Office of Undergraduate Research

UR@UWM Summer 2014 Research Projects

Please check back for updates to this list!

Wisconsin Farm Oral History Project
Jasmine Alinder, History

The Wisconsin Farms Oral History project, an inter-campus collaboration initiated by UW-Whitewater's Public History program, has brought together faculty and students to explore the history of food and farming in rural and urban Wisconsin in order to better understand the significance of farm culture in people’s everyday lives. Our central research question is: How has food production and food consumption in Wisconsin over the past 80 years influenced community development, particularly with regard to inter-racial and inter-cultural dynamics? We are answering this question by conducting oral histories with farmers and people in farming communities. The project employs a "community-based history" approach, using oral history as a way to understand farming history from the perspective of individuals who have lived that history.

Tracking Sturgeon with Drone Aircraft
Tom Consi, Engineering

We are developing an autonomous aircraft equipped with a radio receiver to find and locate radio-tagged sturgeon in the lakes and rivers of Wisconsin. The student will assist in test flights of the drone aircraft, aircraft maintenance and modification as well as data analysis.

3D-Printed Prosthetics
Frankie Flood, Art & Design

This summer, students in the Digital Craft Research Lab will research recent developments in digital fabrication to design and create 3D-printed prosthetic devices for children affected by Amniotic Band Syndrome, a condition that sometimes affects the development of hands and fingers. My students and I have already begun this research in my lab and are currently designing a hand for a local girl who was born with no fingers and a partial thumb on her right hand. Students engaged in this summer research project would work on creating hands for other children affected by ABS and would continue development of current designs to better address the needs and function of these 3D-printed prosthetics.

Molecular Mechanisms through which Sex Steroid Hormones Modulate Learning and Memory
Karyn Frick, Psychology

Projects available this summer will focus on identifying the critical receptors and signaling molecules through which estrogen and progesterone enhance memory in mouse models of menopause. Within the four week program period, students will gain hands-on experience handling and behaviorally testing mice, and may have the opportunity to assist with brain surgery, gonadectomy surgery, hormone treatments, brain dissections, and molecular biology techniques. 

"Grow": A Large Scale Installation Project
Yevgeniya Kaganovich, Art and Design                         

"Grow" is a system of interconnected organic volumes simulating a self-propagating organism in multiple stages of development. This installation utilizes reused plastic bags as base material. The layers of plastic are fused together to create a surface similar to leather or skin, molded into plant-like forms, connected with plastic bag "thread" and stuffed plastic bag, creating a system made out a singular material, reused plastic. The project is taking place at the Lynden Sculpture Garden and the Urban Ecology Center. There are collection stations at each venue, the visitors bring in their plastic bags, as well as participate in workshops. We collect the bags periodically and make additions onto the initial system, so that the organism grows over time. The student will assist with continuous development of "grow." He or she will participate in experimentation with materials, pattern making, and fabrication methods, and most importantly, the public workshops. He or she will also assist with installation, collecting materials, making new forms and adding onto the initial systems . It would be valuable for the incoming student to work on "grow" as a part of a team, gaining experience in developing and implementing a public art project. An Eco-Web for Design & Environmental Stewardship
Mark Keane, School of Architecture and Urban Planning is an eco web that develops ethical imagination and environmental stewardship. introduces what design is, what design does, and why design is important. It offers activities across nine scales: nano, pattern, object, space, architecture, neighborhood, urban, region, and world. NEXT.ccs 202+ journeys integrate over 1000 museums, institutions and contemporary practices. plans to reach 45 million third grade through twelfth grade students, their teachers and their families with meaningful learning experiences that create positive influence on lives. This project involves creating design work for the NEXT.ccs gallery for students and teachers in over 150 countries. Journeys include trans-disciplinary activities that involve writing, drawing, designing, photographing, modeling, etc. Students chose areas of interest and select journeys to complete. Students test each activity delivering high quality final digital graphics (jpg 150 dpi) images for 7-10 journeys. (Journeys have 3-8 activities each and some activities take longer than others). Students are listed on the website for their contributions.

Emotional Control in Anxiety and Depression
Christine Larson, Psychology

In this project you will assist with studies in which we use EEG and behavioral measures to understand how people differ in their ability to regulate and control their emotions. For example, we will examine how people who are prone to anxiety and depression have difficulty controlling attention to negative information. We will also assess people’s ability to voluntarily intensify or minimize their emotional reactions to emotional events.

B'CAUSSE (Breast Cancer Understanding, Screening and Survivor Support)
Sandra Millon-Underwood, Nursing

This project is designed to increase breast awareness and breast cancer screening among under-served women in southeastern WI. Students engaged in this project work with Professor Underwood and a team of nurse practitioners and community health workers in the presentation of community-based breast cancer awareness and screening programs throughout the area. Students involved in this project must complete an online human subjects protection training. Afterwards students will work with the team in program planning and implementation, collecting background information from women involved in the program at the community sites, and in preparing the data for entry into a computer database for analysis.

Jenny Plevin, Film

Students will assist with producing, filming, and editing various documentary projects under docUWM supervision. Students will assist with logging and transcribing video and assembling high definition footage on Final Cut Pro software. Students may also assist with various post-production tasks such as gathering releases and researching distribution methods.

Developing an Assistive Device to Help Hand Functions of Patients with Stroke
Na Jin Seo, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

The objective of this project is to develop a wearable assistive device that improves touch sensation and dexterity of the hand in chronic stroke patients. The student tasks include interacting with chronic stroke patients in the laboratory, assisting research experiments with the patients, analyzing data in Microsoft Office or MATLAB, finding papers from journals, attending weekly progress meetings, and making research presentations.

Buildings-Landscapes-Cultures Field School: On Site Community-Based Learning and Research in Washington Park, Milwaukee
Arijit Sen, School of Architecture and Urban Planning

This project seeks to employ the enduring creativity of storytelling, the power of digital humanities, and the depth of local knowledge in order to galvanize Milwaukee residents to talk about their homes as repositories of community memory and spaces of caring and civic pride. We plan to achieve our goal of community engagement and sustained impact by 1) providing our audience interpretive ways of reading their built environment and 2) experimenting with innovative digital and audio-visual media to create grassroots awareness of the built environment as cultural resource. Students will attend the field school. The field school hours are M-F 9-4 PM. They will be excused during required UR@UWM events. Students will attend skills workshops and conduct data collection along with other field school participants. However, they will be solely responsible for storing and organizing the data collected by other field school researchers. That will include digitally organizing oral history interviews, organizing and tagging photographic and hand drawn architectural data, producing posters and artwork to advertise events, and working on desktop publishing software and weebly web programs to organize and create monographs and websites from data and analysis done by other field school participants. No prior experience is required, we will be training students as required. However, students should have access to a basic laptop or tablet computer

Determining Responsiveness of the Force-time Curve for Measuring Rehabilitation Outcomes among People with Upper Extremity Musculoskeletal Injuries
Bhagwant Sindhu, Occupational Science and Technology

The force-time curve is generated while performing isometric grip strength trials over 5 to 10 seconds. In our previous studies, we have found the slopes of the force-time curve to have high test-retest reliability. We have also found the slopes to be able to distinguish between injured and uninjured hands. This suggests that these slopes can assist clinicians in determining the outcomes of rehabilitation. However, these slopes cannot be used in the clinic until we know about their responsiveness (or ability to detect change with rehabilitation), which is the purpose of the present study. During the summer, we will be collecting data in various hand therapy clinics. The student will learn about how to collect force and electromyographic data in a clinical setting.

Human Motion Analysis for Rehabilitation
Brooke Slavens and Alyssa Shnorenberg, Occupational Science & Technology

We aim to investigate the biomechanics of human motion during assistive device usage to impact the training and clinical decision making for persons with orthopaedic disabilities. The objective of this research is to investigate the upper extremity joint dynamics during wheelchair mobility, crutch or walker ambulation. Student objectives include: to learn what human motion analysis is and how it contributes to advancing knowledge in rehabilitation engineering; to learn how to use a Vicon motion capture system and Vicon Nexus motion analysis software; to assist with generating animations and graphics; to help with data collection, processing and analysis; and to learn how to interpret motion analysis data through videos and animations of rehabilitation activities, such as crutch, walker, or wheelchair usage.

Building and Rebuilding the Palimpsest of Urban Memories: Urban Spaces in Medieval Silk Road Cities
Manu Sobti, School of Architecture and Urban Planning

The genesis of urban spaces has been an area of growing interest to architectural historians. However, within the non-western cultural sphere, not only has the concept of urban public space been thoroughly contested, but seldom researched to elaborate on its evolution across time and space. Funded by multiple earlier grants, this ongoing book project based on the faculty's current research argues that Islamic urban space may be effectively examined through the careful sifting of multiple 9th-10th century textual sources, in combination with innovative fieldwork. By examining a vast set of previously unknown resources, it proposes a radical, innovative understanding of urban space making and its multiplicity of actors, specifically examining the processes of building and re-building of urban elements within two early-medieval urban spaces - the Registans in Samarqand & Bukhara. Work on this project is culminating in a major publication, and now an ongoing PBS film documentary proposal. The student tasks may include developing drawings, illustrations and renderings to accompany the text of the ongoing publication (several drawings shall be hand-drawn while others shall be completed via CAD software); assisting with any additional library research required for the above drawings; camera/editing work for the documentary; assisting in the creation of the final layouts of the book manuscript; and editing the documentary towards production scripting.

Zebrafish as a Model for Studying Neurodegeneration, Deformities, and Dementias in Humans
Dr. Henry Tomasiewicz, NIEHS Core Center

We use zebrafish as a model system for looking at how genes and environment interact to cause defects in the nervous system. We are particularly interested in how exposure of embryos to common environmental contaminants (e.g. mercury, lead, etc.) at levels that cause no observable affect can cause a break down in the nervous system of adult animals. Similarly, we also look at the effects of introducing human genes implicated in Alzheimer’s disease on the fish nervous system.

An Introduction to Emerging Discipline of Public Health Genomics and Informatics
Peter Tonellato, Public Health

The Laboratory for Public Health Genomics and Informatics (LPHIG) at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is the first School of Public Health facility to combine expertise in genetics, informatics and computational resources such as cloud computing to address the complex problems in gene-environment and gene-gene research focused on broad issues in public health. Professor Tonellato’s lab at UWM also collaborates with his lab at Harvard Medical School ( to simulate and predict the impact of new genetic testing in healthcare and on the broader issues of public health and health disparities. Should you join Professor Tonellato’ s lab, your project will include the development and participation in the use of new technologies in the application of knowledge created to elucidate the impact on climate, environmental contamination, and genetics on human biology, development and health. If you have interest in genetics, the environment, public health, and emerging research technologies such as Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) and cloud computing, then join us for a vigorous introduction to the future of genetics and human disease and health.