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Communications and Marketing

Richter 2018 research projects

The 43 outstanding first-year students who have been selected to do research on campus this summer through the College’s well-regarded Richter Scholar Summer Research Program.

The following are Richter Scholars participating in Option I, conducting their research from May 15 to June 8:

Amanda Forshey ’21 (Tolland, CT)
Assistant Professor of Chemistry Nilam Shah
“Developing Sensors using Nanoparticles and Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy”

Amanda is investigating nanoparticle synthesis techniques and determining optimal conditions for detecting molecules. She is working with her faculty mentor to fabricate nanoparticles, learn how to use SERS instrumentation, and determine optimal conditions to obtain good SERS spectra. This research provides Amanda with a deeper understanding of nanoparticles and how spectra are used to identify molecules.


Amanda Lee ’21 (Skokie, IL), Jan Roessler ’21 (Hellenthal, Germany) and Molly Gniady ’21 (Lakewood, IL)
Professor of Economics and Business Robert Lemke
“Investigating Inter-vivos Transfers among High-Wealth Individuals with the Surveys of Consumer Finance”

Amanda, Jan, and Molly are researching whether inter-vivos transfers— exchanges of property from one person to another while the giver is still alive—are largely due to tax-avoidance/tax-minimizing considerations or for altruistic purposes. The primary objectives of their research project are to download data and codebooks, write Strata programs that merge datasets over time, and replicate the Fed’s summary extract. 


Annmarie Buabeng ’21 (Schaumburg, IL)
Associate Professor of Chemistry Dawn Wiser and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Paul Gladen
“Computational Conformational Analysis for the Organic Chemistry Lab”

Annmarie will work jointly with Gladen and Wiser to develop a module for the Chemistry 220 laboratory that utilizes computational methods to explore conformational analysis in cyclic and acyclic molecules. A main focus of her research is learning to predict and rationalize molecular interactions and chemical reactivity. The project’s ultimate goal is to produce easily-followed, written instructions and corresponding short answer questions to allow students to independently complete the conformational modeling exercises.


Arleigh Kraker ’21 (Stillwater, MN) & Molly Schul ’21 (Delaware, OH)
Assistant Professor of Psychology Susan Long
“Working with a Sexual Assault Agency”

Arleigh and Molly are handling data and helping create reports about the counseling and prevention programming at the Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center. Their work will help the ZCenter understand the importance of how their work impacts their clients and the community. They also apply social learning theory in an attempt to comprehend why sexual assault occurs.


Audrey Taylor ’21 (Plainfield, IL) & Grace Atia ’21 (Kenilworth, IL)
Assistant Professor of Psychology Naomi Wentworth
“Attention, Engagement & Brain Waves”

Audrey and Grace are using brain wave measures to see what they can tell us about how an observer pays attention to, engages with, and processes visual information. They are designing tasks to test hypotheses about how different types of visual stimuli and task instructions affect brain wave recordings.


Britt Dahlin ’21 (Libertyville, IL)
Assistant Professor of Music Anne Barry
“Sight-Reading Curriculum for Choral Singers”

Britt is developing a sight-reading curriculum for the choir program that helps build students’ skills so that they have confidence in their knowledge of music. She is going to review the existing curriculum and evaluate what the choir program did in the past to help design a curriculum with a new approach, accommodating the various abilities of students in the College’s ensembles. Through her research, Britt is creating basic to intermediate-level exercises, assisting in choosing a selection of pieces that allow the singers to apply their new skills, and designing a booklet of these exercises and samples using a music-notation software.


Dipika Subramaniam ’21 (Mt. Pleasant, SC)
Assistant Professor of Mathematics Enrique Treviño
“Experimental Math”

Dipika’s work involves her selecting a challenge and collaborating with Treviño to apply useful algorithms to her research.  A number n is called triangular if it is the sum of the first n positive integers. McMullen showed that you can have sums of three consecutive triangular numbers equal a triangular number, but that you cannot have sums of four consecutive triangular numbers equal a triangular number. Dipika is working on proving (or disproving) that for all squares k greater than 4, there is a sequence of k consecutive triangular numbers for which the sum is also triangular.


Gregory Lammers ’21 (Beach Park, IL)
Assistant Professor of Psychology Naomi Wentworth
“Eye Movements and Insight”

Gregory is learning techniques to study where observers are looking and how they move their eyes. He is working hands-on with an ISCAN eye tracker, learning about infrared videography. Also, he is designing pilot studies to test his hypotheses about the relationship between the mind and eye movements.


Jake Ngugi ’21 (Sacramento, CA)
Assistant Professor of Art David Sanchez-Burr
“Kinetic Experimentation in Art and Technology”

Jake is conducting experimentation and designing interactive and responsive systems that react to environmental change. To explore the topic of kinetic experimentation in art and technology, Jake is building hybrids that combine digital process and materials experimentation to find out the most optimal ways to make objects respond to kinetic forces.


Jared Peterson ’21 (Redwood City, CA) & Zachary Klein ’21 (Liberty, MO)
Associate Professor of Politics James Marquardt
“Jane Addams: War, Peace, and World Order”

Jared and Zachary are focusing on Jane Addams’ “peace advocacy” in the realm of international relations, collecting and analyzing primary documents and secondary literature on the topic pre- and post-WWI. The data they collect will contribute to the Digital Chicago web page that several Richters created with Marquardt during the summer of 2017. Also, Marquardt plans to use the materials Jared and Zachary collect to launch a book project titled Jane Addams and the Great War.


Julie Lord ’21 (Dreieich, Germany)
Assistant Professor of History and African American Studies Courtney Cain
“Diasporic Ambassadors: Black Women, Pageants, and Building Diasporic Connections Between Haiti and Chicago during the 20th Century”

Julie is working on an project that examines the role of pageantry in diaspora building, specifically between Haiti and Chicago. In particular, the project looks at pageants and beauty contests as spaces of agency for black women to form diaspora cultural connections. She is conducting her research by reading and discussing secondary and primary sources as well as editing an article for publication.


Leslie Gonzales ’21 (Chicago, IL), Matthew McMahon ’21 (Highland Park, IL) & Bari “Zubair” Mohammed ’21 (Niles, IL)
Disque D. and Carol Gram Deane Professor of Biological Sciences Shubhik DebBurman
“Discovering amino acids in alpha-synuclein that regulate its toxicity in Parkinson’s Disease”

Leslie, Matthew, and Bari “Zubair” are joining a collaborative team of six to eight students to test several hypotheses concerning what regulates the misfolding of alpha-synuclein in Parkinson’s Disease. They are studying the properties of several novel fragments and familial mutations of the protein to examine pathological properties in yeast models. Additionally, they will learn to discuss and present the latest published discoveries through scientific journal clubs and discuss data at weekly lab meetings.


Madison Strejc ’21 (Erie, CO) & Zoe Walts ’21 (Naperville, IL)
Professor of Psychology Matthew Kelley
“Counterintuitive Cognition”

Madison and Zoe explore two counterintuitive memory phenomena—part-set cuing inhibition and collaborative inhibition—in relation to retrieval strategy disruption to see if certain cues impair memory performance. The two are reading and synthesizing recent literature on these topics, as well as learning how to analyze memory data. Also, they will design, prepare, and potentially pilot two to three studies that will run in the fall when the PSYC 110 classes return to campus, and these two Richter Scholars have the opportunity to join Professor Kelley in the lab to conduct proper data collection in the fall.


Maxwell Rowland ’21 (Salt Lake City, UT) & Sarah Stauber ’21 (Winthrop Harbor, IL)
Assistant Professor of History Rudi Batzell
“Chicago’s Changing Elite: Historical Social Network Analysis”

Maxwell and Sarah are studying inequality in the United States from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, using Chicago as an exemplary case. Some have called our modern society a “Second Gilded Age” of massive and widening economic and social inequality between the wealthy, influential, and well-connected elite and everyone else. Through their research, Maxwell and Sara are reading background information, analyzing archival research in newspapers and special collections to build and expand data, and looking at training and data visualization projects on a variety of social network software packages.


Olivia Grimmer ’21 (Spring Lake, MI)
Lecturer in History Cristina Groeger
“Emily Dickinson and the Natural World”

Olivia is researching how business or “commercial” courses” became popular as a form of school-based training in the early twentieth century. She is going to examine various documents to put together a timeline of when and where business courses were introduced in Chicago and who enrolled in them. Also, Olivia works with her faculty mentor to explore the role of class, gender, and race in shaping urban education and labor markets.


Omer Sadat ’21 (Kabul, Afghanistan)
Assistant Professor of Chemistry Paul Gladen
“Synthesis of Anti-Microbial Natural Products”

Omer’s research focuses on natural product synthesis and how they provide some competitive advantage to some organisms. He is joining an ongoing project focused on the synthesis of the chaetoxanthones, a small family of anti-malarial natural products. Omer is working hands-on with modern organic synthesis theory, laboratory technique, and structural analysis.


Paula Pelletier ’21 (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic)
Assistant Professor of History and African American Studies Courtney Cain
“Being Black and Bi-Cultural: Racial and Ethnic Identity formation of Haitian Americans in Chicago”

Paula is working on a project that examines black bicultural identities for 1.5 and 2nd generation Haitian Americans in Chicago. She is conducting research to answer the question of how Haitian Americans in Chicago balance their racial/ethnic backgrounds and identities? To accomplish this, she will be reading and discussing secondary and primary sources as well as editing an article for publication.


Rahul Tamta ’21 (Naperville, IL)
Assistant Professor of Finance Dimitra Papadovasilaki
“Financial Crises and the Human Behavior”

Rahul is researching how manias, panics, and crashes are formed throughout the business cycle. To form an opinion as to whether markets are inherently unstable or not, Rahul is reading and discussing texts with his faculty mentor as well as conducting financial experiments in a lab that examine human investment behavior under conditions of panic.


Sadaf Naushad ’21 (Saint Louis, MO)
Associate Professor of Spanish Chair Gizella Meneses
“Researching Latin American and Spanish Crime Fiction”

Sadaf is comparing classic crime and detective fiction to hard-boiled stories and their sub-genres. She is also examining the genre’s link to film and investigating the works’ socio-historical and political contexts. Her responsibilities include researching materials for this new course, reading many short-story crime narratives, and choosing readings to add to the course material.


Sarah Coffman ’21 (Oak Lawn, IL) & Siraj Ul Munir ’21 (Gilgit, Pakistan)
Associate Professor and Chair of Education Desmond Odugu
“Diversity, Inequity, & the Political History of American Education”

Sarah and Siraj are reviewing various texts to explore tensions between the ideals of freedom and equality and the reality of segregation and marginalization in U.S. education. Their research will help identify, review, and reorganize course content in light of contemporary U.S. political history.  


The following are Richter Scholars participating in Option II, conducting their research from May 21 to July 27:


Aaron O’Neill ’21 (Franklin, TN)
Associate Professor of Biology Flavia Barbosa
“Social Environment and Mating Behavior in an Acoustic Moth”

Aaron is investigating how the social environment affects mating behavior in the lesser wax moth, Achroia grisella. He is learning how to rear wax moths, perform behavioral experiments, and analyze the collected data. In addition, reading and discussing papers from primary literature will supplement his hands-on research.


Aleksandre Jgarkava ’21 (Tskneti, Georgia)
Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Glenn Adelson
“The Meaning of Flowers: The Differences Between Christianity and Buddhism in the Symbolic Representation of Flowers.”

Aleksandre is researching how flowers relate to different cultures, specifically the religions of Christianity and Buddhism. He is reading books and articles to conduct his research, and is giving oral and written reports to his professor to present the information he finds. He hopes to discover more about the meaning and role that different flowers have in Christianity and Buddhism and what those roles tell us about these religions.


Alexandra “Lexi” Dejneka ’21 (Northbrook, IL)
Professor of Biology Karen Kirk
“Mutating the Telomere”

Lexi is working in a lab to learn more about telomere function. She is working with Professor Kirk and a group of advanced students to learn about designing and executing novel experiments. Her work will focus on using a genetic model organism where very little is known, a filamentous fungus called Aspergillus.


Blakely Drake ’21 (Charleston, IL)
Gustav E. Beerly Jr. Assistant Professor of Biology Sean Menke
“Explorations of Urban Wilderness”

Blakely is monitoring ant communities along transects moving from the center of Chicago into surrounding rural environments. In collaboration with Lincoln Park Zoo, Blakely is learning how to design and perform her own experiments with the goal of presenting and publishing her work at a national meeting or in a scientific publication.


Egor Plotnikov ’21 (Moscow, Russia)
Assistant Professor of Computer Science Sugata Banerji
“Computer Vision with Artificial Intelligence”

Egor is writing computer programs that try to understand, interpret, and classify images. Due to the number of vision problems that could be solved with a better understanding and innovative application of these programs, Egor and his faculty mentor are working together to find answers to questions facing researchers in the computer science field today.


Estella Tcaturian ’21 (Moscow, Russia)
Disque D. and Carol Gram Deane Professor of Biological Sciences Shubhik DebBurman
“Discovering Molecules & Mechanisms to Combat Parkinson’s Disease”

Estella is researching how certain human disease-linked proteins misfold and if such folding errors can be suppressed or reversed. She is joining current student researchers who are testing several hypotheses that test what regulates the misfolding of alpha-synuclein in Parkinson’s Disease. As part of this research project, Estella will attend a prestigious scientific conference in Chicago in mid-June.


Hanna Sarekanno ’21 (Tallinn, Estonia)
Associate Professor and Chair of Education Desmond Odugu
“Restricted Chicago: Housing Discrimination and Educational Disparities in Chicagoland Area”

Hanna’s research focuses on digitally documenting lesser-known aspects of Chicago history as part of an ongoing LFC Digital Chicago project, a Melon Foundation-funded program. She is investigating how restrictive covenants strengthened socio-economic divisions in Cook County, which shapes Chicago’s vastly unequal educational environment. Hanna is mapping over 200 subdivisions onto U.S. Census tracts over eight decades and using the corresponding census data to create easily accessible data outputs.  


Hannah Gurholt ’21 (Beloit, Wisconsin)
Associate Professor of Biology Alex Shingleton
“Sweet Research: The Effect of High Sugar Diet on Growth and Development in Drosophila”  

Hannah is exploring why male and female flies have a different response to high sugar diets during development. When female fly larvae are fed a high sugar diet during development they produce smaller adults, while male larvae do not show the same response. It is possible to masculinize different parts of the female body, and Hannah will be doing this in female flies to see if it reduces their sensitivity to sugar. If it does, Hannah will have discovered the part of the body that accounts for female sugar-sensitivity.


Joanna Makhlouf ’21 (Beirut, Lebanon)
Assistant Professor of Education Jacquelynn Popp
“Exploring Elementary Teachers’ Perspectives about History Instruction”

Joanna is conducting interviews with elementary teachers to investigate their perspectives about history content, history teaching, and student learning in history. She is assisting her faculty mentor in developing interview protocols, conducting and recording teacher interviews, and organizing/analyzing the interview data.


Kayla Goelz ’21 (Oak Creek, WI)
Associate Professor of English Benjamin Goluboff
“Emily Dickinson and the Natural World”

Kayla is reviewing Emily Dickinson’s letters and poetry, as well as contemporary scholarship on Dickinson and ecocritical theory, to understand the poet’s interactions with her physical environment. She is conducting this research to answer the following question: How widely was the story of botanist William Bartram’s discovery of the Franklinia alatamaha covered in American periodicals during Dickinson’s lifetime?


Natalie Briggs ’21 (Aurora, OH)
Associate Professor and Chair of English Carla Arnell
“Metaphysical Fantasy Fiction: 20th-Century British Novelists and the Spiritual Gothic Genre”

Natalie is conducting research to lay the groundwork for a new scholarly article on several Underhill contemporaries who were equally interested in fictional explorations of the occult and the mystical. She is examining and comparing the works of these authors to determine the literary connections and differences among them, as well as exploring how they develop or contribute innovations to the spiritual gothic genre.


Peter Simmeth ’21 (Glendale, CA)
Assistant Professor of Chemistry Erica Schultz
“Removing Environmentally Persistent Pharmaceuticals from Waste Water”

Peter is exploring the use of organic chemistry to modify pharmaceuticals into derivatives bacteria can metabolize. He is developing “traditional” organic reactions that are non-toxic and efficient under conditions that bacterial cultures can grow. The goal of Peter’s research is to modify pharmaceutical compounds into derivatives more easily degraded by bacteria and other living organisms, therefore making drugs more effective.


Uche Okeke ’21 (Rockford, IL)
Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Brian McCammack
“Race and Environment in Post-World War II Chicago”

Uche is exploring the intersection of race and the environment through primary and secondary source readings as well as research visits in Chicago. Looking at topics such as the environmental and public health implications of Martin Luther King’s Chicago Freedom Movement, the Chicago chapter of the Black Panthers, and the social justice origins of Chicago’s Open Lands will inform Uche’s research. Her project also involves uploading archival photographs and drafting regular research reports.