Spotlights

Shawntal Brown

OU Major: 
Psychology / Women and Gender Studies
Research Mentor: 
Dr. Mauricio Carvallo
Describe your undergraduate research or creative project: 
Our research was titled, "Symbolic Racism and the Perceptions of Police Brutality." We investigated individuals, who were either high or low symbolic racists, and how those individuals would attribute blame in one of two conditions of vignettes depicting aggression. Overall, these vignettes depicted ambiguous aggression from an interaction between a police officer and motorist. In each conditions, the participants observed the interaction either between a White police officer and a Black motorist or a Black police officer and a White motorist. As a result, we observed high symbolic racists were more likely to attribute blame upon the Black motorist in the condition, justifying the perceived aggressive police force within the vignette.
Explain what you learned or give advice to fellow students: 
Advice I would give to fellow students is deeply invest in the research that you are doing and ensure you are actively working alongside your mentor. Your relationship with you and mentor is important when conducting research and they can provide a vast amount of insight to expand and refine your research. Also, find research that is very interesting to you because it will drive you to invest more into your research topic.
Awards and/or presentations: 
Brown, S. (2016, April). Symbolic Racism and Perceptions of Police Brutality. Oral presentation at the University of Oklahoma's Undergraduate Research Day, Norman, OK.
Published Work: 
N/A

Brianne Robbins

OU Major: 
Psychology
Research Mentor: 
Dr. Jennifer Barnes
Describe your undergraduate research or creative project: 
I used an anonymous online survey to investigate the association between lifetime exposure to Romantic Fiction and endorsement of unrealistic relationship beliefs. Contrary to my hypothesis, I found that participants who had more lifetime exposure to Romantic Fiction were less likely to endorse the belief that Mindreading is Expected. That is, these participants were less likely to believe that romantic partners should be easily able to know what they were thinking and feeling without having to verbally communicate.
Explain what you learned or give advice to fellow students: 
Results that are the opposite of your hypothesis can be even more interesting!
Awards and/or presentations: 
2016 OU Vice-President for Research Award for Best Social Science and Humanities Research Poster Presentation at Undergraduate Research Day for “The Impact of Reading Romance on the Expectation of Mindreading from a Romantic Partner”
Published Work: 
n/a

Malachi Philips

OU Major: 
Chemical Engineering
Research Mentor: 
Dr. Ulrich H.E. Hansmann, Erik Alred
Describe your undergraduate research or creative project: 
Alzheimer’s Disease is characterized by the formation of Amyloid beta (A beta) fibril plaques in the brain. Solid state NMR (ssNMR) allows one to resolve the structure of these fibrils but, instead of a single structure, leads to an ensemble of configurations that are compatible with the NMR signals. Typically, only the lowest energy conformer is considered in computer simulations that probe the stability of fibrils and their binding with drug candidates. However, this practice may produce data that are not physiologically relevant if the NMR entries differ significantly in stability or binding affinities. For this reason, we have investigated the stability differences in the NMR ensembles of a patient-derived fibril model and two in-vitro models that allow also the comparison of different staggering patterns. We observe significant variations in molecular flexibility, compactness, and secondary structure which suggest that the complete NMR ensemble must be considered for a physiologically relevant description of Abeta fibrils.
Explain what you learned or give advice to fellow students: 
As a postdoc once described to me, there are few experiences as satisfying or as rewarding as discovering that one thing that essentially no one else knows. The sense of accomplishment from producing research that no one else has ever ventured to do alone is worth the difficulty and tedium involved in research. My recommendation is that more people, especially undergraduates, partake in this same experience. Regardless of major, type of research, or field, I recommend everyone be involved in research.
Awards and/or presentations: 
Poster Presentation Oklahoma Supercomputing Conference 2015, "Differences in Amyloid Fibril Models of Alzheimer's Disease" given at University of Oklahoma Stephenson Technology Center. Work Supported by NID-NIDDK STEP-UP program, Penn State Coordinators, Oklahoma Center for Advancement of Science and Technology grant #HR14-129, National Science Foundation grant #CHE-1266256, OSCER Boomer compute time.
Poster and Oral Presentation NIH-NIDDK STEP-UP Symposium 2015, "Differences in Amyloid Fibril Models of Alzheimer's Disease" given at NIH-NIDDK Nascher Center. Work Supported by NID-NIDDK STEP-UP program, Penn State Coordinators, Oklahoma Center for Advancement of Science and Technology grant #HR14-129, National Science Foundation grant #CHE-1266256, OSCER Boomer compute time.
Phillips, M. (2016, April). Differences in Amyloid Fibril Models of Alzheimer's Disease. Poster session presented at the University of Oklahoma's Undergraduate Research Day, Norman, OK.
Published Work: 
"On the lack of polymorphism in Aβ‐peptide aggregates derived from patient brains." Protein Science 24, no. 6 (2015): 923-935.

Sarah Miles

OU Major: 
History
Research Mentor: 
Dr. Sandie Holguin
Describe your undergraduate research or creative project: 
In a paper I wrote for my senior History Capstone class, I explored the failure of the Mississippi women's suffrage movement around the turn of the 20th century. My project, an approximately 30 page paper, utilized primary and secondary sources on the women involved in the suffrage movement in Mississippi and the Mississippi Women's Suffrage Association itself. Though the movement was ultimately a failure-- Mississippi did not ratify the 19th Amendment until 1984-- I believe that this lack of success is still a salient part of Mississippi's history and of southern suffrage history more broadly.
Explain what you learned or give advice to fellow students: 
As I came to this topic without much prior knowledge of early American history, this was a project which truly stretched my abilities, forcing me to question and reconsider my assumptions to fit the evidence I found. My intention was originally to research Southern suffrage movements in the United States before the Civil War, only to discover that there were almost no active suffragists in the South in this period! I had to revise my project to fit with this evidence. Throughout this project, I was confused by new evidence, discovered primary sources which forced me to change my thesis, and worked hard to make sure that I was analyzing the evidence, not choosing evidence to fit my analysis. Historical research forces the researcher to do this sort of critical analysis which is extremely useful for a multitude of tasks and occupations.
Published Work: 
Miles, Sarah. OU Historical Journal 5 (Spring 2016). http://history.ou.edu/journal-2016

Benjamin Ignac

OU Major: 
Geography
Research Mentor: 
Dr. Renee McPherson, Aparna Bamzai
Describe your undergraduate research or creative project: 
In collaboration with the South Central Climate Science Center and the Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability I was conducting a research study titled “Climate Change in the Mind of a College Student - A Survey of Climate Change Perceptions at OU”.
Explain what you learned or give advice to fellow students: 
I learned how OU students are generally more concerned about climate change than the general US adult population. I also learned that religiousness of political affiliation does have an effect on a student's view on climate change.
Published Work: 
I am currently finishing a manuscript that I will submit to the journal Climatic Change.

Casey Callahan

OU Major: 
Visual Communication
Graduation Year: 
2016
Current Occupation: 
Designer at Publicis Seattle
Research Mentor(s): 
Tom Davie
Describe your undergraduate research/creative experience: 
My undergraduate creative research experience was called an independent study. I met with a professor 30 minutes a week and besides that - the project was highly individually driven. If you had told me what I would create at the end of this experience when I first started, I wouldn't have believed you. That project pushed me, grew me, and made me a more compassionate, self-driven designer. For this study, I created 20 Days 20 Creatives - a documentary-based project where I highlighted 20 different creatives, the relationships they share, and what inspires them on a daily basis. These visionaries - artists, designers, writers, dancers, filmmakers, singers, photographers, creators - all have something unique and valuable to contribute to the world. 20 Days 20 Creatives reminds you to satisfy your curiosity and make your process, your relationships, and your work more meaningful. It's our experiences and the people we surround ourselves with - that gives our work life.
What was the most important thing you learned during your project, or what advice would you give to current undergraduates?: 
I learned a lot about myself and how I work. For the first time in my major, I was creating something that took a lot of personal motivation and drive. I didn't have someone over me all the time telling me what to do, I had to solve my own problems and trust myself. My advice would be to take that risk and do or create something that puts you outside your comfort zone. It will be challenging and uncomfortable, but so worth it in the end.
Do you use any of the skills or perspectives gained doing research in your current occupation?: 
Absolutely, yes. Now I have created multiple projects on my own, I'm much more comfortable in creating my own style, I communicate with people in a deeper way, and I use technical skills in video and design with much more ease.
Many undergraduate researchers are making decisions about what to do after they graduate. Having been in those shoes, what do yo: 
My biggest advice is to make sure to keep doing the things you care about even if you're not sure you will have enough time. Keep allowing the things you're inspired by and that make you happy be a big part of your life and eventually that will benefit your career path.
Do you have anything else you would like to share about your research or creative project experience?: 
I'm still growing everyday and 20 Days 20 Creatives was a big part of that - it's given me the courage and the drive to create things bigger than myself.

 

20 Days 20 Creatives website: 20days20creatives.com

My personal website: www.casey-callahan.com

Connor Sullivan

OU Major: 
Bachelor of Science in Multidisciplinary Studies
Graduation Year: 
2014
Current Occupation: 
Graduate Student in the OUHSC Audiology Program
Research Mentor(s): 
Dr. Carole Johnson
Describe your undergraduate research/creative experience: 
As part of my degree, I achieved 6 hours of Independent Study at the HSC campus under Dr. Carole Johnson. I also opted to utilize the ability to have Internship Credit through the College of Arts and Sciences for an internship under Mary Delaney. Because of that opportunity, I obtained an Internship at Hearts for Hearing. Hearts for Hearing is a clinic where I worked for several semesters. I also used the Internship Credit opportunity to be an intern for the Hearing, Evaluation, Research, and Outcomes Lab in Oklahoma City under Dr. Johnson. While working at that lab, I opted to begin doing research as an undergraduate because of my experiences in life. I was born with a rather unique form of hearing loss, Large Vestibular Aqueduct Syndrome. When I met Dr. Johnson, we realized that there was only 13 articles published TOTAL on the subject… We also realized that there was a lot of discrepancy on how the disorder was being handled across the field. Large Vestibular Aqueduct Syndrome (LVAS) is a disorder that impacts up to 15% of patients with Sensorineural Hearing Loss. It’s most common symptoms are fluctuating hearing, dizziness, headaches, and vision difficulties. What’s sad is, is that the only way to truly diagnose LVAS is with a CT scan, which doesn’t always happen. What we are working on is establishing a standard for the field on an appropriate treatment method for patients with LVAS who are having these hearing fluctuations. We are trying to use a combination of my personal story alongside previous articles as well as data we have accumulated to make a strong case to bring LVAS to the attention of the clinicians that are treating the patients daily.
What was the most important thing you learned during your project, or what advice would you give to current undergraduates?: 
My participation in research as an undergraduate was instrumental to my successes as a student. Not only did it help me become a well-rounded student and graduate school applicant, but it also helped me to establish some contacts in the field that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible.
Do you use any of the skills or perspectives gained doing research in your current occupation?: 
Yes
Many undergraduate researchers are making decisions about what to do after they graduate. Having been in those shoes, what do yo: 
To never burn any bridges. Always make sure to keep your options open and to make as many connections as you can.
Do you have anything else you would like to share about your research or creative project experience?: 
Sullivan JC, Johnson CE, Danhauer JL, Jilla AM, Winkler, K. (2015). A Survey of Parents on Their Experiences with, Knowledge of, and Attitudes toward Large Vestibular Aqueduct Syndrome (LVAS). Paper accepted for presentation at American Auditory Society 2015. Scottsdale, AZ. March 5-7, 2015.Sullivan JC, Johnson CE, Danhauer JL, Jilla AM, Winkler, K. (2015). Parents of Children with LVAS: Learning from their Journeys. Paper accepted for presentation at American Auditory Society 2015. Scottsdale, AZ. March 5-7, 2015.Sullivan JC, Johnson CE, Danhauer JL, & Wolfe J. (2014). Large vestibular aqueduct syndrome and cochlear implantation: Scientific, clinical, and personal perspectives. Paper presented at the Hearing Across the Lifespan Conference in Cernobbio, Italy, June 5, 2014.*Paper also presented as a poster at AudiologyNOW!, Orlando FL*Paper also presented as a poster at Graduate Research, Education, and Technology Day OUHSC*Paper also presented as a poster at the College of Allied Health Research Day

Laura Kincaide

OU Major: 
Economics, Letters
Research Mentor: 
Dr. Robin Grier, Dr. Janet Ward
Describe your undergraduate research or creative project: 
My main research focus is international development and comparative economic systems, and I specifically look at the development of post Soviet states and their relationships with Western Europe. I completed a year-long research project under the mentorship of Dr. Robin Grier as a part of the McNair Scholars. In my paper I compare the use of a monetary regime called a Currency Board Arrangement (CBA) in Estonia and Lithuania after regaining independence in 1991, analyzing motives for initial CBA adoption, the impact of the CBAs on restructuring, cultural and political factors contributing to adherence to CBA regulations, and the influence the CBAs had on alignment with Western integration as evidenced by EU membership and EU adoption.In an unrelated project, I wrote a paper on the influence of Christianity on the White Rose, a student led resistance program against the Nazis that originated at the University of Munich in 1942.
Explain what you learned or give advice to fellow students: 
The most important thing I learned during my research experience is the importance of having a good working relationship with your faculty mentor. Occasionally you will run into roadblocks or slumps in your research, and having someone experienced and inspiring to help you find your way again is invaluable.In addition, I learned that it is impossible to completely finish a research project because there will always be more information to look through and new ideas to consider. I thought my topic was narrow at first, but quickly had to focus my essay even more to include sufficient detail to make a meaningful argument and contribution. In the end, it is important to remember that your work does not end with one project. Even now that I am done with my paper I keep finding things that relate to my research and that I hope to work on in the future. I highly recommend that everyone who is interested become involved in undergraduate research. In addition to learning more than you can imagine, contributing to your field is extremely fulfilling and exciting, and will undoubtedly change the course of your career.
Awards and/or presentations: 
I presented my CBA research at the 2014 McNair Heartland Research Conference in Kansas City, Missouri.
Published Work: 
Kincaide, Laura. “Religion and Resistance: An Analysis on the Influence of Christianity on the White Rose Resistance Movement."

Tara Rodgers

OU Major: 
Geography
Research Mentor: 
Mark Shafer
Describe your undergraduate research or creative project: 
I worked with the Gulf Coast Joint Venture in Lafayette, LA through a research opportunity with the Southern Climate Impact Planning Program (SCIPP). I examined the weather effects on wintering waterfowl habitat in the Gulf Coast region. The main goal of my research was to identify indices that would be able to help predict the acreage of flooded habitat each year. My initial research only focused on the coast of Texas, but I'm currently expanding my research to encompass the whole Gulf Coast region. I initially found that some drought indices were significant, but I would like to see if that would differ in another part of the Gulf Coast. This particular project combined a variety of climatic and weather indices to help determine the most significant index. The overall experience was a great one. I moved to Lafayette, LA, and experienced a different state for a little bit. It was really nice to also work in a government building, and see how possibly working for the government might feel. The people there were really nice, and walked me through any road blocks I might have come across in my research. SCIPP was also a tremendous resource as they guided me to what would benefit me the most through this research process.
Explain what you learned or give advice to fellow students: 
I learned a lot about climatic data, and how to compile it into a form that is easier to understand. I also learned how to collaborate with people that are in different fields of discipline than I am. Finally, I learned how to present my work, and organize it so that it made sense to people that had no idea what my research consisted of.Students that might be interested in doing research should have an open mind about projects, and different subjects other than their current field. I learned a lot about a field that I was not necessarily interest in, and it provided me an experience that I would not have normally had.
Awards and/or presentations: 
I have presented my work as a poster at the 2014 Southwest Association of American Geographers in Albuquerque, NM. I also presented my work at as an oral presentation at the 2015 The American Meteorological Society Conference in Phoenix, AZ. I will also present my research again at the Association of American Geographers in April in Chicago, IL.
Published Work: 
n/a

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