Archived Summer Undergraduate Research Program Scholars

According to the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR), intensive research experiences over the summer are a best practice for students. The Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) is proud to announce the Summer Undergraduate Research Program to support students in full-time research endeavors during the months of June and July. Selected students will conduct research under the guidance of a full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty member at Kennesaw State University. Faculty and students will be paid a stipend in order to work collaboratively on a research project in June and July. 

This is a competitive process with specific application requirements and post-award procedures. Two mechanisms of funding are described below for internally funded and externally funded student scholars. Terms of this funding opportunity is subject to change at the discretion of the Director of Undergraduate Research. Please contact for questions.

See below for a list of former Summer Undergraduate Research Program Scholars:

      • Primary Investigator (PI): Dr. Paula Guerra, Associate Professor of Mathematics Education

        Abstract: The proposed study aims to uncover the early understandings Latinx children have about symmetry prior to instruction, and how the use of culturally relevant lessons based on Incan, Mayan, and Aztec art allows them to develop deeper mathematical understandings. The researchers are a Latinx undergraduate student who will serve as the teacher for this study, and a Latinx Professor of Mathematics Education. They will plan the instruction and the undergraduate student will be teaching the lessons, culminating in the creation of art pieces by the children to be explained by them using mathematics. 

      • Primary Investigator (PI): Dr. Yong Shi, Associate Professor of Computer Science & Information Systems

        Abstract: Blockchain and Ethereum (ETH) technology stands poised to revolutionize the digital world, offering unprecedented decentralization, transparency, and immutability of data across various industries; however, new technologies raise new security concerns. By overcoming key vulnerabilities in ETH, a multitude of groundbreaking technologies including Web3, Decentralized Finance (DeFi), Decentralized Apps (dApps), Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), and cryptocurrency wallets are enabled to become commonplace. This revolutionary cryptodependent future of the internet relies on finding solutions to security vulnerabilities. We aim to pinpoint key security flaws and develop robust smart contract solutions within the Ethereum blockchain to enable the widespread adoption of Blockchain technology.

      • Primary Investigator (PI): Dr. Md Abdullah Al Hafiz Khan, Assistant Professor of Computer Science

        Abstract: Brain-computer interface (BCI) technology helps capture human thoughts using EEG sensor signals which helps decode human thoughts in terms of text. Recent research has several limitations - i) invasive, ii) single-user dependent, and iii) using cursor movement to enable text typing. However, this technology is not feasible for large-scale deployment due to its invasive nature, multi-user signal variation, signal variability of the same user, and noisy external environment. In this project, we envision addressing these challenges by developing a scalable algorithm that uses minimal brainwave signals and distills knowledge using a character language model to decode non-invasive BCI sensors’ brainwaves into the text.

      • Primary Investigator (PI): Dr. Liang Zhao, Assistant Professor of Information Technology

        Abstract: Brain-computer interface (BCI) technology helps capture human thoughts using EEG sensor signals which helps decode human thoughts in terms of text. Recent research has several limitations - i) invasive, ii) single-user dependent, and iii) using cursor movement to enable text typing. However, this technology is not feasible for large-scale deployment due to its invasive nature, multi-user signal variation, signal variability of the same user, and noisy external environment. In this project, we envision addressing these challenges by developing a scalable algorithm that uses minimal brainwave signals and distills knowledge using a character language model to decode non-invasive BCI sensors’ brainwaves into the text.

      • Primary Investigator (PI): Dr. Eric Albrecht, Associate Professor of Biology

        Abstract: Wound formation disrupts tissues and initiates cellular events that perpetuate cellular damage. Although more details are emerging, it is unclear if zinc storage proteins such as metallothioneins are an essential part of this process. We hypothesize that metallothionein 1X (MT1X) modulates zinc’s availability during injury formation and/or significantly contributes to the regeneration process. We will evaluate the extent MT1X is actively involved by employing molecular techniques that knockdown the cellular expression of MT1X. Phase contrast microscopy will monitor wound regeneration in normal and knockdown cells. This project will fill knowledge gaps regarding metallothionein function.

      • Primary Investigator (PI): Dr. Brandon Carpenter, Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology

        Abstract: Data from mouse and human suggest a new disease paradigm misexpression of germline genes in somatic tissues when histone methylation is inappropriately inherited leads to developmental abnormalities. We have developed a C. elegans model that can be used to elucidate the mechanisms underlying this new disease paradigm. The proposed studies will take advantage of this new C. elegans model in which two histone modifying enzymes are mutated to determine how these enzymes cooperate with the Dream Complex, a cell cycle regulator, to prevent ectopic germline gene expression and developmental defects.

      • Primary Investigator (PI): Dr. Bharat Baruah, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

        Abstract: Current research demonstrates the delignification of natural wood (NW) by chemical treatment. The delignified wood (DW) is subsequently impregnated with bio-compatible and bio-degradable polymer to create transparent wood (TW). We have further modified the resultant TW to (i) fireretardant wood with the addition of a metal-organic framework (MOF) and (ii) a TW with electrical conductivity by incorporating silver nanowires (AgNWs). Such modified wood (MW) would have tremendous potential in optoelectronics, energy storage, and biosensors. We characterize samples with FTIR, Raman, UV-vis DRS, XRD, EDX, and SEM. 

      • Primary Investigator (PI): Dr. Clint Penick, Assistant Professor of Biology

        Abstract: Urban areas are expanding globally, with major impacts on biodiversity. These impacts vary depending on regional dynamics as well as other stressors, including invasive species. Although Atlanta is part of the fastest growing urban corridor in the US, little is known about Atlanta’s insect diversity. I propose to study the combined impacts of urbanization and invasive species on insect diversity in Atlanta by sampling 36 sites that span an urban gradient and include two major invasive ants. This work will provide insight into the effects of urbanization and invasive species on biodiversity and help inform future land management practices.

      • Primary Investigator (PI): Dr. Mohammad Abdul Halim, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

        Abstract: SARS-CoV-2 induced COVID-19 appears as pandemic which poses serious global health as well as economic emergencies. In this project, we propose high-impact research to develop Temporin based staple antiviral peptides for covid treatment. Our preliminary peptidomimetic design and in-vitro investigation revealed that an analogue demonstrated an estimated IC50 at 12 μM which is higher than the natural peptide (71 µM) against the 3CLpro of SARS-CoV-2 (Fig 1). However, peptide has low stability against protease and liver metabolism. In this study, we hypothesize that staple Temporin L analogues improve the half-life and protease stability.

      • Primary Investigator (PI): Dr. Dal Hyung Kim, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering

        Abstract: Hexapod robots have been studied extensively for practical applications in surveillance, rescue, and exploration due to their static stability and adaptability. However, these applications are constrained by the potential failure of damaged legs. Previous methods included adapting the gaiting pattern through optimization, but the resulting efficiencies are variable. Meanwhile, animals can adapt to these shortcomings. We plan to study the gait patterns of the leg-impaired insects and apply their motion in the hexapod robot using a deep-learning-based imaging processing algorithm. The result can be extended to the effective gaiting of arm-leg manipulators and swarm control for laborious tasks.

      • Primary Investigator (PI): Dr. Jungkyu Park, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering

        Abstract: My research aim is to enhance the capabilities of the KLA T150 nanoscale tensile tester by developing a device that can be integrated into the system to measure the thermal conductivity of a sample during tensile testing. Currently housed in Dr. Park's laboratory, the KLA 150 was purchased using funds from the DoD in 2022. By incorporating this in situ thermal measurement feature, we will be able to monitor changes in the thermal conductivities of micro/nanomaterials as they undergo stretching. This research has the potential to offer valuable insights into the behavior of novel materials for flexible electronics. 

      • Primary Investigator (PI): Paul (Seung Yup) Lee, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering

        Abstract: Sickle cell disease (SCD) has a profound effect on the brain. In Sub-Saharan Africa where most of SCD patients (~75%) live and access to medical care is limited, ~11% of SCD children will develop a stroke by the age of 20. Although early identification is critical to treatment, transcranial doppler ultrasound (TCD), a standard screening tool, is not widely available in low-resource settings due to its high cost and need of trained personnel. To address this unmet clinical need, we propose to develop a low-cost optical device to assess abnormal brain perfusion in children with SCD. 

      • Primary Investigator (PI): Turaj Ashuri, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Technology

        Abstract: Recent advances in soft robotics and artificial intelligence introduces a new opportunity to address the challenges associated with developing prosthetics, such as device rejection and overuse injuries. Therefore, in this project we will develop a soft robotic prosthetic hand which utilizes a convolutional neural network to identify the suitable grasp type and a second neural network trained a finite element data to finely control the movements of the prosthetic hand. The result of this research is expected to improve the lives of amputees and increase the availability and adoption of prosthetics, thereby benefiting society economically and medically. 

      • Primary Investigator (PI): Adeel Khalid, Professor of Systems Engineering

        Abstract: "KWAD" or "KSU all-Weather Aerial Drone" was commissioned by Ultool, LLC to the KSU Research and Service Foundation to create a lightweight drone capable of capturing HD video during all-weather operation. The conditions of all-weather operation include rainfall of one inch per hour and wind speeds of up to twenty-five mph. In addition, a global minimum safety factor of two is required to ensure the system's structural integrity in extreme weather conditions. Potential mission profiles include autonomous aerial delivery, topological mapping in high moisture areas, security surveillance, search and rescue operations, emergency transportation of medical supplies, and wildfire investigation.

      • Primary Investigator (PI): Yan Fang, Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

        Abstract: This project aims to develop a mini-drone system capable of automating fruit harvesting in agriculture. Using visual and ultrasonic sensors, the drones will detect, recognize, and localize target fruits, and then cut their pedicel to make them fall and be caught by a collector. The project will focus on designing drone intelligence, optimizing energy efficiency using tiny machinelearning neural networks, and implementing end-to-end control. We expect to demonstrate a customized mini drone that can fly around a plant and accurately approach target fruits. This project aims to address the challenges of labor-intensive fruit harvesting and revolutionize agriculture with automated solutions.

      • Mentor: Dr. Pegah Zamani, Associate Professor of Architecture

        Abstract: A significant number of undergraduate students are not familiar with the research process involved in a book publication proposal. Through this multidisciplinary collaborative research, the faculty intends to minimize this gap by engaging the students in such a process from the early phase of proposal preparation. The student will research and review the past five years of EQUINOX Week* programs [including symposia] focused on Sustainable Development Goals within a collection of local and global initiatives to support a proposal for the EQUINOX proceeding publication.

      • Mentor: Dr. Ermal Schpuza, Professor of Architecture

        Abstract: Successful public spaces in cities improve social cohesion, health, safety, and economic growth. Learning from historical cities involves the development of representational and analytical tools aimed at capturing their essence as places of human interaction that holds the society together. A large sample of Mediterranean coastal cities is studied in terms of their urban form, focusing on how the network of public spaces calibrates different degrees of spatial enclosure that produce spatial interfaces attributed to successful social interactions. The project develops translations from open-source maps into spatial diagramming that enables the formulation of principles of urban design intervention in present-day cities.

      • Mentor: Dr. Paula Guerra, Associate Professor of Mathematics Education

        Abstract: The proposed study aims to uncover the differences in understanding, and ability to communicate knowledge about fractions by children who speak Spanish at home. The researchers will compare the results of teaching fractions to Latinx children whose home language is Spanish. The instruction will take place in either Spanish, English, or a combination of both. They aim to find out when the most meaningful conceptual understanding can take place depending on the language of instruction.

      • Mentor: Dr. Maria Valero de Clemente, Assistant Professor of Information Technology

        Abstract: Smart voice assistants (SVA), a result of the rapid growth of technology and thedevelopment of artificial intelligence, have been playing an important role in people’s daily lives—controlling home automation, performing tasks, and checking information. According to a survey conducted by Juniper Research, over 2.5 billion digital voice assistants were being used in devices around the world by the end of 2018, and by 2023, the number is expected to triple to 8 billion. In this study, we will create an application to integrate SVA to the current non-invasive blood glucose monitoring prototype designed by our research group, IoTaS.

      • Mentor: Dr. Md Abdullah Al Hafiz Khan, Assistant Professor of Computer Science

        Abstract: People who have lost the capacity to move or speak can use brain computer interfaces (BCIs) to communicate again. The restoration of large motor abilities, such as reaching and grabbing or typing with a computer cursor, has been a significant emphasis of BCI research thus far. Rapid sequences of highly dexterous behaviors, such as handwriting or touch typing, may, on the other hand, allow for faster communication rates. In this project, we will develop a pilot prototype of a machine learning application that will decode human thoughts to text using non-invasive BCI technology-driven brain-wave signals.

      • Mentor: Dr. Arthur Choi, Assistant Professor of Computer Science

        Abstract: Advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI), particularly in the form of deep neural networks, have revolutionized a diverse range of fields. As neural networks become more pervasive, the need to understand the boundaries of their behavior is becoming increasingly important. For example, can we formally guarantee that an autonomous vehicle will not violate traffic laws, such as reaching excessive speeds? Towards the goal of bounding the behavior of a neural network, we propose first to bound the behavior of individual neurons by incrementally tightening formal bounds on it. Subsequently, we seek to bound the behavior of a neural network.

      • Mentor: Dr. Tsai-Tien Tseng, Associate Professor of Biology

        Abstract: Diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) is difficult due to less than 5% of affected individuals developing skeletal lesions. With the advent of next-generation sequencing (NGS), ancient host microbiomes can be subjected to metagenomic analyses. This study aims to compare and enhance available screening methods to create more suitable bioinformatics processes and generate insights in relation to TB virulence, evolution, and lifestyle. Our workflow was applied onto 28 Neolithic skeletons with preliminary results revealing previously unreported strains of MTBC. It has so far been more effective than previously published approaches and, after further development, should be suitable for future paleopathological studies.

      • Mentor: Dr. Brian Moore, Assistant Professor of Psychology

        Abstract: Student service members and veterans (SSM/Vs) experience significant behavioral health concerns (i.e., suicidality and posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD]) that impact their well-being and performance in personal, professional, and academic domains. Herein, we examined cross-sectional data related to suicidality, PTSD, stress, dysfunction, and recovery-oriented cognitions. Our focus was to observe how dysfunction and recovery moderate the relationship between PTSD, stress, and suicidality. Results indicate that a dysfunctional mindset at higher levels of stress and higher scores of PTSD symptoms predict suicidality in SSM/Vs. The present research elaborates on the role of recovery and dysfunction cognitions in SSM/Vs to inform appropriate care. 

      • Mentor: Dr. Shubam Sharma, Assistant Professor of Psychology

        Abstract: Although a sense of purpose fosters well-being in late life, it remains understudied whether purpose is a resource for resilience in older adults who identify as marginalized. Marginalization includes facing challenges due to factors such as race, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, and age (Kanna, 2018). This study fills this gap by exploring two main research questions: 1) how do marginalized older adults develop purpose across the lifespan? and, 2) can purpose be used to overcome health and social barriers? Using the life story framework, participants (age 60+) will be interviewed, and data will be analyzed using thematic analysis. 

      • Mentor: Dr. Anna Weinstein, Assistant Professor of Screenwriting

        Abstract: While the achievements of female directors have gained recognition in recent years, the same level of discussion has yet to be devoted to female screenwriters. In order for a more diverse variety of voices to participate in the writing of film and television projects, the pioneers who have persevered in spite of inequality need to be recognized so they may inspire upcoming generations. The Women Writers of Film & Television project will result in an easily accessible and sustainably expandable online digital archive that comprehensively highlights the lives and achievements of women in screenwriting. 

      • Mentor: Dr. Todd Pierson, Assistant Professor of Biology

        Abstract: Green Salamanders (Aneides aeneus) are considered a “species of greatest concern” in Georgia due to habitat fragmentation, climate change, overcollection, and disease. Information about the distribution and genetic diversity within A. aeneus populations is outdated. To aid the Georgia Department of Natural Resources in evaluating the status of this species, we will resurvey 20 sites in the Georgia Blue Ridge, as well as seek out 12 new sites using LiDAR data. We will collect non-lethal tissue samples from each population to conduct population genomic analyses to estimate divergence, gene flow, and genetic diversity.

      • Mentor: Dr. Andrew Haddow, Assistant Professor of Microbiology

        Abstract: The central goal of this proposal is to investigate the risk of mosquito-borne arboviruses at selected locations on the Kennesaw State University (KSU) campus. We will collect mosquitoes at two locations, the KSU Field Station and the KSU Arboretum weekly during the 8-week summer session. Mosquitoes will be identified and screened for West Nile and La Crosse viruses, both leading causes of adult and pediatric encephalitis, respectively. The resulting data will allow for targeted public health education efforts to reduce the risk of virus exposure among KSU students, staff, faculty, and visitors. 

      • Mentor: Dr. Matthew Weand, Associate Professor of Organismal Biology

        Abstract: Urban areas are often warmer than surrounding rural areas due to differences in land cover and energy use. While studies have found that the urban heat island (UHI) effect influences plant stress responses, these responses may vary among species. For example, it is not well understood whether non-native species are better equipped to handle UHIs versus native species. This project compares plant stress responses between a native and a non-native species at rural and urban sites in Georgia. Comparisons of stress responses will improve understanding of how interactions between native and non-native species may change as climate warming continues.

      • Mentor: Dr. Sarah Guindre-Parker, Assistant Professor of Biology

        Abstract: Populations of insectivorous birds are declining throughout North America (Nebelet al. 2010, Smith et al. 2015, Michel et al. 2016). Urbanization may be indirectly contributing to this decline through its effect on populations of insects, an important food source in most insectivores' diet, especially those undergoing breeding efforts. How increasing urban sprawl and subsequent fluctuations in insect populations could impact various species at higher trophic levels is an important area of current study for future conservation endeavors. Certain habitats, with increased insect abundance, could facilitate higher provisioning rates and allow breeding parents to more effectively nourish their young. In addition, brooding and guarding behaviors may be altered depending on the relative insect availability in the environment. In this study, we seek to determine if insect availability is correlated to offspring provisioning rate, guarding, or brooding behaviors in species of European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) using data collected in environments ranging from urban to rural.

      • Mentor: Dr. Marina Koether, Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry

        Abstract: Synthetic microfibers are a form of microplastic that are washed away during normal laundry activity. These microfibers travel into Lake Allatoona via water discharge from the wastewater treatment plant. This study will analyze the water at numerous locations and different distances from the wastewater treatment plant to determine if there is a concentration gradient of microfibers from the plant. The analysis will require digestion, density separation and filtration. Each microfiber found via a microscope will be counted and categorized to further determine any trends as the distance from the wastewater plant increases. 

      • Mentor: Dr. Paul Lee, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering

        Abstract: Hypocalcemia (lack of calcium in the blood) is a common complication due to damage to the parathyroid glands during surgery. Currently, there are no noninvasive methods that can objectively assess the parathyroid glands' viability. Diffuse reflectance spectroscopy is a noninvasive technique analyzing biological tissue hemodynamic properties. Using the measured reflectance spectra by a hand-held spectrometer system, we will develop a machine learning algorithm to estimate tissue oxygenation in the parathyroid glands. The hand-held tissue oximeter equipped with this real-time algorithm will meet the need for rapid and reliable assessment of the viability of the parathyroid glands during thyroid surgery.

      • Mentor: Dr. Jungkyu Park, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering

        Abstract: Artificial muscles have potential applications in a wide range of areas such as biomimetic machines and surgical devices. Among artificial muscles proposed, twisted and coiled polymer actuators (TCAs) fabricated by twisting polymer fishing lines have been drawing attention from researchers and the general audience. In this research project, carbon nanomaterials are coated on TCAs. The high thermal conductivity and low specific heat of carbon nanomaterials will reduce the thermal contact resistance between fibers in TCAs and increase the cooling rate of TCAs. This improved cooling rate will shorten the cycle time of TCAs, improving their dynamic response significantly.