IU East announces 2014 Summer Research Scholars

June 10th, 2014

Indiana University East awarded six scholarships for the 2014 Summer Research Scholar Program. Undergraduate students receive $2,000 to conduct a research project under the supervision of a faculty mentor.

Funding for the competitive program is provided by the Indiana University Office of the Vice Provost for Research and is matched by funds from IU East.  All recipients will present their research findings during the seventh annual Student Research Day in spring 2015.

Christopher Halberstadt, Cambridge City, Ind. “A Comparison Study for Wayne County and Peer-Counties: 2005-2013.” Business Administration/Accounting major working with Litao Zhong, assistant professor of economics and finance.

Halberstadt said the goal of his project is to compare Wayne County to 10 peer counties (five from Indiana, five nationwide) on different indicators involving employment, education, industries and other areas. He hopes that the research will help to show what areas Wayne County excels in or where it may lack in comparison to the other counties.

“I chose this project because we often hear about negative or positive trends for our county but really don’t know how good, or bad, we are until compared to similar counties. The comparison of data has always fascinated me, especially when it pertains to me,” Halberstadt said.

To complete the project, Halberstadt will collect the relevant data for the counties and analyze it to find trends and to find possible explanations for those trends. After the data is collected and analyzed, he plans to create a report explaining the data. He believes that working on this project will improve his research abilities while creating a report that will be useful to the IU East School of Business and Economics and the IU East Center for Business and Economic Research.

Emily O’Brien, of Richmond, Ind. “Thinking Back Through Our Mothers: Virginia Woolf as a Feminist Literary Icon.” English and history major working with Eleni Siatra, coordinator of the IU East Writing Center.

O’Brien said she chose this project after working as a research assistant with Joanne Passet, professor emerita of history, throughout her sophomore year at IU East, and since then, she has wanted to pursue her own research interests. Additionally, O’Brien’s research will be used to complete her Honors Senior Thesis Project, a requirement for students enrolled in IU East’s Honors Program.

She plans to travel to The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature located at the New York Public Library and to the and the Woolf Archival Collections at the British Library to conduct archival research on the life and works of Virginia Woolf and to research the author’s personal correspondence. O’Brien is originally from Rochester, Kent, England and now lives in Richmond.

“This project allows me to take my initial idea a step further to go research in archival collections dedicated to Virginia Woolf’s life and work,” O’Brien said. “My project focuses on the role Virginia Woolf played as a female writer in the early 1900s; Woolf openly rejected and challenged her society’s gender expectations to produce a vast array of work that addressed gender issues in her time, and presented innovative ideas on the struggle of female writers that is still relevant today. Woolf argued that the best writers are androgynous, yet, paradoxically her work is revered by feminist scholars throughout the world. Woolf’s works blur the lines between genders yet also advocate for female autonomy, which serves as a testament to her feminist beliefs.”

Christina Coryell, New Castle, Ind. “The Effect of Cytoskeletal Protein in Gravity Responses in Arabidopsis Thaliana.” Biology/Biochemistry major working with Parul Khurana, assistant professor of biology.

Coryell said she is very interested in biology at the molecular level and this is the best option of observing molecules at the cellular level.

“We are attempting to connect the actin cytoskeleton in root cells to the gravity sensing organelles called amyloplasts, in Arabidopsis thaliana roots. If we are successful, we can shed more light on the gravity sensing mechanisms of plant roots.  This is the overall goal,” Coryell said.

Coryell will start her project by reviewing all research in the last five years published on actin and gravity in Arabidopsis roots.

“Once we have all relevant material we will begin growing Arabidopsis, and using the microscope observe amyloplasts in the roots in control and cytoskeleton-altered conditions,” Coryell said.

Coryell hopes to gain valuable research experience which will eventually help her in her goal to go to graduate school.

Anthony Breitenbach, Connersville, Ind. “Determination of Alteration in Gene Expression Patterns in Drosophilla Melanogaster Larvae upon Exposure to Environmental Toxins.” Biology major working with Hitesh Kathuria, assistant professor of chemistry.

Breitenbach said the critical lab experience with Kathuria will help to boost his status in the scientific community. As part of the research project, they will test the effects on gene expression levels on fly larvae exposed to environmental toxins.

“We will expose the larvae to the toxins and immediately freeze them in liquid Nitrogen to fend off RNA degradation. We will then centrifuge the RNA and perform gene chip analysis to compare to a control,” Breitenbach said. “This will reveal the alterations of gene expression brought forth by exposure to environmental toxins. We hope to learn the effects of toxins that have little known about them. The human genome is similar enough to the fly genome that the effects could shed light on the effects on humans.”

Chase Eversole, Connersville, Ind. “Genesis of the System: Tracing the Development of David Foster Wallace’s First Novel.” English major working with Steven Petersheim, assistant professor of English.

Eversole said he chose the project because it is the culmination of the skills he has honed as a student at IU East as well as encompassing his English major with a focus in American literature.

“My previous experience with being a research assistant for Jean Harper, associate professor of English, has aided me in developing my research skills, which will serve as a crux for this project. This project also ties with my professional goals of attending graduate school to earn a master’s degree and Ph.D. in English, as this sort of work is what is expected at this level,” Eversole said.

Eversole said the goal of his project is to better understand the relationship between 19th and 20th century literature, specifically the work of Frank Norris and David Foster Wallace, through analyzing the genesis of Wallace’s first novel, The Broom of the System, and the connections that exist between it and Norris’ novel, McTeague, from the 19th century. In a number of ways Wallace’s text mirrors Norris’, which is a topic that has yet to be explored in academia. He added, “given the fact that Norris’ McTeague is a naturalist text and Wallace’s Broom is a postmodern text, I’m also interested in better understanding the relationship between these two schools of writing, which is also a fairly unexplored area of literary study.”

For this project, Eversole will analyze the original manuscripts, typescripts, and notes pertaining to Wallace’s first novel, which are housed at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin. Eversole said the correspondence between Wallace and his agent, editors, and publishers are also housed at the HRC and these documents will be useful in the creation of his genetic sketch of the novel. “I will also be in contact with Viking Penguin, the original publisher of Wallace’s first novel, to request more notes and correspondence pertaining to the text which are housed in their archives in New York City,” Eversole said.

Neils Rikhof, La Junta, Colorado, and Adam Obringer, Lewisburg, Ohio. “Is Simpler Better?” Mathematics majors working with Young You, assistant professor of mathematics.

Obringer said by the end of the project, he and Rikhof hope to have an in depth comparative analysis of all forecasting techniques they will have tried on a data set to then build a model that draws from all attempted forecasters strengths to build their own model.

Rikhof is completing his mathematics degree through IU East’s online degree completion program. He said they will use application of various data fitting techniques to a given time series, with analysis of their predictive efficiency.

“I would hope to gain a more fundamental understanding of time series analysis,” Rikhof said.

To complete the research project, Obringer and Rikhof will study the futures market, forecasting techniques, modeling fundamentals, R programming language, statistics, and probability to fully comprehend what each forecasting model is best used for and then how they may apply it.

“I have wanted to begin a study outside of the normal classroom setting in order to see math from a different direction and in order to further my own educator goals I decided to study a field which would really challenge my usual mode of thought,” Obringer said. “As an education and mathematics major I hope to both push myself to understand a student’s mindset when they are placed in a field of study outside of their comfort zone and gain real insight into the way our current futures market system is fueled by mathematics.”

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