Eight graduate students will represent the University of Kansas Lawrence Campus at the 2020 Capitol Graduate Research Summit at the State Capitol Building in Topeka, Kansas on February 26, 2020. Learn more about their research below.

For information about the event, and the other participating Kansas universities, please visit the Capitol Graduate Research Summit website.

Sal Rahmani | Aerospace Engineering  | Advisor: Z.J. Wang

Reduction of Supersonic Jet Noise By Modifying The Nozzle Exit Geometry

Sal RahmaniThe high-speed jet exhaust of civilian transport and military aircraft poses a problem to rural communities located near airports and military bases. The excessive noise generated by these jets are able to cause significant hearing damage to nearby aircraft personnel and can be heard as far away as six and a half miles away. One of the research teams in the University of Kansas’s aerospace department, which includes Salman Rahmani, is currently testing the effect of placing flow modification devices within the exhaust portion of the aircraft’s engine. The goal is to control the jet’s exhaust gases in such a way that the noise is significantly reduced without sacrificing the engine’s efficiency.


Swarnagowri Vaidyanathan | Bioengineering | Advisor: Steven Soper

Development of a Nanofluidic Device for Detecting Cancer

Swarna VaidyanathanNational Cancer Institute says that about 1 in 6 people will die out of cancer worldwide. The diagnosis of cancer is extremely painful, time consuming and expensive. Hence, Vaidyanathan's research focusses on detecting cancer from a simple blood test using a device developed specifically for this purpose. The DNA is isolated from the cancer cells and is passed through the nanofluidic device made out of thermoplastics that has a resistive pulse sensing unit to detect the mutations causing cancer. This device is degradable, inexpensive, and facilitates a highly accurate diagnosis method, thus enabling precision medicine and accessibility to people of all economic statuses.


Beth Rankin | Curriculum and Instruction | Advisor: Steve White

Teaching Amidst Trauma: Identifying the Impact that Traumatized Students Have on K-12 Teachers

Beth RankinThe emotional strain of teaching takes a toll on even the most dedicated educator; particularly so when working with traumatized students. Secondary traumatic stress (STS) can be described as the transmission of traumatic stress from students to teachers. Rankin’s research seeks to find ways to reduce the detrimental effects of STS and ultimately protect the most valuable resource in our public schools: teachers.


Gregory Leung | Economics | Advisor: David Slusky

The Impact of Medical Marijuana Laws on College Students’ Mental Health, Drugs Substitutability, and Academic Outcomes

Gregory LeungAs of December 2019, 33 states and the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana laws. While some states recognize the effectiveness of marijuana for medicinal purposes and the potential tax revenue gained from marijuana sales, it is equally important to study the unintended consequences on public health. In this paper, I exploit the variation in marijuana laws and estimate the effect of marijuana legalization on students’ psychological well-being, changes in psychiatric prescription and recreational drug use, as well as the academic outcomes. The impact of this study is particularly valuable for the State of Kansas as the legislators are considering legalization of medical marijuana as an alternative medical option for residents.


Amirreza Zarnaghsh | Environmental Engineering | Advisor: Admin Husic

High-Resolution Sensors for Assessing the Impact of Rapid Land Use Change on Water Quality Variability in Surface Streams

Amirreza ZarnaghshWater quality can be highly affected by upstream land use, including the contribution of point sources (e.g. wastewater treatment facilities) and non-point sources (e.g. leaching from agricultural landscapes). This is specifically important in Johnson County, which is located in one of the most rapidly developing areas of Kansas. Zarnaghsh's research is focused on using a suite of high frequency sensors, collecting 5-minute data, in streams of Johnson County to understand how water quality is influenced by streamflow conditions, watershed urbanization, and wastewater treatment facility contributions.


Noriko Nakamura | Music Therapy | Advisor: Cynthia Colwell

Exploring How and Why Music Interventions Influence the Ability to Remember Spoken Information in Adults with Acquired Brain Injuries

Noriko NakamuraAcquired brain injuries, such as strokes and traumatic brain injures, impact many people. Some of them may experience difficulty remembering spoken information. This research project examines how and why music interventions affect the ability to remember spoken information in adults with acquired brain injuries.


Amilee Turner | Political Science | Advisor: Clayton Webb

Developing Sustainable Cities in Kansas: A Framework and Methodology for the Successful Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Amilee TurnerThe sustainability of communities is critical to long term prosperity and political, economic, and social growth of states. With the current environmental landscape involving immediate issues such as climate change and global warming, to the effects stemming from globalization such as rapid technological advancement and migration, the need to develop innovative analytical and evaluative methods to capture and monitor how communities are progressing towards sustainability goals is fundamental. This research demonstrates how the City of Lawrence has been able to effectively accomplish sustainability initiatives in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions using a software program that provides an analysis of trends since 2005. Utilizing a national ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability framework, this research outlines specific policies and sectors at the community-wide and government-operations scales that have contributed to the City of Lawrence's significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. During the summer of 2019, Turner served as the first Sustainability Fellow of the City of Lawrence and Douglas County.


Andrea Garcia | School Psychology | Advisor: Vishal Pandey

Establishing Integrated Care for Improving Pregnant and Parenting Women with Opioid Use Disorder

Maria TickerhoofIntegrated care for mother and infant is important for expectant and post-delivery mothers with opioid use disorder. Cohesive integrated care provides access to physical and behavioral health services (medication assisted treatment, maternity care, primary care, pediatric, and home health services), lowering healthcare costs, expanding health coverage, and improving health outcomes (e.g., lower preterm birth rates). Our project evaluates the current needs, available resources, and barriers to sustain an integrated care initiative across departments. The University of Kansas Medical Center has interdepartmental collaborations between various mother and infant health providers to work together to provide consistent policies, priorities, and perspectives; focused on an effort to accurately assess mother's distinct needs and those of her family and newborn to implement the most appropriate comprehensive plan.

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