Student Research at Aquinas College

  • Student presenting research poster to another student

    Student Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Symposium

Student Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Symposium

A campus-wide colloquium of significant contributions to academia.

The goal of the symposium is to showcase the outstanding quality and diversity of research at AQ by providing students with the opportunity to put into practice and demonstrate the depth of their research skills with those outside of their disciplines. The symposium is also designed to demonstrate the importance of research and scholarship within our community via formal presentations, recitals, writings, poster sessions and art exhibits.

The 2019 Symposium is held May 1 from 4:30pm - 6:00pm in the Wege Ballroom.

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Department of Biology

Stephanie Clark and Alyssa Willson
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Rebecca Humphrey
Abiotic factors affecting the prevalence of Rosa multiflora (Rosaceae) populations at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute (Hastings, Michigan, USA)

Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose) is a non-native shrub that has invaded many North American natural areas, resulting in negative impacts on native flora and fauna. In order to prevent further spread of R. multiflora, it is important to understand the abiotic habitat associations that characterize R. multiflora prevalence. Here, we examine how distance from the nearest trail, soil moisture, soil pH, relative sunlight availability, and dominant overstory composition are associated with R. multiflora presence and abundance at a preserve in southwest Michigan. We found that R. multiflora presence is associated with high sunlight availability and Red Maple-dominated forests. Additionally, R. multiflora abundance is associated with low soil moisture and Black Oak-dominated forests. The purpose of this research was to inform land management in determining the uninvaded forests that are most susceptible to R. multiflora invasion. Based on our results, we recommend that land managers focus on areas of high light availability (along forest edges and within open canopy areas) and low soil moisture in an effort to curtail R. multiflora invasion.

Svetlana Djirackor
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jennifer Hess
The pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment of select Congenital Myasthenic Syndromes

Congenital myasthenic syndromes (CMSs) are a heterogenous group of rare inherited neuromuscular disorders which are a consequence of defects in genes encoding presynaptic, synaptic and postsynaptic proteins expressed at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ). Although more than 30 CMS causative genes have been identified, this study serves to report on a few gene mutations that result in various phenotypic representations of CMS. This study also reports therapeutic options for CMS patients with these gene defects.

Gina Nowland
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jennifer Hess
Study of Natural Extracts and Soil Bacteria Inhibiting the Growth of Oral Bacteria and Safe Relative Pathogens

Research was conducted on natural antimicrobial substances and previously isolated soil bacteria to combat the rise of antibiotic resistance. Previous research on natural antimicrobial substances indicated that allicin, a compound created from garlic when it is crushed, and eugenol, a compound in clove essential oil, are highly effective against bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans. An oral bacterium, S. mutans, is an organism that contributes to the formation of plaque and tooth decay. The growth and growth inhibition of S. mutans on mitis salivarius (MS) agar was studied under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. After garlic and clove were shown to be highly effective against these bacteria, a series of essential oils from other natural substances, honey, thyme, eucalyptus, lemongrass, rosemary, and peppermint were studied in relation to oral bacteria and the safe relative ESKAPE pathogens. Individual bacteria, isolated from soil samples collected during September 2017, were characterized and tested against ESKAPE pathogen safe relatives in the search for new antibiotics. These bacterial isolates tested were previously found to be effective in inhibiting the growth of the ESKAPE pathogens and therefore were chosen for further study.

Department of Chemistry

Avery Cheap
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Tim Henshaw
The Enzymatic Kinetic Profile of Class D β-Lactamase Variants Against Several Antibiotics

OXA-207, a Class D beta-lactamase, is a variant of OXA-24 that has been recently categorized. Beta-lactamases catalyze the hydrolysis of beta-lactam antibiotics, a broad class of widely used antibiotics. By doing so, the beta-lactamase can confer antibiotic resistance to the microbe that expresses it. OXA-207 differs from its parent enzyme by just one amino acid. The primary aim for this studying is measuring the kinetics using a bevy of different beta-lactam substrates.

Noah Gloe
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Jensen
Photodegradation of Isobutanol with Titanium Dioxide

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are of an increasing concern in the subject of drinking water quality since, when consumed, they can have adverse health effects to humans: liver damage, central nervous system damage, and can even cause cancer. Photocatalysis has proven to be a successful remediation technique that uses a photocatalyst to break down the VOCs into non-harmful by-products: CO₂ and H₂O. I am looking at isobutanol as a practical VOC example. Titanium dioxide (TiO₂) is the photocatalyst being used because of its excellent photocatalytic ability. Calibration standards were prepared at different concentrations of isobutanol (20ppm, 40ppm, 60ppm, 80ppm) with an internal standard (ISTD) solvent composed of methanol and 1-pentanol. Reaction samples were prepared with 10 uL isobutanol and 1g TiO₂ in water. Reaction samples were exposed to a UV light source for 24 hrs. Gas chromatography flame ionization detection (GC-FID) was used to quantify the amount of isobutanol in the calibration samples and reaction samples. I am proposing to determine a rate law for TiO₂ in order to see the rate at which isobutanol completely photodegrades. This has important applications in the realm of water purification and water quality.

Kenny Nguyen
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jonathan Fritz
Effects of varying dicarboxylic acid electronics on direct arylation yield

Biaryl compounds are highly sought after due to their wide applications in areas such as pharmaceuticals and organic electronics. Due to their importance, it is vital to develop methods to create carbon-carbon bonds between two aryl groups to make biaryls. One method to create these types of bonds is direct arylation. Direct arylation is generally seen as a greener method of creating carbon-carbon bonds due to the fact that less toxic reagents are used when compared to some other methods, less waste is generated and fewer synthetic steps are needed. One class of reagent that is used in direct arylation is carboxylic acids. Carboxylic acids have been shown to increase the yield of direct arylation. However, limited studies have focused on systematically varying the carboxylic acids to see what effect it would have on the yield of this type of reaction. In this research, seven different dicarboxylic acids, with pKa's varying from around 1 to 5, are studied and their effect on the yield of the direct arylation of pentafluorobenzene and 4-bromotoluene are analyzed.

Trisha Phillips
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Jensen
Switching Fluorescent Intensity of a Liquid Crystal Using Thermal Flow

Liquid crystals are often called the “fourth state of matter” because they have properties of both solids and liquids. One area that has not been explored is the use of thermal flow (the movement of molecules as temperature changes) to adjust the fluorescent intensity of a liquid crystal. This project attempts to synthesize a fluorescent liquid crystal, polypropyleneimine-(C10)4, and to switch its fluorescent intensity using thermal flow. A liquid crystal with switchable fluorescence could be used for chemical, technological, and biomedical applications. PPI-(C10)4 is synthesized in three steps beginning with an aza-Michael reaction, using ethylenediamine and acrylonitrile to synthesize ethylenediaminetetrapropionitrile (EDTPN). Next, a nitrile reduction changes the nitrile group on EDTPN to an amine, synthesizing PPI. Finally, PPI is reacted with benzoic acid to synthesize PPI-(C10)4. To characterize the intermediates and final products, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy are used. Thermal flow in PPI-(C10)4 can be observed using a polarizing optical microscope (POM). The PPI-(C10)4 is then heated and the molecules move because of thermal flow, which can be viewed through the POM. Fluorescent intensity is measured using a fluorometer to determine whether or not thermal flow can change the intensity of PPI-(C10)4’s fluorescence.

Department of Communication

Collin Brooks
Faculty Advisors: Dr. Penny Avery and Dr. David Weinandy
Group Membership Characteristics and Group Cohesion

The purpose of this study was to determine if there is a relationship between group member characteristics and group cohesion.The focus was on the context of task-oriented groups. An assessment of extant literature revealed that homogeneous groups are more likely to engage in groupthink. However, the literature on the potential impact of group diversification on groupthink and cohesion specifically within task-oriented groups was less developed and emphatic, so this research was designed to help fill the research gap by looking at this context of communication. The hypothesis was that, within task-oriented groups, participants would report more groupthink and cohesion when they perceived their group membership to be less diverse, with various categories of diversity considered. Data were gathered using on-line, anonymous surveys.

Martina Devetak and Hannah Kidder
Faculty Advisors: Dr. Penny Avery and Dr. Dave Weinandy
Conflict in Romantic Relationships

The purpose of this study was to determine whether there is a relationship between biological sex and the likelihood to adjust communication during conflict with heterosexual romantic partners based upon perception of their partners’ love languages (LL). The hypothesis predicted that women would be more likely than men to adjust their communication based on the perception of their partners’ love languages. Because scholarly literature is relatively lacking in this area, the study attempted to help fill the research gap by providing more insight into possible sex differences during relational conflicts. Research for this study was conducted through online, anonymous surveys.

Gates Domeier
Faculty Advisors: Dr. Penny Avery and Dr. Dave Weinandy
Self-disclosure and Perceived Social Support in the First-Year College Experience

This study examined the effect willingness to self-disclose may have on perceived social support during the first-year college experience. Considering the alarming and increasing rate of emotionally distressed college students, I am interested in the perceptions of social support during the first year of college. College aged students ages 18-24 were asked to complete a two-part survey; this included a measurement of willingness to self-disclose and perceptions of social supporting during the first-year of college. This online and anonymous survey was emailed to students, as well as posted on Instagram. Ultimately, the findings may be able to tell us whether or not there may be a relationship between willingness to disclose and perceived social support during the first year of college.

Kelly Grant
Faculty Advisors: Dr. Penny Avery and Dr. Dave Weinandy
The Relationship Between Generalized Need for Closure and Value on Relational Dialectics

People’s need for closure often effects how they respond to the world, and the relational dialectic of certainty-uncertainty effects how people communicate in romantic relationships. The purpose of this research was to determine a potential association between these two variables. Specifically, the hypothesis was that the higher people scored on desiring closure, the more they would value certainty in the certainty-uncertainty relational dialectic in romantic relationships. Participants completed an online survey where they evaluated their need for closure and their desire for certainty in their current romantic relationship or a previous romantic relationship. Results were statistically significant at a .01 level and supported the hypothesis, thereby adding to previous literature and filling in the research gap. Additionally, post-hoc analysis revealed that if participants were currently in a relationship (rather than describing a previous relationship), they were more likely to value certainty over uncertainty in their romantic relationship. By better understanding themselves and the equilibrium in romantic relationships, people can identify incompatibilities and similarities in romantic relationships and make a more educated decision on future actions for themselves or future advice for their friends.

Zachary Isaacs
Faculty Advisors: Dr. Dave Weinandy and Dr. Penny Avery
Oral Communication Apprehension and Video Game Play

Oral communication apprehension is a widely researched area with communication, however, little is known about its relationship with video game play. Oral communication apprehension is an anxiety syndrome associated with either real or anticipated communication with someone or a group of people (McCroskey, 1977). The hypothesis was that those that play more video games online in which they must communicate with others would have lower oral communication apprehension. Conversely, those who play more individual games where there is no communication with others would have higher oral communication apprehension. Data analysis has not yet been conducted so no conclusions have been made. Data analysis will be conducted over the coming weeks.

Madeleine Lince
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ian Borton
Restorative Practitioners Interview Project

This project sought to conduct and analyze interviews with practitioners of restorative justice, nationwide. Restorative justice (RJ) is the theory and practice of interested stakeholders coming together in the wake of an offense to discuss the the implications and responsibilities generated from that misbehavior. Eleven interviews were conducted this summer, transcribed, and entered into data-analysis software for coding. Some implications are presented in our report. However, since data continues to be gathered, all such analyses are appropriately tentative.

Department of Education

Sarah Stayman
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Stefani Boutelier
Stopping "Traffic" from the Inside Out: A Teacher Approach

This project aims to start critical conversations underlying the perpetuation of trafficking and exploitation of our youth while curating curriculum to support secondary educators. Many want their truth to include the denial of exploitation in our culture, however, time and again we see this crossing socio-borders in our country. Through a critical and social justice lens this study moves beyond educating first responders and involves educators who are the grass-roots of sustaining security and identifying those at risk. This research helps organize the needs of students and teachers to help gear dialogue towards: no more demand, risk factors, understanding the role of technology in modern trafficking, victim blaming, roles of “Johns” and pimps, trauma, and curriculum then bringing it all into context.

Department of English

Alyssa Noch
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Michelle DeRose
Where the Shoes Lead

The imagery of shoes used in Black and Green (African and Irish) literature are compared and contrasted to one another along with the help of pop cultural references and historical fact in my project. From this imagery, I have created two images with shoes as part of the focus, mixing in the history of both African and Irish cultures with my own American twist. My artist statements on these pieces go in depth as to why I chose to portray the subjects of my pieces as I did, utilizing literature, music, religion, history, and culture to explain my creations.

Department of Geography & Environmental Studies

Trista Boyd
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jim Rasmussen
Effects of Weather on Predictability of Snowfall Density

Forecasting the amount of water in snow is difficult to determine due to limited knowledge about the effects weather have on it. This research observed the snow water equivalent of snowfall and its correlation to a number of different factors. Those factors included temperature, dew point, wind direction, speed, and relative humidity. The collection of samples took place between January 15th-March 8th in Grand Rapids. Data from the NWS (National Weather Service) was obtained in order to record daily weather data that was tested against the snow water equivalent (density). After statistical analysis was complete each factor was tested against snow density and resulted in varying levels of significance. By determining which weather factor has the highest level of significance more accurate predictions can be made resulting in more precise snow removal operations, snowmelt runoff forecasting, and snowdrift forecasting.

Clover Brown
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Richard McCluskey
Play Accessibility in Grand Rapids

Play is an important part of childhood development, and all children deserve the opportunity to have access to free play experiences. This study looks at socioeconomic factors as well as walking distances to Grand Rapids city parks to try to see areas in the city of Grand Rapids where children do not have access to parks. It also compares different socioeconomic factors and park locations to see if there is any difference between those populations that have access to city parks and those that do not. I hope that this research can be utilized by the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum in order to know what areas of Grand Rapids they should be outreaching to so that all children can have access to free play spaces.

Eric Cichon
Faculty Advisors: Dr. Rich McCluskey, Dr. Jim Rasmussen
Look Both Ways Before Being Hit: An Analysis of Eastown Area Commuters and Their Ability to Stop at Intersections

Last year Grand Rapids adopted the Vision Zero policy that “aims to reduce traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries by promoting safe driving behaviors and addressing pedestrians’ vulnerability when crossing city streets.” This changed the driving laws to state, “The operator of a vehicle shall stop for a pedestrian within any marked, or unmarked, crosswalk at an intersection.” The purpose of the study conducted was to determine whether or not vehicles in the Eastown area were coming to a complete stop prior to the marked crosswalks. The hypotheses of the study looked into whether there was significance between: 1) stop signs versus stop lights, 2) obstructed versus non-obstructed intersections, 3) on campus stop signs versus off campus stop signs, 4) and comparing where the vehicle came to a stop (prior to the crosswalk, in or past the crosswalk, or not at all). The use of contingency tables and the Chi-square statistic were implemented to test for significance. The study proved to be statistically significant in all hypotheses and showed that intersections are more dangerous than we might have believed.

Jared Edgerton
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jim Rasmussen
The Effects of Lake Ice on Beaches and Dunes

The overall purpose of this study was to determine how much the lake ice affected the beach and the dunes. This study answers the question “During the winter, how much erosion is caused by “ice push” on the beaches of Van Buren State Park?” as well as “How far the ice creeped onto the beach and if it reached the dunes near the benchmarks.” The last question being answered was “Is there dune erosion being caused by any ice on the beach?” The basic design of the study was to go out every couple of days and take measurements of the ice to determine how much it had moved in distance to the benchmark. Some of the major findings from the study is that the ice doesn’t move as much as first thought. It only moves a few meters here and there and only with major cool downs and warm ups. In terms of findings with dune erosion, It is very apparent that foliage on the dune had direct impact on the level of erosion occurring. Overall, this study will cover each part of the beach with a total analysis of the effect ice has on the beach.

April Shirey
Faculty Advisors: Dr. James Rassmussen, Dr. Richard McCluskey, and Dr. Mary Clinthorne
Soil and Carbon Sequestration

What types of farming practices are better for soils in Michigan? Agriculture across the United States is important, and one of our goals should be how to create and manage healthy techniques that support the land and provide enough food for our growing population. This project specifically looked at the carbon sequestered within the soil. This led to asking, are farms within Michigan that practice sustainable agriculture techniques holding more carbon in their soil than those that practice conventional agriculture techniques? Twenty soil samples were taken, ten from sustainable farms and ten from conventional farms. Locations were in Sparta, Caledonia, and Hickory Corners. Multiple types of plots were assessed from different locations in these areas. Both a bulk density test and a loss on ignition test were run followed by statistical analysis. The bulk density tests showed that there is a difference between the density of conventional and sustainable farming. The loss on ignition tests were able to show there is also a difference in the carbon being held within soils on farms that practice different techniques. In the end, mixed results were found to support the initial hypotheses of soil organic carbon being higher on sustainable farming plots.

Ricky Stiles
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Rich McCluskey
Aquinas’ Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

This project was conducted to investigate the compost, recycling, and trash rates of Aquinas College over the las three years. I analyzed the rates and how they changed using a paired T-Test, Anova test, and a Two Proportions T-Test. In addition, key members of the staff were interviewed and asked to interpret the results of these tests and propose possible changes as a result of the findings. It was determined that Aquinas’ compost, recycling and trash rates over the past three years. However, when statistically analyzed they were determined to not be statistically significant.

Dana Van Huis
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Rich McCluskey
Out of the Closet and into the Schools: An analysis of stated LGBTQIA+ policies in Religious-affiliated Colleges and Universities in the United States

Historically, religious colleges and universities have not been accepting toward LGBTQIA+ students. This may be through an exclusion of LGBTQIA+ students through policy, or simply through the refusal to support certain students through the inclusion of their histories in curriculum, through the refusal to support their stories in college-approved events and organizations, or through their refusal to allow them to live in housing that may accurately represent who they are. This can result in an alienation that is mentally and physically draining. In this study, 228 religious colleges and universities within the United States were surveyed and ranked according to their policies surrounding whether or not LGBTQIA+ students could be out on campus, their inclusive housing policies, the availability of alliance groups, if the institution had Queer/Sexuality Theory classes and a degree available for students to complete, if there is a women’s studies’ center available on campus, and if that women’s studies center is inclusive toward LGBTQIA+ students. The results of this survey were then statistically analyzed in order to determine if the average results changed according to region, denomination, or on if the institution was in an urban or rural area.

Dana Van Huis
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jim Rasmussen
Polluted Park Systems: Ground-Level Ozone in State and City Parks

Air pollution is a rarely discussed but very prevalent issue in many of the United State’s National Parks, particularly in the form of ground-level ozone. This can be attributed to the high level of car-driving visitors within the parks, urban pollution which has made its way into the parks, and pollution from natural resource extraction occurring near the parks. However, there has not been any research done on if ground level ozone is an issue within smaller natural areas as well. Within this study, an urban natural area (Manhattan Park) and a rural natural area (Charles Mears Park) were selected and ground level ozone samples from both were taken over a period of eight weeks in order to determine 1) whether or not either park contained dangerous levels of ground level-ozone and 2) whether more ground level ozone would be found in the urban area or in the rural area. The results from these samples were then compared to each other through a Mann-Whitney U test. Temperature and weather information was also collected at both sites, and correlation tests were conducted in order to determine if particular weather conditions could also be the reason for higher ground level ozone levels.

Jared Weimer
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jim Rasmussen
Food Waste Analysis of Aquinas College’s Wege Cafeteria

The study was done over eight dinner services at the Aquinas College Wege cafeteria during the months of February and March in 2019. The point of the project was to quantify the amount and percentage of food waste produced by students and staff in the cafeteria in order to better understand where the areas of concern for food waste might be and what can be improved upon. The total average percent of food wasted over this period was 29.03%. The total national average of food wasted in the United States for the consumer and retail sector in 2018, according to the USDA, is approximately 31%. Approximately 35% of the total food waste was from the students and 65% of the total food wasted was from the kitchen. An average of 31.48% of all the grains recorded, an average of 23.14% of all the fruits recorded, an average of 29.41% of all the vegetables recorded, and an average of 32.85% of all the meats recorded were wasted via compost.

Department of History

Morgan Abate
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Bethany Kilcrease
The Transformation of U.S. Environmental History

Environmental history has been one of the fastest growing sub-fields of history. Historians in this field examine how humans have interacted with and adapted to their environments over time. Environmental history incorporates methodologies from physical sciences, such as geography and geology. This study focuses on the works of two pioneers in the field, Donald Worster and William Cronon, and their important contributions to environmental history. The works of Worster and Cronon show that since the field emerged in the 1970s, environmental history has transformed to include different perspectives on nature. Recent works include the viewpoints of different nations, ethnic groups, and people of different socio-economic status. Scholars continue to incorporate environmental history into historical narratives of nations and the world.

Emily Jeynes
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Bethany Kilcrease
Cholera During Great Britain's First Industrial Revolution

One of the most debilitating disease epidemics of the nineteenth century, cholera, crippled the nation of Great Britain during their first Industrial Revolution. The disease’s impact on the country was one of vital importance, as it contributed to advances in medicine, resulted in public outcries for public health reforms, and paved the way for environmental reforms. The living conditions, fostered by the Industrial Revolution, made the population susceptible to a massive disease outbreak. This outbreak caused not only social panic and civil unrest among those living in the disease-ridden communities, but also among middle class medical professionals. The unrest was promulgated by a growing distrust of the medical community; a rumor that bodies were being sold to medical colleges for the purpose of dissection and study. As a result, ill persons refused to be treated by medical professionals. The lasting impacts of this outbreak carried Great Britain into the twentieth century. Public health reforms regulated sanitary drinking water and improved the living conditions of those living in poverty. The medical community rose from scrutiny to making significant advances in medicine that would carry Great Britain through the following epidemic of influenza.

Department of Mathematics

Nick Grabill, Kelsey Hall and Emma Schmidt
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Michael McDaniel
Wallace-Simson and Monsky Theorems in non-Euclidean Geometries

We will prove a Wallace-Simson-type theorem in elliptic geometry and give some counter-examples to Monsky’s theorem in hyperbolic geometry.

Aimee Judd
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joseph Fox
Combinatorics of Citation Networks

Citation networks are large collections of objects, some of which refer to others. For example, one might consider a collection of Supreme Court decisions, some of which cite others as precedents. In this project, we will investigate the combinatorics of citation networks. Specifically, we will develop methods to count all possible orderings of the objects in a citation network that preserve the citation structure.

Department of Philosophy

Annie Newton
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Daniel Wagner
Nature, Philosophy, and Latin in St. Thomas Aquinas’ De principiis naturae

The primary goal of this project was twofold. First, the student acquired basic understanding and habits of Latin forms, grammar, syntax, and vocabulary necessary for producing philosophical translations of the work of St. Thomas Aquinas. Second, the student and faculty mentor collaborated to produce a philosophical translation of the opening chapter of St. Thomas Aquinas’ De principiis naturae, which contributed to the living tradition of treating the thought of the Angelic Doctor.

Department of Physics

Kenny Nguyen
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Xin Du
Dynamics of Polydispersed Emulsion Systems in a T-Shaped Chamber

Emulsions consist of droplets of one liquid mixed into another immiscible liquid. Our samples are oil-in-water emulsion droplets flowing through a T-shape chamber. By means of microscopy, we studied the influence of the polydispersity on the dynamics of emulsion droplets, analyzed the deformation profile of the droplets and compared the emulsions flow with stratified liquid flow. Our experimental results indicate that (1) monodispersed sample exhibited more jammed behavior than the polydispersed samples; (2) particles near the boundary move differently from those in the middle at the T-junction; (3) The flow of emulsion system exhibit more turbulence comparing with stratified flow; (4) smaller droplets moved faster and are less affected by cooperative motion of neighbor droplets.

Department of Psychology

Autumn Ackerson and Melissa Jakupovic
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joyce Oates and Dr. Daniel Cruikshanks
The Perception of Quality of Life and Experience of Home in Older Adults

The factors involved in older adult’s perception of quality of life (QoL) and experience of home (EoH) have long been a topic of research for the psychological community. Although research has been conducted on EoH and QoL in older adults, this has only been examined in single care settings (assisted living, independent living, hospice, etc). The present study aimed to examine EoH and QoL as a function of care setting, social connectivity and other participant variables of interest. We recruited older adults from two different care settings (assisted living and independent living) and collected data on EoH, QoL, and participant demographics. Previous research predicted that there would be a significant difference in QoL and EoH between the two care settings based on different aspects of social connectivity and environmental management (Bonk, 2016, de Araujo et al., 2016, Murphy & Kazer, 2015). Accordingly, we found significantly higher scores in QoL and EoH perception in independent living compared to assisted living. Further, multiple regression analysis revealed independent setting predicted higher QoL scores, and independent setting and higher education level predicted greater EoH perception. Social connectivity variables did not have an effect on either QoL or EoH scores.

Kassidy Boldt, McKenzie Breimayer, Demetris Hernandez, Brittany Klemish and Ivan Plews,
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joyce Oates
The Effects of Social Media and Gender on Anxiety and Depression

Previous research has suggested that social media use between the age range of 18-25 is positively correlated with anxiety and depression (Lin, Sidani, Shensa, Radovic, Miller, Colditz, & Primack, 2016; Vannucci, Flannery, & Ohannessian, 2017). Further, when looking at the binary gender system, males report more anxiety and depression associated with social media use. (Ahmad, Hussain, & Munir, 2018; Baloglu, Kozan, & Kesici, 2018). The current study examined the effects of social media and gender on anxiety and depression in the emerging adulthood age group. Participants were recruited from Facebook and answered an online questionnaire that included questions about about their social media use, and feelings of anxiety and depression. Based on the previous literature, we hypothesized that anxiety and depression and social media use would be more strongly correlated for males but results did not support that hypothesis. Linear regression analyses showed that the only significant predictor of anxiety and depression was how often participants procrastinate on homework or other responsibilities due to social media.

Shelby Dewey, Megan Lipka and Stephanie Zimmerman
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joyce Oates
Women and the Influencing Factors Towards Their Sexual Openness, Positivity, and Self-Esteem

Research examining women’s sexual positivity, openness, and self-esteem has only advanced within the last ten to fifteen years. There is still much work to be done within this area of research. Previous research within this area of study found that women who report being more religious have lower sexual openness, sexual positivity and lower self-esteem (Abbott, Harris, and Mollen, 2016). Women from families who are more open to communicate about sex tend to have higher self-esteem and sexual positivity (Generous, 2016). The current study examined the influence of religious affiliation, political standing, and sexual orientation on women’s sexual positivity, openness, and self-esteem. Participants were recruited through Facebook and the Research website of the Psychology Department of Aquinas College and completed a survey. The survey consisted of questions that were taken from MoSIEC, MSSCQ, the Rosenburg Scale - some questions were slightly altered by the researchers. Although the results did not support the original hypothesis, we found significant correlations between several variables. There was a positive correlation between the MoSIEC (sexual identity, exploration, and commitment) and the MSSCQ (sexual self-concept); a positive correlation between Rosenburg (self-esteem) and MSSCQ; and a negative correlation between the Rosenburg and age.

Kelly Grant, Ayaka Matsuda and Melissa Zeffero
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joyce Oates
The Relationship Between Need to Belong and Ability to Detect Fake Smiles

Need to Belong is a fundamental human motivation to be accepted as a part of social groups (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). Previous research has shown that people are better at detecting emotions if they are in socially positive conditions (Bossi et al., 2018; Cheung et al., 2015; Reysen, 2006; Schneider et al., 2013). The current research examined a potential relationship between a person’s Need to Belong and ability to detect fake smiles. Based on previous research, we predicted a positive correlation between Need to Belong scores and accuracy of detecting fake smiles. Participants completed an online survey on a series of questions from the Need to Belong assessment (Leary, 2013), and saw 20 facial images to determine if they were genuine or fake smiles. The results did not offer support for the hypothesis and were in the opposite direction; there was a negative correlation between Need to Belong and the ability to detect fake smiles, thereby providing evidence against previous research. Additional analysis revealed a significant difference between males and females in the Need to Belong score, with female participants scoring higher than male counterparts, which did not fully correspond with previous literature (Neel et al., 2016).

Eunice Eyamba , Marlin Raymond and Zachary Snyder
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joyce Oates
Perceived Stress in College Athletes, Those who Exercise, and Sedentary Individuals

Little research has been conducted examining intermediate levels of exercise versus the rigors of athlete training. Research comparing athletes versus those exercising sparingly has shown conflicting results (Kimball & Freysinger, 2003, Storch et al., 2005, Chiu et al., 2016, Yusko et al., 2008). We explored social support, perceived stress, and overall life satisfaction in regards to level of athletic participation. Two hundred and fifteen college-aged participants, ages 18-25, took a forty question Likert scale survey with various questions evaluating their overall perceived stress, social support, life satisfaction, and physical activity commitment. We hypothesized that the participants involved in collegiate athletics would report lower levels of stress compared to those who are not on an athletic team but still exercise and those who are sedentary. A two-way MANOVA showed a main effect of athletic involvement (but not gender), specifically, collegiate athletes scored higher on social support than sedentary individuals but not those who just exercise. Additionally, collegiate athletes scored higher on overall life satisfaction than both sedentary individuals and those who just exercise. There were no statistically significant differences regarding perceived stress.

Alyssa Peck, Sarah Richards and Emma Urbannski
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joyce Oates
An Investigation into the Life Views and Perceived Stress Levels of Emerging Adults

The developmental period that occurs between the ages of 18 and 25 has been referred to as ‘emerging adulthood’ and these years represent a time of transition marked by a myriad of changes (Arnett, 2000). Previously, it has been reported that there was a significant difference in the subscale of “Self-Focused” in the Inventory of Emerging Adulthood (IDEA) subscale scores; females scored higher than males (Reifman, Arnett and Colwell, 2007). However, it is not known how predictive IDEA subscales might be of perceived life stress in emerging adults in general. Therefore, we explored which IDEA subscales scores might be predictors of perceived life stress and also analyzed scores as a function of gender. Unlike Reifman et al., the results showed a difference in gender for the “Feeling In-Between” subscale; females scored higher than males. A multivariate regression model revealed that the “Negativity/Instability” and “Self-Focused” subscales were significant predictors of perceived stress in emerging adults. Regardless of gender, the model predicted that emerging adults who score higher on “Negativity/Instability” and lower on “Self-Focused” subscales are more likely to have greater perceived life stress.

Fiona Theodoroff, Abigail Tolrud and Lauren Washburn
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joyce M. Oates
Time Spent on Collegiate Extracurricular Actives as a Function of Gender

Previous studies have observed collegiate academic success and extracurricular activities; specifically, their relationship with one another. Baker (2008) discovered that the category of “student organizations” affected academic performance (depending on the organizations type, student race and gender) and Brint & Cantwell (2010) discovered that the category of “service” improved academic success. The current study expands on this literature by adding other types of extracurriculars and exavulating the time spent on specific activities. Furthermore, we examined the amount of time spent on extracurriculars as a function of gender (male, female). Participants were full-time, undergraduate college students in North America, ages 18 to 25, recruited through Facebook and email, who completed an online survey. Participants answered questions about collegiate academic success, extracurricular activities, and demographics (ethnicity and gender). Results showed that there were no correlations between academic success and collegiate extracurriculars. A one-way MANOVA indicated that males spent more hours per week on “collegiate sports” and “internships not for class credit” than females. No other additional differences in collegiate extracurriculars emerged. Keywords: extracurricular activities, gender, emerging adulthood, undergraduate college student.

Department of Sociology

Francesca Prina
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Susan Haworth-Hoeppner
Paths to Permanency: Experiences of Immigration in the United States

Due to recent changes in policy and the constant flux of individuals coming into the United States, immigration is a relevant issue now more than ever. Yet, although undocumented immigration has been explored in length, the process of legal immigration is still understudied. Given the lack in literature, this research aims to explore the experience of non-citizens during the process of gaining the status of permanent residence and naturalization in the United States.

Nicole Roberts
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Susan Haworth-Hoeppner
Living the DREAM?: A Sociological Analysis of the Experiences of DACA Recipients

This research focuses on the lives of DREAMers (DACA recipients) -- their individual experiences, their feelings about the DACA program, and their concerns for the program's future. DACA, which stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is an immigration policy which allows children who were brought to the United States before age 16 to work, obtain a driver's license, and go to school in the U.S. Recipients discussed their viewpoints on immigration reform, advocacy for the DREAM Act, the fear of deportation, biculturalism, and the meaning of citizenship through in-depth interviews. The goal of this research project is to gain a better understanding of who receives DACA benefits and why, to ensure that activism, resources, assistance programs, and policy changes are tailored to the exact needs of recipients. This valuable information sheds light on how immigrants in the United States are not considered equally as Americans, or even humans; are DREAMers really living the dream?

Department of Theology

Mai Do and Kayla Nguyen
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Robert Marko
Spirituality and Justice: The Life and Witness of Francis-Xavier Nguyễn Văn Thuận

This research project examined the life and writing of Nguyễn Văn Thuận. A subtext, implication or associated theme was the persecution and discrimination by the Communist government in Vietnam. We thus asked three questions. First, how can one maintain fidelity to the gospel in a culture that is hostile to religion? Secondly, focusing on his writings that speak of his experience of 13 years of imprisonment, how did Nguyễn Văn Thuận's spirituality contribute to not embittering him to hate his persecutors? Third, somewhat tangentially does Catholic social teaching provide an alternative vision for Vietnam to classical liberalism with its radical individualism and atheistic Communism? The last question is significant as Nguyễn Văn Thuận has been used as a “poster child” of Cold War anti-communism and consequentially support of free markets given his publishing of The Social Agenda which preceded the more authoritative Compendium of the Social Document of the Church.

Department of World Languages

Lilia Thomas
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Katharina Häusler-Gross
It’s A Multicultural World: Cross-Cultural Business Observation Between Germany and the USA

By analyzing the different communication and behavioral styles that Germans and Americans use in professional environments, I seek to demonstrate that the knowledge and correct application of both these functions are essential for creating successful business relationships between people of both countries. Designed as an interdisciplinary project that connects three academic disciplines - German Studies, International Business, and Communication Studies - this research explored scholarly publications focused on intercultural business relationships, selected case studies, and personal experiences gathered during an experiential learning semester to seek answers to the following question: What specific skills do individuals need to develop in order to demonstrate their effective intercultural competence in an international work or business environment? Acquiring Intercultural Competence (IC) is a life long learning process that students develop through their education and exposure to other cultures. Because of the rapid expansion and internationalization of many businesses and companies, it is crucial for students to develop the skills and knowledge that will allow them to be successful in a global economy.