Podium Presentations

In a podium presentation, each student presents their research story in a live lecture format lasting no more than eight minutes. View presenters' names, titles and abstracts below.

Morning Session (9-10 a.m.)

Room 415: Rights, Identity, and Creative Expression

Alee Hawkins, Sociology
Project Advisor: Steve Carlton-Ford

Abstract: Jamaica is a country that appeals to many tourists worldwide with its beautiful beaches and distinctive culture. It is tropical, with a heavenly ambiance and friendly locals that invite tourists to indulge in this piece of paradise. Visitors to the country may feel entrenched in a sense of community and belonging. However, like every country, Jamaica is also a country rich in history, and this is prevalent in the lingering historical effects of Jamaica's contemporary social issues. Each institution has its own functions and dysfunctions that impact Jamaican society on a micro, meso, and macro level. Social issues can be divisive amongst communities, and government practices can fracture citizens' trust in the government. In Jamaica, there are remnants of the transatlantic slave trade found in society and the government today. According to a United Nations professional, Missouri Sherman-Peter, the Caribbean was the core of the once-booming slave trade, and Caribbean countries, such as Jamaica, were integral to perpetrating slavery. In Barbados, the English heavily enacted the Slave Codes and played a key role in the judicial system during slavery. Today, approximately 15% of Jamaica's population is colonized by Europe, though Jamaica gained independence in August of 1962. The country is part of the Commonwealth, and its unique culture has been heavily influenced by European lifestyles. Government corruption has permeated daily life for Jamaican citizens, and many Jamaicans face high levels of internal government mistrust because of this. The economy once thrived off of the slave trade, and today, the economy

Adaeze Okoye, Law and Society
Project Advisor: Stephen Bryant

Abstract: With the growing focus on development in Nigeria from Western scholars and media, the local perspectives often heard are those of political figures and men in positions of authority within society, leading to the exclusion of women's experiences and narratives in current development projects as well as development projects through Nigeria's complex history. My research on the Nigeria-Biafra War contributes to the limited work on non-traditional lenses of war, shifting focus away from the Western, patriarchal perspective of war and conflict, specifically concerning conflicts in African states. The Nigeria-Biafra War was a detrimental occurrence for Nigeria, and although there is scholarship on the matter, it is limited in how it assesses the civil war and the war's historical impacts. It is evident that this war still impacts the state of Nigeria 53 years later. It is imperative to explore how it has impacted women whose voices and experiences have frequently gone unexamined in scholarly work on this topic. This research is conducted primarily through literacy analysis of poems and memories of Igbos during the war and post-war and is supported by secondary data analysis of quantitative data collected by individuals who have worked on studies related to this research. This work seeks to encourage more scholarship by African women that explores conflicts in Africa and the Global South with a lens that intersects various social identities.

Sophia Schwerin, International Business
Project Advisor: Daniel Peat

Abstract: This case study examines an ethical dilemma faced by Brianna Coppage, an English teacher at St. Clair High School, who created an OnlyFans account to supplement her income. The discovery of her account sparked a complex debate encompassing professional ethics, personal financial needs, and societal norms. This case study was developed using secondary data as part of an independent study for a business ethics class. Students are introduced to an ethical decision-making model, examine the intersection of professional ethics and personal needs, and explore some challenges with the modern business environment and gig economies. Additionally, students will explore the broader implications of ethical decisions, including media fallout and public perception.

Olivia D. Spencer, Medical Laboratory Science: Pre-Medicine
Project Advisor: Ian P. Lewkowich, PhD

Abstract: Innovation and development have profoundly impacted our world. Due to the constant changes in our environment, it is difficult to determine how such changes affect our overall health. In no other area of research is this truer than in allergic asthma research. Allergic asthma is an inappropriate immune response to environmental stimuli that causes chest tightness, difficulty breathing, and persistent coughing. For some, these symptoms are minor inconveniences, but for others, they can be life-threatening and stress the need for better treatments or preventive measures. There is a proven genetic basis for allergic asthma; however, the rates of disease are increasing too quickly to be driven by genetics alone, suggesting a role for the environment. The Lewkowich laboratory aims to understand how environmental factors impact the immune responses underlying allergic asthma. Using animal models as well as studying human disease, we study how allergic asthma development and severity are impacted by various environmental factors, including the timing of allergen exposure, parental allergen exposures and their heritability, and our microbiome and how it shapes immune responses to the environment. While we can diagnose and cure many diseases, such as cancer and allergic asthma, the current diagnosis of the disease is often inefficient and not definitive and results in poor treatment options. A better understanding of the environmental impacts on disease is needed so that new therapeutics can be created to improve health outcomes for millions of people suffering from allergic asthma.

Nathan Storts, Mathematics
Project Advisor: Seungki Kim

Abstract: Cryptography is the practice of writing and solving codes that are used to protect private information, including banking information, sensitive messages, and passwords. Due to the constant improvements in technology, cryptography is also one of the fastest-developing fields in mathematics. However, as fast as the field is changing, there is always someone capable of breaking the newly formed codes and invading the privacy of millions. Lattice-Based Cryptography has been argued to be the most promising form of encryption, using the Shortest Vector Problem (SVP) as a main source of encryption. The SVP is so valuable in cryptography because it is simple to understand yet hard to calculate. In our research, we will attempt to alter a graph from the research paper "HAWK: Module LIP makes Lattice Signatures Fast, Compact, and Simple" by Léo Ducas et al., which discusses the Shortest Vector Problem. Making alterations to the graph would increase the efficiency and running time of a contract system that calculates the shortest vector in a lattice up to 300 dimensions. Improving the efficiency of the computer program could ensure security for everyone that would be nearly impossible to crack, even in a world with quantum computers.


Room 417: Insights and Inspiration from the Natural World

Erin Huber, Environmental Studies
Project Advisor: Amy Townsend-Small

Abstract: The purpose of this project is to develop neighborhood resilience hubs in Cincinnati, aiming to foster community connections and enhance emergency preparedness. This plan will utilize the US EPA EJG2G resilience hub grant alongside city budget allocations to accomplish its goals. Through an exploration of the Green Cincinnati Plan (GCP), this study investigates the details of effectively establishing these hubs, with a specific focus on aligning with community resilience and sustainability priorities that have been outlined. The project's rationale stems from the pressing need to address the rising regularity and severity of natural disasters, coupled with the recognition of the disproportionate impact this crisis imposes on vulnerable communities. By sourcing local data and forming partnerships with community organizations, the initiative aspires to ensure equitable access to resources while providing support during emergencies. When describing the benefits, such as heightened social cohesion, and potential drawbacks, including resource constraints, the study illustrates a comprehensive picture of the project's landscape. Policy analysis underscores the pivotal role of local, state, and national policies in supporting resilience efforts while drawing insights from best practices in cities like New York City and Portland. Funding mechanisms will supply a diverse lineup of options, ranging from grants to public-private partnerships. The recommended next steps emphasize the main importance of community engagement, meticulous planning, and the establishment of robust monitoring mechanisms to facilitate successful implementation and ongoing adaptability.

Dillon Patel, Chemical Engineering and Chemistry
Project Advisor: Stephen Thiel

Abstract: This project aims to develop a defluoridation water treatment process for the water supply of the community of Burere, Tanzania. Current fluoride levels in the community are approximately five times above the World Health Organization's recommendations. Excessive exposure to fluoride poses health and quality challenges for the community. Significant design constraints are imposed on this project, including cost, material supply, technical labor, and equipment sourcing. The system had to handle substantial water flow rates, low capital costs, and deliver minimal ongoing costs to the community. This study began with the investigation of 10 water treatment methods, each of which was extensively researched for feasibility and viability. Among the process choices, pyrolyzed eggshells utilized as an adsorbent filtrate emerged as the most favorable process. Engineering considerations and calculations were refined to provide a more comprehensive evaluation of the process design. The system comprises 12 filter columns arranged in parallel, receiving water from an elevated tank to allow flow via gravity. The initial project investment was furnished by Engineering without Borders, with ongoing operational costs supported by the village in Burere. The anticipated capital outlay for the current design shows economic promise, estimated at around $5,000. The annual operating cost was minimized in this design due to the availability of eggshell material, which is currently local waste. After confirmation of the design upon further scale-up and laboratory testing, the aspirational outcome of this study is the construction of the finalized design.

Sadie Penix, Art History
Project Advisor: Theresa Leininger-Miller

Abstract: This presentation explores the tapestry of historical and cultural dynamics embedded in Thomas Cole's landscape, View Across Frenchman's Bay from Mt. Desert Island, After a Squall (1845, Cincinnati Art Museum). This paper provides an extensive analysis, employing formal, iconographical, and contextual approaches, to unravel the intricate layers of Cole's work, building on the scholarship of John Wilmerding, Linda Ferber, Ellwood Parry, and others. By analyzing religious and nationalist themes, I argue that the painting depicts humanity's relationship with nature as God's creation through the lens of nationalism in the United States. Evoking Edmund Burke and the concept of the sublime, Cole depicted a fading squall, stormy waters, rocky cliffs, and an eagle perched on a precipice, likely a representation of nationalism. A small lone ship acts as an allegory about people in the natural world as well as a reference to Christianity. Although the painting is set in Maine and obliquely refers to naval history, it also suggests the future potential of the country as a whole. This presentation places Cole's tableau within its broader contexts of nature, nation, and conflict in 19th-century America.

Steven Kraine, Computer Engineering, MEng Artificial Intellegence
Project Advisor: Donghoon Kim

Abstract: Accurate estimation and localization on the Martian surface is a critical challenge for various Mars exploration missions, including rover operations, aerial drone navigation, and habitat placement. Existing estimation and localization techniques designed for Earth-based environments often prove inadequate for Mars due to the planet's unique conditions, including the lack of traditional GPS systems, the presence of uneven and rocky terrain, and the different gravitational forces. Therefore, there is an urgent need to establish a comprehensive testbed specifically tailored to assess and advance estimation and localization technologies for Mars applications. To tackle this problem, a testing framework is proposed using the Robot Operating System (ROS) and Gazebo tools. To create the testbed, Martian terrain was generated by modeling Perlin noise along with additional craters to mimic the landscape. Then, ROS nodes were developed to emulate the ultra-wideband sensors used for creating the positioning system. Then, additional ROS nodes were developed for simulating a simple Kalman filter-based localization algorithm. In addition to these, statistical analysis nodes were created to show the real-time performance of the algorithms to be tested. Additionally, the testbed also monitors CPU utilization to measure computational complexity. This testing environment will prove pivotal to future localization algorithm development for remote rovers as it provides a dedicated platform for testing multiple localization algorithms at the same time. Using the proposed testbed, the development cycle for remote sensor networks can be greatly reduced.

Jay Patel, Medical Sciences
Project Advisor: Tom Cunningham

Abstract: Phosphoribosyl pyrophosphate synthetase (PRPS) is a molecule involved in the synthesis of purines and pyrimidines, the building blocks of DNA and RNA. Our lab investigates the various isoforms of this protein complex, particularly PRPS1 and PRPS2, and their potential role in clinical disorders. One isoform of these vital enzymes has already been discovered to play a major role in the proliferation of certain cancers. Furthermore, lab members have shown isoform-specific differences in PRPS1 and PRPS2 involved in redox homeostasis. Additionally, two other proteins, phosphoribosyl pyrophosphate synthetase-associated proteins 1 and 2 (PRPSAP1 and PRPSAP2), have been discovered to bind with PRPS1 and PRPS2 to act as non-enzymatic scaffolds for this complex. However, these two associated proteins are highly understudied, and the discovery of the formation of a complex is novel and much is still unknown. My project involves generating mutations within the PRPS1 and PRPS2 proteins to identify critical amino acids and regions that are involved in the manifestation of clinical disorders, potentially giving us a glimpse into the mechanism of disease. By further understanding this complex, the interactions between its members, and its potential implications for clinical disorders such as cancer, autism, hyperuricemia, etc., better techniques can be developed to treat these conditions.

Room 419: Interconnectedness of Social and Technical Systems

Benjamin Mota, Spanish
Project Advisor: Anne Lingwall Odio

Abstract: This study investigates Spanish-English bilingual speakers' use of verbs in Spanish and its connection to the speakers' initial age of acquiring English in the United States. Simultaneous bilingual speakers are those who learned Spanish and English at the same time, while sequential bilingual speakers are those who learned Spanish first and later English. In Spanish, one can form a sentence like Ser una buena persona es importante. (Being a good person is important.) However, it's expected that simultaneous bilinguals would create the same sentence as Siendo una buena persona es importante. This phenomenon is likely to occur because, in English, our gerunds or -ing verbs don't have an auxiliary verb. The investigation uses a Texas bilingual corpus (a collection of written texts) with 96 participants to answer the question. From the interviews with the participants, their uses of the infinitives ser (to be), estar (to be), tener (to have), querer (to want), hacer (to do) as a gerund, and also their use of siendo (being), estando (being), teniendo (having), queriendo (wanting), and haciendo (doing) without an auxiliary verb are noted. A series of statistical analyses will help determine whether there is a disparity in the use of verb forms among speakers. The results of the research will shed light on an understudied area of linguistics and increase existing knowledge about the effects English-Spanish bilingualism has on bilingual grammar.

Aditya Pawar, Computer Science
Project Advisor: Jenna Reis

Abstract: This project aims to explore algorithms for image deblurring using the linear algebra technique and directly apply them using MATLAB. By constructing a mathematical model to represent the blurring process and manipulating it, we seek to reverse the blurring effect, resulting in significantly improved image quality. This field has wide-ranging societal applications, including sharper medical scans, clearer astronomical imagery, and enhanced visual data for autonomous vehicles, while also contributing to the field of image processing.

Trinity Lê, Piano Performance
Project Advisor: Andy Villimez

Abstract: In post-WWII Japan, public support and interest in Japanese traditional music dwindled severely, leaving very few masters who could keep their tradition alive. Similarly, throughout the first decade of his career, Japanese composer Tōru Takemitsu rejected the use of Japanese traditional music idioms in his compositions, claiming that for him, this style of music "always recalled the bitter memories of war." However, the main genre of music composed, performed, and championed during the wartime years were western-influenced military marches, dances, and blues, leading us to believe that there were additional factors leading to Takemitsu's total rejection of "Japanese" musical qualities. In this presentation, I will examine the various cultural, political, and personal factors that influenced Takemitsu's compositional choices throughout his lifetime. Mainly, how did the respective cultural policies of Imperial Japan and later, US-occupied Japan, serve to shape Japanese society's relationship to the traditional arts? When Takemitsu eventually began exploring Japanese musical ideas in his compositions later in his career, what catalyzed this, and how did his past experiences continue to shape this exploration? Through the investigation of these questions, we will form a better understanding of the culturally alienating impact of government-influenced (or dictated) artistic expression, allowing us to recognize and reflect upon our own relationship to our cultural identities as they exist in a socio-political context.

Ekeiso Imasuagbon, Health Sciences
Project Advisor: Susan Waltz

Abstract: RON receptor tyrosine kinase has an influence on the metastatic behavior of cancer, as it is expressed in over 50% of breast cancer in humans. Additionally, clinical research has demonstrated that Ron overexpression is linked to metastasis as well as less favorable patient outcomes. Targeting RON signaling may be a novel therapeutic approach to treat breast cancer and improve patient prognosis. RON signaling in breast cancer cells promotes an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment to help avoid immune cell attack and support breast cancer progression. Developing a clear understanding of the ways in which RON affects the breast cancer cells of patients will allow us to better treat patients with breast cancer.

Grant Miller, Aerospace Engineering
Project Advisor: Daniel Cuppoletti

Abstract: This research aimed to study the amplification of fuel-air mixture detonations in high-aspect-ratio cavities. A fuel-air mixture was injected into two connected cavities, the first 4" wide and the second 8" wide, both 0.5" tall and 24" long. A detonation was initiated in the first section, and when it transitioned to the second section, the shock wave and flame front decoupled. The shock wave compressed the fuel-air mixture, so when the flame front caught up, it encountered a dense "slug" of combustion reactants. This led to heat being released even more rapidly, in addition to an accompanying pressure spike. One application of this research could be in lighting scramjet engines during flight. Standard techniques such as spark plugs don't have enough energy to start combustion, so this technique should deposit enough energy into the combustion chamber to enable engine light and relight capabilities with only the fuel carried onboard an aircraft.


Afternoon Session (1-2 p.m.)

Room 415: Interconnectedness of Social and Technical Systems

C'Asia Bishop, Neuroscience: Neuropsychology
Project Advisor: Laura Ngwenya

Abstract: Following a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), defined by the Glasgow Coma Scale (score of 13–15), 10–20% of patients have declines in quality of life due to persisting symptoms and cognitive deficits. Social determinants of health (SDOH) are environmental conditions that play a significant role in mTBI recovery. Determinants include economic stability, education access, age, sex, health insurance, and race or ethnicity. Acknowledging and addressing SDOH is important for improving the recovery of those who experience mTBI. The self-reported Rivermead Post-Concussion Symptoms Questionnaire (RPQ) is used to measure the severity of 16 symptoms after mTBI. We hypothesized that patients with greater SDOH risk factors would have higher RPQ scores after mTBI. Patients at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center were evaluated by hospital personnel and diagnosed with mTBI. Approximately 2–3 weeks after being discharged from the hospital, patients completed the RPQ during a mTBI clinic visit. SDOH measures we investigated included ETOH use, insurance status, and race. Data was collected and analyzed using REDCap. The average RPQ score was 20.48 (n = 232, SD = 14.44), and 38% scored ≥24, indicating a higher symptom burden compared to 62% that scored <24. Those with high RPQ scores (n = 88) had 11.2% alcohol use, compared to 32.6% with low RPQ scores (n = 144). 72.3% of high RPQ scorers had Medicare or Medicaid insurance (vs. 65.4%), and 15.9% were black or Hispanic (vs. 11.8%). These preliminary results suggest differences in SDOH factors may contribute to post-mTBI symptom burden, and further research is underway to determine the influence of SDOH on mTBI recovery.

Andy Gao, Medical Sciences
Project Advisor: Danny Wu

Abstract: Unplanned readmissions are costly to both the hospital and the patient, and 30-day readmissions are an important measure for patient outcomes in neuroscience intensive care units (NSICUs). In this study, we used risk factors for 30-day NSICU readmission summarized from current literature to develop a well-performing predictive model using machine learning (ML). We also sought to understand the importance of social determinants of health (SDoH) in improving predictive power for different populations of patients. The results of this study have important implications for predicting 30-day NSICU readmissions to both improve NSICU patient outcomes and reduce hospital costs.

Erin Huber, Environmental Studies
Project Advisor: Daniel Peat

Abstract: This study presents an ethical vignette exercise that investigates perceptions and ethical evaluations concerning hypothetical relationships between a faculty member and a student before and after graduation. The vignettes are intentionally vague to illustrate a framework relying on facts, assumptions, and opinions that trigger cognitive bias in participants. The exercise reveals the multifaceted nature of ethical judgment, showcasing how participants navigate the gray areas of relationships with inherent power imbalances. Through qualitative analysis, we captured diverse reactions, ranging from outright dismissal to cautious acceptance, underpinned by a spectrum of moral and social considerations. This research underscores the significant role of contextual information in shaping ethical evaluations, highlighting how the absence of specific details leads individuals to fill gaps with their biases, assumptions, and societal norms. This exercise is an excellent tool for business ethics education as it demonstrates the need for critical thinking, nuanced decision-making, the complex interplay of personal biases and societal norms, and professional ethical standards in a simulated, real-world scenario.

Daoud Saadeh, Environmental Studies
Project Advisor: Amy Townsend-Small

Abstract: In previous years, government-sponsored programs offered incentives via paybacks to utility providers for undertaking energy efficiency projects in Ohio. However, a gap has formed in the wake of Ohio House Bill 6 (HB6). Passed in July 2019, HB6 blunts Ohio's Renewable Portfolio Standards and eliminates state-sponsored funding for utility energy efficiency programs. This has created a landscape of conflicting interests between those who benefit and those who pay. With no consolidated source of funding, stakeholders, including local government and corporate entities, have begun to investigate alternative modes of financing sustainable development within the built environment of Cincinnati. Federal grant opportunities and tax incentives from recent legislation, such as the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, add urgency to the search for local policy solutions. This study hopes to shed light on two surmounting areas of interest within the City of Cincinnati: Green Banks and expedited permitting. The evaluation of these two focus areas will entail a feasibility assessment of potential incentives, locating key barriers to implementation, and data collection from participating government offices. The goal of this study is to support the City of Cincinnati's Buildings and Energy departments in the creation of incentive programs for building retrofits and electrification. Successful program implementation may stimulate local economic growth and aid the City of Cincinnati's mission of decarbonization through the 2023 Green Cincinnati Plan.

Room 417: Interconnectedness of Social and Natural Systems

Laurel DesMarteau, Environmental Studies
Project Advisor: Amy Townsend-Small

Abstract: Climate change is a growing problem worldwide, with around 42% of global CO2 emissions coming from the built environment (cite). Education facilities like our public schools can serve as a model for environmental best practices by adopting sustainable vehicles like buses, reducing fossil fuel use in heating and cooling, constructing more light-reflective buildings, and reducing food waste. In this project, I investigated which schools in the United States are successfully adopting these techniques and which would be most easily adopted by Cincinnati. This project is ongoing, but my research found that the Department of Education has a Green Ribbon School program designed specifically for sustainability in schools. This program has been and will continue to be vital for helping the City of Cincinnati achieve its emissions reduction goals as well as influencing future generations to explore green infrastructure.

Adit Kulkarni, Chemical Engineering
Project Advisor: Stephen Thiel

Abstract: This project aims to develop a defluoridation water treatment process for the water supply of the community of Burere, Tanzania. Current fluoride levels in the community are approximately five times above the World Health Organization's recommendations. Excessive exposure to fluoride poses health and quality challenges for the community. Significant design constraints are imposed on this project, including cost, material supply, technical labor, and equipment sourcing. The system had to handle substantial water flow rates, low capital costs, and deliver minimal ongoing costs to the community. This study began with the investigation of 10 water treatment methods, each of which was extensively researched for feasibility and viability. Among the process choices, pyrolyzed eggshells utilized as an adsorbent filtrate emerged as the most favorable process. Engineering considerations and calculations were refined to provide a more comprehensive evaluation of the process design. The system comprises 12 filter columns arranged in parallel, receiving water from an elevated tank to allow flow via gravity. The initial project investment was furnished by Engineering without Borders, with ongoing operational costs supported by the village in Burere. The anticipated capital outlay for the current design shows economic promise, estimated at around $5,000. The annual operating cost was minimized in this design due to the availability of eggshell material, which is currently local waste. After confirmation of the design upon further scale-up and laboratory testing, the aspirational outcome of this study is the construction of the finalized design.

Helena Li, Medical Sciences
Project Advisor: Xueheng Zhao

Abstract: The NAD+ metabolome, which includes NAD+ and its related molecules, is involved in numerous metabolic pathways and cellular functions, including oxidative phosphorylation and DNA repair. However, there is a lack of analytical methods that offer high sensitivity or sufficient pathway coverage. For instance, in protein-based preclinical mouse studies for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), NR and NMN are downregulated in NAFLD and can be successfully repleted with supplements to alleviate the disease. Thus, the study aims to develop a targeted mass spectrometry-based method to quantify the NAD+ metabolome in healthy and NAFLD patient serum. In this study, we included 11 key metabolites in the panel that was spiked into water and serum for development. Metabolites were eluted using a binary solvent gradient. Detection and quantification of metabolites was done in ESI+ and ESI- modes, and the linearity of the calibration curves and coefficient of variation of data were analyzed to demonstrate sensitivity. Currently, we have quantified the metabolites using ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (UHPLC-MS/MS). Calibration curves have been generated, and the linearity of the curves has been tested. Quality control (QC) samples have been tested as well, with the majority of the QC having satisfactorily attained quantification levels that are within an acceptable range. We hope that the developed method can be applied to human patient serum in a clinical setting to quantify the NAD+ metabolome and identify potential dysregulations relevant to NAFLD and other diseases.

Tripura Vithala, Medical Sciences
Project Advisor: Danny T.Y. Wu

Abstract: Medical systems have prioritized access to electronic health records, but their effectiveness depends on closing gaps in health literacy. Nine clinical notes from patients with diabetes were gathered and edited by two researchers to be more readable and understandable, following the SAPO format. Fifteen pre-medical students were asked to review five randomly selected originals and their respective five revised notes. After reviewing each note, the student filled out the PEMAT-P survey to evaluate the readability and understandability of the note. Eye-tracking software was also utilized to gain qualitative information about the design and layout of the revised note. The results indicated that there was a significant increase in the readability and understandability, both separately and as a composite score, of the revised notes.

Room 419: Society, Innovation and Access

Jack Wigginton, Environmental Studies
Project Advisor: Amy Townsend-Small

Abstract: Marginalized communities are usually subject to not only poor environmental health conditions, but members of these communities are often forced to work in jobs with higher environmental and/or health hazards. This is true in Cincinnati as well, as environmental justice has become an increasingly important issue to address. As such, the City of Cincinnati's Green Cincinnati Plan (GCP) has been inquiring as to how other municipalities have turned environmental justice policy into law and how successful these laws have been at resolving some of the problems. In trying to find an answer to this, multiple examples have been found around the nation, in well-known municipalities such as Atlanta, and even at the national level through the EPA's Justice 40 initiative. These different policies have been shown to be effective to varying degrees, and several of the laws seem like either a good fit for Cincinnati as is or with a bit of modification to suit our city's specific needs and environment. This research and these laws are vital to creating an equal and equitable city for all to live in, something that Cincinnati and other cities strive for.

Priscilla Caballero, Criminal Justice and Psychology
Project Advisor: Sarah Manchak

Abstract: In a 2020 report commissioned by the Ohio Supreme Court, researchers from American University found concerns with respect to equity in access, participation, and success in Ohio's specialty court dockets using their Racial and Ethnic Disparities (RED) assessment tool. The specialty court dockets in Ohio routinely provide the Ohio Supreme Court demographic information for individuals referred, accepted, and graduating from these dockets. Data pulled from three time points in 2021 suggests ongoing racial disparities at all three status points. Using data from three mental health courts situated in one large urban locale, we coded mental health court participants' criminal history data using county court records to determine if one cause of the observed disparities had to do with the courts' admissions criteria with respect to criminal history. The results and implications will be discussed.

Aniruddhan Ramesh, Computer Science
Project Advisor: Danny T.Y. Wu

Abstract: Research project management is crucial in academic hospitals due to its intensive involvement in research and clinical trials. Designing an application in a user-centered and workflow-compatible manner can prevent issues arising from the hospital's limited resources and various risks (e.g., financial risk and ethical misconduct). This study aimed to: 1) apply a hybrid method combining user-centered design and agile software development principles to develop a CRPMS; 2) assess the usability of the CRPMS and iteratively refine the application. A CRPMS was developed following user-centered design and agile software development principles and supported by a research core in a pediatric heart institute. In phase 1, the project management and budgeting pages of the CRPMS were simultaneously developed. In phase 2, the intake page of the CRPMS was developed. Usability testing was conducted in each phase, followed by a formative evaluation of the prototype. Qualitative data were analyzed to extract themes from the participant suggestions and views, and the usability evaluation metrics included the system usability scale (SUS), one-question score, and severity scores. In the first phase, the average SUS score was 88.65. Only 15% of these issues required user training to bridge the mental model with the system's functionality. In the second phase, the average SUS score was 87.1. There were a total of 71 usability issues revealed in the transcript analysis. To conclude, we developed a workflow-compatible and highly usable CRPMS in a pediatric heart institute. Future work includes further developing the CRPMS and expanding it outside the institute.

Tohonne Konare, Health Sciences (Pre-Medicine)
Project Advisor: Nitin Kamble

Abstract: Humans exist in an environment today that exposes them to all sorts of harmful stimuli, such as pollution, toxins, and ultraviolet radiation (UV-R). In the short run, these stimuli can cause reactive oxygen species (ROS), DNA damage, and even metabolic changes. Over time, photoaging, skin cancer, and, in extreme cases, death are all results of exposure to UV radiation without proper precautionary mechanisms. The current market treatments are various kinds of sunscreens. However, they can have detrimental health and environmental effects. The main goal of our project was to identify and implement a sustainable solution for the native skin microbiome to address various skin conditions. This solution was identified in marine ecosystems by means of mycosporin-like amino acids (MAAs). MAAs are secondary water-soluble metabolites that are both photostable and can serve as antioxidants. KEY FINDINGS: A commensal bacterial host, Staphylococcus epidermidis (S. epi), was engineered to express enzyme machinery responsible for synthesizing MAAs by using genetic engineering techniques and a synthetic biology toolkit. With the help of transposons, we anticipate engineering S. epi into an on-site and on-demand therapeutic delivery system to formulate an effective preventative method for skin cancer while eliminating the shortcomings of traditional sunscreens. In the future, we anticipate further engineering our platform for horizontal gene transfer (HGT) using transposon to respond to various environmental cues such as UV radiation, heavy metal ions, and environmental pollutants such as poly aromatic hydrocarbons for addressing various skin damages and skin conditions, making it a versatile novel platform.

Carson Campola, Neuroscience: Neuropsychology
Project Advisor: Jayme McReynolds

Abstract: Cocaine use has increased in the US in recent years, and more people with Cocaine Use Disorder are moderately to severely impacted by the condition than in more common use disorders like Marijuana Use Disorder and Alcohol Use Disorder. Additionally, cocaine use has more severe immediate physiological effects, like a heart attack, than the use of substances like marijuana and alcohol. It is thought that stress can influence the intake behavior of cocaine-addicted animals and that addiction and stress can affect glial cells in areas of the brain associated with addiction and reward. For this reason, self-administration of cocaine was used and, in some subjects, combined with a stressful shock to test this, after which their brains were imaged and their glial cells counted. The outcome of this study could further elucidate the mechanisms of cocaine use disorder and demonstrate the ways that brains can change in response to addiction.