Eastern Michigan University students, faculty receive funding to pursue individual research projects

Symposium Undergraduate Research Fellowship promotes partnerships between students and faculty as they pursue research in sciences, art, health, history and education

People walk across the bridge at the Mark Jefferson Science Complex on a partly cloudy day

YPSILANTI – Eastern Michigan University is providing funding for undergraduate student research, under its Symposium Undergraduate Research Fellowship program. The program is intended to encourage partnerships between undergraduate students and Eastern Michigan University faculty to facilitate student participation in the annual Undergraduate Symposium.

Selected student fellows are matched with faculty mentors in the student’s chosen field of study. The students engage in a research or creative scholarly project that is of mutual interest between the student and faculty mentor. Students are provided a $1,000 stipend; faculty are provided up to $1,000 to support the project. Fellowships are awarded for one year with the possibility of renewal. EMU faculty mentors and sponsors supported 11 students during the 2021-2022 academic year.

Funds for the fellowships are fully supported by private donations to expendable funds associated with the Undergraduate Symposium.

The student fellows are listed below, along with their faculty mentor, topic area, sponsor and project description.

Symposium Undergraduate Research Fellows

Ronia CabansagRonia Cabansag

Sadaf Ali, faculty mentor 

Communication Media & Theatre Arts

Molly Luempert-Coy and the DTE Energy Foundation, sponsor 

Documenting Notable Figures from Eastern Michigan University’s Past: Eastern Michigan University renamed its Communication, Media, and Theater Arts building in 2020 after finding the theater’s namesake frequently performed in blackface. This audio documentary, completed through an Academic Service-Learning Partnership between WEMU and Dr. Sadaf Ali’s CTAT 334: Radio/TV News Writing course, highlights the untold histories of other campus buildings and the people whose names they bear. Mark Jefferson, namesake of EMU’s Science Complex, and Judy Sturgis Hill, new namesake of the CMTA building, are among the featured figures. This project relies on the university’s archives and interviews with archivists, historians, EMU faculty, and other researchers.

Julia De La HarpeJulia De La Harpe

Christopher Robbins, faculty mentor 

Topic area: Elementary Education 

Tom Sidlik, sponsor 

The Effects of Time Capsule Writing on Identity and Mental Health: A time capsule is a form of writing that allows individuals to document experiences through different periods of their lives. Time capsule writing (TCW) can benefit the writer's mental health and help them understand their identity. Through studies, the benefits and drawbacks of TCW have been observed. TCW can trigger PTSD (Hoyt, 2011), but it can also help develop writing skills and a more detailed understanding of one's identity (Kinnear, 2004). Within their presentation, they will draw from both personal experience and existing research to demonstrate the links between TCW and the development of a person's identity and the impact of TCW on mental health.

Kyla JonesKyla Jones

Diane Guevara, faculty mentor 

Topic area: Interior Design 

Retirement Income Solutions, sponsor 

Inclusivity Reimagined using Research-Based Design: Workplace re-entry is a challenge as companies bring back employees and clients to either in-person or hybrid workplaces. The NEXT office suite reflects the new post-COVID work environment. Current research suggests evidence-based design principles such as WELL, reimagining social support, and workplace collaboration allow employees and clients to feel supported post-COVID. This project uses various layouts to create an inclusive environment where one can focus, learn, socialize, or refresh while being socially distanced. Using the WELL Building Standard #87 Beauty and Design and #100 Biophilia throughout the design boosts morale, productivity, and the drive to come back to the office.

Peter LandorPeter Landor

Cara Shillington, faculty mentor 

Topic area: Biology 

William Fennel Endowment, sponsor 

Does Size Matter? The Effect of Size on Movement in Tarantula: Body size plays a fundamental role in how organisms interact with their environment. Larger size often means greater survivability due to having fewer predators and more diversified prey. Larger size may also decrease an individual’s perception of predation, as larger organisms tend to be more adventurous than their smaller conspecifics. Landor examined the impact of size on locomotory activity in juvenile tarantulas. Same-aged siblings were divided into three feeding groups resulting in different growth rates and sizes. Landor compared activity among size groups. Preliminary results indicated larger individuals move both further and faster than smaller-sized siblings in a novel arena.

Eva LongEva Long

Jeffery Bernstein, faculty mentor 

Topic area: Political Science 

Ed Jakeway, faculty mentor 

Balancing Free Speech and Inclusion on College Campuses: This project seeks to understand the conditions under which students believe people should be allowed to speak on a college campus. These conditions might include the context or content of the speech, speaker characteristics, or sponsorship by an on-campus group. Students use a think-aloud methodology and are given reading materials on controversial American figures and asked to “think aloud” as they read and develop their thoughts. This allows for an in-depth analysis of how students initially approach First Amendment rights and the conclusions they come to after pensive, out loud thinking.

Carlos Mellado-FritzCarlos Mellado-Fritz

Katherine Greenwald, faculty mentor 

Topic area: Biology 

William Fennel Endowment, sponsor 

The Stretch Region Within the TTD Domain of UHRF2 is Likely a Disordered Region: Unisexual Ambystoma salamanders represent a unique 5,000,000-year-old all-female lineage. They steal DNA from males of sexual species to trigger egg development, but the male genome is not always incorporated into the offspring. Mellado-Fritz genotyped samples from Indiana and Michigan to identify unisexual genome combinations using PCR to amplify microsatellites. Mellado-Fritz will compare this recent data to older population sampling to understand how the composition of these populations has changed over time. Due to global climate change, Mellado-Fritz predicts that populations have shifted towards having more unisexuals since they may be better adapted to warmer climates than the northern-distributed A. laterale.

Imani PeterkinImani Peterkin

Ruth Ann Armitage, faculty mentor 

Topic area: Chemistry 

Dale and Gloria Heydlauff and AEP, sponsor 

The Method Development and Validation of Plasma Chemical Oxidation: This study intends to confirm the validity of a low-temperature, minimally destructive technique to prepare carbon-based artifacts for radiocarbon dating. Typically, combustion is used to prepare such samples for dating by accelerator mass spectrometry. Combustion completely consumes the sample, leaving nothing for further analysis. In order to preserve some of the samples being dated, they are testing a technique called plasma oxidation in the Archaeological Chemistry lab at EMU. By comparing dates obtained from textiles and rock paintings by the combustion process to those they measure from plasma oxidation, Peterkin can determine whether our approach is a reliable alternative

Olivia RobinsonOlivia Robinson

Susan Booth, faculty mentor 

Topic area: Arts Management 

William Fennell Endowment, sponsor 

Where Art Creates Community: An Overview of EMU AMA’s Redirected Branding Strategy: Over the COVID-19 Pandemic, The EMU Arts Management and Administration (AMA) Department realized that despite our remoteness, art continues to foster community. With this fact in mind, EMU AMA set goals for the 2021-22 academic year, including creating brand awareness, unlocking career opportunities for students, and recruiting individuals with artistic and managerial passions. Collaborating with the School of Communication, Media, and Theatre Arts, Division of Communications, and AMA alumni, EMU AMA is now one step closer to locating and executing our branding and marketing potential. This presentation intends to introduce our new branding concept and highlight the arts’ true impact at EMU and beyond.

Nico SlowikNico Slowik

Eric Acton, faculty mentor 

Topic area: English Linguistics 

Ian Pendelton and Vertex Pharmaceuticals, sponsor 

Factors in the Form of Requests and Directives in the Gaming Community: Brown and Levinson’s (1987) politeness theory claims that the politeness of peoples’ requests/directives depends on how involved the request/directive is, how socially close the interlocutors are, and the power relations between them. Slowik will investigate politeness in players’ requests/directives in online multiplayer gaming via the gaming group OfflineTV. Refining Brown and Levinson’s theory, Slowik identifies three additional crucial factors in the degree of politeness of players’ requests/directives: the (non-)cooperativity of the game, the urgency of the request/directive, and the importance of the request being carried out. For instance, urgent and important requests correlate with hyper-politeness.

Anneliese VoglerAnneliese Vogler

Alice Jo Rainville and Olivia Ford, faculty mentors 

Topic area: Dietetics 

Bank of Ann Arbor, sponsors 

Knowledge, Beliefs, and Behaviors Related to Hypertension in Michigan Filipino Americans: Filipino Americans are at higher risk of hypertension (HTN) compared to other ethnic groups. This online survey of Filipino American residents of Michigan (n=50) assessed respondents’ health and nutrition-related knowledge, beliefs, and behaviors. Sixty-six percent of respondents reported two or more behavioral risk factors of HTN. Knowledge of these risk factors was assessed using six questions and thirty percent of respondents got two or more incorrect. Sixty percent of respondents agreed that Filipino Americans are at higher risk of HTN. The data indicated that there is a need for education on behavioral risk factors and misconceptions.

Ahmad ZaltAhmad Zalt

Carla Damiano, faculty mentor 

Topic area: World Languages 

Tom Layher, sponsor 

Life Experiences of East German Citizens in Pre and Post Reunification Germany: Gabriele Eckart’s Novel Vogtlandstimmen: A writer, poet, and novelist, Gabriele Eckart is a former East German citizen. Previously, Zalt explored the intricacies of Eckart's experiences with State censorship in the former GDR – experiences which led to her escape to West Germany in 1987. In 2021, Eckart published a new, experimental novel entitled Vogtlandstimmen. The main characters' commentary reveals (re)sentiments and attitudes of the novel's archetypal East German citizens who live in the Post-Unification present, and whose current situations have resulted from the ramifications of their changed political reality. This study explores the widespread dissatisfaction of the East German population after reunification as revealed in this novel.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 15,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.


April 21, 2022

Written by:
Brittany Mobley

Media Contact:
Brittany Mobley