IU East 2021 Summer Research Scholars

Indiana University East awarded eight scholarships for the 2021 Summer Research Scholars Program.

Graduate and 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 ninth annual Student Research Day in spring 2022.

Madalyn “Maddie” Drew, Nashville, Indiana. “Peacebuilding in a Culturally Divided Nation.” Business administration and communication studies major working with Julee Rosser, lecturer in communication studies.

Drew’s project aims to determine specific factors contributing to increasing polarization in the United States and identify steps people can take to help mend the divide. The project is based on increased polarization in the country being driven by cultural divide that challenges effective communication. The Brown County native, who now lives in New York City, started at IU East in 2019.

“As a college student who eventually wants to work in social impact, I have focused my studies on trying to identify the most pressing issues in America,” she said. “What I discovered is that there are actually several pressing issues and there are plenty of changemakers who are working on them.” Her project is by far the most formal application of intercultural communication studies she has ever attempted. “The events over the past few years have demonstrated to me that without a significant change in the way we communicate, the nation is going to be further polarized and social progress will continue to be hindered. I want to inspire change on a granular level so that, as a collective society, we can start to tackle and overcome some of these issues that are weighing us down.”

Emily “Emma” Hatch, Richmond, Indiana. “School Assignment Within Wayne County.” Elementary education major working with Jerry Wilde, dean of the School of Education.

The purpose of Hatch’s project is to better understand how school satisfaction and diversity are represented across different school districts, and to determine what correlation may exist between school assignment and demographic parity.  The secondary objective of Hatch’s study aims to find other possible existing correlations between parental satisfaction and other variables.

“Academics have always been important in my life. Education is the key to rising above your circumstances,” Hatch said. She adds that she is focusing her research in this area because she loves teaching. After overcoming her own personal obstacles, Hatch hopes her research will provide survey data on how other students and parents may benefit from the findings.

Jonathan Kerby-White, Bloomington, Indiana. “Procedures to Create and Evaluate Mathematical Propositions.” Mathematics major working with Ange Cooksey, director of the Honors Program and senior lecturer of philosophy, religious studies and humanities.

Kerby-White’s project aims to investigate the truth value of existing mathematical propositions and explore how new propositions may be developed. “In mathematics, nothing is true until it can be proven,” his proposal says. “My project will find out how we know what people say is true in mathematics is actually true,” he explained. His work will include exploring the semantics and grammar of mathematics, then practice applying it.

“My inspiration originated from my curiosity to discover what is true, and to realize how we know that it is true,” Kerby-White said.

Richard McHone, Waco, Kentucky. “Inequalities of Convolutions from Probability Distributions.” Mathematics major working with Nayeong Kong, assistant professor of mathematics.

McHone’s project tackles a complex mathematics issue he explains this way: “Simply put, in probability theory calculating the probability that something will happen between two random variables (or objects) can become very complicated. Think about taking a trial table of over 3000 trials between flipping two different coins (heads or tails) and then recording that data, analyzing that data, and forming a conclusion. This project, if successful, could take those complicated calculations and streamline them a bit more. The idea is that there is an inequality that can compute these calculations for you without actually having to complete the trials, that is what I am working to discover.”

He said the project will be his first full-scale research project that will seek results for something “that doesn’t quite have a result yet.”

McHone has always been fascinated by math. “Having the opportunity to conduct original research is huge. I chose to pursue a career in mathematics after Algebra II in high school, because I saw the passion that my teacher had for math. He was a mathematical genius, and to learn from him, helped me find my passion.”

Rahil Najafabadi, New York, New York. “Trash & Naked Faces.” English and Technical writing major working with Brian Brodeur, associate professor of English.

Najafabadi’s goal is to write a chapbook-length manuscript of poetry that concentrates on the most intimate and naked aspects of urban life, inspired by her life in New York City as it emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic. Planning to “document the truth with poetry,” she wants the work to result in the “most influential poems I can write, because I know I will never experience New York City emerging and recovering like this, under the current circumstances in a similar way again.”

Her passion as a poet is for people to know that “poetry is alive as long as we breathe, feel and write. Now more than ever, we have a duty to keep it breathing as we all try to return to the state of being before the pandemic.”

Kyle Raihala, Perrysburg, Ohio. “Air Quality for Cyclists.” Mathematics major working with Nayeong Kong, assistant professor of mathematics.

Using a “sniffer bike” concept developed in the Netherlands, his project will involve building sampling units to be mounted directly to bicycles. The goal will be to measure pollution levels at the point in which cyclists experience it and determine whether levels are higher than recommended safety thresholds. A small group of volunteer cyclists will help collect data over a test time period.

“My goal is to improve the safety and well-being of cyclists, the quality of the infrastructure, and change the culture in a way that improves the lives of all of the citizens,” he said in his statement for the project. “I expect that pollution levels have not decreased significantly since the initial research in 2004, which would mean that there are many portions of the city with dangerous levels of chronic pollution.”

He is building his own equipment for the project, which aims to measure the air quality where cyclists are – on the street, where they encounter exhaust fumes. “Sensors are often away from traffic, but that’s not the same as a cyclist directly behind some vehicle’s tailpipe, getting a heavy dose of dangerous particles.”

Raihala said the Dutch estimate that the average citizen loses 50 days form their life due to pollution. He also noted the project is his first involving gathering data not available elsewhere.

John Sun, Gig Harbor, Washington. “From 1882 to 1942: The History of Early Anti-Asian Actions, and Their Effect on Attitudes Regarding the ‘Model Minority’ of Today.” History major working with Justin Carroll, chair for history, philosophy and religious studies and associate professor of history.

In light of increasing anti-Asian sentiment during the COVID pandemic, Sun said his research will investigate two events in the early history of Asian Americans – the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. “I plan to study how Asian Americans have been called either hard-working or foreign aliens who do not belong in America, depending on what the attitudes are at the time.

For example, Chinese immigrants who came to work on the railroads in the 1800s were initially thought to be great laborers. Once the railroads were done, they were rejected when they began to compete with white Americans for jobs on the West Coast. During World War II, when China was a major ally of the United States, Chinese again were thought to be role-model immigrants. Now, with the COVID-19 crisis, Chinese Americans (and Asian Americans in general) are targets of hate crimes.”

Sun said the research gives him a head start on his capstone project, “allows me to explore the field with regards to material and scholars, and to produce a quality writing sample for my Ph.D. application.” He said the most important thing he’s learned in his history education so far is to “always investigate and review primary sources for ourselves. Problems arise when we take others’ interpretations as fact without examining the data personally.”

Sandy Zimmerman, Virginia Beach, Virginia. “The Peace of Massasoit: Patience in the Face of Mistrust.” History major working with Justin Carroll, chair for history, philosophy, and religious studies and associate professor of history.

Zimmerman’s goal is to illustrate how Massasoit’s interactions with the English colony at Plymouth had a profound and lasting effect on what would become New England. “Massasoit’s ideas on leadership and diplomacy helped him protect his people, promote peace, and reestablish his own authority and power. He would create peace and consequences that would last for decades,” Zimmerman said.

Always fascinated by the role of Native Americans in colonial America, Zimmerman said, “when I found out how important the Wampanoag leader Massasoit was to the colony at Plymouth and the further success of the American colonies, further research into this topic was an important next step.”

This is Zimmerman’s first research grant, though she has experience researching in her studies with a focus in Native American and colonial interaction. She plans to seek a Ph.D. in history after she graduates next spring.  “As a future historian, understanding the interactions and relationships between colonists and the Native Americans will prove invaluable as I work toward my goal of becoming a professor of Colonial American history and its impact on Native Americans.”