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Expect Challenge. Achieve Distinction.

Angela Moore works with an equation.

Summertime, and the learning is … stimulating.

Summer research fellowships for undergraduate students, funded by the Chase Endowment for Academic Excellence and the Weintz Research Scholars Program, support six- or 10-week summer projects. Students compete for these fellowships to support original research and creative or scholarly projects; faculty mentors advise the students during their research.

Norwich University Trustee Fred Weintz Jr. ’47 & H’01 and his wife, Betsy, established the Weintz Research Scholars Program to support our undergraduate student-scholars’ independent research. Weintz Scholars are selected based on the quality of their research proposals and their academic achievements.

Amy Woodbury Tease, an associate professor of English and the Undergraduate Research Program’s director, said the fellowships help students leverage a dual benefit — they promote further scholarship and offer the program’s multidisciplinary research community as a resource.

“Often, the best collaborations come from working with people who have ideas that are different from yours,” Woodbury Tease said in 2018. “And so, by participating in undergraduate research, you get those kinds of opportunities that you don’t necessarily get by studying one particular subject in one particular classroom.”


Name: Emmanuel Adu

Faculty mentor: John V. Puleio

Major/minor: Civil engineering/economics

Graduation year: 2021

Project title: Investigating Factors That May Be Responsible for the Disparity in Performance on the Basic Education Certificate Examination Among Two Schools in Berekum, Ghana.

Project funding source: Summer Research Fellowship

Describe your project.

The project seeks to investigate factors that may be responsible for the performance disparity between one good-performing and one low-performing school on Berekum, Ghana’s Basic Education Certificate Examination.

Discuss the importance/significance of your project.

The research may help policymakers and schools understand the factors responsible for some students’ failure on the BECE, the standardized exam that determines whether students can go on to high school in Ghana.

Why did you apply to do research?

The research let me investigate and understand the causes of a problem I have been eager to understand and also let me try my hand resolving a real-world problem that requires patience, discernment and understanding.


Name: Emran Babak

Faculty mentor: Travis Morris

Major/minor: International studies/computer science and information assurance

Graduation year: 2020

Project title: Analyzing Taliban’s Official Website: Al-Emarah

Project funding source: Summer Research Fellowship

Describe your project. 

Taliban’s official website operates in five different languages and targets different audience groups. However, my research will focus on only English and Pashto. Through text/content network analysis and semantic network analysis, I’ll work to find out how the Taliban frames jihad and its ideology in different languages.

Discuss the importance/significance of your project.

My project is a new perspective to studies in extremism — language study in radicalization. This will be a fresh look, particularly in Afghanistan, at how evaluating a language factors in a group’s radicalization strategy and how an extremist or extremist group evolves.

Why did you apply to do research?

My previous work on extremism and radicalization through the Peer to Peer (P2P): Challenging Extremism Online project got me interested in this topic and led me to research extremism in my own country.


Name: Emma Bunker

Faculty mentor: Joe Latulippe

Major/minor: Mechanical engineering/leadership studies, mathematics

Graduation year: 2020

Project title: Understanding the Effects of Alzheimer’s Disease Associated Amyloid Beta on PLC

Project funding source: Summer Research Fellowship, Weintz Scholarship

Describe your project. 

Our brain cells are filled with proteins and enzymes that interact in different ways. Alzheimer’s disease is caused when there’s an irregular calcium flow into, out and through cells. Previous research has shown that the cause of this dysregulation is from amyloid beta, or Ab, a naturally produced protein. Although this has been proved, it remains unclear (and untold) which enzyme Ab directly affects. I will determine whether Ab directly affects a specific enzyme known as phospholipase C, PLC.

Discuss the importance/significance of your project.

Alzheimer’s disease drastically changes the people diagnosed with it and their families. Alzheimer’s disease is the world’s sixth-leading cause of death; 5.8 million Americans live with it today. My project will work to give more insight into what is happening within an Alzheimer’s disease patient’s brain and allow for research progress on Ab.

Why did you apply to do research?

I am a part of the Honors Program and I knew that at the end of my senior year I would have to defend a research thesis. Therefore, I began talking to professors about their research and how I could become a part of it. Professor Latulippe told me about what he was aiming to do and what still needed doing in the field and I was sold.


Name: Danielle Dalton

Faculty mentor: Darlene Olsen

Major/minor: Nursing

Graduation year: 2020

Project title: Why America Isn’t Losing Weight: Analyzing Factors That Share a Relationship with Physical Activity

Project funding source: Summer Research Fellowship, Weintz Scholarship

Describe your project.

My project examines the notable decrease in physical activity from high schoolers to college students. It consists of a preliminary systematic review, yielding factors that could share a relationship with physical activity. Then, the collection and analyzing of data from government databases supports or rebuts the existence of these correlations.

Discuss the importance/significance of your project.
Abundant research shows how detrimental obesity the health of Americans and America itself, nevertheless, obesity rates continue to climb. Understanding which life factors relate to the nation’s physical activity is one step toward devising a solution.

Why did you apply to do research?

As a nursing student, I have been baffled by the abundance of preventable health issues in the United States. As we are taught to be true to evidence-based practice, I began to question the why diseases like obesity are so prevalent. This project also encompasses community health and health promotion, two passions of mine.


Name: Mallory Dutil

Faculty mentor: Tara Kulkarni

Major/minor: Engineering, chemistry, and environmental science with a minor in biology

Graduation year: 2020

Project title: Water Scarcity: An Insecurity Catalyst

Project funding source: Summer Research Fellowship

Describe your project.

I am researching water scarcity in the Middle East, specifically Israel, and other nations to see how it connects with political unrest. The research will review technologies used in Israel (such as desalination) and the conflict relationship between water scarcity and politics.

Discuss the importance/significance of your project.

Water is necessary to survive. Water scarcity affects more than 2 billion people globally. It’s important to examine the relationship between scarcity and political unrest because they are so intertwined.

Why did you apply to do research?

This research was inspired by a conference I attended last October, with some pieces on environmental security led by Norwich professors and the Center for Global Resilience and Security at Norwich University.


Name: Shawnae Evans

Major/minor: Neuroscience/chemistry

Graduation year: 2021

Project title: The Attachment of Dopamine to Vitamin B12 To Deliver a Target Drug to the Brain in Order to Potentially Improve Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms

Project funding source: Summer Research Fellowship

Describe your project.

The research target is targeted toward observing and evaluating the effects of a drug delivery system using L-Dopa, and vitamin B-12. This will prove Vitamin B-12 can successfully ferry drugs across the blood brain barrier, which could assist in dopamine replacement therapies in future Parkinson’s disease research.

Discuss the importance/significance of your project.

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease affecting about 10 million people yearly worldwide. The disease affects motivation and movement, which makes daily living increasingly difficult. A drug-delivery system that avoids the unnecessary metabolism of the primary treatment L-Dopa, would prove more effective for Parkinson’s disease patients.

Why did you apply to do research?

Being involved in Norwich University’s Neuroscience Outreach and Research Club and research-oriented faculty helped mold my interest in problem-solving some of the world’s most difficult medical questions. Neurodegenerative research in particular piqued my interest and drove me to seek to further understand treatments.

 


Name: Kathryn Farnum

Faculty mentor: Allison Neal

Major: Biology

Graduation year: 2021

Project title: Temporal Variation in Trematode Infections Related to Snail Host Longevity

Project funding source: Summer Research Fellowship

Describe your project.

Trematodes are parasitic flatworms that infect snails, which can then infect humans. This project will identify whether snail longevity relates to the overall frequency and diversity of trematode infections, and will determine how infections fluctuate in frequency and diversity between long- and short-lived snails.

Discuss the importance/significance of your project.

My research will work to prevent human infection by determining when infection risk is high.

Why did you apply to do research?

My interest in human health inspired my project; I attended Dr. Neal’s lecture on her work and realized how closely ecological parasitology and human well-being are linked. Learning more about how infections spread and a parasite’s role in those infection will give us a better chance of preventing human infection.


Name: Cameron Ferreira

Faculty mentor: Karen Hinkle

Major/minor: Neuroscience

Graduation year: 2021

Project title: Retinal Proteins and Their Molecular Interactions: An Investigation of DCBLD2 and Crystallin Binding

Project funding source: National Science Foundation Grant

Describe your project. 

I am researching the relationship between two specific proteins (crystallin and DCBLD2) that are crucial for retinal development within the nervous system. Using biochemistry techniques, I can see whether there is a direct or binding relationship between these proteins.

Discuss the importance/significance of your project.

This project’s results can serve as a stepping stool for future researchers aiming to figure out cellular activity between these candidate proteins. Because these proteins are understudied, we can help fill in the missing pieces in the cell signaling network. 

Why did you apply to do research?

I really enjoy the courses I take, and the labs are a fun experience, but I wanted to do more. I want to take what I learn in the classroom and apply it to the real world. I want to help piece the unknowns (within cell signaling) together and build on what past researchers found.


Name: Raymond S. Kavombwe

Faculty mentor: Joe Latulippe 

Major/minor: Mathematics/writing

Graduation year: 2021

Project title: An Intersection of Math & Medicine: Modeling Depression Kinetics 

Project funding source: Summer Research Fellowship, Weintz Fellow

Describe your project. 

I am interested in the mathematical modeling of depression severity. Using statistical techniques and published research articles, I hope to develop a scientific chart of strategies medical practitioners can use in treating depression.

Discuss the importance/significance of your project.

I aim to establish a guideline that would be useful in administering psychological and biological depression treatment based on the specific individual state and the severity of depression.

Why did you apply to do research?

Depression is the second-leading cause of disability worldwide. Unfortunately, the current treatments don’t always work. This is alarming and calls for an immediate breakthrough. I am, therefore, interested in researching what is missing and how to fill this critical gap.


Name: Angela Moore

Faculty mentor: J. Hansen

Major/minor: Mathematics, computer science and computer security and information assurance (concentration in information assurance).

Graduation year: 2020

Project title: Determining a Tight Upper Bound on the Complexity of Finding Partial Collisions in Cryptographic Hash Algorithms

Project funding source: Summer Research Fellowship

Describe your project.

I will try to create a tighter upper bound on the complexity of finding partial collisions in hash functions. I will be looking at the probability to get k-partial collisions between two n-bit hash values where k ≤ n and manipulating some algebraic expressions. By doing this, I hope to simplify the upper-bound expression into a single polynomial or exponential term without losing too much detail.

Discuss the importance/significance of your project.

I aim to better understand the strength of hash functions and how often partial collisions may occur. This will let us more easily decide which hash functions to use to keep and prevent an attacker from changing the message without the sender or receiver knowing.

Why did you apply to do research?

I applied to do research because I enjoy staying busy and learning during my free time. I also wanted to gain more knowledge about the field of study I enjoy studying. 


Name: Bryan Mukama

Faculty mentor: Karen Hinkle

Major/minor: Neuroscience

Graduation year: 2020

Project title: A Biochemical Approach to Investigate a Novel Binding Relationship Between DCBLD-2 and PARD-3

Project funding source: National Science Foundation

Describe your project.

A throughput study of proteins has been revealed that the transmembrane proteins DCBLD-2 and PARD-3 bind. The study aims to identify the ways these proteins bind and what this communication produces.

Discuss the importance/significance of your project.

This research’s results will increase our understanding of the human body on a microscopic level. The results could be used as evidence in future drug therapy developments.

Why did you apply to do research?

I have never been a fan of lab work; I thought it would be boring work that often has researchers conducting unending experiments. However, I am a curious person. So, when I learned what would be happening in the lab, I was all in. I came to find that I do enjoy research work.


Name: Mary Nsubuga

Faculty mentor: Allison Neal

Major: Biology

Graduation year: 2020

Title: The Effects of Competition Between Genetic Strains on Division of Labor in Trematodes

Project funding: VGN Grant

Describe your project.

Trematodes are known as flukes or flatworms, parasites that infect hosts, such as vertebrates and invertebrates, to live.

Discuss the importance/significance of your project.

My project’s goal is to bring awareness about the threat these parasites pose to humans and other organisms. Trematodes, for example, are linked to swimmer’s itch, which people contract when they swim in infected lakes and ponds in warmer seasons. We often unwittingly come into contact with infected organisms, such as raw fish, undercooked meats and snails, that have these parasites.

Trematodes have a division of labor; each individual in the colony has a different task. In the snails we’re studying, the smaller ones are possibly designed for defense against other unknown parasites with large mouth parts. Larger ones are designed for reproducing in the hosts with little to no mouth parts. I am studying how competition in the parasite’s host will affect division of labor.

Why did you apply to do research?

I applied to this internship because of my professor and my love for biology, mainly my interest in genetics. I had planned and thought of applying to a research grant but did not know how to start; that is where my professor came in. She gave me the best opportunity this summer to do something that I was interested in and to develop and sharpen skills that will prepare me for graduate school. 


Name: Anubhav Rawal      

Faculty mentor: Tabetha Hole

Major/minor: Computer science/physics

Graduation year: 2021

Project title: Understanding Asymmetric Supernovas

Project funding source: Apprentice Grant

Describe your project.

My project is to write a program that can analyze data from a simulated supernova and actual supernovas. The data from actual supernovas are received through the VLT (very large telescopes); the simulated supernovas are from a program written by professor Hole.

Discuss the importance/significance of your project.

Stars are the blacksmiths of the universe; they forge all the elements their core and even heavier elements as they go supernova. Analyzing and understanding the physics of such fascinating events helps us better understand the existence of the world around us.

Why did you apply to do research?

This research is a common meeting ground for physicists and computer programmers, something I have yearned for my career. Exposing myself with the underlying work of an astrophysicist, professor Hole, showed me the opportunity to test out and understand my endeavored career.

 

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