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URD@C 2016 Student Participants


Mariana Bichara

Hometown: Independence, MO
Major/Department: Nursing and Spanish
Faculty Mentor
:  Dr. Patricia Kelly, Nursing and Health Studies
Funding Source: Avanzando Scholars

Mariana Bichara is currently in her third year of college. She transferred from Missouri Southern State University to pursue a degree in Nursing and Spanish at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. Mariana is a proud Avanzando scholar and a leader in her community. She is a member of the leadership team in the Hispanic Young Adult Ministry at the Catholic Dioses of Kansas City St. Joseph. One of Mariana’s biggest passions is volunteering; she volunteered at the University of Kansas Hospital, and she currently volunteers at the Women’s Clinic of Kansas City as a client advocate and class facilitator. Mariana’s goal after graduation is to be a missionary nurse and work in countries with limited resources.

Herbal Products and Dietary Supplements: A Survey of Use, Attitudes, and Knowledge Among Hispanic Adults

Many Latinos/a in the United States use dietary and herbal supplements (a vitamin, a mineral, an herb, or other botanical) as an alternative or addition to traditional medicine. However, due to the lack of regulation on these supplements, their purity, effectiveness, and safety are unknown. To help physicians have a more accurate understanding of senior Latinos/as patients’ medical history, it is important to examine their attitudes, frequency, and method of use of these products. The objective of this research is to survey Latinos/as over the age of 60 about their use of herbal and dietary supplements and their beliefs regarding the safety and effectiveness of these substances.

A 25-item survey, approved by UMKC’s Institution Review Board, was distributed to 56 Hispanic participants (34 male and 22 female) over the age of 60. The surveys were provided in both Spanish and English. Because some of the participants were not able to read easily, the surveys were read and explained by the examiner. Photos/samples of the alternative methods of medicine were also available to make sure participants were aware of exactly what substances the questions were regarding. This research is a replication of Herbal Products and Dietary Supplements: A Survey of Use, Attitudes, and Knowledge Among Older Adults, a study previously done on the general population.

Findings indicated that 71 % of subjects do use herbal products and dietary supplements. The most commonly used substances among those surveyed include chamomile, garlic, and aloe vera in oral and topical formulas. The majority of subjects (83%) did not tell their health practitioner that they were ingesting herbal product or dietary supplements.

Such research is important because the use of herbal products and dietary supplements can lead to serious health complications due to the drug interaction between prescribed medications and these natural products. In order com obtain a more complete patient health history, healthcare providers should ask their patients about their use of Alternative medicine.

Jared DeLee

Hometown: Union Star, MO
Major/Department: Civil Engineering
Faculty Mentor
:  Dr. John Kevern, Civil Engineering
Funding Source: UMKC SUROP

Jared DeLee is a Senior at the University of Missouri Kansas City majoring in Civil Engineering. He is from the small town of Union Star, Missouri and served for over five years in the United States Marine Corps. Upon graduation, Jared plans on pursuing a career within the power generation industry and continuing his education with a Masters in Civil Engineering.

Using Coal Waste to Improve Concrete

Coal provides most of the electrical energy in the Midwestern United States. Coal fired power plants produce a waste material known as bottom ash, a porous material created from the heavy, molten impurities in coal after the combustion process has occurred.

Bottom ash is sometimes used, in relatively small quantities, as an ingredient for the production of cement. However, it is largely treated as a waste byproduct and permanently stored in land-fills or detention ponds. This research was conducted to investigate the hypothesis that coal combustion bottom ash could be treated as a light weight aggregate (LWA) and used as an internal curing (IC) agent for concrete with low water to cement (w/c) ratios, effectively creating a use for large quantities of waste material. Internal curing describes the process in which trapped moisture is pulled from the pores of the porous material to aid in the curing process, creating a stronger concrete less susceptible to cracking. Bottom ash from a local coal fired power plant was tested for gradation, specific gravity, and absorption and analyzed using SEM, XRD, and XRF. A scanning electron microscope (SEM) uses highly focused electrons to produce highly magnified images of small particles allowing visual analysis of the particles texture. X-ray diffraction (XRD) and X-ray florescence (XRF) were used to determine the chemical composition of the bottom ash. Once analyzed, the bottom ash was then added to mortar mixtures at various percentages as a direct replacement for sand. Mortar mixtures were tested for shrinkage, mass loss, and strength. The test results indicate that the bottom ash does act as an internal curing agent. The specimens with 30% bottom ash experienced less self-desiccation (less shrinkage) than similar specimens without bottom ash. At 100% replacement of sand with bottom ash, there was only a 9% decrease in strength.

Although the data from this initial research support the hypothesis that coal combustion bottom ash can be treated as a LWA and used as an IC agent, additional testing is underway to determine the extents and the full effectiveness of utilizing bottom ash as an IC agent. The findings of this research are significant to Missouri and could have a positive impact on the concrete industry, coal power industry, and the environment. The concrete industry would benefit from an alternate material to traditional LWA in great abundance. The coal power industry would benefit by saving landfill space and by putting this currently wasted material on the market. The environment perhaps, would benefit the most. By using this material in a product such as concrete, the risk of a flood or other natural disasters releasing massive amounts of bottom ash into the surrounding environment is eliminated.

Samantha Dodda

Hometown: LaSalle, Illinois
Major/Department: Chemistry/Liberal Arts
Faculty Mentor
:  Dr. Jannette Berkley-Patton, Psychology
Funding Source: UMKC SEARCH

Samantha Dodda is a senior pursuing a B.A. in Chemistry as well as a second B.A. in Liberal Arts with minors in Psychology, Biology, Communications, and Healing and Humanities at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She does research at the Community Health Research Lab in the Psychology Department. She also volunteers for the Kansas City Free Eye Clinic and is a Supplemental Instruction leader for physics. After graduating, Samantha plans on attending professional school to become a Doctor of Optometry, as well as obtain a Masters in Public Health.

Does SES (Socioeconomic Status), Age, and Education Contribute to the Stigma of HIV/AIDs in African-American Religious Communities?

Since the emergence of HIV in humans in 1981, fear and misinformation have perpetuated the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS, particularly in the African American Community. This stigma persists in the African American community, despite the growing knowledge of HIV/AIDS. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS is higher in lower socioeconomic status groups. [2] Furthermore, treatment methods are also less abundant in lower SES circles, making the view of HIV/AIDS more potent. Often, the views of HIV/AIDS are influenced by the factors of education, age, exposure to HIV/AIDS sensitive settings, and so on. Many African-American churches are open to sex education programs, however taboo topics such as homosexuality, bisexuality, etc, all represent a barrier in discussing HIV/AIDS. There seems to be a “silence surrounding sex and sexuality, stigma, and the resulting discrimination are all-pervasive social barriers that impede African American community mobilization efforts against HIV/AIDS”. The purpose of this project is to examine the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES), age, education, sexual orientation and the stigma HIV/AIDS within faith based African American populations. It is hypothesized that socioeconomic status, education, and age all indeed play a high role in the perception of HIV/AIDS in a negative manner within African American communities who are religious. This project will analyze previously collected data from Dr. Jannette Berkley-Patton’s Community Health Research Lab, using baseline data from Project TIPS (Taking It to the Pews). Survey items include:

  • For the past 12 months, please estimate the average monthly income of your household
  • How strongly would you agree or disagree that most people with HIV are responsible for having their illness?
  • How afraid are you of people who are infected with HIV?
  • You can get HIV if you share a drink, sink, shower, or toilet seat with someone who has AIDS?
  • Homosexuality endangers the institution of the family
  • I avoid homosexuals whenever possible

Descriptive statistics will be used to describe demographic backgrounds and overall stigma for HIV/AIDS. Correlational analyses will be used to estimate the size of the relationship between HIV/AIDS sigma and SES, age, and education.

Larry Hernandez

Hometown: Raytown, MO
Major/Department: Cello Performance and Music Theory
Faculty Mentor
:  Dr. David Thurmaier | Composition, Music Theory, & Musicology
Funding Source: UMKC EUReka and SEARCH

Larry Hernandez is currently a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music and Dance. He is double majoring in Cello Performance and Music Theory. An active musician and teacher, Hernandez currently holds a Teaching Artist position with Harmony Project Kansas City, which is part of the national Harmony Project program aimed at educating underserved children by providing free music lessons and instruments. Hernandez studies the cello with Professor Carter Enyeart.

Nationalism in the Melodies of Carlos Chávez and Silvestre Revueltas

This project examines melodies within four well-known compositions by Carlos Chávez and Silvestre Revueltas, arguably two of the most important Mexican composers of the twentieth century. The purpose of this study is to expand research on classical music of the Western hemisphere in a field dominated by research focusing primarily on European composers. My study shows that melodic structure plays an important role in distinguishing the specific characteristic of each piece, most notably the portrayal of the indigenous, as in Chávez’s Sinfonía India, and the popular, or folkloric elements often attributed to the music of Mexico, such as the dance-like movements found in Revueltas’s music. The pieces analyzed are Chávez’s Sinfonía India and Chapultepec (Three Famous Mexican Pieces), and Revueltas’s Homenaje a Federico García Lorca (Homage to Federico García Lorca) and Ocho por Radio (Eight Musicians Broadcasting). Literature used for this project includes selections from various works by recognized Chávez and Revueltas scholar Robert L. Parker, “Music In Mexico” by musicologist Robert Stevenson, writings by Carlos Chávez, selections from the newly released book “Carlos Chávez and His World” edited by leading Chávez scholar Leonora Saavedra, and other books and articles. In these existing studies it is often mentioned that the melodies are a contributing factor to the composers’ nationalistic style, but a formal analysis for each melody is often overlooked. Melody can be defined as the memorable tune that can stand alone without the need of accompanying parts. The focus is on evaluating the melodic structure by looking at the melodies’ intervallic structure, contour, pitch content, rhythmic organization, etc. Methods of analysis include looking at whether or not Chávez’s and Revueltas’s melodies follow the practice set for tonal melody writing in the common-practice period of the 18th and 19th centuries, observing what instruments are being used to play the melodies, exploring the use of rhythmic techniques, and distinguishing post-tonal and modernist characteristics.

Sara Lamprise

Hometown: Kansas City, MO
Major/Department:  Environmental Sciences
Faculty Mentor
:  Dr. John Fleeger, Geosciences
Funding Source: UMKC SEARCH

Sara Lamprise is a senior pursuing a B.S. in Environmental Science with a minor in Geography. She currently interns with the Environmental Protection Agency in Region 7’s Water, Wetlands, and Pesticides division. Sara also mentors an area high school student through Green Works in Kansas City, a local non-profit.

Fishing with Insecticide-Treated Mosquito Bed Nets

Permethrin-treated bed nets are widely distributed throughout Africa and Southeast Asia to combat the spread of malaria. The pesticide treated nets guard against mosquitoes that carry the disease. However, a 2015 survey of Lake Tanganyika villagers found that 87 percent of households surveyed reported using the nets for fishing or trawling rather than mosquito protection (McLean, et al.). Household responses, as well as GIS analysis of area census data, suggest that this behavior is motivated by extreme poverty and food scarcity, and influenced by distance from the nearest urban area. Fishing with pesticide treated bed nets has many negative effects on the fish ecology, but it doesn’t end there. Villagers typically dry their catch on the nets before eating it, which gives the permethrin time to leach into the fatty tissues of the fish. This study aims to quantify the amount of permethrin that enters the human food chain through this practice. If the risk of ingestion proves to be significant, then the U.S. charities and NGOs that fund net distribution may need to consider alternate forms of malaria vector control for areas at high risk of net misuse. Data collection and analysis are ongoing.

Annie Liljegren

Hometown: Laclede County, MO
Major/Department: English Literature
Faculty Mentor:  Dr. Virginia Blanton, English
Funding Source: UMKC SUROP

Annie Liljegren is currently a senior majoring in English Literature at the University of Missouri - Kansas City. Annie serves as president of Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society, and plans to begin the MA program next fall.

Monastic Mysteries: Exploring the Adair Chantbook

As the undergraduate researcher on the CODICES project, an interdisciplinary team focused on the analysis of manuscripts, texts, and early printed books, I used the CODICES lab resources (digitization platform, lighting, cameras, software, etc.) to create a full digital archive of the Adair Book of Gregorian Chant, named for alumnus James Adair who donated the manuscript to UMKC in 1973. This close examination has yielded multiple paths of inquiry as to the origin and history of this compilation of ancient music, which contains chants dating from the 15th to the 17th century.

As one would imagine, the 400-year-old manuscript bears signs of its age and is marked by rich evidence of the changes and alterations it has undergone. Whole sections have been spliced in, whole pages cut out, and on many leaves the text and/or musical notation has either been scraped clean and edited, or entirely new chants scripted in. This editing likely reflects changes in papal-approved liturgy as the language and order of the Mass was developed and altered over the centuries. Of particular note are recurring script styles which do not appear to be that of a professional scribe. Since women were not traditionally trained as scribes, and since female religious houses were, by and large, poorer than monasteries and likely unable to hire a professional, this amateur scripting suggests female clergy were performing the required liturgical edits themselves. In addition, I will be investigating what we believe may be a complete Mass setting composed by Ercole Strozzi the court musician of 15th-century Ferrara, Italy. We have discovered several instances where annotations mark specific arrangements as attributed to Strozzi, and these arrangements appear to have been more complex and flamboyant than traditional chant settings, even “operatic” in nature. Proving this Mass to be Strozzi’s would establish a temporal reference point for the manuscript's revisions as a whole.

I will be exploring the implications created by these and other observations, and identifying further questions raised by my research towards my ultimate objective of producing a complete book history of the Adair. The next stage of this project will include using multispectral technologies developed by the CODICES team to perform what might be called an “imaging autopsy” of the book, focusing on the most intriguing, and consequently, perhaps the most revelatory portions.

Colton Luttrell

Hometown: Kansas City, MO
Major/Department: Astronomy Emphasis
Faculty Mentor
:  Dr. Mark Brodwin, Physics
Funding Source: NASA Missouri Space Grant Consortium

Colton Luttrell is currently a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City majoring in physics (astronomy emphasis). In addition to doing research with the UMKC Galaxy Evolution Group, he has been tutoring in undergraduate astronomy and mathematics courses. After graduation, Colton plans to attend graduate school to earn a Ph.D. in astrophysics.

Searching for Cold Gas in Recently Quenched Galaxies

At the forefront of galaxy evolution studies is the debate over the physical processes that are predicted to explain a trend in galaxy demographics. Galaxies can be divided into two populations: large inactive red galaxies, and small blue star-forming galaxies. All galaxies start as small star-forming systems, however astronomers notice that half of all stars ever created lie within massive non star-forming galaxies. It has been hypothesized that low-mass blue galaxies must be transforming into massive red galaxies somehow. Many questions remain unanswered regarding the mechanism that is responsible for the shut down of star formation (known as quenching) that results in a change in the galaxy’s color. This process must involve the removal or heating of cold neutral hydrogen gas (the raw material necessary for star-formation). A short time ago, a population of recently quenched galaxies was observed. The presence of cold gas in the environments of these galaxies would rule out one specific quenching mechanism: a hot galactic atmosphere which impedes the cooling of gas that would otherwise collapse to form stars. Statistical analysis has allowed for the characterization of these galaxies into various subsets, and a series of ongoing tests are underway to determine whether these galaxies do, in fact, contain the presence of cold gas.

Matthew D. Paul

Hometown: Kearney, MO
Major/Department: Chemistry
Faculty Mentor
:  Dr. J. David Van Horn, Chemistry
Funding Source: UMKC SUROP and the Dept. of Chemistry

Matthew D. Paul is currently a senior majoring in Chemistry at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. In his free time, Matthew enjoys mountain biking, camping and fishing, After graduation Matthew plans to attend graduate school to pursue a PhD in chemistry.

Application and Evaluation of 3D Printed Materials with PALS

The use of 3D printing has exploded in scientific, engineering, and consumer markets in the last few years. Because this technology is relatively new but becoming more accessible, scientific characterization and applications have not kept pace with commercial developments in the field. Two main polymers are used in this technology, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS, used in LEGO® toys) and polylactic acid (PLA, a common biocompatible polymer), and more recently, modified polymers containing different additives have been used to change the properties of the polymer structures being printed. For example, carbon fiber may be incorporated within the polymer stock to strengthen the resulting 3D printed object or carbon nanotubes may be incorporated to modify electrical properties of a polymer.

In this study regarding 3D printed polymers, the Positron Research Group at UMKC has explored two areas: 1) custom printed holders for specially–shaped samples using PALS, and 2) positron studies on polymer nano-structural differences related to the processing technology or to included additives. The applications of custom printed sample holders encompass geological, environmental and biological sciences. For geological samples, the unique shapes of rocks and minerals require equally uniquely shaped holders for experiments. Environmental studies such as water filtration membranes are focusing on ultra thin films that often require customized cartridges for proper evaluation. The health sciences have recently seen major advancements with 3D printing, including custom implants, artificial limbs, and tissue engineering. The implication of positron studies on polymers with respect to nano-structural differences includes probing the physical transformations caused by 3D printing. Characterization of variations in structure, strength and similar qualities contributes to understanding of the fundamental limitations and potential applications of such materials. Similarly, through conceptualization of raw polymer materials, positron studies allow the study of novel material interfaces in hybrid materials and materials manipulated with additives.

Our continuing work in the Positron Science Laboratory is focused on characterizing the nano-structural qualities of polymer-additive blends, and the interface between polymer layers or between hybrid polymer/materials samples.

The 3D printers at UMKC’s Positron Science Lab allows students to become versed in state of the art 3D printing techniques and materials analysis and to study polymer nanostructure, while also opening the door for further projects with biological structures, medical devices and bio-compatible substances, and other materials of interest to scientists and engineers.

Andrew Ramsey

Hometown: Overland Park, KS
Major/Department: Civil Engineering
Faculty Mentor
:  Dr. Megan Hart, Civil Engineering
Funding Source: UMKC SUROP

Andrew Ramsey is currently a senior majoring in Civil Engineering at the University of Missouri - Kansas City. Andrew is a member of Chi Epsilon, the civil engineering honor society, as well as the President of the Engineers Without Borders UMKC student chapter. After graduation, Andrew will continue with his research through the Master’s program at UMKC.

The Removal of Nutrients From Surface and Ground Waters Using Pervious Concrete as a Permeable Reactive Barrier

Nutrients contained in runoff from the application of fertilizer in excess of soil requirements contaminates both surface and ground water with nitrogen and phosphorus. Excessive nutrients in water causes green algae to bloom, which is not only problematic for the natural systems and human health, but it also discourages people from using that water for recreational use. Previous research done at the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering suggested that pervious concrete would aid in the removal of contaminates in an aqueous solution, including nutrients. The intent of this research was to compare the removal rate of nitrate by six pervious concrete mix designs. The mix designs included a Portland Cement control and five other mix designs with a supplementary material replacing a portion of the Portland Cement. The results indicated that the control, Portland Cement, removed a larger amount of nitrate than the pervious concrete specimens with other material included in the mix design. The use of pervious concrete to aid in the removal of contaminates from water could be used anywhere from surface waters such as the Lake of the Ozarks, to rivers that lead into the Gulf of Mexico, and underground water tables.