Undergraduate Student Research  

Student Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Symposium

A campus-wide colloquium of significant contributions to academia.
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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.
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Symposium Event Schedule: April 29, 2015
Time Event Location
4:30 to 6 p.m. Poster Session Wege Center Ballroom
Symposium Submissions: Academic Year 2014-2015
Department of Biology Department of Chemistry Department of Communication
Environmental Science Program Environmental Studies Program Department of Geography
German Studies Program Department of History Department of Mathematics
Department of Psychology Spanish Program Sustainable Business Program
Department of Political Science    

Department of Biology

Department of Chemistry


Nick Pierce

Mutagenesis of a TfdA-like B. pertussis Enzyme

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Timothy Henshaw

α-Ketoglutarate- (αKG) dependent dioxygenases are mononuclear non-heme Fe(II) enzymes that couple the oxidative decarboxylation of αKG to substrate oxidation. TdfA is an Fe(II)- and αKG-dependent dioxygenase that initiates the biodegradation of the widely used herbicide 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D). A TfdA-like sequence has been identified in Bordetella pertussis, however this organism is not known to metabolize 2,4-D, and the purified protein has no identifiable TfdA activity. It is hypothesized that this B. pertussis gene shares a recent common ancestor with TfdA.

Department of Communication


Kathryn Borst

Effects of Leadership Style on Perceived Cohesion of Members in Voluntary Student Run Groups

Faculty Advisor: Penny Avery/David Weinandy

The purpose of this research is to determine if there is a correlation between leadership style –transformational or transactional – and perceived cohesion of members in voluntary, student-run organizations at colleges. The Leadership and Cohesion Hypothesis predicts that organizations with transformational leaders have more highly cohesive members than organizations with transactional leaders. This hypothesis is based on research suggesting that transformational leadership is more conducive to organizational success and member morale than transactional. Since a review of literature provided limited information about leadership style and member cohesion in regards to voluntary groups, and limited research on the topic studied on a college campus, the proposed project is significant. The study will attempt to help fill the research gap by hopefully providing more insight into how student organizations are affected by leadership style. This research has potential to help students in leadership positions better understand their leadership style and improve their membership.


Victoria Fanning

Influences of Horror Movie Promotion Type on Professional Film Critics’ Reviews

Faculty Advisor: Penny Avery and David Weinandy

This study uses archival research to investigate the potential differences between movie reviews from professional film critics for motion picture horror films that are either promoted as being based on true stories or are not promoted as being based on true stories but have that look and feel (also called the “Found Footage” subgenre). I hypothesize that horror films that are promoted as being based on true stories may receive more negative reviews than horror films from the found footage subgenre. Motion picture distributors often rely on positive reviews from professional film critics as part of their marketing campaigns. With this information, distributors could improve their marketing strategies by promoting films in a way that would have the potential for more favorable reviews—in this case, by either continuing to promote factual stories as real or by choosing not to include this information in their marketing efforts.

Environmental Science Program

Environmental Studies Program

Department of Geography

German Studies Program

Department of History

Department of Mathematics


Krystin Dreyer

Mathematics of Citation Networks

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joseph Fox

The purpose of this research project is to study the mathematical properties of citation networks and apply these findings to other real life networks. This is done by adapting methods from graph theory and linear algebra to study these properties of citations networks, such as a ranking of the citation network, topological features of it, and finding acyclic orderings. By studying one specific citation network, the hope is to apply the knowledge and behavior of one network to citation networks in general.


Department of Psychology

Spanish Program


Azra Fazil

The Influence of English on the Spanish of Heritage Speakers in West Michigan

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Carmen Ruiz-Sánchez

Spanish in the United States is considered a language variety of its own, with characteristics resulting from contact with English. This investigation examines the speech of Spanish heritage speakers from West Michigan and provides evidence of how English is influencing their native Spanish language. The motivation for this hands-on project is to study these characteristics and more specifically analyze the use of yo (“I”) as a discourse marker (Ruiz-Sánchez, 2013). Project data comes from interviews with Spanish Heritage speakers in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The results of this study complement previous research and provide additional, real-life examples to future Spanish students and scholars of how close contact between two languages within the same region initiates and even accelerates changes in speech over time.

Sustainable Business


Jamie Sansone

An Investigation of the Honeybee and Sustainable Livelihoods

Faculty Advisor: Krista Badiane

The outcome of our research will be to answer the following questions: How do the beekeeping business approaches vary in diverse geographical locations and environments? How is beekeeping providing environmental, social, and economic value to communities? What are the factors that make for a successful business in beekeeping? This research will contribute valuable information to help move Aquinas’s sustainability and economicology efforts forward, specifically with Aquinas’ Keeping Bees Club and on campus start up beekeeping business.

Department of Political Science


Brandon Heritier

Human Rights and the Responsibility to Protect: An Analysis of Israeli-Palestinian Relations

Current Israeli-Palestinian relations remain tense. At least 70 years of formal attempts at creating more peaceful dynamics has resulted in some positive changes. Despite this, violence remains a threat in the Gaza Strip and surrounding areas, tensions continue in the West Bank, Israel continues to hold a significant preponderance of power – and exercises it from time to time as Palestinian groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah continue to engage in guerilla type warfare. Most crucially, Palestinians remain a “nation without a state” and lack the international legal recognition of sovereignty. This continued violence includes potential Crimes against Humanity and violations of international norms and laws. Through an application of “Responsibility to Protect” and international laws, the questions addressed in this research include whether or not there is any evidence of Crimes against Humanity or Human Rights violations in historical or current Israeli-Palestinian relations; and if so, whether or not the international community has the responsibility to protect those involved in the conflict.


Past Symposium Submissions
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