IU East 2022 Summer Research Scholars

Indiana University East awarded seven scholarships for the 2022 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 tenth annual Student Research Day held during the spring 2023 semester.

Rilen Bell, Richmond, Indiana. “Letters for Stephany.” English major working with Tanya Perkins, associate professor of English.
Bell’s goal is to complete his short story cycle, “Letters for Stephany,” a collection of short stories that explore the underrepresented experiences and challenges of growing up in rural America as a member of the LGBT+ community.

Rilen Bell, an English major from Richmond, is one of seven Summer Research Scholars this year. Bell is working on his project, “Letters for Stephany,” a collection of short stories.

“I chose this project because the experience of growing up as a part of this community in a small town was very formative for me,” Bell explained. “I’m escaping that life now just as my characters strive to do in these short stories.”

“…young members of the LGBT+ community do not often see themselves in literary works,” Bell’s proposal said. “This cycle means to give them a voice, explore the adversities they face in such communities and address other conflicting emotions that arise from these situations.”

Nicole DuBois, Jacksonville, Florida. “Machine Learning to Predict Teacher Retention.” Mathematics major working with Sagara Dewasurendra, assistant professor of mathematics.
Through machine learning and survey analysis, Dubois aims to explore whether certain environmental factors play a significant role in a teacher remaining within their profession. “My hypothesis is that aside from financial concerns, the actual day-to-day working conditions in the education profession are more important indicators as to whether teachers stay or leave the profession,” Dubois wrote in her proposal.

Dubois hopes that analyzing the work environment of educators—both current and former—will promote positive change in educational sectors and improve teacher retention.

“This project is very dear to me, as I have been a teacher for over 10 years,” DuBois noted in her proposal’s personal statement. “…I want to make sure that the conditions for all teachers are to the standards to where we can really see this as a lifelong profession rather than statistically burning out within the first three to five years.”

Ariana Hankins, Richmond, Indiana. “Exploring the Potential Function of YPL107W.” Biochemistry major working with Jill Schweitzer, assistant professor of biochemistry.
Hankins’ project investigates YPL107W, a gene found in S. cerevisiae, more commonly known as baker’s yeast. Through laboratory research and experimentation, Hankins aims to learn more about the gene’s unknown functions. S. cerevisiae “is a great model organism as it shares many biological properties with human cells and its genome has been fully sequenced,” Hankins’ proposal explained.

Ariana Hankins is a biochemistry major from Richmond. The Summer Research Scholar has researched her project, “Exploring the Potential Function of YPL107W,” to discover more about the bakers yeast, a model organism that shares biological properties with human cells.

Hankins’ interest in the gene piqued during her sophomore year when her class participated in the Yeast ORFan Gene Project, a group of undergraduate researchers and faculty that study and experiment on S. cerevisiae. “Throughout the project I really enjoyed the personal research aspect of it,” Hankins said.

During her junior year, Hankins was encouraged by her professor to continue her research on the gene. Eager to try something new while developing her lab skills, Hankins jumped at the opportunity. “I am beyond grateful for the experience and look forward (to) working on the project further,” Hankins replied.

Jamie Inmann, Bloomington, Indiana. “Piecing Together Past Lives: Using Pottery Refit Analysis to Disentangle Prehistoric Households in Southwest Ohio.” Natural Science & Mathematics major with a concentration in Mathematics, working with Aaron Comstock, assistant professor of anthropology.
Inmann’s project explores the artifacts found at Ohio’s prehistoric archaeological site, Turpin, and aims to refine what historians and anthropologists understand about the occupational history of Turpin’s past inhabitants.

“Archaeologists rely on radiocarbon dating to understand when sites were occupied and when areas of sites were used,” Inmann explained. However, “…this method produces age ranges that can span decades or centuries….” So, by analyzing, reassembling, and comparing the excavated pottery sherds from the region, Inmann hopes to uncover more information about the inhabitants of the region.

“While I envisioned myself completing this type of research in my future career, I could not pass up the opportunity to actively participate now in ongoing research of local Archaeological excavations,” Inmann said. “I am confident that the work I will be completing over the summer for the SUMRS Program will contribute in a meaningful way to the ongoing study and analysis of these Midwestern prehistoric communities.”

Alex Papaioannou, Salt Lake City, Utah. “Stock Price Prediction: A comparison between the classic Geometric Brownian Motion and the modern Long Short-Term Memory model.” Mathematics major working with Young You, associate professor of mathematics.
Papaioannou’s project employs computational methods to compare and contrast neural net models used in stock prediction. In his proposal, Papaioannou noted that his project aims to provide a loss-minimization tool “to the academic and professional community,” that can contribute to “a more stable, sustainable and fruitful economic environment for the US.”

In addition to the prospect of influencing a positive socioeconomic impact on the country, Papaioannou’s participation in the Summer Research Scholars Program also offers him the chance to expand his knowledge of financial mathematics and help him attain his dream of advancing his current position as an employee of Goldman Sachs.

“My dream is to work in the trading and structuring desk,” Papaioannou said. “The fruition of this research project…can be the deciding factor which can make me stand out.”

Asia Sykes, Greenville, Ohio. “The Effect of Nuclear Quantum Effects and Temperature on RNA Building Blocks.” Biochemistry major working with Yu Kay Law, associate professor of chemistry.
Using computer-based simulations, Sykes’ project observes how varying temperature affects RNA dinucleotide conformations. “In this project, we hope to examine how the distributions of bond lengths and base stacking depends on temperature and nuclear quantum effects and compare these against published experimental data on these model systems,” Sykes’ explained.

Sykes will be using one of Indiana University’s supercomputers to run the complex simulations.

Mathea Tanner, Terre Haute, Indiana. “War and Pasta: Exploring our Modern Identities Through the Family Dinner Table.” Business Administration major working with Tanya Perkins, associate professor of English. Tanner has completed her minor in creative writing.
Tanner’s goal is to compose a chapbook that explores the human experience around the family dinner table. Primarily a memoir, Tanner’s literary pieces will retell personal experiences while delving into the significance of a culture’s diet.

“Throughout my time studying creative writing, I have come back again and again to themes of culture, food, and the connections between these and how we see ourselves,” Tanner said. “Today, identities are often interconnected with diet,” she explained further in her proposal. But she noted that these diet-centric identities—such as a foodie or a raw vegan environmentalist—”can disconnect us from our heritages and histories. To find our true selves in food, we need to look back at the tables and plates that made us who we are.”

Tanner plans to research her family records and the origins of recipes and their ingredients. “My goal is to create three to four new creative pieces drawn from my research as well as build upon connective themes in three existing pieces,” Tanner said.

Two of Tanner’s existing pieces, “Elias’s Table” and “A Recipe for Artichokes,” were recently published in IU East’s literary magazine, Tributaries, with “Elias’s Table” taking first prize in the creative nonfiction genre.

About IU East’s Online Degree Programs
The Summer Research Scholars (SUMRS) Program provides financial support for students to make a substantial commitment to a selected research and scholarly activity. Students work closely with a faculty mentor to develop a project which they will complete independently. This program is open to undergraduate students in all disciplines, and the potential projects may take on many forms.