Summer Undergraduate Research Program

symposium-scrappyAccording 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 our@kennesaw.edu for questions.

Meet the 2022 Summer Undergraduate Research Program Scholars!

    • 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 interactionthat 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, an undergraduate student who will serve as the teacher for this study, and an Associate Professor of Mathematics Education, 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.

 

Program Guidelines

  • The Office of Undergraduate Research would like to strongly encourage students in seeking external funding to conduct research over the summer while remaining at Kennesaw State University under the guidance of a full-time tenure-track faculty. This mechanism is to encourage our student scholars to compete on a national or an international level to bring pride to Kennesaw State University. The application must be initiated by the student or student/faculty pair. This mechanism also encourages faculty to mentor and discover students who are competitive in external awards.

    For students receiving external funds for performing research on campus during the summer, OUR will provide a matching stipend for faculty mentors at the discretion of the Director of Undergraduate Research. Student scholars who receive external fellowship/scholarships for work performed under the guidance of a full-time KSU faculty member will be featured in news stories from the Office of Research, similar to this one: https://news.kennesaw.edu/stories/2019/mcgrath-biology-fellowship.php  

    Limited funds for supplies will also be provided. Work must be performed under the supervision of full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty at Kennesaw State University. Students are allowed to apply for internal funded positions while pursuing external ones. For faculty to receive summer stipends, proof of acceptance for externally funded students must be provided to OUR by May 15th. Please email this documentation to our@kennesaw.edu

  • A limited number of internally funded summer research scholars by the Office of Undergraduate Research will be selected by a review panel that will be assembled by the Director of Undergraduate Research to evaluate applications from student/faculty pairs.  

    Application to Seek Internally Funded Positions:

    • Submitted by March 29th, 2022
    • Application
      1. Abstract: Fewer than 100 words
      2. Full Project Description: Fewer than 750 words (not counting the list of references). Required sections:
        • Significance/Introduction
        • Methods
        • Expected Results and Timeline
        • References
      3. Sponsoring faculty recommendation letter: Maximum 1 page single-spaced

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Summer Undergraduate Research Program. If you have any other questions, please contact our@kennesaw.edu.

    • Full time student, pursuing a degree at Kennesaw State University
    • Work supervised by a full-time tenure-track faculty member
    • Undergraduate student who will not graduate until at least one semester after the program ends
    • Minimum GPA of 3.0
    • Available to work 40 hours per week in the 8-week summer session in June and July
    • Available to present at the Fall Symposium of Student Scholars
    • The Office of Undergraduate Research will serve as the sole employer for students accepted into this program. Summer scholars cannot enroll in any course during June and July (within KSU or other institutions).
    • Full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty member at Kennesaw State University
    • Available to mentor the student in June and July
    • Has identified a student with whom to work on research in the summer
    • Has a well-defined project or multiple projects on which the student will work in the summer
    • Students will earn a stipend of $4,000.
    • Faculty will earn a stipend of $6,000.
    • Accepted students can apply for summer funding needed to conduct the research (e.g., supplies, travel funds). Each student can apply for a maximum of $500. More details will be provided to funded students and mentors. 
  • Students should complete this form and upload one (1) PDF document containing these three sections: 

    1. Abstract: Fewer than 100 words
    2. Full Project Description: Fewer than 750 words (not counting the list of references). Required sections:
      • Significance/Introduction
      • Methods
      • Expected Results and Timeline
      • References
    3. Sponsoring faculty recommendation letter: Maximum 1 page single-spaced
  • The deadline for applications for Summer 2022 was March 29, 2022 at 11:59pm (EST)

  • We will accept 12 students into this program. 

    • Upon notification of awards, student/faculty pairs will have five (5) business days to accept this position. Otherwise, it will be considered as forfeiture. 
    • Signed copy of memorandum of understanding by May 27th.
    • Participation in the Symposium of Student Scholars.
    • Students must abide to KSU Codes of Conduct at all times, including proper usage of institutional resources and funding.

 

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