Fall applications are due November 10 each year and spring applications are due March 20 each year.

The LSSU Undergraduate Research Committee announces a call for undergraduate student research proposals. The application window for fall is from August 30 – November 10. The application window for spring is January 30 – March 20.  Awards of up to $500 to support senior capstone project/research-based equipment, supplies, and travel will be granted on a competitive basis. Please Note that food expenses cannot be supported by the grant. Students should consult with their faculty mentor and read the application guidelines. Submitting an application is the final step. Contact one of the URC members if you have questions.

Undergraduate research is an integral part of the student experience at Lake Superior State University. In fact, the University mission and vision statement emphasizes LSSU’s role in helping students develop their full potential, as well as contributing to the growth, dissemination and application of knowledge.

The Undergraduate Research Committee (URC) is charged with promoting and recognizing the student research efforts that occur across campus, as well as encouraging new efforts. The committee consists of faculty members from various academic disciplines.

One of the main roles of the URC is to oversee the Undergraduate Research Fund, a program sponsored by the LSSU Foundation that awards grants of up to $500 to students to support project or research-based equipment, supplies, and travel.

The student grants are awarded once each semester on a competitive basis. To apply for a research grant, students must fill out the online application form.

Guidelines for Application

  1. Have your faculty mentor approve your project description.
  2. Complete the online application
  3. Application section describing your project. A timeline should include specific details. You should be careful about using technical jargon as the review committee is made up of a broad audience. Your project description should speak to the goals/rationale of your project, as well as the methodology. Citations should be included, where appropriate.
  4. Budget section justifying your request for funds (not to be used for wages or food for the researcher). Be sure to include how the rest of the budget will be paid if your budget is greater than $500.
  • Request a letter of support from your faculty project advisor/mentor
  • If your project involves the use of humans or vertebrate animals, please submit your proposal to the appropriate LSSU committee.
    1. Vertebrates: Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)
    2. Humans: Institutional Review Board (IRB)
  • Students may apply for multiple URC grants, but preference will be given to first-time applicants.

Expectations for Successful Award Recipients

  • Upon award notification, recipients are encouraged to write a letter thanking the donor.
  • Funds will be reimbursed only with appropriate receipts or documentation. Students should submit all receipts to their department for reimbursement. For internal transfers, it is recommended that when a student is awarded the money, the amount would be transferred to the department at the time of the award so that they could reimburse the student directly when the purchases are made and the receipts are turned in.
  • A final report is due four semesters after award receipt or before graduation, whichever comes first. Yearly progress reports are also expected.

The Undergraduate Research Committee Members (URC)

Sandi King, DNP, Professor, School of Nursing, Chair of Undergraduate Research Committee
Janine Murray, Administrative Assistant, Lukenda School of Business, Undergraduate Research Committee Assistant

Barbara Evans, PhD, Professor, School of Science and Medicine
Kat Rocheford, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Natural Resources and the Environment
Gerald Root, Associate Professor, Lukenda School of Business
Russell Searight, PhD, Professor, School of Kinesiology and Behavioral Sciences
Joseph Susi, PhD, Professor, School of Kinesiology and Behavioral Sciences
Jason Swedene, PhD, Professor, School of Arts and Letters
Masoud Zarepoor, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Engineering and Technology

The Foundation

The funding for the URC student grant fund is made available by donations to the LSSU Foundation Office. If you are interested in making a donation or have questions about donations, please contact Sharon Dorrity, the Director of Constituent Relations.

Grant Recipients and Their Research

Fall 2019 Grant Awardees

Brendan Lukomski

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.

Brianna Regan

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.

Lucas Sheppard

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

Victoria Size

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.

Jessica Thompson

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.

Spring 2020 Grant Awardees

Kassidy Hadix

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.

Breanna Kemppainen

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.

Sophie McConkey

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.

Rebekka Ranta

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.

George Schaffer

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.