2013

Top Oral Presenters

martiniJenna Martini, Architecture Healthy K-12 Educational Facilities: Promoting Health for the Individual as well as the Community

Obesity is a rapidly growing public health issue in the U.S., and is the second leading cause of preventable death. Jenna Martini, a Masters student in Architecture, has been focusing on how to promote public health within a community through her architecture. Simply by design, she has established a way to incorporate health promotion and tackle this growing epidemic. Martini picked a run-down school just north of Columbus to redesign. She is proposing to tear down the school and reconstruct it not only for a new look, but also to incorporate the community more with the school. She has designed the school with facilities such as a grocery store, bike rentals, interior gardens, and an outdoor basketball court for students and members of the community. By adding these designs, Martini hopes this will promote more physical activity for not only adolescent students, but also adults within the community to help take preventative measures and focus on community health. “The environment you’re in can make for a better situation,” Martini explained. “What separates an architect from a builder is that an architect cares about who is using the environment.” Martini is looking to create more than aesthetically pleasing design; she cares about who will be using the facilities and how it can benefit them. She believes that by creating an environment with the proper resources it can lead to a better and healthier lifestyle for a community. She hopes this will encourage people to be more concerned with what they are doing to their bodies and promote a healthier lifestyle. By adding these facilities, Martini hopes it will encourage community members to get outside their homes and use the facilities after school hours. Originally studying interior design as an undergraduate, Martini became interested in architecture and is always thinking of ways to get creative with her designs. “I began thinking about where people spend most of their time and looked at major issues facing society today, mainly obesity. With the impact of technology, people are spending more time at home and indoors,” Martini said. For the future, Martini hopes to continue creating the overlap between health promotion and architecture through continuing to work on educational facilities and one day hospitals as well.

songLei Song, Educational Leadership How Overseas Study Changes International Student’s Academic Self-Concept

Lei Song, a doctoral student in Educational Leadership, researched the environmental differences in the U.S. classroom that international students experience. She focused on how these environmental differences affect one’s self-concept, which is how they perceive themselves. Song discovered the differences in academic environment led to a significant change in a student’s self-concept. Miami University’s international student population has been steadily increasing in the past five years. From 2008 to 2013, the international student population for undergraduates grew from 358 to 916. “International students are moving from a conservative culture with very explicit hierarchy to a more democratic culture where students are more responsible for their own learning,” Song explained. She interviewed 17 international students (graduate and undergraduate) who have studied in the U.S. for at least one academic year. She found five major classroom differences that participants perceived differently in the U.S. compared to their home countries: critical thinking, knowledge application, active participation in the classroom, self-orientation and comprehensive evaluation of academic performance. “Critical thinking was the biggest challenge for my participants. It is a difficult concept in general, especially in a different language,” Song said. The second biggest challenge for participants was learning to become independent learners. Most international students are used to having explicit instructions with their work. In the U.S., they found teachers make students take more ownership for their work and learning. “Outside of the U.S., participants see themselves as passive students that mainly sit and listen to the instructor with minimal participation. However, after attending classes in the U.S., their self-concept changes. They become confident and have a desire to express their opinions,” she said. Song explained that international students felt the need to change their behavior because how they acted previously in a classroom wouldn’t work in the U.S academic environment. Students realized they experienced a significant change in their self-concept too as they became more confident and active students.

zhaoLinduo Zhao, Geology and Environmental Earth Science Potential Application of Microbial Iron Redox Cycles in Nitrate Removal and Their Effects on Clay Mineral Properties

Linduo Zhao, a doctoral student in Geology, was a top oral presenter at the Graduate Research Forum. Her research focused on the application of iron-rich clay minerals to remediate nitrate pollution occurring in groundwater. She found that nitrate-dependent Fe (II) oxidizing bacteria are able to oxidize Fe (II) in clay minerals while simultaneously denitrifying nitrate to innocuous nitrogen gas. The findings are important and significant in the scientific effort to evaluate the effectiveness of the recycled remediation method. “The significance of this research is that it proved the clay minerals can be a renewable source to remove the nitrate from the environment,” Zhao said. Zhao became interested in this topic because she is an environmentalist. Her research has significant environmental benefits with nitrate removal. High levels of nitrate can be extremely harmful for not only the environment, but also for people when too high of levels get into groundwater. Her research was also inspired from her interest in mechanisms of earth's biochemical cycle. For the future, Zhao is interested in pursuing a career in teaching upon graduation to help instill interest in science to others. Before then, Zhao plans on spending her $300 of winnings from the Graduate Research Forum on training for an electron microscopic technique to improve and continue her research.

Top Poster Presenters

clarkCourtney Clark-Hachtel, Biology Lobes or Gills: Insights Into Insect Wing Origin Provided by Functional Analysis of Vestigial in Tribolium

Courtney Clark-Hachtel, a doctoral student in Zoology, researched the red flower beetle (Tribolium), specifically looking at the origin of the insect wing. Despite accumulating efforts to find the origin of insect wings, it’s still a huge mystery in evolution. “No one knows exactly how insect wings formed, but there are two main theories,” Clark-Hatchtel explained. The first theory connects their origin to the paranotal lobe and the other to the proximodorsal leg branch. However, neither of these hypotheses has been able to surpass the other. To approach this mystery, she focused on analyzing vestigial, which is a crucial wing gene initially identified in Drosophila, which is a genus of small fruit flies. She conducted research by cutting up larvae, mashing it up and then looking at the RNA sequences. Clark-Hachtel found there are two different vestigial tissues that merged to form an abnormal wing structure. The merger of these two unrelated tissues may have been a key step in developing this morphologically novel structure during evolution. The findings supported both the theories, meaning the origin of wings could be explained by a combination of the two theories. Initially as an undergraduate, Clark-Hachtel was an education major for life science and then became more interested in scientific research. In the future she’s interested in applying her research by looking into other insects. Specifically, she hopes to research different species of beetles and potentially cockroaches as well.

 

gilletteMatthew Gillette, Physics Design and Implementation of High-Power and Fast Imaging Systems for Creation of Optical Lattices

Matthew Gillette, a Masters student in Physics, is currently involved in on going research with the design and use of high power lasers. He was a top poster presenter at the Graduate Research Forum in 2013. Gillette’s research focused on an optical lattice, which consists of ultra-cold atoms that are arranged in a periodic nanoscale spatial structure. This optical lattice is formed by laser beams that overlap in a small location, creating a floating ball of atoms. This also happens to be the coldest matter in Ohio. By altering the intensity or frequency of the laser beams, he is able to vary properties of the optical lattice. “What we do is use light to create a crystal-like structure and then study the atoms between those sites,” Gillette explained. He has found that the atoms follow a type of random motion when they move between lattice sites. Atoms will move around randomly from local site to site and then once in a long while the atom will make a large jump to a far away lattice site. This type of random motion is called a levy flight. While his research is still a work in progress, Gillette explained that this concept of levy flights is something that is frequently seen in nature. “It happens when money circulates around Ohio, then quickly jumps to Chicago, circulates there, then jumps again to DC. It happens when a shark hunts for food in a certain area, then jumps quickly to a new area,” he explained. To conduct this research, Gillette and fellow students have constructed by hand three laser amplifier systems. They’ve been able to construct and make improvements to these lasers over time. “Normally lasers have only been built in PHD programs. Typically these lasers can cost $40,000 but we were able to construct one for less than $4,000,” Gillette said. Gillette became interested in this research when he was taken on a tour with his advisor and saw this floating ball of atoms. For the future, he is interested in becoming an engineer in laser design. Gillette plans on spending his $300 of winnings on a light valve for their laser to enhance research. Additionally, he hopes to travel to conferences to present his research. He explained that he enjoys listening to others present their findings to get new ideas for his research.

Andrew Rosendale, Biology Importance of a Glucose Transporter in the Cryoprotectant System of the Freeze-Tolerate Wood Frog, Rana Sylvatica

Andrew Rosendale, a doctoral student in Zoology, has been researching how the wood frog (Rana Sylvatica) adapts and survives cold winter conditions with the help of glucose production. Specifically, he has been looking at Ohio wood frogs and northern wood frogs and their differences in freeze tolerance. “This is a good frog to study because they’re found on the forest floor and don’t do much digging, which means they can’t escape low temperatures by hiding underground. Because of that, they’re exposed to some very cold temperatures,” Rosendale said. The Ohio wood frog can survive in temperatures as low as -4 to -5 degrees Celsius. Rosendale found that northern wood frogs in Alaska (who are exposed to much more extreme winters) have the ability to survive in significantly lower temperatures from -18 to -20 degrees Celsius. Rosendale found when the frogs begin to freeze they accumulate glucose, which is blood sugar. The frogs will start to store up this glucose in the fall to prepare for the winter, then the glucose will flow throughout the body breaking down ice build up and preventing freezing. “The glucose in the frogs works similarly to how salt melts snow on the roads during the winter,” Rosendale explained. Rosendale traveled to Alaska three times during his research to collect frogs to study in incubators. He then exposed them to the temperature conditions they would normally experience in Alaska and gradually decreased the temperature. He discovered Alaskan frogs are able to adapt and survive more extreme temperatures because they accumulate more glucose than Ohio wood frogs. Additionally, Rosendale found a glucose transport protein that helps move the glucose around the frog’s body. This protein helps melt ice by moving glucose out of the frog’s liver through the rest of the frog’s body. “We found when you freeze the frogs, this transport protein goes up as a reaction to the cold. The more there is of this protein, the more glucose that the frog is able to move,” Rosendale said. The northern frogs have more of these proteins, so they can transport more glucose at a greater rate which helps them survive colder conditions up north. This provided indirect evidence that the transport proteins are an important part of the freezing process.