Undergraduate Student Research Highlighted at Missouri State Capitol

UMKC students who presented are from the Conservatory, School of Humanities and Social Sciences and School of Science and Engineering
Sophomore Chris Viermann and Senior Tinh Nim present their research at the Missouri State Capitol

A group of UMKC students presented their research on music therapy, childhood mental disorders, Missouri history and more in front of elected officials at Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol.

The annual event highlights the unique research opportunities available to undergraduate students at all UM System schools in front of lawmakers and the general public. 

Research: Diagnosis Differences in Childhood Mental Disorders

Zalyia Carr is a senior from Overland Park majoring in psychology.

As of 2022, 13% of Missourians have a cognitive disability, according to the CDC. Among children, accurate detection of mental disorders can lessen the result of prescribing unnecessary medications or being left untreated. Historically, Black children have been underdiagnosed and misdiagnosed due to a lack of representation in research studies. Pinpointing trends across demographics remains a challenge. Because symptoms display differently relative to white counterparts, Carr predicts that Black women and young girls have an increased risk for delayed diagnosis of common early childhood disorders. Carr is researching early appearances of mental disorders in Black females, because unaddressed issues can manifest to impair other aspects of their lives.

Research: The Clio App — Your Guide to the History and Culture Around You

Sarah Herndon from Lone Jack, Missouri, is a senior majoring in history.

Missouri is rich with history that reflects its impact on our nation’s growth. Herndon contributed over 50 entries to Clio, a free, nonprofit app created by UMKC David Townbridge that features more than 39,000 entries detailing the distinct types of history spanning across Missouri. The Clio app fosters conversation about the state’s history. Herndon’s entries are comprised of documents from the National Register of Historic Places, archived audio files and interviews and curated content based on subject matter. The app provides knowledge that can make Missourians more informed and engaged citizens. 

Research: Music Therapy as a Nonpharmacological Treatment for Post-Stroke Depression

Hannah Edwards from Independence a senior majoring in music therapy.

Of the 8,000 Missourians that experienced a stroke in 2020, post-stroke depression (PSD) is a lingering effect for upwards as 30% of survivors, according to the CDC. The astounding effects on everyday living exceed lower quality of living, forgetfulness and heightened anxiety.

Music therapy helps rewire the brain, improve motor functions and regulate mood. Although music therapy has been used to address stroke recovery, research on using it to treat PSD is limited. Traditional recovery has entailed a pharmacological approach, however they have not been found as an effective alternative for complete remission.

In this research, Edwards discussed a clinical framework for using music therapy as a nonpharmacological treatment. 

Research: A New Regulator of Ataxin-7 Cleavage in Spinocerabellar ataxia type 7

Lindsy Todd is a junior from Grain Valley, MO, majoring in biology.

Spinocerebellar ataxia type 7 (SCA7) is a disease of the nervous system that impairs the sending and receiving of messages between the brain and muscles. Individuals that inherit it experience the loss of motor function and blindness. Todd used an innovative method that successfully identified a regulator of the pathway causing SCA7. This research not only helps Missourians understand the effects of SCA7 but focuses on protein-protein interactions that contribute to the disease and possibly others. One interaction is with the deubiquitnase module (DUBm) which regulates protein levels in the body.

Her follow-up study tested the Ataxin-7 (ATXN7) pattern in the presence and absence of the regulator previously mentioned to determine its function and therapeutic possibility. Furthering this research could lead to treatments for SCA7.

Research: The effects of visual and circadian proteins on BDBT and of BDBT on visual proteins

Chris Viermann is a sophomore biology major from Lee Summit, MO, and Tinh Nim is a senior biology major.

Viermann and Nim observed Bride of Doubletime (BDBT), a protein produced from circadian rhythms, 24-hr cycles that impact a person's mental, physical and behavioral state throughout the day. The pair studied the effects of protein genes like Arrestin-1 and their relation to ninaE mutants, which plays a major role in light detection and vision. Both have been associated with eye disease. This research builds upon similar UMKC published works from 2013. This analysis of the biological “clock” impacts the future of health research conducted, as well as work efficiency spanning across Missouri. Bodily response to light impacts the level of alertness, response time, and energy regulation for individuals completing any task.

Research: Development of weed detection robot using deep learning

Suha Cho is a senior information technology major from Seoul, South Korea.

Cho’s research looks to generate Deep Learning (DL) techniques for a weed detection robot to help Missouri Farmers grow crops efficiently. The techniques are derived from image processing-based framework that will identify and classify weeds from crops. With this techno-efficient method for weed detection, it will result technological improvements in Missouri’s agriculture production, and allow the residents to have better green environments.

Research: Foxg1a regulates craniofacial development in the zebrafish

Nusaybah Ibrahim is a senior from Kansas City, MO, majoring in biology with a chemistry minor. Laylah Liwaru is a senior from Kansas City, MO, majoring in biology.

Nusaybah and Laylah used the zebrafish as a model to study the development of the jaw and how this relates to human development. Foxg1 is a gene that is critical for embryonic development. In particular, Foxg1 regulates the development of the forebrain as well as ear and eye formation. Foxg1 regulates cellular proliferation, differentiation and morphogenesis.

The research aims to help understand how the foxg1 mutation affects human development.

Research: Developing skills with big data: Colonel Greene’s antiphonal collection as a resource

Maah Kyi is a senior history and English major from Kansas City, MO.

Maah digitized, measured and recorded data from 12 volumes of antiphonals made in 1562. She also transcribed the lyrics of the Gregorian chants that were to be destroyed, but saved when Colonel Howard Greene bought them and brought them to the US in 1931.

The importance of inventorying the antiphonals is to make them accessible for research by musicologists, historians, and others invested in cultural heritage and eventually all of the antiphonals’ images will be uploaded in the CANTUS database.

Research: A secondary data analysis of the Child Obesity and Health Messaging Preferences among Missouri Policymakers (CHAMNP) study

Judy Vun is a senior nursing major from Kansas City, MO.

Enacting policy changes which promote nutrient-dense foods and daily physical activity can play an important role in addressing childhood obesity. Little is known how the framework and delivery of health messaging to policymakers influences the development of obesity-related policies.

Vun studied the inclusion of visual media in health policy messaging and how it may positively impact the promotion of child and obesity-related policies.

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