Summer 2019 Research Projects
Scholar: Paul Ambrose
Mentor: Alissandra Stoyan, Ph.D.
Justice for all? Judicial independence and ethnic discrimination
Scholar: Tiffany Bowers
Mentors: Sara Kearns, Ph.D., and Charissa Powell, M.L.S. (University of Tennessee-Knoxville)
Enhancing first-generation college students’ use of Kansas State University Libraries
With the enrollment of first-generation college students (FGCS) steadily declining at Kansas State University (K-State), it is increasingly important to offer vital institutional support to this population. FGCS’ success is correlated to academic library services, resources, and networking. As an FGCS, I relied heavily on the K-State Libraries to navigate and cultivate my college experience. To better understand the experiences of other FGCS and how they interact with the K-State Libraries resources and services, I assessed community needs by conducting semi-structured interviews with FGCS and analyzed the transcripts using Corbin & Strauss’ grounded theory methodology. Through my lived experience as a FGCS and the interview results, I identify and recommend collaborative next steps between the central first-generation support units and the K-State Libraries. These recommendations should improve the success of FGCS at K-State and potentially provide a model for service offices at other universities.
Scholar: Janae Brown
Mentor: Rebecca Miller, Ph.D.
The effect of flour particle size on the baking characteristics of white pan bread
The particle size of flour is an important flour characteristic for bread making because it affects the starch damage and water absorption of the flour. Flour that is milled to a finer particle size typically has a higher level of starch damage, which causes the flour to absorb more water. Starch damage and water absorption combined can affect the quality of bread. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of flour particle size on the volume, texture, and cell characteristics of white pan bread. Eight different varieties of flour of varying known baking quality were milled into both coarse and fine particle sizes. Bread was baked using a no time straight dough process. The baked bread was analyzed the day after baking based on volume, texture, and cell characteristics. There was no significant effect (p < 0.05) of particle size on any of the measured bread quality characteristics.
Scholar: Lindsay Chassay
Mentor: Kristen Kremer, Ph.D., M.S.W.
The role of social support on mental health outcomes of prisoners
Scholar: Colin Chun
Mentor: Michael Chao, Ph.D.
A preliminary study to investigate the contribution of different tenderness factors to beef muscle tenderness
The objective of this preliminary study is to identify the relative contribution of each tenderness factors for 3 beef muscles of high economical values. Longissimuss dorsi (loin), Tensor fascia latae (tri-tip) and Gastrocnemius (heel) were collected from 10 USDA choice beef carcasses. Each muscle was fabricated into steaks and assigned to a 5 or 21 day aging period. Warner-Bratzler shear force (WBSF), proteolysis (troponin-T degradation), sarcomere length, collagen content, and lipid content were measured (n=60). Heel had the greatest WBSF, followed by tri-tip and loin with the least (4.38, 3.61 and 2.51 Kgf respectively; P < 0.01). Both loin and tri-tip increased in proteolysis from aging with tri-tip having slightly more degradation than loin (P=0.03). Contrarily, heel did not differ in the amount of proteolysis between the aging periods (P > 0.05). Tri-tip had the longest sarcomere, followed by heel and loin (3.01, 2.59 and 1.71 μm respectively; P < 0.01). Heel had the greatest collagen content, followed by tri-tip and loin (6.06, 3.98 and 2.76% respectively; P < 0.01). Finally, tri-tip and loin did not differ in lipid content (8.24 vs. 6.99%; P > 0.05), while heel had significantly lower (P < 0.01) lipid content than the others (2.68%). The results indicated that the 3 retail cuts have different profiles of tenderness contributors. Heel toughness is mostly contributed by the high collagen and low lipid content. Contrarily, loin toughness is mostly contributed by the muscle fiber status with tri-tip in between the two for most measurements.
Scholar: David Coria
Mentors: Chris Tinney, Ph.D., (University of New South Wales) and Christoph Bergmann, Ph.D. (Heidelberg University)
Simplified echellogram data reduction and spectral extraction via the Veloce Quick Look App
The Veloce spectrograph is Australia’s new, million-dollar, fibre-fed echelle spectrograph. Currently housed alongside the 3.9-meter Anglo-Australian Telescope, Veloce measures radial velocities for M-dwarfs and Sun-like stars to a sub-meter/second precision. Via Doppler spectroscopy, otherwise known as the “radial velocity method”, Veloce serves to detect exoplanets (planets orbiting a star outside our own Solar System). Veloce’s main purpose is to follow up on targets previously selected by NASA’s exoplanet-hunting TESS mission. The goal for Veloce Quick Look is to have a first glance at a star’s spectrum as soon as the data is recorded. Veloce produces a vast amount of raw data from its science targets, but the data is not looked at right away because the complete data reduction process is slow and non-trivial. The quick-look app takes raw echellograms, performs only crucial reduction processes at ~km/s precision (rather than sub- m/s precision needed to detect exoplanets) to shorten processing time and gives a simple, reduced spectrum as an output. The app was intended for real-time data processing, to be used as soon as new spectra are recorded. The finalized app successfully produces plots of the stellar spectrum at various stages throughout processing as a means of checking the quality of the data. The information the app yields at this stage may be used to discern true exoplanets from false positives (such as binary systems) and to identify unsuitable targets (such as fast rotators), thus allowing the Veloce team to instead focus their observations on other, more favorable targets.
Scholar: Lauren Ewing
Mentor: Mike Finnegan, Ph.D.
Academic barriers in higher education
Scholar: Adrianna Gordey
Mentor: Dan Hoyt, Ph.D.
Tweens, teens, and the twenty-two-year-old in-between: appealing to the masses with young adult literature
Scholar: Brianna Jackson
Mentor: Amber Vennum, Ph.D.
Parent and teen perspectives in parent-child sex communication
Parent-child sex communication is the communication between parents (or parent figures) and their children about sex-related issues including sex, sexuality, and sexual health outcomes. The sexual health of most adolescents and young adults is greatly influenced by the powerful role that parents play in children’s sexual socialization; the messages conveyed are influential in shaping adolescent sexual decision-making (DiIorio, Pluhar & Belcher, 2003). The purpose of this study was to gather and analyze responses from parents and adolescents about their sexual communication and identify any trends in the language that was used during the interviews to help better improve their conversations about sex and sexual topics. Total participants included four parents/caregivers and six adolescents. Participants were interviewed individually using an original semi-structured interview protocol. For both parents and adolescents, interview questions focused on parent-child sexual communication (PCSC) topics, comfort levels, prompts, barriers, judgments of good vs. bad PCSC, and suggestions for improvement of PCSC. Each interview was audio-recorded and transcribed via a third-party transcription service. From the adolescent interviews, some of the major themes that emerged included: comfort level, frequency of conversations, things they wished they learned from their parents, evaluation of PCSC, and advice for their parents. From the parent interviews, some of the major themes that emerged included: PCSC in the family of origin, family of origin influences on current PCSC, feedback from their children, and questions they want their children to ask.
Scholar: Luis Lopez
Mentor: Greg Aldrich, Ph.D.
Determination of minimum inhibitory concentration (mic) of sodium bisulfate, phosphoric acid and organic acids against three commonly reported salmonella serotypes ((s. Typhimurium (atcc 14028), s. Heidelberg (atcc 8326) and s. Enteritidis (atcc 4931)) in fat used to coat pet food
Scholar: Kassandra Procopio
Mentor: Marta Alfonso-Durruty, Ph.D.
Understanding urban and rural cultural changes through morphological disparities among cemetery gravestone markers
Current research on cemeteries have thoroughly connected gravestone marker physical characteristics like height, width, material and shape as indicators of cultural values like wealth, societal status and the deceased’s perceived social identity during time of interment. What has not been strongly researched is how gravestone marker data can be used to better understand cultural dynamics. This paper assesses the cultural differences between rural and urban communities through analysis of the morphological disparities between gravestone markers. Observations and data collection from Riley County, KS’s, Pleasant Valley Cemetery (rural) and Sunset Cemetery (urban) shows environmentally and physically similar communities but reveals distinct cultural differences. The data shows that Riley County’s urban cemetery Sunset Cemetery) has lower gravestone marker morphology variation and reveals a higher number of buried wealthier economic status individuals than the rural cemetery (Pleasant Valley Cemetery).
Scholar: Bayleigh Smith
Mentor: Don Saucier, Ph.D.
To empower or disparage? Examining the perceptions of slurs targeting the racial identity of White individuals
Racial slurs are vile terms that disparage individuals on the basis of their race. Existing research has focused on how racial slurs negatively impact minority targets and why majority group members use such derogative language. However, research examining racial slurs targeting majority group members (e.g., White individuals) is scant, yet research on perceptions of these slurs is important in potentially understanding the effects of, and discriminatory responses to, racial slurs. In the current studies, we examined White individuals’ perceptions of White racial slurs used by a Black individual toward a White individual. When people are targeted by group-based slurs, group differences become salient and calls to mind stereotypes. Thus, while then terms may be perceived negatively by White individuals, there may be a side effect of making the majority group member’s race salient, reminding them that their social group is at the top of the social status hierarchy. Thus, we predicted that racial slurs targeting White individuals will be simultaneously perceived as derogative and empowering. Our results supported this hypothesis with White racial slurs being used by a Black individual toward a White individual being perceived as more negatively expressive, but also more empowering than a control condition. These findings have important implications for the continued marginalization of lower status groups. Specifically, majority group members may be empowered and seek to reinforce existing status hierarchies and the disparagement they feel may potentially lead to increased justification of future discriminatory acts toward minority ingroup members.
Scholar: Dariyan Springfield
Mentor: Thomas Schermerhorn, V.M.D., D.A.C.V.I.M. (S.A.I.M.)
Investigation of serum copeptin concentrations in diabetic dogs
Background: Copeptin is a peptide product of pre-provasopressin released simultaneously from the pituitary gland along with ADH (anti-diuretic hormone). Copeptin is a biomarker in serum that parallels ADH concentrations. Water balance in diabetic dogs is an important factor but the role and response of ADH is unknown. Our goal is to investigate the pathology and physiology of diabetes by exploring more about copeptin.
Hypothesis/Objectives: To validate a commercial ELISA for measurement of canine copeptin in serum.
Animals: Banked serum samples from diabetic and non-diabetic dogs presented to us from the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine.
Methods: Diabetic and non-diabetic dog serum was analyzed with owner’s consent. A canine copeptin competitive ELISA from MyBioSource was used and the manufacturer instructions were followed. Samples were frozen at -20°C then thawed at 4°C before analysis. We used a computer-controlled spectrophotometric plate reader (EPOCH Biotek) at a wavelength of 450nm to analyze the ELISA and a 4-PL standard curve was created to view the linearity of standard concentrations.
Results: Our results revealed the diabetic serum contained a higher concentration of copeptin compared to the non-diabetic serum; successfully validating the ELISA. The limit of detection was 50 pg/mL with an inter-assay CV at 12% and an intra-assay CV at 14%. Linearity was determined by diluting samples into 1:2 and 1:4 dilution.
Conclusion: The validation of the ELISA gives us a resource to use for further studies in diabetic dogs and its relationship to copeptin.
Scholar: Eric Valenzuela
Mentor: David Grieger, Ph.D.
Determining the stage of embryo loss due to suspected lethal alleles in beef cattle
In dairy cattle, (Charlier, et. al. 2016) a segment of early embryo loss can be hereditary, specifically alleles that are lethal to the development of the embryo. It is likely that similar lethal alleles are present in beef cattle breeds. The focus of this study was to link known genetic pedigree to early embryo loss in beef cattle. The ability to successfully identify deleterious genes in an embryonic genome would provide early indication for greater selection against unwanted genetic parameters. This study included 10 cows from the Kansas State Cow-Calf Unit that were synched using a 7-day synchronization process. Only 3 of the 10 cows went into heat and were viable to take an embryo. Pregnancies were monitored for the following 42 days and closely analyzed for early embryonic loss. The purpose of monitoring pregnancies included determining the time of gestation for individual embryo loss and the attempt to collect aborted embryonic tissue for genetic analysis. Implications of this study included a delay in transferring embryos due to infertility in the first herd. The second herd utilized had numerous cows who had recently birthed calves and were not yet cycling. Due to the delay in the ability to transfer embryos, the results are incomplete.