2014 Summer Undergraduate Research Projects

You can browse this summer’s (2014) individual project descriptions for either Fine Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies or Natural Sciences, Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science. The descriptions can be read on this page via each project’s drop down function or found on a page of their own via the section heading.

The Summer 2014 Student Application Form will open Friday, February 14. Student applications are due no later than Friday, February 28.

Fine Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies

Jean Aguilar-Valdez - Educational Research from the Borderlands: Latina/o Student Testimonio as Ethnography and Documentary

EDUCATION

This summer project is an extension of the Spring 2014 DUR course, “Educational Research from the Borderlands: Latina/o Student Testimonio as Ethnography.” The course was designed to familiarize undergraduate students with critical, decolonizing approaches to qualitative and mixed methods educational research methodologies. Undergraduate student researchers – many with previous experience in courses or field experiences in K-12 education – meet together with middle and high school Latina/o students in the TORCH (Tackling Obstacles and Raising College Hopes) Program at Northfield High School and Northfield Middle School, and those in facilitative positions within the TORCH program. Through the use of research methodologies such as ethnography, testimonio, and mixed methods review of TORCH’s quantitative measures of success, students work alongside Latina/o students and their families and members of TORCH staff to uncover truths about Latina/o students’ realities and power, as well as the model for success over the years that TORCH has achieved with its Latina/o students. The summer portion of this project will involve taking the data collected during the semester, analyzing it, meeting additionally with stakeholders and participants as the final products of the study take shape, and working as a co-author and co-creator with the professor in creating manuscripts, presentations, a website for testimonios/stories, and several mini-documentaries based on the data collected.

Students in this summer project are expected to meet with the professor twice a week for 2-4 hours, when data, analysis, and ideas will be shared, and plans of action will be generated. The remainder of the expected 40/hour per week will be spent communicating either in person or through electronic media such as email, Skype, or collaboratively through Google Docs and Google Drive, in order to continue to analyze and shape the data and the products that emerge from the data. Students are expected to remain electronically available for collaboration during weekdays for the duration of the project, and work closely with the professor as co-authors and co-creators of the final products meant for dissemination. Students also will go with the professor to meet with participants and stakeholders in the study at the TORCH program offices at Northfield middle and high schools, as well as consult with other professors and faculty at St. Olaf with expertise in IT and documentary creation.

Students in this project will learn a new mindset and approach to working in solidarity with non-dominant populations when engaging in educational research. They will become a part of a larger push for social justice and new paradigms of understanding when considering the lived realities and voices of the Latino population and of the teachers and advocates who work within these communities on a daily basis, and have been a part of these communities for years. This project helps the students involved understand the larger community and its struggles and perseverance from deeply personal and human stories and interactions with those who live it. On a continuous basis, students will be exposed to theories of decolonizing methodologies, pushing their boundaries of how to view participants as equals, not as an “other” or an object to be researched, as well as gaining knowledge of the practical application of decolonizing methodology and research for the purposes of social justice, through actual experience doing and connecting with the community and its needs. Students also will gain experience with several aspects of humanities and social sciences research such as ethnography, member checking, qualitative and quantitative data organization and analysis, transcription, narrative construction, website design, and documentary editing and creation.

Jane Becker Nelson - Collection Stories: Curating the Flaten Art Museum Collection

ART

This project puts students in direct contact with historic and contemporary artworks from the Flaten Art Museum’s collection of over 4,000 objects. Because many of the objects (including some of the finest) are hidden in museum storage for optimal protection, few know about this rich cultural resource. In order to increase use of the collection as a teaching tool, the museum director is seeking a team of students to co-produce thematic video slideshow tours of the collection. Using artworks as a springboard for interdisciplinary inquiry, they will develop “Collection Stories” that highlight thematic relationships among works from disparate periods, cultures, and media. Acting as curators and storytellers, students will develop virtual exhibitions, narrate video slideshows, and publish them as part of Flaten Art Museum’s online collection.

The professor and students will be in frequent communication as they jointly study collection objects, conduct research, and curate the Collection Stories. The first two weeks will require intensive group work, but independent research and production time will increase as the project develops. Full group meetings will take place three times each week, with individual professor-student meetings scheduled as needed. Outside of group meeting times students will work independently and in peer-to-peer pairs, using the Print Study Room in Dittmann Center as an available work space. Students must be intellectually curious, creative, detail-oriented, and self-motivated. They must also be determined to revise their narratives and videos multiple times, until the museum director deems them ready to publish. Creative writing skills and visual sensitivity essential; experience with studio art, art history, and/or digital media desirable.
This project will provide students from a wide range of disciplines an opportunity to hone curatorial skills. Students will gain experience in critical analysis, aggregating material, visual literacy, creative writing, editing, collections management, digital imaging, and web-based platforms – desirable and marketable skills in a wide range of academic fields and professions. The students’ projects will be permanently available as part of the Flaten Art Museum website, and will serve as excellent “published” material that students can cite in internship, graduate study, and job applications.

Heather Campbell and Elizabeth Leer - The Implementation and Impacts of Northfield's Teacher Professional Learning Communities

EDUCATION

In an effort to systematize their mode of delivering school-based professional development, Northfield Public Schools utilizes a unique model. Each Wednesday, all district schools have a one-hour late start to enable school teachers and staff members to meet in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). We will survey and interview teachers, administrators, and parents to explore both the benefits and challenges of implementing PLCs locally and to investigate how Northfield gained support from the district and community to structure professional development via weekly late starts. In addition, we will analyze PLC yearly reports and other publicly available information (including test scores) to determine the historical development, educational impacts, and current status of the PLCs. We hope to have a draft of a paper ready for publication at the end of the summer project.

Students will analyze and code survey data from teachers, interview data from principals and teachers, and data from a variety of public documents (reports, test scores, meeting minutes, etc.). Desired skills include: experience coding and analyzing qualitative data, conducting interviews, understanding basic statistical information. However, the investigators will train students. It is likely that there will be frequent research-team meetings (perhaps 2-3 times per week), but there will also be time for individual research. Most of the work in the summer will be reading through interviews and documents, coding data, and perhaps conducting additional interviews. Students and professors will work closely together to analyze the data and write the paper.

Few research experiences in education/education policy are available at St. Olaf; this project will provide students interested in educational policy, leadership, or instruction a chance to serve on a research team investigating an important education policy in Northfield.

David Castro and Tina Garrett - The Mathematics of Atonal Musical Structures

MUSIC

Within the growing sub-field of music theory known as transformational theory, recent work by Dmitri Tymoczko, Steven Rings, Clifton Callendar, et al., has developed the traditional relationship between math and music to an unprecedented degree. These authors (and others) employ sophisticated mathematics in order to model various musical structures and their interactions. To date, however, the most influential work has largely focused on tonal or diatonic music, meaning that fully chromatic or atonal music remains a rich area for research. To that end, the goal of our summer research project is to examine Allen Forte’s list of atonal set classes using the tools and concepts of combinatorics. This research will evaluate the notion of sets, as it is understood by music theorists, for its analytical validity and effectiveness.

David Castro will oversee the major aspect of the project question — what type of analyses make sense in the atonal setting. Tina Garrett will provide the mathematical expertise and combinatorics background. The students will have the opportunity to work at this intersection of music and mathematics and learn to look at a music theory problem from a different perspective. The project also provides an insight into the application of combinatorics.

Kari Dorer - Sett i gang Web Portal

NORWEGIAN

The Sett i gang web portal is a website that brings many useful language learning resources together in one site for first year Norwegian language learners. This includes audio materials, an online workbook, flashcards and links of interest to the learner. The project draws on theories of second language learning and online learning for facilitated student inquiry into how theory and practice meet in applied linguistics and educational technology. This process involves evaluating learner results of existing materials and the technological tools that best meet the needs of language learners. Then, the students will apply this knowledge by creating additional exercises/ resources for learners.

One student position requires Norwegian language knowledge (NOR 253 or higher) and the second student position requires a strong interest in the intersection of language learning and technology. Norwegian language knowledge would be helpful for this student, but not required. The project is divided so that the students will have time to explore topics independently, together with each other, and also ample time to work collaboratively with the faculty mentor. Additionally, it emphasizes working with and learning from IT staff so that everyone can learn from each others’ expertise.

This project provides the opportunity to take part in what language instructors do to prepare the best learning environment for our students. It asks the one student to critically evaluate pre-existing materials, investigate how students interact with these materials and determine if the curriculum is meeting the students’ needs. The second student has the opportunity to explore how technology is used to support language learning. This student will be critically examining and determining which tools best support the educational goals of each exercise and how the layout and features of the quizzes will best meet students’ needs.

Todd Edwards - Alternative trigger devices for show control in live performance

THEATER

This summer project will research and test alternative triggering devices for use in live performance. These triggers can control special effects, lighting, sound, projections, pyrotechnics and scenery automation. Potential triggers can include MIDI, Arduino, IR, Camera and Motion Control devices. We will look at numerous products that are used for interfacing a user (actor, singer, dancer, other talent) with technology. These interfaces then trigger media servers or other software programs to fire specific cues, which can include lighting, special or visual effects, pyrotechnic devices or audio/music. Additionally, these triggers could be used to move scenery or props within a performance space. These devices can be used in theater, dance, performance art, musical/concert venues, etc…

This project provides a great opportunity for the student researcher to work with creative concepts and industry tools and technologies. They will be exposed to many new and different possibilities as we explore existing triggers together, test their effectiveness, and create new triggers for use in live/performance venues. The student will work closely and directly with me and be an integral part of the success of this research, and will also meet other professionals in the field.

Tracey Engleman - Vocal Health and Wellness for the Collegiate Singer

MUSIC

In response to the St. Olaf Music Department’s need for applicable and readily available information regarding vocal health and wellness, this inquiry aims to produce content for an online resource available on the Music Department website that is specific to the human voice. This resource will be available to the more than four hundred singers who find themselves in the multiple choirs, various performing groups, and voice studios at St. Olaf. The information and resources provided may help students prevent vocal injuries due to vigorous vocal use while at St. Olaf, or help them on their road to recovery after an injury has occurred. The content will include a review of the latest vocal science literature, input from faculty and students at St. Olaf who have experienced vocal injuries and interviews with authorities in the field.

Together, the student and I will work to come up with a specific timeline for the inquiry. The early steps will focus on research, information gathering, and outlining the content to be created. The research includes reading relevant literature in the field, interviewing students and faculty members to gauge what content would be helpful, and interviewing other experts in the field. These experts may include speech and language pathologists, otolaryngologists, and/or movement specialists. The next step will be to create 1) the material for the online content, and/or possibly on online “handbook”; 2) a presentation that would include a seminar for incoming freshmen addressing the vocal demands they will experience; and 3) a poster-presentation. As the faculty mentor, I will serve as principal editor. I will also read the student-generated material as a critical scholar, assessing the pertinence and persuasiveness of the evidence provided, and the strength of the analysis. Additionally, I will offer suggestions of pertinent books, articles, and sources and propose various approaches, methods, and lines of interpretation. The student and I will work together through regular scheduled communication and I will answer other questions or concerns that arise in a timely manner.

The student will have the opportunity to learn about vocal health and wellness through an academic, scholarly inquiry into the subject. He/she will be able to have the opportunity to speak with knowledgeable members in the field of vocal health, and will gain experience in planning, managing, and executing a large-scale project. Additionally, the student will be able to improve upon his/her writing and research skills through regular feedback and guidance.

Ashley Hodgson - Measuring medical treatment intensity when a patient has multiple chronic conditions

ECONOMICS

A growing share of patients today have multiple chronic conditions (diabetes, asthma, heart disease, depression, etc) complicating their medical care. This requires doctors to make judgment calls in prescribing treatments designed to address a single medical condition. Two competing forces may influence hospital treatment intensity for these patients. On one hand, doctors may act more cautiously because of the uncertainty in side-effects of treatments designed for a single isolated condition. On the other hand, doctors may prescribe more treatments to these patients in order to pre-empt anticipated side effects, or because extra treatment is needed to counteract negative reactions to treatments designed without consideration of the patient’s secondary conditions. In light of these influences, we ask the question: Do patients with multiple chronic conditions receive more intensive treatment or less intensive treatment when they are in the hospital for conditions unrelated to their chronic illnesses? Based on recent trends, we expect multiple chronic conditions to increase treatment intensity and increase costs exponentially. Alongside our statistical investigation, we will review the literature and discuss different conceptual frameworks to explore the many factors that influence a patient’s treatment intensity, as well as related questions about chronic conditions as individual or sometimes multiple complications.

Desired skills and interests include: courses in statistics; an interest in thinking about applications to health policy; an interest in learning a new statistical software package (Stata). The students and I will meet daily either in person or over the phone. During these meetings we will report our progress and strategize for the coming days. The meetings will be the times when we talk about our ideas for a relevant conceptual framework, and brainstorm on ways of testing those ideas using the data. We will be working with multiple data sets, and will divide the work among us. Most of the data work will be using Stata, a statistical package.

Students will gain an understanding of the process economists use to empirically investigate a research question. They should also learn about health care policy and administration, especially as we process the theoretical framework for the paper and do our review of literature.

Timothy Howe - 3D Imaging and Archaeology

ARCHAEOLOGY

The St.Olaf Archaeological Field School at Antiochia ad Cragum in Southern Turkey will be using the emerging 3D technologies of RTI and PhotoScan to document and analyze the artefacts from the 2014 excavation season. The project will involve: (1) taking multiple still photographs (70-90) of each object, (2) taking multiple still photographs of the excavation process, (3) processing those digital photos to produce a finished image, (4) organizing the images according to site-specific metadata, and (5) interpreting the historical and cultural significance of each finished image. Students are needed who have experience in photography, photographic manipulation (Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom), GIS, and metadata to perform tasks 1-4 and begin task 5.

Students and faculty will work collaboratively in the field and in the lab as RTI and PhotoScan data is collected and processed. However, as the students become more adept at capturing and processing data, faculty guidance will become less necessary and student work will become more independent. By the end of the project, students will be processing their own data and offering interpretations about its relevance and meaning.

This project will give students valuable, transportable skills in advanced photography, (photo)graphic design, website design, textual and image analysis, computer mapping (Geographic Information Systems) and archaeological research. In addition, residence in Turkey provides a unique internationalization experience, allowing student researchers to collaborate with Turkish peers. Since Turkey is an emerging economy and one of the only fully Westernized Muslim countries, the opportunities for networking and lifelong learning are incalculable.

L. DeAne Lagerquist - Locating Lutheranism: Using GIS Tools to Investigate and Interpret 19th Century Norwegian-American Lutherans

RELIGION

Beginning with O.M. Norlie’s 1918 Norsk Lutherske Minighter i Amerika, we will 1) map the locations of Norwegian-American Lutheran congregations, 2) look for patterns in their dates of founding, geographic locations, synodical affiliations, and names, and 3) for a smaller number of congregations construct a more robust on-line exhibit of photographs, historical documents, and narrative. The student will be involved in data entry, researching missing addresses, data analysis, selection of historical materials, and design and construction of the exhibit.

Following initial orientation, much of the work can be carried out more-or-less independently. However, I anticipate at least twice weekly consultations. Data entry will be done on campus. Gathering of historical materials will require travel to the ELCA Regional Archive on the Luther Seminary Campus (St. Paul). There may also be materials in the NAHA collection at St. Olaf.

Students will develop technical skill and experience, research skills and strategies, and historical judgement relative to source selection and interpretation. They will also gain knowledge of American religious history generally and of St. Olaf’s ethno-religious heritage more specifically.

Sharon Lane-Getaz - Researching Curriculum and Assessments for Bridging the College and Advanced Placement Statistics Gap (CAPS-Gap)

STATISTICS

This project will conduct background research for Bridging the College and Advanced Placement Statistics Gap (CAPS-Gap). The students and I will review and summarize existing statistics education standards including: Advanced Placement topic guidelines, Common Core Initiatives for High School Statistics and Probability and Guidelines for Assessment and Instruction in Statistics Education (GAISE) endorsed by the ASA for both the K-12 and the College Report. We will also summarize survey results from a CAPS-Gap Needs and Interest Survey administered to AP Statistics Readers in January 2014. Given these criteria, we will categorize existing curricula and assessments that may address the gap between AP Statistics courses and a rigorous, second course in statistics at the college level. The team will recommend activities and assessments to address the proposed CAPS-Gap module objectives. Students should have completed at least one and preferably two Statistics courses at St. Olaf and should have completed an Educational Psychology course.

I will work collaboratively with students in identifying curricula and articles that will inform our background research. For example, I will provide information regarding existing statistics education standards, and will also suggest curricula to review.

The students will gain insight into statistics education research and will be likely candidates to be involved in aspects of the the proposed three-year NSF project which will engage CIR Fellows and CURI summer researchers in all aspects of the project from design through dissemination.

Timothy Mahr - Composing for Concert Band

MUSIC

Two student composers will each create a work for concert band. The compositions will be artistic reflections on one of two subjects: the first choice will be the St. Olaf College campus theme for 2014-15 (to be announced later this spring) and the other will be the heritage of the St. Olaf Band as it approaches the 125th anniversary of its founding in 1891. Students selected for participation will have demonstrated advanced skills in upper level music composition courses and/or applied composition lessons.

Initial daily meetings during week one will refine the concept of each work. Meetings will then occur 2-3 times a week as the writing proceeds. Transfer of each work from manuscript to a computer-engraved score will begin as early as the midpoint of the project. Final meetings will focus on editing the works and managing the part extraction. The two composers will meet together in a seminar once a week to share the progress of their work with each other, as well as provide feedback to one another.

The opportunity to compose for a large ensemble with the promise of a reading of the work is rare for an undergraduate student. Most likely, the proposed project’s compositions will be deemed worthy for inclusion on of our concerts, so they would receive additionally a number of rehearsals leading up to their performances. This entire process offers the students a vital learning opportunity.

Greg Muth - The Science Alliance: Science Education and Outreach

EDUCATION

This non-traditional summer research project continues our community outreach effort to get elementary students excited about science and gives Oles the opportunity to inspire our next generation of researchers. The goal of the summer portion of the project is to research and develop hands-on classroom activities for elementary school students centered on the principles of renewable energy and other areas of science. The project continues during the academic year with training of volunteers and dissemination of the materials and curriculum throughout the community in a science-outreach program. This project is ideal for a student interested in science education. A vital component for the success of this project is coordination and implementation during the academic year. Preference will be given to those individual able to do so.

After the initial training period, the students will take primary responsibility for the project. The goal is to empower the students with the confidence and to generate their own ideas for teaching and the skills and resources to see their ideas to implementation. The working relationship range from daily hands-on guidance to complete independence with room to encourage creativity and expression.

A primary goal of the project is for students to take ownership of the development and dissemination of the curriculum they develop. There is opportunity for complete independence, an opportunity to provide leadership, and an opportunity for mentoring the next generation of scientist.

Peter Nelson - Stop Motion Animation

ART

Create a stop-motion animation and submit it to film festivals! Students will collaboratively work with Visiting Assistant Professor of New Media Peter Nelson through the entire process of making a stop-motion film. Students will storyboard the film, develop and build sets and characters, light, shoot, and edit footage, create a soundscape, develop promotional materials including a website and posters, and submit the product to film festivals. Students with a wide range of skills (sculpture, photography, drawing, filmmaking, graphic design, performance, theater, music, dance, screenwriting, etc.) are invited to apply.
Students will be creative collaborators, giving input into the production of the film. The professor will oversee all aspects of the project, but will delegate large chunks of responsibility to students. Because of the multi-faceted nature of stop-motion animation, students will take ownership of certain aspects of the film and will need to be self-motivated. Depending on the stage of the film, the professor and students could be working closely together 40 hrs/week or might meet just an hour or two every other day to check on progress.
Students will learn through both independent work and attentive mentorship. They will be immersed in the entire process — a high-impact experience that will be great for future job prospects. Students will be able to highlight accomplishments, such as professional film festival screenings and gallery exhibits, on their resumés. The skills of planning, creating, and promoting a film are relevant to a variety of careers in commercial and fine arts, including film and television production, animation, graphic design, web development, photography, and marketing, to name a few. Additionally, the following skills are relevant in nearly every career: creativity, attention to detail, problem solving, presentation skills, and the creation of promotional materials.

Paul Niemisto - Collaborative Practicum in Community Cultural Development: Vintage Band Festival in Northfield

MUSIC

This is an applied research project involving assessment and data collection regarding a major music festival in Northfield MN, which took place in summer 2013. This collaborative practicum involving a music festival and community cultural development will explore both the theoretical and practical aspects of the evolving field of arts management. Students with backgrounds in instrumental music, math/statistics, and/or arts managements experience will be given priority.

The project will begin in late May with introductory meetings and workshops about the history of the Vintage Band Festival, previous St. Olaf student involvement, and delineating new goals and plans for the upcoming activity. This will include an extensive walking tour of Northfield and all the venues and resources used in the VBF. A handbook of literature examples on festival planning, the economics of arts in the community, literature specific to the VBF, and related materials will be given to the participating students for early reading and then discussed during the opening sessions. The major element of this project will be a detailed evaluative process of statistical information gathered from the 2013 event, examining the previous students’ work, the effectiveness of festival volunteers in their planning and execution, and measuring the impact in the audience and the community, in economic and cultural terms. The project will culminate in a detailed report to the VBF Board and Northfield Downtown Development Corp. about the survey results and recommendations. While daily contact will be normal between the participating students and faculty, a general meeting will be held at the end of each week to assess the recent activity and consider plans for the next week. We will use the CURI summer gatherings as particular points for assessment of progress and a presentation of work up to that point.

This experience offers a balance between gaining a theoretical knowledge of the subject and some substantive experience in the field. Interested students will be screened for selection to this project based on some combination of: 1) background in math/statistics, 2) some knowledge and experience in organizing arts events 3) some completed course work in arts management or related subjects, and (4) demonstration of personal skills related to interviewing, public speaking, letter-writing, cyber skills, and document organization. Student researchers will assume considerable responsibility as active participants in the project. They will need to be meticulous record keepers and advance planners, dealing with a complex palate of subject matter. They will also need to exhibit flexibility and patience in working with many people locally and nationally, in addition to their faculty mentor. Students interested in Arts Management, Music, Statistics, or Media Studies could find this research practicum useful in career preparation. Related academic areas such as Economics, Journalism, or Musicology may also be pertinent.

Matthew Rohn - An American Conversations Digital Humanities Portal and Resources

AMERICAN CONVERSATIONS

This project will start the development of an American Conversations, digital humanities, web-based portal to house resources that faculty and students can use as relatively passive “readers” but also interactively in the study of visual, auditory, data-driven American Conversations material. We will explore the development of specific resources for teaching a visual art topic through a virtual gallery; a census-derived immigration issue; an interactive museum of American popular culture; and civically engaged radio essays.

This research position is half-time, 20 hours per week during the ten weeks of the summer program. The student will typically meet at least once a week with me as we both research what others are doing in these fields and what best practices might be. We will work closely with one or more St. Olaf Digital Humanities staff and interns to learn about resources they know and determine what would work better for American Conversations needs based on college computing resources or other resources that can be added with existing means. We will periodically develop some of these resources either through the student’s technical abilities and creativity or with the help of IT staff and/or Digital Humanities staff and we’ll be playing with some of these resources. We’ll keep logs of our work and develop means of archiving not only our resources but also our trials, successes and failures so others continuing this work in future years can build on what we do and not reinvent the wheel.

The student will expand their basic research skills through practice and searching for high quality resources in a relatively new field. They will learn about pedagogy and how to communicate knowledge in a multi-modal way to a variety of users (i.e., faculty of differing backgrounds, 1st and 2nd year students, a possible bigger, Web audience). The student will also learn new technologies and best practices in this field.

Jeanne Willcoxon and Brian Bjorklund - Dramaturgical Research: Digital applications, resources, and exhibition

THEATER

The primary research question that this project will answer is “How can we help students effectively research the theatrical text and live performance?” This project will focus on creating online resources that provide support for and instruction on dramaturgical research as well as an easily searchable production archive for students and faculty. Instructors could use this resource in class to teach students how to do the field-specific historical research of dramaturgs (dramaturgs, in general, provide production research and inspiration to theater directors, designers and cast members). Student dramaturgs would also use this resource to create and present their work on productions.

Experience and background with theater production, research and/ or experience with computer technology and web resource creation is desired. Faculty and students will work together to plan and execute the work of the project, meeting regularly throughout the time frame of this grant. The project will use a collaborative working model and involve the resources of IT and library digital humanities staff. The larger project will be broken down into parts and the team will divide the projects up for completion. Some projects will be completed by individuals and others may use a team approach.

This project will extend student learning in dramaturgical research, provide a rich experience in visual research and give hands-on experience with using digital tools for authoring, presenting and discovery. The collaborative working model will provide interesting opportunities for discussion and learning effective approaches for project work and problem-solving.

Ka Wong - Asia in Northfield: A Historical, Ethnographic, and Cultural Study

ASIAN STUDIES

Since Northfield officially welcomed its first wave of refugee immigrants during the Vietnam War diaspora, almost four decades ago, the Asian population in this all-American city has steadily grown, reaching 3.5% in 2010 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. With the diversification of both colleges, the number of faculty members and students of Asian origins or heritage has also increased notably over the years. Why did they settle in Northfield? What are their stories? How do they face the issues of assimilation, stereotype, and discrimination while keeping their own cultures, traditions, and identities? What does it mean to live the “American dream” in Northfield? As the new focus of cultural and ethnographic studies highlights the nature of “locality” and “lived experience,” this interdisciplinary project puts forward a faculty-student collaboration on collecting, documenting, and analyzing the Asian American experience in Northfield.

Students will be selected based on some combination of: 1) interest in Asian American/cultural studies; 2) strong communicative and organizational skills; 3) computer skills, such as web design/publishing, photo-imaging/digitalization, and video/audio editing; 4) some knowledge of Asian language(s), such as Chinese, Vietnamese, and Hmong is preferable but not required.

While students will work closely with the faculty member and each other throughout the research process, they are also required to work independently on various components of the project—such as survey/organize empirical data, compose field notes, input information, and digitize materials. In addition, students may be asked to observe the Minnesota Vietnam Culture Camp, which is scheduled to take place at St Olaf College in mid July. This project will provide students with valuable experience in conducting humanities/cultural studies research, from methodology and theory to field work and analysis to digital documentation and presentation, which is important for pursuing a graduate degree/teaching career. Students will also gain more in-depth understanding of the local community, especially the minority group of Asian Americans. Acknowledgment and appropriate credit will be given to the students in all future publication/presentation of the research findings.


Natural Sciences, Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science

Diane Angell - Biodiversity: Small Mammals and Bumblebees on Remnant and Reconstructed Prairies

ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES

A number of prairie animal species are declining in Minnesota, and several small mammals and bumblebee species are currently on a species of conservation concern list for the state of Minnesota. As prairies have disappeared in this area, colleges and private landowners have planted prairies in an effort to restore some of the lost biodiversity. One expectation of these restorations was that they would eventually be colonized by animal species that historically would have inhabited prairies in this region. Research in general shows that the plant communities in these reconstructions can be quite different from neighboring remnant prairies. Our research involves comparing the small mammal and bumblebee communities in the two types of prairies in and around Northfield. Both small mammals and bumblebees play valuable roles in ecosystems. Attention has recently been focused on bumblebees, since they may have direct economic impacts due to their pollinating services to local fruit and vegetable growers. Although small mammals do not have direct economic impacts, some evidence suggests bumblebees rely on small mammal burrows for suitable hive placement. This summer we will continue to survey both small mammals and bumblebees on Carleton and St. Olaf’s reconstructed prairies as well as remnant prairies in the area to determine what species tend to use each type of prairie and will also begin to explore the role small mammal burrow density might have on bumblebee hives.

Research students need to be independent, enthusiastic and have an eye for detail as we learn the different species of small mammals, bumblebees and plants in Minnesota prairies. I will work in a variety of different ways with students. There will likely be days when I work in the field one-on-one with students trapping and surveying for small mammals and bees and other days where students can do much of the work on their own once we have set up the project.

In addition to learning more about the role of small mammals and bumblebees in prairie ecosystems, students will gain hands-on experience making decisions about research procedures and sampling schemes. They will also learn how to handle and identify bumblebees and small mammals along with a number of prairie plant species. Such animal handling experience is often required for students applying to veterinary schools. Students will gain experience reading and summarizing primary literature, interacting and explaining their research with community members (since we often sample off campus). Students will also gain experience analyzing their data using R and creating a poster.

Doug Beussman - Drug Analysis in Commercial Products

CHEMISTRY

Drugs are prevalent in a number of commercially available products. “Bath salts” are an example of drugs being sold legally. While most of the ingredients are legal, they chemically mimic illegal substances. As soon as the compounds are added to the list of illegal drugs, the manufacturers change the ingredients. Another example is nutritional supplements. While they don’t generally contain illegal substances, they often contain substances banned by athletic organizations. This project aims to develop analytical methods for the rapid analysis of these substances using LC-MS. A student working on this project will learn how to develop an analytical method as well as how to operate and maintain the LC-MS mass spectrometer.

Students will work closely with Dr. Beussman initially as they learn the protocols and instrumentation and will become more self sufficient as the summer progresses. Students will learn how to use the LC mass spectrometer to analyze samples, interpret results and become independent researchers. LC-MS is a skill of growing demand in the analytical sciences and students with experience to this technique will be quite marketable.

Doug Beussman - Human Scent Differentiation

CHEMISTRY

This project will involve using GC/MS techniques to characterize human scent profiles. Slight differences in normal human scent patterns are used by canines to differentiate humans. We are interested in developing a laboratory-based technique that can be used to investigate these scent differences. The volatile organic compounds found in normal human scent are at extremely low concentrations, often ppb or ppt levels and thus require a very sensitive technique to profile these compounds. Possible applications of this GC/MS scent profiling method include forensic case work and disease state detection.

Students will work closely with Dr. Beussman initially as they learn the protocols and instrumentation and will become more self sufficient as the summer progresses. Students will learn how to use the GC mass spectrometer to analyze trace samples, interpret results and become independent researchers.

Doug Beussman - Isotope Ratio Analysis of Threads

CHEMISTRY
This National Institutes of Justice (NIJ) funded forensics project uses the isotope ratio mass spectrometer at St. Olaf to analyze clothing threads. This project will look at small differences in isotope ratios of threads which are otherwise often indistinguishable. By determining the isotope ratios, differences between fabrics made at different locations or time can be observed, allowing for threads to be distinguished from one another, adding forensic value to thread analysis.

Students will work closely with Dr. Beussman initially as they learn the protocols and instrumentation and will become more self sufficient as the summer progresses. Students will learn how to use the state-of-the-art isotope ratio mass spectrometer, interpret results and become independent researchers.

Doug Beussman - Lab Development

CHEMISTRY

Students interested in developing experiments to be incorporated into various teaching labs are encouraged to apply. A variety of different labs are available for development including electrochemistry, fluorescence or Raman spectroscopy, and GC or MALDI mass spectrometry. The goal will be to develop one or more experiments to be used in the St. Olaf curriculum next year. A student working on this project will be involved in selecting what sort of samples will be analyzed as well as developing and optimizing the methods used for the analysis. The theme of these labs could involve forensics, environmental analysis, food analysis, pharmaceutical processes or any other context of interest to the student.

Students will work closely with Dr. Beussman initially as they learn the protocols and instrumentation and will become more self sufficient as the summer progresses. Students will learn how to design, test, modify, and write-up science experiments aimed for teaching labs. They will learn how the instrumentation works as well as what information needs to be included in a lab manual to make the lab educational while still ensuring that students can complete it. While this project would benefit any student interested, it is particularly suited for students thinking of a career in academics at any level.

Doug Beussman - Tetrahymena Proteomics

CHEMISTRY

This NSF-funded project includes collaborating with Dr. Cole in the Biology Department, as well as research groups at Drake University in Iowa, Claremeont Colleges in California and Missouri State University, on the identification of proteins isolated from Tetrahymena thermophila, using proteomic methods. Isolated proteins will be digested and analyzed using mass spectrometry techniques with the MALDI-TOF/TOF instrument and screened against a database of proteins predicted to exist based on the genome. Peptides from potentially identified proteins will be fragmented in the mass spectrometer in order to sequence the peptides for confirmation of protein identification.

Students will work closely with Dr. Beussman initially as they learn the protocols and instrumentation and will become more self sufficient as the summer progresses. Students will learn how to perform state-of-the-art proteomic analyses, use the MALDI-TOF mass spectrometer, interpret results and become independent researchers.

Laura Boehm - Spatial-temporal variation in health effects of fine particulate matter

STATISTICS

Previous research has suggested a connection between ambient particulate matter (PM) exposure and acute health effects, but the effect size varies across the United States. Variability in the effect may partially be due to differing community level exposure and health characteristics, but also due to the chemical composition of PM which is known to vary greatly by location and over time. The goal of this research is to identify which chemical components of PM are most strongly associated with health endpoints and to investigate the seasonal variation of these effects. The ideal candidate has successfully completed Statistical Modeling (ST272) and is interested in further pursuing statistics.

The students and I will determine a meeting schedule (1-3 times weekly, or as needed). Email communication is always available. Students will have the opportunity to apply cutting edge statistical methodology – which they would never see in a class – to an important and interesting problem. They will gain experience in using the statistical software program R, in analyzing real and complex data, and in creative thinking about statistical modeling approaches.

Brian Borovsky - The Molecular Origins of Friction and the Physics of Micromachines

PHYSICS

The goal of our research is to understand the force friction between surfaces at a molecular level. Why does friction exist? What atomistic interactions inhibit the sliding of one surface over another and generate heat? How can friction be controlled or minimized, especially within mechanical systems that may be constructed from nanometer-scale components? Answering these questions helps expand human knowledge of the physical world while also addressing key challenges faced by developers in the areas broadly known as microtechnology and nanotechnology. Ever since the modern study of friction began in the 1980s, researchers have been revealing surprising ways in which the simple laws of friction for everyday objects fail to describe the physics of ultra-small machines.

In the Borovsky research group, we create a microscopic high-speed contact by loading the tip of a sensitive force probe onto the surface of a vibrating quartz crystal. The speeds and contact sizes produced are similar to those encountered in emerging technologies such as microscopic sensors and computer hard disk drives. One area of emphasis is to develop the probe-quartz resonator apparatus itself as a fundamental tool for measuring friction and test the limits of the classical friction laws. Research students are engaged in both the experimental and theoretical aspects of this work. In addition, we are pursuing collaborative work with investigators from Luther College and Auburn University to study a class of molecular monolayers called alkanephosphonates. These may be effective coatings for micromachines assembled from metal oxides rather than silicon. Our goal is to determine how the length of the lubricant molecules and the choice of substrate affect the levels of friction and the onset of wear. Lastly, collaborations are in the early stages with engineers at major manufacturers of hard disk drives.

Research students will work closely with Prof. Borovsky in all aspects of the work. The experience will be similar to that of a graduate student entering a university research group. As the summer progresses, students are expected to gain greater ownership of their projects and to work more independently. Meetings and interactions with Prof. Borovsky will occur on a daily basis.

I expect that students will benefit in several ways through this research, on levels that are academic, professional, and personal. In the past, I have observed students become more mature scientists, by engaging in an active area of research full of open-ended and unanswered questions. Students may also discern their career goals better by first-hand exposure to life as a professional researcher. They may also gain confidence through overcoming the challenges associated with learning new knowledge, developing skills, and presenting technical information to the public.

Lisa Bowers - The role of three TonB Dependent Receptors in Caulobacter crescentus

BIOLOGY

My lab investigates mechanisms that control the cell cycle and nutrient uptake of the bacterium Caulobacter crescentus. Caulobacter is uniquely adapted to living in low-nutrient environments including lakes, rivers and even tap water. This project investigates mechanisms used by Caulobacter to acquire nutrients in these oligotrophic environments. Specifically, the project will focus on a class of transport molecules (TonB Dependent Receptors) on the surface of Caulobacter and their role in nutrient acquisition. Students will use genetic, molecular, biochemical, and bioinformatics techniques to investigate these transporter molecules. Students applying for these positions should have taken (or be taking) Genetics.

At the beginning of the project period, I’ll work closely with students to outline the experimental goals and guide them in the molecular, genetic and microbiological techniques to carry out the experiments outlined in the proposal. We will meet informally on a daily basis but will also have an organized weekly lab meeting and journal club meeting.

Students will benefit from this research in many ways. They will learn how to craft a hypothesis and design a series of experiments to test that hypothesis. They will learn many different techniques such as constructing gene deletions and inducible genes, performing chemical sensitivity assays, quantitative PCR, growth curves, and fluorescent and DIC microscopy. They will learn how to collect and analyze data and how to troubleshoot when things go wrong.

Dick Brown - CSinParallel: Parallel and distributed computing for CS students across the nation

COMPUTER SCIENCE

The rise of multicore computing and “cloud computing” mean that all CS students now need competency in parallel and distributed computing (PDC) in order to be prepared for their careers. Student researchers in the CSinParallel project have a unique opportunity to contribute to this international movement in CS education, by helping to research, develop, produce, and improve modules for teaching PDC (csinparallel.org). This summer’s projects include: improvements in the St. Olaf-developed and widely recognized WebMapReduce simplified interface for Big Data computing; researching and creating modules that focus on parallel design patterns and “exemplar” applications to other disciplines and concerns, such as DNA comparison and traffic flow analysis; improving portability and performance of WebMapReduce; researching, documenting, and deploying CSinParallel modules on new parallel computing platforms; preparing for and supporting upcoming regional workshops for professors at other institutions to teach more PDC; and preparing materials for publication. Special equipment includes St. Olaf’s Beowulf clusters, 32-core and 64-core computers, LittleFE portable cluster, Galileo boards for creating Internet of Things applications that use PDC, and high-performance graphics cards for accelerated computations, as well as external resources provided by Intel, Amazon, and others. Preparation: Minimum of CS 251; courses with significant parallel computing such as CS 300, CS 284, CS 273 are assets.

Summer research in CS occurs within a dynamic community, in which students and faculty collaborate to accomplish research goals. Each student researcher has responsibility for a particular goal or goal group, although students ordinarily collaborate with others to accomplish those goals, e.g., by consulting to share expertise, or by teaming together to accomplish related goals or common stages in their processes. The professor, who relocates his office functions to the lab, specifies the requirements, interacts with the student researcher(s) to determine strategies and select among design and technology choices, assesses individual and overall progress, and obtains resources needed for projects to succeed. Student researchers spend their time: creating software, working with hardware, and producing and presenting written materials, talks, and other deliverables; and interacting with each other, the directing professor, and others on and off campus connected to the work. In particular, CSinParallel researchers will interact with faculty off-campus as they create tools and materials for teaching parallel and distributed computing and in preparation and support for CSinParallel faculty workshops.

A CSinParallel summer research student gains the experience of being a full collaborating partner in a research project that has a highly visible leadership position in an urgent national reform movement in CS education. This includes basic background research, acquiring technical expertise, applying results of such investigations to create expository materials and computational support resources that address relevant and pressing needs, preparing for dissemination at international conferences and special events, and often authoring or co-authoring papers and other professional submissions and presenting such work. Their pivotal involvement in these activities commonly bring them into direct contact with other industry and academic leaders, sometimes leading to career opportunities after graduation. They also gain deep and valuable experience with parallel computing, providing a tangible advantage in an emerging area that is increasingly affecting all forms of computation, from personal phones to peta-scale web services to high-performance scientific computing.

Dick Brown - HiPerCiC: Custom web applications for all disciplines

COMPUTER SCIENCE

Virtually any discipline on campus can benefit from applications of Computer Science, and undergraduates using St. Olaf’s HiPerCiC software framework can create web-based applications for the research interests of individual faculty members across campus that makes it practical to consider research questions in other disciplines that were impractical before now, in collaboration with faculty across the campus. Some current HiPerCiC examples: finding all quotations in one large text of another large text; simulating hundreds of thousands of different plants to assess the way the respond to nitrogen-rich environments over time; simulating the performance of stock-future investment strategies using S&P 500 data; and interactively visualizing combinations of historical data sets through maps. HiPerCiC seeks two student researchers, one to lead extension and further development of the HiPerCiC framework, and one to lead improvements in user-interface quality of HiPerCiC applications. Both students will collaboratively develop existing and new HiPerCiC applications during the summer, including Digital Humanities applications. HiPerCiC is the basis for the interdisciplinary course IS 201, to be offered in upcoming years, which focuses on the creation and deployment of new and ongoing applications of high-performance computing in multiple disciplines. Preparation: Good programming skills and interest in systems, user interfaces and/or interdisciplinary applications of CS; systems coursework such as CS 273, 284, 300, or IS 201 are assets.

Summer research in CS occurs within a dynamic community, in which students and faculty collaborate to accomplish research goals. In the HiPerCiC effort, students carry out the actual research, under the direction of Prof. Brown and in close consultation with faculty members in other disciplines whose applications they are creating or extending, who serve as “domain experts.” Each student researcher has responsibility for particular goals, although students ordinarily collaborate with other CS summer researchers to accomplish those goals, e.g., by consulting to share expertise, or by teaming together to accomplish related goals or common stages in their processes. The professor, who relocates his office functions to the lab, specifies the requirements according to interactions with the domain expert, interacts with the student researcher(s) to determine strategies and select among design and technology choices, assesses individual and overall progress, and obtains resources needed for projects to succeed. Student researchers spend their time: creating software; working with hardware; producing and presenting written materials, talks, and other deliverables; and interacting with each other, the directing professor, the domain expert, and others on- and off-campus connected to the work.

This project combines the design and implementation of user interfaces, a sought-after field that is an appropriate and natural area of study within CS, with forward looking computing technologies, such as parallel computing (emerging as a critical and timely knowledge area in computer science). The concepts and skills this student will acquire in this project will readily transfer to other user-interface framework systems, and both widen that student’s education in CS principles and provide practical background that is invaluable for extending, creating, and deploying user interfaces. In fact, part of the original motivation for HiPerCiC was a recommendation in the most recent CS program review to provide opportunities for students to pursue these valuable technologies. The project will also develop that student’s ability to carry out research projects, which will serve her/him throughout the remainder of her/his time at St. Olaf, and will prepare that student for future research work, perhaps in graduate school.

Finally, participation in interdisciplinary undergraduate research will widen that student’s exposure to and (likely) interest in applications of CS in collaborative research involving other fields. The interdisciplinary collaboration itself develops highly beneficial team-project and interpersonal communicatin skills. Also, a student’s central role in producing innovative applications of parallel computing to problems of scholarly interest in other disciplines has potential to contribute towards professional publication opportunities, under the direction of the “domain” professor being served by the HiPerCiC project.

Eric Cole - Ciliate Developmental Genetics

BIOLOGY

Our lab is testing the hypothesis that ciliates signal one another prior to mating via RNA or proteins that are shed via extracellular micro-vesicles, and that these membrane-bound, extracellular messages might result in a developmental response during conjugation.

Students will spend an intense training period, and then meet twice weekly to assess progress, brainstorm and trouble-shoot problems. Students will gain cross-training experience involving whole-cells, organelle isolation, protein and RNA analysis. This can move forward to gene-cloning, GFP-tagging and fluorescence microscopy.

Eric Cole - Hurricane Oysters

BIOLOGY

Students will explore the evolution of life history traits of the scaly pearl oyster collected on San Salvador Island in the Bahamas. There will be an opportunity for field study (at student expense) to the island in June. In the lab, students will perform wax-histology and light microscopy to determine gender of oysters from a year-long field project already underway, and evaluate gender-switching dynamics.

Student will meet twice a week to trouble shoot problems and design next steps. Professor will be available daily for consultation. Students will develop skills involving histological preparation and light microscopy, as well as work with experimental design and data analysis.

Kevin Crisp - Wireless Implantable Medical Technologies

BIOLOGY

We are working on an NSF-funded project to develop an implantable wireless technology capable of detecting nerve activity and relaying this information to a physically distant detector. Our focus is on reducing the dependence of said devices on proximal power sources.

The student will work on a research team consisting of myself, my full-time research scientist, and students from the McNair Scholars program. As team members, they will be expected to contribute to the progress of the group through both independent and collaborative work. Self-motivation and a strong desire to learn are essential. I’m looking for a hard-working, fast-learning, resourceful student who is willing to learn whatever they need to know to complete the project and willing to devote themselves single-mindedly to it this summer. Familiarity with neurophysiology, basic electronics, or the medical device industry is desirable.

Students will learn about basic electronics, radiotelemetry, neurophysiology and computer simulation techniques as they apply to the development of novel medical technologies.

Jay Demas - Retinal Circuits

NEUROSCIENCE

My lab studies the neural circuits that process sensory information. In particular, we focus on retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), the output neurons of the vertebrate retina that communicate with the brain. We use this system because it is readily accessible and the retinal circuitry that feeds into these cells can be readily manipulation with pharmacological and genetic techniques. There are two broad problems we are working on currently. First, bipolar cells are a type of retinal interneuron that provides excitatory input onto RGCs. There are many types of bipolar cells in the vertebrate retina, and the function of different types of bipolar cells in visual processing is poorly understood. We will use a classic signal processing approach from engineering to assess the role of a genetically defined subset of bipolar cells. We will measure the responses of retinal ganglion cells to a battery of visual stimuli, comparing RGC responses in mice where these bipolar cells are genetically deleted to responses in mice where these bipolar cells are intact. Differences in the visual processing of these two mouse strains will reveal much about the role of these interneurons in visual processing. Second, we will collaborate with Dr. Steve Freedberg to examine the retinal circuits involved in navigation by hatchling turtles. When turtles hatch, they must navigate solo from their nests on land to the water sources that will become their home. Previous work has shown that a number of freshwater turtle species navigate to water using light cues. In a number of mammalian species, a small minority of RGCs are themselves photoreceptors and are called intrinsically photosensitive RGCs (ipRGCs). Our preliminary data indicate that hatchling turtles do have ipRGCs, raising the possibility that these cells play a role in navigation. Using a combination of pharmacology, in vitro electrophysiology, and behavioral assays, we will measure the relative contribution of classic RGCs and ipRGCs to hatchling navigation.

Students will work closely with me throughout the summer, but especially so at the start as they are trained in the techniques they will need to master to work independently. My office is across the hall from my lab, and when I am not physically in the lab I remain accessible to students. Students will learn basic laboratory techniques (reagent preparation, dissection, microscopy, and how to design experiments, analyze data, and generate figures).

Shelly Dickinson - Impact of caffeine on alcohol's effects in mice

NEUROSCIENCE

Co-consumption of caffeine and alcohol is common, but their interactions are not scientifically well-understood. This work is geared toward understanding the behavioral effects of combined alcohol and caffeine administration in adolescent mice and determining the neural mechanisms involved in those effects. Briefly, we’ll be using place conditioning, taste conditioning and/or locomotor activity assays to measure the behavioral effects of alcohol after chronic or acute caffeine administration in adolescent (teenage) mice. Depending on the interests of the student investigator(s), we’ll look at the impact of using dopamine receptor antagonists on the alcohol-caffeine interaction and/or look at the molecular changes in important brain areas that accompany the behavioral changes. Required student background: Some statistics and either Psychology 238 or Neuroscience 239.

We will work together very closely during the first two weeks, with lots of reading and discussion (sometimes under the trees on the quad!) and animal handling practice. As you become adept at the mouse work and are collecting behavioral data you will see less of me because you will need me less. Some weekend mouse work is likely, but we’ll keep it to a minimum! I like to have at least a brief check-in meeting every day, with a longer lab meeting once a week.

This project will give students needed research experience for graduate school and will provide a variety of technical skills including animal husbandry. In addition, students will gain a great deal of practice reading and critiquing primary literature. They will learn about experimental design and analysis, and will present their findings at two conferences.

Keir Fogarty - Quantitative, Automated Image Analysis Methodologies for Determination of Protein Behavior in Diverse Cellular Populations

CHEMISTRY

My research focuses on the application of biophysical fluorescence imaging techniques towards the understanding of biological systems. Specifically, my research project involves the development of an automated analysis platform that analyzes cellular microscopy images using spatial data analysis techniques. In cellular biology, fluorescent images of cells are often used to study protein expression levels (i.e. concentration/fluorescent intensity), and protein localization (i.e. where the protein is located in a cell/image). The expression and localization information contained in these images can provide a window into protein function, interactions and reaction equilibrium. A difficulty encountered in such studies is that every cell exhibits unique size, morphology, and protein expression levels. Scientists often qualitatively seek representative images of cells exhibiting characteristic protein expression and localization to infer the behavior of the overall population. This methodology introduces personal bias in the selection of cells which are assumed to be representative of the population average behavior. Clearly, there is a need to bring quantitation and statistical weight to cellular imaging studies so that protein behavior can be studied for a population of cells in an unbiased, thorough manner. To accomplish this, my research group has been working on adapting spatial data analysis techniques used in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to the analysis of cellular fluorescence images. Goals of our study include; (I) understanding how protein concentration gradients in cells influence local reaction equilibria, (II) identifying different subpopulations of cells expressing identical proteins which exhibit a range of behaviors due to fluctuating conditions in individual cells, and (III) developing image reconstruction methodologies so that average behaviors of populations or sub-populations can be accurately visualized. Students working on this project can expect to get an introduction to molecular biology techniques (protein purification, molecular cloning), biophysical fluorescence microscopy techniques (scanning confocal microscopy, number and brightness analysis, fluorescence correlation imaging), as well as experience in developing a spatial data analysis program and sophisticated image analysis techniques. The project encompasses three fields of study:

Field 1: Microbiology/Biochemistry. The research mentor will train students in aspects of cell culture, biological reagent preparation, protein purification, and biological assays. Cellular samples which express a fluorescent protein of interest will be prepared for imaging by microscopy. To accomplish this, the student will gain experience in molecular cloning, protein purification and biological assays for creating the reagents required for fluorescent protein expression and control experiments involving purified fluorescent proteins. In addition, the student will be trained in cell culture and transfection protocols to induce cellular samples to express the protein of interest. Finally the student will explore cell-growth surface chemistries so that cell growth on varying substrates can be explored.

Field 2: Microscopy. The research mentor will train students in sophisticated microscopy techniques, such as confocal microscopy and image correlation microscopy, which will allow for the precise imaging of fluorescent cellular samples. The research mentor will impart a working knowledge of the instruments, as well as safety and proper use guidelines which will enable students to independently work in a microscopy laboratory. In addition, the research mentor will educate students in sophisticated microscopy modalities, such as scanning correlation spectroscopy, which represent specialized knowledge in the field of microscopy.

Field 3: Spatial Data Analysis/Computer Programming. The research mentor will train students in the use of Java and R computer programming languages for the modification, refinement, and expansion of a cell image spatial data analysis (CISDA) program developed by my research group. In addition, the student will be trained in spatial data analysis methodologies traditionally used in Geographical Information Systems (GIS). The goal is to develop a user-friendly program capable of running CISDA in an automated manner for hundreds of images, with output data that is clear, concise and analytically powerful.

For students in the natural sciences, research-oriented laboratory experience has become critical for not only admission into graduate school, but also for opportunities in industry. In addition, particularly in the field of biology, interest in the benefits of interdisciplinary approaches is peaking. This project trains students in the techniques of biophysical chemistry, biomolecular science, and spatial data analysis, providing them with a set of skills which will set them apart from students with experience from more traditional scientific backgrounds. Increasingly, both graduate schools and employers are interested in people who have demonstrated a degree of multi-disciplinarity, and a familiarity with cutting edge technology and analysis techniques. In addition, I still have a good working relationship with my postdoctoral mentors in biophysics and virology at the University of Minnesota. Their close proximity allows for me to encourage students to participate in research “field-trips” to truly state of the art facilities not accessible to the average undergraduate student at a liberal arts college like St. Olaf. In addition, it gives St. Olaf students an opportunity to witness working graduate-level labs first-hand so that they can get a picture of what graduate student life is like and better make an informed decision concerning their future.

Steve Freedberg - Computer programming of evolutionary models

BIOLOGY

Although natural selection is generally thought to act on the survival and reproduction of individuals within populations, aggregations of individuals may also behave as cohesive units, providing the opportunity for natural selection to act on groups or even species. While mathematical modeling has been applied to questions related to higher levels of selection, these models often ignore the time-dependency of selection, which may allow for the evolution of group-beneficial adaptations. This project will offer one student the opportunity to write individual-based population genetic simulation models to ask questions relevant to higher level selection. Ideally, the resulting program will be able to describe the ecologically parameter space allowing for selection to operate. Students should have a solid background in computer programming, ideally with experience in Perl or a related language.

The student will work directly with the professor to develop and revise the model. In addition, because the student may have limited exposure to the literature relevant to the research, the student and professor will work together to read and incorporate existing theory into their model. Towards the end of the summer, the student and professor will work to write up the results for future publication.

The student will learn programming skills and will gain valuable experience processing primary literature. The opportunity to apply computational skills to primary research will be invaluable for a young computer scientist/biological modeler.

Steve Freedberg - Gene introgression in turtles

BIOLOGY

When reproductive barriers break down, hybridization can lead to gene flow between evolutionarily distinct species, a process known as genetic introgression. Recently, we identified a complex of freshwater turtle species that are capable of hybridization and introgression in parts of their range. This gene exchange is noteworthy in light of the fact that the species diverged several million years ago and show extensive morphological and behavioral divergence. We are interested in examining the genetic consequences of hybridization in these turtles in a large area of sympatry.

The student working on the proposed project will develop novel genetic markers for detecting hybridization in previously collected samples, ultimately helping to determine how mechanisms of reproduction isolation are operating in this system. The project will involve laboratory methods for genetic analysis, as well as statistical programs and the use of software for designing genetic markers.

The student will work directly with the professor to design and amplify molecular markers. The professor will also provide extensive training in laboratory techniques. In addition, because the student may have limited exposure to the literature relevant to the research, the student and professor will work together to read and incorporate existing theory into their model. Towards the end of the summer, the student and professor will work to write up the results for future publication.

The student will learn valuable bioinformatics skills in the development of genetic markers for their study. In addition, they will gain experience to laboratory techniques and analysis that will be invaluable for their development as scientists. Most importantly, they will gain experience playing a central role in the development of a primary research project.

Tina Garrett and David Castro - The Mathematics of Atonal Musical Structures

MATHEMATICS

Within the growing sub-field of music theory known as transformational theory, recent work by Dmitri Tymoczko, Steven Rings, Clifton Callendar, et al., has developed the traditional relationship between math and music to an unprecedented degree. These authors (and others) employ sophisticated mathematics in order to model various musical structures and their interactions. To date, however, the most influential work has largely focused on tonal or diatonic music, meaning that fully chromatic or atonal music remains a rich area for research. To that end, the goal of our summer research project is to examine Allen Forte’s list of atonal set classes using the tools and concepts of combinatorics. This research will evaluate the notion of sets, as it is understood by music theorists, for its analytical validity and effectiveness.

David Castro will oversee the major aspect of the project question — what type of analyses make sense in the atonal setting. Tina Garrett will provide the mathematical expertise and combinatorics background. The students will have the opportunity to work at this intersection of music and mathematics and learn to look at a music theory problem from a different perspective. The project also provides insight into the application of combinatorics.

Bob Jacobel - Geophysical Studies of Ice and Climate in Polar Regions (CEGSIC)

PHYSICS

Ice and Climate Geophysics Group (CEGSIC). The world’s glaciers and ice sheets are a critical element in the global climate system now undergoing major change. Our group uses geophysical techniques: ice-penetrating radar and satellite imagery, to examine the surface, interior and base of ice sheets and glaciers. The characteristics of ice internal layers and the basal conditions that we measure with our radar, give us information about the evolution of the ice and enable us to study relationships between ice flow and climate change. Currently we are in the fourth year of an Antarctic multidisciplinary research project, a collaboration of biologists and geoscientists studying a series of connected lakes beneath the ice in Antarctica. We completed two years of field work in 2010-12 and are now focused on the analysis of data in preparation for drilling into one of the lakes. We also have radar and GPS data acquired in Greenland in the summer of 2012 that we are interpreting, and we will be readying the radar system for more field work in the coming year.

Members in our group work extensively with computers and software to analyze ice-penetrating radar data and satellite imagery as well as learning to write new code in Matlab. We also utilize geopositioning satellite (GPS) data and satellite remote sensing imagery, together with geographic information software (GIS), to establish the spatial context for our radar results. Part of our summer research involves using radar and GPS in a local field setting so that all in the group have the opportunity to acquire new data and work through the analysis process from start to finish. We will read papers and proposals from our colleagues and present our own results to the community. Our research is supported by grants from the Office of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation.
Students interested in this project should plan to visit with Bob Jacobel to get detailed answers to related questions about how the group operates and what the expectations are for a student researcher.

Dipannita Kalyani - Nickel Catalyzed Carbon-Carbon Bond Formation

CHEMISTRY

The ubiquity of hydrocarbons (including arenes and alkanes) in petrochemical sources has resulted in a continuously growing demand for selective conversion of these compounds into functional materials. In particular, the development of atom economical, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly methods for the construction of Carbon–Carbon bonds using hydrocarbons is very desirable. This is because Carbon–Carbon bonds are found in a variety of compounds including fuels, pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, conjugated materials, and commodity chemicals. The overall goal of the proposed research is the development of mild, and efficient methods for the formation of Carbon–Carbon bonds using nickel and palladium catalysts. The projects will provide students experience with state of the art laboratory techniques and research methods for organic/organometallic chemistry. The research experience is expected to be invaluable for students considering a graduate study in chemistry or a job in the chemical industry.

I will meet with students regularly both in and outside of lab to assist them in advancing their research projects. Each student will have their own individual smaller projects within the broader goal of my research program.

The proposed project will provide organic chemistry laboratory research experience to the undergraduate students. Such experience is expected to be invaluable toward their further career pursuits including a graduate study or a job in the chemical industry. Furthermore, it will expose them to a cutting edge area of organic chemistry. The funds available from the grants will also enable the participating undergraduate students to present their research results in a national chemistry conference. Most importantly, the research experience will allow the students to hone their critical thinking and problem solving skills.

Sharon Lane-Getaz - Researching Curriculum and Assessments for Bridging the College and Advanced Placement Statistics Gap (CAPS-Gap)

STATISTICS

This project will conduct background research for Bridging the College and Advanced Placement Statistics Gap (CAPS-Gap). The students and I will review and summarize existing statistics education standards including: Advanced Placement topic guidelines, Common Core Initiatives for High School Statistics and Probability and Guidelines for Assessment and Instruction in Statistics Education (GAISE) endorsed by the ASA for both the K-12 and the College Report. We will also summarize survey results from a CAPS-Gap Needs and Interest Survey administered to AP Statistics Readers in January 2014. Given these criteria, we will categorize existing curricula and assessments that may address the gap between AP Statistics courses and a rigorous, second course in statistics at the college level. The team will recommend activities and assessments to address the proposed CAPS-Gap module objectives. Students should have completed at least one and preferably two Statistics courses at St. Olaf and should have completed an Educational Psychology course.

I will work collaboratively with students in identifying curricula and articles that will inform our background research. For example, I will provide information regarding existing statistics education standards, and will also suggest curricula to review. The students will gain insight into statistics education research and will be likely candidates to be involved in aspects of the the proposed three-year NSF project which will engage CIR Fellows and CURI summer researchers in all aspects of the project from design through dissemination.

Laura Listenberger - Cellular mechanisims of lipid storage

BIOLOGY

My lab studies the lipid droplet, the intracellular storage compartment for excess fat. The storage and utilization of excess fat is controlled by proteins that interact with the lipid droplet surface, but the characteristics of the lipid droplet that make this structure recognizable to interacting proteins are not known. Thus, we aim to understand how the structure of the lipid droplet surface facilitates binding of particular proteins. Our experiments use a variety of standard techniques in biochemistry and cell biology (including mammalian cell culture, subcellular fractionation, polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, and western blotting) to identify features of the lipid droplet surface that promote protein binding.

I will work closely with students at the beginning of the project period, explaining and demonstrating techniques, recommending specific articles to read, and outlining the experimental goals. As students gains confidence and proficiency in their lab work, they will take more responsibility for planning and executing experiments. However, I will still be available for daily consultation as I will be working on a similar project in the laboratory with the students and/or working on a writing project in my office across the hall from the lab. I expect lots of questions and will be present and available to assist. Throughout the summer we will meet at least weekly for formal progress reports.

Students gain proficiency in several standard techniques in the field. They gain confidence in their ability to design experiments and critically analyze their work. We practice both oral and written communication. I expect my students to be able to thoroughly explain their work and present their results at both on-campus and off-campus symposia. Lastly, my previous research students have used their experience in my lab to gain entrance to medical or professional schools.

Jeremy Loebach - Long term training for cochlear implant users

PSYCHOLOGY

Cochlear implantation has proven to be a successful treatment for profound hearing loss in individuals who do not receive a benefit from hearing aids. Although most implanted individuals acquire the ability to perceive sound, substantial variability in outcome and benefit for speech recognition has been observed across cochlear implant (CI) users that cannot be accounted for by differences in etiology, onset and duration of deafness, age at implantation, or surgical and physiological factors. Despite extensive research efforts, understanding the variability in outcome and benefit for speech recognition in CI recipients remains a significant clinical problem. This variability may derive, in part, from the lack of standardized training and rehabilitation protocols after implantation. CI recipients differ substantially in speech perception abilities before implantation, the rate of decline of these faculties during auditory deprivation, and the ability to successfully apply the necessary perceptual and cognitive skills to develop robust speech perception abilities after implantation. These factors may place CI users at fundamentally different starting points, thereby affecting the amount of benefit they will receive from their implant. It is possible that explicit training will provide implantees with a foundational set of neurocognitive skills that they can use to better develop auditory and speech processing proficiency, thereby reducing some of the variability observed in outcome and benefit. This project will investigate a new training and rehabilitation program for postlingually deafened adult CI users. The objective of our research is to develop optimal training and rehabilitation paradigms for use in postlingually deafened adult CI users. Our central hypothesis is that training using a variety of materials (words, meaningful sentences, anomalous sentences, environmental sounds), tasks (word recognition, sentence recognition, environmental sound recognition, and the identification of talkers by voice), and talkers will help facilitate adaptation to electric hearing after implantation, produce robust generalization to novel materials and talkers, and increase the perception of speech in noise and other difficult listening environments. We further hypothesize that the cognitive abilities that are modified during this high variability training will help to enhance a set of general auditory perceptual abilities that currently differ across CI users, and contribute significantly to the individual variability in measures of outcome and benefit observed after implantation. In this project, students will help design and refine the training program, recruit and test adult cochlear implant users, and evaluate the data.

Students will work closely with me throughout the project. They will also be expected to work independently as well as in small groups over the course of the summer. There will be substantial variability across the project period, given that the participant recruiting and testing will depend upon the schedule of the individual cochlear implant users. Students will get the opportunity to participate in all stages of the research project, from design, to data collection and analysis, to interpretation. They will also get to work with a clinical population (postlingually deafened adult cochlear implant users).

Donna McMillan - Extroversion and expressivity

PSYCHOLOGY

The concept of extraversion includes elements of energy and enthusiasm, and related theoretical perspectives suggest that extraversion may be associated with arousal-seeking behavior. In a series of studies, our research explores the extent to which these elements affect extraverts’ preferences and the ways that they respond to stimuli and express themselves. Our findings suggest that extraversion is associated with a tendency to give more extreme responses to a wide variety of positive and neutral (but not negative) self-relevant and non-self-relevant question types, including ratings of personal qualities, photographs of natural scenes, and hypothetical scenarios. Our research suggests that extraverts prefer more extreme words and even show a preference for more extreme or stimulating combinations of letters in made-up nonsense words. This summer’s work will consist of consolidating these projects and preparing them for publication, as well as designing the next study in this research program. Thus the student researcher will need to be knowledgeable about personality psychology, be very comfortable doing literature review in psychology, have excellent writing skills, and be able to be a creative collaborator.

This is a highly collaborative project, and the student researcher and I typically will meet several times each week. While we will work closely together, the student also will need to be able to independently find, summarize, and analyze related literature as well as write drafts of portions of the project. The student researcher will gain experience integrating theory and empirical results in psychology, in doing literature review, in manuscript preparation, and in design of a future study. If the student is interested, we will continue during the academic year 2014-15 and conduct the study that we design this summer.

Gary Muir - The Neural Basis of Navigation

NEUROSCIENCE

My research program is guided primarily by questions about the neural mechanisms of spatial cognition and navigation. The firing activity of “head direction” cells in the brain is thought to represent the animal’s perceived “sense of direction,” or orientation, by acting something like an internal compass. How is this neural signal generated? What role do these cells play in enabling us to re-orient following a period of disorientation? To answer these questions, students will have the opportunity to observe a “behaving” brain in action by recording the activity of single neurons in freely moving rats. Students will be involved in small animal handling and surgery; single-unit electrophysiological data collection and analysis; and public presentation of the results. Given the nature of the work, two desirable skills for applicants are good fine motor skills and patience. Students interested in continuing the project into the academic year as independent research are especially encouraged to apply.

Students involved in this project will work closely with the professor and each other in a small team throughout the 10 week research period. In addition to being mentored by the professor in learning appropriate research techniques in the lab, we will have regular opportunities to discuss relevant literature as a team. Students will learn a number of skills both specific to the lab research we will be conducting (e.g., small animal surgery, electrophysiological methodology) as well as general skills related to scientific inquiry (e.g., how to ask questions in science, and how to (try to) answer them). We will also be holding regular Journal Club discussions around literature, both assigned by me and introduced by the student(s).

Greg Muth - The Science Alliance: Science Education and Outreach

SCIENCE EDUCATION

This non-traditional summer research project continues our community outreach effort to get elementary students excited about science and gives Oles the opportunity to inspire our next generation of researchers. The goal of the summer portion of the project is to research and develop hands-on classroom activities for elementary school students centered on the principles of renewable energy and other areas of science. The project continues during the academic year with training of volunteers and dissemination of the materials and curriculum throughout the community in a science-outreach program. This project is ideal for a student interested in science education. A vital component for the success of this project is coordination and implementation during the academic year. Preference will be given to those individual able to do so.

After the initial training period, the students will take primary responsibility for the project. The goal is to empower the students with the confidence and to generate their own ideas for teaching and the skills and resources to see their ideas to implementation. The working relationship range from daily hands-on guidance to complete independence with room to encourage creativity and expression.

A primary goal of the project is for students to take ownership of the development and dissemination of the curriculum they develop. There is opportunity for complete independence, an opportunity to provide leadership, and an opportunity for mentoring the next generation of scientist.

David Nitz - Atomic Spectrum Analysis

PHYSICS

This project is an opportunity for a student with a combined physics and programming background to help launch a new investigation of the visible/near-uv spectrum of the rare earth element dysprosium (Dy) and to contribute to the upgrading of software used to analyze the spectra. Desirable qualifications (in order of preference) include: (1) completion of Physics 244/245 by the end of the spring 2014 semester; and (2) programming experience at a level comparable to the Software Design course.

My student and I will consult on a daily basis during the 10-week research period with the possible exceptions of a few days in June when I attend a conference and another one week period when I may be out of town (not yet scheduled). Consultations will include providing regular feedback on the student’s work and suggestions for strategies to employ as the project develops. I will be on campus working on completion of a similar previous project and complementary aspects of this project in close coordination with the student as my primary upcoming summer activities.

The student working on this project will gain experience (1) working closely with a faculty member on a significant scientific project which will be collaborative while providing opportunity for independent work; (2) working with concepts of quantum physics as encountered in spectroscopy and with numerical methods of data analysis; (3) learning to evaluate subtle clues about the nature and quality of individual pieces of data and to exercise appropriate scientific judgment in the analysis process; (4) working with and making contributions to a complex spectrum analysis software package and associated issues of archiving a large volume of results in a complete, efficient, and accessible manner; and (5) documenting work in a way which will allow others to understand exactly what was done and how.

John Schade and Kyle Whittinghill - The Polaris Project: Assessing the impacts of climate change in Minnesota and Siberia

ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES

The Polaris Project is a multifaceted effort that includes a summer field course and research experience that will take place in Minnesota in June and in the Siberian Arctic in July of 2014. The unifying scientific theme of the Polaris Project is the study of the potential effects of climate change on the cycling of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. One St. Olaf student will work with us to develop a project during the month of June studying agricultural lands, restored prairies and small streams on and around campus, which will be part of a comparative project also conducted in a permafrost-dominated watershed in the East Siberian Arctic in the month of July. The selected student will complete a 10-week summer research experience and will have the opportunity to collaborate with us and an international team of scientists on a comparative research project in Minnesota and Siberia. We will also return to campus after traveling to Siberia to complete analyses and present research results to the St. Olaf community during the end of summer research symposium.

We plan to provide a broad research framework for the student in the beginning of the project to help guide project development. The student will be expected to explore ideas within this broad framework using the scientific literature and observations of field sites to develop questions and hypotheses the fit their individual interest. We will work closely with the student during the initial stages of the summer to guide project development, but the student will have the opportunity to shape the project to their own interests. Schade and Whittinghill will share mentoring duties throughout the summer, however Whittinghill will be the principal mentor in June and Schade will travel to Russia with the student and act as principal mentor in July. All participants will spend time together in early June, in mid-summer just prior to the trip to Russia and during the last week to help the student prepare for their final presentation. These meetings will ensure a well-integrated project and mentoring program for the student.

The student will have the opportunity to develop their research abilities, both in terms of better understanding the intellectual skills necessary to develop and articulate interesting questions and rigorous hypotheses, and in terms of field, laboratory and quantitative skills necessary to complete and communicate their project.

Jeff Schwinefus - DNA and RNA Stability in Glycine Betaine, Proline, and Urea Solutions: Correlating Small Molecule Interactions with Nucleic Acid Surfaces

CHEMISTRY

Cosolutes, small naturally-occurring solutes such as amino acids, nucleic acid precursors, simple sugars, and metabolites, can dramatically modulate the stability of DNA and RNA. The long-term objective of this project is to elucidate the fundamental principles of cosolute stabilization or destabilization of nucleic acid secondary and tertiary structures, so as to better understand how cosolute interactions influence biopolymer folding, biochemical reactions, and biopolymer folding diseases.
Investigations this summer will focus on the cosolutes glycine betaine (GB), L-proline, and urea. We hypothesize cosolute interactions with the solvent-accessible surface area that would be exposed to solvent during an unfolding event drive nucleic acid stabilization or destabilization and can be used to probe changes in accessible surface area during biochemical reactions. Thermodynamically favorable interactions with the surface area exposed during unfolding drive destabilization of nucleic acid secondary and tertiary structures while unfavorable interactions stabilize such structures. Additionally, quantifying these interactions in molecular detail will lead to insights in both protein and nucleic acid folding and help equip the undergraduate students involved in this project with a critical and quantitative way of thinking about biopolymer folding. Applicants should have completed Chem or CHBI 126 by May 2014.

I will work closely with students involved in this project. They will be responsible for gathering data and conducting experiments. I will develop the theory, experimental design, and aid in collection of data as well. I welcome student feedback to further refine experiments and data collection. We will use multiple techniques (partition assay, vapor pressure osmometry, differential scanning calorimetry, and uv-absorbance spectroscopy) during the summer and expose students to multiple types of experiments.

Students will gain experience with a vapor pressure osmometer, uv-spectrophotometer, and differential scanning calorimeter. They will also gain experience designing experiments and writing manuscripts.

Kathleen Shea - Ecology of the St. Olaf Natural and Agricultural Lands

ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES

Students working with me will focus on ecological research on the St. Olaf Natural and Agricultural Lands. Projects will examine plant species diversity, size and growth rates, as well as soil characteristics in restored forest and/or prairie ecosystems. We will also examine the effects of different agricultural tillage and fertilizer practices on soil quality and agricultural yields in consultation with local farmers. Students will learn about management of natural areas through invasive species removal, watering tree seedlings, planting seeds, and other needed management tasks.
I meet with students daily to discuss research plans, related scientific papers, data collection and/or data analyses. I may need to travel for short time periods during the summer and will make sure that students have detailed plans for working and other faculty to contact while I am gone.

Students will learn a variety of field and lab skills that will be useful for future research, environmental education, or natural resource management positions. They will learn much about the natural history or the St. Olaf Natural Lands and have the opportunity to continue working on Natural Lands projects in the future. The experiences in research and management will help students decide if they want to do more research in the future and may help focus career objectives.

Charles Umbanhowar Jr - Environmental History from Lake Sediments

ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES

Lake sediments, and the chemical and biological fossils they contain, represent a rich source of information for reconstructing environmental history over times spans ranging from 100s to 1000s of years. This project will involve working with lake sediments from the northern Great Plains and from central Labrador. The northern Great Plains work will be focused on reconstructing bison grazing intensities over the last 10000 years based on counts of fungal spores extracted from sediments. The Labrador work will include analysis of fire history (from microscopic charcoal) and lake productivity (from biogenic silica) and lake organic carbon (including isotopes). Desired skills include ability/interest in extensive microscope work and a strong background in chemistry, and comfort with working with automated sampling equipment.

The students will be working closely with me. We will work together on sample preparation and analysis. The first 8 weeks of project will be lab intensive while the student and I work together in the laboratory on spore, charcoal, and carbon analysis. The last two weeks of semester will be more heavily focused on analysis of data and integrating of our work with the published literature. Students will learn new microscopy skills, as well as new analytical laboratory techniques and the use of advanced instrumentation.

Carlo Veltri - MMPI-2-RF Meta-Analysis

PSYCHOLOGY

The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory – 2 – Restructured Form (MMPI-2-RF) is the latest iteration of the most commonly used measure of personality and psychopathology in the United States. Since its publication in 2008, well over 100 articles have been published examining the test’s utility in such tasks as predicting who is likely to complete a batterer’s intervention program, identifying respondents who have exaggerated symptoms of mental illness, predicting which patients are likely to experience complications from bariatric surgery, and differentially diagnosing Bipolar Disorder from Major Depressive Disorder. One of my research interests involves the careful examination of the properties and utilities of this test to better guide psychologists who use it in their day-to-day work. Our aim with this project is to use meta-analytic techniques to provide a picture of the general strengths and limitations of the MMPI-2-RF, look for any systematic differences in performance across the settings or populations with which it is used, and identify areas of application in need of additional empirical investigation. Summer research assistants will systematically review the research literature on the MMPI-2-RF and use a coding scheme to record variables of interest for inclusion in our dataset. Research assistants will then be expected to develop a question appropriate for meta-analytic investigation and use the research skills they have acquired to answer it. Students applying for this project should demonstrate a strong interest in the assessment of personality/psychopathology, psychometrics, or both. Ideal candidates will have relevant coursework in psychology as well as advanced courses in statistics.

Early in the summer, research assistants will meet with me on a daily basis to learn about meta-analysis and develop expertise in utilizing our coding scheme. After they have learned to use the coding system, research assistants will be expected to work independently to code the data. Weekly meetings will occur for the remainder of the summer in order to check coding fidelity as well as support the development and completion of assistants’ self-identified research project.

Students will learn the theory and skills needed to conduct meta-analytic research which has become increasingly important in psychology and is widely used in many other fields as well. Students will also have a chance to develop and answer their own research question within the larger scope of the project. Research assistants who are motivated and capable will be given the opportunity to continue working on the project as we prepare it for presentation and publication.

Katie Ziegler-Graham and Mary Walczak - Understanding Course Trajectories of St. Olaf Students

STATISTICS

St. Olaf students who begin college in science courses take a wide variety of paths through college. Some stay in science, some switch between sciences, and others choose to major in something other than science. This project will investigate the course-taking trajectories of several groups and class years of St. Olaf students in an effort to address these research questions: (1) In which courses do students begin their science education at St. Olaf? (2) What effect does placement (either Advanced Placement or math or chemistry placement) have on student retention in science and how much science they take as an undergraduate? (3) What courses are barriers to continuing in science? Is the decision to stop taking science classes performance (grade) based? (4) Where do the students that choose to major in something other than science go? Students who have completed Stat 272 and/or CS 125 by Summer 2014 are eligible to apply for this project.

Students will work in consultation with the two faculty mentors, with daily check-in and reporting. During the beginning of the project, as the work is developing, there will be greater interaction, but as the project matures the students will work more independently. Faculty will be available for consultation every day. Students working on this project will use R, the statistical programming language, and thereby strengthen their skills with this important tool. They will also learn about research with human subjects and the protections put in place in such studies.