The St. Ambrose University 7th Annual Undergraduate Summer Research Institute is off to a Great Start!

On Monday, Jun 12, 2017, we kicked off the 2017 St. Ambrose University Undergraduate Summer Research Institute with orientation and get-to-know you activities. We have some exciting research being done this year.

Here are this year’s projects:

Dr. Susa Stonedahl: Environmental Engineering/Hydrology: Unsteady Flow of Water Through Sediments: Her group will investigate how fluctuating water levels affect the flow of water through sediments. The students will build an apparatus that allows us to vary the flow through a Tóthian system. This could simulate variations due to rainfall, tides, or other natural phenomenon that create variations in flow. They will work with Arduino’s and relatively inexpensive sensors to simulate the flow and monitor our system. They will also model the system in MATLAB coupled with MODFLOW.  They may try to get the model working independently of MODFLOW to improve the computational speed. We will use dyed water and time-lapse images to record the locations of the dye fronts over time. These will be compared with NetLogo simulations of the dye fronts.
Students working with Dr. Stonedahl include:

Dr. Jodi Prosise: Biomedical Engineering: Upper Limb Prosthetics: Several highly complex upper limb prosthetics have been developed that function much like our own arm and hand and can even be controlled utilizing electrical signals from intact nerves and muscles. However, these prosthetics are highly complex, utilizing intricate electronics and computing sources, and are cost-prohibitive both in initial investment and maintenance. There is a need for a simplified functional upper limb prosthetic that is affordable and, therefore, accessible to the underprivileged. The long-term goal of this project is to develop a simple, affordable upper limb prosthetic that functions similar to our own hand and arm. In order to better understand how humans control their hand movements, in this first phase, students will be studying neural recordings from electro-encephalograms (EEG) of humans reaching to and grasping a set of objects designed to create a large range of joint angles and comparing it to data previously collected in monkeys. The goal is to then create a simplified control algorithm for a electro-mechanical prosthetic that will function much like a normal hand.

Students working with Dr. Prosise include:

Dr. Katie Trujillo: Psychology: The Impact of Therapy Dogs on Stress : This is a continuation of last year’s project. The main purpose of the current study is to determine whether therapy dogs can reduce the stress levels of family members of surgical or cardiac patients (they share a waiting room at Genesis East) while they are waiting for him/her to be done with their surgery or procedure. If it does, then the therapy dogs could be scheduled to visit waiting rooms in addition to patient rooms.
Secondary purposes include determining if physiological measures of stress are useful in this context. Physiological measures—in this case pulse rate—can indicate the level of a person’s anxiety. The advantage of using pulse rate over self-report measures is that it is quick and easy. However pulse rate can be influenced by factors other than anxiety including the individual’s current level of activity and caffeine consumption. Therefore it’s possible that well-established self-report measures may be more reliable than pulse rate. Self-report measures take longer to complete, so it is useful to explore the value of both types of measures. A final purpose is to determine if general attitudes towards pets play a role in determining how effective therapy dogs are in reducing stress. If attitudes towards pets do play a role in determining how effective therapy dogs are in reducing stress, then some people may benefit more from therapy dog visits than others.
The hypothesis is that immediate family members of patients who are waiting for their loved ones to be done with surgery or a cardiac procedure will experience lowered stress levels as a result of interacting with a therapy dog.

Dr. Joe Hebert: Political Science: Political Philosophy and the Transformation of the Polis This project will consider the role of the Greek polis—the concept and the thing—in shaping the conditions of human life; as well as the transformation of the polis in response to both experience and philosophical critique. Through a study of Pierre Manent’s Metamorphoses of the City, we will consider the ancient polis in light of its relation to poetry and philosophy; the development of the city in Roman empire, law, and philosophy; the effects of Christianity and modern philosophy on the advent of the modern state; and key developments in the resulting modern nation-state system. Students will work with Dr. Hebert on a critical analysis of Manent’s claims and analysis of relevant individual research questions utilizing relevant primary and secondary sources.

Students working with Dr. Hebert include:

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