Current Scholars

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We are quite proud of our current McNair Scholars. Meet these leaders of tomorrow:


SIU picture of Kaitlin Faust

Kaitlin Faust

Major: Animal Science

College: College of Agricultural Science

Mentor: Dr. Erin Perry, Animal Science Food and Nutrition

SRI 2019 Title & Abstract:

Regulations of Commercial Dog Food across America: A Review

The evaluation of foods used for the nutrition of domestic animals is a matter of great importance. A major function of feed regulation is to safeguard the health of animals, and a critical component of that function is to ensure that animal feed and feed ingredients are appropriately and safely used as provided by the product label. Prepared foods for dogs are no exception, and the pet food industry aims to provide safe, palatable, digestible, and nutritionally balanced foods for pet animals at prices affordable by the human owner. Although pet food falls under regulations, who enforces these regulations, and why are there so many recalls happening in the United States? The objective of this project was to investigate the mislabeling, regulatory guidelines, and the nutritional aspects of commercial dog foods. We found that the FDA controls the majority of the regulations with the help of the State Department of Agriculture. We also observed through available published research that mislabeling of products and false claims on pet food are the leading causes of pet food recalls. In a future direction to this research, a questionnaire will be sent out to Veterinarian offices of State Department of Agricultre for each state to assess the similarities and dissimilarities between their current regulations and guidelines for commercial dog foods.

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SIU picture of Amanda Leppert-Gomes

Amanda Leppert-Gomes 

Major: Anthropology

College: College of Liberal Arts

Mentor: Dr. Roberto Barrios, Anthropology

SRI 2019 Title & Abstract:

Social and Individual Health Effects of EcoDevelopment: the Socio-political Context of Aeolian Power and Unión Hidalgo

TBD

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SIU picture of Yasmin Ibrahim

Yasmin Ibrahim

Major: Biological Sciences

College: College of Science

Mentor: Dr. Derek Fisher, Microbiology

SRI 2018 Title & Abstract

SRI 2019 Title & Abstract:

Substrate Screen for the Chlamydial Kinases Pkn1 and PknD

Chlamydia trachomatis is a major public health concern as infections may lead to serious diseases including blindness from trachoma as well as infertility, ectopic pregnancies, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) from the sexually transmitted infection known as chlyamidia. Chlamydia spp. convert between two forms in a biphasic developmental cycle, the infections elementary body (EB) and the replicative reticulate body (RB). While the two forms are well characterized, the mechanisms governing and performing the differentiation processes are virtually unknown. Phosphorylation is being analyzed as a form of post-translational control of proteins that could play a major role in the differentiation between the two chlamydial forms. The goal of this study is to identify the phosphorylation substrates of the two Hank's type kinases, Pkn1 and PknD, encoded in Chlamydia trachomatis. This will be done by co-expressing potential substrates with Pkn1 or PknD in Escherichia coli. The proteins will then be analyzed for phosphorylation status using Phos-tag SDS-PAGE. The results from this work will be used to map kinase-substrate networks in Chlamydia and to identify phosphorylation motifs, enabling directed studies on how phosphorylation impacts substrate function.

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SIU picture of Jacob Janicki

Jacob Janicki

Major: Plant Biology

College: College of Science

Mentor: Dr. Aldwin Anterola, Plant Biology

SRI 2019 Title & Abstract

How Accurate are Label Claims in CBD Products?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a popular cannabinoid commonly found and extracted from Cannabis sativa L. Many medical benefits from CBD have been discovered in recent years and has beome popular among pharmaceutical and supplement companies. A large number of CBD products released every year may or may not be regulated depending on the state where they are produced and sold. The purpose of this study was to measure the amount of CBD in four randomly selected CBD products available in the Carbondale area to determine the accuracy of the products' label claims. CBD was extracted from samples using 1-pentanol and then diluted with methanol for subsequent quantification. The amount of CBD in the resulting extracts were then quantified using a high performance liquid chromatography system by comparison against a standard CBD calibration curve. The results from three independent experiements showed a standard deviation of about 12% or less for each sample extraction. Percent error was calculated for each sample based on the difference between the label claim and the experimental mean. Sample 1 contained 6.91±0.84 mg/mL with a percent error of 16%. Sample 2 contained 7.67±0.80 mg/mL with a percent error of 17%. Sample 3 contained 10.58±0.59 mg/mL with a percent error of 5%. Sample 4 contained 5.90±0.66 mg/mL with a percent error of 15%. The study found Sample 3 to have a label claim that fell within the experimental standard deviation that would be in compliance with FDA standards. The three other samples would be considered beyond the acceptable tolerance specifications suggested by the FDA.

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SIU picture of Nathaniel Jordan

Nathaniel Jordan

Major: Plant Biology

College: College of Science

Mentor: Dr. Jane Geisler-Lee, Plant Biology

SRI 2018 Title & Abstract:

Silver nanoparticles and their effect on Arabidopsis thaliana cell viability

Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are unique due to their anti-microbial efficacy and ability to be synthesized in various sizes. The scope of their industrial uses ranges from drug delivery and band-aids to cosmetics and socks. As research and development of AgNPrelated products increases, so does the bioaccumulation of AgNPs in the environment. This study was designed to test the effects of AgNP concentrations on plants, specifically A. thaliana cells to understand the effects of the increasing amount of AgNPs that are accumulating in the environment. Based on the data extracted from the experiment it is determined that the concentrations of AgNPs that were used had no significant impact on A. thaliana cell viability. 

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SIU picture of Jessica Jurak

Jessica Jurak

Major: Physics

College: College of Science

Mentor: Dr. Poopalasingam Sivakumar, Physics

SRI 2019 Title & Abstract:

Toward Developing Immunoassays Using the HE4 Biomarker to Improve the Early Detection of Epithelial Ovarian Cancer

Considering the severity and resilience of metastatic, late-stage malignancies, the early detection of cancers has proven to enhance the efficacy of treatment. However, certain characteristically asymptomatic cancers, including epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC), are difficult to detect at a localized stage. For instance, if diagnosed during the first or second stage, the 5-year survival rate of EOC can be as high as 90%. Yet, a typical EOC diagnosis occurs in the third or fourth stage, causing survival rates to plummet to 17%-29%. A key approach to improve early cancer detection and disease monitoring has been the development of minimally invasive tests to identify and quantify the natural biomarkers in the human blood plasma. The EOC-specific biomarker, cancer antigen 125 (CA125), has been used successfully in EOC studies for decades and was approved for clinical use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, there is growing evidence supporting the use of a more efficient biomarker-human epididymis protein 4(HE4)-for EOC detection. This study examines the dual use of a laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) with nano- and microparticle-based, elemental-encoded immunoassays for the detection and quantification of HE4 to develop an efficient, accurate, and sensitive Tag-LIBS method for early EOC detection.

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SIU picture of Joshua McCray

Joshua McCray

Major: Political Science

College: College of Liberal Arts

Mentor: Dr. Benjamin Bricker, Political Science

SRI 2019 Title & Abstract:

Civil Asset Forfeiture and Excessive Fees in the American Criminal Justice System: A Blatant Constitutional Violation?

Asset forfeiture is a practice that has existed in the United States since the founding of this country. However, since the 1970s civil asset forfeiture in particular has been a common tactic used by police in their fight on the War on Drugs in the United States. The impact of asset forfeiture and often particularly civil asset forfeiture on policing has been widely discussed in the academic community. However, even though civil asset forfeiture is a popular tool used by law enforcement, it has gained a lot of critics both by academics and the American puplic. Along with excessive fines levied by police and the court system civil asset forfeiture is a highly controversial policing method with numerous constitutional violations and racist practices and racial profiling.

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SIU picture of Allison McMinn

Allison McMinn

Major: Electrical Engineering

College: College of Engineering

Mentor: TBD

REU 2019 Title & Abstract

Digitally Controlled Stabilized Light Emitting Diode as a Light Source for Fluorescence Microscopy

I am interested in exploring renewable energy applications.

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SIU picture of Itzel Mendoza

Itzel Mendoza

Major: Psychology

College: College of Liberal Arts

Mentor: Dr. Stacy Thompson, Curriculum & Instruction

SRI 2018 Title & Abstract

Exploring the protective factors that influence positive outcomes for victims of physical child abuse

The purpose of the current study was to explore whether parental emotional support influences positive outcomes for victims of physical child abuse. Using the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN) Assessments 0-18 data set, 973 individuals from the ages of 12-16 years were studied to determine the impact of parental emotional support as a protective factor related to positive outcomes. Physical abuse experienced in childhood and parental emotional support were chosen as the independent variables and positive outcomes, including academic achievement, no history of delinquency and employment status, were the dependent variables. ANCOVAs were run to study the impact of parental emotional support on victims of physical child abuse for each outcome. Parental emotional support did not significantly impact any of the positive outcomes for females. However, parental emotional support was significant in academic achievement and employment for males. There were no significant findings with the outcome of no delinquency.

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SIU picture of Areaj Mubarak

Areaj Mubarak

Major: Biomedical Science

College: College of Science

Mentor: Dr. Diana Sarko, Anatomy

SRI 2019 Title & Abstract:

Golgi-Cox Analysis in the Primary Somatosensory Cortex (S1) of the Naked Mole Rat (Heterocephalus glaber)

Golgi staining is a technique utilized to better visualize neuronal cell structures under a microscope. During this process, silver nitrate (AgNO3) infuses into the neurons, ultimately allowing for visualization of the entire neuron compared to other forms of metal infusion such as gold and mercury. This technique will be used to characterize neurons in the primary somatosensory cortex of the naked mole-rat. This division of the brain, especially in this species, is rather unique in that it helps to compensate for the animal's poor vision and hearing developed from its habitat of dark and arid subterranean burrows. These environmental conditions are thought to have driven a reliance on somatosensations and a tactile-sensory dominance in naked mole-rats. The primary somatosensory cortex in comparison to most mammalian species is larger in size and is displaced more caudally, infringing on cortical areas usually devoted to vision. The species' primary use of its incisors and sensory hairs to accomodate subterranean digging and tunnel navigation, rather than relying on its poor vision and hearing, provides a suggestion as to why the displacement of the primary somatosensory cortex has evolved to accommodate a greater degree of inputs from the incisors and tactile hairs. Given these unusual sensory features, we will use Golgi staining to characterize any neuronal specializations that may be present in the naked mole-rat primary somatosensory cortex, and to identify neuronal homologies relating to other species.

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SIU picture of Luis Prado

Luis Prado

Major: Geography and Environmental Resources

College: College of Liberal Arts

Mentor: Dr. Ruopu Li, Geography and Environmental Resources

SRI 2019 Title & Abstract:

Drone Based Monitoring of Harmful Algal Blooms: Preliminary Spectral Data Collection and Procedural Understanding

Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) contribute negatively to environmental and human health. Corresponding with rapid changes in global climate and contiual trends of anthropogenic waterway pollution, humanity faces HABs as an intensifying threat (Gilber, 2013; Moore et al., 2008). The key to combat this growing concern is the ability to study and monitor the bodies of water in which communities intend to protect. An increasingly explored solution is the utilization of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and the building of relationships between remotely sensed data and physical characterizations of HABs. This study focused on a possible preliminary methodology to be applied to such research, including processes and techniques for water sample collection, image capture, and water sample analysis, while posing hypothetical approaches for spectral analysis and future model building. Results illustrated a positive outlook on the employment of the explored methodology to future studies with success in the posed systems of data collection and the potential for further analysis and application.

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SIU picture of Tori Rhone

Tori Rhone

Major: Biomedical Science

College: College of Science

Mentor: Dr. Joseph Cheatwood, SIU Medicine

SRI 2018 Title and Abstract

SRI 2019 Title and Abstract:

NADPH-Diaphorase Histochemistry on the Naked Mole-Rat Brain

Naked mole-rats are a strictly subterranean eusocial mammal. In this study, we investigated the neuroanatomy of naked mole-rats with a focus on the processing of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate diaphorase (NADPH-d) histochemistry. NADPH-d is commonly used by neuroscientists for its ability to inhibit nitric oxide synthase. This project focused on the formation of an appropriate protocol for the NADPH-d staining that will be utilized for the chemoarchitectonic atlas. This atlas could be used to help identify brain structures in the naked mole-rat. We euthanized and perfused two naked mole-rats. Following perfusion, the brains were coronally sectioned at 40µm using a cryostat. NADPH-diaphorase histochemistry resulted in a Golgi-like staining of select neurons throughout the nervous system that exhibited this activity. Brain areas were identified and compared with those found in similar naked mole-rat studies.

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SIU picture of Christian Rose

Christian Rose

Major: Mechanical Engineering

College: College of Engineering

Mentor: Dr. Mondal Kanchan, Mechanical Engineering

SRI 2019 Title & Abstract:

Organic-Inorganic Titanium Halide Perovskites for Photovoltaic Application

Currently, the most efficient perovskite solar cells (PSC's) rival the efficiency of the market-dominating silicon-based solar cells. Perocskite solar panels are desirable because they are much cheaper to produce and are more versatile than their silicon counterpart. PSC's are very thin and can be produced as a flexible film through roll to roll processing. This new solar material can therefore be easily integrated into building design in an aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly way. The current downfalls of these solar cells are their lack of stability and the toxicity of the highest performing lead-based cells. The focus of this research was to work with the organic-inorganic titanium-based halide perovskites in an effort to produce efficiences comparable to the efficiences achieved by lead-based cells. Two of these tetravalent perovskites were formed, FA2TiI6 and FATiCl4I2, then characterized using X-Ray Diffraction (XRD), UV-Vis Spectroscopy (UV-Vis), and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). The results from the analysis showed that crystal structures of FA2TiI6 and FATiCl4I2 were successfully formed and that the materials absorbed light in the ultraviolet and visible ranges. Techniques for fabricating a solar cell using these perovskites are currently being explored.

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SIU picture of Shalane Scott

Shalane Scott

Major: Criminal Justice

College: College of Liberal Arts

Mentor: Dr. Julie Hibdon, Criminology and Criminal Justice

SRI 2019 Title & Abstract:

Does Location Matter? Domestic Violence from a Geographical Perspective

The objective of this study is to examine domestic violence from a geographical perspective. Using Seattle, Washington Police incident data and the Seattle, Washing government website, the types of domestic violence and how each case was handled is analyzed. There are few research studies on domestic violence from a geographical perspective. Research has shown there is a relationship between location and domestic violence. In this study compared to others, we examine domestic violence on 10 specific streets instead of a large city. This research examines the relationship between alcohol accessibility by foot and domestic violence. Using Google maps, we were able to see the proximity between alcohol accessibility and each street address. The study also examines the availability of women's shelter by food, and domestic violence within low income houses. What we discovered was only 2 out of the 10 addresses examined were considered low income housing. Only 5 out of the 10 addresses have access to alcohol compared to what many articles have mentioned. Lastly, out of the 10 streets only 4 had access to a women's shelter.

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SIU picture of Margaret Schlotter

Margaret Schlotter

Major: Psychology/Criminal Justice

College: College of Liberal Arts

Mentor: TBD

Research Interest: I would like to do research on the international student population and their social adjustment to campus. Using this information I would try to implement new programs or events based on the needs of the international student population.

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SIU picture of Jawaun Valentine

Jawauan Valentine

Major: History

College: College of Liberal Arts

Mentor: Dr. Pamela Smoot, History

SRI 2019 Title & Abstract

The History of African Americans in Organized Medicine and Frontier Medicine, 1865-1914

During the nineteenth century, scholars of the Western Frontier have mainly focused on numerous aspects of settlement to the region, its development by whites and immigrants, and slavery. It was not until African American historians began to publish books and articles did history include African American migrants who settled in the West. Many of them were slaes who moved with their owners to the west while others were former slaves seeking better lives outside the South. African Americans migrating fromt he South in organized groups were called "Exodusters". Historians Nell Painter, Kenneth Hamilton and other African American scholars on the West, began to examine black lives on the fronteir, because they were an integral part of its settlement and its character. Despite the challenges of racism and discrimination, false promises, and sometimes, poor living conditions, African Americans managed to establish all-black towns complete with institutions such as schools, churches, businesses and organizations; and to participate in politics. Black professionals including educators, journalists, realtors, architects, and nurses were part of the landscape. However, there were no African American physicians in the current literature. Therefore, this study unearths the lives and importances of these physicians on the western frontier and as well as the transition of medicine from the frontier to organized medicine.

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SIU picture of Destanee Williams

Destanee Williams 

Major: Paralegal Studies

College: College of Liberal Arts

Mentor: Dr. Juilie Hibdon, Criminology and Criminal Justice

SRI 2019 Title & Abstract: 

The Impact of the Environment on Child Delinquency

According to social disorganization theory, the physical neighborhood or environment can contribute to child delinquency (Shaw & McKay, 1969). The purpose of this study was to create a rapid, systematic review of published work from 2015-2019 that examined the impact of three environmental factors on child delinquency. The three factors observed were peer delinquency, educational attainment, and socioeconomic factors. Ten journal articles were critically analyzed to learn the impact the factors have on child delinquency. Suggestions are made to improve interventions used to reduce delinquent behaviors.

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SIU picture of Andres Womac

Andres Womac - ILSAMP

Major: Mechanical Engineering

College: College of Engineering

Mentor: Peter Filip, Mechanical Engineering

ILSAMP 2019 Title & Abstract: 

Fabrication of a 3D Biodegradable Polymer for Bone Tissue Engineering

Biodegradable Polymers are gaining more attention for their uses in tissue regeneration, maxillofacial orthopedic surgeries for broken and diseased bones, as well as drug delivery carriers. Poly(lactic-co-glycolic) acid (PLGA) is one of the most popular FDA approved biodegradable polymers because of its long clinical applications, favorable degradation rate. Typically, thin PLGA films are utilized for a majority of applications such as substrates used to monitor osteogenic growth, adhesion to the substrate, proliferation, and differentiation. The creation of PLGA as a bulk 3-Dimensional material is a challenging task that hasn't seen much attention as fabricating PLGA as a thin film. By casting the PLGA (85 lactide:15 glycolide) as a solid 3-Dimensional material by using a layer-by-layer solvent casting method. By casting the PLGA layer-by-layer into a Teflon mold we were able to successfully create a 3D material out of PLGA with topography similar to that of a porous material. This result shows that a thicker PLGA material is possible but could benefit further with an increase of concentration of PLGA or with a change of solvent. The kinematics of degredation of thin film of PLGA was also monitored, and after 11 days the film demonstrated 5% of total mass loss over time, confirming its biodegradability property.

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