Office of Undergraduate Research

UR@UWM Summer 2012 Research Projects

Please check back for updates to this list!

Hand Grip Rehabilitation for People with Disability
Dr. Na Jin Seo, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering                            

The goal of our research is to develop interventions to improve hand function for people with disability, and to understand neurologic and biomechanical mechanisms underlying their difficulties in hand function. Our target population is persons with neurologic disorders such as stroke. We will conduct laboratory testing in which stroke survivors will perform various tasks with their hands while their grip force and muscle activities are recorded using instruments. Test results will be analyzed to improve our understanding of mechanisms underlying disability and to evaluate new rehabilitation interventions. Students will be involved in laboratory testing, data collection, analysis, literature review, and other research activities, together with current research assistants in the laboratory.

Latino/a Voices in Southeastern Wisconsin
Dr. Nancy Bird-Soto, Spanish and Portuguese

The research project has the primary goal of allowing students to investigate prominent Latinos and Latinas in the area who have made their mark in education, business, the arts, and community-service. Students will be expected to first familiarize themselves with the Golda Meir library--a step that will be facilitated by the faculty mentor and which will be very helpful for their undergraduate years at UWM--as they gain an overview of the Latino contributions to the area in a broader scope. The next step is to find role models in the area and attempt to contact them either for an interview or to gather more information on them for their final report of the research. By the end of July, each student should have a general overview of the impact of Latinos in Southeastern Wisconsin as well as a concrete sample of role models found in the area. From issues concerning to Latinos in general to links to other shared experiences with other minority groups, the students who participate in this project will further their socio-cultural awareness in an interactive and
inspirational fashion.

Estimating Applied Hand Grasp Force Using Electromyography
Dr. Jay Kapellusch, Occupational Science and Technology

Maximum voluntary strength (MVC) data are available for very common grip and pinch grasps. However, there is a dearth of data regarding the functional strength capabilities of people while performing common activities of daily living (ADLs) and work activities. (e.g. turning knobs, holding tools, etc…) Similarly, it is extremely difficult (and in some situations impossible) to accurately measure applied grasp force directly while performing many activities. Therefore, these data often do not exist despite being of tremendous value to product designers, therapists, and engineers (e.g. how much pinch force is required to use a fork while eating?; use a pen to write?; use a wrench on a machine?). Students would learn to: use force and pressure instrumentation, make basic EMG measurements, perform basic statistical analyses and document study results. They and other laboratory staff would serve as pilot subjects.

The Economic Potential of the Panama Canal
Dr. Anthony Ross, Lubar School of Business

The expansion of the Panama Canal into a Deep Water Ocean Vessel Waterway is nearing completion. Here in Wisconsin and across the eastern US, there is great hope surrounding the economic potential to manufacturers wanting to move their goods between US and Asia and beyond. Imagine that a set of real companies is now beginning to consider expanding activities in current foreign markets and/or serving new foreign markets with their products. We will study and model the attractiveness to targeted industries of using the Panama Canal. This is a research project associated with the newly created Supply Chain Management Institute in the Lubar School of Business.

Contrast Effect and Consumer Perceptions
Dr. Tina He, Lubar Business School

My laboratory is dedicated to understanding the neural bases of health and pathological emotional processing and also understanding dysregulated responses to emotional stimuli among people prone to depression and anxiety, and the differences in brain activity associated with dysregrulation.

Prehistoric Artifact Preparation and Analysis
Dr. Robert Jeske, Archeology

Students will conduct machine-flotation recovery of soil samples from the Crescent Bay Hunt Club, an 800 year old agricultural village in southern Wisconsin. Students will also participate in cleaning, identification, sorting and inventory of recovered materials, including stone flakes and tools,ceramics, animal bone, and plant remains.

The Muslim Milwaukee Project
Dr. Anna Mansson McGinty, Geography and Women's Studies
Dr. Caroline Seymour-Jorn, Comparative Literature
Dr. Kristin Sziarto, Geography

The Muslim Milwaukee project aims to shed light on this significant and growing Muslim population. Institutions within the Milwaukee Muslim community have developed significantly within recent decades, pointing to a growth in the population and in its social activity, yet there has been no detailed demographic study of this population. Since the U.S. Census is forbidden by law from asking questions about religious affiliation, and significant national surveys, such as the one released by the Pew Research Center (2007), only give a broad overview of the Muslim population in the U.S., we are left with elusive estimates. This position would be ideal for a student who is interested in cultures, identities, and community engagement, and who is interested in learning how to do qualitative research (surveys, ethnography, interviews). cultures, identities, and community engagement, and who is interested in learning how to do qualitative research (surveys, ethnography, interviews).

An Introduction to Emerging Discipline of Public Health Genomics and Informatics
Dr. Peter Tonellato, Zilber School of 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 (LPHIG) 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), cloud computing then join us for a vigorous introduction to the future of genetics and human disease and health.

Monitoring Threats to Public Health at Milwaukee Beaches and Waterways
Dr. Todd Miller, School of Public Health

In collaboration with the Milwaukee Health Department, the Miller Laboratory within the School of Public Health will be monitoring Lake Michigan water quality at three of Milwaukee's most popular beaches. Specifically, water will be tested for the presence of potential bacterial pathogens including fecal coliforms and Escherichia coli according to methods approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. Students will be trained in daily water sampling, microbiological analyses, record keeping, and data management. They will be expected to participate in these activities led by a senior researcher. The data gathered will be used to formulate a daily beach health report communicated to the general public via the Milwaukee Health Department's website. In addition, when levels exceed minimum threshold values, notices will be posted at beach locations. Other waterways and contaminants including chemical toxicants may also be monitored as part of this project including Rivers and tributaries entering Lake Michigan.

The Role of the Microbial Community at the Sand Water Interface in Degrading Water Quality at Beaches
Dr. Sandra McLellan, School of Freshwater Sciences

This project will investigate how reservoirs of enterococci in beach sands influence beach monitoring programs, and also investigate the relationship between the changes to the natural sand microbial community and the ability of enterococci to persist in the sand. Students will collect sand and water samples at several Lake Michigan beaches and process them in the lab; plate enterococci and E. coli and then enumerate in samples; extract DNA from collected samples; and assist in setup and monitoring of controlled sand incubation experiments.

Jenny Plevin and Ryan Sarnowski, Peck School of the Arts

Students will assist with producing, filming, and editing various documentary projects under docUWM supervision. Students may 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.

The Intellectual Freedom and Censorship in Middle East Countries
Mohammed Aman, School of Information Studies

We conduct research and publish papers on such timely topics as the role of the Internet and Social Media in the Arab Spring; Blogging and Democracy; Intellectual Freedom and Censorship in Middle East Countries; Electronic Publishing (using the refereed journal Digest of Middle East Studies (DOMES) which I edit for Wiley Publishing) which is now published only in digital form. This will enable the selected student(s) to learn about electronic publishing, developing web sites and blogs for authors, publishers, members of the International Advisory Board, and others to communicate. My team is also involved in planning the third annual international conference on the Middle East, held annually in Washington, DC the last week of February. This involves calls for research papers, editing them, preparing them for publication on the web, communicating with international authors from the academy, diplomats, policy experts, etc. as the Conference is sponsored by the Policy Studies Organization (PSO) in Washington, DC, UWM, the American Public University (APU) and think tanks in DC. The student with interest in media, mass communication, information studies, international studies, political science, electronic publishing, or English, will find the experience very helpful in developing an understanding and appreciation of research and writing. The selected student(s) will be working directly under my supervision assisted by graduate students from the SOIS.

Characterizing Properties of Bone
Jill Meyer, Civil Engineering and Mechanics

The student will be involved in a larger project in which we are characterizing the risk factors for bone fracture in patients with a developmental bone disease, osteochondroma. They will be working with radiography data (CT and MRI) to characterize patient-specific bones along with general characterization of the material properties obtained from these imaging technologies. An ideal student will be interested in basic anatomy, imaging, and data processing.