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McNair Scholars Program

Summer 2000 Research Projects

Scholar: Alisa Abuzeineh
Mentor: Philip Gipson, Ph.D.

The Response of Breeding Birds to the Cutting of Woody Vegetation by Beaver (Castor canadensis) in North-Central Kansas

The effect of beaver cutting of woody vegetation on breeding birds was examined at eight sites along streams at Fort Riley in north-central Kansas. Four sites were control sites that showed no present beaver activity. The other four sites were treatment sites where beaver activity was present. At these sites, tree and bird counts were conducted, as well as measurements of canopy coverage and vegetation coverage on the ground. At each site, tree counts were conducted on four separate survey plots (2 m by 50 m). I counted all woody vegetation (dead and alive) within each plot, recorded the species, and measured the diameter of the trunk. American elms were the predominant tree species at most sites, and used the most by beavers. Cutting was limited to trees that fell into size categories from less than 2.5 cm up to 30.5 cm. Therefore, beavers had no marked effect on canopy coverage. One bird count was taken at each site along the banks of the streams. During a 10-minute period, every bird heard or seen within 50 meters was recorded. Analysis of the bird counts found that beaver cutting of woody vegetation had no marked effect on the variability of bird species at treatment sites.


Scholar: Katrina (Lindsay) Alexander
Mentor: X. J. Xin, Ph.D.

Frictional Effects on Heterogeneous Metal Powder Compaction Using Finite Element Simulation

The compaction of metal powders is an important and cost-effective method for manufacturing complex metal parts with high strength-to- weight ratios. During compaction, friction between particles affects structural inhomogeneity and particle agglomeration, therefore its effects should be well understood in order to produce high quality parts. Yielding marks the end of elastic (or recoverable) deformation of a material; plastic (or unrecoverable) deformation occurs when the stress in the material reaches the yield point. Knowledge of the yield criterion (yield surface) for a material makes it possible to predict the onset of plastic deformation in practical engineering structures. Yield probing is the technique for obtaining the yield surface of a material during deformation. This process for powder compaction involves applying different pressure combination and finding the yield point. In the study, the effect of friction between metal particles on the yield surface was determined by using explicit finite element method (FEM). Yield surfaces of Fe-Al metal powder initially compacted to 96% density by bi-axial compaction with particle frictions of 0 and 1 were obtained. The results indicated densification and compact strength were greater for particle friction of 1. By obtaining the yield surface, better design and efficiency of the metal powder compaction process is possible.


Scholar: Michael Anguiano
Mentor: Eva Horne, Ph.D.

Speed with Reduced Tail Length in the Slenderglass Lizard (Ophisaurus attenuatus)

Tail autotomy is the voluntary separation of some portion of an animal's tail as a result of a physical stimulus. This tactic is employed by many species of reptiles and amphibians as a means of escape from an attacking predator. Glass lizards are a group of legless lizards that belong to the genus Ophisaurus. The tail can make up about 2/3 the total length of these lizards and is their main source of locomotion. If a portion of their tail is lost it does not fully regenerate. Therefore, the loss of some amount of their tail could result in reductions in speed. Data to test this hypothesis were obtained by encouraging lizards down a Plexiglas track in three timed trials. Track dimensions were 190 cm long by 18 cm wide with the bottom covered by pegs 5 cm tall spaced 5 cm apart. The fastest velocity (cm/s) for each lizard was compared to total length using the Spearman-Rank correlation test. The results were opposite of the predicted hypothesis with total length and velocity being negatively correlated (p=0.03). The shorter the lizard, the faster it negotiated the track. Tail autotomy may cause lizards to undergo a behavioral change to compensate for the loss of their tail as a diversion to predators. As a result of the loss of this escape mechanism, the lizards may have to become faster in order to escape predators.


Scholar: John Chartier
Mentor: Scott Staggenborg, Ph.D.

Western Corn Rootworm

Western corn rootworm (WCR) is the number one pest to U.S. corn growers. In 1998, 14.4 million acres were treated with soil insecticides to control this pest, costing growers $195 million annually. It is estimated that WCW causes approximately $1 billion in damage to the U.S. corn crop each year. WCR can reduce corn yields by up to 55% in heavily infested non-treated corn. A field experiment was conducted at a site in Waterloo, NE, to evaluate the effectiveness of three seed-applied and two soil-applied insecticides to reduce WCR impact on corn roots and grain yield. The six WCR control treatments were: Force (tefluthrin) seed treatment, Force (tefluthrin) 3G T-Banded, Untreated Control, Aztec T-Banded, Gaucho seed treatment, and Other seed treatment. Seed delivered rootworm control would be beneficial to farmers and the environment. Insecticide exposure reduction and convenience are two reasons farmers like this technology. However, seed- delivered WCR control must be effective in order for farmers to adopt this practice. After initial plant emergence there was no data taken as no considerable damage from WCR occurred. It was believed that above research temperatures in the months prior to planting resulted in an early WCR larvae hatch, causing the insects to starve as a marginally late planting date allowed no corn crop to be available to serve as a food source.


Scholar: Ashkea Herron
Mentor: Antonia Pigno, M.A.


Comparisons of the Developing Presence of Hispanic and African-American Cultures Within Business and Industry in the United States in the 1960's

This study attempts to understand and appreciate the developing presence of Hispanic-American and African-American cultures within the business and industry sectors of the United States. The research commences with the examination of the Black movement, and the Chicano movement, both of which took rise in the 1960's. During this time period, the Hispanic and African-American citizens of the United States devoted themselves to the idea of equality through social change. Each group took on this battle utilizing their own resources and methods in hopes that a transformation of some kind would take place. The research compares and contrasts the history of business growth and expansion within these two minority groups in the United States. The hypothesis states that a correlation lies between government policies regarding minorities and an increase in minority-owned business in the late 1960's. Letters were sent out to 100 Hispanic-American and African- American owned businesses founded in the years 1965-1975, requesting annual reports and other publications, so that information could be obtained regarding the commencement of each company. The results of the study indicate that a weak correlation between government policies and minority-owned businesses exists. Overall, the study shows that racism and discrimination is so deeply rooted into the history of the United States that one cannot pinpoint the rise in minority businesses leaders to one specific reason. The study includes the annual reports and publications sent by the 100 companies, their purpose being to inspire young minority leaders in the field of business today to believe that success is, indeed, possible.


Scholar: Lakeisha Jackson
Mentor: BeEtta Stoney, Ph.D.

The Only Child -- A Round Child in a Square World: The Effects of Stereotypes and Perceptions on Socialization, Self-Esteem, and Academics

People's perceptions and stereotypes about the only child and the only child's perceptions about them are both positively and negatively portrayed in research and theory. Recent research reflects an on-going interest in unraveling controversial and inconsistent findings dealing with the personalities of the only child. Yet, researchers began focusing on the advantages and benefits of raising an only child. This investigation focuses on perceptions and stereotypes and the correlation between body image, self-esteem and lack of socialization with peers in which only children have of themselves. The participants in this study reside in a small Midwestern town, rank in ages fifteen to forty-eight, represent a diverse population, and are students enrolled in summer school in higher education or are participants in the Upper Bound summer programs for junior high and high school students. This investigation is beneficial in understanding the social and emotional effects of being an only child. The information gathered can assist teachers, students and parents to understand the developmental stages of only children.


Scholar: Aranda Jones
Mentor: Mary Kay Zabel, Ph.D.

Motivating Reluctant Readers

Research Question: Does a planned motivationally designed environment, curriculum, and strategy approach, improve a reluctant reader's attitude towards reading?

In order for students to develop into mature, effective readers, they must possess not only the skill, but also the will to read (Anderson, Hiebert, Scott, & Wilkinson, 1985; Borkowski, Carr, Rellinger, & Pressley, 1990; Paris & Oka, 1986; Winograd & Greelee, 1986). Motivation is a critical piece of a child's cognitive and affective literacy development (Gambrell, 1996), and must be sparked both externally and internally. Eight students, grades third through fifth were the focus of this study. Motivation was infused into the curriculum, methodology, and classroom environment. Numerous intervention techniques, including 30 minute daily planned interactions between students and researcher, reading aloud specifically chosen books to the students, student involvement in engaged reading, employing hands-on activities related to the books, guiding the students through the process of goal-setting, encouraging students to read a variety of literature, and essentially communicating with the student about his/her progress on a regular basis were used to support an environment designed to promote motivation towards reading. Specific teaching techniques designed to communicate motivation and enthusiasm were used, utilizing music, art, and drama to make connections with the literature being read and to share it with others. At the beginning and end of the research, the students participated in an audiotaped conversational interview, and the Elementary Reading Attitude Survey (McKenna, Michael C. & Kear, Dennis J., 1990). Although students' scores stayed about the same on the attitude survey as at the beginning, student enthusiasm was high and a longer intervention time may show changes in scores.


Scholar: April West
Mentors: Jerome Frieman, Ph.D., and Philip Trocchia, Ph.D.

Perceived Characteristics of Effective Department Heads

In 1998, a survey designed to assess the perceived characteristics of effective department heads was created and administered to deans and department heads on the Kansas State University campus. The survey contained three broad categories: Applied Abilities, Skills and Attributes; Basic Attributes; and Resource Allocation. In the current study, this survey was administered to the faculty, and their responses were compared to those previously given by the deans and department heads. A total of 1030 surveys were mailed to tenured and non-tenured faculty at Kansas State University with a total of 304 responses received. There was a high degree of agreement among all three groups on the importance of items in the Basic Attributes category and less agreement in the other two categories, although faculty and department heads agreed more than both groups did with the deans. The similarities and differences in responses among all three groups were examined. The most striking similarity was the complete agreement among all three groups on the top three characteristics of effective department heads: integrity, fairness, and listening skills. Department heads and faculty both had seven items within the top ten identified by deans (with varying ranks), but the deans ranked three of the items ranked in the top ten by faculty much lower. Although agreement exists among the three groups in their perceptions of the characteristics of effective department heads, the similarity of perceptions between department heads and faculty is greater than those of either group with the deans.