Student research projects spotlighted on STEM Day


Today is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)  Day.

To celebrate the special day, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology has highlighted research projects undertaken at HU.

Below are snapshots of the awesome research projects our students took on, as described by students.

Emily J. Kornblum 

Griffith School of Environment & Australian Rivers Institute emailed Dr. Proctor a coral bleaching database that recently came out. I am using ArcMap to map out the points of bleaching versus time to see if there has been a change in frequency per location. If there is a change, that will tell me if there is an adaptation in that area. Proctor is then looking into possibly traveling to Australia to work with the Griffith School of Environment & Australian Rivers Institute. I, unfortunately, did not have the time to grow the coral myself, but now I will be able to study them in their natural habitat and expand my professional connections. 

Shane T. Jeffers 

My project 2 involves designing a new summer exploration camp. I helped with two of the summer camps this past summer. During the second camp, focused on 3D printing, I was working with Professor Charles Palmer and he made the comment about wanting to tackle a 3D modeling and animation camp.  So I took that as a challenge. I am designing a 2-week 3D modeling and animation camp using Maya. I will be creating sample models, tutorial videos, a project proposal for the university and a lesson plan for the camp. I think that getting younger generations engaged in camps like this can benefit both the University and everyone involved. I am using Maya because it is widely used in the industry. The students can get a copy of Maya free for 3 years.

Carrie Carpenter

My project aim is to look at the effects of climate change at a molecular level.  I have researched and found that many organisms depend upon heat shock proteins to adapt to an increasing temperature in their environment.  While many other factors help in this process, heat shock proteins are the bulk of it.  I plan to study heat shock proteins in C. elegans, a model organism, in my project 2.  My project is still being fine-tuned, so I may make changes as the semester goes on.

Rashida E. Berger

My project idea involves investigating whether facial recognition is a reliable source of evidence.

Facial recognition is trying to positively identify a suspect in a case. Evidence is information collected from a case, to determine whether a proposition or statement is valid. Facial recognition is a type of evidence that is required by investigators to identify a culprit in order to make it valid that they were the criminal.

My project will be a mock crime, which will take place in a classroom. There will be 150 participants that will be part of my research. Each mock crime experiment will have 5 participants at a time. Before the mock crime begins, the participants will be asked to sign release forms in order to participate in the experiment. During the duration of the mock crime, it will be recorded for my presentation. In this mock crime, one participant will play the role of the victim, the rest of the participants will play the roles of being outside witnesses.

The mock crime will be based on an armed robbery and attempted stabbing. After the mock crime has been conducted, participants will be asked to leave the room. Participants will be given a week to go on with their daily lives. After a week, they will be asked questions related to the mock crime, specifically about the culprit. These questions will include the appearance of the culprit, race, gender, height, and any special characteristics they remember. Then I will present to them a lineup. Once they make their choices, I will ask them why they chose that person, then analyze the data.

Yusur Aladhami 

For my two projects I’m doing CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats ), which is one of the newest techniques in biotechnology. It basically is genome editing that allows research and genetic engineering to edit a specific part in DNA genome and replace it with another, In this case, we can treat many genetic diseases such as Cancer and Down syndrome we also will be able to change the gene responsible for colors such as having a baby with blue eyes color before they even born. My project II involves the transformation of a specific gene in general since I will be able to find out the gene. Then I can take steps toward changing treatment.

Freddy N. Biayi

My project focuses on implementing an intrusion prevention system. An intrusion prevention system (IPS) is a system that monitors an IT network for malicious activities such as security threats or policy violations. The main function of an IPS is to identify suspicious activity, and then log information, attempt to block the activity, and then finally to report it. My first project was about doing some research about intrusion detection system and implementing that system at MistIQ which has for CEO Andrew Hacker, the cybersecurity resident at Harrisburg  University. For this project, I would like to take it to the next level. I would like to build an intrusion prevention system that will enable any organization to monitor its network in real time. The goal of the system will not only be to detect cyber threats at the time they enter the network of the organization, but also to do something about those threats. This will enable those organizations to save money spent on cybersecurity in the long term.

Morgan Wagner 

My project looks at the difference in biodiversity in scrub oak and pine forests in PA due to prescribed burns. Fire is a natural occurrence in nature but we have removed it to protect human well-being. Prescribed burns are starting to pick up steam for PA, but are not widely used to promote biodiversity like other states. My hypothesis is that burn areas will have a higher biodiversity than non-burn areas. My research is important to help show how prescribed burns allow for succession and a larger diversity in scrub oak and pine forest ecosystems. Burns increase biodiversity by releasing nutrients back into the soil and by allowing light to reach the forest floor through the canopy layer. Professor Proctor and I will be going out next week to collect data from burn areas and non-burn areas to compare and test. 

Ayana Lopez

Through the research and data collected through my project, I hope to show validity in the benefits of a balanced diet in lessening the effects of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. I am currently having data collected by a few individuals and having them follow different types of diets to see how it affects their daily lives and their daily struggles with diabetes. Dependency on medications is a growing concern for people diagnosed with diabetes and the side effects can be life-altering. There are small studies that show the effects of diabetes such as fluctuating glucose levels, swelling, weight changes are better managed when an individual starts a diet that works with their body. By the end of my study, not only do I hope to see improvements in the health and livelihood of the people in my study but also proof that change is possible for those that believe diabetes is a permanent disability.

Dyanna Zollo 

I am currently building a RPG (roleplaying game) in Unity!

The purpose of this project is to learn how to use the Unity Engine to make a 3D role-playing adventure game. A portfolio of completed games is an industry standard in the career that I am pursuing. Therefore, I believe that it is important that I expand my portfolio as well as further familiarize myself with game development. This is a challenging opportunity to explore the kinds of systems that designers implement when developing games. I specifically chose to create a roleplaying game because it uses many different systems that work together to create an immersive and multifaceted environment. I am currently studying under our designer in residence, Mike Stout, who is known for his work on Skylanders and the Rachet and Clank series. This project also requires independent research, specifically looking at multiple resources to compare and contrast the many ways that game developers choose to accomplish specific tasks or make things work. This project also focuses on the characteristics of games, specifically pertaining to level design and how mechanics are utilized.

Brandon Carl 

I am creating two video games this semester using the Unity game creation engine. The first game is a Match-3 style game (think Candy Crush), and the second I’m still not totally sure about, but it will probably be a simple real-time strategy game.

Natasha G. Dabydeen

I will experiment sebum production by extracting sebum in a small population from 50 students at HU using sebutape, and a thin layer chromatography based on ethnicity and hot and cold climates. The study will investigate which type of lipid in sebum predominates overall. In the beginning of the fall semester, a survey will be handed out to students at Harrisburg University to have a brief understanding of what the population looks like regarding their acne information. There will be 2 experimental studies done in total. The first study will be done at the beginning of the fall semester when the temperatures are hot, and the last will be done in December when temperatures are cold.

Brandon Newswanger 

My project involves the use of made to order drug tests to test common foods that have been claimed to cause false positives. For example, poppy seeds are said to cause a false positive for opiates despite TSA’s claims that they do not. I look into how long the item I am testing stays in an individuals system and set a schedule for three testers to eat a provided food item to give the highest possibility of detection for both Urine and Saliva tests. I have the tested individuals record what foods they eat over the period of time between the first eaten food item and the day of the test, and I then take those lists and analyze them for anything that may cause a false positive on their own. So far I have tested poppy seed muffins and Quinine in tonic water. I am planning on testing poppy seed muffins again, as well as coffee (there is a claim that rarely coffee causes a false positive for morphine). If there is anything else specific that you wish to know about my project please feel free to ask.
Payton A. Nekich 

I’m currently working on my project 1. I’m typing up a research paper on the resilience of bed bugs to insecticides found globally and in the United States given that there is an alarmingly high rate of bed bug infestation reports today. Also, I am taking a look at DDT and the effects it had on bed bugs in the 40s and seeing if we can potentially bring it back to terminate these pests.

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