IU East 2013 Summer Research Scholars announced

July 11th, 2013

Indiana University East awarded five scholarships for the 2013 Summer Research Scholar Program. Undergraduate students receive $2,000 to conduct a research project under the supervision of a faculty mentor.

Funding for the program is provided by the Indiana University Office of the Vice Provost for Research and is matched by funds from IU East. The competitive program has expanded from the first single award given to now include up to six students each summer.

All recipients will present their research findings during the seventh annual Student Research Day in spring 2014.

Kendra Beran, New Madison, Ohio. “Reproducing Fruit Aromas with Esters.” Junior biochemistry major working with Hitesh Kathuria, assistant professor of chemistry.
“I have been in the food industry for more than 30 years and I fulfilled my dream of becoming an executive chef. The culinary industry is always changing and the demand for new concepts in the food industry is very strong,” Beran said. “When the opportunity became available for me to work with Dr. Kathuria in the culinary sciences, I could not pass up the opportunity nor the challenge to be involved in cutting edge research and development.”

Beran said her project simulates industry-like processes already being used in the food industry.  Her goal is to create several fruit scents, such as banana, pineapple and orange, and, ultimately, the scent of chocolate, through esterification, a process that requires the mixing of an acid and an alcohol with a chemical catalyst and then heating the mixture for the reaction to occur. The process requires repeated testing, with slight adjustments to the levels of the different ingredients, until the proper ester is created that mimics the natural scent of the fruit in question, Beran said.

“The food industry uses these esters to add scents to and/or boost the scents of their processed food products. This area of the food industry is growing rapidly, and the demand for food scientists is high,” Beran said. “My goal is to understand the esterification experiment, to recreate and standardize the fruit ester process, and ultimately, to synthesize the essence of chocolate.”

Ashlee Brown, Bradford, Ohio. “Uhura’s Legacy: Female Gender Roles in Contemporary Science Fiction Media.” Sophomore biochemistry major working with Frances Yates, director of the Campus Library.
“I chose to do this project to help readers to be more informed about gender roles and hopefully, to help readers find and want to read and watch television that includes more positive gender presentation. I also chose this topic because I find the genre of Science Fiction fascinating and have since I was a kid,” Brown said.

The project will examine various books and television programs in the Science Fiction genre that feature a strong female protagonist and create a model type of positive gender roles within the genre. Brown will create a booklist and watchlist of media with positive gender roles.

“I will conduct the research by reading novels from suggested booklists and viewing programs that are known for gender positivity,” Brown said. “I hope to find that there are several characters in the reading and programming that are positive examples of female role models.”

Chanda Hunt, Union City, Ohio. “Suzanne Valadon: Blurring the Tradition of the Male Gaze.” Junior Fine Arts major working with Ann Kim, assistant professor of fine arts.
Hunt’s research project came from getting to know some of the artist’s work, in particular The Blue Room, from her 20th century art history class. She said the scholarship has provided the opportunity to see many of the artist’s work in person and will help send her to Paris this summer for the project. She will research published books and articles on Valadon’s work as well as on the male gaze and compare Valadon’s nudes to those of Degas, hence gaining insight through the lens of one of the very few women artists who worked in the convention of the female nude, who also happened to be the pupil and model of the famous aforementioned artist.

“I found her work to be very controversial for that time period, therefore inspiring me to continue to get to know her and her works in the discipline of the female nude, a rather male dominated discipline. By doing so, she was able to tilt how the female is being looked at by the said male gaze,” Hunt said. “Essentially my project is about changing the male gaze and how Valadon was able to do that, by coming into a tradition that was so deeply rooted in the objectification of the female body. She worked in many of the same genres, such as the bathing scenes also depicted by Degas, but not done in his voyeuristic,” Hunt said.

Hunt said through her research she would like to emphasize the tremendous change Valadon achieved in the art world.

“Valadon until recently had not been given recognition for what she had done. Through doing that in my own way, I hope to learn much more about her and whether or not she was aware of what she was doing, and I believe she was,” Hunt said.

Kelli Shepherd, Richmond, Ind. “Why We Fight for What We Do: An Analysis of Motivation for Social and Political Activism.” Social Work major working with Ange Cooksey.
Shepherd is interested in delving into exactly what it is that creates activism. She is exploring the ‘energy infrastructure’ and ‘idea architecture’ of people and/or groups that passionately adopt a cause, and then act upon that passion through demonstration or public protest. Specifically, she is interested in life rights issues and the motivators that inspire individuals and organizations to rally around one side or the other – often polemically and emotionally – and all too often, with polarizing results.

Cara Tegeler, Richmond, Ind. “Using Fruit Fly (Drosophila Melanogaster) to Uncover Cellular Mechanisms affected by Environmental Toxins and Novel Chemicals.” Biotechnology major working with Hitesh Kathuria, assistant professor of chemistry.
Tegeler chose this project to learn more about chemicals that are in the environment, and how they might affect people in regard to gene expression. She will use Toxcast, a project initiated by the Environmental Protection Agency to develop methods of prioritizing chemicals for further screening and testing to assist in the management and regulation of environmental contaminants. She hopes to find the effects of chemicals that are used daily in the environment.

“These methods will be used to determine the potential toxicity and then we will prioritize the chemicals that present the greatest threat to human health,” Tegeler said. “The research that I will be doing is a continuation of Jessica Skinner’s work from last year’s Summer Research Scholar program. Because of her work, we know how to best conduct the research.”

Skinner’s research project, “The Effects of Environmental Chemicals on Drosophila melanogaster,” used a fruit fly model to study the effects of a variety of environmental chemicals on gene expression in the Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly). She conducted various feeding assays to expose the flies to the chemicals and then send them for RNA expression testing to see which genes the chemicals increase expression or eliminate.

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