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College of Arts and Sciences Newsroom

Collaborative Research Projects

University of Dayton biology major Andrea Vietti is learning engineering and computer coding skills this summer to help prepare her to work as part of a transdisciplinary research team.

Vietti, a senior from Dublin, Ohio, is one of 10 students participating in a new Integrative Science and Engineering Center program, the ISE Summer CoRPs — short for Collaborative Research Projects.

The program provides undergraduates with fellowships to conduct full-time summer research in the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics. Students are paired with two or three faculty co-mentors from different academic disciplines to jointly research a relevant challenge in the STEM fields.

Vietti is working on a project to study the evolution of bacterial antibiotic resistance with Yvonne Sun, assistant professor of biology, and Timothy Reissman, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

With Reissman, she is building and optimizing an automatic image scanner to create time-lapse photos of bacterial colony growth. She will then use the device in Sun’s laboratory to determine environmental conditions that may influence the development of antibiotic resistance, with the goal of slowing or preventing it.

“In the classroom, as a biology major, we don’t get to see all the other aspects of science,” Vietti said. “Being in this program, it is great to see the mechanical engineering side of it. I’m also going to learn how to code, which is really awesome — I’m excited about that.”

The Summer CoRPs program provides students with hands-on experience in team-based research to prepare them to work across multiple disciplines and to help them acquire broader perspectives — beyond their individual majors — in addressing research challenges, said Doug Daniels, ISE Center executive director.

Students also gain experience working as part of diverse teams toward a shared goal, which is the dominant method of STEM research across the globe.

“By giving them opportunities to join teams like that here at UD and practice those skills, we are providing salient experience for workforce or postgraduate preparation,” Daniels said.

Students also attend workshops on professional and technical writing, and leveraging diversity and inclusion to enhance teamwork, among other topics. They receive a $5,000 fellowship to help cover summer living expenses.

The program encourages College of Arts and Sciences and School of Engineering faculty to participate in transdisciplinary research. Faculty may receive a $1,000 reimbursement for research supplies after completing the program.

Department of Geology faculty co-mentors Zelalem Bedaso and Shuang-ye Wu are collaborating to study the effect of climate change on the water balance of Grand Lake St. Marys in Ohio. Each brings a different perspective to the project: assistant professor Bedaso is a geochemist; associate professor Wu is a climatologist.

They are working with environmental biology major Abby Miller, a junior from Mingo Junction, Ohio. She is collecting water samples from the lake and analyzing the water isotopes, along with historical precipitation and temperature data, to examine how global warming is impacting the lake’s recurring toxic algae blooms.

"A geologist working with a climatologist and having a biology student is remarkable, because — not only for Abby as a student, but for us — it’s an opportunity for us to train the next generation of scientists in a multidisciplinary approach,” Bedaso said.

Students benefit from learning to analyze problems from a multidisciplinary point of view, because issues such as climate change involve many of the Earth’s interconnected systems and sometimes can’t be addressed from just one discipline, he said.

Similarly, faculty often can advance their research, increase funding opportunities and expand their students’ horizons by working with colleagues from other departments or institutions, or attending conferences outside of their discipline.

Reissman said programs like the ISE Summer CoRPs can start and sustain such connections. They also allow students to see interesting research that wouldn’t have been done if it was just one researcher working within their own discipline.

“This allows us to do things that we normally wouldn’t have been thinking about and have conversations that allow us to explore: ‘What are the new possibilities,’” Reissman said. “As a fairly new person at UD, I like that a lot of people are friendly and willing to try these collaborations.”

Students will present their research at 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 31, in the Sears Recital Hall of the Jesse Philips Humanities Center and at the University’s 2019 Brother Joseph W. Stander Symposium during the spring semester.

Please see the accompanying chart for the full list of Summer CoRPs projects and participants.

For more information, please visit the ISE Summer CoRPs website.

  • - Dave Larsen, communication coordinator, College of Arts and Sciences

2018 ISE Summer CoRPs Projects

Collaborative research to study the evolution of bacterial antibiotic resistance Andrea Vietti, Senior in Biology Yvonne Sun (Biology), Timothy Reissman (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering)
Comparison of physiochemical properties of recombinant and native food proteins Ronald Knapp, Senior in Chemical Engineering Don Comfort (Chemical and Material Engineering), Doug Hansen (UDRI Corrosion Science and Engineering)
Computational modeling of ecosystems Zeyu Wang, Senior in Mathematics Alan Veliz-Cuba (Mathematics), Catherine Kublik (Mathematics)
Effect of climate change on lake water balance: A case study at Grand Lake St. Mary's, Ohio Abby Miller, Junior in Environmental Biology Zelalem Bedaso (Geology), Shuang-ye Wu (Geology)
Establishing analytical methods to measure short fatty acids in fecal samples Ryan Restrepo, Senior in Biology Yvonne Sun (Biology), Erick Vasquez (Chemical and Materials Engineering), Judit Beagle (Chemistry)
Finding new targets of amyloid plaque mediated neuurodegeneration using Drosophila eye model Claire Gerber, Senior in Biology
Ian Tobal, Senior in Premedicine
Amit Singh (Biology), Muhammad Usman (Mathematics)
Identifying oncogenic pathways in Drosophila tumor models Katie Parker, Junior in Biology Madhuri Kango-Singh (Biology), Pothitos Pitychoutis (Biology)
Insectile Neurochemistry: developing a novel HPLC-based method to assess neurotransmitters in the grasshopper brain Ben Klocke, Senior in Biology Chelse Prather (Biology), Pothitos Pitychoutis (Biology)
Mechanistic studies of laser-induced color changes in the model visual pigment bacteriorhodosin Alexis Smith, Junior in Medicinal-Pharmaceutical Chemistry Judit Beagle (Chemistry), Angela Mammana (Chemistry), Mark Masthay (Chemistry)
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