Grant Awards 2014/2015

2015 Undergraduate Summer Scholar Award


Lauren Hollinshead (mentor Stephen Johnson), Department of Chemistry

A Survey For Hymenopteran Venom sPLA₂ Activity at the Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Preserve, Illinois

In an attempt to better understand sPLA₂ activity as well as find novel pharmacophores for theraputic intervention, Ms. Hollinshead with instruction from Dr. Stephen Johnson conducted a survey of sPLA₂ activity from venom of the aculeate (stinging) Hymenoptera that reside at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge, Illinois.  Sample specimens were collected and the venom was screened for sPLA₂ activity and subsequent proteomic isolation. The sPLA₂ activity was measured using an enzyme assay that utilized ultraviolet-visible spectrophotometry. “Whole venoms” that demonstrate “PLA₂ activity” were subjected to 4-20% gradient SDS-PAGE for characterization and isolation. Gel bands from 10-15 kDa were cored and frozen (-32 °C) for further mass spectrometry characterizations. Funding for the award came from a generous donation by the Therkildsen family.


2014-2015 Undergraduate Student Research Grant Award Winners

Sabrina M. Miller (mentor Holly Kent), Department of History

The Old Grey Mare: America’s Old Brown Dog Anti-Vivisectionist Caroline Earle White in the Gilded Age
Sabrina Miller studied Caroline Earle White of Philadelphia, who was one member of the trio of reformers that founded societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals in the United States in the mid nineteenth-century, and the only woman to do so. Even though she was prohibited by her gender from leading the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention on Cruelty to Animals, she was undeterred, founding a Woman’s Branch of the organization and, later, the American Anti-Vivisection Society. In order to fully understand Caroline Earle White’s work, and the work of other women in reform movements, it is essential to understand the particular barriers to women in reform movements, and  especially in this case, the emerging place of women in the overwhelmingly patriarchal fields of medicine and science.

Justin Sawyer and Joshua Huber (mentor Lucia Vazquez), Department of Biology
brown.sawyer.vazquezAntimicrobial Properties of Plant Extracts
Justin Sawyer and Josh Huber used their award to purchase supplies to test six different Illinois plant species for antimicrobial activity. They have found that four of their six plant species consistently kill gram-negative bacterial species. They plan to format their research into a manuscript for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Afua Amoabin (mentor Kanwal Alvarez), Department of Biology

The Effect of Stress on Mosquito (Culex pipiens) Immunity and Development
Afua Amoabin studied the effects of sub lethal doses of insecticides (Atrazine, Carbaryl, Glyphosate, Malathion) on mosquito immunity in Culex pipiens in order to understand host pathogen interactions. In particular, she looked at gene expression by extracting RNA from treated larvae and adult C. pipiens. RNA was used as a template to generate cDNA which was then used to quantify gene expression. Quantitative realtime PCR (qPCR) was used to analyze the cDNA expression of Imd and Toll immune pathways which included examining key immune and development genes.

Grace Latimore (mentor Lan Dong), Department of English

LatimoreMemory and Gender in “This is How You Lose Her.”
Grace Latimore studied the works of Junot Diaz. The collection of short stories, “This is How You Lose Her,” explores the love life of a young man as he navigates familial drams, habitual infidelity and a suffocating sense of loneliness. While considered sexist, Ms. Latimore interpreted Diaz’ use of physical recollection/description of women to indicate the protagonist’s perception of men and himself. She presented her work at the English Studies at Large conference in February 2015 at Illinois State University.

Trenton Adams (mentor Frances Shen), Department of Psychology
Rater Employment and Salary Discrimination against Lesbians and Gay Men
While gender and racial discrimination in employment processes have been extensively studied, research on hiring discrimination against both lesbian and gay men is limited. Mr. Adam’s study explored how job applicant reviewer’s multicultural awareness, attitudes towards homosexuality, and demographic background may be associated with their hiring and salary ratings for LG applicants. He found factors that may be associated with biases in hiring against lesbian and gay applicants, suggesting that training and practices are needed. He presented his work at the annual convention of the Association of Psychological Science in New York.

Michael Lotspeich II (mentors Shoon Lio and Nikki Overcash), Department of Sociology/Anthropology
Expressions in rural education agency (LEA) reorganization perceptions research: a meta-analsis review
As the United States education system has developed, local education agencies (LEAs) have assumed the role of encouraging discussion on social and economic justice in their communities. Mr. Lotspeich’s goal is to understand current themes in LEA reorganization research through the utilization of interdisciplinary lenses: rural sociology and educational policy. His project critically evaluated research on rural reorganization by quantitatively collecting trend data on a sample of seven doctoral dissertations published between 2000 and 2013. He found that rural identity did not significantly influence LEA reorganization, but perceptions of the economies of scales and additional opportunities available both fell in favor of LEA reorganization. Without this research, policy makers may continue to use arguments that may not bear validity to advocate policy. he presented his work at the Southeast Regional Undergraduate Research Conference of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges in Asheville, NC.

Jessica Krueger (mentor Keenan Dungey), Department of Chemistry
kruegerElectrochemical Properties of Porous Cobalt Oxide
Jessica Krueger is researching the cathode material for lithium-ion batteries. She prepared four different materials with high porosity to improve lithium-ion transportation. She used the funds to prepare test cells from her materials in order to measure the electrochemical properties. She is planning to present her results at the annual UIS Homecoming Weekend poster session.