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2022 Summer Student Fellows

Please join us in congratulating our 2022 Summer Student Fellows and their Faculty Mentors!

Results of their work were shared at the 2022 Celebration of Student Research and Creative Activities
2022 Program Schedule

Hailey YorkStudent Fellow: Hailey York, Pharmacy Program 
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Felix Amissah, Pharmacy; Pharmaceutical Sciences
Project: Targeting Lung Cancer Metastasis using Ketorolac analogs and Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and ethyl eicosapentaenoic acid (E-EPA) are widely reported to reduce the risk of cancers. Ketorolac is a non-selective COX inhibitor with analgesic, antipyretic, and anti-inflammatory properties. Its analog, R-ketorolac, is reported to prevent early cancer metastasis by inhibiting Ras-related C3 botulinum toxin substrate (Rac1) and Cell division control protein 42 (Cdc42) GTPases, which play critical roles in cancer cell metastasis. In this study, we evaluate the ability of a ketorolac and omega-3 PUFA combination to inhibit lung cancer cell invasion and determine their impact on Rho GTPase signaling in the metastatic process. Cell viability assays with A549, NCI-H1975, and NCI-H1299 cells were performed to identify non-toxic doses for subsequent experiments. Our results showed that combining either EPA or E-EPA with ketorolac or its stereo-specific analogs leads to increased suppression of cell viability in all lung cancer (A549, NCI-H1975, and NCI-H1299) cells used compared to each of the compounds used alone. This enhanced effect is especially significant in A549 cells, where co-treatment with ketorolac (25 μM) significantly reduced IC50 of both EPA and E-EPA from 18.4 µM and 15.1 µM to 14.2 µM and 11.2 µM, respectively. Exposure of A549, NCI-H1975, and NCI-H1299 cells to a non-toxic combination of EPA (5 μM) or E-EPA (5 μM) and ketorolac (10 μM), S-ketorolac (10 μM) or R-ketorolac (10 μM) generally resulted in suppression of cell migration. This was more significant in co-treatment with E-EPA (5 μM) and R-ketorolac (10 μM) on NCI-H1975 cells, which resulted in suppression of the migration distance by 69.7% and the number of cells that migrated into the wounded area by 67.5%. In addition, our findings indicate that co-treatment with EPA or E-EPA and ketorolac analogs suppressed NSCLC cell motility and inhibited Rac1 and Cdc42 expression in A549 cells. Although such results suggest a promising therapy for controlling NSCLC metastasis, additional data is necessary.

Jessica LagrandStudent Fellow: Jessica LaGrand, Communication Studies
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Debra K. Courtright-Nash, Arts, Sciences & Education; English Literature & World Languages
Project: Discourse Analysis of Cross-Curricular Career Community (C4) Program Faculty Conversations

The concept of Discourse Analysis among unique members of a dynamic cross-curricular faculty, is about studying and analyzing the uses of language. The objective of Discourse Analysis of the Cross-Curricular Career Community, and C4 faculty, was created to identify and eliminate obstacles to learning, and to increase success for underprepared students in the areas of English composition, Mathematics, and Reading. In addition, the Cross-Curricular Career Community Scholar interdisciplinary learning program at Ferris State University has shown some progress in increasing student retention.  During the first three years of the program, the first-to-second year retention rate of C4 students was approximately 75% with an average of 3.19 GPA. Compared to non-C4 developmental students with a retention rate of 55% and GPA average of 2.34.  First, the gathered data of recorded transcript conversations among C4 faculty had to be reviewed and become highly familiar to the research coder. Generally, this stage is labeled as the pre-coding period.  During this timeframe the coder will practice generating codes and discussing potential codes that seem obvious immediately.  The First coding cycle would then begin by independently labeling sections or passages of text with code words, identifying any key features of the data that relate to the research question. After all transcripts have been coded, the researcher and faculty mentor will group the coded passages together.  The codes will be assembled into thematic categories.  Following this session, coders will meet with C4 faculty to present code categories for feedback and any potential revisions.   A second coding cycle will then take place where the coder is reorganizing and re-categorizing the coded data. In the final stage, the researcher begins to analyze the categories looking for trends/themes that provide insight to the research question.  An interesting observation to note, was that specific codes co-occurred with other similar codes during C4 faculty conversations that were deeply rooted around student social life and student academics. Moreover, speculating that research using the quantitative and qualitative discourse analysis model, assist in helping to break down learning barriers that exist among at-risk students.

Zaria DankinsStudent Fellow: Zaria Dankins, Building Construction Technology
Faculty Mentor: Jennifer Miller, PE, Engineering & Technology; Construction Technology & Management
Project: Renovation and Restoration Advancement Lab Pilot Program

The majority of home improvement that took place was at a site location in Midland and Vassar Michigan. Each house was thoroughly inspected to evaluate its overall cleanliness, the severity for repair, and a list of materials for preparations such as tape or spackle. Project 001-002, The Londonberrie Master Bedroom & Bathroom required an intensive paint make-over to the ceilings, walls, window trims, and baseboards. Previous owners of The Londonberrie house painted Project 001-002 walls and partial of the ceiling hot pink. The color selection appeared odd for a master bedroom, and the paint job suffered unclean lines. 
Firstly, the walls needed to be removed of any nails, screws, or fixtures, wiped down with basic cleanser, and the holes patched with Spackling Paste. Depending on the brand of Spackle and the thickness of the coat, it should approximately take 30 minutes to 2 hours to dry. Then the patched spots are sanded smooth, flush to the wall. To begin the painting process after patch repair, it is ideal to wait a few hours to a day. In the meantime, tape is applied alongside the window trims, baseboards, and ceiling edges to prep for clean lines. Another method used for clean lines is a Shur-Line or Paint Edge tool which is a square device with a pinched handle in the middle and two wheels on one side. A pad is attached to the square edge then the face of the pad is coated with paint. The wheels run along baseboards, walls, ceilings, or trims to establish a clean paint line. Other painting utensils used during the painting process were paint brushes and paint rollers. 
Additional home improvements undergoing restoration is Project 003, The Vassar Kitchen that involves installation of cabinet doors, faucet handles, tile flooring, tile backsplash, and more. Project 004, Diamond Tile Leveling which utilizes a floor leveling compound to even out uneven surfaces. Lastly, Project 005, The Vassar Family Bathroom requires a cleansing chemical treatment, tile installment, a ceiling fan, and other repairs. When constructing these designs, we discovered that an accurate estimate of supplies saves money, time, and enhances final results. Overall, Renovation and Restoration is an important aspect in construction to give buildings a second chance and individuals their dream home. 


Brooke MehneyStudent Fellow: Brooke Mehney, Architecture and Sustainability
Faculty Mentor: Kate O’Connor, M.Arch., Engineering & Technology; Architectural Technology & Facility Management
Project: Methodologies for Social Impact on Communities

The Ferris State University Small-Town Studio (STS) is a research driven initiative working with communities to develop evidence-based solutions addressing the most pressing issues in our society. STS works with stakeholders from the community of Idlewild, Michigan to address their public interest needs, addressing community, environment, and economic factors. The community of Idlewild, located in Yates Township, Michigan, possesses a significant history as the largest historic African-American resort community established during the Jim Crow Era. Idlewild was established in 1912, but declined in 1964, when the Civil Rights Act ended segregation. However, Idlewild has begun to revitalize, with a new influx of full-time residents. These citizens have moved to Idlewild for a multitude of reasons, such as the desire for a healthy work-life balance driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. But most importantly, the ideal to preserve safe African American space, especially for those residents with historical family ties to Idlewild and those new to the community, is increasingly significant with the Black Lives Matter movement and current violence targeting minority populations in the United States. Notably, this population resides within infrastructure that was originally designated for seasonal residents, resulting in a new set of needs for community sustainment. Community engagement serves as a means for development within Idlewild, and throughout the research, was practiced through a lens of architectural design and service. The implementation of an external party service project and its effects on the sustainment of community improvement were analyzed. The 2022 Student Research Fellowship furthered engagement with and assisted the community through experiential learning practices. The effectiveness of the learning environment was explored as a basis for future STS pedagogy.
Experiential Learning empowers students to become highly engaged in learning when it moves from an abstract idea to a concrete issue that they can understand in a tangible way. The fluctuating nature of community engagement is also revealed through experiential learning, as the needs of a population adapt through time. It’s through these experiences the student understands the impact of public engagement at the local level. This presentation will address the outcomes of the 2022 SRF through the lens of Experiential Learning, citing examples and showcasing outcomes of the various community projects addressed during the fellowship.


Caitlin CoppessStudent Fellow: Caitlin Coppess, Applied Mathematics
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Luis Rivera, Arts, Sciences and Education; Physical Sciences
Project: Canonical Approaches to Triatomic Molecules

Dr. Walton (Texas A&M University) and Dr. Rivera have developed canonical approaches to accurately generate potential energy surfaces in pairwise interatomic interactions. The goal for this summer research fellowship was to extend this methodology to triatomic molecules. Diatomic molecules have two coordinate points that go in the calculations of the potential functions, while triatomic molecules have three. This means that a linear model, used in approximating and generating potential curves, would be extended to approximate three-dimensional potential surfaces. During this summer, I completed calculations for both 1-dimensional and 3-dimensional potential data by using canonical approaches. This project began with me getting familiar with the methodology through reading the literature provided by Dr. Walton and Dr. Rivera. I developed a Mathematica script to use this methodology and applied it to the triatomic molecule HCN. This script began with graphing the HCN potential and then using the Lennard-Jones potential as a reference to carry out the canonical transformations. The goal was to approximate the HCN potential with a minimum number of data points. First, I used calculus to find the “potential well”, located at the graph’s minimum. Next, I approximated the rest of the potential curve. One of my tasks was to use the 1-dimensional HCN potential data to approximate the repulsive, and then the attractive side of the potential with a handful of data points. The repulsive side of the potential function decreases until reaching the potential well, while the attractive side increases, from the potential well with a limit approaching zero. Using Mathematica, I found how close the approximation was in an interval between two endpoints on the curve. I continued to work up the repulsive wall and found that the error between the target function and the approximation was less than .01 for each interval. I did this on the attractive side for the 1-dimensional HCN data. Then, I applied the same methodology to the 3-dimensional HCN data. Overall, the approximation remains to have an error of less than .01, showing that canonical approaches are an excellent methodology to approximate molecular potential with high accuracy.


Amanda Vondra-SpeltzStudent Fellow: Amanda Vondra-Speltz, Business Administration
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Leslie Sukup, Business; Management 
Project: Identifying the need for business education in rural central and northern Michigan

As small businesses in central and northern Michigan aim to serve their communities within their product or service lines successfully, an influx of larger business entities threatens the livelihood of local organizations.  This research project seeks to identify the various businesses educational needs of small and medium businesses in central and northern Michigan so that they may remain competitive in the newly scaled economies. Five foundational facets of business activities and operations were identified as the basic building blocks of this research project; emotional intelligence, job/organization fit, stress management, organizational culture, and attitude. These skill sets when understood and practiced in organizations were hypothesized to improve job satisfaction for both leaders and subordinates. This experimental study began with all participants receiving a demographics and job satisfaction survey as the pre-test. Successful organizations may have a foundational understanding of the five facets selected as the educational interventions provided: emotional intelligence, job/organization fit, stress management, organizational culture, and attitude. Therefore, the participants were separated into two groups; the experimental group which received approximately one and a half hours of educational intervention videos including the topics listed above, and the control group. To conclude all participants received the final job satisfaction post-survey. Partnering with organizations that may already have well-established relationships with small and medium-sized businesses was essential toward gaining the participation of both leaders and subordinates. Furthermore, over one hundred chambers of commerce and economic alliance organizations assisted in reaching participants in a multitude of industries, educational backgrounds, as well as other demographic variances. Faced with economic hardships, reduced employment numbers, and supply chain issues, many small and medium-size organizations struggled to have available resources to participate further in the study. The goal of Identifying the need for business education in rural central and northern Michigan is to provide evidence and support for the need for a variety of educational opportunities for the organization. Continued education across diverse forms of delivery to leaders and subordinates has positive effects on the well-being of the organization and the community.


Molly CulverStudent Fellow: Molly Culver, Psychology
Faculty Mentor: Drs. Jim Van Treese and Christopher Richmond, Arts, Sciences and Education; Social and Behavioral Sciences
Project: Self-Identified Visual Distress in College Students

Ocular Convergence Insufficiency (OCI) is a disorder of the binocular vision system characterized by the difficulty of the eyes to converge or sustain convergence at a near point. OCI has been found to be linked to attentional problems and possible difficulties with academic tasks. There has been little to no research done on the effects of OCI on college students and even less research done on college students attempting to self-administer a near point convergence test on themselves. A near point convergence test is a test used to screen for OCI where the patient stares at a small target that the test administrator closely brings towards the eyes. Due to a lack of in person options to get evaluated for this disorder or a lack of time for students to go to a clinic, the main goal of this research is to discover whether a person can self-administer a near point convergence test. To obtain our results, we have created a self-identified visual distress survey for the participants. The survey will ask the participants about specific symptoms of OCI and teach them how to do the near point convergence test on themselves. The students will take the survey and report their results. Once the participants finish the survey, there will be resources for them to get the proper diagnosis that they need. The research will collect data the first week of fall 20022 semester.


Devin MooreStudent Fellow: Devin Moore, Master of Social Work Program 
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Janet Vizina-Roubal, Arts, Sciences and Education; Social Work
Project: Teaching Trauma Therapy via Strategic SIMulated Scenarios

Clinical social work classes have historically been challenged to provide students with real-world, genuine client experiences to practice their counseling skills. There are inevitable errors and risks of harm to the client when inexperienced students are practicing their counseling skills. Simulation software provides students opportunities for an environment of practice without risk of harm to the client. The purpose of the project was to conduct a pilot program that would incorporate and evaluate an innovative simulation software, called SIMmersions, into Ferris State University’s social work department’s clinical courses. The Master of Social Work (MSW) students were asked to complete a pre-survey during their 2021 fall semester and a post-survey in their 2022 spring and summer semesters after the virtual patient simulation (VPS) software had been implemented. These surveys inquired about the confidence levels of MSW student’s when applying cognitive behavioral therapy skills, suicide and substance use assessments, as well as overall interviewing skills. In addition to the survey, a virtual focus group was held in the 2022 summer semester to gather more qualitative data regarding the impacts of the SIMmersions software. Due to a small amount of time, our sample size was small. We had 37 participants partake in the pre-survey, 18 in the post-survey, and seven individuals participate in our focus group. We used a paired sample t-test to observe and evaluate any changes in the student’s levels of confidence when applying CBT, assessments, and interviewing skills post intervention. The virtual focus group was recorded and transcribed verbatim. The transcription was categorized which were then narrowed into themes based on repetition and group agreeance. This data was then reviewed and analyzed by two independent reviewers. The four themes are skill application, privacy, risk of harm, and flexibility. Overall, the data shows that there was an increase in skill application in all three areas of measurement. Despite having the limitation of a small sample, our study provides preliminary data regarding how virtual patient simulations can support and enhance MSW student’s learning.