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Undergraduate, master's students to present research at Capitol

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

LAWRENCE — Twenty-one University of Kansas and KU Medical Center undergraduate students and five master’s students will join their peers from other Kansas Board of Regents public universities in Topeka to present their research to legislators and the general public.  The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12, in the rotunda of the Capitol building. 

This will be the second annual Kansas Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol. The event was started last year in an effort to highlight the unique opportunities undergraduate students have to participate in research with faculty members at Regent universities.

The undergraduate student presenters will be joined this year by master’s students in the first concurrent Master’s Research Day at the Capitol. Three students from the Lawrence campus and two from the Medical Center will present their research alongside master’s students from other Kansas universities.

Presenters are listed below by level in school, major, hometown, high school, title and brief description of the project, and faculty mentor.


  • Jason Bates, senior majoring in chemical engineering; Overland Park; Shawnee Mission East High School; “Novel Solid Acid Catalysts for Biorenewable Chemical Production,” a project to develop effective catalysts from renewable plant-based biomass instead of petrochemicals; research mentor: Bala Subramaniam, chemical & petroleum engineering.
  • Emma Donachie, senior majoring in environmental studies; Dallas; Ursuline Academy of Dallas; “DNA Extraction of Native Bumble Bees to identify Nosema Bombi,” a project to extract DNA from bumble bees in order to test for Nosema Bombi, a parasite that impacts bumble bee populations; research mentor: Deborah Smith, ecology & evolutionary biology.
  • Erin Dvorak, senior majoring in photo media; Spencer, Iowa; Spencer High School; “A Photographic Survey of Electricity Generation in Eastern Kansas,” a project to photograph power plants in Kansas with the purpose of visually communicating current energy methods while promoting the importance of resource and environmental awareness; research mentor: Bryon Darby, design.
  • Alyssa Ong, senior majoring in finance and accounting; Penang, Malaysia; St. George's Girls' School; “Alternative Breaks: Their Impacts on Students' Attitudes, Perceptions, and Behaviors,” a study of the impact of KU’s Alternative Break program on college students compared to other break experiences; research mentor: Catherine Schwoerer, business.
  • Kayla Overbey, senior majoring in English and journalism; Hays; Hays High School; “Building An American ‘Little House’: A Cultural Comparison of 19th and 20th Century American and British Children’s Literature,” a comparative exploration of children's literature from America and Britain's "golden ages," with attention specifically paid to the cultural and societal impact of each respective publication's time period on the texts and what values are then passed onto children; research mentor: Mary Klayder, English.
  • Alexandria Roy, junior majoring in neurobiology; Shawnee; Mill Valley High School; “Identification of miR-137 Targets in Colon Cancer,” a study of the regulatory roles of miR-137 and KLF4 in colon cancer clonogenic growth; research mentor: Liang Xu, molecular biosciences.
  • Natalie Sabillon, senior majoring in illustration; Lawrence; Free State High School; “Jip the Zebra Children’s Book Creation,” a project to produce a children’s book along with a second-grade class at Hillcrest Elementary School; research mentor: Barry Fitzgerald, design.
  • Merritt Schenk, senior majoring in applied behavioral science; Hutchinson; Buhler High School; “Behavior Analytic Tests of Artificial Intelligence in Simulated Sports: An Application of the Generalized Matching Law,” a study that will employ video game performance under varying avatar attribute manipulations to answer fundamental questions regarding theories of choice and reinforcement; research mentor: Derek Reed, applied behavioral science.
  • Sean Weston, senior majoring in American studies; Manhattan; Manhattan High School; “Protestants and Poverty: Religious Responses to Unionization and Strikes in Crawford County, Kansas, 1893-1900,” an analysis of the discourse among Protestant communities in Crawford County in response to the unionization and strikes of coal miners between 1893 and 1900; research mentor: Cheryl Lester, American studies.
  • Bailey Wilkerson, junior majoring in microbiology; Andover; Andover Central High School; “miRNA Targeting of Msi1 to Suppress Breast Cancer Cell Proliferation,” a study aimed at identifying effective miRNA targets of Msi1 mRNA and utilizing them to down-regulate Msi1 protein production, which will ideally inhibit breast cancer cell proliferation; research mentor: Liang Xu, molecular biosciences.


  • Laurissa Beckman , senior from Louisburg, and Elizabeth Powell, senior from Topeka, School of Nursing; “Patients’ Perceptions of Factors that Influence Accessing and Establishing Primary Care Services,” a study seeking to identify the barriers and facilatators to accessing and sustaining primary care services by insured individuals. Mentors: Jill Peltzer and Elaine Frank-Ragan.
  • Avery Fischgrund, School of Nursing, senior from Leawood; “Nurse Leaders in Kansas: Roles and Goals,” a descriptive analysis of the leadership sub-section of the Kansas Leadership and Mentoring Survey. Mentor: Cynthia Teel.
  • Christopher Groutas, senior from Mission; School of Nursing; “Unassisted Falls and Their Association With Various Nursing Workforce Variables,” an exploration unit-level association between the percentage of unassisted falls and three nursing workforce variables: total RN staffing hours, total non-RN staffing hours and percentage of baccalaureate-prepared nurses. Mentor: Vincent Staggs.
  • Lynn Lee, of Lawrence, and Kody Henderson, of Topeka; seniors, School of Health Professions, Respiratory Care Education (RCE); “Effectiveness of the IPV-1C in Clearing Viscous Substances in a Small Airway Model,” a study of the effectiveness of IPV-IC frequencies used during IPV in mobilizing secretions in small airways. Mentor:  Bethene Gregg.
  • Sydney Piles, School of Nursing, senior from Topeka; “Sedentary Time in Midlife Women,” an assessment of sedentary time independently of light, moderate and vigorous physical activity levels in midlife women. Mentor: Kelly Bosak.
  • Kendra Sturgeon, senior from Plainville; School of Nursing; “America’s Health Insurance Plans’ Rhetoric Related to the Affordable Care Act,” a rhetorical critique of American’s Health Insurance Plans’ position on the ACA and how it is working to influence health care reform. Mentor: Debra Ford.
  • Courtney Swift, of Kansas City, Kan., and Kassy Kimbley, of Olathe; seniors, School of Health Professions, Respiratory Care Education (RCE); “Leak Compensation of the Servo-I in NIV Mode Compared to the Respironics V60: A Lung Model Study,” a study evaluating the more effective method in mobilizing secretions in small airways. Mentor: Bethene Gregg.
  • Cassi Welch, senior from Gardner; School of Nursing; “The Effects of Nurse Education and Certification on Hospital Acquired Infections,” an investigation of the effects of nurse education and certification levels on the incidence of hospital-acquired infections. Mentor: Emily Cramer.


  • Diana Restrepo-Osorio, master’s student in Latin American studies; Overland Park; “Defining Perceptions on Watershed Management in a Midwestern Watershed, U.S.A.,” a study of how to approach farmers, residents and state officials with the implementation of best management practices for reducing sources of pollution in watersheds that negatively impact public drinking water; research mentor: J. Christopher Brown, geography.
  • Michael Kearney, master’s student in communication studies; Springfield, Mo.; “Civic or Civic? An Analysis of Orientations toward Democratic Engagement,” offers empirical answers to the question of how to define civic engagement, a debate that is often between conceptions of neutral deliberation versus passionate agonism; research mentor: Mary Banwart, communication studies.
  • Macie Smith, master’s student in public administration; Hoyt; and Kyle Abbott, master’s student in public administration; Lebanon; “To Share or Not to Share? The Practices and Challenges of Collaborative Budgeting in Local Governments,” examines selected cities and counties processes that are utilized to creatively deal with the challenges of collaborative budgeting and fiscal stress since the 2008 financial crisis; research mentor: Alfred Ho, public administration.


  • Cara Busenhart, of Overland Park; School of Nursing; “The Opportunity to Act Like a Nurse: A Qualitative Analysis of Perceived Impact of Simulation on Professional Role Transition,” a look at new registered nurses’ perceptions of the impact of simulation on learning and skill development. Advisers: Kristin Stegenga and Wanda Bonnel.
  • Greta Stamper, of Waukon, Iowa; School of Health Professions; “Auditory Responses in Normal-Hearing, Noise-Exposed Ears,” which investigates a novel assessment approach to detect evidence of inner ear damage caused by exposure to loud noise before a permanent hearing loss develops. Adviser: Tiffany Johnson.

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