Lake Superior State University
Lake Superior State University
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Alum Success

Communications and SPC Administrator, Drinking Source Water Protection Division of the Sault Ste. Marie Region Conservation Authority (Ontario)

"Most natural science classes at LSSU offer students as much hands-on experience (lab hours) as lecture hours, which ensures that the university experience prepares us for the real world careers, whether you work at a desk or out in the field, or both. There are endless advantages and opportunities available to LSSU students due to its location on an international border.

I found my career path on campus when my advisor posted a job for the Bi-national Public Advisory Council (BPAC), a group dedicated to and overseeing the clean-up the St. Mary's River. I was able to gain experience and network on both sides of the border, ultimately finding full-time employment before I graduated with my biology degree."

Loralei Premo '07
Biology Major

College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences

Barbara Keller, Ph.D.
Barbara Keller, Ph.D
Office: CRW 236
Phone: (906) 635-2267
Fax: (906) 635-2266

Ms. Donna White
Academic Secretary

Ms. Mary St. Antoine
Lab Manager

Mr. Roger Greil
Aquatic Lab Manager, ARL

Mr. Ben Southwell
Instrumentation Chemist


Welcome to the College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences website. The College is home to four Schools that offer baccalaureate and associate programs in biology, chemistry, forensic chemistry, environmental sciences, fisheries & wildlife management, conservation biology, geology, exercise science, parks and recreation, athletic training, mathematics and computer science. Our highly trained faculty members in the College provide students with rigorous academic training that is blended with hands-on learning and applied real world research experience. I invite you to check out the individual Schools through the links below. You will find that our students use modern up-to-date equipment and operate state-of-the art instrumentation. Our mission statement reaffirms our commitment to students to help them develop their full potential as professionals in the natural and mathematical sciences. Better still, come see for yourself. Visit our beautiful campus, meet our faculty & staff, and sign up for a tour of our facilities. We are proud of our campus and would love to show you around.

Barb Keller, Ph.D.


Mission Statement

The mission of the College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences is to help students develop their potential as professionals in their respective fields. The College provides rigorous academic programs in an engaged, personal and supportive environment. Faculty members enhance student success and the future of the College through their teaching, scholarship and professional development; and act as role models in life-long learning and community service. We prepare graduates for advanced study and/or careers in disciplines crucial to the progress of our nation in the 21st Century. In addition to the major programs, the College provides courses for all University students that serve the national need for literacy in science and mathematics.


Presidents Council - State Universities of Michigan Distinguished Professor

Dr. Paul Kelso has been selected as one of the 2011 Presidents Council - State Universities of Michigan (PCSUM), Distinguished Professor of the Year recipients. The Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year program recognizes the outstanding contributions made by the faculty from Michigan’s public universities to the education of undergraduate students. This is the first time an LSSU faculty member has received this award.


  • Develop skills in analysis, critical thinking, problem solving, decision-making, and communication.
  • Prepare students for careers using their respective degrees and/or certificates.
  • Prepare students for graduate schools and professional schools.
  • Provide practical hands-on experiences in the field and with modern instruments and equipment.
  • Provide highly skilled professors who are also respected scholars.
  • Provide unique learning opportunities.

Senior Capstone Projects

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Nick Arend of Stevensville, MI studied the digestive rates of eggs in round goby stomachs to determine the rate that they become unidentifiable. Round gobies are an invasive species that feed on native fishes eggs in the Great Lakes. His results showed that round gobies do not chew their eggs, but swallow them whole. After five hours of digestion an egg shell was still identifiable. This research is important because current digestion studies on round gobies do not prove they eat egg; but there is visual evidence that round gobies do eat eggs. Results from this study can be used to create a standard sampling procedure on round goby diets to detect the presence of eggs.

Trevor Asperger of Grass Lake, MI, studied the effects of tumors on the health of suckers spawning in the Rifle River near Omer MI, as well as the correlation between fish age and tumor incidence. His results showed no significant difference between the health of fish with and without tumors. A slight correlation between age and tumor incidence was found. This research is important because fishermen who consume these fish should be aware of the exposure of the fish to environmental toxins and carcinogens.

Erika Beyer of Holland, Michigan created two biological outreach programs for children pre-K – 3rdgrade at the Howard Miller Public Library in Zeeland, Michigan in collaboration with their summer reading program.  Endangered canines and Great Lakes invasive or non-native species were the topics of the presentations.  By working with a library, a diverse group of children attended each program.  Fifteen children attended each program. She found that engaging a student’s desire to learn through reading helped to initially excite the children in the topic of each program.  This research is important because biological education is important for people who aren’t exposed to biology and other sciences on a regular basis.

Monica Brandt of Hillman, Michigan has interned with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to investigate Operation Windbreak. Operation Windbreak is a multi- agency group that installs vegetative windbreaks along the local highways to prevent the blowing and drifting of snow. She observed local success rates on previously planted-sites. To do this, she evaluated the survivability rate of each site, and concluded that the majority of the sites will need future maintenance work including weed control, and replanting select sections of the windbreak.  Monica’s study is important in developing a more effective method of monitoring each study-site and quantifying vegetation survivability.

Michael Caputo of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, investigated the protective benefits of the antioxidant vitamin C against ultraviolet (UV) light, the most prevalent environmental carcinogen. Results of this experiment suggested that human skin cells treated with vitamin C were better protected against UV light-induced DNA damage. This study, along with a host of others, supports the consumption of a wide variety of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables as a strategy to help prevent disease and cancer.

Jordan Christie of Bath, Michigan evaluated the effects of environmental factors on Escherichia coli concentrations at four Chippewa County, Michigan beaches. Brimley State Park, Sherman Park, Sugar Island Township Park and Four Mile Beach are recreational swimming beaches monitored for harmful bacteria to protect the public health. A linear multiple regression analysis was conducted to determine the impact environmental conditions have on the Category I beach E. coli concentrations. These data suggest that chronic sources of pollution influenced by water temperature, turbidity, one day precipitation and two day precipitation uniquely explain E. coli concentrations at the four beaches. This research is important for beach managers to identify sources of pollution and develop effective management plans to keep beaches clean and public healthy.

Josh Cerasuolo of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario assessed patient satisfaction related to specialty healthcare by surveying the general public in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan & Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. He compared the two cities to see if there were significant differences in patient satisfaction between Canadians and Americans living in a rural community. His results indicated a contrast in satisfaction between patients of the border town communities; individuals surveyed from Sault, Michigan were more satisfied with their experiences involving specialty healthcare. This research is important to determine which system (private or public) could better serve an isolated rural community with specialty health care services based on patient perception.

Courtney Cochran of Sitka, Alaska compared the incidence rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea infection in Chippewa County, Michigan and the District of Algoma, Canada from 2002 - 2011. Both chlamydia and gonorrhea have high infection numbers not only in the United States, but globally as well. The average age of infection for both areas was consistent with the CDC average STI infection range of 20 – 24. The highest peak for Algoma was in 2009 with 3.5 infected individuals per 1,000.  The highest peak for Chippewa was in 2011 with 2.5 individuals per 1,000. The purpose of this study was to observe and better understand disease incidence in similar geographic locations.

Hannah Connor of Brighton, MI estimated the prevalence of the cat parasite Toxoplasma gondii in Chippewa County by testing the cats at a local animal shelter. People can contractthis parasite from their cat’s litter boxes. Healthy individuals do not show symptoms. However, people with weakened immune symptoms can suffer from inflammation in the brain and vision problems. If a pregnant woman becomes infected, it can be transferred to the child and result in birth defects. The results of her study showed that approximately one in three cats are infected with this parasite. There was no major difference in the infection rate between previously ownedand stray cats. This is significant for pet owners because people can become infected withT. gondiifrom their cats.

Joselyn Coullard of Brimley, MI studied the effect of Crest Whitestrips on the strength of human teeth. While tooth-whitening is the number one requested cosmetic procedure today, it can cause considerable damage to the teeth. Her results showed that the whitened teeth fractured more easily than non-whitened teeth. This research is important because many people today use tooth-bleaching products such as Crest Whitestrips and should be aware of its harmful effects.

Brittany Cousino of Monroe, Michigan assessed three primary sources of drinking water near Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan for water quality and inhibition of plaque development on teeth. Her results showed that fluoride is an active component in the inhibition of plaque on developing teeth. She also found that sources of drinking water that contained fluoride such as municipal water showed the most inhibition. This research is important to the public health as bottled water is being consumed more often due to the perception of its purity over other sources.

Caryn Crane of Flint, MI evaluated local food use in the restaurants of Sault Ste. Marie for a Food Hub Initiative through the Michigan State University Extension Office.  This program is looking at starting an online ordering service called the U.P. Food Exchange and implementing a Food Hub location in the Sault Ste. Marie area.  The Food Hub would allow farmers to store and distribute fresh local produce in larger quantities to restaurants and institutions of the Eastern Upper Peninsula.  She found that the restaurants are positively responsive to the imitative and would like to participate in incorporating more local foods into their menu.  This program is economically important to the community because it can keep goods and services local.

Jennifer Deater of Mancelona, MI studied the responses of Common Ravens to different vocalizations and if there was a preference for predator calls or a prey distress call. She did this by testing the two different calls in the Hiawatha National Forest where both ravens and coyotes responded to both recordings.  Her results showed that scavengers used vocalizations to locate possible food sources, but there was not enough data to conclude that one vocalization was preferred over another. This research can help biologists determine the presence of scavengers in an area as well as gain a better understanding of interspecies behavior.

Ashley Denome of Escanaba, MI, studied the relationship between cholesterol-reducing medications and vitamin D levels using patient medical records at War Memorial Hospital and Lakeview Internal Medicine located in Sault Ste Marie, MI.  Her results showed that these medications had no effect on vitamin D levels in patients.  Since cholesterol is needed to make vitamin D, this study was important for understanding factors that could reduce the amount of this vital molecule in the human body.

Sara Dimick of Rogers City, Michigan investigated round goby energy content across the Great Lakes.  Round gobies are non-native fish that invaded the Great Lakes in the 1990’s. They cause harm by outcompeting and preying on native species. In recent years, round gobies are being consumed by native top predators such as lake trout, and water snakes.  The goal of this study is to determine both the average round goby energy content and the variability in energy content across locations and seasons. Results showed that round gobies’ energy content varies among the Great Lakes, and varies with season. This information is essential for predicting growth of round goby predators and for understanding food-web linkages in the Great Lakes.

Matthew Elya of Harbor Springs, MI studied how migratory fishes contribute nutrients during spawning runs in Great Lakes streams. Nutrients stimulate the growth of algae which is the base of stream food webs. Historically, only native fish species provided nutrients to streams during their spawning runs; however, introduced fish species now also contribute nutrients to streams during their spawning runs. As a result, stream food webs may be changing. This project compared the amount of nutrients provided to Great Lakes streams by a native species, white suckers, and an introduced species, Chinook salmon, which will ultimately expand our knowledge of their impact on Great Lakes streams.

Tiffany Escherich of Dafter, MI studied the influence of human disturbance on the nesting success of piping plovers in the Great Lakes.  The piping plover is an endangered shorebird that has been the focus of management efforts over the past 20+ years.  Her results showed that there was no significant difference between the successes of birds that nested in high human disturbance areas versus low human disturbance areas.  However, Piping Plovers did show a greater tendency to nest near areas of relatively low human disturbance.  This research is important to assist managers in determining how many people to employ to monitor each nest site during the breeding season.  These management efforts aid in increasing the success of the Piping Plover’s population recovery efforts.

Logan French, of Columbus Michigan, assisted with gathering information to apply for a funding application through the Environmental Protection Agency. The funding will be used to develop a watershed management plan for the Waishkey River watershed which is done through a ten step program that supports assessment, monitoring and improvement of the water quality in the Waishkey River watershed. Rainfall and snowmelt runoff deliver pollutants across the landscape and deposit them in downstream water bodies. Data was collected to develop background information on the Waishkey River in order to have a better understanding of the current state of the watershed. This experiential learning project was important for developing a plan that would be beneficial to reduce degradation within the Waishkey River watershed.

Sarah Gallagher of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario studied the livers of waterfowl in order to determine the potential host species of the parasite causing swimmer’s itch within the Eastern Upper Peninsula. Waterfowl carcasses were donated by local hunters, the livers were removed, and then parasites were extracted and counted.  Four of seventeen species collected tested positive: mallards, hooded mergansers, buffleheads and wigeons. This research identified the most likely species of waterfowl in the Eastern U.P. that can transport swimmer’s itch. Further studies of other factors such as water body type and aquatic vegetation, will be useful in predicting future outbreaks of swimmer’s itch.

Glenn Galle of Cedar Springs, MI investigated the antifungal effects of five common kitchen spices to determine if they could possibly stop fungal growth on food products and thus prevent food waste.  His study found that all five of the spices tested had an antifungal effect on yeast but only a couple of spices had an effect on the mold used.  This is significant because by adding spices to a variety of foods it may prevent billions of dollars in food loss. 

Jason Gostiaux of Royal Oak, MI studied changes in growth and size structure of the yellow perch population in Cranberry Lake within the Hiawatha Sportsmen’s Club.  Manipulations were previously done in order to establish a better environment for larger (≥ 8 in.) yellow perch by introducing predator fish and lime.  His results showed that within five years the yellow perch did not respond their growth rate did not consistently increase.  These findings are important because there are few examples of the effects of whole-lake manipulations.  At the same time these results help the Sportsmen’s Club manage this lake by updating the members about the current status of the yellow perch population in Cranberry Lake.

Nichole Johnson of Armada, MI studied the effects of Acetaminophen, a common compound found in various pain killers, on a species of water flea (Daphnia magna). Her experiment observed heart rhythm, mortality, reproduction rate and the number of eggs produced by the organisms. The results showed dramatic decrease in the heart rate. The medication concentrations would have eventually been lethal if the medication dosage had continued to be increased. The research is important because it tells us the effects of improper over the counter medication disposal on water systems and its effects on aquatic life.

John Kilponen of Ann Arbor, MI studied the effects of Striped Maple (Acer Pennsylvanicum) removal on habitat use by White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) on Hiawatha Sportsman’s Club land. His results showed that removal of an undesirable species of tree can create access to habitat that was previously inaccessible to White-tailed deer. Also, as sivicultural practices change the forest mosaic certain guidelines can alter the regrowth of the habitats. This research is important for people managing land for both forestry practices and wildlife habitat.

Tyler Lorenzo of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario designed DNA primers to test for ND-1 mutations in human mitochondria. His results showed that he was successful in designing these DNA primers which will allow future Lake Superior State University students to use them in researching his original idea. This research is important because ND-1 mutations are known to cause a wide variety of diseases which hopefully can be prevented with further studies.

Mark Martin of Custer, MI assessed what habitat alterations made by beavers to the environment influenced river otter habitat selection. Results of the study indicated no sympatry between river otters and beavers was found at Pendills Creek. The data that was collected is instead being used to assess habitat alterations (dams, lodges, etc.) made by beavers in areas they do occupy and comparing that to areas they have not made alterations to yet. 

James Miller of Woodhaven, MI studied a series of environmental and biological factors and how they affected variability in largemouth bass abundance (called recruitment) from year to year in Soldier Lake, near Raco, MI. This lake has a highly variable recruitment from every year. Factors that were chosen to explore this variability included warming rate, temperature variability, high winds, and the abundance of both yellow perch and largemouth bass. James’ results showed that both high winds and high abundance of largemouth bass from the previous year decreased following year’s recruitment. This research shows that the recruitment of the largemouth bass, a well-known game fish in the United States, is dependent on both climate and biological pressures.

Kathryn Mulka of Utica, MI, studied the production of poly 3-hydroxybutyrate (PHB), a biodegradable plastic synthesized by bacteria, and whether stress affect its production rate.  Using the bacterium Rhodobacter sphaeroides, her results showed that when cells are placed under both starvation and ultraviolet stressors, their production of PHB increases 3 fold.  This research is important because understanding how to induce PHB synthesis in bacteria can create a cheaper and more efficient way to manufacture biodegradable plastic.

Charolette Niezgoda of Alpena, MI studied the strains of Staphylococcus present on Lake Superior State University’s campus to find the relationship between gender and strain. Results showed both Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermis were present oncampus with no difference in number of cases between males and females. Inoculated S. aureus cells were inoculated and tested for antibiotic susceptibility with several beta-lactam antibiotics. Results showed no relationship in specific use of antibiotic but a significant difference in the susceptibility of each antibiotic treatment. This study is important as methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus is known as a superbug among many cultures. Its ability to resistant antibiotics and rapidly spread can be life-threatening in some infectious cases. These results could help Lake Superior State University reduce the likelihood of a large spread of infection by increasing knowledge of the bacteria and its resistance mechanisms.

Jimmy Osga of Frederic, MI studied the spatial distribution and aggregation patterns of adult sea lamprey in the St. Marys River. His results displayed various distribution patterns which seemed to depend on the spawning season of lamprey. The study also exhibited areas within the river in which specific, untreated, habitats were selected more frequently than others by sea lamprey throughout the summer months. This research is important to the future management and removal of a popular invasive species, in order to help conserve the Great Lakes food web.

Shanelle Pearse of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario studied the effect of capsaicin on the growth of Streptococcus gordonii, a bacterium of the human mouth. In other words, “can the active chemical compound in hot chili peppers inhibit the growth of a dangerous oral bacterium?” Streptococcus gordonii infections, if allowed to reach the blood stream can cause formation of blood clots, restriction of blood flow, and eventual acute congestive heart failure. Capsaicin not only generates the sensation of heat upon ingestion but also it is responsible for many of the peppers’ disease-fighting properties. This research is important because it would give facts and advice about a complex public health issue and also give the general public an easy, tasty way of promoting his/ her own health.

Scott Pekel of Holton, Michigan completed an Experiential Learning Project that involved planning and implementing an environmental restoration project adjacent to a motorsport trail within the Manistee National Forest.  The Cedar Creek motorsport trail had numerous locations that were experiencing severe erosion, and this led to terrestrial and aquatic habitat damage.  The project involved planning the project by writing a grant to obtain funding, finalizing budget figures, ordering materials and then building erosion control devices on site and installing them.  The erosion control devices, called water bars, function by retaining soil and letting water pass through.  This helps return the hillsides to a more natural state, and improves habitat in the project area.  Along with the implementation of the project for this year, future restoration sites were surveyed and a grant was written to fund project work for summer 2013.

Ashley Poehls of Baraga, MI studied the effects of ocean acidification on the growth rate, culture density, and cell size of a calcifying marine microalgae.  This algae contributes to many chemical and biological processes in the oceans, making it important to understand how it is being affected by our changing oceans. Her results showed a reduced growth rate and lower culture density with increasing acidity, as well as greater cell sizes in the higher acidity environment. In conjunction with other studies, this research will provide a better understanding of how ocean acidification will affect these calcifying primary producers and them any chemical and biological processes associated with them.

Kyle Marc Point of St. Clair Shores, MI looked at the diets of hunter harvested diving ducks and sea ducks in the eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  He found that ducks in this region ate a variety of plant and animal foods.  He did not find conclusive evidence that any ducks in the study consumed zebra or quagga mussels, which are invasive species.  This research is important because it is the only duck diet study that has been conducted in the eastern Upper Peninsula.  The results also differ from duck diet studies on the lower Great Lakes, where invasive zebra mussels are a common food source and a concern for waterfowl managers.

John Ransom of Traverse City, MI assessed the effects of non-native trout and salmon on native stream fish communities after a dam was removed in four Great Lake tributaries. His results showed that within five years of a dam removal non-native salmon made up a large proportion of the fish community upstream of the removed dam. Native brook trout populations decreased dramatically upstream of the removed dam and remain low in downstream reaches. This research is important because it shows that dams may be important for protecting native fishes from invasion of non-native species.

Jeffrey Salvin of Walker, Michigan studied northern pike movement after dam removal in the Potagannissing River. His results showed that northern pike were moving upstream successfully with the rock ramp system that is currently in place. The amount of adult northern pike moving upstream could suggest higher reproduction due to more spawning habitat being accessible. The increased amount of habitat could be a step toward increasing the low population. This research is important because northern pike is a popular fish species in the St. Marys River basin and northern pike populations have been decreasing in the system.       

Jared Stephen of Burton, MI analyzed the diets of yellow perch (Perca flavescens) and rainbow trout (Onchorhyncus mykiss) in Duke’s Lake, Chippewa County, Michigan, to assess the potential for competition over food resources. The results indicated the fishes are consuming and selecting the same prey organisms, and the potential for competition between rainbow trout and yellow perch is extremely high. Because Duke’s Lake is stocked with rainbow trout, this study demonstrates that the trout fishery may benefit from changes in lake-specific yellow perch regulations or possible removal of a portion of the yellow perch population.

Amanda Taylor of Byron Center, MI coordinated a large tagged monarch butterfly release at John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids. Through this internship at Michigan Butterflies she was able to educate the public on monarch butterflies, the decline of the species, and steps to help keep the monarch population flourishing. By tagging monarchs it is possible to track them along migration routes and compare data from the release with known migration data to help determine what is effecting the monarch population.

Stefan Tucker of Belmont, MI studied a small population of Lake Sturgeon, a threatened species, within the St. Mary’s River. Little information is known about the reproductive success of Lake Sturgeon within the St. Mary’s River, and therefore population may be vulnerable to future threats. This project was the first attempt to capture larval Lake Sturgeon and document natural reproduction using egg mats and larval drift nets. Reproduction of Lake Sturgeon was not confirmed, but adult sturgeon activity was observed which demonstrates the need for further research on this population in the St. Mary’s River.

Jackie Wolfinger of Grass Lake, MI studied the effectiveness of brochures as a method of public outreach. Eastern Upper Peninsula anglers were surveyed on their knowledge of the use of certified disease-free bait after reading an educational brochure on the subject. Results showed that when a brochure is considered effective, it is also considered informative and easy to read and understand. Continued research on the effectiveness of brochures is important, because brochures are expensive to produce. Money spent on brochures could be used on other methods of outreach if brochures are ineffective at educating the public. 

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Ford Aldrich - Integration Testing - Hagerty Insurance, Traverse City
The focus of this project with the Hagerty Insurance Company was to build an automated testing suite to cover critical software components. This integration testing project began as an internship the previous summer and carried over throughout the school year. The result of the work was a large, flexible testing suite that gave Hagerty's quality assurance staff an efficient way to test core components of its software base.

Collin Baker - Mobile Software Development - Daifuku Webb, Osaka, Japan
The project was to develop a mobile application to work on smart phones via Bluetooth to replace an old, bulky pendant used for moving autonomously-guided vehicles manually.  The idea was not to be able to do it remotely, but simply eliminate the cost of the pendant. The project consisted of two stages: (1) Learn the Android Software Development Kit; (2) Develop a marketable application. The safe operation of the vehicle was critical.

Lisa Luton - PC Specialist - Sault Area Public Schools, Sault Ste. Marie, MI
The initial phase of the project was spent implementing an old assets database into a new system that also managed help desk tickets and asset users. Data was manipulated to fit specific templates that were to be uploaded into the new system. The remainder of the project was spent working in the technology office as a PC specialist. Hardware and software issues were repaired on laptops and desktop computers. Also, time was spent configuring printers, installing projectors, and repairing various technology problems that came up.

William J. Mattson – IT Intern - Info Services Dept., City of Sault Ste. Marie, MI The project consisted of working with a lead technical professional with the City of Sault Ste. Marie Information Services Department. Tasks involved shadowing an IT lead during the day-to-day to operations of the IS Department. Most of the assigned duties involved diagnosing and troubleshooting defective workstations and laptops, replacement of defective components as well as the installation of operating system software. The remainder of the project was spent completing an inventory of city-wide, IT-related equipment for the purpose of assessment by the city planners.

Robert G. Smith – Research & IT Placement – War Memorial Hospital, Sault Ste. Marie, MI The first component of this project involved research. The manager of the hospital IT department had a variety of topics that need to be looked into in order to keep compliant with HIPPA. Some of the areas researched were cloud storage and computation, full disk encryption (both managed and unmanaged), thin clients and VMware Viewer implementations. The second component was aiding the staff of the IT department in mission-critical activities. Computers would be setup with software, updates, and user accounts, printers would be deployed, and equipment decommissioned.

Christian Tilmant - Piping Plover Website - LSSU, Sault Sainte Marie, MI
A web site,, was developed for the United States Fisheries and Wildlife Foundation. The lead founders of this organization wanted a site developed to highlight the Great Lakes Piping Plover, an endangered bird in Michigan. The site displays information and photos of the bird, what the researchers are doing to help protect it, as well as links to related websites. The site also has a blog to allow people to share their ideas and opinions on this endangered bird. A secure area was developed where the researchers can log in to share their data on a secure server.

Dan Walker - Software Engineering Internship - Direct Connex, LLC, Grand Rapids, MI Creating an updated version of a System Monitor product was the focus of this project. The first area of emphasis was to maintain backwards compatibility with the existing data files; the remainder of the project focused on using those data types to create a working 3D model of a factory. This allowed a user to monitor the workflow of the factory and be quickly notified of any issues.

Edward Kramer – Understanding the Fourier Transform
Fourier transforms are used for obtaining the frequency spectrum of a signal. For instance, in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, a molecule’s spin in a magnetic field is analyzed to discover its oscillation frequencies and draw conclusions about its chemical consistency. In this work, the basic definitions and elementary mathematical properties of the Fourier integral, used as the main theoretical tool in Fourier transform analysis, were studied, together with some applications of these properties in computing the Fourier integral of some functions perceived as time signals in order to discover their frequency spectra.

Alexander S. Payne: Optimization Models
Optimization uses mathematical models to make the best possible decisions.  Optimization models are widely used in design, manufacturing, and logistics.  In this project, we investigate optimization modeling, the use of the modeling language AMPL, and the use of AMPL, together with Excel, to build, solve, visualize, and analyze large optimization models. 

Collin Baker: Using Mobile Applications to Understand Modular Arithmetic Algorithms
Modular arithmetic plays an important role in a variety of modern applications, including cryptography and coding theory. In this project, we will research a number of fundamental algorithms from the area of modular arithmetic, and develop software applications for mobile devices that can be used to illustrate and explain these algorithms.

Joseph Reath: Economic Analysis of the Soo Locks
In this project, we focus on the relationship between the economy and the shipping through the Soo Locks. Using data collected from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the United States Army Corps of Engineers, we analyze the relationship between net tonnage through the Soo Locks and various economic measures, including a variety of components of real GDP of the U.S. and of the states bordering the Great Lakes.

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Garrett Aderman; “Investigating the Use of QPCR: An Early Detection Method for Toxic Cyanobacterial Blooms”
Harmful algal blooms (HABs), including cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (CHABs), are a global phenomenon.  In the US, annual economic loss due to HABs was recently estimated at $82 million.  Furthermore, the consensus amongst the scientific community is that the frequency and duration of CHABs in freshwater systems will increase as a result of climate change and anthropogenic nutrient enrichment.  Due to the ability of some strains of CHAB genera to produce toxic compounds, larger and more sustained CHAB events will become an even greater threat to drinking water.  Of all the known cyantoxoins, one of the most ubiquitous is microcystin (MCY).  Humans are primarily exposed to cyantoxins through drinking water consumption and accidental ingestion of recreational water.  The increasing risk presented by these toxins requires health officials and utilities to improve their ability to track the occurrence and relative toxicity.  Current tracking methods do not distinguish between toxic and non-toxic strains.  Biochemical techniques for analyzing the toxins are showing considerable potential as they are relatively simple to run and low cost.  My goal was to develop a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) method to measure the amount of mcyE gene in a Lake Erie drinking water and compare the levels of the mcyE to toxin produced.  This is the first step to determining if the presence of mcyE of the mycrocystin synthestase gene cluster in Microcystits, Planktothrix and Anabaena cells can be used as the quantitative measurement in an early detection warning system for recreational and drinking waters.

Jessica Beaudry; “Bloodstain Pattern Analysis: A comparative Study between Spatter for Human and Porcine Blood”
The forensic investigation of violent crimes and deaths lead to one of the most significant and frequently encountered types of physical evidence, blood.  From the early discoveries and advances in technology, the field of forensics continues to grow, especially in the field of bloodstain pattern analysis (BPA).  It is necessary to devise experiments or controlled reproductions to continue the expansion of the BPA field.  Human blood can be extremely dangerous due to infectious diseases. There are a few safer alternatives to using human blood and they include using spatter training blood and porcine blood.  This study focuses on the comparison between human, porcine, Evident, and Sirchie spatter training blood.  The data strongly indicates that while porcine blood is comparable to human blood, Evident and Sirchie spatter training blood is not.

Josh Brown; “Synthesis of Multicyclic Products from Annulation Reaction of an Imadazoline and β-Hydroxy Carboxylic Acids”
Imidazolines are nitrogen containing hetercycles that can be found in natural products. They have unique properties particularly their ability to react with electrophiles and nucleophiles. If reacted with a molecule that contains both, imidazolines can undergo annulations to produce many interesting products. This study attempted to prepare a multicyclic product from the reaction of 1-benzyl-2-phenyl-2-imidazoline with salicyloyl chloride or salicylic acid under three different conditions to determine which was optimal. The first reaction is a two step process that uses salicyloyl chloride produced from salicylic acid. The salicyloyl chloride is then used in an annulations reaction with the imidazoline. Production of salicyloyl chloride by known methods failed. Conditions two and three attempted a similar annulations using the coupleing reagents BOP-Cl and EDC with salicylic acid and the imidazoline. These reagents work to bond the carboxylic acid to the imidazoline N and make the reaction one step. The EDC reaction failed to produce the right product, the BOP-Cl reaction appeared successful based on GCMS. However, during the purification the product was not able to be isolated.

Allen Good;  “A Summary of Inquiry in the Secondary Science Classroom”
Although forms of inquiry have been around since the early 1900s, the use and implementation of inquiry in the secondary science classroom before 2000 was limited (Quigley, 2011).  With the publishing of the National Science Education Standards in 1996, the discussion and use of inquiry grew (National Research Council, 1996).  In a national of constantly changing education pedagogies and practices, inquiry is discussed, yet implemented less and less (Drayton, 2002; Nadelson, 2009; Banerjee, 2011).  There are many published works that demonstrate how to use inquiry in one specific lab, but work needs to be done to insure the development of critical thinking and problem solving skills in the next generation of workers and thinkers.  

Kaitlin Hykel; “Determining Phthalate Concentrations in Children’s Toys by Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry”
The majority of plastic toys produced in today’s society come from foreign countries, with China being one of the leading manufacturers.  Plastic is composed of various synthetic organic compounds such as phthalates, but they can impose serious health effects especially to young children.  As a result, regulations have been put in place to monitor the use of these harmful compounds.  This study focuses on the extraction of phthalates from children’s toys to determine whether the concentrations are within the range of regulated phthalate use.

Josh Kuzimski; “Alternative Management of Anaerobic Landfill Bioreactors for Improved Energy Potential”
Converting municipal solid waste to usable energy is an emergent and growing method for modern waste management. Through microbial facilitation of methanogenesis, methane gas can be extracted from landfill bioreactors to yield a significant amount of usable energy. The hypothesis was that a sufficient addition of sodium acetate to a controlled bioreactor environment would promote larger growth of methanogenic microbes and subsequently promote a greater amount of methane relative to a control (Madigan et al, 2003). In order to simulate an anaerobic bioreactor environment, the method for the study took place in modular sections to cover the design, construction and operation of laboratory scale bioreactors. Upon completion of bioreactor engineering, the biological and chemical components were scrutinized to match ideal conditions of a landfill. Methanosarcina was the chosen genus of the methanogen family to seed the bioreactors, and a total elemental analysis of the waste source was analyzed to approximate methane yield. Over 557 hours, each bioreactor produced approximately 1.3 liters of biogas with less than 1% containing methane. Given analysis through gas chromatography, the bioreactors may have had stunted methane production do to presence of argon gas in the headspace and/or low C/N ratio of the waste. The presence of argon should have been replaced with nitrogen, and the waste source should have contained more carbon per nitrogen. The generation-3 design of constructed bioreactors was successful in containing all gasses, liquids, and solids internally, however did not produce enough methane biogas to accept or reject the hypothesis.

Whittney Laderoute; “The Unique Properties of Sand: Its Use as Criminal Trace Evidence”
Sand was collected and analyzed from five beaches in the upper peninsula of Michigan: The Shallows, Brimley State Park, Point Iroquois, Big Pine and Pendill’s Creek.  Tests were undertaken in order to determine the reliability of sand as trace evidence in criminal investigations.  Size and visual comparisons were made using a compound light microscope and chemical composition was determined by using SEM-EDS analysis.  Results showed several size trends and SEM-EDS trends but gave no concrete evidence to suggest that the sand used in this experiment can be used as reliable trace evidence.  Further research is necessary to confirm or deny this. 

Christine Larkin; “Measurement of CI/LI Additive in Military Jet Fuel by Infrared Spectrometry”
The overall objective of this project was to evaluate the feasibility of utilizing infrared spectrometry to measure Corrosion Inhibitor/Lubricity Improver (CI/LI) additive in military fuels. Four methodologies were evaluated, but only one methodology was found to be somewhat effective. The Direct Sample, Direct Sample with Standard Addition, and Concentrated Sample methodologies were ineffective. The Concentrated Sample with Standard Addition methodology was effective at correlating concentration and transmittance or absorbance within a single additive brand, but the correlation was not universally applicable across all CI/LI additive brands. It was also found that the absorbance variance of blank fuel samples completely encompassed the measurements of fuel with additives in them. This indicates that the instrument would be unable to accurately assess the concentration of CI/LI additive in a fuel sample of unknown CI/LI concentration. For this technology to be feasible, a different calibration curve would be needed for each commercial additive brand that the Army uses and it would only be capable of measuring additive concentrations as additive is being added to fuel or for the verification of additive injection equipment.

Jordan Lechowicz; “Failing Infiltrator Chamber Septic Systems in Chippewa County”
The Chippewa County Health Department has been having an issue with chamber system septic drainage systems failing prematurely. These chambers serve the same purpose as the traditional pipe and stone drainage system but take up less space and don’t require the installation of stone, making them attractive to homeowners. To help find out why these chambers have been failing prematurely, homeowners were asked to take a survey outlining their basic water quality and usages. Homeowners were also asked to submit a tap water sample to be analyzed for ion concentration using ion chromatography. The survey results showed no negligence on the homeowner’s septic care, but the sample size may be too small for the survey to reveal any useful patterns. Ion analysis found that of the ions tested, all were found to be within the limits set by the health department for satisfactory water quality. More ions and a larger sample size are needed to better understand the problem faced by the Chippewa County Health Department.

Benjamin McPhail; “Analysis of 2,4-D in Sediment Samples Taken from Paradise Lake, MI”
Two organizations from Paradise Lake, concerned for the environmental quality of Paradise Lake, wanted to test a few methods to help control the population of Eurasian Milfoil to help promote continuing recreational activity in the lake.  Each organization had different ideals: one was for natural treatment, the other wanted to explore chemical treatment avenues.  One method chosen by the latter organization was chemical treatment using 2,4-Dichlorophenoxy Acetic Acid (2,4-D), a common pesticide, especially in agriculture.  To determine whether there was a risk to the lake or surrounding groundwater sources, sediment samples were collected and analyzed for the presence of 2,4-D.

Nathan Morrill; “Determination and Comparison of Ca:Zn and Ca:Fe Ratios in Conversion Coatings using SEM-EDS”
The purpose of this project was to determine optimum conditions for performing a surface analysis of conversion coatings using SEM-EDS in parallel to imaging.  The desired Ca:Zn ratios across several varying acceleration voltages were measured and compared to Ca:Fe ratios to observe if increased kV resulted in increased Fe detection and subsequently lowered to undetectable levels of desired analytes.

Elaina Murray; “Optimization of Salmon DNA as an Internal Standard for qPCR”
The Escherichia coli species is a human fecal contamination indicator and as such is used in beach monitoring efforts.  Quantifying E. Coli presence in local beach waters helps the health department determine if a beach should be closed. The current method of determination, Colilert, takes 18 hours to produce data.  Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR), which measure genetic DNA,  is also method used to quantify the number of E. Coli, but it can be done much faster than Colilert.  In order to standardize the qPCR results, an internal standard is included which is salmon DNA. This project goes through the process of optimizing the salmon standard curve.  Each of the components was modified and the resulting standard curve was analyzed for improvements; the primers and probe were purchased new and the concentrations were varied, the DNA was purchased new and the standard curve concentrations and dilution methods were varied, the DNA was cleaned with a Qiagen kit, and new master mix and bovine serum albumin were purchased and prepared.  We found that changes to the concentrations of primers and probe and cleaning the DNA showed an increase of optimization, and that changing the dilution methods had no effect of optimization.  A combination of the above modifications may be able to produce an optimized salmon DNA standard curve.

Michael Overbeek; “Asymmetric Synthesis Using Chiral Auxiliaries and Titanium Enolates”
Chiral auxiliary-mediated asymmetric aldol additions are an important method for asymmetric carbon-carbon bond formation.  Dr. Daveid A. Evans from Harvard University has developed the use of a boron enolate to allow for specific stereochemistry, often called an “Evan’s Aldol Reaction’.  The use of a titanium enolate, instead of a borony enolate, has been documented to create the opposite stereocenters when utilizing the Evan’s Aldol methodology.  This project describes an attempt to form an anti-Evans product with the addition of phenylacetaldehyde to R-(-)-4-Benzyl-3propionyl-2oxazolidinone. The use of an aldehyde substrate when utilizing a chiral titanium enolate has not been well documented in the literature. 

Ashley Ryckman; “Characterization of Yellow Pigments in Freshwater Flavobacteria”
The yellow color of Flavobacteria is due to the presence of carotenoids and flexirubin-type pigments. These complex chemical structures have shown to produce antioxidant properties, as well as antibacterial activity.  The KOH test and reverse-phase high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) was used to characterize carotenoid and flexirubin pigment production in three strains of Flavorbacteria: FR 87, FR Y, and FR 93.  Optimization of pigment and separation was performed by quant-prep HPLC.  Separation of four pigment fractions from each strain was attained using semi-prep HPLC.  Antibacterial activity of the pigment fractions was tested using a MTT Assay.  Fexirubin biosynthesis genes, darA and darB, of related pigment producing Flavobacteria were used to compare flexirubin pigments in FR 87.  The three strains were determined to produce the carotenoid, Zeaxanthin.  FR 87 produced 13 flexirubin pigments, FR Y produced 14 flexirubin pigments and FR 93 produced 20 flexirubin-type pigments.  It was determined that compounds in all three strains demonstrated antibacterial activity.  The flexirubin biosynthesis gene, darA, is 89.9% similar to Flavobacterium johnsoniae, and 73.2% similar to Flavobacterium psychrophilum.

Rebecca Smrke; “Towards the Synthesis of a Guanidine-like Organocatalyst”
In the last decade, N-based heterocycles have surfaced as useful organocatalysts.  With strong Lewis basicity, a rigid structure that allows for strong resonance, and electronic distribution, these catalysts become useful in both medicinal and industrial chemistry purposes.  The desire to created new and unique cyclic guanidine catalysts has generated interest in this field.  We proposed to synthesize cyclic guanidine catalysts through a short three step process: (1) alkylation of a commercial imidazoline, (2) annulations with the use of a β-aminocarboxylic acid under dehydrating conditions, and (3) thermal elimination.  The first step, alkylation, was successfully completed.  In step 2, the annulations reaction, there is evidence that it may have proceeded, but more research is needed to verify the result.  As such, the final step of forming an organocatalyst, elimination, could not be completed.  In the future, the reaction will be optimized to yield the desired product.

Scott Sowers; “A Spatial Analysis of Greenhouse Gasses and Household Income”
Emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) by industries have been increasing at an exponential rate in the past century. As these emissions increase in number of sources, as well as amount of output, the impact on the environment becomes more significant. However, the United States relies heavily on industry for creation of new products, materials, and economic factors such as employment. Industries attract employment opportunities, which in return attract living accommodations. The basis of this project was to see if there is any spatial correlation between GHG emissions and income of households (within a county) of a GHG emitter. Using Geographical Information Science (GIS), we are able to search for a correlation between lower class households and amounts of GHG emissions. After processing the data, we are able to show that there is no trend in GHG emissions and the proximity to lower class households. Towards the end of the project, we were able to see an extremely slight trend of lower amounts of GHG emissions near upper class households. The project also provides the statistics, or any autocorrelation, of the data for significance testing to determine whether or not there is a probability of the relationship. The statistics provided will be the R2 value, regression, and correlation.

Amy Wyss; “Reflective Writing in organic chemistry”
Poor writing skills are negatively affecting both college readiness and communication in the workplace. Only 49.5% of students were deemed proficient writers on the 2011 Michigan Merit Exam, leading many educators to push for incorporation of writing into every classroom. To test if writing is an effective instructional strategy, this study integrated reflective writing into chemistry supplemental instruction and found a significant increase in students’ performances on tests and quizzes.   

Analysis of 2,4-D in Sediment Samples Taken from Paradise Lake, MI

Benjamin McPhail

Two organizations from Paradise Lake, concerned for the environmental quality of Paradise Lake, wanted to test a few methods to help control the population of Eurasian Milfoil to help promote continuing recreational activity in the lake. Each organization had different ideals: one was for natural treatment, the other wanted to explore chemical treatment avenues. One method chosen by the latter organization was chemical treatment using 2,4-Dichlorophenoxy Acetic Acid (2,4-D), a common pesticide, especially in agriculture. To determine whether there was a risk to the lake or surrounding groundwater sources, sediment samples were collected and analyzed for the presence of 2,4-D.

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