Grant Recipients and Their Research

Fall 2018 Grant Awardees

Spring 2019 Grant Awardees

Haven Barna

Haven Barna URG AwardeeThe impacts of enrichment on the problem-solving abilities of rats (Rattus norvegicus)

The physical, psychological, and overall well-being of animals can be negatively impacted by captivity. Enrichment is a method of keeping captive species engaged by giving them activities to partake in throughout the day. Enrichment devices could include toys, novelty objects, food, sensory activities, and much more.  My project will utilize rats to investigate the impacts enrichment can have on problem-solving ability. There will be a control and a treatment group. The rats in the control group will not be exposed to enrichment, while the rats in the treatment group will. Each rat will be evaluated by recording the time it takes them to complete a maze before and after the experiment takes place. This data will be analyzed to look for differences between the rats that were exposed to enrichment and the rats that were not to assess how problem-solving ability is impacted by enrichment.

Jared Emmack

Jared Emmack URG Award

Comparing rhizospheric differences between young growth and old growth Eastern White  Pine (Pinus strobus)

In this study the goal will be to determine differences in rhizospheric soil microbial communities between differing aged stands of Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus).  Soil samples have been collected at 3 locations; a site near Tahquamenon State Park, a location just southwest of Sault Ste. Marie, MI, and a site near Copper Harbor, MI.  The extracted microbial DNA from the soil samples are then analyzed for microbial community abundance as well as diversity within the community.  This will determine whether or not the Eastern white pine individuals are selecting certain microbial community characteristics throughout their lifetime.

Nash Johnston

Nash Johnston URG Award

“Effects of salinity on serum cortisol in Atlantic salmon”

This project will look into safe handling techniques of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in regard to performing a “Dip” into a salt bath for vaccinations. Salmon will be randomly assigned into three salt test groups with a further level of variation being length of test. Blood was taken post different salinity exposure in order to determine a safe concentration of salt to use for a “Dip” as well as length of time. Total blood cell count and plasma cortisol levels were analyzed under microscope and via ELISA test respectively. ANOVA test was used for data analysis to find a difference between the tests: serum cortisol and salinity treatment

Renee Resendes

Renee Resendes URG AwardThe Effects of PFAS on the Development and Mitochondrial Function in Zebrafish Ova

Renée Resendes of Windsor, ON tested the effects of PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl
Substances) on the development and mitochondrial function of zebrafish ova. The two most
common forms of PFAS are PFOA and PFOS, which are persistent in the environment and of
common exposure to humans. The study aimed to determine if there was a correlation between
changes in embryonic development and energy production, as a result of exposure to PFOA,
PFOS, and in combination. Her results showed that PFOA and PFOS in combination affected
embryonic development, caused changes in energy regulation, and within these conditions even
resulted in embryo death before 14 days old. Research of PFAS is of value because of the
potential harm these chemicals have on reproductive and developmental processes and overall
adverse human health effects.

Taylor Severence

Taylor Severance URG Award

Stress levels related to Acetaminophen usage in social conformity

Recently, some newly found side effects of acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, have shown suppressed emotional output. This study was designed to use social conformity as a medium to monitor any behavior, mood, or physical changes acetaminophen may have on those who consume it. A total of 48 participants were evaluated during a small group activity on their cortisol levels, mood states, blood pressure/pulse, and behavioral changes. The data gained will be analyzed to determine if acetaminophen is decreasing physiological stress reaction and mood changes, and if the suppression of stress may result in a behavioral change.

Megan Casey

Casey URC2019

I will be looking for the frequency of two common gene mutations in the Eastern Upper Peninsula Caucasian population. The genes of interest are Factor V (responsible for blood clotting) and methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR, which regulates homocysteine buildup). These mutations are important because they can lead to serious conditions, such as abnormal blood clots and miscarriages.  DNA samples will be obtained from non-invasive cheek swabs; amplified using PCR and quantified using the new gene fragment analyzer in the School of Science and Medicine at LSSU. We will compare the EUP’s prevalence of these mutations to that of the overall U.S. population. Knowing the frequency of these two mutations can help to educate healthcare professionals and the general public about the risks associated with these conditions, so that people can better regulate their health.

Kerri Chartrand

Chemical cleaners are used to clean surfaces in households, hospitals, and public places to protect us from illness. Most cleaners use a spray-then-wipe method but it is unclear how the physical action of wiping contributes to removing bacteria. Some cleaners may not be actually killing bacteria, but friction from wiping may be enough to physically remove them. In this study we will clarify the contribution that friction makes to cleaning surfaces by counting the number of bacteria removed from a surface when using dry materials versus the amount removed when using the same material wet with water or a cleaner.

Alexander Elias and Team

Elias URC2019

The intent of this research project is to enable a mobile robot to accept human assistance for the purpose of deviating from its autonomously generated path, thus reaching its desired destination, while avoiding obstructions. The results of this research will enable Automated Guided Vehicles to overcome the challenge of navigation within dynamic environments. The team plans to use a TurtleBot 3 Waffle Pi, equipped with a Color Sensor Distance Measuring Sensor, and Gyro Sensor, an 8 Megapixel camera, and a Nvidia Jetson TX2 computer board to accomplish this task.

Kayleigh Harnden

Harnden URC2019

Identifying and understanding the effect that perceived stress and resilience levels have on an individual’s performance when presented with an acute-stress inducing task is very important.  For university students, many are frequently faced with negative situations that are not always directly related to academics. By identifying such, the way an individual performs under pressure can be better understood. Participants were evaluated on their stress and resilience perceptions, their performance on the stress-inducing task, and their heart rate levels. Research surrounding this topic is of value because it provides information that could improve the health, well-being, and retention of university students.

Katelyn Mills

Mills URC2019

I am researching how lung function may influence symptoms of panic, such as shortness of breath, a racing heartbeat, feeling faint, or shaking. I measured lung function using a spirometer, a small handheld device that measures exhalation speed and lung capacity. I also asked participants to fill out a demographic survey and a panic survey detailing their history of panic attacks, the specific symptoms they had if they’d experienced a panic attack, and whether or not they had experienced a panic attack recently.

Sydney Smith

Synthesizing unprecedented 3,4-dihydroquinazoline compounds will be conducted in an attempt to counteract the growing issue of antibiotic resistance that is prevalent throughout the world today. We have discovered that tertiary 3,4-dihydroquinazoline compounds may become oxidized in the presence of DDQ, whereby the H present at the tertiary center and its electrons become removed to generate aromatic cations. The addition of electron-rich nucleophiles to the aromatic cation generates unique quaternary centers that will greatly increase the diversity of this compound class. Once the new compounds are prepared, they will be tested for antimicrobial effects against antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

Nicole Vellequette

Vellequette URC2019

Little is known about the freshwater sponge, especially within the watersheds in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This project will determine relationships between the presence or absence of freshwater sponges and water quality to provide a better understanding of what environmental variables control the distribution of sponges. Thirty streams within the Ontonagon River watershed will be sampled for water, freshwater sponges, and then samples will be identified and analyzed in the laboratory. The data will help understand the ecology of freshwater sponges in the Ontonagon River watershed.

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