Top Oral Presentations


Stephen Holtkamp, Geology

"Template Matching to Build a High Quality Earthquake Catalog of the 2011 Youngstown, Ohio Seismic Sequence and Test Its Relation to Hydraulic Fracturing and Wastewater Injection"

Stephen Holtkamp, a doctoral student of Geology, developed a less-expensive method to explicitly link the 2011 earthquakes in Youngstown, Ohio to wastewater injection by identifying nearly 225, previously undetected earthquakes in the area.

Hydraulic fracturing is commonly known as "fracking", and is a way to extract natural gas or petroleum from the earth. According to Holtkamp, the actual fracking is done in Pennsylvania, but it produces excess liquid that is then disposed in wastewater injection wells. One such well was located near Youngstown.

In March of 2011, two small earthquakes were recorded in Youngstown, Ohio by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Although Youngstown does not generally have earthquakes, because it sits on a small fault line, these events were not uncommon. However, from August to December of 2011, the ODNR recorded nine more earthquakes of similar magnitude, which led to speculation that the earthquakes were being triggered by hydraulic fracturing or wastewater injection, and the pumping was ordered to cease.

 "There was speculation that earthquakes may have been triggered by wastewater injection, but 11 events was not very statistically sound," Holtkamp said. "My technique is able to go back in time and test data that has already been recorded and locate Earthquakes that were much smaller."

The 11 events that were recorded by the ODNR's seismometers in 2011 were all of a magnitude of at least 2 on the Richter scale. Holtkamp developed an algorithm that is able to detect and locate seismic waves and earthquake events of a smaller magnitude.

Using this method, Holtkamp detected 223 smaller magnitude earthquakes which began two weeks after the wastewater well pumping began, and ended two weeks after the pumping ended.

Holtkamp is submitting his research to Science First, an academic journal, because he believes it has broader implications for the field.

"If you want to test if something is triggered, you no longer have to spend a ton of money and put in a local seismic network, just use existing data to test the hypothesis," Holtkamp said.

 Jennifer Tully, Geology

"A Detailed Pollution Study of Great Miami River Sediment in the Industrial Corridor of Hamilton, Ohio"

Doctoral student Jennifer Tully's research characterized river sediment in the Great Miami River to determine what chemicals were present. Following course with the river is the Great Miami River Buried Valley Aquifer, the sole source of groundwater for 1.6 million people from Dayton to the Miami Valley.

Researchers have previously studied what sediments exist in the streets of the Industrial Corridor of Hamilton, Ohio, but no one has examined the river sediments. In her study, Tully examined a stretch of the Great Miami River to determine what sediments are naturally present, and which sediments could be considered pollution.

Tully found evidence of Lead Chromate, which is used in yellow road paint. Tully believes this chemical compound reached the river through storm drains. According to Tully, Chromium is carcinogenic, and the dangers of its presence are unknown.

 "Some fish like to eat the sediments, so it could be magnified up the food chain.," Tully said.

In addition, there is the possibility that the polluted sediments are dissolving in the water and moving onto other particles, Tully said.

The preliminary study began in fall of 2011, and the actual samples were collected during the summer of 2012. According to Tully, the preparation for analyzing the data by ICP-MS, a device capable of detecting metals and other particles, took the longest.

According to Tully, the process begins with collecting a sediment sample. Once collected, it is mixed with a flux, which helps fuse everything together and placed in a furnace at 950 degrees Celsius. The furnace turns the sample to a liquid drop, which hardens when it is dumped into acid. With the new hardened sample, Tully was able to determine in parts per million what sediments were present.

Tully said she will submit her research for publication so that other researchers can build on her work. Graduating in May, she will begin an internship with the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Rob Magorien, Architecture

"Through A Vale of Tears: Architecture and the Contemplative Act of Pilgrimage as Healing and Discourse"

Rob Magorien, a masters student in architecture, explored the idea of connecting Americans to their spiritual history, similar to the way pilgrimage paths in Spain connect people to their past, and he did so through research on Native Americans.

For his research, Magorien walked the entire "El Camino," an 800-kilometer path to Santiago Compostela. Magorien wanted to find out how pilgrimage is different today and how it is similar to the past through a firsthand account.

"Movements connect us all to each other. I found that in the 21st century, we move to these pilgrimage areas to escape," Magorien said. "But the fundamentals of pilgrimage are still there. You meet a whole community out there from people throughout the world, and you reconnect to yourself."

"How do we create architecture that would honor the memory of the Native American, and honor the memory of the land itself," Magorien said. "I can't really speak for the tribe and their values. My job is to just create something that allows you to experience the land without being too invasive."

Magorien chose to explore the river systems, focusing on the canal town of Delphi, Indiana; he focused on designing potential structures without the intention of actually building them.

"Rivers helped Native Americans to find their origin and their sense of being. They tied everything to the rivers. When they were removed from their land, that was shattered," Magorien said.

Magorien said his research on the topic continues to evolve and expand, but maintains a focus on art history and relation to national identity.

 Top Poster Presenters


Yunluan Cui, Botany

"Development and Function of Constricting Ring Traps of Nematophagous Fungi"

Yunluan Cui, a doctoral student in botany, studied new biological rather than chemical methods to kill Nematodes, a very small worm that is harmful to plants and animals.  In addition to being parasitic to plants and animals, Nematodes can cause a great decrease in crop output, according to Cui.

"The reason I studied this is for the environmental concerns. We can use biological agents rather than chemical agents to control the nematodes," Cui said. "Chemical agents can cause environmental hazards and damage the healthy crop ecosystem."

According to Cui, Nematophageous fungi are the natural enemies of nematodes; the fungi form a constricting ring, which closes around the nematode upon nematode movement, and traps it. Cui recorded the 0.3 second trapping process under a microscope, and slowed it down so she can effectively explain her research. She used microscopic and molecular biological techniques to discover new factors behind the behavior of nematode-trapping fungi.

Cui discovered a new method to induce trapping in a liquid culture, and studied the role of the protein actin cytoskeleton and other trap-development related proteins. Cui hopes to have her research published in an academic journal and hopes to continue researching and teaching others about fungal processes.

I want most people to know that fungi are not only mushrooms that we can buy at the store. It includes other groups, like yeast, and there are some bad guys in this group," Cui said.  "Some species affect plants and some affect animals and humans, causing infections on the skin."

Jamie Pierson, Psychology

"Expression of Trace Fear Conditioning Requires the Dentate Gyrus, but not CA1 or CA3 of the Dorsal Hippocampus"

Doctoral student Jamie Pierson's research provides a base for future researchers to further therapy and treatment of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other fear-related diseases. 

According to Pierson, that the hippocampus has long been linked to explicit memories and fear conditioning. However, previous research has only looked at the entire dorsal hippocampus in relation to fear, rather than specifically studying the separate regions within the hippocampus (CA1/CA3/dentate gyrus).

"Many people have looked at the hippocampus as unitary structure, I wanted to look at the differences in the sub regions of the hippocampus, and see if we as a scientific community have been going at it all wrong," Pierson said.  " I wanted to see if those sub-regions have distinctive functions in the process of memory learning in the brain."

Pierson found that the sub-region known as the dentate gyrus plays a specific role in the expression of trace fear conditioning, while the other two sub-regions do not.

Pierson studied fear response in rats to conduct her research. The rats were first conditioned to fear the sound of a tone; they heard the tone and were then subjected to a foot shock. The rats that froze at the sound of the tone in a later experiment were considered to have a context fear response.

The rats with the fear response were then assigned to one of three conditions, where each rat was infused with CNQX, a drug that inhibits cell response, to either the CA1, CA3 or dentate gyrus region of the dorsal hippocampus. The rats were then subject to the same tone, and observed for the trace fear response of freezing.

While rats who received the drug to the CA1 or CA3 region showed no difference in freezing or fear response, rats who received the drug to the dentate gyrus froze significantly less, indicating a significantly smaller fear response. The results indicate that the dentate gyrus is the specific area within the hippocampus that allows for the expression of trace fear.

Pierson said she does not know where her research will go from here, but hopes it will be accepted for publication and used as a starting point for people who want to look at fear and anxiety.

 "A lot of my research was for knowledge base and to determine the differences in how we learn," Pierson said. "It's important to know those things before anyone can further therapies or drugs to treat anything like Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or fear-learning,"

Tomasz Marchlewski, Geology

"In-situ Immobilization of Goethite-adsorbed As and Pb by Formation of Pb-As-apatite"

Tomasz Marchlewski, a doctoral student of geology and environmental earth science, focused on finding a method to stop arsenic and lead from entering ground water.

"From soil, arsenic and lead can reach out and enter the ground water system, and aquifers, where it will be filtered out. Mostly, it is harmful when you drink it in water," Marchlewski said. "I'm looking at the possibility of preventing the arsenic and lead from reaching the ground water so that it stays where it is but in a less harmful form."

According to Marchlewski, prolonged exposure to arsenic (As) and lead (Pb) can result in anemia, blindness, brain damage, and skin, lung, kidney or bladder cancers.

 The processes of adsorption and desorption is key to understanding Marchlewski's research. According to Marchlewski, adsorption is similar to the process that takes place in water filters; an element or iron attaches itself to the surface of a mineral or organic matter. In this case, the arsenic and lead contaminants will attach to iron oxide. However, the contaminants can be released back into drinking water through the process of desorption. Marchlewski applied phospate, calcium so that the arsenic and lead would precipitate in a less harmful, mineral form.

Marchlewski's research resonated with a man at the forum whose neighborhood had been contaminated with large amounts of arsenic and lead. Officials dug soil from his property to dispose of the pollutants.

"It has real implications. Scientists and environmental people need to be able to communicate with the public because that is the reason they are doing what they are doing," Marchlewski said.

Marchlewski plans to publish a few papers on different aspects of his research.

"Every scientists contributes a portion. That's what I'm hoping to accomplish," Marchlewski said. "Hopefully someone will pick up my paper and say 'taken from this, I can do that.'"