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McNair Scholars Program

Summer 2009 Research Projects

Scholar: Adrian Carter
Mentor: Eric Higgins, Ph.D.


Market Risk and Return: A Comparison of the Past and Present

The mortgage crisis and current economic downfall have left the U.S stock market in an inefficient state. Current market prices are not unbiased estimates of the true value of investments. Market prices can be greater than or less than the true value of investments, as long as the deviations are random. Markets do not correct themselves automatically; they are dependent on investor activity. Similarly, confidence and a belief that one can beat the market are key aspects of investor activity. My research can contribute to the goal of restoring investor confidence. My research targets three main questions: (1) Has market risk increased over time?; (2) In terms of growth stocks and value stocks, which has historically performed better by producing greater stock returns?; (3) Is there a correlation between default spread and market movement. We analyzed the data by looking at historical information on the standard deviation of stock returns, testing stock variables (Price/Earnings, Book/Market) to see if they can predict the quality of a stock, and comparing default spread with the status of the market. We have found that historical events (Great Depression, Cold War, 9/11) lead to fluctuations in the U.S Stock Market. This data can be an indication of what to expect in the future as the market has fluctuated due to the current mortgage crisis and economic downfall.


Scholar: Brittany Delaney
Mentor: Linda Hoag, Ph.D.


Clinical Measurement of Voice and Speech

This paper explores clinical measurement of voice and speech. Clinical measurement of voice and speech is an essential component of voice assessment and treatment. I gained experience with various pieces of voice analysis equipment and software, including the audio recording equipment and Computerized Speech Lab (KayPENTAX Model 4500) hardware and software including Real-Time Pitch, Voice Range Profile, Real Time Spectrogram, and Multi-Dimensional Voice Program to measure aspects of acoustic characteristics. These characteristics involve various measurers of fundamental frequency and intensity. The Computerized Speech Lab allows a clinician to collect and analyze live samples or digitally recorded samples by loading pre-recorded samples onto the software. I had the opportunity to study normal variation in voice and speech by performing multiple measurements on different samples of my own voice and comparing measurements across these samples. Towards the end of the summer experience, I gained not only greater knowledge of how to perform voice and speech analysis, but also a broader understanding of measurements that have been found to be clinically useful in the assessment of speech and voice disorders. I was given the chance to become familiar with, explore, and use the Computerized Speech Lab hardware and software, which provides a variety of measurements and displays of speech and voice samples. I would consider this very beneficial for undergraduate students who want to be in the Speech-Language Pathology profession.


Scholar: Emma Del Real
Mentor: Lorena Passerelli, Ph.D.


Role of Post-translational Modifications of a Viral Fibroblast Growth Factor on Virulence

Baculoviruses are enveloped viruses, containing a large, circular and double-stranded DNA genome. Most baculovirus encode a viral fibroblast growth factor (vfgf) that is homologous to the fibroblast growth factors (fgfs) found in both invertebrate and vertebrate organisms. FGFs have a wide range of functions that include working as mitogens and motogens and are involved in processes such as neural cell differentiation, osteogenesis, angiogenesis, and limb formation. The vfgf of the Bombyx morinucleopolyhedrovirus (BmNPV) is N-glycosylated and readily secreted. On the other hand, the vfgf of the Autographa californica MNPV (AcMNPV) is not N-glycosylated. We are constructing recombinant viruses where N-glycosylation sites are altered or introduced in the BmNPV and the AcMNPV fgfs, respectively. This will allow us to determine the role of N-glycosylation during virus infection both in in vitro cell culture systems and in vivo.


Scholar: Carmen Ellis
Mentor: Judith Hughey, Ph.D.


Methods of Professional Development, Increasing Confidence and Competence in Faculty to Improve Accommodations for Special Needs Learners

What methods of professional development could be used with faculty to increase their confidence and competence and success for students? This research seeks to find ways to better serve faculty on university campuses to make them more aware of a wide range of accommodations for students with special needs such as: students with disabilities, students from poverty, and students for whom English is not their first language (ELL). Various data that have been collected from Kansas State University Faculty interviews, as well as journal articles in the areas of Adult Education and Special Education, offer great detail as to what problems exist on campus for special needs students and some best practices/effective teaching strategies that will help accommodate special needs students in the classroom. This information serves as a building block for the main part of my research.

The larger part of my research will consist of administering a faculty survey regarding the needs, behaviors, attitudes, and knowledge levels of teaching students with special learning needs or issues in their course. We will analyze the survey results and use a descriptive statistics, including mean, median and one-way analyses of variance (ANOVA) which will help measure: the relationships between faculties’ knowledge of disabilities, disability law, and/or other special learning needs and their confidence to educate the student; the relationship between the faculty members’ knowledge of disabilities and other special learning needs and the success those students with disabilities experience in that course; the relationship between the years of experience of the faculty and their willingness to provide accommodations for a student with special learning needs in a course; and the relationship between faculty’s knowledge of retention data and willingness to provide accommodations.


Scholar: Jesus Garcia
Mentor: Mark Haub, Ph.D.


Body Composition and Diet in Military Combatives Participants

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighting is a full contact body sport that allows a wide variety of fighting techniques used in competition. Fighters lose weight to be in specific weight classes, and the weight of most fighters fluctuates between fights due long waits between fights (3-6 months). Controlling weight for these fighters is important since the more lean mass and the less fat mass one has the better the overall performance. Currently, there is little information to help these athletes decide what and how much to eat. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine the associations between what fighters eat and their body composition. Army fighter participants (n=14) provided 3-day diet records at the end of a 5-week training regimen as part of the All-Army Combatives Program. Body weight and body composition were, also, measured. Pearson Correlations were used to determine relationship between dietary intake and body composition. These results were different from what we were expecting given the understanding of energy balance; we were surprised that macronutrients were not highly correlated. We had to take into consideration the importance of honesty; trusting people to accurately report intake. We also found the need for databases to include other nutrients since some nutrients were absent in some of the foods. Now that we obtained a list of foods that may help fighters better perform, the next step is to incorporate these foods into a diet the fighters would normally consume.


Scholar: Natalie Jordan
Mentor: Andrew Beeser, Ph.D.

Examining the Over-Expression of the Activating Transcription Factor 6

ATF6 is a transmembrane protein that resides in the Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER). When ER stress activates the Unfolded Protein Response (UPR), ATF6 is cleaved and transported into the nucleus. The UPR has been associated with many human diseases including cancer.

ATF6 is also involved with regulating the ER chaperones, which have been shown to restrict apoptosis, and has demonstrated a possible drug-resistance system by inducing cell survival. We questioned whether ATF6 could be an oncogene.

In addition to ATF6, we looked at the Her2 oncogene. Her2 is commonly up-regulated in breast cancer. The Her2 promoter contains an up-stream open reading frame (uORF) that inhibits the translation of the downstream Her2 gene. The UPR is implicated in the ability of uORF’s to repress down-stream genes. Since ATF6 is a key component of the UPR, we hypothesized that an increased expression of ATF6 would oppose the negative effect of the uORF and increase Her2 expression.


Scholar: Christopher Juarez
Mentor: Leigh Murray, Ph.D.

An Application of Statistical Consulting with a Randomized Complete-Block Design with a Split-Split-Plot

Statistical consulting is a tool used by researchers to better answer research questions. Statistical consultants can be sought after during anytime in the research phase. By allowing someone who understands experimental design and numbers to work with someone who can identify the question and conduct the experiment, the research process and results are strengthened. There are 5 roles of statistical consulting: helper, leader, data-blesser, collaborator, and teacher.

The randomized complete-block design with a split-split-plot is a design that lacks formal definition in many statistical textbooks. The design has its own model and ANOVA table.

An application of the RCBD w/SSP is given to better illustrate how the design can be used as well as how statistical consulting is utilized. The example includes SAS programming, output, and ANOVA tables with explanation.


Scholar: Tai-Wen Ko
Mentor: Anil Pahwa, Ph.D.

Investigating Small Renewable Energy Light Sources to Meet the Energy Needs of People Living Off-Grid

Most of the world’s rural citizens without access to electrical power use kerosene lamps as their main source of light at night. These lamps do not provide sufficient brightness for reading, and can also pose health, environmental, and fire hazards. Finding a solution to provide these areas with sustainable light sources is crucial. It could help them out with their night-time visibility, and eliminate the expense of having to buy kerosene. One of the most popular alternatives would be the solar lantern. A solar lantern runs on free, renewable solar energy, and is cleaner, safer, and much more efficient than kerosene lamps. Cost is the main reason why this proven technology has not been fully utilized in rural areas. For my research, I analyzed different methods and materials to reduce that cost, and constructed a more affordable solar lantern with better efficiency by implementing white light-emitting diodes technology.


Scholar: Samuel Lewis, Jr.
Mentor: Craig Stapley, Ph.D.


Justice or Just Us: Collegiate Perceptions of the Criminal Justice System

This research was conducted by asking the preliminary question “What are the perceptions and opinions of the criminal justice system from the college student perspective?” A survey consisting of 2 sections was distributed to 163 students. Questions from section 1 pertained to the demographics of the subjects while section 2 presented the subjects with a series of questions that were answered using a Likert Scale for the purpose of gauging opinions of the criminal justice system. Upon review of the data, results indicated that a majority of students tended to have opinions in the “neither agree or disagree” range for the initial item of whether or not the criminal justice system is fair. However, there were strong skews toward the “strongly disagree” and “disagree” range for the item “The death penalty is effective.” Conversely though, there were strong skews toward the “Strongly Agree” and “Agree” range for the issue “Racial profiling is used by law enforcement agencies.”

In the near future, another survey needs to be conducting based on the fact that the findings of this research are only indicative of .71% of Kansas State University’s total student body population. Furthermore, certain survey questions need to be reformatted in order to account for a broader array of subject responses.


Scholar: Mary Ohmes
Mentor: Jane Mertz Garcia, Ph.D.


Thickened Formula as a Diet Modification for Infants with Impaired Swallowing

Some infants are at risk for feeding and swallowing disorders (dysphagia). Thin liquids such as water or milk often represent the most dangerous consistency for a child or adult to swallow safely, because of their fast transit. The concern is that thin fluids may be easily aspirated into the lungs, creating health risks such as aspiration pneumonia. The use of thickened liquids represents a type of compensation to help slow the flow rate of a thin liquid and make a cohesive bolus that is easier to control in the mouth. Natural thickening agents are often used for infants; those include rice/oat cereal and carbon gum bean. There are many concerns about the use of thickened liquids for adults. Less is known about diet modifications involving infant formula. The ultimate goal is to assure safe oral nutrition to promote infants’ continued growth and development. This project reviews related issues.


Scholar: Toni Owens
Mentor: Donald Kurz, Ph.D.


Women In Law Enforcement

There was a strong resistance against allowing women to work within law enforcement that continued for years. Officers and even commissioners outwardly spoke about how law enforcement was no place for a woman. In the 1970’s, LAPD officer Bobbi Squire said that women police officers were seen as “either lesbians or nymphomaniacs” and even the commissioner of the LAPD said that women did not belong in patrol cars because they could not be trusted with guns at “that time of the month” Approximately 40 years later, sworn police officers have the same job titles and job descriptions whether they are male or female. The focus of the research was to find out whether men and women receive the same treatment within their departments. Data from face to face interviews with officers from three different departments of three different sizes was analyzed to see if there are any trends that can be found involving treatment based on gender.


Scholar: Jamie Parker
Mentors: Lester Loschky, Ph.D. & Sartoris Culbertson, Ph.D.

Deception in Structured Employment Interviews

This study examined the behavioral differences between when people tell the truth and lie in a structured employee interview. We looked at 22 cues to deception in an interview involving situational and behavioral description questions. We hypothesized that the lie condition for behavioral and situational questions should exhibit more cues than the truth condition. We also hypothesized that the situational condition is like telling a lie to begin with, therefore a situational truth will yield a greater amount of cues than the behavioral truth. Furthermore, we hypothesized that the difference between the amount of cues present for lie and truth conditions in behavioral questions should be greater than the difference between the amount of cues present for lie and truth conditions in the situational interview.


Scholar: Kathleen Rivers
Mentor: Gary Gerhard, Ph.D.


Bridging The Gap: Competency Transference from Training to Performance Among Teen Camp Counselors

Trainers must be proficient in transferring knowledge and skills in such a way that their trainees can master and perform competently their responsibilities. Albert Bandura’s life’s work of investigating the interaction between cognition and social context in human behavior gave birth to social cognitive theory, which is the model assumed in the following study. The general question asks whether adolescents engage themselves with a training curriculum and ultimately whether that training curriculum transforms them to perform competently as camp counselors to youth between the ages of 7 and 12. That performance can be measured against the current standards of positive youth development. The literature is limited in this field, both regarding training approaches with adolescents and specifically in the preparation of camp counselors.

The OzSome Camp Association asked whether their training of 4-H camp counselors was effective in contributing to positive learning environments for campers. Therefore it was the intent of this study to ascertain the effectiveness of their training program. Random, systematic observations were used to identify the engagement level of the counselors while attending training sessions. Random observation was used to describe the camp counselor interactions with their assigned campers. A post-hoc survey of the counselors revealed whether the training had any perceived residual performance outcomes and whether their experiences resulted in future applications in their lives. A post-hoc agent survey made known whether the agents’ expectations of the camp counselors’ performances were met.


Scholar: Rebecca Steinert
Mentors: Fred Newton, Ph.D., & Eunhee Kim

Time Perception and the Presence of a Clock

Time can be experienced in a number of different ways, ranging from a compressed (shortened) to a protracted (elongated) duration. Previous studies have shown that the rate of a clock can affect a person’s perception of time passage, and that heightened clock-time awareness increases stress, anger, and frustration in an individual. Both the transformation of time and increased concentration are major components of the construct known as flow, a psychological state in which a person is living in the moment and experiences maximal positive feelings. The present study examined the effects of a clock’s presence on an individual’s concentration, consciousness of time, perception of time, and physiological arousal. Physiological arousal was defined by increased heart rate and electrodermal activity and was measured using a biomonitoring system. Effects on an individual’s concentration, time perception, and time consciousness were assessed by a self-rated questionnaire using a 5-point Likert scale. Additionally, qualitative data were obtained using open-ended interview questions regarding individual experiences with time. Participants were undergraduate university students and were randomly assigned to either the clock or no-clock treatment. Each student participated in a 30-minute experimental session. Sessions took place in a biomonitoring lab and consisted of a 3-minute baseline, 2-minute mental math task, and a 5-minute post-task. During the mental math task, students were asked to count backwards by seven starting with 1000. Currently, the data are being analyzed for differences between the clock and no-clock group responses. Results from qualitative and quantitative data will be presented, followed by discussions on the findings.


Scholar: Kristel Williams
Mentor: Laurie Curtis, Ph.D.

The Activation of the Occipito-Temporal and Parieto-Temporal Lobes in the Brain of a Stuggling Reader via Designed Intervention

Through the use of neuroimaging studies, researchers are finding evidence for neurological differences in the brains of skilled and poor readers.

In the left-hemisphere of the brain, there are two regions identified as being responsible for learning to read: the parieto-temporal and occipito-temporal systems, respectively. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) scans reveal that these two systems are under activated in the brains of struggling readers. This research seeks to determine how one can increase activation of these two regions of the brain amongst struggling readers K-2, and it uncovers what types of instructional practices in the classroom can help in this endeavor. A review of literature is included which addresses the following topics: 1) neurobiological signs of reading problems in elementary school children; 2) fluency as a bridge between decoding and text comprehension; and 3) ways in which reading problems can be overcome. The final section of this discussion includes an outline of proposed reading interventions or exercises that help to activate these under-used portions of the brain. For example, reading instruction that includes lots of phonologic opportunities, that is opportunities for a child to sound out words and relate them to printed letters will help increase brain activation Another way to increase activation in these parts of the brain is to focus on improving fluency through repeated oral reading of text by the student, by the teacher, by a tutor to the student, and, if possible, by the child’s parent. fMRI scans have shown that the brains of students who undergo these reading interventions actually look similar, if not identical, to the brains of skilled readers after one year of remediation.

With the high demand for scientifically research-based instruction in schools, the information from this study could be a great tool for educators to use for the enhancement of their classroom reading instruction.