Spring 2010 projects funded by UR/ME involved over 70 students with 19 faculty, in the 17 projects listed below.
Funded by the Office of General Education
Funded by the Office of Graduate Studies & Research
Funded by the Center for Teaching & Learning
All other projects are supported by funds from President Muyskens and Provost Stellar.
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||Cortical circuits: development, structure and function|
The cerebral cortex is where cognitive computations take place. To understand how the cortex functions it is crucial to determine the structure of its individual building blocks (neurons). Undergraduates in my laboratory will be looking at the anatomical properties of cortical neurons. The rodent somatosensory system (touch sense) is an ideal model to investigate the role that the environment has in influencing morphological development. Changes in sensory experience will be achieved by depriving the animal of inputs from its whiskers by trimming them. Previous research from my lab and others has shown that sensory deprivation impacts responses to sensory stimuli, and we will look at anatomical correlates of sensory deprivation.
Students: Safraz Khan, John Kalambogias, Mohiba Nasimi, Lauren Dowd, Adesh Bajnath, Stephane Eccles, David Orner
Mentors: Joshua Brumberg
|Linguistics & Communication Disorders
||Understanding speech in noise: impacts of hearing loss and speaking English as a second language|
The goal of the Non–native English Sentence Test project is the development of normalized sentence–recognition test materials developed specifically for non–native speakers of English. UR/ME participants are working on the development of a lexicon based on recorded interviews from 100 non–native speakers of English. The lexicon will be analyzed in terms of word frequency, and will be phonetically and phonemically transcribed. The lexicon will be used by the UR/ME participants to develop sentences for the sentence-recognition test materials.
Students: Anthony Del Rio, Jennifer Weintraub, Rosemarie Ott, Sarina Katanov, Ana Sofia Lucero, Lauren Donohoe
Mentor: Lauren Calandruccio
||Genomics research experience 1|
Students will isolate and characterize novel bacteriophage (viruses of bacteria) obtained from local soil. Phage DNA will be purified and fully sequenced using next-generation pyrosequencing techniques. Resulting whole genome DNA sequences will be analyzed with cutting-edge bioinformatic tools and compared to those of phages isolated at other locations around the country via a comparative genomic study sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science Education Alliance. The overarching goal is to identify phage genes and their organization, examine the similarities and differences that characterize different phage groups, and determine how these groups may have arisen during evolution.
Students: Iantha Chan, Jayme Dachs, Stephen Streppone, Rafal Bystry, Edward Guterman, Alan Thomas, Christopher Trotman, Sana Siraj, Michael Khan, Mariana Terranova, Jodelyne Walker, Biancamaria Billington, Lauren Mordukhaev, Chandanie Persaud, Alexis Vives, Davina Wadler
Mentor: John Dennehy, James Carpino, Peter Novick
||Copper nanoparticles as antibacterial agents|
Copper has been used since ancient times for hygienic and therapeutic purposes because of its antimicrobial properties. The mechanisms of this antimicrobial action are currently unknown. Our experiments are designed to understand the mechanisms of how copper kills bacteria and whether copper-based nanoparticles have more potent antibacterial properties than solid copper surfaces. The long-term goal of these studies is to develop new antimicrobial substances that may kill bacterial strains that are resistant to current drugs.
Students: Samira Rabbanifar, Rivka Lederman
Mentor: Karl Fath
|Drama, Theater, & Dance
||Puppet theater workshop: creating a community-based puppet play about New York City's commuters
The Puppet Theater workshop is intended to give students from multiple disciplines a hands-on experience in creating an original experimental theater piece about life on the NYC subways. The students will be training in puppet-making, as well as puppet theater performance technique, researching traditional forms of Thai, Japanese, and western puppetry, and workshopping the play's script with professional theater artists. They will also be conducting interviews on mass transit to find the strange and unusual stories of New York's commuter community to add to the play.
Students: Henry Cheng, Tracianne Deangelis, Alyssa D'Angelo, Elyse Price, Linda Luckmann, Rachel Simone, Joel Bernard
Mentor: Meghan Healey
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||Chiral phosphorus compounds via epimerization of acyl phosphonites|
The two students working on this project will each convert known (i-Pr2N)2PCl, in a two-step one-pot synthesis using our inert-atmosphere glove box, to two new acyl phosphorus compounds. The different acyls will allow us to test the electronic properties of the acyl group on the phosphorus epimerization that is the focus of this work. The students will acquire NMR data and examine epimerization. Each will synthesize a protected nucleoside to add to phosphorus, which constitutes the next step towards oligonucleotide synthesis, and if there is time, each will work on the final nucleoside addition as well to give the title acyl phosphonites.
Students: Stella Chow, Edgar Garciaa
Mentor: William Hersh
||Flushing and Richmond Hill: a comparative study of the economic recession on Queens' immigrant economies|
Sonia Mohabir is researching the impact of the economic recession on two immigrant economies in Queens – Flushing and Richmond Hill. Both neighborhoods were revitalized by immigrant-owned small businesses and currently serve as key regional economic centers. While Flushing is continually renewed by transnational capital and new commercial-retail development, Richmond Hill is a smaller scale immigrant economy based on traditional ethnic niches. Sonia is utilizing both quantitative and qualitative research methods to establish the industry and occupational composition of these two neighborhood economies; and document the impacts of the economic recession on immigrant entrepreneurs, enclave employment conditions and opportunities, and access to small business assistance and community development resources.
Student: Sonia Mohabir
Mentor: Tarry Hum
||The effect of texture scale on perceived 3-D shape|
The ability of the human visual system to perceive the correct 3D shape of an object hinges on, among other things, the nature of the texture on the surface of the object. This project will utilize psychophysical techniques to understand the specific effects of texture scale on the ability to perceive the 3-dimensionality of curved surfaces.
Student: Komal Malik
Mentor: Andrea Li
|Aaron Copland School of Music
||The 21st century composer and performer|
The Bright Sheng Residency gives students a chance to intereract with professional musicians and composers in formal and informal settings. The class combines elements of performance, composition, chamber music rehearsals, demonstrations, lectures and discussions about various class projects/subjects/performances. The first major project includes a series of lectures by Bright Sheng starting on March 3rd at 12:15 and culminating in a concert on March 17th. This project combines Bright Sheng's (composer) experiences with performances by the students of the Aaron Copland School of Music.
Students: Ben Arendsen, Lee Braun, Jung Yoon Choi, Joe Fee, Cynthia Friedman, Blanca Gonzalez, Matt Kasper, Paul Kerekes, Eun Hyung Kim, NaYoung Kim, Laurie Krein, Derek Kwan, Adrienna Mateo, Hiromi Nishida, Vasu Panicker, Joey Prestamo, Daniel Pugatch, Alexandra Rutkowski, Fred Trumpy, Sachie Ueshima, Trevor Wadleigh
Mentor: Michael Lipsey
||Mass spectrometry study and trajectory simulations of gas-phase reverse micelles|
This project support two students, Andrew Bennett and William Pineros, who work on gas-phase reverse micelles. Andrew’s experimental efforts focus on formation, encapsulation of biomolecules, and reactions of gas-phase reverse micelles using mass spectrometry and ion beam scattering methods. William uses electrical field simulation software SIMION to predict trajectories of charged gas-phase reverse micelles in a mass spectrometer, as well as their interactions with neutral molecules. Their work aims to demonstrate that gas-phase reverse micelles could be used as nanometer-sized reactors to probe the chemistry of single, encapsulated biomolecules in the gas phase.
Students: Andrew Bennett, William Pineros
Mentor: Jianbo Liu
||From the block to the temple: reconstructing ancient architecture|
The two students working on this project will immerse themselves in all facets of archaeological field excavation and join their mentor in digging up a Greek and Roman period (approximately 60 BCE - 363 CE) temple complex in northern Israel. They will learn the necessary skills to gather architectural data firsthand by putting into practice the methods and techniques of both excavation and documenting ancient buildings. The students will then analyze the collected field data and create two- and three-dimensional reconstructions of both the temple and its built environment. In this process, the students combine traditional art historical methodologies learned in the classroom with three-dimensional visualizations of the temple.
Students: Kevin C. Wong, Catherine Song
Mentor: Michael Nelson
|School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
||Investigating climate changes during the hothouse (59-56 million year ago, Ma) and icehouse (34-23 Ma) worlds 2|
The goal of this proposal is to develop isotope records from shells of microfossils that will provide data on climatic and oceanographic changes during two critical time intervals: the late Paleocene (59-56 Ma), a time leading up to the most rapid and abrupt global warming event of the last 100 Ma; and Oligocene (34-23 Ma), which includes the switch from a hothouse to an icehouse world.
Students: Jonathan Ramirez, Anna Chung
Mentor: Steve Pekar
||Basic research on the regulation of new neurons in the adult brain|
Students: Erica Rodriguez, Shoshana Korman, Carole Parent, Sara Wildstein, Sheeba Chacko, Sarah Oberlander, Christine Varghese
Mentor: Carolyn Pytte
||The health and welfare of African immigrants in New York City |
This project will use in-depth interviews to examine the health and welfare of African immigrants living in New York City, a topic about which there is little existing research. Students will participate in the research project from beginning to end, helping to develop an interview instrument and conducting semi-structured interviews in neighborhoods of high African immigrant concentration. We will use qualitative analysis software to analyze the data collected from our interviews and students will assist with the writing of an academic paper based on the interviews, which may be presented at an academic conference and/or published in an academic journal.
Students: Marina Mani, Bernadette Ludwig
Mentor: Holly Reed
||Si nanostructures for third generation photovoltaics 2|
The project explores novel solar cell thin films by studying the formation of nanoscale silicon particles within dielectric hosts, and the influence of deposition or heat processing conditions on optical absorption and electronic conduction properties. The coupling of silicon nanoparticle surface states to host defect states has demonstrated significant reduction in light emission efficiency. Thus, as a function of processing conditions, the project measures the selective enhancement of light absorption over light emission, using photoluminescence and photocurrent spectroscopy. Integrating the film onto a silicon solar cell diode will increase spectral absorption efficiency in the ultraviolet region, significantly increasing the solar cell's external efficiency.
Student: Jin Bakalis
Mentor: Sajan Saini
|Aaron Copland School of Music
||Veteran urban music educators: why they stay in urban schools 3|
The purpose of this study is to explore the reasons why veteran music educators continue teaching urban schools. The research design is a series of brief, exploratory case studies. Individuals with more than 15 years of experience teaching music in urban schools will be interviewed using open ended interview questions formulated by the undergraduate researchers. The interviews will be audio recorded and transcribed. Common elements and patterns in the transcripts will be sought. There is some previous research on urban teacher job satisfaction (Shann, 1998), but none has focused specifically on urban music teachers. Because of the lack of research in this area, our study is very preliminary and exploratory in nature.
Students: Giulia Marino, Thomas Lee, Kunal Singh, Cynthia J. Weinman, Cheryl Woods
Mentor: Janice Smith
|School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
||The impact of phytoplankton diet on copepod reproduction|
Copepods are the most numerous multi-cellular organisms on the planet and are important in marine food webs for connecting primary producers to higher trophic levels. This study will investigate the reproductive success of copepods fed on various phytoplankton diets, specifically assessing the nutritional value of the food. One expected result may be confirmation of the "Junkfood Hypothesis," in which grazers will consume more low-quality food to compensate for decreased nutritional content. The intense experiments involve counting both food cells and copepods constantly for more than three months, as well as analyzing the elemental composition of the food and the grazers.
Student: Jennifer Nyirucz
Mentor: Gillian Stewart
- Kristin Celello (History)
- Stephen Pekar (School of Earth and Environmental Sciences)
- Dean Savage (Sociology)
- Edward Smaldone (Aaron Copland School of Music)
- Eva Fernández (Center for Teaching & Learning)