2018 Summer Scholars

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

 


Alex Sizemore | Aerospace Engineering

Research Interests

Seizemore's research focus is on estimating atmospheric densities using state data from several satellite missions. His ultimate goal is to improve these estimates to ultimately reduce a major source of uncertainty in all low-Earth orbiting satellites. Seizemore hopes to provide a better understanding of the upper atmosphere, to ensure that Earth orbiting satellites are able to operate effectively and safely.

 


Ben Schmack | American Studies

Research Interests

Schmack's dissertation is a comparative history, focusing on the long standing feud between the KKK and American Communists. Despite the tendency of Americans to view these groups as similarly dangerous, a number of historical case studies, such as the coalfields of southern Illinois in the 1920s, the targeting of the Highlander Folk School during the 1950s, and the Greensboro Massacre of 1979, show that the violence seen in this feud emanates almost entirely from white nationalists. Yet, the view of Klansmen and American Communists as "different sides of the same coin" gained widespread acceptance and persists into the present day. Through this comparative analysis, Schmack hopes to present a greater understanding of hate in the United States.

 


Gülnar Eziz | Anthropology

Research Interests

Eziz's research focuses on structure of complex verb constructions formed with the Uyghur verb bol- 'become'. Uyghur is a Turkic language. It has an unusual number and diversity of such constructions, which are also found in other languages of the world. This study categorizes bol- constructions and provides comparative evidence for different complex verb constructions cross-linguistically. Understanding the subcategories of verbs helps us to understand how human languages function, develop, and change.

 


Vaisali Krishna Kumar | Architecture

Research Interests

Kumar's research is on 20th-century modern heritage of India and its preservation. Currently there is no shared understanding or methodology developed for identifying and understanding the significance of 20th-century heritage, especially in developing countries like India, where modern architecture is yet to be considered as heritage. Her dissertation aims at developing a thematic framework for identifying and thereby conserving the legacy of 20th century Indian modern heritage. Research is carried out in three phase using mixed methodology such as document analysis, qualitative in-depth interviews and community survey. 

 


Renae Waters | Bioengineering

Research Interests

Waters's research is focused on developing a therapeutic hydrogel that promotes heart tissue regeneration for heart attack patients. The ultimate goal is to restore proper heart function, and prevent end stage heart failure. Specifically, she studies how certain proteins, RNA, and particles produced by adipose-derived stem cells can promote new blood vessel formation, inhibit cell apoptosis, and modulate inflammation. Lastly, Waters uses biocompatible and biodegradable polymers as delivery vehicles to allow for the stem cell-derived biomolecules to be injected and retained within the heart muscle over a prolonged period of time.

 


Aishik Chakraborty | Chemical and Petroleum Engineering

Research Interests

Chakraborty’s research focuses on understanding biomolecular interactions at interfaces. Specifically, he examines lipid-protein as well as lipid-nanoparticle films formed at the interface using the Langmuir Blodgett technique, Fluorescence Microscopy, and Atomic Force Microscopy. The primary goal of his research is to biophysically determine viable compositions of synthetic lung surfactants and engineered carbon nanodiamonds that can be used in surfactant replacement therapy.

 


Kien Nguyen | Civil Engineering

Research Interests

Nguyen’s research interests are sustainable structures and materials in civil engineering. His research focus is to provide improved design, materials, and construction specifications to help designers, galvanizers, and fabricators to build steel structures without any galvanizing cracking and distortion issues. As a result, new specifications would help save considerable amounts of money by making reliable, durable, and sustainable galvanized steel structures.

 


Jessica Guler | Clinical Child Psychology Program

Research Interests

Guler’s research focuses on understanding the mental and physical health of culturally-diverse children and their families exposed to trauma and migration, including refugees and immigrants. She is particularly interested in the co-occurrence of internalizing and somatic problems in refugee children and their parents, and the cognitive processes which promote resiliency among these refugees post-resettlement. Her dissertation work will investigate inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility in Arab refugee parent-child dyads exposed to trauma.

 


Marissa Wiley | Communication Studies

Research Interests

Wiley is primarily a health communication, interpersonal communication, and social media research scholar. Her research focuses on how individuals communicate about their health behaviors, both in face-to-face interactions and through social media platforms, and how intersectional identities play a critical role in the maintenance and development of health communities. Additionally, Wiley's' research interests include social support and coping processes in interpersonal relationships and organizational contexts. By using both in-depth interviews and participatory photography (i.e. Photovoice), her dissertation seeks to examine prosocial and communal coping behaviors, as well as self-efficacy among individuals living with chronic illness and their caretakers as they seek additional health services at a health organization associated with the University of Kansas Medical Center.

 


Tsung-han Weng | Curriculum & Teaching

Research Interests

Weng’s research mainly focuses on the real-world problems related to languages. He aims to critically examine the underlying ideologies and politics of the synergy of globalization and multiculturalism in Taiwanese English-as-a-foreign language (EFL) education. Rooted in the theoretical frameworks of Language Ideologies and Critical Discourse Analysis, his study aims to unpack the complicate cultural knowledge of the intersections of race, gender, and class in Taiwanese EFL textbooks and investigate how EFL teachers’ beliefs and practices of multiculturalism and globalization in today’s neoliberal world. Weng's study will provide practical educational implications at individual, institutional, and national levels in Taiwan, benefiting Taiwanese high school EFL teachers, second language teacher educators, and textbooks writers and publishers.

 


Elizabeth Chang | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Research Interests

Chang's research focuses on the relationship between major life history transitions and the changes to genome content and population genomic patterns that accompany those transitions. The cnidarians (organisms such as jellyfish, corals and their relatives) are ideal for this type of work since they display a wide range of life-histories and traits, and have adapted to a wide range of aquatic environments. Specifically, Chang focuses on specific evolutionary transitions in cnidarian systems and what genomics can inform us about their natural history: 1) The evolution of parasitism and the accompanying changes to genome size and content, 2) The population genetic consequences of the decoupling of coloniality from asexual reproduction, and 3) The ecological genomics of the transition to freshwater habitat usage from a marine ancestor.

 


Jessica Santos Dutra | Economics

Research Interests

Dutra’s research focuses on quantitative methods for antitrust analyses. Antitrust Agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, want to block mergers that are anticompetitive without interfering with ones that are procompetitive. They are particularly sensitive to mergers that raise post-merger prices due to its likelihood of harming consumers through market power. Dutra explores the role merger efficiencies play in examining post-merger prices. Additionally, Dutra researches the impact of common ownership on hospital prices by reducing the incentive for competition in health care markets.

 


Trina Emler | Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Research Interests

Emler’s research is focused on innovative educational systems, particularly in environments that remove barriers to learning and elevate student-centered learning to a truly personalizable level. Her work has focused on schools and programs that are providing for students in unique ways by addressing creativity and entrepreneurial education. Within these programs work is seen as student-driven and student-initiated providing increased levels of engagement and authenticity, tapping into the technological and global networks available to students today. Emler is working with several schools and programs to give insight through in-depth qualitative interviews as well as comparative models and statistical analysis on school culture, beliefs, and environments that enable and foster future-oriented educational systems based on students individual interests and talents.

 


Yurou Wang | Educational Psychology

Research Interests

Wang's research interest includes cultural intelligence, motivation, self-determination, and the internationalization of the value of learning. Particularly, she is working to understand how cultural intelligence affects international students’ socio-cultural and psychological adjustment and academic performance, as well as how to train international students to improve their cultural intelligence, in order to support them adjust to a new culture adequately and eventually benefit them academically. Concurrently, Wang is also working on understanding the cultural difference in the motivation. Her dissertation is about how different cultural learning values affect students’ motivation and ultimately influence their persistence in learning.

 


Ayah Wakkad | English

Research Interests

Wakkad's research focus includes political prison in colonial and postcolonial literature. She is investigating the concept of coloniality and its manifestation in twentieth-century English and Arabic prison novel.

 


Courtney Sanchez | Film and Media Studies

Research Interests

Sanchez is a film historian, whose research focuses on the development of silent cinema in Latin America. She is interested in cinema as a vehicle of modernity, especially in the relation to changing gender norms in the early 20th century. Sanchez's dissertation project highlights women's contributions to the development of Mexican silent cinema in the post-revolutionary period (1917-1930). Contrary to the assumption that silent cinema was a patriarchal enterprise, her research shows that women pioneered narrative film production in Mexico. Moreover, because women constituted the majority of the movie-going audience, the state endeavored to regulate the sites where movies were shown and filmmakers catered to the desires of women.

 


Christina Lord | French, Francophone & Italian Studies

Research Interests

Lord's dissertation research focuses on four creators of French science fiction (SF) literature or film from the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. Their stories explore the reshuffling of ontological categories that usually separate humans from nonhumans, like integrations between humans and artificial intelligence (cyborgs), and the extinction of an extraterrestrial or animal species. Lord argues that these narratives of past, present, or future depict a posthumanist relationship between humans and nonhumans. Posthumanism proposes a reconceptualization of our relationship with both biological and technological entities. While modern French SF holds a less dominant position in relation to Anglo-American SF, it has much to contribute to international and interdisciplinary conversations on utopian and apocalyptic fictions, which leads to a better understanding of the posthuman and posthumanism.

 


Wen Feng | Mathematics

Research Interests

Feng's research is focused on the analytical studies of standing waves in nonlinear Schrödingermodels. She works on the spectral stability of ground states of fourth order semi-linear Schrödinger and Klein-Gordon equations and semi-linear Schrödinger and Klein-Gordon equations with fractional dispersion. Feng also works on the existence and the stability of the vortices for the NLS in higher dimensions. She examines nonlinear waves of Parity-time symmetric systems. PT-symmetry started out in non-Hermitian quantum mechanics, where complex potentials obeying PT- symmetry could exhibit all-real spectra.

 


Fariba Mohammadi | Mechanical Engineering

Research Interests

Mohammadi’s research focuses on developing novel meshing algorithms for generation of high-quality patient-specific meshes of the inferior vena cava (IVC) and IVC filter to be used in the modeling and simulation of Pulmonary Embolism (PE). For successful embolus-trapping performance of the IVC filter, accurate placement is essential. Thus, she is working on development of a novel 3D superelastic mesh warping technique for use in simulating the implantation of the IVC filter into the patient’s vein. Mohammadi will employ finite element modeling and a superelastic constitutive law to simulate the deformation of the IVC filter during the implantation procedure. In addition to that, she will also study the relationship between emboli shapes and sizes with the IVC and IVC filter geometry and orientation. Also, as the emboli are being captured by the filter, the contact would cause the mesh topology to change at the contact points. Mohammadi's research will also address the study of mesh topology changes to ensure high-quality patient-specific meshes.

 


Stacia Fortune | Music

Research Interests

Fortune's research interests include the practice methods of undergraduate clarinet students, and focus on the progress of fundamentals within a shorter period of unstructured, untaught time. The collection of most effective method books, practice habits, and teaching habits is included in her research.

 


Vasfi Ozen | Philosophy

Research Interests

Özen is a doctoral candidate in philosophy with primary interests in moral psychology, ethics, and post-Kantian idealism (mainly Fichte, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche). His current research focuses on Friedrich Nietzsche’s ideas on the meaning and origin of empathy, its evolution, and its influence on the emergence of prosocial behavior and fellow-feeling. Özen believes that Nietzsche’s account of empathy and fellow-feeling deserves far more attention than it has hitherto received in Nietzsche scholarship. He hopes to fill in this gap in the scholarship and provide an opportunity for further discourse.

 


Bhupal Kattel | Physics & Astronomy

Research Interests

Kattel’s research primarily attempts to understand the interfacial electronic processes in organic and organic-inorganic hybrid materials, in a quest of developing low cost and flexible devices, such as solar cells, LED, and thin film transistors. Specifically, he uses a novel time-resolved photo-electrical technique that can probe the dynamics and the yield of free charge carrier generation. A vivid picture of how the free charge carriers form and recombine would allow us to tune their properties and boost up their performances for commercial applications.

 


Xian Zhao | Psychology

Research Interests

Zhao is interested in the consequences of perceiving others as members of social groups. Specifically, two lines of his research (adopting ethnic majority names and its consequences; China-US relations and assimilation attitudes) focus on how social categorization reduces equality of treatment of ethnic minorities and foreign individuals. Zhao's' research aims to shed light on promoting positive intergroup and triadic-group relations from the perspective of acculturation and creating a multicultural environment.

 


Liefu Jiang | School of Journalism and Mass Communications

Research Interests

Jiang’s research interest focuses on social media engagements. Specifically, what factors influence people’s adoption of different levels of engagements on social media platforms. Social media engagements can be divided into three levels: consumption (e.g. reading), contribution (e.g. commenting), and creation (e.g. posting). Jiang’s research focuses on how will the factors such as perceived bias, perceived credibility, perceived newsworthiness, political correctness, etc. influence people’s likelihood of adopting different levels of engagements on different social media platforms.


Krzysztof Borowski | Slavic Languages and Literatures

Research Interests

Borowski’s research examines online political discourse in contemporary Poland. In his dissertation titled “Virtual Nationalism, Real Violence: Conflict Discourse, Identity, and the Social Imagination of Silesian Minority in Poland,” he looks at anonymous comments from online conversations about and among self-identified Silesians, Poland’s largest and unrecognized yet seeking self-determination minority. Combining sociolinguistic theory and methods borrowed from discourse studies, he explores how online commenters use language as a weapon against their ideological opponents whose discursive representations are saturated with verbal violence, hate speech, and othering rhetoric. More broadly, his research addresses the Polish society’s ability to accommodate difference as it examines the social understanding and importance of language-, identity-, and nationality-related issues in the context of present-day Poland.

 


Amittia Parker | Social Welfare

Research Interests

Parker's research focuses on advancing minority mental health, with a particular interest in improving the status of mental health among families of color in Kansas City. She is currently working on a qualitative study that seeks to better understand the role of informal social supports and natural helping on mental health well-being. Parker is particularly interested in better understanding natural networks of support or helping in an urban context and the social spaces where emotional support, in particular is provided.

 


Daniel Alvord | Sociology

Research Interests

Alvord is interested in understanding how policies, particularly tax policy, shape inequalities. His current research is an examination of the causes and consequences of the 2012 Kansas tax cuts. Drawing on over two years of ethnographic observations and over 100 in-depth interviews with key actors, Alvord's' dissertation traces the development and implementation of the policy as well as the effects of the tax reform in key sectors of the state.  

 


Lina Muñoz | Spanish & Portuguese

Research Interests

In her dissertation, Muñoz carries out a trans-indigenous study of film works produced in different Latin America indigenous contexts. She examines how the repositioning of the indigenous gaze in Latin American film productions, the appropriation of audiovisual technologies, and the local and global mobility that these audiovisual tools generate have played a fundamental role in the participation, reconfiguration, and re-emergence of different indigenous communities in the contemporary Andean world.

 


Kevin Pitt | Speech-Language-Hearing

Research Interests

Pitt’s research focuses on the application of brain-computer interfaces for augmentative and alternative communication access (BCI-AAC). Specifically, he focuses on providing brain-controlled access to AAC devices for individuals with severe physical impairments who are currently without any form of reliable movements or methods of communication. Pitt’s long-term goal is to translate the laboratory-based BCI research into clinical application by incorporating established person-centered AAC practices into BCI development and implementation. These efforts will help ensure fully inclusive AAC practices and improve communication outcomes for BCI-AAC interventions.

 


Leigh Kaulbach | Visual Art

Research Interests

Kaulbach’s creative research honors and explores the ineffability, influence, and intimacy of sisterhood. Through the use of transmissive media reliant on cooperation, including machine learning and print publishing techniques, lateral relationships are both the subject and method for making. Her studio practice includes drawing, bookmaking, zinemaking, printmaking, and animation.

 


Marcy Quiason | Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies

Research Interests

Quiason is studying collaborative relationships between Philippine anti-human trafficking nongovernmental organizations for her dissertation. She is examining how human trafficking international nongovernmental organizations influence the ways that local nongovernmental organizations perceive human trafficking survivors and the impact that this has on service delivery. The aim of this study is to provide the guidance needed to build effective services through collaboration.

 


RT @Marineiac _Matt: I am humbled that an image I shot has been deemed one of @nature “best science images” of 2018. This and other images…


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