New Frontiers

Recorded five-minute presentations for the Undergraduate Scholarly Showcase in Category D: New Frontiers, Projects D-01 through D-06.

D-01: Redesigning the UC Mobile App through Survey Supported Approach

Kaaustaaub Shankar, Computer Science
Aniruddhan Ramesh, Computer Science
Tahreem Khan, Computer Science
Siddhant Shah, Computer Science
Project Advisor: Nora Honken
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The University of Cincinnati (UC) mobile app is a crucial tool for students, faculty, and staff to access important information, resources, and services on-the-go. However, the current app has received criticism for its outdated design, lack of user-friendliness, and limited functionality. Therefore, the purpose of this project is to redesign the UC mobile app through surveying and the engineering design process. Our specific question is: How can we improve the UC mobile app to better serve the needs of its users? To answer this question, we conducted research and surveyed the UC community on their experience with the current app and what improvements they would like to see. We also conducted research on apps in the same space and how they were designed. The outcome of our work will be a new and improved UC mobile app that is user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing, and highly functional. The app will provide easy access to key information, resources, and services, such as course schedules, campus maps and dining options. The value of this outcome can be split into two types of effect. Firstly, it will benefit the UC community by providing a more efficient and effective tool to navigate campus life. Secondly, it will demonstrate the practical application of engineering design principles in solving real-world problems.

D-02: Voice Monitoring (VoMo) Smartphone Application: Debugging Protocol

Olivia Polnow, Speech Language Hearing Sciences
Avery Kluth, Speech Language Hearing Sciences
Project Advisor: Victoria McKenna
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Individuals with voice disorders are often required to attend clinical therapy visits multiple times a year. With the relatively recent shift of technology use in healthcare, the Voice & Swallow Mechanics Lab is developing a technology application (app) that aims to reduce the stresses and difficulties accompanied by at-home voice monitoring and progress towards personal health goals. As a part of the development of the Voice Monitoring (VoMo) smartphone app, we created a group reviewing protocol that provided feedback on the app's functionality and usability for each version. Four students were assigned to separate but identical excel spreadsheets that listed all elements of the app. Each student noted the "bugs" they found within the app. After each student collected their own data, they reviewed and replicated the "bugs" found in the other students' spreadsheets. The replicable "bugs" were then noted and reported to the group for addressal. Current results are ongoing but have indicated changes needed for each version that is released for additional testing. By replicating the "bugs" found within the app, we were able to reliably suggest ways to move forward in its development. The outcome of the VoMo debugging protocol will create the first voice monitoring app on the market that is fully functional, understandable, and usable by all patients with voice disorders to track personal progress. It will also allow for hands-on experience with voice monitoring technology, along with a broadened understanding of topics within the speech-language pathology field.

D-03: Using Palladium Membrane to Increase Hydrogenation Efficiency

Dhvani Patel, Biochemistry
Project Advisor: Yujie Sun
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The purpose of hydrogenation is to rise melting points for oils and processed foods, increasing shelf life and texture of products, using palladium membranes. Palladium (Pd) membrane electrodes can be used to physically separate the formation of reactive hydrogen atoms from the hydrogenation of substrates. In this study, we demonstrate how dual hydrogenation of substrates through electrocatalysis, utilizing Pd membranes at both reducing and oxidizing ends. This dual hydrogenation system produces hydrogen that can penetrate through the chemical membrane at one end and the adsorbed hydrogen on the other end. This design enables the hydrogenation to simultaneously separate chambers of the same substrate. Palladium Membrane catalysts are also used to help absorb hydrogen from the Pd membrane, therefore with an increase in the number of Pd ions absorbed, the rate of hydrogenation will increase. Compared with other hydrogenation methods, this system can save vastly more energy and doubles the hydrogenation process. The limitations in this research will be overcome by using dual hydrogenation to increase shelf life, texture and stability for products such as oils and many processed foods by increasing their melting points. The outcome of this work will allow companies to reduce manufacturing cost, since the product will be stored over a longer period of time.

D-04: An Alternative Pathway to Synthesize a Sustainable Substitute for Petroleum-Based Plastics

Ellie Uematsu, Biochemistry
Project Advisor: Yujie Sun
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The increased use and demand for petroleum-based plastics have created a need for sustainable and degradable plastic. Polyethylene furanoate is a close replacement for petroleum-based plastics. Polyethylene furanoate is biodegradable and is made from sustainable resources. However, Polyethylene furanoate is made from 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) and 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid has limited synthesis pathways. Using carbon dioxide and bromide, FDCA can be made from biomass feedstocks. After working with this pathway, it was discovered that this pathway has a high yield and will produce a sufficient amount of FDCA. If this pathway can be implemented, a sufficient amount of FDCA will be created which can be used to create Polyethylene furanoate. Polyethylene furanoate can be used to replace petroleum-based plastics which would help to eliminate the demand for petroleum. Additionally, Polyethylene furanoate is biodegradable therefore reducing the amount of waste generated from petroleum-based plastics.

D-05: Analyzing Elemental Composition in the Arizonan Desert Endangered Plant Species Jones Cycladenia for Future Preservation and Restoration

Chase Beuerlein, Chemistry
Ryan Duell, Chemistry
Project Advisor: Anne Vonderheide
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As climate change devastates ecosystems across the world, further research is performed in an attempt to preserve the wildlife and biodiversity of these ecosystems. Our research is an attempt at understanding the elemental composition of the endangered desert plant Jones Cycladenia, native to the deserts of southwestern Utah and northern Arizona. The plant samples (donated by The Cincinnati Zoo) were separated into three sections, ranging from the top, middle, and bottom sections of the plant. The plant sections were then analyzed using inductive coupled plasma mass spectrometry to analyze chemical makeup and determine which section is the best for regrowing of the plant. After determining the best way to regrow Jones Cycladenia, measures can be taken to restore this species by creating protective areas, captive breeding, reintroduction to its native environment, conservation legislation, and public awareness.

D-06: Development of a New DNA Sensor Using Glass Fiber

Brayden Anderson, Chemistry
Project Advisor: Peng Zhang
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The objective of this experiment was to try and develop a new method to be able to test for certain DNA molecules in a matrix. Usually, these tests need to be performed in a lab which is very time consuming and can be quite expensive depending on what you are testing for. The use of the new sensor will allow for quick and cheaper field testing that will reduce time needed to perform labs and will reduce the number of materials needed to run such tests.