Graduate Bridge Student Scholars

Graduate Bridge program scholars are students interested in pursuing a graduate education in STEM disciplines and who want to further hone their skills during a summer research program. Our Graduate Bridge scholars travel to Purdue from undergraduate institutions across the United States, including the 48 contiguous states, Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico.

The scholars bring with them cultural knowledge and experiences that add to the diversity we strive to promote on the Purdue campus. Colleges and departments are introduced to a diverse student population with great potential for graduate school success.

Graduate Bridge Scholars

Bridge 2020-2021

Mikala Bowen Headshot        
         Mikala Bowen

         She/ Her/ Hers       

         Undergrad:  Xavier University of Louisiana

         Health and Human Sciences

         Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

         Master of Science 

         Research Video 

Francesco Fuentes Headshot         
         Francesco Fuentes

         He/ Him/ His

         Undergrad:  Marquette University

         Engineering

         Mechanical Engineering

         Ph.D.

        Research Video 

Austin Hernandez Headshot         
         Austin Hernandez

         He/ His/ Him

         Undergrad:  University of Texas El Paso

         Engineering

         Materials Engineering

         Ph.D.

        Research Video 

Xavier Miranda Headshot         
         Xavier Miranda

         He/ Him/ His

         Undergrad:  Florida Ag & Mech University

         Agricultural Economics 

         Master of Science

        Research Video 

Akshay Rao Headshot         
         Akshay Rao

         He/ Him/ His

         Undergrad:  Purdue University

         Engineering

         Mechanical Engineering

         Master of Science

        Research Video 

Paola Vega Rodriguez         
         Paola Vega-Rodriguez

         She/ Her/ Hers

         Undergrad:  University of Puerto Rico 

         Science         

         Biological Sciences

         Ph.D.

        Research Video 

Candace Young Headshot         
         Candace Young

         She/ Her/ Hers

         Undergrad:  University of Maryland College Pk

         Agriculture

         Animal Science

         Master of Science

        Research Video 

Bridge 2019-2020

 

Aaron Afriat Headshot         
         Aaron Afriat

         He/ Him/ His

         Undergrad:  Purdue University

         College of Engineering

         Mechanical Engineering

         Master of Science

Research Title:  

Development and Initial Testing of a Dual Nozzle Vibration Assisted 3D Printer

Abstract:  

Vibration Assisted Printing (VAP) is a new direct-write additive manufacturing (AM) approach in which a nozzle resonates to enable dynamic flow control of a viscous material at fine resolutions and with a constant, low driving pressure. Recent work shows that VAP is capable of printing highly viscous composite materials and propellants such as solid rocket propellant, gun propellant, biological materials, ceramics and more. Developing a dual-nozzle VAP printer would integrate two different materials in a variety of configurations to explore topics such as combustion of combined energetic materials at a more intimate level. An open-source Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printer was modified to incorporate two VAP print heads, each including a transducer and a syringe. The transducers are connected to a function generator and piezo amplifier to control the flow of material, as well as a dual output compressor. Either of the VAP heads can be switched with a FDM head to incorporate hybrid VAP/FDM printed materials. Such application includes printing various geometries of a support structure for a reactive material. Developing a dual nozzle VAP system is a desirable step to investigate a wider range of energetics configurations as well as expand the capabilities of multi-material 3D printing in other research fields. Here we present initial results of a dual nozzle VAP printer with examples of future applications.

 

Jose Becerra Headshot

         
         Jose Becerra

         He/ Him/ His

         Undergrad:  California State Polytechnic University

         College of Liberal Arts

         Anthropology

         Master of Science

Research Title:  

Economic and Climatic Pressures Impacting Health, Land Use, and Biodiversity of Central American Small-Scale Coffee Communities

Abstract:  

The coffee sector has experienced historical and present-day challenges threatening the livelihood and local ecology of Central American small-scale coffee communities. In this project, I look at two factors impacting financial stability, health, land use, and local biodiversity: (1) the historical transformations in Central American agriculture, such as economic changes in modes and means of production, and more specifically the impacts cash crop agriculture has on the coffee sector; and (2) the additional threats climate change creates for coffee farmers such as coffee leaf rust and unpredictable weather patterns, among other climate hazards in the region.
Using theoretical frameworks from political ecology and the political economy of health, I analyze coffee production and distribution by looking at how land ownership, global economy, and the lack of healthy working conditions impact small-scale coffee farmers. Moving forward, I plan to do ethnography, run surveys, and collect interviews from small-scale coffee farmers to develop a method for measuring what practices are most beneficial in terms of financial stability, human health, and biodiversity. On the field, a case study comparing sun-grown coffee and shade-grown coffee will help analyze cropping strategies and agricultural decision making. This research aims to better understand how adaptive strategies for climatic and economic pressures impact human health, land use, and biodiversity in Central American small-scale coffee communities. 

 

Fabio Capovilla-Searle Headshot

         
         Fabio Capovilla-Searle

         He/ Him/ His

         Undergrad:  Case Western Reserve University

         College of Science

         Mathematics

         Ph.D.

Research Title:  

Number of Maximal Holes in Congruence Subgroups

Abstract:  

Congruence subgroups depend on two variables, a prime number and a natural number. One way that the congruence subgroups are studied is by looking at their classifying space, where one of the problems is that of calculating the number of maximal dimensional holes of the space. This is done by using an algorithm derived from Bykovskï that is implemented on the computer. In particular, we plan to investigate lower bounds established by Adem to see if they are sharp in any cases.

 

Stephanie Diaz Headshot
         Stephanie Sullymar Diaz

         She/ Her/ Hers

         Undergrad:  Aiken Technical College

         Interdisciplinary Studies

         Biochemistry

         Ph.D.

Research Title:  

Characterizing blue light-induced photoreceptor cell death in Drosophila

Abstract:  

Aging is associated with the decline of neuronal function and the onset of ocular and neurodegenerative diseases (Hall et al., 2017). As photoreceptor neurons, the primary light sensing cells in the eye, age, they become susceptible to reactive oxygen species (ROS) such as hydrogen peroxide and lipid peroxides (Hall et al., 2018). Our lab has previously shown that blue light-induced oxidative stress which could be suppressed by overexpressing cytochrome b5 (Cyt-b5), a member of the plasma membrane redox system. Parallel to the function of Cyt-b5, expression of glutathione peroxidase, a factor that prevents lipid peroxide accumulation, also suppresses cell death in a fly Huntington disease/oxidative stress model (Mason et al., 2013). Together, these findings suggest that photoreceptor death may not be induced by apoptosis; instead, photoreceptor death may occur via ferroptosis, a programmed cell death induced by the accumulation of lipid peroxides. To characterize the type of programmed cell death activated in photoreceptors, we induced retinal degeneration using a blue light stress model. We are currently overexpressing previously characterized factors Cyt-b5 and PHGPx, the fly glutathione peroxidase. Initial results indicate that these factors are suppressing photoreceptor death supporting our lab’s previous results. We are also testing knockdown RNAi, dominant negative, and overexpression factors involved in different cell death pathways, such as DIAP1, bsk, and Sod.1, to support either ferroptosis or apoptosis as the mechanism of cell photoreceptor death.

 

India Lenear Headshot
         India Lenear

         She/ Her/ Hers

         Undergrad:  North Carolina Central University

         College of Liberal Arts

         Political Science

         Ph.D.

Research Title:  

Issue Diversity in Coalition Building: A Case Study of the Forward Together/Moral Mondays Movement

Abstract:  

Most social movements have commonly been comprised of homogenous populations, and typically centered around one main issue that is used to rally a call to action (Tilly and Tarrow 2015). Unlike typical movements, the North Carolina-based Forward Together/Moral Mondays movement uses a framework of fusion politics, an approach that centers a diversity of issues that reflect diverse identities (Sinclair-Chapman 2018). A movement organized around issue diversity instead of homogeneity can help support a coalition of people from a wide range of demographic backgrounds. Issue diversity may also allow diverse coalitions to set agendas focused on critical issues in a given region. This study will examine issue diversity in coalition building within the Moral Mondays/Forward Together movement across multiple geographic regions, including the Midwest and the South. Drawing from current literature on social movements and diversity, I argue that in order for multiple
regions to create and maintain this movement, success will depend on the ability of various states to adapt the movement to their own issue priorities and political contexts. My research will compare and contrast issue diversity within Forward Together/Moral Mondays coalitions in southern and midwestern states to better understand issue diversity and its relationship to expanding a movement across the country. This analysis of issue diversity will contribute to the understanding of social movements in political science and will help define adaptability as a measure of success for coalition politics. It also has implications for how to successfully expand coalitions from a local to a national scale.

 

Alejandra_Lopez_Headshot_Official.png         
         Alejandra Lopez

         She/ Her/ Hers

         Undergrad:  Arizona State University

         College of Science

         Mathematics

         Ph.D.

Research Title:  

Analysis of Quantum Systems using Matrix Convex Sets

Abstract:  

During the twentieth century quantum mechanics became a relevant area of research as classical physics failed to explain observations that arose in experimentation. In order to formalize quantum mechanics, mathematics is used to provide a rigorous description of the quantum systems. It allows for the development of theories in physics using abstract mathematical structures many of which come from analysis. One way to analyze these structures is to study the properties of operators on infinite dimensional Hilbert spaces. Using operators we can look at a classical system through the phase space where we take measurements which can be described geometrically as polytopes, diagonalizable matrices involving inequalities, and measure their properties. In order to look at a quantum system the variables associated with the system in question are now matrices, not
points. We use matrix convex combinations, which allow for non-commuting matrices, and use the
compression of states to create superposition, a property of a quantum state. If these matrices end up being diagonalizable then we’re back in the classical system. It is in the comparison between the quantum and classical structures where we are able to exploit quantum computation to calculate objects like graph invariants. Using operators we calculate these invariants to find whether objects are the same or different and in doing so we are able to define the chromatic number.  

 

Giselle Narvaez Rivera
         Giselle Narvaez Rivera

         She/ Her/ Hers

         Undergrad:  Iowa State University

         College of Liberal Arts

         Anthropology

         Ph.D.

Research Title:  

An Experimental Evaluation of Wildlife Bridge Models for New World Monkeys in Costa Rica

Abstract:  

Wildlife bridges are artificial crossing structures (ACS) that are strategically used to improve wildlife mobility through fragmented habitat. Monkeys are known to use ACS, but the study of how ACS design affects monkey's behavior and locomotion needs to be explored. In July 2015, an experimental study was conducted in a semi-wild setting in collaboration with a wildlife rescue center located in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Limón Province, Costa Rica. Three Costa Rican primate species (Alouatta palliatta, n=4 individuals; Cebus capucinus, n=3; and Ateles geoffroyi, n=3) were exposed to five models of ACS built using similar materials, but varying in stiffness, structure, and width. Study subjects were given access to a different ACS model every two days for a total of 20 days. In order to assess model preference and performance we conducted focal individual sampling for 27 hours, and one-zero sampling and recorded all-occurrences when subjects used the ACS. Results show a significant difference of crossing rates between two models (z=2.02, p=0.0431) and significant individual variation (GLMM, σ2 =0.721, sd=0.85). While the bamboo bridge model had the highest crossing rate, the single liana model had the lowest crossing rate and a higher number of missteps, making it the least preferred model among the five. The most popular model had a high degree of stiffness and stability, indicating that this material property may be a determinate of model preference and performance. Our findings provide new insights that are useful for the management of biological corridors used by Costa Rican nonhuman primates. 

 

Ashley Newton Headshot
         Ashley Newton

         She/ Her/ Hers

         Undergrad:  Langston University

         College of Agriculture

         Forestry and Natural Resources

         Master of Science

Research Title:  

Utility of an amphibian model to screen for thyroid disrupting activity of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances 

Abstract:  

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of compounds used in a variety of industrial and consumer applications for their surfactant properties. They are widespread in the environment, are frequently detected in human and wildlife tissues, are slow to degrade in nature, and can elicit toxicity via numerous mechanisms. Thus, they are a major concern for human and environmental health. Although mechanisms of toxicity appear numerous, increasing correlational evidence suggests they cause thyroid disruption, which is worrisome given the role of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) pathway in numerous essential functions, including regulation of growth and developmental rates. The 21-day Amphibian Metamorphosis Assay is a standardized test that utilizes African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) tapdoles to screen for thyroid disruption. It is based on the principle that amphibian metamorphosis is strongly dependent on proper function of the HPT axis and allows researchers to diagnose alterations of HPT signaling by measuring developmental rate, body size, limb length, and by histopathologically examining the structure of the thyroid gland. I propose to use this assay to screen for thyroid disrupting activity of many PFAS with different chemical properties and across wide ranges of concentrations to understand if and how they influence the biochemical pathways of the HPT axis. Ultimately, my work will provide basic information on if and how common contaminants influence thyroid function in vertebrates, which will enable better risk assessments and regulatory decision making to protect the
health of humans and wildlife.  

 

Brianne Nunez
         Brianne Nunez

         She/ Her/ Hers

         Undergrad:  Old Dominion University

         College of Science

         Chemistry

         Ph.D.

Research Title:  

Efficacy of Synthesized Masked Peptide in Targeted Drug Delivery to Pancreatic Cancer Cells.

Abstract:  

Development of different methods of targeting and treating diseases has been a significant concern in medicinal research. One area of interest is treatment of pancreatic cancer, an aggressive disease with a low survival rate.  Treatments for this disease include cell-penetrating peptide therapy. In a previous study, it has been shown that pancreatic cancer cells secrete the enzyme MMP-7 at a higher degree than that of other cells. Based on this
information, a peptide was designed with a negatively charged mask that, when near a cell with overexpression of MMP-7, could be cleaved off by the enzyme. Once cleaved, the positively charged peptide can penetrate the cell and deliver its cargo. The purpose of our project is to synthesize a masked peptide that can target pancreatic cancer cells for the purpose of delivering anti-cancer drugs to infected cells while simultaneously excluding healthy cells. The method used in development of the peptide was Solid Phase Peptide Synthesis (SPPS), which provided a stepwise assembly of the peptide from amino acid precursors. The peptide was synthesized in the lab over the course of 4 weeks. Its cell-penetrating efficacy will then be tested on MMP-7 producing pancreatic cancer cells using flow cytometry. We expect the results to show selective penetration of MMP-7 producing
cells and no penetration of non-MMMP-7 producing cells. The significance of this study could lead to
development of better targeted drug delivery systems for various diseases.

 

Gabriel Torres-Rivera Headshot
         Gabriel Andres Torres Rivera

         He/ Him/ His

         Undergrad:  University of Puerto Rico

         College of Engineering

         Mechanical Engineering

         Ph.D.

Research Title:  

Integration and Evaluation of an Instrumented Walkway at HIRoLab

Abstract:  

Nearly 2 million Americans live with limb loss, below knee amputations being the most common [1].  Furthermore, amputees using passive prostheses expend 20-30% more energy than non-amputees [2-3].  Analyzing ankle impedance at different stages of the gait is crucial to developing robust powered foot-ankle prostheses that assimilate natural walking [4] However, to measure and validate these properties, specialized equipment must be implemented in the laboratory. We present the protocols and methodologies followed to prepare the Qualisys® motion capture system for gait analysis as well as the construction of a walkway that enables foot perturbations for impedance calculations. The Qualisys® motion capture system was synced to EMG’s, Inertial Measurement Units and a 6DOF force plate that will measure the foot perturbations. Also, spatial displacement sensitivity and precision were measured for when only two cameras could capture the reflective marker and compared to when all ten could see the marker. Errors were analyzed for possible correlations due camera distances and angles. Finally, a  cooperation between Qualisys® and MATLAB® software was explored so that each measurement with Qualisys® equipment would be automatically processed by MATLAB®. All these efforts are necessary to prepare the new Human Interactive Robotics Lab (HIRoLab) at Purdue Polytechnic Institute.  

 

Tre Stewart Headshot
         Tre Stewart

         He/ Him/ His

         Undergrad:  University of North Texas

         College of Science

         Mathematics

         Ph.D.

Research Title:  

A method to encrypt spacial data based on the theory of quadrature domains

Abstract:  

We present a method to encode the coordinates of a point inside the unit circle based on the theories of Fourier  series and complex variables. The encryption is in the form of a curve that can be taken to be arbitrarily close to the unit circle and is obtained by approximating a Möbius transformation by a power series. We show how to further obfuscate the point via reparametrizings of the curve. The method can be applied more generally to a point inside a given simple closed curve by replacing the Möbius transformation with the inverse of a Riemann mapping function. The main tool in the encryption technique stems from the fact that the unit circle in the plane is a one point quadrature domain for analytic functions

 

Michael Strawbridge Headshot
         Michael Strawbridge

         He/ Him/ His

         Undergrad:  

         College of Liberal Arts

         Political Science

         Ph.D.

Research Title:  

Who’s on the news tonight?: An analysis of the portrayal of crime and violence in St. Louis local
television news

Abstract:

Much research documents a racial skew in the portrayal of crime and violence in local television news. In recent years, however, research shows that at least in some cities such as Los Angeles, the portrayal of Blacks is now far more accurate. Most studies focus on cities with large populations such as Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Chicago. I study a city that while not as big, is still well known and fairly large, St. Louis, Missouri. Under a microscope for racial tension since the death of Michael Brown in 2014, and consistently considered one of the most dangerous and violent cities in the United States, St. Louis provides a new and intriguing environment to examine whether there is racial bias in local television news of crime and violence. I examine the local television news coverage of CBS affiliate, KMOV. I analyze two weeks of the evening news coverage (June, 24, 2019-July 5, 2019), for a total of 203 individual news segments to examine how crime and violence are portrayed in St. Louis.

 

 

Melvin Villaver Headshot
         Melvin Villaver

         He/ Him/ His

         Undergrad:  Univeristy of Southern California

         College of Liberal Arts

         American Studies

         Ph.D.

Research Title:  

Stage Slaves: Filipinos Performing Music in America 1898-1946

Abstract:  

Recent literature examining musicians of Filipino descent playing American popular music is focused on performance theory and more contemporary genres of music like Rock n’ Roll and Hip-Hop. Scholars have identified and addressed the interventions of Filipino practitioners of American music forms from the end of World War II until the present. Although the more contemporary contributions of Filipino musicians to the American musical canon are important and should be recognized, there are gaps in the coverage of Filipinos performing American popular music in the United States from 1898 until 1946. This time period blends two prominent historical moments: the annexation of the Philippines to the United States and the evolution of blues, jazz, American vaudeville, and minstrelsy into the prominent forms of American music and performance culture. This study analyzes this specific historical period looking at the influences of Filipinos on American culture and seeks to preserve Filipinos in the history of American popular music. A multimethod qualitative approach will be employed, utilizing Billboard and Variety magazine articles found in the Entertainment Music Industry Archive (1894-1960), scholarly texts in the form of books and articles, autobiographies and biographies, and visual and audio evidence to piece together the history of these performers. The ultimate goal of the study is to provide an extensive look at how Filipinos were portrayed in American media while they performed American music in the jazz and vaudeville era and their role in the music history of the United States.

Bridge 2018-2019

 

Ashley Archer Headshot
         Ashley Archer

         She/ Her/ Hers

         Undergrad:  Michigan State University

         College of Agriculture

         Forestry and Natural Resources

         Master of Science

Research Title:  

Northern flying squirrel responses to red spruce management in the Monongahela National Forest

Abstract:  

Southern flying squirrels (Glaucomys volans) are arboreal rodents native to Indiana that occupy mature eastern deciduous hardwoods preferring large diameter trees, hard mast food sources and requiring a relatively open understory as a result of their primary method of locomotion, gliding. Over the last century, timberland management has drastically increased habitat fragmentation, decreased habitat patch connectivity, and altered vegetation structure and composition found in forested areas. Because of their habitat requirements and close associations with mature forests, southern flying squirrels serve as an important indicator of forest ecosystem health. It is hypothesized that low numbers of den sites and dense understory canopy in younger forests may restrict reproductive success and limit population growth. We conducted extensive vegetation surveys between a site that has undergone silviculture treatment within the last decade and an untreated site to examine differences in potential habitat for this species. Our study was conducted in Martell Forest, an eastern deciduous hardwood stand, located in West Lafayette, Indiana. Our harvested site had a lower percent of canopy cover resulting from gap openings, a greater number of snags due to girdling, and the horizontal understory cover was taller, at greater than 12 inches. We expect that of the two sites surveyed, the harvested site is more suitable potential habitat for this species suggesting that southern flying squirrel populations may benefit from forest management methods and silviculture treatments. We plan to extend this study next year to a larger-scale timber management treatment at the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment located in southern Indiana. Our results will be used to evaluate potential impacts of current silviculture practices on southern flying squirrel abundance and habitat use with applications for forest and wildlife management

 

Luis Delgado Headshot
         Luis Delgado

         He/ Him/ His

         Undergrad:  University of Texas at El Paso

         College of Engineering

         Mechanical Engineering

         Ph.D.

Research Title:  

Novel Solar Thermal Energy Storage System based on Integrated Graphene Foam
Phase Change Material Composite.

Abstract:  

The largely growing energy demand in the U.S. is mainly covered by the burning of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, petroleum). The sun produces enough energy to supply all of the world’s needs, however current energy conversion systems (photovoltaics) are highly inefficient. Thermal energy storage (TES) technology collects thermal energy by heating or cooling a storage medium so that the stored energy can be used at a later time. Thermal energy storage has been developed as one of the key technologies to overcome the intermittent nature of solar radiation. Particularly, TES systems are used in applications ranging from water heating and space heating in buildings to solar drying, steam generation, distillation, and electricity generation in industrial processes.

In the US, spacing heating accounts for 42% and 36% of energy use in residential and commercial buildings, respectively. This work focuses in designing and developing a novel, more efficient solar thermal energy storage system for heating applications in residential, commercial and industrial sectors. The major limitations in current solar energy storage systems are their low thermal conductivity and thermal diffusivity, both of which make it difficult to charge the system using sunlight and extract the heat from the system. Our approach will be based on a three-dimensional graphene foam and a phase change material (PCM) composite. Our improved system is expected to demonstrate significantly enhanced thermal conductivity and thermal diffusivity.

 

Rasul Diop Headshot
         Rasul Diop

         He/ Him/ His

         Undergrad:  Prairie View A & M University

         College of Engineering

         Ecological Science and Engineering

         Ph.D.

Research Title:  

Adsorption of Heavy Metals from Aqueous Solutions onto Biochar

Abstract:  

Biochar can be utilized for the sorption of organic compounds, including many toxic substances, from different medium because of its physiochemical properties. A few studies have previously examined adsorption of metal species. The purpose of this study is to model the kinetics and usability of biochar as an adsorbant for the removal of various metal ions from water. In this work, adsorption isotherm experiments and column studies will be performed.  

Samples of biochar were obtained, made from bamboo husks from Ghana and corncobs from Indiana. For isotherm studies, aqueous solutions containing metal ions (Pb2+, Cu2+, Zn2+, Cd2+, and HCrO4-) at different metal concentrations were equilibrated with biochar for different time periods to determine adsorption affinity and capacity, and to determine the relative rate of mass transfer. Aqueous samples were centrifuged to remove any fine biochar particles before acidification and ICP-OES analysis. These results will help in the design of biochar filters to remove metal contaminants from drinking water in developing nations.

 

Angel Enriquez Headshot
         Angel Enriquez

         He/ Him/ His

         Undergrad:  University of Puerto Rico

         College of Engineering

         Biomedical Engineering

         Ph.D.

Research Title:  

High-Throughput Magnetic Actuation Platform for Cyclic Strain Analysis of Cells

Abstract:  

Analyzing cell structure and their response to morphological changes is vital for being able to understand the mechanisms of diseases like osteoporosis, tendonitis or cancer metastasis [1-3]. The majority of existing in vitro platforms for cell deformation have low throughput and have a non-physiological substrate that impacts cellular behavior. We present a novel magnetic actuation platform with the ability to apply tensile strain on cells at a specific frequency using magnetic microactuators in a high-throughput multi-well culture plate. A fibronectin membrane is suspended over the actuator gap to reduce the impact of substrate stiffness or morphology on cells. The advantages of this platform are its manufacturability, frequency control, modularity, and low cost. Parameters obtained such as the deflection angle and gap distance enable good control of strain induced on the suspended fibronectin mesh. For example, up to 14% strain of the fibronectin can be induced with a magnetic flux density of 70 mT. By growing a 3D cell culture over the suspended fibronectin mesh and applying mechanical stimulus, the highly scalable actuation platform may be used to isolate the impact of mechanical stimulation on a more physiologically-relevant environment that does not reflect the impact due to the substrate material property.

 

Kiera Estes Headshot
         Kiera Estes

         She/ Her/ Hers

         Undergrad:  Indiana University of Pennsylvania

         College of Science

         Chemistry

         Ph.D.

Research Title:  

Evaluating Cell Penetration of a Muscle- Homing Peptide, M12

Abstract:  

The 12-amino acid peptide, M12 has been reported to be a muscle-homing peptide and could serve to deliver gentamycin to cells of interest for muscle dystrophy (MD) treatment. The ability of M12 to target and enter muscle cells (C2C12) will be monitored by flow cytometry and confocal microscopy. Herein, the synthesis and characterization of a fluorescent analog of the M12 peptide will be discussed.

 

Vanessa Kwarteng Headshot
         Vanessa Kwarteng

         She/ Her/ Hers

         Undergrad:  Prairie View A & M University

         College of Engineering

         Mechanical Engineering

         Ph.D.

Research Title:  

Designing a Game Mechanism to teach Energy Conservative Behaviors in Subsidized Residential Communities

Abstract:  

Energy conserving behaviors are commonly advertised to residents that pay their utilities for cost savings and environmental awareness. However, communities that are low-income or subsidized have not been a major focus when it applies to energy conservation in these communities. If these communities were able to reduce their energy consumption this would lead to impactful environmental preservation and economic savings. The purpose of our research is to create a game mechanism and feedback system that can be used in these residential communities to get residents to conserve energy to decrease the financial burden and increase environmental awareness while improving the quality of life.

My research focused on a branch of applied math called game theory that aims to predict human behavior in different situations where rational agents (players) make independent decisions trying to maximize their utility. I studied non-cooperative and cooperative games to determine which framework would be more appropriate for our problem. Would competition or collaboration as a community be better and sustainable for the future of energy conservation in low-income/subsidized communities and why? As part of my preliminary studies, I learned about the basics of game theory including the concept Nash equilibrium. A Nash equilibrium is a set of strategies for each game player with the following property: No player has an incentive to deviate from this set of strategies if everyone else follows it. My future work will be focused on designing a game mechanism which incentivizing low-income/subsidized residents to conserve energy in a sustainable way that does not sacrifice their comfort.

 

Joel Mercado Headshot
         Joel Mercado-Reyes

         He/ Him/ His

         Undergrad:  University of Puerto Rico

         College of Agriculture

         Botany and Plant Pathology

         Master of Science

Research Title:  

Determining the efficacy of multiple fungicides in controlling Pythium aphanidermatum in Geraniums.

Abstract:  

Pythium aphanidermatum is the causal agent of root and crown rot in many plants species producing significant loses in field, vegetable, and ornamental crops. Management relies on using fungicides to protect the crop. There are two main types of fungicides, biological, which use beneficial microorganisms, for example bacteria or fungi, and synthetic, which consists of a compound or mix of compounds. Not only do they differ in their mechanisms of control, but also in their environmental influence, bio-controls are less invasive and have a reduced impact than their chemical counterparts. A fungicide efficacy test was performed to determine which fungicide(s) is most effective for controlling P. aphanidermatum on geraniums and at which rate. In this trial, 5 synthetic and 2 biological fungicides were tested. A preventive, meaning before infection and controlling application or after infection with disease was done. The trials were performed under controlled greenhouse conditions (aprox. 20-25°C, 20h on and 4h off supplemental light) on individually potted geraniums “Pelargonium hortorum”. A visual scale of 1 to 10, in which 1 is a completely dead plant and 10 is healthy, was prepared to rate the treatments weekly and assess the degree of infection. At the end of the trial, roots were cleaned and examined for disease symptoms, like discoloration and rotting, since Pythiums species mainly affect the root system. The different treatments were compared to each other and to the controls. This allowed to assess the effect of the fungicide treatment to non-treatment and determine if the compound is successful in controlling P. aphanidermatum.

 

Marian Rodriguez Soto
         Marian Rodriguez-Soto

         She/ Her/ Hers

         Undergrad:  University of Puerto Rico

         College of Agriculture

         Entomology

         Master of Science

Research Title:  

Adult billbug (Coleoptera: Dryopthoridae: Sphenophorus spp.) identification using DNA barcodes

Abstract:  

Billbugs (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) are a complex of grass feeding weevils (at least six species) that are serious and often misdiagnosed pests of turfgrass. Their feeding damage is often identified incorrectly as drought, soil compaction, or diseases, sometimes leading to repeated misapplications of pesticides. Effective control of these weevils relies heavily on proper identification and timing of insecticides targeting vulnerable life stages. However, our weak understanding of regional variation in the species compositions and seasonal phenologies of these insects, and our inability to identify the damaging larval stage to species level, has hindered the ability of turfgrass managers to effectively mitigate their damage. The goal of this study is to develop a molecular tool that will resolve the species identity and seasonal phenology of billbug larval populations. Several species of adult billbugs across a broad geographic range (IN, MO, UT) were collected and identified. Based on previous work identifying three different genetic loci (COI, 18S, ITS2) as useful for species identification, these were used to sequence and analyze in collected specimens. The implications of our findings for resolving billbug species identity and clarifying seasonal phenology across a broad geographic range will be discussed. They will serve as a basis for the development of more prescriptive management approaches, that use insecticides more effectively, and provide higher economic returns for turfgrass managers.

 

Nerisa Taua
         Nerisa Taua

         She/ Her/ Hers

         Undergrad:  Chaminade University

         College of Agriculture

         Forestry and Natural Resources

         Master of Science

Research Title:  

Evaluating the contribution acoustic monitors have in predicting bat mist netting success

Abstract:  

Ecologists need better tools to understand the ecology of bat endangered and threatened populations that provide important critical ecosystem services for humans. Effective survey techniques are required to collect sufficient information needed to aid bat conservation and habitat management. We aimed to determine whether acoustic monitoring results can predict capture success during mist-netting. Focusing on 3 bat species (Big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus), Eastern red bat (Lasiurus borealis), and Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis)), we investigate the relationship between detection rate and number of individual species captured. We predict no relationship for big brown bats and Eastern red bats due to these species being omnipresent in the landscape. However, we predict a relationship for Indiana bats because this species has specific habitat requirements. From May to July 2017 and 2018, we sampled 20 sites within 6 Purdue properties and 1 Indiana state park using AnaBat II bat detectors. Mist-netting for bats was conducted using triple-high and double-high mist-nets at sites where acoustic monitors were placed. We identified echolocation calls to species using EchoClass v3. We used general linear model to compare number of calls per sample day of each species to the number of bats captured at the same site during mist net surveys. We found a significant relationship between detection rate and number of captures for Indiana bats and not Big Brown bats or Eastern Red bats. These results support the use of acoustic monitoring to enhance the selection of mist-netting sites and as an useful technique for prioritizing sites and enhancing capture success of rare species.

 

Benjamin Thomas Headshot
         Benjamin Thomas

         He/ Him/ His

         Undergrad:  

         College of Liberal Arts

         Communication

         Master of Science

Research Title:  

U.S. Debate 2016: A Critical Media Content Analysis

Abstract:  

The purpose of this research is to analyze the influence that mainstream media has on the narrative of the 2016 United States Presidential Debates. Political scientists and political communication scholars posit that media play a role in the political education of the voting populace. Analyzing the efficacy of the mainstream media’s education and information is important to understanding why the American government is perceived to be ineffective by its citizens and why the levels of cynicism and political disengagement existed in the 2016 election. This research narrows the scope to the 4 Presidential debates run by the Commission on Presidential Debates. Content from each presidential debate is coded and put into categorized data. Questions will be put into hard news, policy/issue-based, or personal. The correlation between industry campaign contributions and time related to the given industry will be analyzed. This study lays the foundation for future studies on this topic.

 

Alejandra Duran Trinidad
         Alejandra Duran Trinidad

         She/ Her/ Hers

         Undergrad:  Purdue University

         College of Liberal Arts

         Communications

         Master of Science

Research Title:  

Exploring the Correlation Between Latinas’ Cultural and Religious Beliefs About Health Disclosure

Abstract:  

The current study focuses on exploring the potential of a correlation between cultural and religious beliefs about health disclosure in medical consultations between Latina patients and physicians. Health disclosure is important because it helps physicians accurately diagnose patients and administer proper treatment. Current research shows that culture and religion, which are often intertwined, are factors that influence disclosure (De Jesus, 2015; Julliard, 2008). Additionally, there is copious research on the communication between patients and physicians, however, Julliard (2008) noted that Latinas were not well represented in current studies.
This study will report on a pilot survey administered to 10 Latinas who have sought medical care or are currently receiving medical care in the United States. The survey will address research questions through 6 hypotheses based on the current literature of health disclosure among Latinos. To guide the methodology of this research, the Reconceptualized Health Belief Model (RHBM) will be used. The RHBM consists of the following main components: perceived susceptibility, perceived severity, perceived benefits, perceived barriers, self-efficacy, and cues to action (Mattson, 2011). Based on the findings of the survey, suggestions will be offered to promote better disclosure about health among Latinas.