2014-15 REU-W Projects

The following are new research projects in the CEWIT REU-W program for the fall 2014 and spring 2015 terms

  • Project #2: Center for Research in Extreme Scale Technologies (CREST)

    CREST, Center for Research in Extreme Scale Technologies, is affiliated with SoIC, OVPI and PTI, and focuses on the research and development of advanced technologies for extreme-scale computing and future exascale systems. The student will be assigned tasks in accordance with her skill level. While working with experienced researchers on a larger scope project, she will be exposed to more advanced computing concepts and practices, thus gradually expanding her knowledge of computing. Additionally, this internship will give the student an opportunity to experience authentic practices of a research group of scientists.

    Faculty Mentor:
    Martina Barnas
    Martina Barnas, Research Assistant

    Student Researcher:
    Kelly McGuinn
    Kelly McGuinn, a sophomore studying Computer Science and Cognitive Science

  • Project #3: How competitive interactions affect the evolution and coexistence of species

    My lab focuses on how competitive interactions affect the evolution and coexistence of species. Specifically, we work on bacteria that are insect pathogens and mutualistic partners of nematodes. These bacteria produce anti-competitor toxins that can kill closely related bacterial strains. We are characterizing the degree to which these toxins are beneficial in a competitive context, and in what ways their production can be costly in other contexts. We are also examining sequence variation among natural isolates these bacteria examine variation in toxin loci vis-à-vis diversity in other parts of the genome.

    Faculty Mentor:
    Farrah Bahsey-Visser
    Dr. Farrah Bashey-Visser, Assistant Scientist, Biology

    Student Researcher:
    Shaina Lee
    Shaina Lee, a freshman studying Biology

  • Project #4: How changes in sensory areas of the brain affect motor areas in healthy people

    We have the ability to both sense our environment and make movements to interact with it. The sensory and motor regions of the brain interact with each other to make this possible. To better understand how this happens, and how it might go wrong in patients with impaired movement, we will study how changes in sensory areas of the brain affect motor areas in healthy people. You would help a PhD student collect data using non-invasive brain stimulation and a simple virtual reality apparatus. This is an opportunity to gain experience with sophisticated technologies used in human behavioral and neurophysiology research. There is also a potential for co-authorship of a manuscript based on this project.

    Faculty Mentor:
    Hannah Block
    Dr. Hanah Block, Assistant Professor, Kinesiology

    Student Researcher:
    Anna Lynch
    Anna Lynch, a sophomore studying Biology and Chemistry

  • Project #5: Partnering with a craft brewery to characterize wild yeast strains with beneficial brewing characteristics

    We're currently collaborating with a craft brewery in Indianapolis to isolate and characterize wild yeast strains with beneficial brewing characteristics. The project would involve molecular techniques to determine the yeast species, as well as assessing wild isolates for ethanol tolerance, maltose utilization, and fermentation capacity. Hands-on work in the actual brewery to validate seemingly "useful" strains in a real world production setting is also a possibility if the student is interested.

    Faculty Mentor:
    Matthew Bochman
    Dr. Matthew Bochman, Assistant Professor, Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry

    Student Researcher:
    Kara Osburn
    Kara Osburn, a freshman studying Chemistry

  • Project #6: Improving the GOAL Android Mobile App

    GOAL (Get on Board for Active Living) is a free, family-focused, community approach to decrease childhood obesity and promote healthy lifestyles for children and their families. The mission is to provide children and their family’s education and support related to healthy eating, physical activity, and behavior and community resources to make positive, life-long changes for an active lifestyle. GOAL’s mission is achieved through harnessing the expertise of dedicated and passionate community partners that provide vital multidisciplinary support and resources that further the effectiveness and impact of the program. All families are referred to GOAL by their pediatrician during a patient visit where the child’s BMI is at or above the 85th percentile for age and sex. GOAL is a 12 week evening program offered to cohorts of 15-20 families three times a year with additional opportunity to remain engaged for an unlimited length of time. Over the past four years, GOAL has been able to maintain an 80% retention rate. Of these participants, 60% had lower BMIs by the end of the program, 93% reported using food labels all or some of the time, 74.8% of parents reported a noted improvement in their child’s self-esteem, and 100% reported having fun as a family at GOAL. An Android Mobile Application has been developed by a team of researchers from the School of Informatics and Computing (Kay Connelly) and the School of Public Health-Bloomington (Lesa Huber and Catherine Sherwood-Laughlin). This app is in the initial phase and will be used by the children to record eating habits, physical activity, and set goals for healthy lifestyle behaviors. The Android Mobile Application has a user-centered design that enables participant data to sync to the study database. 

    Faculty Mentor:
    Kay Connelly
    Dr. Kay Connelly, Associate Professor of Computer Science

    Student Researcher:
    Tori Milhoan
    Tori Milihoan, a freshman studying Informatics and Business

  • Project #7: Retinal imaging in diabetes

    Retinal imaging in diabetes: The student will analyze retinal imaging data for patients who have diabetes, but lacked health insurance. Diabetes is well-known to cause damage to the retina, particularly in some of the minority ethnic groups in the US. Many of the patients in our studies already have damage to the blood vessels and neural tissues of their retinas. We are quantifying this damage in over 2000 patients, most of whom had not had treatment even if they needed it. One goal is to improve the characterization of the retinal damage, and another is to bring attention to the problem of lack of eye care for diabetics worldwide. Graduate students in the lab, both US and international, are working with these data for their PhD theses.

    Faculty Mentor:
    Ann Elsner
    Dr. Ann Elsner, Professor, Optometry

    Student Researcher:

    Praneetha Kolli
    Praneetha Kolli, a freshman studying Biology

  • Project #8: DNA patents and genetic ancestry testing

    DNA patents and genetic ancestry testing:  The first project conducts research on a famous 2013 U.S. Supreme Court case involving DNA patents and how lawyers with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project successfully argued against the patenting of breast cancer gene sequences. Research will involve learning about new legal technologies such as genetic patents, reading relevant articles, analyzing media accounts, examining You Tube videos, and listening in on interviews with lawyers and activists involved in the case. The second project studies how scientists used a DNA test to tell three hundred people in South Africa that they were all genetically related. White South Africans were told that they had genetic ancestry related to Black and Indigenous San and Khoi populations, and vice versa. In other words, DNA genetic ancestry testing was marketed as a way to help South Africans heal from apartheid and come together under a new Rainbow nation. 

    Faculty Mentor:
    Laura Foster
    Dr. Laura Foster, Assistant Professor, Gender Studies

    Student Researcher:
    Taegan Anthony
    Taegan Anthony, a sophomore studying Psychology and Gender Studies

  • Project #9: Online Security

    Security online is becoming more and more insecure. Thousands of attacks of malware are generated against key sites, including, for example, the university servers, daily. We are working to characterize the people who use computer systems and the attackers of computer systems. We are using a number of approaches, one of which is surveying a number of online populations. We have carried out some surveys already, and the data needs analyzing. 

    Faculty Mentors:
    Diane Henshel
    Dr. Diane Henshel, Associate Professor, SPEA

    L. Jean Camp
    Dr. L. Jean Camp, Professor, Informatics

    Student Researcher:
    Liberty Flora
    Liberty Flora, a sophomore studying Environmental Science

  • Project #10: Wearable wellness technology for children

    Health Sense is a system of plug-and-play wellness monitoring, consisting of wearable components for children that are easy to build and program. Innovations in health informatics include the design of a new health sensing system that integrates seamlessly into a person’s life by unobtrusively monitoring and presenting health information – akin to a sort of sixth health sense. The proposed research extends work in wearable computing and associated interaction paradigms for children. This research comes at a critical time as childhood obesity rates continue to rise and put future generations at-risk for life threatening chronic conditions. Thus, providing children the ability to reflect on their health by crafting their own personalized monitoring system empowers them to consider preventative health measures (take the stairs to make a brooch light up) instead of specific treatments (walk for 30 minutes). The specific objectives of this research are:

    1.            Design plug-and-play wellness monitoring Health Sense components. Design and develop modular components that are easy to interconnect and communicate health data intuitively to the user.

    2.            Design a graphical programming environment to control the actions of the Health Sense systems. Extend current graphical programming environments to make Health Sense easy to program for children.

    3.            Understand how children use Health Sense systems. In a lab and field setting, we will explore how people build, program, and use Health Sense systems to monitor and reflect on their health.

    During the course of this research, we realized that students need a more scaffolded learning approach to electronics and computational thinking. To this end, we are designing electronics (paper circuits; Lilypad Arduino circuits), computational thinking (coding Lilypad Arduino), and design (laser cutting; 3D printing) activities to help students learn about these skills before participating in the research study.

    Faculty Mentor:
    Katie Siek
    Katie Siek, Associate Prof in Health Informatics

    Student Researcher:
    Megan Dixon
    Megan Dixon, a freshman studying Biology

  • Project #11: How funny are YouTube videos?

    In this project, we are working with comments for youtube videos. Based on these comments, we want to develop an automatic system to decide how funny a video is. The student would help with collecting videos and comments, with cleaning and annotating the data, and with developing the system.

    Faculty Mentor: 
    Sandra Kuebler
    Dr. Sandra Kuebler, Associate Professor, Computational Linguistics

    Student Researcher:
    Laura Zweig
    Laura Zweig, a sophomore studying Linguistics

  • Project #12: Communication patterns of nonverbal children who use technology to communicate

    This study examines the communication patterns of nonverbal children who use technology to communicate (e.g., iPad or other communication devices). The project focuses on 170 hours of video data from therapy sessions with children and their pediatric therapists. A particular approach to the study of language use (i.e., conversation analysis) is used, which focuses on the sequential organization of interactions. In this project, computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software will be used to transcribe, code, and map the interactions of the children and therapists, particularly as they relate to the use of technology.

    Faculty Mentor:
    Jessica Lester
    Dr. Jessica Lester, Assistant Professor, Counseling & Educational Psychology

    Student Researcher:
    Stella Huang
    Stella Huang, a sophomore studying Psychology

  • Project #13: Understanding the fundamental forces in physics

    My research focuses on understanding the fundamental forces in physics. In particular, we are trying to measure the lifetime of a free neutron to an unprecedented precision. This involves in trapping neutrons in a magnetic trap and using novel particle detection techniques. The research work ranges from building hardware to conducting computer simulations of the trapped neutron clouds.

    Faculty Mentor:
    Chen-Yu Liu
    Dr. Chen-Yu Liu, Associate Professor, Nuclear Physics

    Student Researcher:
    Jenna Stoffel
    Jenna Stoffel, a sophomore studying Neuroscience

  • Project #15:Therapeutic interventions within the spinal cord injury population

    With the restructuring of health care and insurance reimbursement, interventions facilitated within community-based rehabilitation are playing a more prominent role in continued patient care, especially within the spinal cord injury (SCI) population. The primary goal of this project is to collect data through an app on a phone that can track what individuals are doing during the day and at what locations. Using experimental sampling method, research participants will also be asked 4-5 brief questions on their phone identifying his or her daily participation. 

    Faculty Mentor:
    Jen Piatt
    Dr. Jen Piatt, Assistant Professor, Recreation, Parks and Tourism Studies

    Student Researcher:
    Rachel Sun
    Rachel Sun, a freshman studying Finance and Accounting

  • Project #16: How people attribute social characteristics to robots

    This project is affiliated with the R-House Lab, which brings together faculty, research staff, and students who study human-robot interaction (HRI): how people interact with robots, and how to better design robots so they can be used in everyday contexts, such as the home or office. We will study how people attribute social characteristics to robots. HRI researchers have found that people often treat robots similarly to how they treat people in human-human interaction (HHI). However, in many studies with these findings, researchers pre-identified the robots as belonging to existing human social categories (e.g., the robots were given a gender, name, or said to have a nationality) or provided other cues as to the robot’s sociality. People who interact with robots pick up on and react to those cues. It is less clear how sociality is attributed to robots that do not have preassigned or obvious human-like characteristics (such as robotic vacuum Roomba), although research shows that such robots are also treated as social actors in certain settings. In this project, we seek to discover what attributes of human-robot interaction (e.g., robot appearance, behavior, communication style, interaction setting) lead people to respond in more social ways, and how these characteristics should be incorporated into the design of robots for use in domestic and public spaces. 

    Faculty Mentor:
    Selma Sabanovic
    Dr. Selma Sabanovic, Assistant Professor, School of Informatics and Computing

    Student Researcher:
    Di Zhong
    Di Zhong, a sophomore studying Computer Science

  • Project #17: Analysis of Rwandan schoolchildren on their reading motivations and interests

    Video and audio analysis of 70+ short interviews with Rwandan schoolchildren on their reading motivations and interests. Statistical analysis of 23-item questionnaire administered to 200 students.

    Faculty Mentor:
    Beth Samuelson
    Dr. Beth Samuelson, Assistant Professor, Literacy, Culture and Language Education

    Student Researcher:
    Emily McLaughlin
    Emily McLaughlin, a freshman studying Secondary Education English and English

  • Project #18: How does mature visual processes become adaptations to the statistical regularities within visual experience?

    Considerable research has shown a close alignment between the statistics of natural scenes (from third-person-perspective photographs of the physical world) and the sensitivities of the mature visual system, a fact that suggests that mature visual processes are adaptations to the statistical regularities within visual experience. But how does this develop? Babies because of their size, their motor skills, their caretaking do not have access to all the kinds of scenes used to study natural statistics in adult vision. Instead, the visual scenes encountered by developing infants are more selective and are ordered in systematic ways across development –with sitting babies who can reach and hold objects, for example, seeing the world differently from babies who have yet to master those skills. The goal of the current project is to collect a large corpus of developmentally-indexed infant perspective scenes in from 1 month olds to 2 year olds. We do this by placing head cameras on infants as they go about their daily activities at home. So far, we have collected over 25 million scenes (frames) from 75 infants and are already seeing highly structured changes in visual environments, changes that include the number faces, range of objects, motion information, as well as other visual properties.

    Faculty Mentor:
    Linda Smith
    Dr. Linda Smith, Distinguished Professor and Chancellor's Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences

    Student Researcher:
    Ashley Mason
    Ashley Mason, a freshman studying Statistics

  • Project #19: The ethics of initial public offerings (IPOs)

    An initial public offering (IPO) is a transformational event for any corporation. After an IPO, a public company has access to more, and often deeper, sources of capital, and founders and pre-IPO stockholders become the new owners of highly liquid assets. On the downside, new shareholders’ expectations can create pressure on management to perform. IPOs have been a focus of qualitative and quantitative research since the 1960s. However, the majority of research emanates from the fields of finance and management, with very little coming from the field of ethics. I, along with another colleague in my department, are attempting to fill this gap. We use an empirical approach to look at the effect the IPO process has on a company’s business culture, and we answer the question: Does the IPO process make a company more or less ethical? We are answering this question by examining S-1 filings. A company wishing to go public and sell its shares in public markets prepares an S-1 filing for the Securities and Exchange Commission. Filing an S-1 requires companies to provide information on the planned use of capital proceeds, detail the current business model and competition, as well provide a brief prospectus of the planned security itself, offering price methodology, and any dilution that will occur to other listed securities. The SEC also requires the disclosure of any material business dealings between the company and its directors and outside counsel. The S-1 filings are a good indicator of a company’s commitment to a values-driven culture for several reasons. First, there is absolutely no requirement for companies to describe their culture or values in the S-1, so if they do mention them, it is likely because the company finds them important. Second, research shows that the content of the prospectus “sends signals, intentionally or otherwise, to potential investors” and can dramatically affect the demand for IPO shares and thus the share price. By making statements about ethics, the company is essentially saying: If you want to invest in us, here is how we play the game; if you don’t like the way we play the game, don’t invest in us. We will use text-mining software, to identify words that are uniquely related to ethics (i.e. words that are aspirational and generally reflect organizational values—such as fairness, honesty, integrity, environmental responsibility, etc.). We will then compare the word counts to data produced by CSRHub, a company that benchmarks company performance based on corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings. CSRHub rates 12 indicators of employee, environment, community, and governance performance issues. Its data comes from nine socially responsible investing research firms, well-known indexes, publications, “best of” or “worst of” lists, NGOs, crowd sources, and government agencies. By aggregating and normalizing these sources, CSRHub has created a broad, consistent rating system and a searchable database that links each rating point back to its source. After collecting all the data we are then going to look for relationships between a company’s ethics pre- and post-IPO.

    Faculty Mentor:
    Abby Stemler
    Dr. Abbey Stemler, Lecturer, Business Law and Ethics, Kelley School of Business

    Student Researcher:
    Katharine Wood
    Katherine Wood, a sophomore studying Finance, Accounting, and Technology Management

  • Project #20: How the gender composition of corporate boards impact firm processes and performance

    The international political landscape of women on boards and in corporate suites has evolved in recent years. Indeed, initiatives to formally regulate gender balance in boardrooms - something unheard of until recently – are being debated and implemented in one country after another (Terjesen, Aguilera, & Lorenz, 2013). Likewise, there seems to be general impatience concerning the speed by which the fraction of women in corporate power positions should increase to match the fraction of female representation in the population as a whole. Extant research shows that there are clear benefits for having women on boards. First, research finds that women on boards can improve the decision making process by bringing points of view and style which differ from that of their male counterparts. For example, compared with men, women tend to be more open to criticism, more tolerant to diverse views, and more attentive to social and ethical issues. Second, research argues that gender diversity on the board, enhances innovation and creativity and encourages learning. Third, it is sometimes claimed that the presence of women on boards improves management practices and outcomes including risk management and financial performance. The proposed research project will investigate women's representation in the highest echelon of corporations: the corporate board. We will examine how the gender composition of corporate boards impact firm processes and performance. The student will join an international research team with colleagues at Indiana University as well as in Iceland, Germany, Israel, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

    Faculty Mentor:
    Siri Terjesen
    Dr. Siri Terjesen, Assistant Professor of Strategic Management & International Business, Kelley Schooly of Business

    Student Researcher:
    Marissa Buonamici
    Marissa Buonamici, a freshman studying Psychology

  • Project #21: Quorum-sensing regulation of the osmotic stress response in vibrios

    This project focuses on studying the link between osmotic stress regulation and quorum sensing in vibrios. Quorum sensing is a method of cell-cell communication used by bacteria to control group behaviors. The goals of this project are 1) to determine how the master transcription factor LuxR regulates the osmotic stress genes in Vibrio harveyi, and 2) to determine the role of quorum sensing in osmotic stress regulation in other vibrios.

    Faculty Mentor:
    Julia Van Kessel
    Dr. Julia van Kessel, Assistant Research Scientist, Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry

    Student Researcher:
    Christine Hustmyer
    Christine Hustmyer, a freshman studying Biochemistry

  • Project #22: investigating the underlying stellar populations of nearby galaxies

    The research project will center around data collected for the EDGES Survey (Extended Disk Galaxy Exploration Science Survey) to investigate the underlying stellar populations of nearby galaxies. The data includes optical and infrared images which will be used to examine the stellar distribution and the current star formation activity in this statistical sample of galaxies.

    Faculty Mentor:
    Liese van Zee
    Dr. Liese van Zee, Associate Professor, Astronomy

    Student Researcher:
    Miranda Barnett
    Miranda Barnett, a sophomore studying Astronomy and Physics