• Summer Research Program

    Faculty Research Mentors

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     FACULTY MEMBER: 

    Dr. Richard Bastian
    Lecturer

    DEPARTMENT: Mathematics

    E-MAIL: rbastian@monmouth.edu

    RESEARCH PROJECT TITLE & Descriptions

       .1.    Comparing Infection Rates in 3 Surgical Methods for Repairing Torn ACL's of Dogs. Consulting project in conjunction with Garden State Veterinary Hospital. Statistical analysis and interpretation of data.

    2.       Effect of Tracheal Stents on Survival Rates of Dogs Suffering from Tracheal Collapse. Consulting project in conjunction with Red Bank Veterinary Hospital. Statistical analysis and interpretation of data.

    3.       Predicting the Yield of NJ Vineyard Grapes (Collaboration with Pedram Daneshgar in Biology). Statistical design, data collection & analysis (types of tests, sample sizes, power, effect sizes, etc.) needed to answer research questions about the new MU vineyard and its use by the NJ wine industry.

    4.       Carbon Sequestration in Bahamian Mangrove Trees (Collaboration with Pedram Daneshgar in Biology) Statistical analysis (types of tests, sample sizes, power, effect sizes,  etc.) needed to answer research questions about Bahamian mangrove trees’ ability to store carbon dioxide.

    5.       Zooplankton in Barnegat Bay (Collaboration with John Tiedemann in Biology) Statistical analysis (types of tests, sample sizes, power, effect sizes, etc.) needed to answer research questions about the health of Barnegat Bay thru the study of zooplankton monitored over several years.

    6.       PCB Levels in Bluefish in New Bedford, Massachusetts Coastal Waters. Consulting project in conjunction with Sandy Hook NOAA Lab. Statistical analysis of a prior study by Dr Ashok Deshpande to determine if further conclusions are possible.

    7.       Training Regimens in Lacrosse (Collaboration with Bernadette Dunphy in Biology).  Consulting project in conjunction with trainers and physical therapists on the efficacy of new training regimens for lacrosse players.

    8.       Measuring Teacher Effectiveness with High Performing High School Students. Consulting project in conjunction with a local high school principal. Statistical design & analysis (types of tests, sample sizes, power, effect sizes, etc.) needed to answer questions about how to measure teacher effectiveness in schools where students are already highly motivated and proficient at taking standardized tests.

    9.       Organization and Analysis of Web-based Business Data. Consulting project in conjunction with a  local business on proper organization and analysis of their business data in an effort to improve advertising, sales, logistics and profits.

    10.   Malpractice Insurance Attitudes Among NJ Doctors (Collaboration with David Paul in School of Business). Statistical analysis of a prior study to determine if any further conclusions are possible.

    PLEASE NOTE: This faculty member is not accepting high school students.

    FACULTY MEMBER:

    Dr. Pedram Daneshgar
    Assistant Professor

    DEPARTMENT: Biology

    E-MAIL: pdaneshg@monmouth.edu

    RESEARCH PROJECT TITLE & DESCRIPTION

    Carbon Cycling of Coastal Ecosystems  

    In the face of rising atmospheric CO2 and climate change, it is important to understand how carbon is cycled through our ecosystems.  We will explore how carbon is cycled through coastal ecosystems and how human impacts, tropical storms and invasive species can affect these cycling processes. 

    PLEASE NOTE: This faculty member is not accepting high school students


    FACULTY MEMBER

    Bernadette Dunphy
    Specialist Professor

    DEPARTMENT: Biology

    E-MAIL: bdunphy@monmouth.edu

    RESEARCH PROJECT TITLE & Descriptions

    The effect of reduced visual stimulus during catching and throwing a lacrosse ball

    Sports performance and the training necessary to improve an athlete's skills has become an essential component in all athletic endeavors. Strength, power, endurance, speed and agility are important components of every successful athlete's training program. Recently there has been heightened interest in the effect visual stimulus has on athletic performance.

    Nike has introduced the Nike Sparq Strobe eyewear, which allows the athlete to train with a reduction of visual stimulus. The amount of visual feedback can be varied at 8 different levels and for both eyes or each eye individually.

    The use of reduced visual stimulus during the catching and throwing of a lacrosse ball is a method of improving the reaction time, peripheral vision and overall focus necessary to improve a player's stick skills.

    The purpose of this poster is to determine if the strobe eyewear can improve an athlete's ability to catch and throw with more precise and consistency.

     



    FACULTY MEMBER:

    Dr. Catherine N. Duckett
    Associate Dean, School of Science

    DEPARTMENT: Biology

    E-MAIL: cduckett@monmouth.edu

    RESEARCH PROJECT TITLE & DESCRIPTION

    Insect Diversity in Monmouth County:

    The insect diversity of Monmouth County is poorly documented in comparison with other counties in New Jersey. The research involves the collection, mounting, and identification of insects. A full sampling of the county parks is planned. Students with interests in a particular taxon like bees or dragonflies will be encouraged to develop a collection emphasizing the group of interest. Day trips to insect collections in New Brunswick or New York. Because insects are often most active early or late in the day students who can arrive on campus early may be given preference. Students with an interest in Chrysomelidae (Leaf Beetles) could become involved in additional projects involving molecular data. Biology Education students with interests in developing teaching projects involving insects are encouraged to apply.

    PLEASE NOTE: This faculty member is not accepting high school students.


    FACULTY MEMBER:

    Dr. Ursula A. Howson
    Assistant Professor

    DEPARTMENT: Biology

    E-MAIL: uhowson@monmouth.edu

    RESEARCH PROJECT TITLE & DESCRIPTION

    Barnegat Bay Zooplankton and Ichthyoplankton Research

    We will be taking biweekly boat trips to Barnegat Bay to conduct water quality tests and zooplankton tows as part of a larger study examining the overall health of the bay. Students will participate in the field sampling trips as well as zooplankton sorting, identification, and enumeration in the laboratory. We anticipate some interaction with NOAA partners. Occasional night sampling trips may be required. Students will also have the opportunity to learn fisheries stock assessment techniques used in larval fish ecology research. Students will extract otoliths (ear bones) from larval fish collected in the zooplankton tows, then use a polarized microscope and image analysis system to evaluate the age of the larvae.

    PLEASE NOTE:  This faculty member is not accepting high school students.


    FACULTY MEMBER:

    Dr. Dmytro Kosenkov
    Assistant Professor

    DEPARTMENT: Chemistry and Physics

    E-MAIL: Dmytro Kosenkov

    RESEARCH PROJECT TITLE & DESCRIPTION

    Designing Next Generation Solar Cells: Modeling Energy Transfer in Biological Chromophores

    Mechanisms of energy transfer in biological molecules will be investigated to find new efficient ways of solar energy conversion into electricity and environmentally friendly fuels. Molecular modeling software based on novel quantum-mechanical methods will be used to obtain detailed molecular-level knowledge of the key mechanisms of light capture by biological and organic molecules—chromophores. High performance/supercomputing systems will be employed to carry out the simulations.

    PLEASE NOTE: This faculty member is not accepting high school students.


    FACULTY MEMBER:

    Dr. Kayla Lewis

     Assistant Professor

    DEPARTMENT: Chemistry and Physics

    E-MAIL: klewis@monmouth.edu

    RESEARCH PROJECT TITLE & DESCRIPTION

    1. Magma chamber dynamics in seafloor hydrothermal systems

    A seafloor hydrothermal system can be modeled as a layer of heavily fractured, fluid saturated, rock (on the order of 1 km thick), overlain by seawater and underlain by a magma chamber. Fluid inside the rock and adjacent to the magma chamber is heated so intensely that it "boils". As the resulting hot plume of fluid rises toward the seafloor, cool fluid seeps down from above into the rock to replace the fluid removed by the rising plume. In this way, the magma chamber drives fluid flow in the system.

    In addition to driving fluid circulation, the magma chamber is dynamic, shrinking with time as heat is removed, or growing as it is replenished from below with magma from deep within the earth. The changing shape and geometry of the magma chamber creates large stresses in the rock above it, closing fractures, creating or opening others, and thus altering, potentially drastically, the character of fluid flow in the hydrothermal system.

    How the magma chamber interacts with flow in the hydrothermal system is not well understood; however, there are data sets showing how the topography of the seafloor above a hydrothermal system evolves with time in response to subsurface processes. By incorporating a rock stress module into FISHES, my research team will study interplay between hydrothermal fluid flow, magma chamber dynamics, and crustal deformation in a sophisticated way, for the first time, and work toward explaining existing data on seafloor deformation above these hydrothermal systems.

    2. A Study in crustal formation: Flow of seawater adjacent to a wall of magma

    Seafloor hydrothermal systems are a crucial part of Earth's plate tectonics. Such hydrothermal systems are where Earth's crust is replenished, as slabs of crust far away are drawn back into the mantle from whence they were initially derived. New crust is created when the magma chamber below a hydrothermal system creates a large vertical fracture in the overlying rock and fills it with magma. When such a “wall” of magma forms, fluid adjacent to the wall becomes extremely hot, separating into vapor and brine phases, and flowing vigorously up the wall. Circulation of seawater along the wall is the major mechanism by which the magma cools and solidifies to form new oceanic crust.

    The fluid mechanics of this process is complex and ill-understood, but FISHES is already equipped to simulate phase separation of hot seawater and circulation adjacent to a magmatic intrusion. In this way, we can study how the temperature evolves with time inside both the magma and the fluid as the wall cools. This, in turn, could shed light on one of the most fundamental processes in geophysics: crustal accretion.

    3. CO2 sequestration near an abandoned wellbore 

    One way of combating human-induced global warming is to pump CO2 from power plant emissions into the subsurface, a process known as CO2 sequestration. Once the CO2 is sequestered, however, there must be assurance that it will remain stored in the earth for the foreseeable future. This requirement may be problematic when there are unknown, abandoned wellbores within a CO2 sequestration zone, which could often be the case in practical scenarios.

    Besides the possibility of chemical corrosion of the wellbore casing by CO2 enriched groundwater, which has been well-studied, there is a possibility that stresses induced within the earth by pumping will cause fracturing along the length of a wellbore, allowing CO2 to escape along the length of the casing. By simulating the stresses induced by fluid pumping near a wellbore, it will be possible to quantify this risk. Using the same stress-solving module that would be used for the first project described above, it will be possible to use FISHES to simulate sequestration near the wellbore and carry out such a quantitative risk assessment.

    PLEASE NOTE: This faculty member is not accepting high school students.

      



    FACULTY MENTOR

    Dr. James P. Mack

    Professor

    DEPARTMENT: Biology

    E-MAIL: mack@monmouth.edu

    RESEARCH PROJECT TITLE & DESCRIPTION

    Plant essential oils such as Wintergreen and Cinnamon as well Methylglyoxal (which is found in Manuka Honey) will be tested for their efficacy in inhibiting the growth of several multidrug resistant bacteria using the Kirby-Bauer disk-diffusion method. The bacteria to be tested will include: Vibrio vulnificus, Burkholderia cepacia, Mycobacterium abscessus and Clostridium Sordellii.

    PLEASE NOTE: This faculty member is not accepting high school students.


      

     FACULTY MEMBER:

      Dr. Tiffany Medley

    Lecturer

    DEPARTMENT: Biology

    E-MAIL: tmedley@monmouth.edu

    RESEARCH PROJECT TITLE & DESCRIPTION

      Establishing a baseline status of wild oysters, Crassostrea virginica, in the Hudson River Estuary

    The Eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, is a species that has been nearly eradicated from the Hudson River Estuary due to poor water quality.  Local groups have begun oyster restoration projects to help reestablish the species but have been restricted due to regulatory obstacles with concerns in public consumption and the costs of policing efforts in monitoring of these oyster restoration sites.  Instead of focusing efforts in introducing oysters in oyster restoration, a potential solution may be to increase available habitat for existing wild oyster populations.  There is currently no estimate on the number of wild oysters living in the estuary.

    Five intertidal areas have previously been identified where there are small, isolated wild oyster populations.  There have been subsequent reports of intertidal oysters in other locations and there is a need to determine if there are in fact oysters existing subtidally. 

    1.      Identifying and documenting wild oyster populations in the Hudson River Estuary.  This work will consist of documenting and collecting oysters by boat and on foot in various parts of the estuary.  Areas may include the Hackensack River, Arthur Kill, East River, Hudson River and Raritan Bay.  All identified locations will be marked and entered into a GIS program to generate a map of the findings.

      2.      Assessing the health of wild oyster samples taken from Item 1 above.  Oysters will be shucked, their shells will be measured and biomass weighed.  Statistical analyses will be done to determine significant differences in shell weight, biomass weight and shell height in the sampled locations in comparison to each other and to harvestable oysters of Delaware Bay and/or Long Island Sound.

     

    PLEASE NOTE: This faculty member is not accepting high school students.

     


    FACULTY MEMBER:

    Dr. Greg Moehring
    Chair and Associate Professor

    DEPARTMENT: Chemistry and Physics

    E-MAIL: gmoehrin@monmouth.edu

    RESEARCH PROJECT TITLE & DESCRIPTION

    Thermodynamics of Pseudorotational Rearrangements

    Pseudorotation is a molecular rearrangement process that results in an object which appears to have only been rotated in space but actually involves changes in the steric relationships of the atoms within the molecule.  The two most commonly described examples of pseudorotational rearrangements occur at trigonal bipyramidal five coordinate centers (the Berry pseudorotation) or for cycloalkanes such as cyclohexane.  Below are examples of those commonly described pseudorotations.  Pseudorotational-like rearrangements can occur for systems similar to those found below, such as  PF4Cl or C6H11Br, although the lower symmetry means that these similar rearrangements are not truly formal pseudorotations because the two forms of the molecule, before and after pseudorotation, are distinguishable from what would occur by a simple rotation of the molecule.

       

     

    Certain eight-coordinate rhenium(V) polyhydride compounds also exhibit a pseudorotational-type rearrangement of the ligands bound to the rhenium center.  The structure of one such compound, ReH5(PPh3)2(py) and its pseudorotational rearrangement is shown below.  We have recently expanded the structural types of rhenium(V) polyhydride compounds which undergo pseudorotational rearrangement.  The goal of this project is to continue to expand the number of structural classes of rhenium(V) polyhydride compounds that undergo pseudorotational rearrangement and to determine the thermodynamic parameters for these rearrangements.

    Pseudorotation 2 

     

     

    PLEASE NOTE: This faculty member is not accepting high school students


    FACULTY MEMBER:

    James A. Nickels
    Marine Scientist

    DEPARTMENT: Urban Coast Institute

    E-MAIL: jnickels@monmouth.edu

    RESEARCH PROJECT TITLE & DESCRIPTION

    1. Baseline study of Zooplankton in Barnegat Bay: Biweekly field sampling by boat in Barnegat Bay for collection and preparation of zooplankton for analysis. Cooperative program with NJDEP and NOAA Sandy Hook as part of NJ's Barnegat Bay Initiative.

    2. Real-time Water Quality Monitoring and Mapping in Coastal New Jersey: Ongoing project involves maintenance and operation of real-time water quality meter network, field collection of data in coastal lakes and Barnegat Bay, continued mapping and survey work in coastal lakes and bays.


    FACULTY MEMBER:

    Dr. Jonathan Ouellet

    Assistant Professor

    DEPARTMENT: Chemistry and Physics

    E-MAIL: jouellet@monmouth.edu

    RESEARCH PROJECT TITLE & DESCRIPTION

    1. Selection of Novel RNA Aptamers

    RNA aptamers are single-stranded nucleic acids with two essential properties: they bind specifically and tightly to their cognate target (usually a small molecule). The analogy would be of a glove that fits perfectly on a hand. Billion of random-sequence oligonucleotides can be selected over several cycles of precise selection to yield a few potent aptamers via a technique called SELEX (Systematic Evolution of Ligands by Exponential Enrichment); an artificial in-vitro selection. These nucleic acids are great candidates as biosensors to sense the presence of peptides or metabolites in cells. SELEX techniques using the hammerhead ribozyme will be used for two different projects.

    A) One is to develop an aptamer that would bind tightly and specifically to a metabolite only present in cancer cells.

    B) The second is to develop an aptamer to sense glucose. Such a biosensor may have application in research (test a medium culture for glucose) up to future human health diagnosis (new non-enzymatic way to monitor blood sugar).

    The main molecular biology techniques for these projects involve PCR, transcription, ribozyme cleavage, reverse transcription and cloning.

    2. Folding Dynamics of Nucleic Acid Structure monitored

    It is now well established that DNA and RNA are not only used as genetic material as they perform other functions such as catalytic activities, transport and metabolic regulation. The genetic information is mostly transmitted via the primary structure of nucleic acids, i.e. the linear sequence of covalently bound nucleotides. Whereas the other functions are performed by the arrangement of secondary and tertiary structures of the nucleic acid molecule, i.e. the overall 3D shape held in place by multiple weak non-covalent interactions. As more is now known about the static active 3D structure of these molecules, it become obvious that the dynamic folding plays a huge role in nucleic acid activities. However, little is known about ground rules governing these conformational changes and therefore, fundamental research needs to be done to deduce patterns from various models to establish the common folding strategies adopted by nucleic acids. The more we know about nucleic acid structure and folding dynamics, the more we can understand and use that knowledge to fight against viruses that intensely rely on these other nucleic acids functions. With these goals in mind, two projects will be undertaken by following nucleic acid folding dynamics via fluorescence.

    A) One project consists of models made of DNA.

    B) The second project consists of models made of RNA.

    PLEASE NOTE: This faculty member is not accepting high school students. 


    FACULTY MEMBER:

    Dr. Michael A. Palladino
    Dean, School of Science
    Professor of Biology

    DEPARTMENT: Biology

    E-MAIL: mpalladi@monmouth.edu

    Research Website:  http://bluehawk.monmouth.edu/mpalladi/Student%20Research.html

    RESEARCH PROJECT TITLE & DESCRIPTION

    Cellular and molecular responses to testicular torsion injury. Antimicrobial properties of male reproductive organs.

    PLEASE NOTE: This faculty member is not accepting high school students.


    FACULTY MEMBER:

    Dr. Karen Pesce
    Biology Lecturer

    DEPARTMENT: Biology

    E-MAIL: kpesce@monmouth.edu

    RESEARCH PROJECT TITLE & DESCRIPTION

    Microbial Community Analysis and Characterization of Novel Biodegradative Genes from Polluted Environments

    Microorganisms play a vital role in the biodegradation of numerous environmental pollutants. Our work focuses on isolation and investigation of microbial species that can degrade these compounds. We use traditional microbiology as well as molecular approaches in order to gain insight into microbial diversity in contaminated environments and to elucidate novel biodegradative pathways. Most recently, this has included polyaromatic hydrocarbon degrading species and species that degrade personal care and pharmaceutical products.

    PLEASE NOTE: This faculty member is not accepting high school students.


    FACULTY MEMBER:

    Dr. Ellen Rubinstein
    Lecturer

    DEPARTMENT: Chemistry and Physics

    E-MAIL: erubinst@monmouth.edu

    RESEARCH PROJECT TITLE & DESCRIPTION

    Storm Effects on Monmouth County Coastal Lakes: Before and After Sandy

    Our 2014 lake research will expand upon our previous body of knowledge, including observation of conditions at sites close to the coast, where we will collect water samples. Prior to October of 2012, our analytical studies of several Monmouth County coastal lakes showed nitrate levels to be elevated, compared to normal concentrations. This nutrient, in conjunction with a much lower concentration of phosphate ions, can result in excessive plant growth in the water. If these levels become too high, damage to fish populations may result. In 2013, to measure the suitability of these ecosystems for aquatic life, we collected dissolved oxygen data. This year, we will measure temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen levels on-site, with Vernier LabQuest digital equipment. Student researchers, who will be trained in various experimental methods, will use an ion-selective electrode in conjunction with a laboratory computer program to measure nitrate ion concentrations. For 2014, our research will also include the detection of phosphate levels, using a Vernier near-infrared UV-visible spectrophotometer in the laboratory. This student research project will contribute to understanding the health of our local lakes and will yield an awareness of sites at which pollution reduction efforts may be indicated.

    PLEASE NOTE: This faculty member is not accepting high school students.


    FACULTY MEMBER:

    Professor John Tiedemann
    Assistant Dean and Director of Marine and Environmental Biology

    DEPARTMENT: Biology

    E-MAIL: jtiedema@monmouth.edu

    RESEARCH PROJECT TITLE & DESCRIPTION

    Invasive and Nuisance Species of Barnegat Bay

    The ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi is present in northern Barnegat Bay from May to November with peaks in abundance during the summer.   Furthermore, Mnemiopsis typically comprises a major component of the summer macrozooplankton community within the upper bay.  In 2014, we will continue to monitor patterns of Mnemiopsis distribution and abundance in upper Barnegat Bay.  Coupled with water quality monitoring, these data may serve as an indicator of trends taking place within living resources of the bay in relationship to changing environmental conditions.

     Sea nettles (Chrysaora quinquecirrha) began appearing in abundance in Barnegat Bay in 2000, with highest concentrations in mid-summer.   Since 2011, we have collected them in upper Barnegat Bay in June, July, and August.  Thus far, their abundance has varied spatially with highest densities occurring in late July each year.  In 2014, we will continue monitoring patterns of sea nettle distribution and abundance in northern Barnegat Bay.  These data are important as sea nettles are considered to be a nuisance species.  Due to their severe sting, sea nettles pose a hazard to recreational users of the bay and during periods of peak abundance their predation may also exert control over populations of ichthyoplankton, bivalve larvae, and other zooplankton.  As a result, large populations of Sea nettles may contribute to declines of commercially valuable fish and shellfish since they are predators on, and competitors for, the same food sources.

    The Asian shore crab (Hemigrapsus sanguineus) is native to the western Pacific.  Asian shore crabs were first reported along the U.S. Atlantic coast in 1988 at Townsends Inlet in Cape May, NJ.  Since that time, they have spread rapidly throughout the mid-Atlantic.  In 2012 and 2013, we collected Hemigrapsus larvae in plankton samples from three stations in upper Barnegat Bay.  Peak densities occurred at stations close to the mouth of the Point Pleasant Canal, which connects the bay to the Manasquan River Estuary.  In 2013, we found adult crabs at two locations in the upper bay in proximity to these plankton sampling stations.  In 2014, we will undertake a survey to determine if populations of Hemigrapsus have become established in areas of suitable habitat within the upper bay.  If this has occurred, this is cause for concern.  As opportunistic feeders with a broad diet, Asian shore crabs consume juvenile fish and small invertebrates including commercially valuable species such as blue crabs, blue mussels, soft shell clams, and eastern oysters.  Along with impacts on populations of native species through predation and competition for food, local fisheries, shellfish restoration efforts, and the aquaculture industry could also be affected.

    PLEASE NOTE: This faculty member is not accepting high school students.



    FACULTY MEMBER:

    Dr. Jiacun Wang

    Chair and Professor

    DEPARTMENT: Computer Science and Software Engineering

    E-MAIL: jwang@monmouth.edu

    RESEARCH PROJECT TITLE & DESCRIPTION

    1. Electrical Devices Operation Schedule Optimization

    Electrical load management aims at better energy utilization and helping companies to save energy cost. It is achieved by shaving peak power demand and making power consumption even over a cycle. The goal is to find an optimal schedule such that the energy cost is at minimum while productivity is not sacrificed. Students working on this project will need to mathematically formulate the schedule optimization problem and apply different approaches to solve the problem. Students will also need to implement a software tool to compute optimal schedule solution when the details of an electrical load are specified.

    2. Relationship Between Income and Health

    The task of this project is to examine the relationship between income and health in economics. Due to the multidimensional nature of health, there does not exist one single standard to measure it. Scholars have adopted different measures such as mortality, life expectancy and self-rated health to estimate health status. These measurements can be largely classified into two categories: objective population measurements such as mortality and subjective individual measurements like self-rated health. This study will compare the potential difference between the impacts income distribution has on health using various measures and provide possible explanations by analyzing various data published by governments and agencies. 

     


    FACULTY MEMBER:

    Dr. Cui Yu
    Associate Professor

    DEPARTMENT: Computer Science and Software Engineering

    E-MAIL: cyu@monmouth.edu

    RESEARCH PROJECT TITLE & DESCRIPTION

    Experiment of Building an Innovative Computer Powered Tool or Software System

    Computer technologies and software developments have been changing our life tremendously. In this research project, students will experiment to design and implement an innovative system or tool that has the potential to make meaningful impact to our daily life, either for convenience or improvement.

    Experiment of Building a Generic Social Networking Framework of One Kind

    There are many social networking systems, which are either broad or custom-built. In this research project, students will experiment to design and implement a generic social networking framework (of one kind) that would facilitate speedy producing of restricted/specific social networking system (of that kind).