Burnett Research Scholars Student Research Profiles

Summer 2013 Burnett Research Scholars Grant Recipients

Jessica Brandt

Major:
Psychology

Faculty mentor:
Dr. Chrysalis Wright, Department of Psychology

Project title:
Sexually suggestive songs and singers: Music media and its effects on the sexualization of women.

Project summary:
My project will examine the relationship between the media and sexualization of women, specifically the music industry. It is proposed that men and women who are more frequently exposed to sexually degrading artists will be more permissive towards sex and will hold more traditional and sexist views towards women. At this point in the project, a questionnaire has been developed, which has received IRB approval, and data has been collected. This summer will focus on the transformation and interpretation of the data and results.

What is your area of research interest?
I am currently working with Dr. Chrysalis Wright in the Media & Migration Lab which focuses on both media (including music, television, movies, etc) and immigration. My project focuses on media influences.


How did you get started in undergraduate research?

I am fortunate enough to be in the Western Region, which is the only region with a research lab. My first semester with UCF, I took Statistical Methods with Dr. Wright. We did a research project in her class, which opened the door for me. After that, I attended the Summer Research Academy and was offered a position in the MM Lab. I began working with the lab in Fall 2012. I also started my HIM project that semester. This grant is the second "scholarship" I have received for my work. I was also selected as the Senior Research Assistant for the lab and will fill that role until I graduate in December 2013.

How has the Burnett Research Scholars grant helped you achieve the goals of our research project?
The BRS grant will allow me the ability to fully focus on my research and the presentation of the results. Living in the region, it is often difficult to travel for research and academic purposes. The grant will provide me with funds to support any sort of travel and any miscellaneous needs that come up during the research process. I am extremely thankful for this grant, as I currently pay for school with loans. This will help to alleviate some of that burden.

What are your future academic and professional goals?
This fall semester will be a time for me to focus on graduate school applications. I have a few programs in mind, but I am still undecided of the exact path I want to follow. I do, however, know that my current goals are to receive my Master's degree so that I can enter the industry sooner, rather than later. I am fortunate to have a husband who has supported me and put me through school, so I will have to return the favor! Once he is caught up with me, I will then consider the option of furthering my graduate studies.

In your opinion, what is the best thing about being an undergraduate researcher?
UCF, believe it or not, offers many opportunities for students to get involved in research- especially in the Western Region. Prior to my experiences, I was terrified of research. The Summer Research Academy helped me to overcome some of those fears, and being involved in the MM Lab and HIM has afforded me hands on experience. My research project which was done in Dr. Wright's Statistics class is currently being presented at the APS National Convention and I intend on submitting my completed HIM project for presentation at next years conference. All of the work that I've done, including presentations and scholarship/grant awards, has helped to mold me into a student who will be well prepared for graduate school.
 
 

Christopher Bates

Major:
Interdisciplinary Studies

Faculty mentor:
Dr. David Gay, Department of Sociology

Project title:
Hidden in plain sight: Proposed study of the "spiritual but not religious" phenomenon.

Project summary:
I am conducting a series of interviews with members of twelve step recovery programs who self-identify as "Spiritual but Not Religious." Our goal is to uncover how they understand the concept of spirituality and to discover if there are common factors leading to this self-designation.

What is your area of research interest?
I am most interested in the ways in which religion and religious ideology function within society to influence group norms, focus individual motivations, and shape societal philosophies.

How did you get started in undergraduate research?
In the spring semester of 2013, I asked a professor-mentor for suggestions on where I should look for the answer to a specific question: "How do people - people who don't consider themselves 'religious' - understand the concept of 'spirituality?'" He made a few comments and I went digging. Weeks later I returned to him, frustrated. There simply wasn't much peer-reviewed work on the issue to find. "Well, Christopher," he had said. "It appears that you have uncovered an issue ripe for original research."

How has the Burnett Research Scholars grant helped you to achieve the goals of your research project?
There are a number of research tools and professional services that are necessary to execute a interview-based project of this nature. The BRS grant will subsidize costs associated with recording and transcription services, printing, distribution of volunteer flyers, as well as transportation costs.

What are your future academic and professional goals?
At this point, I wish to continue my exploration of the religious phenomenon in as many inter- and intra-disciplinary fields as possible. I believe that my final destination will be a college classroom and making whatever small contributions that I can to the house of learning.

In your opinion, what is the best thing about being an undergraduate researcher?
The best thing about being an undergraduate researcher is freedom; the freedom to give my curiosity free reign. I am thrilled at the chance to find the "unanswered question" and search out something new and unknown.

 

Jacob Kimmel

Major:
Biotechnology

Faculty mentor:
Dr. Kiminobu Sugaya, Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences

Project title:
Characterization and analysis of temporality in the induced pluripotent pathway using quantitative imaging techniques.

Project summary:
Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell technology has altered the landscape of regenerative medicine in the short time since its introduction. Allowing for the dedifferentiation of somatic cells to a pluripotent state resembling embryonic stem cells, iPS technology provides a potential avenue for the generation of desired cell phenotypes from a patient's own somatic cells. However, despite the level of research in the field, little is known about the temporality of the iPS reprogramming process. The project will use an NIH developed computational image classifier called WND-CHARM to identify morphological transitions during the reprogramming process, as well as to predict the effectiveness of reprogramming in a given culture. Methodologically, this entails the growth, imaging, and dedifferentiation of multiple adult stem cell lines to create image time courses for analysis using the image classifier. Identification of distinct transition points in the reprogramming process may allow for increased efficiency in a variety of iPS protocols, as well as to reduce the scope of an eventual molecular inquiry into the nature of reprogramming. On a highly practical level, a classifier capable of predicting the efficacy of reprogramming in a culture would allow for early stage identification of viable cultures for downstream applications, reducing costs and accelerating the production of downstream products.

What is your area of research interest?
My primary research interests are in developmental and stem cell biology, neuroscience, and computational biology.

How did you get started in undergraduate research?
I was fortunate enough to attend a high school with an outstanding science research program. I began working in my high school's BSL II lab prior to my involvement with any university, but was introduced to Dr. Kiminobu Sugaya much later by a science fair judge. During my senior year of high school, Dr. Sugaya was generous enough to let me work in his laboratory and that relationship persisted after I began my undergraduate studies.

How has the Burnett Research Scholars grant helped you to achieve the goals of your research project?
The Burnett Research Scholars grant will cover the cost of laboratory expenses, including cell culture supplies and standard molecular inquiry reagents, for this exploratory study. WIthout this grant, it is unlikely that I would have been able to obtain funding for such a preliminary project in the near future. On a personal level, the BRS grant has allowed for me to remain at UCF over the summer term to continue my research, an expense I would not have been able to afford otherwise.

What are your future academic and professional goals?
Academically, I'd like to earn a PhD in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology. On the subject of careers, I'm as of yet undecided whether to pursue a path in academia or industry, but I am sure of my passion for discovery though research and plan to continue on in some facet of the research field.

In your opinion, what is the best thing about being an undergraduate researcher?
As a student and a scholar, you inherently spend the majority of your time consuming the knowledge that others have produced. Research offers the opportunity to generate knowledge of your own, to unravel the truths nature is hiding just beneath the surface. I find that the opportunity to contribute to humanity's broader understanding of our world is one of the most powerful rewards any experience could offer.