Katherine Avery

OU Major: 
Computer Science
Research Mentor: 
Dr. Amy McGovern
Describe your undergraduate research or creative project: 
Artificial neural networks (ANNs) are an effective tool for automatically locating bird roosts using radar. NEXt generation weather RADars (NEXRAD) are designed to collect data on weather, but they also pick up information on moving, airborne objects, including birds. NEXRAD helps ecologists to detect bird roost location, but this data is tedious to process manually. Therefore, ANNs detected the roosts automatically from a NEXRAD image dataset of purple martin and tree swallow roosts in the eastern U.S. Four types of radar field images, including reflectivity, velocity, Rho HV, and Zdr, were useful for finding roosts. The ANN achieved an accuracy, true positive rate, and true negative rate of around 80 percent each, showing that this method has potential as a tool for roost detection. Convolutional neural networks (CNNs), a type of ANN, were found to perform better than the traditional ANNs, achieving an accuracy, true positive rate, and true negative rate of over 90 percent each.
Explain what you learned or give advice to fellow students: 
Even if you’re intimidated by reaching out to people, do it anyway because they often surprise you. I sent Dr. McGovern a cold email during first semester of my freshman year and asked if I could join her lab. I hadn’t met her before, but I saw her on the computer science faculty page, and I thought that her work looked interesting. Unexpectedly, she said yes, and I started doing research with her right away.
Awards and/or presentations: 
Awards:Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention; National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Collegiate Award Honorable Mention; Conferences:98th Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society; Austin, TX; 7-11 January 2018; funded by the University of Oklahoma; National Conference of Undergraduate Research; Edmond, OK; 4-7 April 2018; funded by NSF (through LSAMP) Undergraduate Research Day; Norman, OK; 7 April 2018; Curiosity to Creativity Symposium; Norman, OK; 25 April 2018.
Published Work: 

Avery, K., 2018: Automated Detection of Bird Roosts Using NEXRAD Radar Data and Artificial Neural Networks. Honor’s thesis, The University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK.

Chilson, C., K. Avery, A. McGovern, E. Bridge, D. Sheldon, and J. Kelly, 2018: Automated Detection of Bird Roosts Using NEXRAD Radar Data and Convolutional Neural Networks. Remote Sensing and Ecology and Conservation, submitted. 

2018 Spring Curiosity to Creativity Suposium

To showcase OU’s excellent undergraduate research and creative projects, the O.U.R. sponsored a campus-wide celebration on Wednesday, April 25, 2018 in the Oklahoma Memorial Union Beaird Lounge. All undergraduate students were invited to present their projects they have worked on within the past year. There were a total of 46 presentations from (disciplines here), and a total of approximately (number of guests) guests attended the event. We are all proud of our undergraduates and look forward to the next syposium this summer! Here is a list of the presentations:

Session One (11:30 AM – 1:30 PM):

  • Arment, Alex (1) "Piezoelectrics In the Restoration of Touch Sensing in Prosthetic Users"
    Mentor: Dr. Yingtao Liu
  • Avery, Katherine (3) "Automated Detection of Bird Roosts using NEXRAD Radar Data and Artificial Neural Networks"
    Mentor: Dr. Amy McGovern; Additional collaborators: Carmen Chilson, Amy McGovern, Eli Bridge, Daniel Sheldon, Jeffrey Kelly 
  • Carey, Matt (5) "Digitizing Rare Bhutanese Documents"
    Mentor: Dr. Michael Givel
  • Carman, Matthew (7) "Greenhouses: Not Quite a Winter Wonderland for Snails"
    Mentor: Dr. Liz Bergey
  • Geller, Courtney (9) "Fieldworks: An Artistic and Art Historical Exploration of Land use and Interpretation"
    Mentor: Dr. Todd Stewart and Dr. Robert Bailey; Additional collaborators: Rachel Hall, Megan Ross
  • Grippen, Hailey (11) "Progressing from Writing to Writer: Exploring Factors that Impact University Faculty and Their Writer Identity Development"
    Mentor: Dr. Sandra Tarabochia
  • Jett, Samuel (13) "A Study on the Spatial Variance in Heart Valve Mechanics"
    Mentor: Dr. Chung-Hao Lee; Additional collaborators: Devin Laurence, Colton Ross, Jacob Richardson, Cortland Johns, Allyson Echols, Ryan Bodlak
  • Killingsworth, Tylor (15) "Wettability Effects on Heat Exchangers"
    Mentor: Dr. Wilson Merchan-Merchan
  • Kramer, Katherine (17) "Layer-specific mechanical responses and morphological structure of atrioventricular valve leaflets"
    Mentor: Dr. Chung-Hao Lee; Additional collaborators: Anju R. Babu, Ph.D., Devin Laurence, Cortland Johns, Yi Wu, Ph.D.
  • Kunkel, Robert (19) "Synthesis and Characterization of Aliphatic Urethane Shape Memory Polymers for Treatment of Intracranial Aneurysms"
    Mentor: Dr. Chung-Hao Lee; Additional collaborators: Yingtao Liu, Bradley Bohnstedt, Jingyu Wang, Donnie Robinson, Devin Laurence, Joshua Scherrer
  • Laurence, Devin (21) "Development of a Multiscale Computational Modeling Framework for the Tricuspid Valve"
    Mentor: Dr. Chung-Hao Lee; Additional collaborators: Yi Wu
  • Maples, Brandon (23) "Combining Cluster Analysis and Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) for Accurate and Low-cost Bathymetric Surveying"
    Mentor: Dr. Hernan Moreno; Additional collaborators: Laura Alvarez, Phillip Chilson, Antonio Segales
  • Marinaro, Rose (25) "What’s the Dam Problem?"
    Mentor: Dr. Angela Person
  • Mee, Emily (27) "Policy-Making Through the Lens of Gender - Payday-Loans and the Oklahoma House"
    Mentor: Dr. Sophia Morren
  • Morgan, Amber (29) "The Effect of Cholesterol and Peptoids on Membrane Properties of Bicelles"
    Mentor: Dr. Christa Hestekin
  • Murphy, Tamiko (31) "Site-Directed Mutagenesis of the ParD Antitoxin to Examine Binding Interactions with ParE Toxin"
    Mentor: Dr. Christina Bourne
    Mentor: Dr. Wilson Merchan-Merchan
  • Richardson, Jacob (35) "The Essential Role of Glycosaminoglycans in the Biomechanics of Heart Valve Leaflets"
    Mentor: Dr. Chung-Hao Lee
  • Schene, Miranda (37) "Rational Design and Substrate Specificity Study of Prenyltransferase CdpNPT"
    Mentor: Dr. Shanteri Singh
  • Schlemme, Camille (39) "The Risks and Hazards Associated With The Production And  Use of Concrete"
    Mentor: Dr. Angela Person; Additional collaborators: Camille Schlemme
  • Tang, Julia (41) "Characterizing Cognitive Memory Function in Middle-Aged and Older Adults"
    Mentor: Dr. Han Yuan; Additional collaborators: Yuxuan Chen M.S, Lisa A. De Stefano B.S., Tory Worth B.S., Michael Wenger Ph.D., Lei Ding Ph.D., Melissa A. Craft Ph.D., Barbara W. Carlson Ph.D., Kelley Deardeuff B.S.
  • Whipkey, Ben (43) "Long distance travel - at a snails pace"
    Mentor: Dr. Elizabeth Bergey

Session Two (2:30 PM – 4:30 PM):

  • Abarzak, Sonia (2) "Habitat Preference of Anguispira Alternata for Difference Compositions of Sand and Organic Fiber"
    Mentor: Dr. Elizabeth Bergey; Additional collaborators: Cali Dodd, Sophia Huebler
  • Alcala, Esmeralda (4) "Genetic screening on Arabidopsis thaliana"
    Mentor: Dr. Ben F. Holt III
  • Ames, Jessica (6) "Exploration of the Novel Functions of the Bacterial AtParE4 Toxin"
    Mentor: Dr. Christina Bourne
  • Borgfeldt, Bradlee (8) "The Oppression of Women and the Representation of Three Antigonas"
    Mentor: Dr. Julie Ward
  • Breedlove, Gates (10) "Rosemary Oil Makes Snails Sluggish"
    Mentor: Dr. Elizabeth Bergey; Additional collaborators: Shannon Gidley, Sarah Look, Jacinda Irwin
  • Eix, Emily (12) "Characterization of the Morphological Adaptation of the Sorghum Root System in Response to Drought "
    Mentor: Dr. Marc Libault
  • Gallucci, Spencer (14) "Under Actuated Prosthetic Hand"
    Mentor: Dr. Yingtao Liu
  • Gill, Hussan (16) "Plastics and Food Finding Behavior and Consumption of Snails"
    Mentor: Dr. Elizabeth Bergey; Additional collaborators: Bahar Iranpour Broujeni, Merhawit Ghebrehiwet
  • Gonzalez, Angela (18) "Got calcium? The relationship between snail density and soil calcium levels"
    Mentor: Dr. Elizabeth Bergey; Additional collaborators: Jenna McGrath, Rebekah Link
  • Grantham, Ryan (20) "Got Calcium? The effects of soil-calcium levels on predatory snail feeding"
    Mentor: Dr. Liz Bergey; Additional collaborators: Christopher Hendrix
  • Hadzic, Merima (22) "Theater of Politics - Grisela Gambaro"
    Mentor: Dr. Julie Ward
  • Hamper, Florence (24) "Cruise Ships"
    Mentor: Dr. Angela Person
  • Hassoun, Adam (26) "Does Day Length Effect Feeding Behavior?"
    Mentor: Dr. Elizabeth Bergey; Additional collaborators: Preston Choi, Lauren Means
  • Hayden, Daniel (28) "Rice Cell Wall Components Alter Beneficial Fungal Symbionts"
    Mentor: Dr. Laura Bartley; Additional collaborators: Uta Paszkowski
  • Hays, Emily (30) "McMansions & Urban Sprawl"
    Mentor: Dr. Angela Person
  • Hooper, Jacquelyn (32) "Feminicidio y Apatía"
    Mentor: Dr. Julie Ward
  • Houston, Sydney (34) "Misconceptions about Spanish Students"
    Mentor: Dr. Julie Ward
  • Kelley, Amanda (36) "Seeing is believing? How snails find food"
    Mentor: Dr. Elizabeth Bergey; Additional collaborators: Mary Caroline Admire
  • Perez, Diego (38) "Sexual Politics in Argentina"
    Mentor: Dr. Julie Ward
  • Robertson, Elijah (40) "X-ray-induced Acoustic Computed Tomography: 3D Imaging from a Single X-ray Projection"
    Mentor: Dr. Liangzhong Xiang; Additional collaborators: Rowzat Faiz, Shanshan Tang, Pratik Samant, Siqi Wang
  • Santeliz, Ana (42) "Antígona, Lupita y Miguel Mártires del ayer y el ahora"
    Mentor: Dr. Julie Ward
  • Sullivan, Emilee (44) "La Mujer en Los Papeles de Infierno"
    Mentor: Dr. Julie Ward
  • Taylor, Kooper (45) "Representation and Criticism of Femicide in Contemporary Film and Theatre"
    Mentor: Dr. Julie Ward
  • Van Swearingen, Elizabeth (46) "Antígona en Juárez: Perla de la Rosa y las culpables por la violencia"
    Mentor: Dr. Julie Ward

2018 Nancy Mergler Undergraduate Research Mentor awards given to Dr. Sam Huskey and Dr. Chung-Hao Lee

The Office of Undergraduate Research is pleased to name Dr. Samuel J. Huskey, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Classics and Letters, and Dr. Chung-Hao Lee, Assistant Professor in the school of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, as a co-awardees for the Nancy Mergler Faculty Mentor Award for Undergraduate Research for 2017-18.

Dr. Sam Huskey is currently the chair of the Department of Classics and Letters, an alumnus of OU (BA 1994) and the University of Iowa (PhD 2002). Dr. Huskey's interests recently led to two publications on a 15th-century manuscript of Lucan's De bello civili. In one of them, he used digital image enhancement and manipulation to uncover the deleted text of the colophon. In the other, he published his transcription of portions of the manuscript's marginalia and scholia that had never before appeared in print. He is also collaborating with my colleague Jason Houston on a translation of Boccaccio's minor Latin works for Harvard University Press' I Tatti Renaissance Library.

Dr. Huskey is an early supporter of the Office of Undergraduate Research, wishing to include students in Classics and Letters in this important educational practice. Since beginning the Digital Latin Library project, he has endeavored to support undergraduates as research assistants in this critical work. Two years ago, he brought a brand-new OU student into the project. Through his support and mentoring, this student is excelling, has presented at several important conferences, and was recently selected for a prestigious National Endowment for Humanities sponsored institute as the only undergraduate participant. His nomination from students included these statements:

 I come from a technical background, and my work for the Digital Latin Library is mostly computer programming. However, Dr. Huskey appreciates and fosters my love of Latin by challenging me to think beyond Python scripts and XML parsing.

He has given me opportunities to work directly with scholars at other institutions. For example, Dr. Huskey had me write a set of guidelines which are now being used by undergrads working under one of his colleagues at Princeton.

Instead of criticizing me when I misunderstood requirements, he praised my ingenuity and helped find an application for my first attempt.


Dr. Chung-Hao Lee is an Assistant Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering in the Gallogly College of Engineering, with his research centered around soft tissue biomechanics and biomaterials design ( He is also an affiliated faculty member in the Institute for Biomedical Engineering, Science and Technology (IBEST). Dr. Lee earned his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering (major in structural & computational mechanics) from UCLA in 2011. Before he joined OU in Fall 2016, Dr. Lee has been an ICES/AHA postdoctoral fellow in the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin since 2012.

As he nears the end of his second year at OU, Dr. Lee is already an outstanding undergraduate research mentor. Dr. Lee is currently mentoring 20 undergraduate students from various science and engineering disciplines, including four students further pursuing accelerated BS/MS degrees in Mechanical Engineering. He provides continuous supports and guidance to students for pursuing projects of their own or through Mechanical Engineering Senior Capstone Design within the context of his laboratory's research. Dr. Lee has also worked closely with his students to secure research funding generously sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Research (Mentored Research Fellowship), OK-LSAMP Program, and the Honors College (Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, Honors Research Assistant Program, the First Year Research Experience, and the Honors Engineering Research Experience Program).

Besides educating his students on cutting-edge biomedical research, Dr. Lee also strives to encourage his students to disseminate research findings at local and national meetings, including the 2018 National Conference for Undergraduate Research (4 podium and 2 poster presentations), AIAA/ASME Oklahoma Symposium, OU-OUHSC Biomedical Engineering Symposium, and OU Curiosity to Creativity Symposium. More recently, one of his undergraduate students, Mr. Devin Laurence, was selected as an OU representative to the 2018 OK-EPSCoR Research Day at the Capitol and won the Grand Prize among 23 undergraduate student researchers (, which is a big recognition of our efforts to promote the undergraduate research activities at OU.

His nominations by students include:

Dr. Lee is always pushing me to attend seminars, apply to conferences, and overall be more immersed in the events OU provides for the self-improvement of their students. Dr. Lee has even tied in socialization and professional development to the lab group meetings to always be providing more opportunities for us.

My initial project with Dr. Lee was very daunting and almost too complex for a Junior to undertake while taking courses; however, he recognized that I was unfamiliar with many of the high-level theories and took the time to step me through many of the initial steps. Throughout my growth, he has recognized my maturing and has provided more freedom with my projects which would not have been possible without his initial support and caring regarding my learning. Not only does he provide his suggested edits, but he will provide a brief description of why he believes them to be beneficial, which has allowed for me to mature in my submissions and begin to recognize these things as I am preparing them myself.

Dr. Lee has provided many fantastic opportunities for my professional & personal development over the last year through opportunities to present at two major conferences in our field. Because of his support, I have met some of the leading scientists in our field and have heard valuable talks regarding the innovative research taking place in Biomedical Engineering.

Dr. Lee has also had multiple discussions with me about what I would like to do in the future and how I can accomplish that. Dr. Lee is always challenging us to come up with new ideas, whether it be a simple solution to a problem or a whole new project.

Dr. Lee has set up an informal researcher education system in his lab. Prospective students are encouraged to speak to current researchers and are matched with an interesting project, and perform research while learning about the goals, procedures, and practices in the lab. In their next semester, they are encouraged to pursue an original research topic or begin a more involved role.

Emily Hays

OU Major: 
Research Mentor: 
Dr. Angela Person
Describe your undergraduate research or creative project: 
McMansions are the embodiment of capitalism's limitless consumption. These, in a maze of suburban streets, came to represent the "American Dream." This ideal has serious implications in US societies, on environments, and on individual health. Social and economic divides were established or reinforced by suburbanization. This lack of diversity has led to unfair stigmas applied to groups of people which has increased racism and xenophobia. With no regulations at the start of suburbanization and not enough in place now, homes are built using chemicals and compounds which poison the occupants. While lead and asbestos are now banned, many chemicals are still in use which are proven to or show a strong correlation to the degradation of human health. This is not to mention the sourcing of these materials and the damage it does to the environment and the people of that region. The building sector is one of the largest consumers and polluters in the US.
Explain what you learned or give advice to fellow students: 
With any major project, research or otherwise, the best thing you can do is start early. I always set weekly goals, but you should work with whatever schedule suits you best. If you can work on something a little bit all the time, you will accomplish your goal with no huge stress at the end. This will also allow you to have periodic checks by professors and peers to ensure quality and clarity.
Awards and/or presentations: 
Hays, Emily. "McMansions & Urban Sprawl." Curiosity to Creativity Spring Symposium, 25 April 2018, Oklahoma Memorial Union, Norman, OK.

Emily Eix

OU Major: 
Research Mentor: 
Marc Libault
Describe your undergraduate research or creative project: 
The ability for plants to grow under drought conditions is becoming increasingly important. As climate change leads to more frequent occurrence of droughts, crops must be able to withstand these conditions. Sorghum, in addition to being a major food crop in the U.S., is adapted to grow in water-limited areas, and is therefore a good model for studying drought-tolerant phenotypes. The root system is specialized in the uptake of water, so we characterized morphological root traits important in the ability of a plant to adapt to drought conditions. We studied these traits by crossing drought-resistant and drought-susceptible sorghum parental lines to create recombinant lines with a mixture of these traits. Using these recombinants, we evaluated changes to the root system in response to both drought and well-watered conditions. These phenotypic adaptations to drought stress can be linked to specific genes and used to create drought-tolerant crops.
Explain what you learned or give advice to fellow students: 
Throughout my time working on this project, the most important thing I have learned is how to figure out solutions when things don't go as expected. While it can be frustrating, some of the best learning comes from figuring out a different approach when something doesn't work the first time. I would say that any undergraduates interested in research should seek out any opportunities to get involved, as it is a valuable learning experience and a good way to figure out your interests.
Awards and/or presentations: 
At the Spring 2018 Curiosity to Creativity Symposium, my poster received the Broader Impact award.
Published Work: 


SWK 3243 Groups, Organizations, & Communities

Point of Contact Name: 
Anthony Kibble
Anne & Henry Zarrow School of Social Work
Semester/Year Taught: 
Spring 2018
Describe the Research Project: 
Experiencing Community-Based Participatory Research using theoretical models is an course based effort to engage undergraduate students in community based preliminary participatory research. Undergraduate students were assigned to teams for the duration of the course. Twelve out of the sixteen weeks of the course, students receive the support and consultation of a Graduate Research Guide (GRG). GRG provided consultation sessions at the Zarrow Faculty and Graduate Student Lounge with student teams. Consultation sessions took place weekly and for no longer than fifteen minutes per session. The focus of the GRG Consultation sessions were around completion of weekly course assignments, facilitation of team member peer review process, and supporting undergraduate students involvement in campus exchange tours and communities of interest. During the rigorous twelve weeks undergraduate student teams were tasked with completion of assignments such as Community Windshield Analysis, Community Assets Mapping, Community Analysis Using Theoretical Models, and Community Participatory Evaluation Plan. The aforementioned assignments allowed students to acquire knowledge, skills, and practice regarding engaging in community based participatory research, strengths and challenges. In addition, students were able to participate in the larger initiative known as Space for Experiencing Research through Volunteer Exchanges (SERVE).
Public Display of Final Projects?: 
Is this Class Offered Regularly?: 

Emily Mee

OU Major: 
Political Science, co-enrolled in an accelerated Masters of Public Administration
Research Mentor: 
Dr. Ana Bracic, Dr. Cindy Simon Rosenthal
Describe your undergraduate research or creative project: 
Research suggests that women and men legislators differ in their framing of policy issues. In studies comparing attitudes and vocabulary usage, women tended to conceptualize policy issues differently than their male colleagues. Kathlene Lyn designed an experiment testing this theory, finding that women and men legislators in Colorado considered the origins of and solutions to crime differently. Through my research, I hoped to test the generalizability of this study, by applying this hypothesis to the topic of economic opportunity through the policy issue of payday-loans. Based on existing evidence, I hypothesized that women legislators would refer to economic issues from a contextual standpoint, in this case using situational words to describe the high number of payday-loan borrowers. In contrast, I hypothesize that male legislators use language more instrumental in nature; alluding to the idea that people are autonomous individuals responsible for their own successes and failures.
Explain what you learned or give advice to fellow students: 
My experiences with this research project opened me up to a new set of skills and experiences that I know will be valuable when applying for graduate school. I would advise students to get started on a research project as early as possible in your academic career. Figure out what you're passionate about, and find a mentor in your field.
Awards and/or presentations: 
Presented at NCUR 2018, and at Curiosity 2 Creativity 2018 Spring Symposium, Received "Best Broadest Impact" award
Published Work: 


Anne & Henry Zarrow School of Social Work

Point of Contact Name: 
Anthony Kibble
Anne & Henry Zarrow School of Social Work
Is This an Ongoing Project?: 
Describe the opportunity: 
The Space for Experiencing Research through Volunteer Exchanges (SERVE) Initiative is a partnership between the University of Oklahoma, Randall University, and Rose State College. The SERVE Initiative aims to create, enhance, and promote undergraduate student participation in interdisciplinary community based participatory research. University Deans, Department Chairs, identified faculty and graduate research guides coordinate and strategically plan opportunities for undergraduates students to engage in community based participatory research driven exchanges. Participants are afforded an opportunity to engage directly in the improvement of Oklahoma communities WITH the community, rather than on the community.
How are undergraduates currently involved? How can future undergraduates get involved?: 
Currently undergraduates are involved through participating in the campus and community exchanges, and display of research and/or creative work. Undergraduates interested in getting involved can contact the Anne & Henry Zarrow School of Social Work's, Undergraduate Program Coordinator at

Courtney Geller

OU Major: 
Studio Art
Research Mentor: 
Todd Stewart/Robert Bailey
Describe your undergraduate research or creative project: 
Fieldworks is an initiative of the School of Visual Arts at the University of Oklahoma that blends research and teaching in an ongoing artistic and art-historical exploration of land use and interpretation in the deserts of the western United States. Open-ended, collaborative, and transdisciplinary, its participants engage in fieldwork that results in creative, scholarly, and pedagogical outcomes, including exhibitions, publications, and events that explore the changing relationship between humanity and the planet. Among its core elements is a biannual two-week excursion into the field that brings the School’s faculty, students, and staff together to explore a central thematic. For the 2013 Road to Ruscha project, this meant retracing the path that the artist Ed Ruscha traveled to create his seminal 1963 artist’s book Twentysix Gasoline Stations. In 2015, a second group traveled throughout the Sonoran, Mojave, and Great Basin Deserts to investigate earthworks such as...
Awards and/or presentations: 
Geller, Courtney. "Fieldworks: An Artistic and Art Historical Exploration of Land use and Interpretation." Curiosity to Creativity Spring Symposium, 25 April 2018, Oklahoma Memorial Union, Norman, OK

Rose Marinaro

OU Major: 
Chemical Engineering
Research Mentor: 
Angela Person
Describe your undergraduate research or creative project: 
Poster presentation of research produced during "Environment and Society," situating an object of concern (Dams) at the intersections of environment and society.
Awards and/or presentations: 
Marinaro, Rose. "What’s the Dam Problem?." Curiosity to Creativity Spring Symposium, 25 April 2018, Oklahoma Memorial Union, Norman, OK