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Presentation Directory

 

COSS 2020 is being held as an asynchronous online event from 20 April through 1 May.

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Presentations have been organized into 11 groupings by related disciplines.

Each group is a Playlist on the COSS CordMN YouTube channel.

Be sure to also check out the Senior Art Show on Facebook!

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Throughout COSS, click into the Awards Playlist to find out who has been selected for the Library Exemplary Research Award, the President Jolicoeur Memorial Scholarship, and the Mentor of the Year Award. Announcements will be staggered during the COSS viewing period.

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Faculty and alumni, be sure to email archives@cord.edu to nominate excellent presentations for The Showcase of Undergraduate Research. The first four students to submit earn a prize!

Click each PLAYLIST category below to view the presentations.

HUM – English

HUM – Spanish

HUM – History and Heritage & Museum Studies

HUM – Religion & Interfaith Studies

Social Sciences (Psychology, Business, Global and Political Studies)

STEM – Biology & Ecology

STEM – Biology & Health

STEM – Environmental Studies

STEM – Physics & Mathematics

STEM – Chemistry

STEM – Neuroscience

Senior Art Show

Awards!

Presentation Directory

Ethnography Panel Discussion

Playlist: HUM – English COSS 2020

Melanie Knealing, Aicha Doume, Teagan Coyer, Pieter Louters, Maslah Mohamed, Ryan O’Donoghue, Quinn Roeske, Miranda Sommerfeld, Madison Thompson, Alexis Turn

Ethnography is a genre of qualitative research and writing that accounts social life and culture in a particular social system. This type of work is composed of detailed observations and interviews. An ethnographer must be curious and open-minded, skilled in listening and observation, and excited about questioning the world around them. Ethnography forces you to take a step back and look at things as if you weren’t there or you were looking through a window or a screen. When you do, you begin to see things that help you to answer the question “why.” Why is this the way that it is? We chose to do a panel discussion because we believe it will be an engaging way to address these questions of “why.” Through a panel, we can alight on different aspects of writing an ethnography in a way that is a conversation between us and shows our different perspectives by speaking of and explaining our individual projects and experiences. To do so, we will explain where we went for our ethnographic work, along with what our ethnographic research entailed. Through ethnographic research, we can learn and practice these scholarly abilities, along with learning the ethics and efficacies in responsible research methods. The ultimate goal of ethnographic research is to learn about, and better understand, people who are both similar and different from ourselves by walking in their shoes. Through this panel, we hope to inform others about the implications of ethnography in a personal and professional setting.

Mentor(s): Dr. Karla Knutson


Bowdler and Lamb vs. Shakespeare: Sanitizing Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice for Schools and Families

Playlist: HUM – English COSS 2020

Nina Buchanan

In early nineteenth-century England, reading Shakespeare in its original form posed some issues. On one hand, Shakespeare’s work could offend tender sensibilities with its range of human emotion, passion, hurt, murder, etc. The second problem was that Shakespeare’s seventeenth-century style was difficult for young readers. Two scholars took two separate approaches to sanitizing Shakespeare, Thomas Bowdler maintaining the original form and verse but removing anything that might offend and Charles Lamb translating Shakespeare from verse to prose. My study compares key passages from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Bowdler’s interpretation, and Lamb’s translation. This analysis will explore the consequences of filtering Shakespeare for different audiences.

Mentor(s): Dr. David Sprunger


From Kaldi’s Frisky Goats to Starbuck’s Twin-Tailed Mermaid; The Surprising Etymology of Coffee Terminology

Playlist: HUM – English COSS 2020

Jackson Booth

More than half of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee daily, averaging 3.5 cups per person, yet few people are aware of coffee’s complicated global history. This history can be explored through etymology, the academic study of word origins. In my project I trace the origin of primary coffee language, focusing on where and when the terms originate. Studying coffee through this lens shows how the language that people use to talk about coffee contains a surprising overview of coffee’s cultural history.

Mentor(s): Dr. David Sprunger


Elizabeth, Darcy, Beatrice, and Benedick: why we are more interested in characters with depth

Playlist: HUM – English COSS 2020

Mike Huynh

We are always more interested in reading and learning about characters and relationships with depth than linear plots. A clear example of this is the relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. Their relationship hold more significance than that of Jane and Mr. Bingley, but why is that? Why do we lean towards relationships where changes play a significant role but not “love at first sight” stories? Change is crucial in everyone’s lives. We may not notice it, but we are all changing everyday, becoming a different version of ourselves. The person I am today is not the same person I was 5 years ago, and that is fundamental in understanding why we are all going through changes, and why that is important. My project analyze two similar couples from two different works, Elizabeth & Darcy in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Beatrice & Benedick in William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, with the aim to point out the reason why we are interested in reading about these couples is because they inhibit change in their relationships. These changes give us hope that we too can change for the better.

Mentor(s): Dr. David Sprunger


Everything Depends Upon a Red Wheelbarrow

Playlist: HUM – English COSS 2020

Tristan Hayes

Poet William Carlos Williams’s body of work captures the essence of American life in isolated scenes. While at a glance his poem “The Red Wheelbarrow” seems simple and small, it epitomizes his body of work in just four carefully constructed couplets, each bursting with context and meaning. In order to portray America, Williams wrote without covering scenes in simile or metaphor—instead he sought to capture these scenes in their perfect, beautiful mundanity. “The Red Wheelbarrow” does just that. As a writer, I admire the craft of the poem, while also presenting a literary analysis. I compare the poem to two other Williams poems similar in structure, both of which present nearly identical examples of Williams’s aesthetic. Then using these poems and an analysis of Williams’s aesthetic, I show that “The Red Wheelbarrow” is far more than four simple couplets. Rather, each couplet expands to encompass Williams’s aesthetic, which is the very essence of American life and the single, isolated moments that make it beautiful.

Mentor(s): Dr. James Postema


Scenes From a Passing Window: Amtrak in America

Playlist: HUM – English COSS 2020

Sonja Flancher, Linden Stave

Scenes From a Passing Window: Amtrak in America, was conceived by professor W. Scott Olsen, and research for the project was conducted during the summer of 2019. The ultimate goal of this project was to create a travel back-book for Olsen’s journey around the United States via Amtrak trains. The research was non-thesis based and included finding anything and everything about Amtrak. After conducting research about various topics related to Amtrak such as train literature, music, international presence, film, and history, my research partner and I concluded that though passenger rail seems an antiquated method of travel, Amtrak, America’s only inter-city passenger rail service, provides an essential transportation service and a unique perspective into the heart of American culture and identity. Further, my partner and I created a travel guide for Olsen with detailed information and stories about each station he traveled through. While on his journey, we acted as travel guides from our positions on campus and followed his journey virtually. Upon completion of the trip, Olsen is now working on a travel book that is half text, half photography about his time riding the rails.

Mentor(s): W. Scott Olsen


The Scrolls of the House of Hohenlohe

Playlist: HUM – History-Heritage & Museum Studies COSS 2020

Anna Weier

In 2013, the Concordia College Archives received a donation of German scrolls and letters, the oldest dating back to 1421. The donor’s father had been stationed in Germany during World War II and brought the scrolls back to the United States upon his return. Preliminary research was conducted, and it was discovered that the collection belonged to the Hohenlohe family, a German princely line still in existence today. While the scrolls do hold educational value, they do not fall under the collections policy or mission of the Concordia College Archives, and so should be returned to the Hohenlohe family in Germany. This project focuses on the biography of the family, providing historical context for the collection; best practices of care and management to preserve the collection for the future; and the ethics of restitution, in turn leading restitution efforts to return the scrolls to the family.

Mentor(s): Dr. Susan Lee


Mapping Marriage in Clay County, Minnesota, 1901 & 1921

Playlist: HUM – History-Heritage & Museum Studies COSS 2020

Heidi Fods, Jarret Man, Samara Strootman, Alexis Johnson, Dustin Steedsman, Aria Roberts, Joshua Olson

In response to a research question proposed by the archivist at the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County (HCSCC), this project recontextualizes marriages taking place in Clay County, MN in 1901 and 1921 by examining them through the lenses of distance and age. This research was originally conducted as a way to compare newlywed couples between 1900 and 1920 with a distinct focus on Clay County, Minnesota. More specifically, our research findings indicate thus far that in 1901 men were older than women at the age of marriage. In terms of distance, we hypothesize that the average distance between couples would increase with the advent of the automobile and the growth of mass transportation. We have further research to conduct on our data, and also plan to see how our findings compare to the larger historical context at the time. Marriage licenses, census data, and archival materials from the HCSCC were used to uncover the addresses, dates of birth, and geographical distances between over 788 couples — or 1,576 individuals — during both 1901 and 1921. Our research findings were incorporated into a digitally based presentation, which was created in ArcGIS StoryMaps and communicates our findings through elements such as maps and prerecorded audio provided by our researchers that explain the significance and impact of this evolution in marriage. This digital presentation is accessible to both historians and curious patrons alike.

Mentor(s): Dr. Joy Lintelman


Food in Fargo-Moorhead During WWI

Playlist: HUM – History-Heritage & Museum Studies COSS 2020

Julieana Wallenstein

World War I was a harsh time throughout the World not only was Europe torn apart but a Spanish Flu Pandemic affected the entire world killing an estimated 50 million people. Food scarcity was high throughout Europe. Events and diseases that took place during the war lead to a massive amount of death and caused World War I to be one of the deadliest wars in history. There has been research done about food shortages during this time and how the US took up the cause to ensure our Allies had food and ultimately ourselves in the US as well. My analysis is that food may be scarce in some places but in the Fargo Moorhead area, there was enough food to eat and share. My project is done through a story map showing what was happening in our area during this time and how people decided to take up of the cause during this time.

Mentor(s): Dr. Joy Lintelman and Dr. Elna Solvang


Buckstop Junction, A Pioneer Village and Museum

Playlist: HUM – History-Heritage & Museum Studies COSS 2020

Lauryn Hinckley

Buckstop Junction is a historical site in Bismarck, North Dakota that aims to preserve the history of the Missouri Valley Area from 1880-1920. On Buckstop’s location, a small community exists. A school, church, railroad, hotel, and other community buildings can be viewed and toured. By understanding the structures that defined a population, one receives a greater sense of who the population was that built the structures to serve the community. By understanding the community, populations gain a better understanding and appreciation of community leaders, which allows for younger generations to understand what made the community in which they exist. Fostering a greater connection with the community allows for greater understanding for how much every job in a community has an impact on how the society functions. The historical site has experienced some challenges, such as establishing a media presence and facilitating new projects. The goal for the internship was to boost social media presence, apply for grants, get more people to visit the site, and start a nature walk.

Mentor(s): Dr. Krys Strand


Sacred Images: An Exhibit of Mexican Votive Retablos

Playlist: HUM – History-Heritage & Museum Studies COSS 2020

Gian-Paolo Paz

The Hopeman Retablo Collection was donated to the Concordia College Archives at the beginning of the 2016 school year. Retablos themselves are votive icons of saints and martyrs painted onto tin sheets and are unique to the Hispanic-Catholic community. The aim of this project is to create a catalogue of the retablo collection and in turn curate a digital exhibition. Processing the art work involved creating ample storage space in the Archive’s vault, documenting and assessing the condition of each piece. In order to accurately document the images portrayed in the paintings, in depth analysis of religious symbolism and iconography was required. Afterwards the retablos were placed into folders and boxes with labels and titles pertaining to their subject. The digital exhibition shows the retablos as they would have been in their original context, whether it be a home altar or a religious shrine.

Mentor: Dr. Susan Lee


Interfaith Literacy Changes the Face of Homelessness in the Fargo Moorhead Area

Playlist: HUM – Religion & Interfaith Studies COSS 2020

Madi Hagen

With every passing day, our communities and our society are becoming increasingly religiously diverse. What difference, therefore, does it make in today’s workplace to possess interreligious literacy, skills, and competencies? How are those skills useful in increasing inclusivity, diversity, and equity within a business? In this presentation, I—a business major with an interfaith studies minor–will argue that in order to effectively do one’s job in today’s world, interfaith literacy is essential and interfaith leadership skills and competencies are required. Religion is a taboo topic that is often neglected in the workplace, but I will make the case that in order to be successful in business today and have a genuinely inclusive organizational climate that welcomes diversity, religion must not only be discussed but also accommodated. As a case study, I will share the concrete ways in which I applied the leadership skills and interfaith literacy I acquired through my interfaith studies minor to my PEAK experience as a Swendseid Scholar who interned last summer at Fargo-Moorhead’s Churches United for the Homeless non-profit organization. In my presentation, I will share the specific ways that I demonstrated interfaith leadership at my internship site by 1) encouraging the organization to rebrand themselves in a way that moved beyond purely Christian language and imagery 2) creating a new, exciting and more inclusive logo for the organization, and 3) facilitating interfaith dialogue among clients and co-workers of many multi-faith backgrounds to help change the public narrative of homelessness.

Mentor(s): Dr. Jacqueline Bussie


Interfaith Engagement in the Public Sphere: A Washington D.C. Justice Journey

Playlist: HUM – Religion & Interfaith Studies COSS 2020

Paige Mackedanz, Kayla Zopfi

What is interfaith leadership, and why is it needed in today’s rapidly diversifying society? What does interfaith leadership look like in action? How do Concordia Interfaith Studies students hone and apply their skills and competencies as interfaith leaders? As two interfaith studies minors, we chose to answer these questions through our practicum. Concordia’s Interfaith Studies minor, an interdisciplinary, peace-building, and community-focused degree program, requires all students to engage in an practicum experience. To fulfill our practicum requirement, in October 2019 we chose to design, implement, and lead a PEAK-approved Justice Journey to Washington D.C. entitled ‘Faith in the Public Sphere’ where we—a team of 8 multi-faith students–examined the intersections of faith, Religion, and government. Our presentation illustrates how in planning and executing this trip, we successfully and intentionally put Interfaith Studies theory into praxis, and applied the interfaith literacy, skills, and competencies we had attained through our coursework to real-world advocacy. Our presentation showcases not only the theoretical readings we did to prepare for the justice journey, including Dr. Eboo Patel’s foundational text Interfaith Leadership: A Primer, Karen L. Bloomquist and John R. Stumme’s The Promise of Lutheran Ethics, and Robert Bellah’s Civil Religion in America, but also the concrete ways in which we applied concepts such as appreciative knowledge and shared values from our interfaith education to enhance our advocacy work. We conclude by identifying the qualities of Interfaith leadership that we demonstrated, notably those of grit and craft, that empowered us to effectively lead our Justice Journey.

Mentor(s): Dr. Jacqueline Bussie


Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Playlist: HUM – Religion & Interfaith Studies COSS 2020

Karl Peterson, Mitchell Ziebarth, Christian Alberti

Our research presentation centers around the school-to-prison pipeline, specifically the system of oppression that alters the abilities of students of color to achieve an equitable education in the United States. Our presentation focuses on the implicit bias towards students of color, which has led to greater suspension rates and involvement of law enforcement. This system of oppression ultimately breaks the spirits of students of color and leads to a self fulfilling prophecy of a life in jail and social control. We believe awareness of this issue is imperative to the dismantling of this system of oppression. Using academic research studies and various other journal publications, we were able to focus on the history of the school-to-prison pipeline, the moral and spiritual impacts it has on students of color, and several ways future educators can combat this form of oppression. We believe results of our research and presentation will indicate that awareness of this implicit bias can help combat this particular system of oppression. Furthermore, presenting this research to the broader Concordia community will allow for students to become responsibly engaged in the world and better understand their role in dismantling this system of oppression.

Mentor(s): Dr. Michelle Lelwica


Getting Hooked on Anger: Our Addiction to Anger, and How We Can Avoid Getting Trapped by Negative Feelings

Playlist: HUM – Religion & Interfaith Studies COSS 2020

Ingrid Jacobson

Anger is a negative emotion defined by an intense aggressive, hostile, and displeased state. According to the tenets of nonviolent communication, developed by Marshall Rosenberg, anger is a signal that you are disconnected from our values, and that our needs are not being met. It is easy for us to get “hooked” on anger, and be reeled in by the negative feelings. However, giving into anger denies us the chance to focus on what we really need. By recognizing anger as a hook, we can learn how to avoid being hooked. In the first stage of learning, we become aware that we’ve been hooked by anger after it happens, and unhook ourself. In the second stage, we identify the hook during its’ attack, and avoid it. In the third and final stage, we learn to anticipate when an anger hook is approaching us, and de-escalate before the hook can appear.

Mentor(s): Dr. Ahmed Afzaal and Amena Chaudhry


Leviticus, Leprosy, and Social Distancing: Using the Bible to Understand Today’s Public Health Woes

Playlist: HUM – Religion & Interfaith Studies COSS 2020

Ingrid Jacobson

With increasing quarantines and orders to shelter-in-place, the world seems very chaotic. However, the book of Leviticus shows us that “social distancing” due to infectious disease has been happening since the ancient times. By examining Leviticus 13 and 14, which focuses on leprosy and purification after leprosy, we can see how social distancing, quarantine, sterilization, and decontamination was a part of everyday life during biblical times. Through the lens of Leviticus, we can draw from biblical life, take comfort in past wisdom,and develop an informed understanding of current pandemic behaviors.

Mentor(s): Dr. Elna Solvang


Reproductive Rights in Latin American Countries: Impact on Women in Society

Playlist: HUM – Spanish COSS 2020

Josephine Hermann

In many societies, through ethical, religious, moral, and political platforms, abortion has evolved into a highly controversial subject matter. Abortion laws differ among all countries, the discussion of induced abortion stands divisive in society, with persisting debate to liberalize or to restrict legal access to abortion services. Currently in the United States abortion is legal but may be restricted by the states to varying degrees. Controversy over this subject also remains in Latin America, where there are varying legal restrictions throughout countries in place to prevent women from obtaining abortions. Some countries permit abortion in order to save the mothers life or for victims of sexual assault, as well as other relating situations. Overall, the Abortion laws appear to be of stricter status in Latin America than in the United States. The control of women’s reproductive rights in Latin America gives rise to movements and protests that advocate for the legalization of abortion and improved access to contraceptives. Abortion-rights movements fight in effort for women to gain control and power over their bodies, privileges, and decisions. We plan to extensively interpret and analyze scholarly articles, journals, and statistics regarding the legalization of abortion throughout countries in Latin America. Through in-depth research our objective is to explain the current situation in Latin America regarding abortion and its impact on women and society.

Mentor(s): Karin Hillstrom


El Gran Explorador Desconocido: Juan Sebastián Elcano

Playlist: HUM – Spanish COSS 2020

Emma Vogel

Many people have heard of explorers such as Christopher Columbus, Hernando Cortés or Ferdinand Magellan. However, few people outside of Spain know about Juan Sebastián Elcano, a Spanish explorer who completed the first circumnavigation of the earth. Elcano took charge of the exploration after the previous captain, Ferdinand Magellan, died in the Philippines. He brought the crew back to Spain in September 1522, completing the first journey around the globe. However, this feat wasn’t easy. The crew had to confront unpredictable weather, starvation, and harassment by the Portuguese. Only one of five ships and 18 of the original 270 men returned safely to Spain. Elcano’s navigational experience and leadership skills made him a crucial part to the success of the exploration. However, outside of Spain, Elcano has received very little credit for his contributions to this voyage. This research is important as it brings attention to someone who often gets overlooked when discussing world history in the United States. To conduct my research, I used a variety of scholarly journals and articles both in Spanish and English. The presentation will be given in Spanish.

Mentor(s): Dr. Lisa Twomey


Healthcare System Differences Between Spain and the United States

Playlist: HUM – Spanish COSS 2020

Skyler Klostriech, Jared Torgeson

The purpose of this presentation is to take a side-by-side look at the differences between the United States and Spain healthcare systems. The presentation will discuss the flaws within each system, specifically within the parameters of life expectancy, access, and quality. Given the current situation surrounding COVID-19, it is crucial to examine how different healthcare systems function in order to learn and create better opportunities for citizens to have access to healthcare. The outcomes of the presentation are to shed light on where each system has the opportunity to improve and what we can learn from each other as a global community.

Mentor(s): Karin Hillstrom


The Importance of Cultural Understanding in Medical Interpretation

Playlist: HUM – Spanish COSS 2020

Christine Buching, McKenzie Grafstrom

The current research investigates two illnesses as seen through different cultural lenses, specifically comparing the perspectives of western medicine and those of folk illnesses. After providing an overview with relevant symptoms, the presumed causes as seen by Latino, Hmong, and/ or Western cultures will be reviewed. Having a cross-cultural understanding of different illnesses and health-related terms is vital to provide the best possible care for patients seeking medical treatment in a foreign culture. On the one hand, the benefit can be as simple as dispelling different biases that health professionals may have toward certain people or cultures, thus improving communication and patient satisfaction, while in other more severe cases, this understanding could even influence long-term health or a life-and-death situation.

Mentor(s): Karin Hillstrom


The Elephant in the Room

Playlist: HUM – Spanish COSS 2020

Sydney Brusseau, Brynn Sundgaard

Cultures between people can be extremely different, so it is vital to learn about others’ ways of life. When we learn, we understand, and when we understand, we are able to connect on a deeper level. This, in turn, prevents communication issues during important situations, such as the doctor’s office or hospital. It is our duty as global citizens to be socially aware of cultural differences. In terms of research, we used much of what we learned in class, as well as independent online research. We expect there to be strong cultural differences between the Latin/Hispanic world and the United States, especially in terms of traditional family roles and societal values.

Mentor(s): Karin Hillstrom


Targeted (in)voluntary birth control of Native American women.

Playlist: HUM – Spanish COSS 2020

Kaylana Bell, Alex Mickelson

This research explores the dynamic between Latin American countries and indigenous communities in regard to reproductive health, and the likely role eugenics has on it. Women in Peru and Mexico are being coerced into or downright uninformed about being given contraceptives to prevent their community from continuing to exist.

Mentor(s): Karin Hillstrom


Sexual and Reproductive Health in Mexican Adolescent Women

Playlist: HUM – Spanish COSS 2020

Kennedy McGarness

Adolescent sexual and reproductive health remains a challenge in many parts of the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), roughly 12 million women aged 15-19 give birth annually in developing countries, and 10 million of these pregnancies are unwanted. Although the global rate of adolescent pregnancy has declined by about 11.6% in the last 20 years, the rate of adolescent pregnancy varies significantly by region. WHO also reports that complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for adolescent women. Mexico is classified as a middle-income country and is therefore not included in the statistics of developing countries nor those of high-income countries such as the United States. In a study published by the U.S. Public Library of Science researchers found that the Mexican adolescent pregnancy rate increased from 2008 to 2014. This increase could be due to a lack of access to Comprehensive Sexual Education (CSE) in the Mexican public school system. The purpose of this research is to examine the prevalence, comprehensiveness, and impact of CSE programs in Mexico in regard to adolescent pregnancy and adolescent sexually-transmitted infections (STIs). In order to determine the effects of CSE in Mexico, I will implement national and international research as well as information published by national and international health organizations. It is my argument that the lack of implementation of Comprehensive Sexual Education in Mexican public schools is the driving force behind high rates of adolescent pregnancy and STI transmission.

Mentor(s): Karin Hillstrom


The role of perceptual grouping cues in visual working memory binding

Playlist: Social Sciences COSS 2020

Ben Swanson, Zsofi Zelenak, Liliana Cannella

Perceptual grouping cues can improve visual working memory (VWM) performance (e.g., similarity: Peterson & Berryhill, 2013; Brady & Tenenbaum, 2013, similarity and connectedness: van Lamsweerde, Beck, & Johnson, 2016; connectedness and proximity: Woodman, Vecera, & Luck, 2003, illusory contours: Allon, Vixman, & Luria, 2018; Gao, Gao, Tang, Shui, & Shen, 2016). The current suite of experiments examined whether grouping-related benefits extend to VWM binding processes. During a VWM change detection task, participants viewed three color-orientation conjunctions oriented so as to form an illusory object (e.g., Kanizsa triangle) or were randomly oriented, forming no illusory object. Following a brief delay period, a test probe included either an “old” or “new” color, orientation, or color-orientation conjunction. Results revealed no grouping-related benefit for the color test condition, but did reveal significant grouping-related benefits to both the orientation and color-orientation conjunction (i.e., binding) conditions. These findings suggest that task difficulty mediates grouping-related benefits in VWM.

Mentor(s): Dr. Dwight Peterson


The Relationship Between Political Orientation and Morality

Playlist: Social Sciences COSS 2020

Megan Blatti, Cassie Klaphake, Heather Ukaonu

In response to the replication crisis in the field of psychology, we partially replicated Eskine, Kacinik, and Prinz’s (2011) study “A Bad Taste in the Mouth,” researching the relationship between taste perception and moral judgment. We directed our attention to the aspect of the study that pertains to the differences in moral judgements between conservatives and liberals. This research contributes to an understanding of the relationship between political orientation and moral judgements. This could have implications for decision-making in daily life, as well as help inform various practices such as voting, preaching, advertising, policy-making, etc. We hypothesized that the participants who identify as conservative will produce harsher moral judgements than those who identify as liberal. Participants were asked to take a Qualtrics survey containing a series of moral vignettes. These will be used to assess participants’ moral judgements. These vignettes display various moral transgressions: consensual incest between second cousins, a man eating his dead dog, a congressman accepting bribes, a lawyer seeking victims at a hospital, a poor man shoplifting, and a student stealing library books. Participants placed their judgements on a Qualtrics scale of not at all morally wrong, (1) to extremely morally wrong (100). A higher score indicates harsher moral judgements. We anticipate our results to include roughly 100 participants. We expect to find that the majority of participants will rate the moral vignettes from moderately morally wrong to very morally wrong. We also expect the results to show that individuals who identify as conservative will rate the moral vignettes more harshly than individuals who identify as liberal.

Mentor(s): Dr. Mona Ibrahim


A Replication of Greskevicius et al.’s “Going Green to Be Seen: Status, Reputation, and Conspicuous Conservation”

Playlist: Social Sciences COSS 2020

Sam Engrav, Emery Thornbrugh

While the usage of “green” products is more beneficial for the environment than their conventional counterparts, purchasing these products can often be costly and inefficient. In this replicated experiment from Greskevicius et al., we attempted to explain how status motives influenced the desire for green products, specifically hypothesizing that participants exposed to a status priming story will be more likely to “purchase” green products than their control-story counterparts. Participants were selected through Concordia’s SONA research system and through a volunteer basis of Concordia students on campus. Students that participated through SONA were granted credit. Due to this being a replication study, intended sample sizes and relevant data were gained from the original study. In this case, the intended sample size was N=82 (data collection pending), with a power of 0.47 and an α error probability of 0.05. In this experiment, participants were asked to read a short story (control vs. status inducing) and then answer three questions about hypothetical green vs. non-green purchases. At the time of submission, data collection is still pending, but previous replications would indicate that participants that read the status-inducing short story would be more likely to choose green products than their control-story counterparts. This is significant because observing how signal motives can be used to influence green purchasing can be used to find ways to promote pro-environmental behavior.

Mentor(s): Dr. Mona Ibrahim


Bats, Balls, and Substitution Sensitivity: A Replication

Playlist: Social Sciences COSS 2020

Sophia Jalil, Lauren McNeil

We are replicating this study as a group project for our Research Methods in Psychology course. This study is a direct replication of the “Bats, balls, and substitution sensitivity: Cognitive misers are no happy fools” by Wim De Neys, Sandrine Rossi, and Olivier Houdé (2013). We intend to find data to support De Neys et al.’s findings. Our study will administer a digital online version of the survey De Neys et al. used using Qualtrics. Influential work on human thinking suggests that our judgment is often biased because we minimize cognitive effort and intuitively substitute hard questions by easier ones. This process is called substitution bias. A key question is whether or not people realize that they are doing this and notice their mistake. In this study, we test this claim with one of the most publicized examples of the substitution bias, the bat-and-ball problem. We plan to have our sample taken from Concordia’s undergraduate students through an online survey program called Qualtrics. Concordia uses another database for participant recruitment named SONA systems that allows students to participate in research studies carried out by other students and faculty. Students in Psych 111 and 112 are required to get at least three credits from research participation. Our study will give them one credit.

Mentor(s): Dr. Mona Ibrahim


Small Coffee Farmers: Examining Problems and Proposing Solutions: A study that examines issues affecting smallholder coffee farmers and solutions that may improve their business practices

Playlist: Social Sciences COSS 2020

Jackson Booth

With 83% of the adult population consuming the beverage, the U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of coffee. Given the significance that coffee plays in our daily lives, it is important to look at its origins and how it impacts the livelihoods of those who produce the product that we love. 80% of coffee is produced by 25 million smallholders (farms supporting a single family with a mixture of cash crops). This study will focus on smallholders and examine the coffee supply chain, focusing on the section of the chain before coffee arrives in the hands of the exporters. In my project, I will examine issues and problems affecting smallholders and gather solutions and propose additional ideas of what efforts can be made to improve the business processes of smallholder coffee farmers.

Mentor(s): Dr. Odile Streed


Loneliness in Older Adulthood: Institutional and In-Place Perspectives and Solutions

Playlist: Social Sciences COSS 2020

Emily Moyer, Maren Lundberg, Ana Bougie, Grace Anderson

Loneliness is a prevailing problem in older adults, and the effects of loneliness can impact older adults’ physical, cognitive, and emotional health (Golden et al., 2009). It is imperative that we begin to understand what increases the risk of experiencing loneliness in older adults, both those who are aging in place or who are aging in institutional settings such as retirement homes. For example, research indicates that predictors of loneliness include poor functional status, widowhood, poor income, living alone, and poor health (Savikko et al., 2005). Due to the effects of loneliness on older adults, it is equally important to study how it is possible to reduce loneliness in older adults to improve their overall health. By examining common factors that influence loneliness in older adults like reduced social connections, a lack of perceived autonomy, mobility, and engagement with activities, we set out to suggest strategies for addressing that loneliness to community organizations such as Eventide Retirement Facility and Senior Connections. Based on our research, some strategies to combat loneliness in older adults are: scheduling personal contact with family for them by phone or in person, group activity or discussion groups centered on a new activity or hobby, animal contact, and (O’Rourke, Collins, & Sidani, 2018; Cattan et al., 2005).

Mentor(s): Dr. Philip Lemaster


Ageism: Risk, Reduction, and Resolution

Playlist: Social Sciences COSS 2020

Morgan Nordheim, Stephanie Nelson, Ali Przybilla, Sydney Lundebrek

Our project will explore ageism in our community and the ways in which we can encourage organizations to promote a more positive attitude toward the aging experience and the aging community. This is an important conversation to have as the average life expectancy is increasing and the population of older adults is aging. Our study will include literary reviews of the risks of ageism and ways to reduce the experience of ageism in our communities. Following this review, we will explore the effects of ageism on the daily lives of older adults and how we can decrease the negative effects. Some risks of ageism that older adults may encounter include: depression, isolation, and decline in social interaction. Based on these risks, some solutions we may recommend include: deinstitutionalization, teaching coping skills, and increasing intergenerational interactions. Our project will conclude with a more in-depth analysis of these solutions that will promote a more positive community attitude toward the aging experience and aging community.

Mentor(s): Dr. Philip Lemaster


Emotional Framing’s Impact on Willingness to Take Sustainable Action in Different Age Group

Playlist: Social Sciences COSS 2020

Emily Moyer, Hannah Papenfus

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time. As our earth warms, we become faced with greater risks of more frequent and severe weather and climate catastrophes such as floods, droughts, and hurricanes, either new illnesses or illnesses appearing in unprecedent areas, and changing land masses and climates (United States Global Change Research Program, 2018). Many scientists agree that human activities and actions are one of the root causes of climate change (Oreskes, 2004), so understanding how to promote humans to take sustainable action both privately and publicly is becoming a greater concern. Emotional framing can be used to potentially impact how people make decisions (Tversky and Kahneman, 1981), and combine with Laura Carstensen’s socioemotional selectivity theory which signifies that different age groups pay attention to different emotional stimulus, it is possible that emotionally framing climate change and sustainability information can impact people’s willingness to take sustainable action. We hypothesize that older adults will indicate that they would be willing to act in more sustainable ways after reading the positively framed information on climate change. We also hypothesize that younger adults will indicate that they’d be willing to act in more sustainable ways after reading the negatively framed information on climate change in comparison to the young adults who read the positively framed information. Our preliminary findings have not supported our hypothesis, but instead indicate that the emotional framing may work the opposite way on the age groups.

Mentor(s): Dr. Philip Lemaster


Independence in Older Adults

Playlist: Social Sciences COSS 2020

Kaylana Bell, Madison Archer, Jorge Carrillo, Emily Bukkila

Especially in the western world, society tends to value a sense of independence in life. When an individual’s independence in various aspects of life begins to be removed, the individual must find a way to cope with their newfound loss of independence. This is a common issue in the population of older adults. Our project examines the ways which are used by older adults in order to maintain more control over their independence. Using the Selection, Optimization, and Compensation model of effective aging, older adults are able to select areas of their own lives to do this. Some older adults have begun to cope with a growing need to depend on others by using technology, social support structures, compensatory activities, and community organizations in order to maintain a sense of control over their own lives in the face of the loss of physical, financial, psychosocial, and cognitive independence.

Mentor(s): Dr. Philip Lemaster


Funding War in Tanzania

Playlist: Social Sciences COSS 2020

Dreyton Rud

In an ever-globalizing world, powerful states contend for supremacy in ways other than military combat. One powerful tool used to promote positive image and project influence is international foreign aid. The African country of Tanzania is a great place to observe the invisible conflict of influence between two of the world’s greatest powers: China and the United States. The nature of foreign aid is different between these two issues. China employs a foreign aid policy of “no strings attached” funding whereas the United States uses conditional foreign aid. I sought to explore the political consequences of each form of foreign aid through the peer-reviewed literature on the topic as well as my own observations, so that we may determine which state might have a stronger grip over the political and social spheres in the target country, namely Tanzania which has historically received funding from both the United States and China.

Mentor(s): Dr. William Snyder


Replication of Red, Rank and Romance in Women Viewing Men

Playlist: Social Sciences COSS 2020

Anders Nackerud, Morgan Moravitz, Elise Whitehead

This project is for our Psychology 301 class. It is a replication of the study by Andrew Elliot and his team. The question they asked was if the color red has any effect on the perceived attractiveness of men by women when there is a red border around a black-and-white picture of a man or a gray border around the same picture of the man. The is a CREP study and the CREP replication is having use do the third experiment in the original academic paper. We believe, like the original study, that the perceived attractiveness and social rank of the man will be higher with the participants who view the picture with the red border, LCh(50.0, 59.6, 31.3), than the participants who view the picture with the gray border, LCh(50.0, –, 69.1). This study uses the survey method using a survey made on the Qualtrics website.

Mentor: Dr. Mona Ibrahim


PCR Screening for Parasitic Nematodes Toxocara cati and Toxocara canis in Soils of Moorhead, MN

Playlist: STEM – Biology-Health COSS 2020

Miriah Forness, Sally Nelson, Matt Bye, Luke Evans, Natalie DuBois, Jordan Oliphant

Toxocariasis, a neglected parasitic disease, is amongst the most prevalent zoonotic parasitic infections worldwide. Toxocariasis is caused by the parasitic nematode Toxocara. Two species, Toxocara cati and Toxocara canis, use cats and dogs respectively as definitive hosts. Infected animals shed Toxocara eggs in feces, contaminating the soil. Humans and other animals can accidentally ingest eggs through contact with soil. Serological analysis indicates a significant percentage of humans have been exposed to Toxocara in the U.S. and globally. Currently, there is limited data on Toxocara egg distribution in soils throughout the Midwest region of the United States. To expand surveillance on a local scale, our research aims to survey for the presence of Toxocara in soils of public parks frequented by cats and dogs in Moorhead, Minnesota. We collected soil samples from public parks and conducted soil screening using a PCR-based approach designed to amplify the Toxocara ITS2 region of the rRNA gene locus. Our PCR design allowed us to distinguish between T.cati and T.canis. Agarose gel analysis indicates the presence of both T. cati and T. canis in soil samples. The prevalence of these nematode parasites in local soils will be quantified. Due to time constraints we were not able to fully optimize PCR conditions to provide a more comprehensive set of data. Our finding of Toxocara in local soils warrants greater public awareness, education, and potentially public health measures to protect humans and animals from exposure to Toxocara-contaminated soils.

Mentor(s): Dr. John Flaspohler

Identification and Cloning of Genes Involved in Trypanosoma brucei gambiense Lipid Droplet Biogenesis

Playlist: STEM – Biology-Health COSS 2020

Ingrid Jacobson, Johannes Bjorge, Karsen Granning, Shawna Pantzke, Maya Woodwick

Human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), commonly referred to as African sleeping sickness, is a neglected tropical disease present in Sub-Saharan Africa. No vaccine exists for HAT, and current treatments are harsh. We investigated the genome of the parasite Trypanosoma brucei gambiense, which causes 98% of all sleeping sickness cases, in hopes of finding targets for future drugs. Our lab reviewed genomic databases and existing literature, searching for genes thought to be involved in the synthesis of lipid droplets; organelles crucial for overall lipid homeostasis and membrane regulation. We identified several genes, designed primers, and amplified genes via PCR reactions. After confirming PCR amplification via agarose gel electrophoresis, we cloned our genes into plasmids and transformed them into E. coli. Preliminary results indicate that we successfully cloned eight out of ten targeted genes. In the future, we hope to clone these genes into T. brucei expression plasmids to facilitate expression in the parasite. Our ultimate goal is to determine the sub cellular localization of proteins hypothesized to play a role in lipid droplet biogenesis.

Mentor(s): Dr. John Flaspohler


Assessing Roles of DPF and MYST Domains of KAT6A in Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Playlist: STEM – Biology-Health COSS 2020

Anh Nguyen

Lysine acetyltransferases (KATs) acetylate histone proteins at lysine residues and play essential roles in chromatin organization and transcription. KAT6A (also known as MOZ or MYST3), belongs to the MYST (Moz, Ybf2/Sas3, Sas2, Tip60) family of KATs, and is a co-regulator that activates transcription. Two well-characterized functional domains of KAT6A are double plant homeodomain zinc finger (DPF) and MYST acetyltransferase. Physiologically, KAT6A protein plays a role in the development of hematopoietic stem cells and the differentiation of erythroid and myeloid cells. Importantly, KAT6A has been shown to be a genetic dependency in certain subtypes of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). In this study, we used genetic assay to test the necessity of the DPF and MYST domains of KAT6A for the survival and growth of OCI/AML-2 cell line. Specifically, we cloned KAT6A transgenes that were mutated in DPF and MYST domains and then developed different gRNAs as the targets for CRISPR/Cas9. Experimental results indicated that the knock-out of endogenous KAT6A by Cas9 inhibited the growth of OCI/AML-2 cells. When comparing two sets of KAT6A rescue experiment, exon-intron (EI) spanning gRNAs were less effective than Brunello gRNAs. After day 20, green fluorescent protein (GFP) was depleted approximately ten times in Brunello gRNAs and two times in EI spanning gRNAs. Therefore, different KAT6A transgenes mutated in both protospacer adjacent motif (PAM) sequence and the two functional domains were developed to be resistant to Brunello gRNAs. These mutated genes along with Brunello gRNAs will be used for future KAT6A rescue experiment.


Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare Initiatives in Nigeria—2019 Internship Experience with Clinton Health Access Initiative

Playlist: STEM – Biology-Health COSS 2020

Alyssa Dalen

Across the world, maternal mortality is a devastating factor shaping motherhood and healthcare. In Africa, Nigeria accounts for approximately 14% of maternal deaths globally, shouldering the largest burden per country worldwide. Roughly 3% of women die during pregnancy, childbirth, or the two months following childbirth, making maternal mortality a significant contributor (31.7%) to the overall number of female deaths in Nigeria.[1] These devastating statistics make clear how important public health initiatives in the area of sexual and reproductive healthcare are in Nigeria. Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) is a global health organization that works to reduce the effects of disease and save lives in countries such as Nigeria. This presentation details my experience as an intern with the Maternal and Neonatal Healthcare Team at CHAI Nigeria. Throughout this presentation, I will share the work I completed as an intern, along with my personal experiences in Abuja, Nigeria and the perspective I gained on Public Health Initiatives across the country.

Mentor(s): Dr. Krys Strand and Tyra Fom (’10)


Identification of Elodea Species by DNA Barcoding

Playlist: STEM – Biology-Ecology COSS 2020

Alyssa Dalen

Elodea is an aquatic plant native to North America. It has been introduced into several European aquatic environments. Elodea nuttallii and Elodea canadensis are the most common species and can typically be distinguished based on morphological characteristics. However, in the field there are plant samples that display ambiguous morphology. Genetic analysis of specific DNA sequences can provide supporting information to help differentiate between Elodea nuttallii and Elodea canadensis. DNA was isolated from plant samples using a chelex-based isolation technique. The ITS region of the nuclear rRNA genes was amplified by PCR and the expected 700 bp product was detected by gel electrophoresis. The cleaned PCR products were sent for sequencing. These DNA were analyzed with Codon Code software. The ITS regions of canadensis and nuttalli differed by 14 bases. An additional two point mutation between French and American canadensis were also found. Results indicate obvious genetic differences between ITS gene regions in E. canadensis and E. nuttallii. These results support the use of a DNA barcode such as the ITS region to supplement morphological data when identifying Elodea species. Preliminary data analyzing the RBCL gene suggest provide additional information regarding genetic differences between E. canadensis and E. nuttallii. Barcoding of Elodea nuttallii and Elodea canadensis with ITS and RBCL will clarify ambiguous plant morphology and can be used to determine population density and distribution of invasive Elodea spp.

Mentor(s): Dr. Carol Pratt and Dr. Michele Marko


Factors Promoting Growth of Fungi Among Trees at Long Lake

Playlist: STEM – Biology-Ecology COSS 2020

Casey Isaacson, Matthew Rohleder, Leo Smith

Trees and fungi have been shown to exhibit a strong symbiosis through research, and this project was designed to determine the reason for this symbiosis in the context of Long Lake, MN. This study sought to examine if tree age, tree diameter, and/or soil temperature impact fungal growth near trees in the forests near Long Lake. The tested hypothesis was that there is no difference between the aforementioned factors and fungal growth. To examine this, 60 meter transects were examined and fruiting bodies growing near trees were counted, the factors were measured, and fungi and tree species were identified. The results indicated no association between any of the aforementioned variables and fungi growth. Therefore, there were not sufficient data to support previous research about relationships between fungal growth and tree or soil factors. No inferences can be made about the usage of fungal growth or other factors in assessing the current and future health of forest ecosystems at Long Lake, especially in the event of anthropogenic impacts.

Mentor(s): Dr. Michael Aho and Dr. Joe Whittaker


Effects of Nutrient Loading on Long Lake

Playlist: STEM – Biology-Ecology COSS 2020

Mickalyn Frahm, Abigail Westrum, Carolyn Voss

Our project examined the effects of nutrient loading on Long Lake, Becker Co., MN. We observed three different areas of shoreline: shoreline near the rain garden, shoreline near a residential area, and a “natural” area of shoreline, where there has been no recent human interference. Our hypothesis stated that residential areas would show higher levels of phosphorus, lower levels of pH, and increased turbidity due to human activity. Two samples of water and an additional sediment sample were collected from each location for analysis. We tested the water and sediment samples for: pH, turbidity, phosphorus levels, and total suspended solids. Our results indicated that there were no significant differences between the three sites for pH, phosphorus levels, and turbidity. There was a significant difference between the three areas of shoreline regarding total suspended solids. Overall, we found no significant differences between nutrient levels, pH, and turbidity between different areas of shoreline. Regarding total suspended solids, we have no way to tell what those solids were; however, an increased amount of total suspended solids may indicate a difference in water quality. We rejected our alternative hypothesis that nutrients, turbidity, and pH would be higher at residential sites, but found instead higher total suspended solids in the area of the raingarden. Further research will be necessary to identify the source of the solids along the raingarden.

Mentor(s): Dr. Michael Aho and Dr. Joseph Whittaker


The Effects of Controlled Field Burning on the Density of Soil Fungi

Playlist: STEM – Biology-Ecology COSS 2020

Hannah Almlie, Erik Lucken, Kari Wayne

Mycorrhizae is the symbiotic relationship between fungi and plant roots. Controlled field burning occurs in order to cycle nutrients in the soil, which also assists fungal growth. To further understand how controlled burning affects fungal associations, samples were taken from two fields burned in different years, 2018 and 2019. The soil samples were diluted and placed under a microscope to compare the difference in the number of hyphal clusters found in each sample. Results from this experiment showed that the field burned in 2019 contained a significantly higher number of fungal clusters in each sample than the field burned in 2018. It is believed that more recent burning causes nutrients in the soil to be more readily available for uptake by plant roots and soil fungi; therefore, leading to greater amounts of fungal colonies.

Mentor(s): Dr. Joe Whittaker


Carbon allocation differences in cultivars and native prairie flowers

Playlist: STEM – Biology-Ecology COSS 2020

Emma Chandler, Shawna Pantzke, Ellie DeVos

Pollinating insects are declining as climate change, farming practices, and disease outbreaks affect insect health, habitats, and their ecological interactions with other species. Recently, planting pollinator gardens has become popular as a way to increase resources for pollinators in urban settings. However, most flowers marketed as “pollinator-friendly” are cultivars, modified to improve yield or enhance specific traits that are desirable to humans, but there may be unforeseen consequences for pollinators. As desirable traits are emphasized, such as growing larger blooms, other traits may be lost because the desired traits are energy intensive for the plants to produce. Traits that may be lost could be essential for pollinator health, such as nectar quantity and quality. The purpose of our study was to determine if cultivar flowering plants have altered patterns of growth compared to their native counterparts, and if this altered pattern of growth affects nectar quantity and quality. We selected and grew five different native-cultivar pairings of common prairie plants. We studied nectar sugar ratios (sucrose/hexoses), relative sugar quantities, and growth of roots, stems, leaves, and blooms. Our results suggest that cultivars do allocate more energy to flower growth than native plants, and that in at least one species, this impacted the quality of nectar. The results of our study highlight the importance of better understanding the potential impact human-desired traits in cultivars have on growth patterns and the pollinators they are supposed to benefit.

Mentor(s): Dr. Althea ArchMiller and Dr. Bryan Bishop


The differentiation of white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) from deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) using salivary amylase and morphological measurements

Playlist: STEM – Biology-Ecology COSS 2020

Lauryn Petrich, Vanessa Petrich, Olivia Vergin

White-footed (Peromyscus leucopus), and deer (Peromyscus maniculatus) mice are genetically and physiologically distinguishable from each other and considered different species. However, they share morphological characteristics that overlap substantially and make it difficult to differentiate them accurately, particularly in the field. These species are important to differentiate though because they act as reservoirs for different pathogens. Recently, there has been increasing overlap in the ranges that these species of mice inhibit due to climate change. Additionally, studies have indicated altered phenotypes of each mice species creating even more morphological overlap. Previous research has used external measurements of the tail, hind feet and ears, pelage, and quantitative, cranial measurements to distinguish P. leucopus and P. maniculatus from one another, but these measurements have only correctly distinguish between 55% and 66% of the species, respectively. Cellulose acetate electrophoresis of their salivary amylase is a reliable measurement to differentiate these two species. Saliva samples were collected from restored and remnant prairies, and woodlands in Minnesota from 2004 to 2019. Electrophoresis on salivary samples has been run on samples collected up until 2016 and compared with their corresponding morphological measurements. We compared morphological measurements and their corresponding electrophoresis results to see if there are any field marks that can be used for identification. The focus of this specific research is to determine the validity of morphological identification by comparing the phenotypic measurements of the mice with their corresponding salivary amylase identification.

Mentor(s): Dr. Joe Whittaker


Analysis of Recent Occurrences of the Plains Pocket Mouse (Perognathus flavescens) in Minnesota

Playlist: STEM – Biology-Ecology COSS 2020

Logan Hatfield, Greta Duren, Faith James

Trapping of remnant and restored prairies in northwestern Minnesota has provided data on presence and population levels of small mammals that inhabit those prairies. Among the species caught over a 15 year span (2004-2019) was the plains pocket mouse Perognathus flavescens. We have caught a total of ten individuals at sites in Clay and Norman Counties, with the most recent being caught in July 2019. In Clay County, one site was a remnant (historically unexploited or non-farmed) prairie and the other site was a restored (previously farmed) prairie. The Norman County site is also a remnant prairie. The total number of occurrences has remained low through the years of trapping. The species reaches its northern and eastern range limit in Minnesota, but the species is currently listed as being of special concern to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. This is most likely due to increased land development leading to habitat fragmentation. Further sampling and continued vigilance is recommended in order to determine if the species should remain of conservation concern. We present an analysis of soil layers and vegetation, as well as comparisons to other occurrences, including historical ones, documented in Minnesota, to attempt to understand suitable habitat for continuing studies.

Mentor(s): Dr. Joe Whittaker


Analyzing energy allocation in native and invasive Elodea species

Playlist: STEM – Biology-Ecology COSS 2020

Jessica Skindelien, Dakshya Karki

The presence of invasive species in aquatic environments can have significant impacts on biodiversity and ecology of aquatic ecosystems. Moreover, control of these invasive species requires large expenses. Two species of Elodea, namely Elodea canadensis native to Europe and Elodea nuttallii native to North America but invasive in Europe were of particular interest due to their occurrence in the two continents. The research aimed to examine what the European native Elodea canadensis and the invasive Elodea nuttallii species were allocating more of their resources towards- growth or defense? Carbon composition can reveal significant information about energy allocation by plants. The energy distribution was analyzed by observing the carbohydrate (starch and glucose) composition, common sources of energy for plants, in different parts of the plant specimen collected from Europe and North America. Plant species that are native are expected to be better at defense due to presence of natural predators as opposed to invasive species that lack them in the new environment. The contradictory results showing higher energy allocation towards growth in native species can shed more light on other factors coming into play as well as factors needed to be examined in these aquatic plants to better understand invasive species and native species competition.

Mentor(s): Dr. Michelle Marko


Small Crustaceans, Big Implications: Anthropogenic Impacts of Propeller Scars on Floridian Ecosystems

Playlist: STEM – Biology-Ecology COSS 2020

Skyler Klostreich, Faith James, Ingrid Jacobson

Florida’s seagrass meadows provide habitats for many keystone species, but are vulnerable to propeller scarring, which fragments meadows and disrupt species movements. Long-term impacts of fragmentation are monitored via seagrass nutrient content analyses, reflecting nutrient availability in ecosystems. Amphipod community analysis demonstrates effects of habitat fragmentation on higher trophic levels. Previous studies investigated effects of scarring on crustaceans, but none have examined the effects on amphipod communities. We are investigating long-term effects of propeller scars on seagrass nutrient content and amphipod communities. Samples were collected from three propeller scars in Lignumvitae State Park, Florida. Amphipod species’ frequencies were identified, and will be calculated across sampling plots for univariate statistical analysis. A multivariate analysis across sampling plots will identify community-level changes. Seagrass samples are being analyzed for total nutrient content. Data from our preliminary analysis don’t indicate strong impact of propeller scarring on seagrass nutrient content or amphipod abundance. Data will be reported to Florida’s State Parks department, contributing to conservation management practices.

Mentor(s): Dr. Jennifer Sweatman


α-Ketoglutarate as an Inhibitor of Glutamate Dehydrogenase

Playlist: STEM – Chemistry COSS 2020

Mitzi Probst

Enzymes play a vital role in a variety of biological processes. The dissociation constant, Km is a measure of the affinity of an enzyme for its substrate. In the case of glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH), the allosteric effector, alpha ketoglutarate, alters the conformation of the enzyme, slowing product production. We used various concentrations of alpha ketoglutarate in order to compare the resulting glutamate Kms with the maximum velocities of the reaction (vmax). Results indicate a slight decrease in Km, or activation of the enzyme. However, the vmax decreased as the concentration of alpha ketoglutarate increased. This means that alpha ketoglutarate acts as a mild activator on the Km, but an inhibitor of the vmax. Alpha ketoglutarate is therefore a mixed effector of the kinetics of GDH.

Mentor(s): Dr. David Mork


How does the electric field of an ion decay with distance?

Playlist: STEM – Chemistry COSS 2020

Vy Tat

Electric fields are ubiquitously important in heterogeneous catalysis, photovoltaics, electrochemistry and device physics. Local electric fields can be measured using vibrational Stark shift spectroscopy that correlated shift in vibrational frequency to the electric field according to its equation. In this work we have explored the effect of charged head group on the vibrational frequency of nitrile (CN) as a function of varying chain length separating the head group from the CN. By changing the solvents in which the nitriles were dissolved, we measured the influence of environment on the field.

Mentor(s): Drs. Matthew Voegtle, Anwesha Maitra, Sohini Sarkar, and Jahan Dawlaty


Product Inhibition Studies of EcGDH Reveal an Ordered Mechanism

Playlist: STEM – Chemistry COSS 2020

Zachary Strickland

E. Coli glutamate dehydrogenase (EcGDH) is a highly regulated, homohexomeric enzyme active in cellular metabolism which catalyzes the transformation of glutamate’s primary amide, a carbonyl group, forming alpha-ketoglutarate (ɑKG). Our research focused on elucidating the overall mechanism via spectrophotometric assays of product inhibition using wide concentrations of substrate and inhibitors. Assays contained 35µM NADP+ and 0-20mM Glu, with either 0-100 mM ɑKG, 0-200 µM NADPH, or 0-10 mM NH3. Absorbance at 340nm was followed for five minutes following the addition of enzyme. Assays demonstrated competitive inhibition for Glu with ɑKG, and noncompetitive inhibition for Glu with NADPH and NH3. The competitive pattern indicates that Glu is the first substrate to bind in the active site and ɑKG is the last to leave after catalysis is complete. Noncompetitive patterns in NADPH and NH3 indicate that they bind to forms of the enzyme not accessible to Glu, so are found in the middle of the mechanism. While not definitive, these data strongly correlate with the suggested ordered mechanism of catalysis.

Mentor(s): Dr. David Mork


Candy, Chromatography, and Improving Student Understanding of Polarity

Playlist: STEM – Chemistry COSS 2020

Sofia Palme, Andrew Johnson

One of the challenges in chemical education research is to create new materials which embrace the required complex topic and at the same time engage students through utilization of real word examples. At Concordia College in Moorhead Minnesota, we have recently worked on improving student understanding of polarity and chromatography in the general chemistry lab through a series of new course-based activities. Our project incorporated commercially available colored materials, such as marker pens and food dyes, which possess different polarities. Their colorful nature and minimal hazardous waste generation make them ideal as the basis for these brand new, engaging labs. Our research initially looked at developing and optimizing new pedagogy for the general chemistry teaching lab which was then successfully implemented at Concordia College in the Fall of 2019. This poster will share details of not only the experiments, but also results from this past implementation and how this is being refined for future use.

Mentor(s): Dr. Graeme Wyllie


Improving Student Understanding of Polarity in the General Chemistry Laboratory: New Chromatographic Studies Using Commercial Food Dyes and Candies

Playlist: STEM – Chemistry COSS 2020

Andrew Johnson, Sofia Palme

Polarity is a fundamental concept in understanding molecular interactions and molecules physical properties, making it important for students to understand early on in their science career. The goal of this research was to develop a series of new practical experiments that will help General Chemistry students obtain a better understanding of polarity. Polarity will be introduced to students through Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) studies of a variety of materials, (water-soluble/sharpie markers and food colors) which illustrate polarity through how the analytes react with mobile and stationary phases. This is later developed through analysis of dyes in a range of commercial food colors and skittles using High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HPLC). Using TLC allows students to easily visualize separation based off of polarity, while the use of the HPLC builds upon these principles and introduces advanced instrumentation which culminates in allowing students to determine the amount of commercial food dye in skittles samples. The goals of these labs, which are being implemented this fall at Concordia, is to allow students to achieve a stronger understanding of chemical polarity and gain experience in chromatography and the choice of materials being studied was done to provide real world relevance and hopefully increase engagement.

Mentor(s): Dr. Graeme Wyllie


Determination of the Efficacy of Chitosan-Alginate Bioplastics as a Delivery System of Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen

Playlist: STEM – Chemistry COSS 2020

Lauryn Hinckley

A chitosan alginate bioplastic as a drug release system should provide a better and slower release than what is currently available. Bioplastics will be prepared, impregnated with acetaminophen and ibuprofen. The bioplastics were then be immersed in a series of solutions to measure release rate. Analysis was be carried out using UV-Vis spectroscopy and High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC). By looking at immediate and long-term release rates, partition coefficients for the drug between the bioplastic and the solution could be determined. Individual release rates of acetaminophen and ibuprofen were determined separately from a series of chitosan alginate bioplastics. Bioplastics containing both analgesics were prepared and studied to see if there was any cooperative or inhibitive effects from the two separate analgesics. Finding the release rate for each analgesic will be extremely important as slow release gel caps have been shown to have the same release rates as fast acting medications. Thank you to Dr Wyllie for the instruction and the lab space for the project. Also, thank you to Sigma Zeta for providing monetary support for this project.

Mentor(s): Dr. Graeme Wyllie


Targeting Cancer: Development of a Novel Chemotherapeutic Derivative of Cis-Platin

Playlist: STEM – Chemistry COSS 2020

David Fehr

Cis-platin is a common drug used in during chemotherapy for testicular cancer patients. It triggers cell death by disrupting the integrity of the DNA in cells. Unfortunately, cis-platin affects both cancerous and healthy cells in the body, leading to the various negative side-effects related to chemotherapy. Ligand targeted drugs adapt existing compounds to better target a desired area. By connecting a targeting ligand to the drug with an easily cleavable link, the drug is taken up more frequently by the targeted cells. In this case, folic acid, or vitamin B9, was chosen to be the targeting ligand because the α-receptor for folic acid is overexpressed in ovarian cancer cells. The goal of this project is the develop a molecular linker with a cleavable site and the ability to selectively bind to both cis-platin and folic acid.

Mentor(s): Dr. Donald Krogstad and Dr. Drew Rutherford


Sustainable Thrills: Green Practices at Valleyfair Amusement Park

Playlist: STEM – Environmental Studies COSS 2020

Anna Weier

Amusement parks generate a significant amount of waste and require high energy usage for operation. The field of environmental studies can prove useful in developing ways to implement green practices into everyday operation, taking into account those structures already in place and establishing new methods. Valleyfair Amusement Park in Shakopee, Minnesota, has a reputation for being one of the cleanest amusement parks in the country. However, it is by far not the greenest. While many other amusement park companies, including Disney, Universal, and Six Flags, have taken steps to incorporate green practices into their operation, such as renewable energy and recycling, there is room for improvement at Valleyfair. After conducting research on other parks, speaking with representatives from Valleyfair, and examining current environmental and waste policies for Scott County, Minnesota, this project determines the reasons for minimal green practices, investigates potential practices for future operation, and develops a recycling implementation plan for the park.

Mentor(s): Dr. Jennifer Sweatman


Bee Campus USA

Playlist: STEM – Environmental Studies COSS 2020

Ashley John

In recent years, crucial pollinator populations have struggled under the pressures presented to them by human civilization, particularly declines in suitable pollinator habitat. To remedy this crisis, organizations have arisen with sights set on stabilizing these populations through habitat restoration. One of these organizations is Bee Campus USA. Through their program, they strive to make college campuses across the country more welcoming to pollinators of every species. The goal of this particular project is to make Concordia’s campus more suitable to pollinators and allow for more publicity as an environmentally friendly campus. This status also provides national recognition of pre-existing environmental activities as well as current and future work. To become a Bee Campus USA member, Concordia college must identify guidelines it will follow for acceptance. The first of these is to establish a Bee Campus USA committee which will be responsible for ensuring the college meets its requirements for initial application and annual renewal. Next, a Pollinator Habitat Management plan that includes an Integrated Pest Management plan aimed to minimize the use of pesticides on campus is required. The college must also offer courses and/or workshops and annually host events that work to educate attendees on the importance of pollinators as well as acknowledge the college’s Bee Campus USA membership. Finally, Concordia College must disseminate information about the importance of pollinators to the public through physical signage and a webpage.

Mentor(s): Dr. Jennifer Sweatman and Jackie Maahs


Charismatic Zoo Mascots

Playlist: STEM – Environmental Studies COSS 2020

Casey Jenson

Conservation efforts are often brought to the public’s attention through charismatic megafauna and flagship species. Charismatic megafauna are picturesque well-recognized species, often mammals, whereas flagship species are organisms selected to represent an issue or area. Conservation efforts are often demonstrated to the general public through zoos. Zoos give the public first-hand knowledge of animals and the efforts behind their protection that they would not normally see in their region. These zoos often use animals as their focus of advertisements, gift shop items, and logos. Using charismatic megafauna as zoo mascots can also offer a downside, where people begin to only associate conservation needs towards these specific mascots. This allows some species to be underrepresented and funding to be prioritized toward certain animals and areas over others. The aim of this study is to research whether zoos utilize flagship species as their mascots and which species are used most often. This study focuses on the AZA accredited zoos and aquariums and their logos to find the proportion of zoos that use charismatic species as mascots compared to zoos that do not. Since zoos are at the forefront of conservation, the animals they promote can get more attention and funding over animals that may need more protection efforts. Finally, it was found that overwhelmingly mammals are used as flagship species for zoo mascots in Midwestern region of the United States, which demonstrates that charismatic megafauna are often used as the focus of logos for AZA accredited zoos and aquariums.

Mentor(s): Dr. Jennifer Sweatman


Sent Packing? The Effects of Urban Development in the Fargo/Moorhead Area on White-tailed Jackrabbits (Lepus townsendii)

Playlist: STEM – Environmental Studies COSS 2020

Emma Detloff

Development of the Fargo/Moorhead area is continually increasing. Populations of Lepus townsendii that once flourished have almost disappeared. Their abundance is important to study as it influences the population trends of predator species like coyotes (Canis latrans) and some raptor species. White-tailed Jackrabbits also exert significant influence on agricultural activities and rangeland conditions. It is a concern with much of the rural area surrounding Fargo/Moorhead belonging to agriculture when this species has the reputation of being an agricultural pest. For this study, visual monitoring using trail cameras and binoculars took place between February and March 2020. Locations where population observations took place include South Moorhead and South Fargo where White-tailed Jackrabbit populations have previously been documented and monitored. From zero to low individual numbers recorded during the observation period, it appears as though the population of Lepus townsendii has diminished when compared to population numbers of earlier years. Urban development and predation play a factor in this.

Mentor(s): Dr. Jennifer Sweatman


Environmental Justice of Urban Green Spaces: A Comparative Study of Green Infrastructure in Paris and Chicago

Playlist: STEM – Environmental Studies COSS 2020

Leah Jadeke

Green spaces, or green infrastructure projects, in urban areas are known for making cities healthier, reducing crime, and aiding in the fight against climate change. At the surface level, these initiatives do not seem complex; though questions arise about who these spaces are created for. Evidence shows that many of these projects are completed in areas of wealth with underlying racial discriminations. Through an environmental justice lens, a comparative study of Paris and Chicago sheds light on the complicated nature of implementing green infrastructure projects. The comparison of a French and an American city highlights the reality of environmental injustice being a global issue, as similar trends are seen in these locations. The parameters being abundance, purpose, accessibility, and location in relation to surrounding property value are compared and critiqued in Paris and Chicago. Using studies published on urban green spaces in the two cities as well as GIS analysis, environmental justice practices-or a lack thereof- have been identified in the respective cities. Additionally, the comparative study looks for positive infrastructure projects that have been implemented in these areas for an application step for the Fargo/Moorhead community.

Mentor(s): Dr. Jennifer Sweatman and Dr. Gay Rawson


The Biological and Economic Impact of Stocking Mountain Lakes

Playlist: STEM – Environmental Studies COSS 2020

Cole Guzman

Conservation funds within the United States are being cut more and more every year. There is a need to reassess the current conservation projects and look at the efficiency of individual projects. The goal of this study is to assess the effects of stocking trout in mountain lakes . By exploring how these connect, it can help shed light on conservation funds that could be put to better use. Many of the lakes being regularly stocked with fish do not support self-sustaining populations, because the lakes lack adequate spawning grounds. Data were collected from research done with Fish Wildlife and Parks this past summer where we sampled the fish populations of a selection of lakes and combined it with publicly available data about recent stocking. These data were used to analyze the effectiveness of stocking and which lakes cannot support a trout population without constant re-stocking. I have also been in communication with the local hatchery and to calculate the cost of stocking these mountain lakes. We found that the lakes lacking spawning grounds or adequate water depth to survive winter, produced much smaller trout and lower quantities even before the cycle was complete for restocking. We need to consider how the stocking of these lakes is meant for human use and enjoyment, but does there need to be changing requirements with the changing of the environment?

Mentor(s): Dr. Jennifer Sweatman


Decreased Neural Activity in the Auditory Cortex Associated with Behavioral Abnormality in a Mouse Model of Cow’s Milk Allergy

Playlist: STEM – Neuroscience COSS 2020

William Berning

Food allergies, particularly cow’s milk and wheat allergies, are thought to be associated with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). It has been reported that consumption of certain foods exacerbates behavioral symptoms of ASD, and allergy treatments result in improvement. Conversely, some animal models of food allergy exhibit autistic-like behavior. ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder, and patients often display abnormal sensory perception, such as overreaction to benign levels of sound. Inhibitory interneurons within the primary auditory cortex are thought to regulate the activity of excitatory neurons during normal auditory processing. Thus, we hypothesized that the activity of these interneurons may be impaired in ASD. To test this hypothesis, we examined changes in neuronal activity of the auditory cortex in a mouse model of cow’s milk allergy. We sensitized C57BL/6J mice to b-lactoglobulin (BLG), a major whey protein and known allergen in cow’s milk, for 5 weeks. Mice were then challenged with the allergen and their behavior was tested. Mice showed anxiety like behavior in the elevated zero maze along with the open field test. Mice sensitized to milk allergen were less likely to engage in risky behavior. Immunoreactivity for c-Fos transcription factor was used as a neuronal activity marker, and the number of c-Fos immunoreactive cells in the auditory cortex was quantified using Image J software. We found that BLG-sensitized male mice showed significantly fewer c-Fos-positive cells in the auditory cortex. To determine whether the decrease in c-Fos staining was due to declined activity of interneurons, brain sections were double-stained for parvalbumin (PV), a marker for a subset of interneurons in the brain, and colocalization with c-Fos was assessed using immunofluorescence confocal microscopy. We did not find PV-positive staining in the auditory cortex, although positively stained cells were present in other regions of the brain, such as the cerebellum. Thus, our results did not show colocalization of c-Fos in interneurons of the auditory cortex, likely due to suboptimal PV staining condition. Further study is warranted to identify the cell type(s) that reduce their c-Fos immunoreactivity in the auditory cortex of BLG-sensitized mice.

Mentor(s): Dr. Kumi Nagamoto-Combs


LPS Upregulates Pro-inflammatory Cytokine Production via TLR2-TLR4-CD14 Receptor Complex Signaling

Playlist: STEM – Neuroscience COSS 2020

Ingrid Jacobson, Kenneth David

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), the most common substance abuse disorder in the United States, is linked to binge drinking behaviors. Binge drinking activates the neuroimmune system via pro-inflammatory cytokine release. Chronic binge drinking causes chronic neuroinflammation, which leads to symptoms of AUD. The mechanistic link between binge drinking and AUD currently remains unknown. Our research suggests that the TLR2-TLR4-CD14 receptor complex plays a novel role in linking Binge-alcohol drinking, alcohol use disorders, and the neuro-immune system through Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) activation.

Mentor(s): Dr. Julie Mach


Demyelination and interferon signaling in axons cause retrograde upregulation of ISGylation pathway genes

Playlist: STEM – Neuroscience COSS 2020

Kenneth David

Cognitive impairment in Multiple Sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system, is associated with diffuse gray matter injury but remains poorly understood. Given that axons span both white and gray matter regions, signals within these axons may contribute to the spread of diffuse injury in the brain. We show that retrograde interferon-gamma (IFNg) signaling in axons (in vitro human and mouse) and demyelination (mouse in vivo) cause transcriptional and translational changes in neuronal cell bodies. Chief among the candidate signaling pathways identified is ISGylation, a process whereby a multitude of cellular proteins are modified by the attachment of one or more ISG15 molecules. Using custom adeno-associated viral vectors, we tested how altering ISGylation in neurons affects neuronal synaptic function and how it affects neuronal responsiveness to specific inflammatory factors in cell cultures. We also measured ISGylation in human MS brain tissues to see if neuronal ISGylation correlates with gray matter injury in MS. We report early evidence that increased neuron ISGylation alters the composition of neuron-derived extracellular vesicles. Microglia treated with extracellular vesicles from neurons overexpressing ISGylation pathway genes exhibited morphology consistent with increased phagocytic activity and increased mRNA expression of inflammatory cytokines including CCL2, IL1b, TNFa, iNOS, CXCL10, CCL5, and IL6. At this point, it is still unclear how these changes are related to gray matter pathology; however, microglial activation by these vesicles may be involved in driving synapse loss as activated microglia are capable of stripping neuronal synapses.

Mentor(s): Dr. Benjamin Clarkson and Dr. Charles Howe


Pro-inflammatory Cytokine Interleukin-1beta (IL-1β) Activates Alcoholism Cycle

Playlist: STEM – Neuroscience COSS 2020

Sofia Perez

Up to 2018, about 90,000 alcohol-related deaths in the U.S. were recorded annually. Therefore, exploring the mechanistic link to binge alcohol consumption behavior is crucial to reduce death rates. Pro- inflammatory cytokine Interleukin-1beta (IL-1β), released from ethanol intake, is the key factor that causes depressive stage on consumers. Simultaneously, ethanol also generates the reward pathway by increasing in dopamine. These processes create a vicious cycle of alcoholism. Furthermore, we propose two treatments to alcohol consumers: 1) the use of oral consumption of JM6 and Ro61-8084 to inhibit the expression of kynurenine, and 2) Danggui Buxue Tang (DBT) to suppress NLRP-3 inflammasome. This will result in a better understanding of the mechanistic link and provide direction for future research.

Mentor(s): Dr. Krys Strand


Exploring Behavioral and Transcriptional Effects of Social vs. Isolated Rearing in the Zebrafish VPA Model of ASD

Playlist: STEM – Neuroscience COSS 2020

Caitlin Eisenschenk, Reilly Mach, Anh Nguyen, Kelly Noah, Yanick Tade, Kenny David, Paige Kopka, Zach Strickland, Emily Hilfers

Our study explores the impact of social interaction on the behavioral symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in zebrafish (Danio rerio) exposed to valproic acid (VPA) and aims to characterize differential neural gene expression such as the Shank3 gene between treatment groups. An estimated 1 in 59 individuals born in the U.S.A. develop ASD, a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by limited social skills and repetitive behavior, symptoms which can contribute to social isolation. VPA is an anti-epileptic medication used to treat seizures, bipolar disorder, and migraines; however, VPA exposure during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of ASD susceptibility in infants. To determine the effect of early socialization in a zebrafish model of ASD, our lab reared VPA-exposed embryos individually or in small groups to compare behavior and gene expression with controls. Early data collected with EthoVision XT 14 suggests that group-reared fish prefer center-tank vs edge-tank exploration. We expect to observe heightened behavioral anxiety markers in isolated VPA-exposed fish compared to controls. We anticipate rearing VPA-treated fish in social groups will ameliorate these behaviors. Shank3 is a gene of interest that encodes a protein essential for synapse genesis and maintenance. To determine the expression of this gene, total protein was extracted from embryos and adult zebrafish and analyzed using a Western blot. We predict that Shank3 expression will decrease in VPA-treated zebrafish.

Mentor(s): Dr. Krys Strand


Neuroscience in schools: A Bridge to Higher Education

Playlist: STEM – Neuroscience COSS 2020

Allison Bahe

Neuroscience is often seen as intimidating and inaccessible. Introducing children to this field at an approachable level was my primary goal when developing an experiential learning project. Each session allowed me the unique opportunity to teach students about science in a memorable way while furthering my own adaptability and competence. Unfortunately, my final session was cancelled due to Covid-19, though the knowledge spread was still advantageous to all those I was able to reach. The project was designed to be adaptable. I presented in two different settings, utilizing knowledge with different age groups and participant numbers. Each setting was highly interactive with about 50% teaching and 50% hands on exploration. Each exploration explored a different one of the 5 senses while the final exploration involved comparative anatomy through use of sheep and cow brains. Through teaching, I learned the information in greater depth while introducing students to the applicability and versatility of neuroscience. Each event provided a unique set of challenges, demonstrating the importance of versatility when teaching in different settings. This experience was invaluable to me, though its greatest significance was its impact on students. Neuroscience was the medium through which children could learn and develop goals that foster confidence and laid the groundwork for further knowledge acquisition to accomplish these aspirations, no matter how daunting they may seem.

Mentor(s): Dr. Susan Larson


Quantum Tunneling Time Distributions For Double δ Potential Barriers

Playlist: STEM – Physics & Mathematics COSS 2020

Benjamin Bogart

Quantum tunneling is a well-established phenomenon that occurs when a particle enters a classically forbidden region and emerges on the opposite side of an otherwise impenetrable barrier. Calculating the time it takes a particle to tunnel through a barrier has remained an unsolved theoretical question since the middle of the 20th century. In this investigation, we studied two methods of calculating these times, the Salecker-Wigner-Peres clock time and phase time. By considered a localized particle described by a Gaussian wave packet incident on barriers consisting of two point potentials with defined parity symmetry (double δ, double δ’ and double δ(1) ) we investigated the average times and a distribution of times for quantum tunneling events, as recently proposed in [2]. Average tunneling times showed no evidence of the Generalized Hartman Effect in any scenario. Both the average times and the distributions of times were generally qualitatively similar for the clock and phase times. Only for small barrier separations did they diverge significantly.


[2] Lunardi, Jose T. and Manzoni, Luiz, A., “A Probability Distribution for Quantum Tunneling Times.” Advances in High Energy Physics, vol. 2018, 19 August 2018.

Mentor(s): Dr. Luiz Manzoni


Upgrades to Concordia’s DC glow discharge device and investigations of plasma characteristics

Playlist: STEM – Physics & Mathematics COSS 2020

Alex Brueske, Willie Julkes III

A DC glow discharge device continues to be developed at Concordia College to conduct plasma physics research and for use as an educational tool in the advanced laboratory. Recent upgrades have increased the safety of the apparatus and added functionality. The plasma breakdown voltage was measured for an air discharge and found to qualitatively agree with Paschen’s Law. Differences are thought to be due, in part, to differences in geometry, but they also highlight the challenge of such measurements. Langmuir probes were constructed from tungsten wire insulated by alumina ceramic tubing within a surrounding stainless steel tube. Analysis of Langmuir probe data determined plasma characteristics (including the plasma potential, ion saturation current, and electron temperature) from the current versus voltage curve (IV-curve). Plasma temperature is deduced from a subtle feature in the data, and previous measurements incorrectly analyzed the wrong part of the IV-curve. Overall, the upgrades made to this apparatus will facilitate safe experiments in plasma physics and promote learning experiences for future students.

Mentor(s): Dr. Matthew ArchMiller


Stereotactic Radiosurgery Treatment

Playlist: STEM – Physics & Mathematics COSS 2020

Brett Erickson

Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is a cancer therapy modality in which the treated brain tumor is targeted with a high dose of radiation to be delivered in a single treatment. In conjunction with the high level of radiation present in SRS treatments, brain tissue and nearby organs are very sensitive to irradiation, making the conformality of the dose distribution even more crucial. Due to these factors, the planning of SRS is very rigorous and time consuming. Planning requires the collaborative effort of radiation oncologists, medical physicists, medical dosimetrists, radiation therapists, nurses, and more. This talk will give a brief overview of general radiation therapy treatment planning and stereotactic radiosurgery planning.

Mentor(s): Dr. Luiz Manzoni


Investigation of the Magnetic Properties of Aluminum, Nickel, and Chromium Doped Goethite

Playlist: STEM – Physics & Mathematics COSS 2020

Bailey Klause, Andrew Middendorf

Goethite is an iron oxide commonly found on Earth’s surface, and it often has some amount of aluminum substitution. This aluminum impacts the structure and characteristics of the goethite. In our work, we investigated the effects that substitution of varying amounts of aluminum, nickel, and chromium has on the magnetic properties of goethite samples. Three different sets of samples were synthesized with differing target percentages of metal doping. Each set was then thermally treated in order to accelerate the conversion process of the iron oxide. The first set of samples was doped with target substitutions of 0,4,8,12, and 24% aluminum. The next two sets of samples were doped with target substitutions of a constant 4% aluminum and 4, 8, and 20% nickel or chromium. This was done to determine whether one metal would substitute preferentially, as well as observe how the different metals affect the iron oxide properties. The samples were then analyzed using Mössbauer Spectroscopy in order to identify the phases that were present in each sample and the nature of their magnetic behavior. Some samples were also examined using VSM and a SQUID magnetometer to further inspect their magnetic properties.

Mentor(s): Dr. Thelma Berquó and Dr. Graeme Wyllie


Exploration of filled-in Julia sets arising from centered polygonal lacunary functions

Playlist: STEM – Physics & Mathematics COSS 2020

Leah Mork, Trenton Vogt

Centered polygonal lacunary functions are a particular type of lacunary function that exhibit properties which set them apart from other lacunary functions. Primarily, centered polygonal lacunary functions have true rotational symmetry. This rotational symmetry is visually seen in the corresponding Julia and Mandelbrot sets. The features and characteristics of these related Julia and Mandelbrot sets are discussed, and the parameter space, made with a phase rotation and offset shift, is intricately explored. Also studied in this work are the iterative dynamical map, its characteristics, and its fixed points. This work is has found connection to many mathematical and physical concepts.

Mentor(s): Dr. Darin Ulness and Dr. Drew Rutherford


Cornu spirals and the triangular lacunary trigonometric system

Playlist: STEM – Physics & Mathematics COSS 2020

Trenton Vogt, Leah Mork

This work is intended to directly supplement the previous work by Coutsias and Kazarinoff on the foundational understanding of lacunary trigonometric systems and their relation to the Fresnel integrals and specifically the Cornu spirals [Physica 26D (1987) 295]. These systems are intimately related to incomplete Gaussian summations. The current work provides a focused look at the specific system built off of the triangular numbers. The special cyclic character of the triangular numbers modulo m carries through to triangular lacunary trigonometric systems. Specifically, this work characterizes the families of Cornu spirals arising from triangular lacunary trigonometric systems. Special features such as self-similarity, isometry, and symmetry are presented and discussed.

Mentor(s): Dr. Darin Ulness and Dr. Drew Rutherford