electrochemical oxidation of glucose to gluconic acid or gluconolactone. Typically, in conventional glucose detectors, enzyme-based electrochemical sensors are used which suffers from several critical challenges including reduced efficiency and sensitivity, reduced shelf lives, lack of long-term stability (due to enzyme denaturation), high fabrication cost (due to complex enzyme purification steps), and high detection limit (due to less efficient indirect electron transfer). This project deals with designing more efficient nanostructured electrocatalysts for glucose oxidation comprising transition metal chalcogenides (selenides and tellurides) which can offer direct electron transfer pathways over a wide potential range leading to much higher sensor efficiency. Nanostructuring of the electrocatalysts on the other hand, can increase the catalytic efficiency manifold by increasing the functional surface area for catalytic activity. We propose to develop this idea further and investigate the transition metal selenide nanotube and nanorod arrays for electrochemical glucose sensing.

Brief description of FYRE student's responsibilities during Spring 2020, including expected outcomes and rough timeline (maximum 200 words):

The FYRE students will work closely with a senior graduate student and they will be assigned the job of synthesizing the nanostructures, characterization and estimation of glucose sensing efficiency.

0-3 months: Typically they will make the nanostructures through electrodeposition using one of the two potentiostats available in the lab. Once the nanostructures has been synthesized, FYRE students will be able to see the shape of the nanostructures through SEM as well as identify their composition from other characterization techniques.

3 -9 months: They will then fabricate electrodes with these nanostructures and estimate glucose levels in various solutions prepared with known concentration of glucose. This study will be then extended to quantify the glucose levels in various beverages. From these studies the sensitivity and detection limit of the glucose will be estimated through proper calibration.

9 - 12 months: The sensor will be then tested for detecting blood glucose levels in blood samples collected from different individuals.

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project?

The FYRE students will acquire knowledge and develop skills about the following:

  • Nanostructure synthesis and characterization using electron microscopy (SEM and TEM)
  • Advanced electrochemical measurement techniques, including electrodeposition and electrocatalytic response.
  • Interpretation of electrochemical data and estimating sensitivity of the sensor.
  • Comparing sensitivity of the lab-developed sensor with commercially available blood glucose detecting strips.
  • Estimating glucose levels in physiological samples and prototyping the sensor for various physiological fluids.

Economics

Faculty Name: Yishu Zhou
Department: Economics
Title of Research Project:  Pricing, Costs, and Environmental Policies in U.S. Electricity Markets

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words):

The U.S. Electric power sector accounted for 1,744 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) in 2017, or about 34% of the total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions. In theory, market-based cap and trade programs provide correct incentives and achieve the target abatement level in the least-cost fashion. However, in practice, the effectiveness of such programs has been long criticized due to its low allowance prices and limited price variations. For example, the price for one ton of CO2 under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is consistently below $10, while the valuation of environmental cost is around $50. Moreover, without such a regulation at the federal level, power plants regulated by regional programs may choose to import electricity from power plants located in unregulated areas, which potentially causes an emission leakage. Electricity retail price may also be pushed up due to carbon policy. At the same time, the shale revolution brought the natural gas costs down, leading to fuel switching from coal to natural gas and emission reduction. This research aims to investigate and disentangle these effects and evaluate the overall performance and consequences of carbon pricing.

Brief description of FYRE student’s responsibilities during Spring 2020, including expected outcomes and rough timeline (maximum 200 words):

Responsibilities:

1) The student is expected to first complete reading and study of necessary Economic theories, market reports from electricity markets, academic literature, in order to obtain background knowledge related to the topic (2-3 weeks).

2) Then the student will need to get familiar with the datasets and software, conduct data collection with software (7-8 weeks), and utilize data to compute estimations, graphs which lead to some meaningful results (4-5 weeks).

The workload is 3-5 hours per week. The primary data sources include the Environmental Protection Agency, the Energy Information Administration and websites of electricity markets. The software programs will be Microsoft Excel and STATA, no prior experience required.

Expected Outcomes:

With the statistical analysis on data collected, the student is expected to write a section of a longer research paper. This section should include background introduction along with some descriptive statistics, motivation and focal points, major findings/results supported by empirical evidence. This section does not have to be comprehensive, but should have the potential to develop into a larger research project.

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project?

  1. Enhanced knowledge of Economics theories and their applications.
  2. In depth understandings of the structure of electricity markets and environmental regulations in the U.S., which can be extended to other energy markets and engineering-related topics.
  3. Data collection and statistical analysis.

Faculty Name: Ana Ichim and Radu Puslenghea
Department: Economics
Title of Research Project: The U.S. Business Cycle and Oil Prices

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words):

We live in a fast, dynamic world that’s ever changing, but what ultimately keeps things going and is the foundation of the modern life style is energy. Even today, with alternative energy sources becoming more common, eighty percent of our energy is still powered by fossil fuels and, in this group, crude oil accounts for around 39 percent of energy.

Energy prices, and oil in particular, thus play a key role within the economy. It is a statistical fact that for U.S alone, nine out of ten recessions after World War II were preceded by a significant increase in oil prices. This suggests that a certain connection may exist between oil (energy) price dynamics and the business cycle.

Our research, using time series econometric techniques and state level data, examines the importance of oil market shocks in driving the U.S. national business cycle. Of particular importance is their role during recessions and, also, what was the impact of the recent U.S. oil shale boom.

Brief description of FYRE student's responsibilities during Spring 2020, including expected outcomes and rough timeline (maximum 200 words):

The FYRE student will be involved in the primary data collection and preparation for analysis (data cleaning, basic statistical summary). She or he would become familiar with the existent literature on the topic and potentially help (if interested) with the drafting of the literature review section. The student will have exposure to the process of analysis and interpretation/presentation of the results. The pre-analysis steps will be completed early in the semester so that results can be presented at the undergraduate research conference. The second part of the semester will be dedicated to writing a draft paper for which the student can contribute with summarizing results (tables, graphs, etc.).

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project?

The student will gain experience with editing and presentation software standard for writing research papers (LaTeX editor, Microsoft Word, Beamer, Microsoft Power Point and Microsoft Excel). They will practice effective written and spoken communication, team work, and meeting deadlines. They will also learn about an interesting and topical research subject.

English & Technical Communication

Faculty Name: Kathryn Dolan
Department: English and Technical Communication
Title of Research Project: "Breakfast Cereal: A Global History" in Images

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words):

The FYRE student will find 25 images related to “Breakfast Cereal: A Global History” to be included in book. Images can be historical or modern: photographs, charts, maps, etc. on the topic of cold breakfast cereal historically around the world. Student will learn about rights/ permissions regarding images, copyright in the US and other countries, and how to do appropriate research using available online resources. Help create database of images for publication, credit in acknowledgments page.

Brief description of FYRE student's responsibilities during Spring 2020, including expected outcomes

In January 2020, I will meet with the student to introduce the topic, show a model text as an example, and set up future meetings. On average, we will meet weekly. The student will bring roughly 2-3 images and reports per meeting. Deliverables include an annotated bibliography of 25 images by March, 2020, as well as a poster presentation about the students' findings regarding those images ready by the Undergraduate Research Conference in April 2020 and the FYRE Research Showcase in May 2020.

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project?

Critical thinking, performing involved research online, understanding value of sources--especially online sources, making aesthetic choices regarding image selection, communicating findings to multiple audiences (advisor, conference, showcase). These skills will be transferrable to future research in any number of fields as well as generally.

Faculty Name: Kathryn M Northcut
Department: English and Technical Communication
Title of Research Project: Responsible Conduct of Research: Cultures of Science, Publication Ethics, and Chemistry

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words):

Our team is studying scientific ethics in a global context. We are studying the cultural forces that influence ethical decision-making and the state of knowledge about science ethics across diverse cultures. Our current research focuses on publication ethics in chemistry, but this project is open to students form any major. An interest in culture, science, ethics, or research is necessary. Publication possibilities include publications and posters.

Brief description of FYRE student's responsibilities during Spring 2020, including expected outcomes and rough timeline (maximum 200 words):

Depending on student interest, some of the following tasks would be manageable: assist with literature review, gathering sources about science ethics and other topics; assemble list of ranked publication venues for this research topic; create Excel spreadsheets and analyze survey data; assist with creation of ethics surveys; participate in team meetings with research group. Poster presentation and/or conference presentation will be generated.

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project?

Collaboration with interdisciplinary, multicultural team; communication skills; research; survey development; survey data analysis; literature review development; database management; research methods; publication ethics in chemistry; ethics in science.

History & Political Science

Faculty Name: Justin Pope
Department: History and Political Science
Title of Research Project: "Africa in America:" The search for the Akwamu people in the Americas

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words):

This research project traces the journey of one nation of Africans into the Americas. In 1730, the Akwamu Empire, in modern day Ghana, West Africa, suffered a terrible collapse. Rival African armies enslaved thousands of Akwamu subjects and sold them to European slave ships on the Gold Coast. Using the “Transatlantic Slave Trade Database,” we will attempt to identify the European slave ships that purchased enslaved Akwamu people and trace their journey into the ports of the Americas. The goal is to identify the most likely landing places of the Akwamu people in the western hemisphere.

Brief description of FYRE student's responsibilities during Spring 2020, including expected outcomes and rough timeline (maximum 200 words):

The student researcher will use the online TransAtlantic slave trade database to identify vessels that carried enslaved Africans from the eastern half of the Gold Coast between 1729-1734. Working with the professor, the student will attempt to reconstruct the oceanic passage of the enslaved prisoners and determine their ports of destination. The student will discover the possible slave trading vessels in the first month of research. He or she will focus on the evidence from the ship logs in the second month. In the third and fourth month, we will focus on mapping the most likely destination of the enslaved Akwamu people.

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project?

Students will gain skills in meaningful historical research. No one has ever attempted to tell the story of the enslaved Akwamu. The student will quickly become skilled at searching for slave vessels and discovering the evidence available to historians. He or she will also improve skills in historical analysis and gain detailed knowledge about the history of the Atlantic slave trade. I will credit the student for his or her assistance in any publications that result from the research.

Faculty Name: Andrew Behrendt
Department: History and Political Science
Title of Research Project: New Home on the Range: an American History of Hungarian Goulash

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words):

The dish we call “goulash” was born on the grasslands of Hungary. A filling soup of beef, onions, (usually) potatoes and pasta, and seasoned generously with paprika, it began its career as food for cattlemen: the name comes from the Hungarian gulyas, or “cowboy.” It is the pride of Hungarian cuisine and Hungarian culture’s mealtime ambassador to the world. But Googling a recipe for it today yields version after version containing “un-Hungarian” combinations of ingredients—Worcestershire sauce, “Italian seasoning,” dill pickles, sweet corn, soy sauce—that more evokes Hamburger Helper than the hardy herdsman.

This project aims to find out how gulyasleves, “cowboy soup,” turned into an anything-goes mish-mash, and to explore the changing cultural significance of the dish as it transitioned from immigrant cuisine to mainstream Americana. How did regional influences shape this evolution? When, where, and in what circumstances did goulash lose its “Hungarianness?” And what does all of this say about how dishes—and entire cuisines—change (or not) as they are passed from one socio-cultural setting to another? To investigate these questions, we will be combing 19th/20th century cookbooks, newspapers, menus, and other sources, mapping out the form and meaning of “goulash” across the U.S.

Brief description of FYRE student's responsibilities during Spring 2020, including expected outcomes and rough timeline (maximum 200 words):

The student will search digital databases of periodicals for selected terms, catalog the results, archive downloaded files, and compile interpretive reports on what they’ve read. They will also read further primary sources, especially cookbooks, and help the Mentor develop a database of goulash recipes and descriptions from across the United States.

While the project is designed to be accessible to students with no prior knowledge of culinary or Central European history – all students should feel invited – the student will be asked to read a limited selection of short secondary source materials relevant areas in order to give them a quick grounding in the immediate fields of research.

OUTCOMES: The student will create a poster for the FYRE Showcase and for entry into the Undergraduate Research Conference (though an oral presentation may also be possible). Moreover, the student and Mentor will collaborate to write a final research report that could serve as the basis for a later scholarly article, publishable (with appropriate credit to the student) in a journal.

TIMELINE: Project begins first week of the semester, with weekly progress meetings and biweekly reports. Presentation ready two weeks before the Showcase; final write-up by the end of the term.

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project?

For students thinking of pursuing their own research in historical studies, this will be a very useful way to “practice” before striking out on their own. But, regardless of discipline, this project will help develop/grant documented experience in:

 

  • Project design, workflow strategy, and time management
  • Sustained experience using large online databases & honing search engine techniques
  • Improved note-taking methods
  • Creation of a multi-user digital archive
  • Presentation design & strategies, including potential use of professional poster-making software
  • Public speaking
  • Analytical writing in the humanities/social sciences, including professional citation and formatting
  • Experience working with historical documents in various formats

Faculty Name: Patrick Huber
Department: History and Political Science
Title of Research Project: “Snakes, Shillelaghs, and Shenanigans: The St. Pat’s Celebration at Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy, 1908-1941”

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words):

This research project explores the origins and development of the St. Pat’s celebration at Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy (MSM) between 1908 and 1941. More specifically, it seeks to explain how engineering students launched the celebration at MSM and why they chose St. Patrick as their patron saint; how the celebration combined multiple features of early twentieth-century student life (e.g., class cutting, class rivalries, stunts, hazing, rebellion against faculty and administration, etc.); how, by the U.S.’s entry into World War II, the event had developed into a full-blown tradition, with a parade and a host of rituals; and, ultimately, what the celebration meant for the campus and the city of Rolla during its formative period. This project also examines the event within a broader social and cultural context, as a tradition once shared as an engineers’ observance at several midwestern campuses, including the University of Missouri, where the student-controlled event apparently originated, and seeks to understand why it continued to thrive and, indeed, expand at MSM, while it disappeared at other universities.

Brief description of FYRE student's responsibilities during Spring 2020, including expected outcomes and rough timeline (maximum 200 words):

The FYRE student’s initial responsibility will be to compile published accounts of the St. Pat’s celebration between 1908 and 1941 from the Missouri Miner, MSM’s student newspaper, and MSM Alumnus, the school’s alumni association magazine, as well as from local city newspapers such as the Rolla New Era and the Rolla Times. Much of this will entail research in microfilm copies of these publications. Then, based upon this research, the student will identify significant patterns in the portrayals of the St. Pat’s celebration and develop an interpretation of the event and its meaning for the campus and the city of Rolla. At the conclusion of the FYRE program, the student may also have the opportunity to present his or her findings as part of a formal public presentation with me and, later, perhaps even collaborate with me on a jointly published article.

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project?

The FYRE student will gain valuable historical research and writing skills as a result of working on this interesting cultural project. Not only will the student learn how to do careful and detailed historical research in newspapers and magazines, but he or she will also develop and sharpen skills of the historian’s craft such as historical contextualization, interpretation and analysis, and thesis-driven, evidence-based writing. At the conclusion of the FYRE program, the student may also have an opportunity to develop his or her public speaking skills at a formal presentation and, later, also to learn negotiate the requirements and process of academic publication by collaborating with me to produce a peer-reviewed article based upon the project’s findings.

Faculty Name:        Diana L. Ahmad
Department:           History and Political Science
Title of Research Project:  “Unhappy Feet:  Fred’s Experience with Americans in Antarctica”

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words):

Since the first recorded human interactions with penguins in the early 19th century, the dapper flightless tuxedo-wearing bird has interested American explorers for nearly two centuries.  American adventurers and voyagers have interacted with the birds by eating, observing, and cataloging them.  The very presence of Americans has had an influence on the creatures in the Ross Sea region of Antarctica to the point that the Antarctic Treaty forbids interactions with the penguins.  The goal of the research is to investigate how those changes influenced the penguin population and how those regulations determined the way Americans have settled the southern continent.  For example, Fred, a member of the local indigenous Emperor Penguin population, utilized human resources to improve his life, such as using a cargo container to shelter himself from winds that exceeded 100 knots.  Americans living at McMurdo Station are trained to avoid the birds and leave no trace of humanity behind if at all possible.  The presence of humans has led to the development of a symbiotic relationship with the penguins.

Brief description of FYRE student’s responsibilities during Spring 2020, including expected outcomes and rough timeline (maximum 200 words):

  • Check in weekly
  • Gather primary resource materials, include journals and diaries of those who have been stationed at or researched near McMurdo Station.
  • Create a poster (size to meet the Undergraduate Research Fair requirements)
  • Participate in the Undergraduate Research Fair in Spring 2020
  • Use personal photographs from time at McMurdo Station, including those of Fred the tuxedo-wearing bird
  • Analyze and compare historical data regarding American involvement in Antarctica
  • Present theories and draw conclusions as to why penguins, in particular Fred, adapted to humans in the neighborhood

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project?

  • Acquisition and utilization of primary sources
  • Ability to take current information and match it to scientific data over the last two centuries
  • Learn the significance of historical data on modern interpretations of history and science
  • Learn to think as an historian thinks, while acquiring personal experience that enhances decision-making and the ability to understand historical events
  • The goal is to complete the research for this poster and for FYRE, while completing the basic research for the Senior Thesis.

Physics

Faculty Name: Marco Cavaglia
Department: Physics
Title of Research Project: Improving the performance of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detector

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words):

LIGO and its European partner Virgo are detecting gravitational waves from cosmic black hole collisions at a rate of one every few days. The S&T LIGO group is a worldwide leader in the analysis of LIGO astrophysical data and the characterization of the detector performance. S&T researchers collaborate with the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC), a group of 1000+ scientists across the globe. The FYRE project will focus on the investigation of LIGO signals and detector data quality improvement.

Brief description of FYRE student's responsibilities during Spring 2020, including expected outcomes

The FYRE student will team up with S&T faculty and researchers to analyze real LIGO data. The outcomes of this one-semester project will be the development of a new method to monitor the detectors and investigate features in the data. (S)he will become a member of the LSC and document her/his findings in technical documents for use within the collaboration. The student will work in the new S&T LIGO remote control room and present his/her work at research group meetings and teleconferences.

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project?

This project will immerse the FYRE student in a research environment and expose him/her to cutting-edge science. It will show the student how scientific research is done in a large collaboration, where scientists of all ranks team together to tackle unsolved physical problems. The project will teach the student how to present her/his work in front of a scientific audience, write technical reports and navigate effectively in a collaborative environment. As the project will involve analysis of scientific data and some programming, the FYRE student will enhance her/his analytical, critical thinking and computer skills.

Faculty Name: Aleksandr Chernatynskiy
Department: Physics
Title of Research Project: Thermal conductivity in UO2: anisotropic or not?

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words):

This project seeks to prove the isotropic nature of the thermal transport properties of the crystalline uranium dioxide, most ubiquitous nuclear fuel, as represented by the molecular dynamics simulations. The recent article reported molecular dynamics simulations that indicate the transport properties being anisotropic, i.e. dependent on direction of the heat propagation, which contradicts fundamental understanding of the symmetry properties of the crystalline materials. The high accuracy molecular dynamics simulations will be performed to disprove this report.

Brief description of FYRE student's responsibilities during Spring 2020, including expected outcomes and rough timeline (maximum 200 words):

Student's responsibilities will include learning supercomputing environment on Forge, setting up and running molecular dynamics simulations pertinent to thermal transport simulations using community code LAMMPS and analyzing the output data.

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project?

  • Learns about HPC and Linux operating system
  • Performing scientific literature search and identifying information relevant for the project
  • Gain experience in molecular dynamics simulation, a common research tool in many fields
  • Learn about the thermal transport properties of materials and simulations thereof

Psychological Science

Faculty Name: Dr. Daniel B. Shank
Department: Psychological Science
Title of Research Project: How do People Judge the Immorality of Artificial Intelligence Agents vs Humans when Committing a Moral Wrong in Real World Situations?

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words):

My research teams and I have collected a set of over 80 high-quality situations by regular people where AIs, computer agents, and other machines have done something that would typically be considered morally wrong. These include Alexa frightening children by laughing, Siri blurting out embarrassing information, targeted advertising revealing one’s pregnancy, and Roomba vacuums running over the family pet. We have collected data on how wrong these situations are perceived to be and how much mind the AI is perceived to have. This FYRE project would build on these results by (1) adapting 20-40 of these scenarios to have a human instead of an AI as the wrong-doing agent, (2) conducting a study with these new human and the former AI scenarios, and (3) make direct comparisons between humans and AI in terms of people’s perception of immorality/wrongness, blame, and type of wrong. The scenarios selected could be based on a specific factor of interest to the student, such as type of AI (robot, Alexa, Google Home, etc), type of moral wrong (harm, unfairness, impurity), or based on the AIs with the highest levels of perceived mind.

Brief description of FYRE student’s responsibilities during Spring 2020, including expected outcomes and rough timeline (maximum 200 words):

This project has three phases – literature review, stimuli development, and analysis – which are ordered but may overlap. For the literature review the FYRE student will read important books and papers in this area, including prior results from my lab, and the previous studies that gathered and developed the stimuli (months 1 and 2). The FYRE student will adapt approximately 20-40 or more scenarios to use as stimuli, and these will be narrowed down by Dr. Shank and his research team (months 2 and 3). The best scenarios will be retained, and a full study will be collected using Amazon Mechanical Turk using already created Qualtrics survey programs. The FYRE student will compare and analyze the human and AI data with simple statistics and create meaningful visuals to help understand and present the differences (months 3 and 4). Because Dr. Shank has a 3-year grant for the Army Research Office, he has a team of research assistants working on the larger project which generated and uses these stimuli and data; therefore, the student will get to work with a team of other student researchers.

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project?

Based on this project and skills gained by Dr. Shank’s former FYRE students, the 2020 FYRE student will gain a number of basic skills including (1) searching for specific arguments within research articles, (2) how to read and write brief summaries of important papers, (3) the basics of conducting an experiment, (4) adapting and testing stimuli, (5) using data to interpret the success of stimuli, (6) using simple statistics and visuals to present data, (7) creating output in a poster format, (8) understanding how a research project develops, (9) working with a research team, (10) organization skills, and (11) communication skills. Additionally, the student will get an on-the-ground perspective of a cutting-edge research area of applying psychology to people’s interactions with advanced technology. The larger project, funding by the previously mentioned grant, will continue beyond the semester, allowing interested and capable students to apply for a research assistantship or OURE.

Faculty Name: Dr.Susan Murray
Department: Psychological Science
Title of Research Project: Increasing Grit in College Students

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words):

Grit can be defined as one’s level of perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Duckworth (2007) has showed grit predicts achievement in challenging situations better than other measures such as IQ, GPA, or standardize test scores. A current research question in this area is: Can we increase grit in college students? My previous study with a FYRE student showed that S&T’s Hit the Ground Running Program increased one aspect of grit. In this second phase of the research, we will analyze data from other S&T students during the ’18-19 school year. We will use this data to look for other potential methods of increasing grit and prepare to conduct similar research with students at our sister university in Oman, Mazoon College.

Brief description of FYRE student’s responsibilities during Spring 2020, including expected outcomes and rough timeline (maximum 200 words):

The student will help with data analysis of an existing dataset with over 200 students’ grit scores and survey responses. This will include “cleaning” the data and assisting a graduate student in running statistical analysis on the data. The student will conduct a literature review on topics related to the findings from the data analysis. The FYRE student will help document the findings for presentation at a conference and/or in journal. There may be opportunities to assist in a related project in Oman.  

The FYRE student will see many of the steps in psychological research: data collection and analysis, literature review, and writing about results. The student will generate written reports documenting their findings. Since the data already exists, the FYRE student can start at the beginning of the semester and work with some flexibility.  

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project?

The student will gain an understanding of data analysis, experience conducting a literature review, and develop professional writing skills. The student will gain a clear understanding of how psychological research is conducted. 

Faculty Name: Amy Belfi
Department: Psychological Science
Title of Research Project: Music-evoked autobiographical memories in everyday life

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words):

Have you ever heard a song that ‘took you back’ to a previous moment in your life? One of the most powerful experiences associated with music is hearing a song that unexpectedly triggers a distant memory. Prior research indicates that these music-evoked autobiographical memories (MEAMs) are more vivid and emotional than memories evoked by other cues, such as images or TV shows. However, MEAMs have only been studied in a laboratory setting. The goal of this project is to investigate MEAMs as they occur in the ‘real world.’ Participants will report the experience of MEAMs and memories evoked by other cues in their everyday life, using a mobile app. This study will identify whether the results of lab-based studies are consistent with how MEAMs occur in everyday life, and will help inform the use of music as a therapeutic treatment for individuals with memory disorders.

Brief description of FYRE student's responsibilities during Spring 2020, including expected outcomes and rough timeline (maximum 200 words):

The FYRE student will be involved in every step of the research project: conducting a literature review, recruiting human subjects, collecting data, analyzing data, and presenting the results. The first step in this project will be to identify the best data collection method by testing out various ‘experience sampling’ apps on the market. Timeline: We will identify which apps to test, complete a rough review of prior literature, and complete our IRB application by the end of January 2020. Testing the apps on pilot subjects will take place during February 2020. By the end of February, we should have identified the best app to use, as well as the optimal methods of data collection (e.g., How many push notifications should subjects get? Should they report their memories by recording audio of themselves talking, or by typing in their responses?). We will finalize this protocol and will collect data using this method in March 2020. Data analysis will take place in April 2020 to prepare to present at the poster session at the end of the semester.

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project?

The FYRE student will gain experience reading and reviewing the scientific literature relating to music and memory. The student will learn about human subjects research, ethics, and how to complete an Institutional Review Board proposal. The student will gain interpersonal skills by conducting human subjects research and working one-on-one with participants. Additionally, the student will be exposed to various experiencesampling methods and will gain skills in experimental design. The student will also gain experience analyzing data using the statistical software R.

Faculty Name: Amber M. Henslee
Department: Psychological Science
Title of Research Project: What do we know about FYRE?

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words):

The FYRE program launched in 2016-17.  At the end of each cycle, the program gathered feedback from students and faculty in hopes of improving the overall experience for all those involved.  Indeed, each year engagement in the program continues to grow.  We now have the opportunity to assess the FYRE program beyond the end of any given cycle. 

This project will survey former FYRE students and faculty to assess their experiences with the FYRE program and afterwards.  Specific questions of interest include, “did the student successfully complete the FYRE project?  Did they showcase/present it at S&T or another professional conference? Did the student continue research after their first year (why or why not)?” For students who did not match with a FYRE mentor, “did they pursue other avenues of research during their first year, and if so, what type?”  For FYRE mentors, “have you continued to conduct research with a prior FYRE student, and if so, how many FYRE students?”  

Interesting questions to consider are whether there are differences between FYRE students and students who engage in other research after not matching with a FYRE mentor, and whether there are common characteristics that predict successful completion of a FYRE project.

Brief description of FYRE student’s responsibilities during Spring 2020, including expected outcomes and rough timeline (maximum 200 words):

The FYRE student’s project will be about FYRE!

The student will:

  1. Complete CITI training (ethical training for research with human subjects). 
    Anticipated timeline: End of January
  2. Assist in completing and submitting an Institutional Review Board (IRB) application.
    Anticipated timeline: Mid- to end-of-February.
  3. Construct survey questions and put them in Qualtrics.
    Anticipated timeline: End of February
  4. Collect survey data.
    Anticipated timeline: March
  5. Organize data across several years of the FYRE program into a database.
    Anticipated timeline: March (while surveys are deployed)
  6. Assist in determining variables of interest and preliminary data analysis.
    Anticipated timeline: During February (when constructing surveys) and in April
  7. Assist in writing an abstract for submission to a professional conference.
    Anticipated timeline: April

Note: Dr. Henslee has previously collaborated with CASB Interim Vice Provost & Dean Drowne and has access to data from the prior FYRE cycles.  All data will be appropriately de-identified prior to sharing with the FYRE student.

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project?

  1. Completion of CITI training (ethical training for research with human subjects) is required, but PSYCH 2200 also requires CITI training and anyone will need it to work on future human subjects’ research.  So completing CITI will give the student a jump-start toward meeting those goals as well.
  2. Completion of an Institutional Review Board (IRB) application process and formatting (this is also required for Human Subjects studies and good to learn early on).
  3.  How to construct survey questions and put them in Qualtrics.
  4. How to collect survey data.
  5. How to organize data across several years of the FYRE program into a database.
  6. How to label variables and begin preliminary data analysis.
  7.  How to write an abstract for submission to a professional conference.

Faculty Name: Dr. Ting Shen
Department: Psychological Science
Title of Research Project: What is the Impact of Intervention Programs on Executive Functions: A Meta-Analysis

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words):

Self-regulation (SR) is gaining importance for predicting health, wealth, public safety as well as educational outcomes. Within the broad umbrella of SR, executive functions (EFs) are the crucial component and primary underlying mechanisms. Specifically, EFs involves mentally playing with ideas, thinking before acting, meeting challenges, resisting temptations and staying focused, which are central to many skills (e.g., creativity, flexibility, self-control and discipline) to be successful. Good EFs early in life would robustly predict long-term success in achievement, health, wealth and quality life. More importantly, EFs are malleable psychological skills that can be improved at any age across lifespan via inner biological development and environmental social stimulations. Therefore, both family environment and public school system could play an important role in affecting individual’s EFs via early intervention. The overarching goal of this meta-analysis study is to provide evidence of the overall effect size of various intervention programs on EFs in school and family settings. There are two main research questions: (1) what is the overall effect size of the school and family intervention programs on self-regulation? (2) What are some moderators that could explain the variation of the effect size?

Brief description of FYRE student’s responsibilities during Spring 2020, including expected outcomes and rough timeline (maximum 200 words):

This meta-analysis study has two components concerning the home setting and school setting respectively. The student could choose one setting that is of his/her interest. The student’s research experience will start from a thorough literature search to retrieve articles that would meet the preset criteria during the first two months (January and February). Then the student will be involved with the data coding after receiving some basic training in the following two months (March and April). When the data is ready, the student will conduct meta-analysis using the “metaphor” package in the R software program in about one month (May). With initial findings obtained, the student then may present the research findings at a conference within a year. In addition, following collaboration work may result in a journal paper for publication and the student will be a coauthor.

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project?

The student will gain a deep understanding of meta-analysis research via hands-on experience, which will trigger student’s intrinsic motivation to be more engaged in research and academic study. Specifically, the student will learn how to do a comprehensive literature search and review. The training includes conducting literature search via major electronic database (e.g., PsychInfo, MEDLINE, Web of Science, and ProQuest Dissertation & Theses), and screening and selecting articles using reference management software (e.g., endnote, zotero). In addition, the student will have skills on data coding and will have experience in conducting quantitative meta-analysis via R software program. Finally, conference presentation experience would be beneficial to the student.

Teacher Education & Certification

Faculty Name: Beth Kania-Gosche
Department: Teacher Education & Certification
Title of Research Project: Gamifying Teacher Education: Incentivizing and Tracking Students’ Professional Engagement

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words):

Research on gamification in higher education is a burgeoning field, but most research focuses on classroom implications.  This project draws upon research in education but also from other fields, such as strategies used by wellness programs to incentivize activities.  K-12 education often uses gamification as a strategy for tracking student progress in concepts such as math fact fluency.  Faculty would like to “gamify” teacher education by offering points for activities in the following categories: service, experiential learning, technology skills, professional development, wellness, and recruitment.  Students would receive badges and small incentives for specific point values, and they would progress through levels.  Students could opt in to be shown on the leaderboards for overall points and in each category.

The activities in these categories will promote motivation (Papp, 2017) and hopefully, retention, not only in the program, but in the profession.  For example, activities promoting physical and mental wellness can help counter the stress of the teaching profession.  Many of the activities will also assist teacher education students in obtaining a job and enhancing their skills with technology.

Brief description of FYRE student’s responsibilities during Spring 2020, including expected outcomes and rough timeline (maximum 200 words):

  1. Assist with writing of IRB for research purposes (January-early February)
  2. Create, with faculty, surveys and interviews for gathering feedback (January-early Feb.)
  3. Gather student feedback on structure of Teacher Education Gamification pilot through use of surveys and brief focus groups in classes (Feb.-mid-March)
  4. Collaborate with faculty on revisions to the pilot for 2020-21 academic year (late March)
  5. If student is available, present with Teacher Education faculty at state conference in April.  Student would assist with writing of the abstract for submission.
  6. Compile anonymized pilot study data on number of activities, points accumulated, categories and activities accomplished, etc. and create visual representations of data (April)

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project?

The student will gain experience with the IRB process and creating surveys/interview questions.  The student will gain experience presenting simple frequency data from surveys and qualitative coding of short interviews.  The student will gain experience writing a research abstract for a state-level conference and presenting with faculty.

 

Faculty Name:  Michelle Schwartze
Department: Teacher Education and Certification
Title of Research Project: Impact of Hands-on Science and Engineering Projects on Middle Schooler’s Attitudes Towards STEM

Description of Research Project (maximum 200 words):

This project looks at middle school students’ attitudes towards STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). Students in 5th and 6th grade will be surveyed at the beginning of the school year using a Likert scale survey developed by Faber et al (2012). Throughout the year, with the guidance of professors in Teacher Education, Engineering Management, and Biological Sciences, Missouri S & T student volunteers will teach STEM activities to the 5th and 6th grade students. At the end of the semester the students will be surveyed again to see if, by providing more STEM activities in the classroom, the students’ attitudes towards STEM had changed.

The purpose of this project is to determine if the activities that are implemented in the classroom have the desired effect of making STEM more accessible and exciting for middle school students. 

Brief description of FYRE student’s responsibilities during Spring 2020, including expected outcomes and rough timeline (maximum 200 words):

The FYRE student will be responsible for collecting, analyzing and compiling the survey data. The survey will be conducted in September 2019 at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year. The FYRE student will compile the results from this survey. This will be completed in late January/early February. The FYRE student will assist the university supervisors in analyzing the results during February and March. The FYRE student will work in conjunction with the university researchers to evaluate and determine if modifications to the survey are necessary. A post survey will be given in late April/early May. The FYRE student will help in preparing this post-survey and, if time is available, will compile the results.

During the spring semester, the FYRE student will also help research effective STEM lessons to be used in middle school classrooms.

What skills will the FYRE student acquire or enhance as a result of working on this research project?

The FYRE student will learn about Likert scale surveys and how to analyze them. Along with that, the student will learn to compile data and use it to prove or disprove your hypothesis.

The FYRE student will also become more familiar with STEM education in the middle grades.

About the program

FYRE goal

Motivated students will learn to execute solid research methods.

Apprentice-style research partnership

Faculty mentors and students work together throughout the spring semester.

Additional research opportunities

It's not expected that a comprehensive research project will be completed in a single semester. FYRE students are encouraged to continue more advanced research, including S&T’s Opportunities for Undergraduate Research Experiences (OURE) projects. Mentors and students may also choose to continue their working relationship beyond the term of the program.

Students on FYRE

Randy Greeves in the FYRE (First Year Research Experience) showcase.

Randy Greeves seeks results

Mentored by Shannon Fogg, chair and professor of history and political science, Randy Greeves, a history and political science major, researches the humanitarian efforts applied children's treatment during war. Randy wants to use his research skills in industry when he graduates. In the FYRE program, Randy learned about the difficulties subject matter experts face and how to overcome them to produce results. 

Stephanie Dukes in the FYRE(First Year Research Experience) showcase

Stephanie Dukes knows her path

Mentored by Susan Murray, chair and professor of psychological sciences, Stephanie Dukes, a psychological sciences major studied personal "grit"—how it affects G.P.A. and how a sense of purpose can enhance a person’s grit. Stephanie wants to use her degree to help victims of domestic abuse. The FYRE program taught her how an experiment can be formed from an idea.

Want more information?

For questions, contact Melanie Mormile, associate dean of research and external relations in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Business and professor of Biological Sciences

Contact: mmormile@mst.edu or call 573-341-6346