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Current Research Projects

Applicant: Arundhati Bagchi Misra

1. Title: Application of Euler Lagrange equation
2. Co-Applicant: Not applicable
3. Department of Study: Math Science
4. Proposal Abstract: In mathematics we use derivatives to find maximum and minimum values of a function. First derivative of a function gives us the point where a function can be maximum or minimum. This method is particularly useful when we have functions of one or two variables. But when we deal with functionals that depend on multiple variables and also on other simpler functions and their derivatives, we need to use some advanced differentiation technique. This is where Euler Lagrange equation is relevant. The Euler-Lagrange equation allows us to find functions for which a given functional is stationary. When we are dealing with a differentiable function or functional we know it is stationary at its local maxima and minima. This enables us to use Euler-Lagrange equation for solving optimization problems in different fields. In this project, I will consider sample problems to find the optimum amount of student loans to improve graduation rates.

Applicant: Meghan Baruth

1. Title: Evaluation of a behavioral physical activity and dietary intervention for pregnant women
2. Co-Applicant: Not applicable
3. Department of Study: Health Sciences
4. Proposal Abstract: A majority of pregnant women do not meet physical activity (PA), nutrition, or weight gain recommendations, despite their efficacy in improving maternal and child health outcomes. There is a need for evidence-based behavioral interventions that focus on PA and healthy diet during pregnancy in an effort to promote appropriate weight gain. An evidence-based physical activity and dietary pilot intervention for pregnant women was recently implemented. Students played a critical role in the recruitment, delivery, and evaluation of the intervention. In addition to the pre/post intervention evaluations, the project includes two follow-up assessments at 3- and 6-months post-partum. Such assessments will provide information on weight gain retention, physical activity, and dietary behaviors post-birth. Students will have the opportunity to collect follow-up data and also write manuscripts using the baseline and post-intervention data that has been collected.

Applicant: James Bowers

1. Title: ELERV (Enhancing Law Enforcement Response to Victims) Continuation with Focus Groups
2. Co-Applicant: Joni Boye-Beaman
3. Department of Study: Criminal Justice
4. Project Abstract: This project is a continuation of federal research that ended September 30, 2017. It is unlikely that funding will continue from the government. To date, SVSU has worked with Saginaw PD on gathering and analyzing data for the ELERV project. This current extension will allow for that partnership to continue as well as provide guidance and experience to student as they build their academic careers. Students will continue to contribute to the project with focus groups and transcribe the data. Students will conduct focus groups under the supervision of a faculty member to better understand residents’ perceptions of their interaction with police. The goal of the ELERV project is to understand the baseline of responses both before and after the implementation of the project. The next phase of the project is the focus groups. SVSU has collaborated with IACP and ELERV partners and feel this is the best avenue to continue understanding residents of Saginaw. We are particularly interested in maintaining community service relationships with Saginaw Police Department and the citizens of Saginaw. This project will allow that partnership to continue.

Students will be mentored with key journal articles discussions as well as taught how to look for qualitative themes. Numerous populations (that have come in contact with Saginaw police) will discuss their interactions in the focus groups. With this information, SPD will be able to better serve the populations (a goal of the IACP ELERV project). Information will be gathered and analyzed. The findings will be presented at national conferences (such as the Midwest Criminal Justice Association annual conference in Chicago). It is hopeful that the information can lead to a publication. Having this research experience will open doors for students when they apply for graduate school. Ideally, we would like to recruit two students with research experience and walk them through this project.

Applicant: Kyle Cissell

1. Title: Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometric Analysis of Lemongrass and Lavender Essential Oils for Active Ingredient Content
2. Co-Applicant: Not applicable
3. Department of Study: Chemistry
4. Proposal Abstract: Essential oils are becoming a popular alternative to prescription medication. Although they are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, there are no requirements to state the concentrations of essential oils' active ingredients on the bottle. Because dosage is critical in any form of therapy, it is important to know the concentration of essential oils prior to application. The focus of this research is the identification and determination of active ingredients and their concentrations in lemongrass and lavender essential oils from two distributors (doTERRA and Young Living) using a gas chromatography mass spectrometer. The student hired for this research will first identify known active ingredients in the lemongrass and lavender essential oils and will develop an extraction method for these active ingredients using a variety of solvents. Following extraction, the student hired for the project will develop a standard addition calibration method to determine the concentrations of active ingredients in the oils. Once complete, these developed methods will allow for a simple method to assess the concentrations of active ingredients in essential oils.

Applicant: Samantha Deere

1. Title: Exercise is MedicineTM Implementation: Partnership Development and Needs Assessment
2. Co-Applicant: Not applicable
3. Department of Study: Kinesiology
4. Proposal Abstract: Participation in physical activity (PA) is a well-known prevention tool and treatment for many diseases (e.g. Heart Disease, Cancer, Diabetes). However, less than half of all Americans meet the current PA recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous aerobic activity per week. It is well known that patients highly value the opinions/recommendations of their healthcare providers. In an effort of increasing PA participation, the American College of Sports Medicine developed the ‘Exercise Is MedicineTM’ (EIM) initiative, which encourages healthcare providers to assess PA as a vital sign, prescribe PA, and refer patients to PA professionals. Despite global initiative growth (43 countries), many healthcare providers are unfamiliar with PA guidelines and choose not to discuss PA with their patients. The level of EIM participation in the Great Lakes Bay Region is unknown. Therefore, this project aims to 1) develop relationships with healthcare providers in the region and 2) assess healthcare provider a) knowledge of PA guidelines, b) likelihood of assessing PA as a vital sign, and c) likelihood of prescribing PA. The partnerships developed and knowledge gained through this project will help to inform the future of EIM in the Great Lakes Bay Region, which may positively impact the overall health of community members. To complete this project, a student researcher will meet with the investigator on a weekly basis and will participate in all facets of the research process, including, partnership development, IRB completion, data collection, and result dissemination.

Applicant: Aneesha Gogineni

1. Title: Heating And Cooling Load Calculations In Pioneer Hall
2. Co-Applicant: Not applicable
3. Department of Study: Mechanical Engineering
4. Project Abstract: The proposed project determines the heating & cooling load values in Pioneer Hall. The cooling load calculations are conducted using Transfer Function Method. Heat Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) involves many design procedures out of which load calculation is the primary step. Temperatures change with season and number of persons in the room change based on business hours. SVSU has four semesters and Pioneer Hall has high occupancy rate during fall and winter when compared to spring and summer semesters. Pioneer Hall is chosen for study as this building has uneven airflow rates during working hours. HVAC system is designed based on estimated heating & cooling load calculations. Verifying the load values will improve the airflow rate and indoor air quality of the HVAC system. This study can also estimate the energy consumption in the building.

Applicant: Dennis Gray

1. Title: Completing the sequence of two candidate isoprene synthase genes in Abies sp.
2. Co-Applicant: Not applicable
3. Department of Study: Biology
4. Project Abstract: The goal of this faculty led undergraduate research project is to provide training for one undergraduate student in molecular biology techniques through the identification of a novel gene encoding the isoprene synthase enzyme in Fir trees native the Mediterranean region of Europe (Genus Abies). Through this project the student will learn to extract RNA, synthesize cDNA, set up PCR and run gel electrophoresis, clone genes into Plasmid vectors, and to express recombinant proteins in E. coli bacterial hosts. The student will receive one-on-one training and mentoring in the lab and learn to work as part of a research team towards a common goal. The project will result in the identification of two new full length gene sequences, provide data the student can use in poster presentations, and may lead to a publication.

Applicant: John Herman

1. Title: Effects of Engine Oil on RTV Sealant
2. Co-Applicant: Not applicable
3. Department of Study: Mechanical Engineering
4. Project Abstract: Since the 1980s, manufacturers have used RTV (Room Temperature Vulcanizing) silicone as
well as conventional formed gaskets to seal valve covers, oil pans, transmission pans, and other similar parts. By applying a thin bead of RTV, parts are assembled and sealed in one step.

One test used to evaluate effects of an engine oil on polymer (i.e. seal) properties is ASTM
D7216. This test method evaluates four standardized polymer materials’ changes in hardness, tensile strength, and elongation after exposure to an elevated temperature oil bath. With minor modifications, this method can be used to evaluate changes in RTV’s properties exposed to a “standard” oil.

This research will test RTV and one standard material in accordance with ASTM D7216.
Through this approach, it will be possible to compare an oil’s effects on RTV versus materials
vulcanized at high temperature and pressure. One challenge, RTV is a viscous fluid in its
uncured state; for ASTM D7216, RTV needs to be tested in a cured state. Thus, sample
preparation is expected to pose some challenges in this research.

The reporting of test findings to the industrial engineering community could lead to new
methodologies of evaluating engine sealant materials and methods.

Applicant: Sandun Kuruppu

1. Title: Clock Frequency Variation and Drift Impact on Embedded System Performance
2. Co-Applicant: Not applicable
3. Department of Study: Electrical & Computer Engineering
4. Project Abstract: Embedded systems consist of digital signal processors or micro-processors. A microprocessor requires a clock signal for operation. All data manipulation and computations within a microprocessor, including program counter, arithmetic and logic units, instruction decoding, A/D conversion and data transfers events are executed at the rising and falling edges of a clock signal (Figure 01). Further, embedded system applications depend on the clock timing for accurate interpretation of measurements (velocity, acceleration etc…). Therefore the clock signal timing accuracy is of utmost importance to guarantee reliable performance. But, in practice the accuracy of the oscillators and clock signal rely on many factors such as, type of clock, noise, temperature, tolerance of clock accuracy. The student research project is intended towards analyzing the impact of constant clock error and a drifting clock signal impact on embedded systems such as motor drives.

Applicant: Kevin Meyer

1. Title: Does Virtual Reality Affect Non-Market Valuation of Clean Lake Water?
2. Co-Applicant: Not applicable
3. Department of Study: Economics
4. Project Abstract: This project proposes to use virtual reality to measure a participant's willingness to pay to improve lake water quality. A 360 degree virtual reality camera was used to film various Iowa lakes before and after they became visibly polluted through algal blooms. The camera captures both high definition video as well as surround sound. This footage will be presented to laboratory participants using a virtual reality headset, whose full head movement will allow them to become fully immersed in the scene. The participant will then be asked a simple binary choice question on their willingness to pay a specified amount to return the lake to its' clean state. Their responses will be compared to two different control groups. The first control group will read a description of the lake in both the clean and dirty state. The second control group will get both a description and a picture of the lake.

This project provides an opportunity for two students to learn how to conduct an experimental, survey based research project. They will help design the initial survey that subjects answer before and after they participate in the experiment. This survey will need to be refined through at least one focus group that the students will help administer. Once the survey is completed, the students will help locate subjects and perform the experiment. They will record the data and organize it in a database. Once enough data has been collected, they will help analyze the results through statistical methods. I anticipate opportunities for the students to present the work at national conferences for environmental economics.

The results of the project will shed light on the importance of the degree of reality to a subject's ability to perceive and value environmental quality. The project is expected to produce a peer-reviewed journal article as well as several conferences presentations.

Applicant: Andrew Miller

1. Title: Opioid-Crime Mapping Initiative of the SVSU Center for Geospatial Research and Learning
2. Co-Applicant: Not applicable
3. Department of Study: Geography
4. Project Abstract: We seek to examine the prevalence and extent of the Opioid epidemic in the Greater Saginaw region. This project will consist of two components. The first component will employ Data Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS) data standards to conduct hot spot analysis of Opioid arrests, overdoses and offenders. The second component of the study will use the hot spots generated in the first part of the study and merge it with Opioid users distance to overdose to potentially generate Opioid catchment areas to help predict dealer activity. This will allow the faculty-student collaborative team to better understand the demographic characteristic of the Opioid user and opioid markets in the Greater Saginaw region.

Research assistants will be selected from students who have completed Introduction to GIS, and Advanced GIS. Students must possess the skills offered in these classes in order to assist with the project. Dr. Miller will supply the data management and geospatial techniques expertise while Dr. Bowers will provide the criminal justice expertise needed to complete the project. It would also be very helpful (but not necessary) if students have had one of the following courses: Crime Mapping, Urban Geography, or Issues and Policies in Criminal Justice.

Applicant: Rebecca Schlaff

1. Title: Examining interactions between mental and physical health during pregnancy and postpartum.
2. Co-Applicant: Not applicable
3. Department of Study: Kinesiology
4. Project Abstract: Postpartum depression, a clinically diagnosable mental health disease, is a significant mental health disorder that impacts women, their children, and families. Depressive symptoms are common after childbirth, due in part to the significant body changes occurring during pregnancy and postpartum. Previously published behavioral interventions during pregnancy (promoting physical activity and/or nutrition) have neglected to include targeted mental health components, and consider the impact of physical health behaviors (i.e. physical activity, dietary behaviors, frequent weight monitoring) on postpartum mental health (i.e. postpartum depression, body image, and body dissatisfaction). If interventions designed for pregnant women are to be maximally beneficial and maximize health outcomes, they should aim to incorporate elements that, ultimately, improve both physical and mental health through pregnancy, into the postpartum period. This application proposes methods to add to and strengthen a current behavioral pregnancy physical activity and nutrition intervention: 1) inclusion of mental health components and assessment of mental health within the intervention and 2) expansion of active intervention to the postpartum period. The data will be used for publications, presentations, an application for external funding, and to add knowledge to the field to help pregnant women at this vulnerable time of their life. Student researchers will have the opportunity to lead/assist in participant recruitment, focus group facilitation and evaluation, and intervention development.