2019 Summer Scholars

To learn more about this scholarship, see the Summer Research Scholarship website.

 


Pengzhi Tian | Aerospace Engineering

Research Interests

Pengzhi’s research focuses on the Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GNC) of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), which includes sensor fusion, wind estimation, and cooperative control. He is one of the key developers of KHawk UAVs at the University of Kansas and has worked on the UAV systems integration with varieties of sensors. In addition, Pengzhi is an FAA certified UAV pilot and has led and participated in more than 50 flight test sessions as a ground control station operator using small UAVs ranging from 48 inches to 81 inches wingspan.

 


Akbar Amat | Anthropology

Research Interests

Amat's research interest includes anthropology and political economy of Xinjiang, China. The economic reform in the late 1970s brought about a change in the mode of production and property relations in China. Since the 1990s, the development of manufacturing created a demand for an expanded consumer market for commodities. The demand led to an increasing convergence of culture and economy, as manufacturers sought to increase the appeal of their products among consumers. In Xinjiang, this convergence led to the commodification of cultural forms and the emergence of commodities designed with traditional decorative elements and ornamental styles of Uyghurs. In urban space, finance capital and real estate speculation led to the aestheticization of built-environment and a revival of some classic architectural styles. Amat's research aims to provide an understanding of the relationship between cultural change and economic transformation in Xinjiang.

 


Bushra Nayeem | Architecture

Research Interests


Nayeem’s research revolves around the shift of architectural trends within the wider context of global economics, politics, and humanity during the end of 19th century. The historical research focuses on the critical role played by architecture and planning in shaping the discourse on making (unmaking and remaking) of development and identity in the developing world during the end of the 20th century.

 


Saman Modaresi | Bioengineering

Research Interests

Modaresi's research focuses on developing strategies to enhance the delivery of extracellular cargo molecules into stem cells. By squeezing the cells through constriction smaller than their diameter in a microfluidic chip, small transient pores are generated in cells' membrane which allows the cellular uptake of extracellular molecules. This strategy can be used to deliver proteins, small molecules, enzymes, and nucleic acids into cells without inducing cell death or cell toxicity.

 


Sayantani Basu | Chemical and Petroleum Engineering

Research Interests

Basu’s research focuses on the utilization of DNA as the building block for the development of biocompatible hydrogels for drug delivery and tissue regenerative applications. The primary goal of her research is to exploit the chemical functionalities of DNA strands for the formation of an interconnected hydrogel network. Furthermore, she encapsulates bone regenerative and stem cell recruiting drugs/proteins in the formulated hydrogels for a prolonged release of the therapeutic at the tissue defect region. 

 


Eugene Boadi-Danquah | Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering

Research Interests

 

 


Carolina Bejarano | Clinical Child Psychology

Research Interests

Bejarano’s research focuses on understanding psychosocial drivers of health-related behavior in youth. She is particularly interested in dietary behavior in children and adolescents, and applying this research to clinical interventions for pediatric weight management and eating disorders. Bejarano's dissertation project combines ecological momentary assessment and experimental methodology in order to investigate whether hedonic appetite can be manipulated, and whether fluctuations in this variable predict palatable food consumption in adolescents.

 


Tsung-han Weng | Curriculum and Teaching

Research Interests

Weng’s research consists of three related strands in TESOL and Applied Linguistics. The first strand centers on cultural politics of education in English-as-a-foreign-language contexts and has its roots in his PhD work, which was situated at the intersection of sociology, education, and linguistics. The second strand of inquiry focuses on critical discourse studies. In this work, he has drawn on critical discourse analysis and critical multimodal discourse analysis to investigate language ideologies embedded in today’s neoliberal society. The third strand investigates language and identity. His research focuses on international students’ academic discourse socialization in the U.S. and pre-service teachers’ construction of legitimate identities before and after teacher education programs. Weng’s research aims to shed light on promoting critical awareness for English language learners and forging inclusive practices in classroom contexts. 

 


Emma Hauser | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Research Interests

Hauser examines nutrient and carbon cycling, and the ways in which those fluxes support ecosystem growth and function. In particular, she focuses on the role of plant rooting systems in exchanging their carbon resources for soil nutrients and the capacity of those rooting systems to act as both carbon sinks and rock weathering agents depending on plants' nutritional strategies. Hauser's work probes the ways in which these processes act differently in the Anthropocene--an era in which human actions drive many ecosystem processes and cycles. She hopes her research will contribute to a fuller understanding of the mechanisms sustaining the ecosystems where we live.

 


Ruoning Han | Economics

Research Interests


Han’s research focuses on examining bank risk-taking behavior under regulatory capital requirements (Basel Accords), which rely on banks’ own reports. Specifically, she theoretically and empirically studies the impact of each regime of capital requirements and evolution of regimes on bank portfolio choice, taking into account the incentive incompatibility between banks and regulators, deposit competition, and bank heterogeneity. Moreover, Han analyzes the optimal enforcement schemes by the regulators to alleviate financial frictions and increase social welfare.

 


Amanda Lappin | Educational Psychology

Research Interests

Lappin's research interests include Queer/LGBTQ mental health, inclusive demographic methodology, and mental health first aid for LGBTQ individuals. Specifically, her dissertation research focuses on the role of stigma and identity in help-seeking attitudes and intentions of LGBTQ individuals. The aim of this study is to include LGBTQ individuals in the help-seeking literature as well as explore bisexual individuals as a unique population. 

 


Amir Modarresi | Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Research Interests

Modarresi’s research focuses on smart home and smart city network resilience. Smart environments, including smart home, utilize multiple network technologies. Heterogeneous technologies can potentially improve network resilience by providing redundant and diverse network paths. In order to get the benefits of various network technologies, an abstract model of smart homes is required. The abstract model is expanded to a multilayer model to represent the relationship between technologies and their dependency on each other. Based on the proposed multilayer model, new graph metrics can be introduced to provide better information about the weakness of a smart home and city network and consequently to improve the resilience of such systems.  


Kimberly Kankiewicz | English

Research Interests

Kankiewicz's research focuses on women's narratives of technology use and employment in technology fields. Her current project is a narrative history of women employed as switchboard operators between WWII and the divestiture of the Bell Telephone System in 1984.

 


Ellen Collier | French, Francophone, and Italian Studies

Research Interests


Collier is a PhD candidate in the department of French, Francophone & Italian studies whose research observes the shifting nature of poetry during the late Middle Ages. Focusing on 14th century French poet, Eustache Deschamps, she is working on a dissertation that examines the poet's use of emotion and first person perspective. Through her research, Collier seeks to better understand the development of literary subjectivity through poetry and, ultimately, help illustrate the transition between late medieval and early modern literature.

 


James Coll | Geography and Atmospheric Sciences

Research Interests

Coll’s research interests broadly lie in the realm of surface water hydrology. He is particularly concerned with examining the scales at which we measure, represent, and communicate reality as it relates to the hydrologic cycle. By blending fieldwork, remote sensing, hydraulics, and geographic information science, Coll hypothesizes that it is possible to measure river channel bathymetry and discharge remotely.  A few of his other interests include mapping the world with Google Earth Engine and snowboarding.

 


Kelsey Fortin | Health, Sport, and Exercise Sciences

Research Interests

Fortin’s research is focused on health behaviors and health behavior change, with an emphasis on nutrition and physical activity. Her research aims to connect these health behaviors with biometric marks and the overall health and wellbeing of individuals. She has a particular interest in food insecurity, access to medical care, food systems, social services, and integrative care contributions to the health status of underrepresented populations.

 


Michelle Keller | Journalism

Research Interests

Keller is a doctoral student in the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Her research explores the relationship between participation in a photovoice project, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. Photovoice is a participatory research method that prompts participants to document certain aspects of their lives through photography and then participate in critical dialogue to identify issues and explore potential solutions to those issues. Photovoice is gaining in popularity, especially among marginalized populations, who sometimes have difficulty telling their stories to those in positions of power. Keller is currently working with women in recovery from substance use disorders with an eye toward helping them achieve higher levels of self-esteem which has been shown to positively impact long-term sobriety. Since photovoice projects often involve a public exhibition at which participants have the opportunity to share their photos and accompanying narratives with elected officials, community leaders and policymakers, it has been used for social change. As one researcher put it, "It is the ultimate form of public relations."


Satbir Malhi | Mathematics

Research Interests

Malhi's research interests are in the general area of partial differential equations with connection to C0-semigroup theory. He works on long time behavior of evolution equations. Such equations arise from delay and partial differential equations in many disciplines, including physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, and economics. Water waves, sound waves, and simple harmonic motion of strings are some well-known phenomena evolution equations. The Klein-Gordon equation is another model which is a relativistic wave and is related to Schrodinger equations. 

 


Mary Sheehy | Music

Research Interests

Sheehy's research focuses on the depiction of mental health in the modern Broadway musical. She approaches her research through an intersectional lens, converging methods of musicology, feminist theory, and theater history, relying heavily on archival research in New York City. Her dissertation provides an in-depth analysis of prominent musical theatre productions that involve characters with mental illness who perform operatic "mad scenes," and the interpretation of such representations through staging and the musical score.  

 


Kara Caine | Music Education and Music Therapy

Research Interests

Caine is a music therapist and doctoral student in the music therapy program. Her research focuses on the use of music interventions to promote secure parent-infant attachment.  She is especially interested in how singing can help fathers bond with their infants, including fathers of infants admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit.

 


Mohammed Almutairi | Pharmacology and Toxicology

Research Interests

Almutairi’s research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms that are responsible for neuronal death in the ischemic brain. Ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke and occurs when the blood supply to the brain is reduced or blocked. Depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients leads to neuronal loss. The exact mechanism underlying ischemia-induced neuronal injury has not been fully understood. Therefore, more research needs to be done to gain substantial new information regarding this mechanism. The goal of Almutairi’s research is to identify the key molecular pathways that contribute to neuronal death following ischemic stroke.  Based on the results, novel therapeutic interventions might be developed to protect the brain from ischemic injury.  

 


Chelsea Bowden | Philosophy

Research Interests

Bowden’s research primarily focuses on questions in virtue and social epistemology. She is interested in what character traits make us better or worse people in our intellectual lives, and how various types of social injustice can impact our role as knowers and intellectual agents. Her dissertation project examines how forms of structural injustice affect evaluations of intellectually virtuous people and advances a new theory of how we should conceive of intellectual virtue. 

 


Matthew Sullivan | Physics and Astronomy

Research Interests

Sullivan’s research focuses on ways to look for new physics. The Large Hadron Collider, dark matter detectors, neutrino detectors, and other experimental avenues all look for signs of any physics beyond the Standard Model, which is the culmination of our current understanding. Sullivan’s work involves calculating the potential experimental signals of physics beyond the Standard Model. He works with models that address various topics in physics, such as the nature of dark matter, the details of electroweak symmetry breaking, the ultimate source of parity violation, and the asymmetry between matter and antimatter.

 


Amilee Turner | Political Science

Research Interests

Turner is a fourth year Ph.D. student at the University of Kansas in the department of Political Science. Her research areas of focus involve global violence and conflict, national security/terrorism, political psychology, globalization, environmental crisis, and social justice, as well as gender and social conflict. Turner is passionate about developing new ways to combat the detrimental effects of globalization on the earth, identifying mechanisms that may allow us to better address the growing global landscape of social injustice resulting in conflict and violence. Her dissertation focuses on the revival of Relative Deprivation Theory (RDT), which addresses the role of grievances in motivating individual and collective political violence. She has developed the first known RDT Scale to assess relative deprivation using a series of factorial survey experiments. Turner’s research has received national recognition from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). 


Danielle Chapa | Psychology

Research Interests

Chapa is a doctoral candidate in Clinical Psychology. Her research interests include the use of technology and statistical modeling in eating disorder assessment and treatment. She is also interested in the definition, assessment, and treatment of unhealthy exercise behaviors (e.g., excessive exercise, compulsive exercise, and physical inactivity) among persons with eating disorders, including athletes. Her dissertation project aims to understand the function of unhealthy exercise among individuals with eating disorders using an ecological momentary assessment design in which participants use a mobile phone application to respond to brief surveys throughout the day. Chapa's long-term goal is to test and design a mobile phone intervention that would disrupt the process of unhealthy exercise.

 


Nicole Humphrey | Public Affairs and Administration

Research Interests

Humphrey is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Public Affairs and Administration. Her research explores the role of emotional labor within public sector organizations. Specifically, she focuses on how emotional labor relates to employee burnout and the development of social capital.

 


Ekaterina Chelpanova | Slavic Languages and Literatures

Research Interests


Chelpanova explores how cinema and literature develop, conceptualize, and channel strategies of coping with individual and collective trauma. In her dissertation, she focuses on the culture of the Soviet Union of the era of the 1960s known as Thaw and associated with de-Stalinization policies of Nikita Khrushchev. During this period of political liberalization after the era of totalitarian oppression and hardships of WWII, the Soviet art, cinema, and literature focused on representing both the personal and the collective trauma as well as on conceptualizing strategies of processing trauma. Chelpanova analyzes what sources formed the Soviet ideas about processing trauma and whether these ideas impacted the audiences, fulfilling their potential need in such strategies. Her findings show that in its quest for the convincing ideas and images of overcoming trauma, the Soviet postwar culture relied on the new popular concept of free emotional expression, Russian nineteenth century novel, and Christian existentialism perceived through the lens of masterpieces of the Russian literature.

 


Amittia Parker | Social Welfare

Research Interests


Parker’s research focuses on advancing minority mental health by addressing access and service use mental health disparities affecting families with young children. Parker’s current dissertation research explores maternal mental health concerns and the use of mental health services and social supports among African American mothers with young children. This research is designed to understand access to supports, preferences among supports, and how supports are mobilized in order to provide recommendations to improve social work services and guide future research.

 


Byeongdon Oh | Sociology

Research Interests


Oh has investigated the reproduction of undesirable inequality in our society, specializing in the areas of social stratification, education, occupation, race/ethnicity, gender, and statistical methods. In his dissertation, Broken Promise of College, Oh examines the impacts of college tuition rise and higher education stratification on widening socioeconomic disparities among college graduates. His dissertation has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Institute for Policy and Social Research at KU.

 


Andrés Rabinovich | Spanish and Portuguese

Research Interests

Rabinovich's doctoral dissertation aims to nuance the perception of neoliberalism as a set of economic and political choices and suggests instead that it has a pervasive influence in how we perceive the world as evidenced in cultural production. In order to explore this idea, he focuses on literary and filmic representations of soccer in Argentina and Brazil between 2003 and 2016. Rabinovich's research contributes to a central topic within the Latin American Cultural Studies field: the relationship between popular culture and neoliberalism. The goal of his dissertation is to enhance this debate by highlighting the mediating role of affect and emotion in the representation of soccer and its political implications.

 


Juhi Kidwai | Speech-Language-Hearing: Sciences and Disorders

Research Interests

Kidwai's research focuses on increasing the use of technological intervention for improving communicative outcomes in individuals with aphasia, who have difficulty in understanding speech and responding. Specifically, she is interested in investigating factors governing high-tech augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device recommendations for aphasia rehabilitation programs. Her doctoral dissertation focuses on associating a neural potential with speech intention in aphasia with the long-term goal of the application of a brain-computer interface for AAC device access.

 


Josephine Kipgen | Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Research Interests

Kipgen’s research examines gender-biased sex selection and sex-selective abortion in India. Her dissertation uses qualitative interviews with service providers and professionals to gain their systems-wide understanding of the socio-structural factors that enable sex-selective reproductive practices. She is also interested in understanding how organizations that focus on reproductive issues account for women’s agency while discussing sex-selective abortion.