Wellstar College of Health and Human Services 2021-2022 Projects

Click here to return to the main project listings page.  Questions: Email our@kennesaw.edu.

  • 2021-2022 First-Year Scholars: Lilianne Natawidjaja,Nursing; William Anderson, Biology

    • In previous research studies, we have developed regression models that predict body composition from step counts expressed relative to fat mass (e.g., steps/kg fat mass/day) in adults between 19-40 years old.  In this research study, we will determine the efficacy of application of that model for resulting in predictable changes in body weight/composition in (i.e., a 5% weight loss) in overweight/obese adults 19-40 years of age. 

    • Students will be exposed to the whole of the research process (data collection, model development, data analysis, dissemination), and will be able to gain hands-on experience in measuring body composition using our BIA and DEXA units.  

    • Students will schedule and conduct body composition assessments, download step counts from pedometers, and maintain data spreadsheets. 

    • Dr. Robert Buresh, rburesh@kennesaw.edu


  • 2021-2022 First-Year Scholar: Nichakorn Choojai, Nursing

    • Our research team studies the impact of obesity and physical activity on metabolic health. Obesity is a very complex condition, often a result of internal and environmental influences on the human body. Our interdisciplinary team can be an ideal first step for students preparing for healthcare-related careers. Our team pursues research in various fields of biological sciences like Exercise Science, Toxicology, Psychology, Cardiometabolic health, etc. Students gain experience working both independently and in collaboration with other students, postdocs, and faculty to develop projects for presentation.

      Currently, we are preparing to launch an NIH-funded research study in Fall 2021 on women during pregnancy. Participants will visit the Exercise physiology lab and the research team will test them for body composition, fitness, nutrition, cardiometabolic health, and glucose metabolism. Blood collected from the subjects will be analyzed in the Biomarkers lab for certain proteins.

      Students joining us this Fall 2021 semester, will be involved in, training in laboratory techniques, and assisting in data collection. We are also working on publishing and presenting the findings from previous pilot studies. In Fall 2021, our team will be working in Exercise Physiology and Biomarkers lab, training in laboratory techniques, and practice assessments. Our team includes faculty from Exercise Science and Nursing, postdoctoral researchers, and both graduate and undergraduate students from Exercise Science, Biology, Biochemistry, Nursing, and Psychology. We would love to include a First-Year Scholar who is enthusiastic about science and interested in learning about various aspects of research!

    • By the end of this experience, the students will have a better understating of research in various fields of biological sciences. They will be well versed with literature search, and terminologies used in research.

      We aim to provide students with a better understanding of research questions, methodologies, data analysis, proposals, etc. They will learn the art of working with an interdisciplinary team. At the end of the program, the students will present their research/creative activity to an audience (e.g., poster, oral presentation).

      We plan to help the students better understand research and get a step closer to their career goals.

    • The student will be required to commit 8-10 hours a week to this program. They will get involved with various activities of the ongoing research. They will learn various tools and techniques used in our labs.

      They can assist during subject testing in the ExPhys lab or sample analysis in the biomarkers lab.

      Students will work closely with their mentors on a research project and present their research at a conference.

    • Dr. Sadaf Dabeer, sdabeer@kennesaw.edu

  • 2021-2022 First Year Scholar: Cole Suthpin, Exercise Science

    • Confirmation Bias exists when people change their behavior based on preconceived expectations. This cognitive bias is a potential problem in the research of advanced orthopedic devices. As prosthetics and orthotics have increased in complexity, with microprocessors and motors, it has become important to measure outcomes that justify the additional expense. However, these outcomes might be confounded if users expect the devices to perform better and therefore act differently when using the devices or reporting outcomes. 

      This project will assess confirmation bias in users of prosthetics and orthotics through subjective feedback and objective 3D gait analysis. We will present participants with devices that are said to be technologically advanced, but are actually just standard devices, to see if the expectation of device function affects user feedback and gait. We will utilize the state-of-the-art motion capture system in the Biomechanics Lab in Prillaman Hall for the study.

    • Students will learn about biomechanics and 3D motion analysis, data reduction, analysis, and dissemination.

    • Students will engage in all aspects of the project, including IRB, subject recruitment, data collection, and data analysis. Weekly duties will vary over the course of the project. 

    • Dr. Mark Geil, mgeil@kennesaw.edu

  • 2021-2022 First-Year Scholar: Keller Danberry, Nursing

    • Quercetin is a natural compound found in numerous foods, including but not limited to citrus fruits, hot peppers, kale, red onions, and apples. There are thought to be several health benefits from quercetin supplementation such as reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. These benefits could potentially reduce muscle soreness following high-intensity exercise and increase rate of recovery for muscle function, but current evidence is limited to males. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of quercetin supplementation, compared to a placebo, on recovery of muscle function and perceived muscle soreness following high-intensity exercise in females. Participants will be randomly assigned to either quercetin supplementation or a placebo and then complete a high-intensity exercise protocol for the quadriceps. The exercise protocol will consist of ten sets of ten repetitions with one minute rest intervals between sets. Muscle function and perceived muscle soreness will be assessed before, shortly after, and up to three days after the high-intensity exercise session to determine the rate of recovery. Muscle function testing will consist of maximal strength testing at different velocities and electrically evoked contractions to determine changes within the muscle and nervous system throughout recovery. Additionally, markers of inflammation and muscle damage will be obtained via blood draws at the same time points to examine their association with recovery in muscle function. These techniques will be used to determine the extent of the muscle damage, rate of muscle recovery, and the effect of quercetin on that recovery. The findings from this research have implications for supplementation strategies to minimize soreness and improve recovery from high-intensity exercise.

      1. Collaborate with master's and undergraduate students, as well as faculty in Exercise Science
      2. Become familiar with body composition and muscle function assessments in the Exercise Physiology laboratory
      3. Gain understanding of muscle function, neural control of movement, and the influence of fatigue on muscle function
      4. Improve skills related to data processing, calculations, and figure making using software
      5. Upon exceptional progress, be invited to present at the regional American College of Sports Medicine conference
      1. Assist with data collection using Exercise Physiology Laboratory equipment
      2. Assist with lab equipment preparation and breakdown
      3. Assist with verbal motivation during fatiguing exercise protocols
      4. Operate in Microsoft Excel or other computer software to conduct data processing
      5. Attend bi-weekly journal club meetings
    • Dr. Garrett Hester, ghester4@kennesaw.edu

  • 2021-2022 First-Year Scholars: Najah Reed, Biology; Georgia McDuffie, Biology; D'Shonti Phillips, Nursing; Brianna Lee, Nursing

    • Our research team studies the influence of abdominal obesity, physical activity/inactivity, diet, and other factors on metabolic health and risk for diabetes. This research is an ideal program for students preparing for healthcare-related fields. Student assistants on our team gain experience with all parts of research – from planning studies and acquiring approvals to working directly with human participants and biological samples in the laboratory. Students spend time working both independently and with other students and faculty to collect and interpret data for our studies and to develop projects for presentation. 

      Currently, we are preparing to launch a 3-year, NIH-funded research study in Spring 2021 on women during pregnancy. For this research study, participants will visit the lab and the research team will test them for body composition, fitness, nutrition, and glucose metabolism. We will also analyze their blood for certain proteins. This Fall 2021 semester, we will be practicing our laboratory techniques and testing participants in the lab. We are also working on publishing and presenting the findings from our recent pilot studies. 

      Our team includes faculty from Exercise Science and Nursing and both graduate and undergraduate students from Exercise Science, Biology, and Psychology. We would love to include a First-Year Scholar who is enthusiastic about science and interested in learning about research! 

      More information about our research can be found here: https://research.kennesaw.edu/roc/researchwithrelevance/spring2020/transgenerational-health.php 

    • The objective of my program is to provide students with strong experience in the research process, including development of research questions; grant-writing; acquiring approvals; recruiting subjects; collecting, organizing, analyzing and interpreting data; and disseminating results through presentations. Student assistants on our team gain experience with multiple aspects of the research process – from working directly with human participants and biological samples in the laboratory to reviewing scientific articles and analyzing the data. In this program, you will work with a team to learn and contribute to the research process; conduct literature searches and reviews; prepare and practice research presentations; learn new laboratory techniques; and gain a deeper understanding of the associations among body fat, physical activity, diet, and metabolic health. 

    • Students spend time working both independently and with other students and faculty to collect and interpret data for our research program and to develop projects for presentation. Students can expect to spend approximately 10-12 hours per week, between research team meetings, laboratory assistance, and research tasks. Students on our team are expected to work with other students on a research project that they can present at a conference during the year.

    • Dr. Katherine Ingram, kingra14@kennesaw.edu

  • 2021-2022 First-Year Scholars: Aissa Sylla, Nursing; Olamide Akintobi-Adedeji, Nursing

    • Dean Monica Swahn of the Wellstar College of Health and Human Services has collected a rich data set including 600 participants (300 in Uganda, 300 in the United States) which explores perceptions among young adults of alcohol use, alcohol marketing, and violence. Postdoctoral researcher Matthew Lyons is actively collaborating with Dean Swahn to analyze these data and develop manuscript ideas. The students who join in this project will play a critical role in this process and help shape the scientific papers that are developed. They will have exciting opportunities to: 1) dig into a real-world data set and gain hands on experience in analysis; 2) contribute to science in the context of a unique, cross-cultural comparison study; and 3) contribute to the public good by advancing scientific understanding of disparities in alcohol and violence perceptions between populations in the United States and Uganda.

    • Our student colleagues will gain critical experience in scientific research, including manuscript preparation, data analysis, data visualization, hypothesis formulation, and theories of health behavior. These experiences will contribute to the development of skills that will prepare them for future careers in a variety of fields, including, but not limited to: scientific research in a university setting, data science in the private sector, and public service work in the nonprofit space. 

    • Students will gain a fantastic mentorship opportunity through regular meetings with Dr. Lyons, as well as periodic meetings with Dr. Lyons and Dean Swahn. As the projects unfold, the activities will evolve. In the early period, activities will be more focused on the development of basic scientific, data analytic, and writing skills. The long-term goal, however, is for our student colleagues to develop a great degree of independence and capacity to conduct an array of research tasks in support of the overall project using the skills that they have developed. These tasks include but are not limited to: scientific writing, bibliography development, data analysis, and data visualization. 

    • Dr. Matthew Lyons, mattlyons1989@gmail.com 

  • 2021-2022: First-Year Scholars: Jakira Usry, Nursing; Destiny Snow, Biology; Ja'Nya Wilson, Nursing; Amanda Onuoha, Nursing 

    • This is a KSU IRB approved study that will investigate the efficacy of the clinical experiential approaches being used by nursing programs during the COVID-19 pandemic with respect to pre-licensure nursing students' dementia care knowledge, skills, and attitudes. An explanatory sequential mixed methods design will be used, and it will involve collecting quantitative data first and then explaining the quantitative results with in-depth qualitative data. In the first quantitative phase of the study, an anonymous online survey will collect data from student nurses to evaluate students' dementia care competence. The second qualitative phase will be conducted as a follow-up to the quantitative results to help explain the quantitative results. In the exploratory follow-up, the student and faculty participants' perceptions and experiences with regard to the impact of the experiential approaches on teaching-learning of dementia care competency during the COVID-19 pandemic will be explored via an in-depth individual virtual interview. Multivariate analyses of covariance and content analysis will be used to analyze the quantitative and qualitative data respectively.

    • The student outcomes include:

      1. Synthesize a research question for a mixed-methods research study.
      2. Utilize appropriate databases to search for an existing relevant body of published literature.
      3. Describe appropriate research methodologies and methods based on the research question study.
      4. Describe relevant data collection methods for a mixed methods designed study.
      5. Analyze and interpret qualitative data.
      6. Analyze and interpret basic statistical data, such as descriptive and inferential statistics, using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences software.  
      7. Utilize constructive communication and problem-solving skills associated with a social science research process.
      8. Discuss the research study's process and findings at a conference either as a poster or podium presentation.
      9. Describe their research experience, identifying personal strengths and opportunities for growth in social science research related to their academic and career future.
    • The following assignments will be integrated into the student's learning activates as the research process evolves:

      1. Work with the study researchers in all aspects of the quantitative research process including survey design, data collection and management, and data analysis and interpretation.
      2. Facilitate searches of the existing body of knowledge and synthesize findings through documentation of results as directed by the study researchers.
      3. Work with the study researchers in recruiting the research participants.
      4. Work with the study researchers to collect data.
      5. Work with the study researchers in understanding the themes in the qualitative data
      6. Work with the study researchers in data entry into SPSS and database management
      7. Work with the study researchers to derive an in-depth understanding of the data findings, drafting an abstract for conference presentations.
      8. Work with the study researchers in delivering the study's presentations at KSU's student conference and a national and/or international professional conference.
    • Dr. Modupe Adewuyi, madewuy1@kennesaw.edu and Dr. Kathleen Morales, kmorales@kennesaw.edu 

  • 2021-2022 First-Year Scholars: Bryce Kim, Nursing; Abby Evans, Nursing; Sydney May, Nursing; Alissa Huamani, Nursing; Jaelyn Spearman, Nursing

    • Caring for a family member with Alzheimer's Disease and other related dementia disorders is particularly challenging. Unpaid family caregivers provide a significant amount of the care for aging relatives, and they provide most of the long-term care. Family caregiving often results in negative effects, which compromises the caregiver's physical and psychosocial health. Social media support groups are an increasingly common venue for family caregivers supporting patients with Alzheimer's Disease and other related dementia disorders to exchange emotional, informational, and instrumental support. This study will examine the utilization of social media support groups among family caregivers of patients with Alzheimer's Disease and other related dementia disorders.

      The aims of the study are:

      1. to describe the role of social media support groups to family caregivers of patients with Alzheimer's disease and other related dementia disorders.
      2. to identify the issues and barriers that family caregivers encounter while taking care of patients with Alzheimer's disease and other related dementia disorders.
    • Students will learn how to:

      1. conduct a literature search
      2. understand the Institutional Review Board process
      3. collect and analyze data
      4. prepare an abstract or journal article manuscript
    • Student will meet with faculty for 1 hour per week, and can work remotely otherwise for some of the activities below:

      1. Gathering articles for a literature review
      2. Assisting with crafting research surveys and interview protocol for an IRB application
      3. Assisting with data collection, data entry, and data analysis
      4. Preparing a conference abstract and/or a journal article
    • Dr. Mary Dioise Ramos, mramos18@kennesaw.edu 

  • 2021-2022 First-Year Scholars: Elizabeth Burchfield, Mathematics; Jordan Gingrich, Psychology; Kennedy Nietert, Nursing

    • Thank you for showing interest in the project “Queering Responses to Youth Suicide.” I am looking for a first-year scholar to work with me on dissecting/analyzing texts (e.g., 13 Reasons Why, Skim) that center the topic of LGBTQ+/queer teen/youth suicide. This project utilizes a “critical suicide studies” perspective to look at the ways queer youth suicide has been discussed in public discourse, by adults (e.g., parents, professionals), and of youth themselves. The research conducted will contribute to a larger book project with the University of Mississippi Press.

      “Queering Responses to Youth Suicide” has two central arguments:

      1) The stories present within these two texts offer important and nuanced critiques of queer youth suicides, which have been repudiated by professionals through moral panic and risk discourses.

      2) The disengagement with these textual critiques exists within a larger cultural framework that is hypothesized to further marginalize young people as they contemplate, and sometimes succeed in, the enactment of suicide.

      Thus, this project invites a queer reading of suicide texts and the public's responses to ultimately challenge the paternalistic and adults understanding of the contemporary crisis of (queer) youth suicide, insofar as the action that parents and professionals take must consider and address the current social order and violence experienced by all young people within this contemporary moment—which likely exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

      1. Identify and demonstrate knowledge and utility of archival/conent research methodologies to inform service delivery and social work practice;
      2. Define, articulate, and use social work terminology, concepts, and theory to the research topic and scope;
      3. Use the library research database and other research tools to conduct relevant literature reviews related to the research topic;
      4. Identify and practice research ethics and responsible conduct in research;
      5. Know and apply problem-solving skills to address any research setbacks;
      6. Work collaboratively with supervisor, community members, and other researchers, using effective communication skills learned in the social work program;
      7. Communicate confidently and constructively with other students and faculty members regarding the research topic; and,
      8. Articulate the relevance and importance of the research to others in the social work profession, helping professions, and the larger community.
      1. Support archival/content research by reviewing social media platforms, association websites, archives, and library research
      2. Meet with supervisor to discuss progress
      3. Work toward synthesizing findings and data analysis using word processing
      4. Work toward the submission of poster or paper presentation
      5. Collaborate on writing, data analysis, and synthesis
    • Dr. Cameron Greensmith, cgreensm@kennesaw.edu 

  • 2021-2022 First-Year Scholar: Kennedy Broner, History

    • This is a project, resulting from the vertically integrated team led by Dr. Darlene Xiomara Rodriguez (Wellstar College) and Dr. Paul N. McDaniel (Radow College). Now in its seventh year, the award winning team, The Atlanta Immigrant Crossroads Project, is poised to edit a book.

      Project: A Book.
      Topic: Immigrant Integration throughout the USA

      Currently there is a need to compare emerging immigrant communities from established immigrant communities. In doing this, we can identify additional areas for intersectional research. Specifically, that of Welcoming Cities and their approaches to place-branding and geographies of care, inclusion, and belonging.

      The work completed with the student researcher will inform the process and/or content of a chapter for inclusion within the edited book proposal.

      As such, one might ask, "Why is this research/scholarship important?" Cities and metropolitan regions are sites of innovation and change, particularly in how a society perceives and receives diverse segments of a population. Within this context: What is the capacity of cities and metro regions to adapt to the diversity of immigrant and refugee groups from around the world? How does a place's level of receptivity extend (or not) to immigrant and refugee newcomers? How do these contexts shape and reshape ways in which places respond to such changes? 

      "How will this research add to the existing literature?" This book will explore intersections among immigrant integration, place-branding practices, and geographies of care within multiscalar contexts. While previous work has examined cities through these fields individually, this book will bridge these distinct fields through the lens of immigrant integration in cities. 

      Immigrant Integration: Jimãnez (2011) defines immigrant integration as "a process wherein immigrants and the communities in which they settle – both the individuals and institutions – mutually adapt to one another." A concept linked to integration is receptivity – the degree of openness in a particular place toward newcomers (McDaniel & Smith, 2017).

      Diverse scholars have explored receptivity and integration, but limited research has been done on geographies of care. In light of past and present methods communities use to foster inclusion and belonging, we seek to use place branding is used to foster immigrant integration.

      Place-branding is the "purposeful symbolic embodiment of all information connected to a city to create associations around it" (Lucarelli and Berg 2011, 21) and is used by cities to define and position
      themselves in a positive way to target audiences (Ashworth and Kavaratzis 2009; Kavaratzis 2004). Such efforts include the use of branding strategies to, as Collett (2014) describes, "build inclusive identities that appeal to both new and existing residents."

      Geographies of Care: Geographies of care expands our thinking on the quality of interactions that help to inform how we observe geographic locations. Lawson (2007) writes that "care is embedded in all of our encounters and interactions, even when care is ignored," as MacKinnon & Derickson (2013) observe through resilience and resourcefulness in communities. Housel et al. (2018) note that resourcefulness helps develop a community's capacity for creating change to systems of injustice. 

      So, if you are interested in the process of writing a book proposal or chapter or how it all comes together, this research opportunity is for you.

      If you want to identify and understand why some communities are more welcoming than others, and examine the laws, policies, and practices developed and carried out so that everyone has an opportunity to feel welcome, including immigrants and refugees (Welcoming America 2021), then this too may be the team for you.

      If you are interested in both... you (and we) have struck gold -- TOGETHER!

    • The research team has had a long-standing practice of supervising and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds. Former student researchers have consistently stated that the level of support and new skills gained as a result of being part of one or more of the multi-phase Atlanta's Immigrant Crossroads Project has not only aided them in their own academic studies, but has prepared them well to continue into graduate school or help them solidify their career goals.

      Therefore at the end of this experience student researchers would have experienced several of the following aspects related to applied research:

      1. designing a research study,
      2. searching databases to identify relevant research, reading and evaluating research articles,
      3. developing a literature review matrix,
      4. preparing research materials (e.g., designing questionnaires, vignettes),
      5. assisting in the completion of IRB proposals and completing online training in ethics,
      6. facilitating data collection in the field with community stakeholders,
      7. coding and/or entering data for data analysis and performing data analyses, and
      8. assisting in the reporting of results (e.g., poster presentation, manuscript development, grant proposal).

      The depth of the experience will depend on the specific aspects of the project the student researcher will work on. 

      Since we define community health broadly, our work will intersect with one or more of these areas:

      1. Government Leadership
      2. Civic Engagement
      3. Equitable Access
      4. Education
      5. Connected Communities
      6. Economic Development
      7. Safe Communities

      From a personal development standpoint, student researchers will also make progress towards the following:

      1. A professional development goal of their choosing (e.g., exploring career plans, writing resume/CV)
      2. Developing skills related to time management and planning, communication, and team work
      3. Working with stakeholders and scholars at KSU and in the larger community
      4. Assisting in proposal development for grant funding, manuscript preparation for publication, and/or presentation of findings at community gatherings or conferences
      5. Developing lasting mentoring relationships with faculty and community leaders

      To learn more about the overall project --- and if other aspects of the larger project better meet your research goals, please visit this site:


    • Student research tasks are organized on a two-week cycle so that one can balance out their home, school, and other work responsibilities. Hence, at the start of the mentoring process an initial interview is conducted to learn more about the student to determine where best their interests and needs align with where we are in our current project phase. As such, duties will be determined based on the student researcher's personal and professional goals as well as their current and desired knowledge, skills, and abilities.

      1. Check-ins occur on a weekly basis via email and face-to-face meetings every two weeks to coincide with when a research task is to be completed.
      2. Tasks often have a practice round, the first week, with feedback and recommendations that allow the student researcher to continue during the second week on their own.
      3. Students will be asked to complete a reflection of their experience at the midpoint and at the end of the term/year.
      4. When research team meetings are held with faculty colleagues, other student researchers, and/or community partners that may enhance the student researcher's personal or professional development, they will be invited to participate.
      5. Students who thoughtfully and thoroughly participate as part of the team will be acknowledged in work products and receive letters of support/recommendation.
      6. Those who are exceptional will be included as co-presenters or co-authors on work products.
    • Dr. Darlene Xiomara Rodriguez, darlene.rodriguez@kennesaw.edu