Fall 2023 Symposium Live Blog

KENNESAW, Ga. (November 15, 2023) — The Office of Undergraduate Research at Kennesaw State University is hosting its fall edition of the Symposium of Student Scholars, a three-day conference in which undergraduate and graduate researchers present their projects. The hybrid event will take place in-person on the Marietta campus and online through Microsoft Teams. Click here for more information on the symposium schedule and program. 

This live blog will be updated throughout the day and provides a snapshot of the variety of disciplines represented and the research journeys undertaken by KSU undergraduate and graduate students.

11 a.m. Wednesday, November 15 
Sungchan Cho
Sungchan Cho

Design and Development of Remote Operated and Soft Biomimetic Amphibious Mud Skipper

Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering & Engineering Technology

Undergraduate Students: Sungchan Cho, Lucas Schwenck, Connor Talley, Britt Walker, and Rafael Juarez.

Research Mentor: Ayse Tekes

Traditionally, when engineers design mechanisms, they tend to design the parts using rigid links and revolute joints to create relative motion between two adjacent links. 

However, all living things that move create motion through the bending of their links, not through the joints. This research project focuses on the design, development, and testing of a biomimetic locomotive robot that can move in different terrains and can be utilized as a rescue robot. 

The mudskipper has shown excellent performance in swimming in the lake against the current and swims a distance of 242.72 cm in 21 seconds resulting in 0.115 m/s or 0.42 body length/s.

“I was fascinated by the performance of soft robots and compliant mechanisms we designed in our research lab, located in G114,” Sungchan Cho said. “These compliant designs were something that I was not able to learn in school curriculum in depth. The fact that I am learning and applying this out-of-class, unorthodox mechanism greatly motivated me.”

1 p.m. Wednesday, November 15  
William Marks
William Marks

Design and Development of Remote Operated and Soft Biomimetic Amphibious Mud Skipper

Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering & Engineering Technology

Undergraduate Students: Matthew Ackerman & William Marks 

Research Mentor: Dal Hyung Kim

Fire ants are capable of walking with an amputated or injured leg by adapting their movement pattern. This project aimed to study those movements and apply them to a hexapod robot that the research team produced to mimic the anatomy of an any.

By creating a hexapod robot based on the design and movement of an ant, this robot can operate in rough terrain and, upon potential injury, can adapt its movement with that of the injured fire ant instead of requiring immediate repair.

The research group used a previously developed imaging system, the Transparent Omnidirectional Locomotion Compensator (TOLC), to extract the positioning of an ant whose motion has been adapted to operate with five legs instead of six.

“This project interested me because of my appreciation for nature's approach to issues very complex for us to solve,” William Marks said. “I was intrigued by this project because I wanted to study how to apply the ant's recovery abilities to human-made robots to improve their efficiency.”

1 p.m. Wednesday, November 15
Angie Son Pulido
Angie Son Pulido

From Silence to Thriving: Architecture as a Voice for the Wayuu Tribe

College of Architecture and Construction Management

Undergraduate Student: Angie Son Pulido 

Research Mentor: Arief Setiawan

The Wayuu Tribe is an ancient indigenous community in Colombia that is gradually disappearing and threatened with extinction.

Similar to many other indigenous communities worldwide, the Wayuu people have endured centuries of adversity, including colonialism, exploitation, displacement, marginalization, and the loss of cultural identity.

Angie Son Pulido’s research project involves developing design strategies rooted in Wayuu architectural traditions and collective memory, with the aim of raising awareness about their struggles and empowering the community to preserve their heritage.

These elements form a comprehensive framework for a design approach that seeks not only to learn from the Wayuu culture but also to address a fundamental question: What design strategies, derived from the collective memories of the Wayuu people, can be developed to effectively raise awareness about the plight and to empower this community?

“I am drawn to this subject because of my personal connection to the Wayuu Tribe through my grandmother's heritage, and I believe that architecture can be a powerful tool for social change and community empowerment,” Angie Son Pulido said.

2 p.m. Wednesday, November 15
Kadi Doumbia
Kadi Doumbia

Filtration of Lead and Arsenic Through Pleurotus Ostreatus’s Mycelium

College of Science and Mathematics

Undergraduate Students: Kadi Doumbia, Olivia King, Aisha Abundez, Hannah Perryman, Allisa George, and Blake Ritter 

Research Mentors: Christopher Cornelison and Daniel Ferreira

Toxic levels of contamination of heavy metals such as lead and arsenic are known to have detrimental effects on many living organisms and are sometimes even found in consumable water. 

This project investigates how the mycelium, a root-like structure that filters nutrients of oyster mushrooms, can filter those harmful heavy metals from a solution by analyzing the concentration of lead and arsenic in a solution after filtering them through lyophilized and non-lyophilized mycelia. Lyophilization is the process of freeze-drying an organism to remove any water content within it.

Filtering dangerous heavy metals through mycelia would establish an eco-friendly method to remediate environments contaminated with lead and arsenic.

“The idea that a natural organism like the oyster mushroom could potentially be harnessed to address pollution issues is fascinating,” Kadi Doumbia said. “If successful, this method could provide a cost-efficient and globally applicable solution to reduce water pollution.”

3 p.m. Wednesday, November 15
Maria Del Valle
Maria Del Valle

The Rebuild Project

College of Architecture and Construction Management

Graduate Student: Maria Del Valle

Research Mentor: Ameen Farooq

Crux is an initiative aimed at providing relief to Puerto Rico, which has suffered destructive impacts of hurricanes.

This project focuses on transforming a city with abandoned homes, contaminated water, agricultural decay, and a damaged electrical grid into a self-sustaining community. This involves creating food markets, festival placemaking, urban farming, and showcasing local artists. 

Crux seeks to address multifaceted challenges faced by communities after natural disasters, incorporating elements of cultural preservation, economic development, education, and disaster resilience.

Maria Del Valle analyzed the interconnectedness of cultural, economic, and environmental factors to propose a comprehensive strategy to address hurricane damage issues.

"My inspiration to delve into Puerto Rico stems from my deep connection with the island," Maria Del Valle said. "I felt it was important to contribute to my community, as a way of giving back."

4 p.m. Wednesday, November 15
Naya Phillips
Naya Phillips

Clearing the Air: Hospital-Reported Airborne Illnesses and Dumpsite Dangers

College of Science and Mathematics

Undergraduate Student: Naya Phillips 

Research Mentor: Evelina Sterling

Is there a connection between reported airborne illnesses in communities and air quality within a 10-mile radius from local dump sites in Cobb and Gwinnett counties?

Dump sites have become increasingly concentrated over the last decade due to the rise in human population, the mass production of goods, and waste resulting from that.

The methodology of this experiment included examining and correlating reported airborne illnesses in those communities and the level of air pollutants in the air. As a result, a positive correlation was found between reported airborne illnesses, air quality, and residential proximity to dump sites.

This project is local and in two very prominent counties in Georgia. In 2022, Georgia was ranked 22nd of 50 states in emissions, meaning that for local residents, the state of the air they breathe and where they live may hit closer to home than one thinks. 

This project could serve as a resource that showcases EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) gathered data and a connection to air quality. It could be used to continue the push in Georgia and local communities for improved air quality, stricter emission regulations, and better disposal methods. 

"As a biology major concentrating in molecular and cellular biology, I have dedicated myself to study how forms of life work on a small scale," Naya Phillips said. "Along the way, learning about ecological effects of emissions, waste, and the mechanisms behind that further ignited a small fire I have always had within me to put a spotlight on air quality in a research form."

9 a.m. Thursday, November 16 
Aria Leinberger
Aria Leinberger

Graphic Novel Anthology: Exploring the Raw American Life on the Margins of Society

College of the Arts

Undergraduate Student: Aria Leinberger 

Research Mentor: Joseph Karg

The Graphic Novel Anthology: Exploring the Raw American Life on the Margins of Society project aims to bring together those marginalized in society to create a graphic novel anthology series where their stories can be shared and appreciated in the community. By creating this project it brings together faculty, alumni, and students, to share their experiences through storytelling and art.

Contributing to this project allows students to work alongside comic professionals while gaining experience as a writer, penciler, inker, or colorist. Additionally, the publication of the graphic novel anthology will aid in the success of the artist's careers while also showcasing the talent that comes from Kennesaw State University's art department.

"As a nonbinary artist myself, I am passionate about amplifying the voices of artists and creators also who have been marginalized," Aria Leinberger said. "This project fits into my major as I study sequential art with the goal of one day working for Marvel Comics."

9 a.m. Thursday, November 16 
Breanna McDonald
Breanna McDonald

Data Collection of GlucoCheck and the Usability of the Mobile App

College of Computing and Software Engineering

Graduate Students: Afnan Ahmed Crystal and Breanna McDonald 

Research Mentors: Maria Valero de Clemente and Katherine Ingram

This project aims to use light to detect blood sugar levels in the bloodstream without the use of a finger prick. The mobile device application allows users to manage their individual data values at their fingertips and regulate their levels by using real-time updates. A minimally invasive method of monitoring glucose continuously.

The researchers are investigating a method using light absorption to help people access their blood glucose values without having to prick their skin multiple times a day with needles. They are also creating a user-friendly mobile application that allows people to monitor their values in real-time at the touch of a few buttons or by the sound of their voice.

"Numerous people in my family have been diagnosed with diabetes," Breanna McDonald said. "It brings me much satisfaction working on a project that could not only allow them to better manage their condition, but also to do so without the pain and risks of constant finger pricks."

11 a.m. Thursday, November 16 
Abby Moen
Abby Moen

Year Two Microfiber Analysis of Lake Allatoona Sand and Water Using an Optimized Water Sampling Method and an Optimized Extraction Method

College of Science and Mathematics

Undergraduate Student: Abby Moen 

Research Mentor: Marina Koether

Is there a safe level of microfiber contamination in Lake Allatoona, and if so, what is that level?

This project focuses on measuring microfiber concentration in Lake Allatoona water and sediment, as well as tap and deionized (DI) water from the laboratory. Water and sand samples from six different lake sites were collected, processed, and analyzed under a microscope for the presence of microfibers.

The project found that the sites farthest downstream from the Allatoona Dam had the highest microfiber concentration, and the majority of 2023 lake water samples had a higher microfiber concentration than those from Summer 2022 using plankton nets. Tap water was more contaminated with microfibers than DI water.

"I decided to pursue this project because of my interest in learning more about the contamination of our water sources and how that is changing over time," Abby Moen said.