Grant Initiative Supporting Senior Projects

November 30, 2015

In universities all over the country, and particularly in Honors programs and colleges, students are increasingly becoming actively engaged in research and creative activity. According to the Council on Undergraduate Research, the benefits of undergraduate research are numerous:

  • “Enhances student learning through mentoring relationships with faculty
  • Increases retention
  • Increases enrollment in graduate education and provides effective career preparation
  • Develops critical thinking, creativity, problem solving and intellectual independence
  • Develops an understanding of research methodology
  • Promotes an innovation-oriented culture”

(Source: “Fact Sheet” http://www.cur.org/about_cur/fact_sheet/.)

To enhance our students’ access to this important learning avenue, in 2015 the John V. Roach Honors College Board of Visitors launched a grant initiative to support undergraduate Honors students engaged in research and/or creative work for their senior Honors projects. BOV member Jay Case led the fundraising effort, and Mark Wassenich (then Board of Visitors chair) assisted with the planning for implementation.

The selection committee members for the first round of research grants included Wendy Williams (Honors College; committee chair), Mark Wassenich (Board of Visitors), Giri Akkaraju (Biology), William Gibbons (Music), Karla O’Donald (Spanish), Lisa Bashore (Nursing), and Dennis Cheek (Nursing). The committee solicited student proposals from academic departments in all Colleges of the University and selected recipients based range of criteria, including clarity including project description, appropriateness of the approach and/or method, budget description, and faculty mentorship. The committee distributed $10,000 in 2015: $4,272 in spring and $5,728 in fall. The grant program will continue and help more students pursue research and creative activities.

Spring 2015 award recipients and project summaries:

$500: Kelcie Willis, Department of Psychology. Project title: “Can You Wait? The Effects of Induced Gratitude and Pride on Children’s Ability to Delay Gratification.” Kelcie stated: “My research within the field of developmental psychology seeks to understand how certain positive emotions, such as gratitude and pride, can be beneficial to a child’s development, specifically, the ability to regulate impulses. The research funds were used to compensate my participants, and thus gave me the opportunity to study children directly.”

$1,000: Allison Badar, School for Classical and Contemporary Dance and Political Science. Project title: “Dance on the Political Stage: The Israeli Batsheva Dance Company’s Political Associations and Influences.” Allison wrote: “With help from the research grant, I sought to explore the effects of government funding and political influence over the cultural spread of Gaga Movement Language in Israel to the rest of the world. The funds I received from the grant allowed me to travel to Tel Aviv, Israel to train with Ohad Naharin, the creator of the dance form called Gaga Movement Language. While in Israel, I interviewed participants in the classes I took and did ethnographic research on the political atmosphere and opinions in Israel.”

$544: Haley Schroer, Department of History and Geography. Project title: “Race versus Reality: The Creation and Extension of the Creole Instituted Racial Hierarchy in the Latin American Colonies.” Haley explained: “My thesis focuses on the racial caste system present in colonial Spanish America in the 18th century. My research questions center around two main topics: the extent to which colonial elite employed administrative laws to maintain the racial caste system in colonial Spanish America and the extent to which daily society matched these administrative aims. The grant funds allowed me to travel to Denver, Colorado to research colonial art at the Denver Art Museum and to Austin, Texas to discuss my findings and research question with a prominent researcher in my field.”

$1,000: Erin McKay, Department of Psychology. Project title: “Does Attachment Style Predict Reactions to Simulated Infant Crying in Emerging Adults?” Erin wrote: “I’m looking at the relationship between attachment, family history, attitudes towards crying, personality, and behavioral/physiological responses to a crying baby. In other words, can we construct the mechanistic model to describe who responds to infant crying, how they respond, and why they respond the way they do? The grant funds were used to purchase the simulated infant and the skin conductance/heart rate sensors. Without funding, this study wouldn’t have been possible.”

$228: Haley McKnight, TCU Nursing. Project title: “Development of a Tool to Measure Factors Affecting Breastfeeding among Mothers in the NICU.” Haley explained: “The purpose of my research study is to develop a valid and reliable tool to measure barriers and facilitators that affect mothers who breastfeed infants in the NICU.”

$1,000: Kyle Roush, Department of Biology. Project title: “Enhancing the fish embryo toxicity test: Growth, development abnormalities and gene expression as additional test endpoints.” Kyle stated: “My research goal was to determine whether or not the fish embryo toxicity (FET) test, an alternative method to toxicity testing, was a viable alternative to the standard larval growth and survival (LGS) test used in the United States.”

Fall 2015 award recipients:

$600: Maggie Gross, Nursing, “Exploring North Texas Parents’ Response to CDC HPV Cancer Prevention Messaging”

$1,000: Matthew Canipe, Neuroscience, “Enhancing blood brain barrier permeability of therapeutic agents for Alzheimer’s disease by adding glucose”

$700: Collin Boothby, Music, “Uncovering John Worgan’s Hannah”

$512: Eric Reid, Biology and Chemistry, “Effects of Daclativsar, an inhibitor of Hepatic C Viral ProteinNS5A on Interferon B Gene expression”

$800: Emily Fung, Biochemistry, “A leucyl-tRNA synthetase without the editing domain and its directed evolution for the unnatural protein engineering”

$800: Rachel Alenius, Biology, “Diet Analysis of Texas Horned Lizards in Urban Environments”

$598: Brad Coplin, Chemistry, “Studies on the Synthesis of the Phenanthridone Ring System”

$318: Kira Markus, Movement Science, “Effectiveness of a Technology Based Physical Activity Program in Adults with Intellectual Disabilities”

$400: Victoria Cress, Theatre, “Interactive Theatre”

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