In a Board of Regents meeting on June 10, the Undergraduate Research Stimulus Awards were approved for 19 Eastern Michigan University (EMU) students.
19 students along with the support of a faculty member will have their scholarly research supported by the award. The student will receive a $2,000 fellowship that will go directly into their student credit and paid over the semester, and the faculty mentor may receive up to $500 that may go toward certain needs that may aid the research project such as the use of a lab, studio supplies, or equipment.
Nine students were awarded for the winter 2021 semester awards, and 10 students were awarded for the summer 2021 semester awards. A total of $38,000 was awarded between the two groups of students. Faculty members in the winter 2021 recipients received up to $4,233 in total, and faculty members in the summer 2021 recipients received up to $4,597 in total.
Behind the awards
The awards started in 2010 to interest students who had not previously thought of doing any research, and it has garnered great success through multiple majors. A student must have a faculty member who will be partnering with them for the project and then must write a couple pages proposing the project alongside the faculty mentor writing on how they will help the student accomplish the project's goals.
There are two deadlines for the awards: Nov. 1 for the winter semester and Feb. 15 for the summer term. Students are notified about a month after the deadlines if they were awarded.
Wade Tornquist, interim associate provost and associate vice president for Graduate Studies and Research as well as a professor in chemistry, oversees the award process. Tornquist’s experience has been a great one as he helps students and faculty members by supporting them through the awards, and he commends the deserved hard work of the students.
“It’s a fun job because we get to work with them and at those positive points in their lives...It’s meeting and interacting with lots of positive people,” Tornquist said.
Alongside Tornquist, Harriet Lindsay, faculty associate for Undergraduate Research and as well as a chemistry professor, was also greatly involved in the process of the awards as she facilitates the URS program. Lindsay chairs the committee that awards the undergraduate research stimulus program, in which she reviews the proposals and makes recommendations to Tornquist on which projects were strong enough to be rewarded.
Lindsay also works with students and faculty to prepare successful project proposals through workshops she runs twice a year in advance to the award application deadlines. She hopes that continuing to help facilitate the relationship between students and faculty members will provide advantages to students where they might not find them elsewhere and provide the publication benefits that could help students with their careers later.
“Our point is just to advance the careers of our students while building really great professional relationships with our faculty members,” Lindsay said.
Winter 2021 Award Recipients
The Winter 2021 award recipients of the Undergraduate Research Stimulus Awards were:
Partnered with faculty member Dr. Xiangdong Che on the research project: “Remote Vehicle Data Gathering and Processing.”
Partnered with faculty member Dr. Katherine Greenwald on the research project: “Vocal Analysis of the Newly Described Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog.”
Partnered with faculty member Dr. Adam Briggs on the research project: "Determining the Prevalence of Children with Autism who Experience Delays to Behavioral Therapy in Michigan and Understanding the Needs of their Families.”
Partnered with faculty member Dr. Annemarie Kelly on the research project: “Infant Mortality in the United States and Canada: A Comparison of Data and Health Policy Trends.”
Partnered with faculty member Dr. John DeHoog on the research project: "Small Architecture: Prefabricated Modular Spaces.”
Partnered with faculty member Dr. Cara Shillington on the research project: "Growth Rates & Metabolism in 5 Tarantula Species: Support for the Pace of Life Syndrome.”
Partnered with faculty member Dr. Cory Emal on the research project: “Replacement of Hydrazide Moieties in Novel Inhibitors of Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor-1.”
Partnered with faculty member Dr. Kristi Judd on the research project: “Comparing Watershed Run Off and WWTP Effluents as Sources of Microplastics to the Huron River.”
Partnered with faculty member Dr. Steven Backues on the research project: "The Effect of Autophagy Related Protein 10 and its Mutants on Autophagosome Size and Number.”
Jaimie Barr is an EMU graduate of the winter 2021 semester who majored in psychology and neuroscience interdisciplinary studies and minored in human nutrition and human biology along with a psychology concentration in applied behavior analysis. She partnered with Dr. Adam Briggs, a professor in psychology, for her research project. Barr was one of the nine students who was awarded amongst the winter 2021 semester recipients and benefited from the award when conducting the project in the previous winter semester.
Barr’s research topic that was supported by the award was “Determining the Prevalence of Children with Autism Who Experience Delays to Behavioral Therapy in Michigan and Understanding the Needs of Their Families.” Barr got the idea for the research project from a conversation she had with Briggs about how it might be difficult for caregivers of children with autism to have access to behavioral services during the pandemic.
“It was just when Covid hit, we were talking about how difficult it would be for all these caregivers now that they were not having access to all these behavioral services,” Barr said. “And so out of that we started to wonder, what is it really like out there for parents? What services do they have access to? What do they need? And we wanted to start to develop a curriculum, but of course, before we developed a curriculum, we decided let’s see what’s out there right now, what do parents really want.”
Barr was encouraged to apply for the award by Briggs. From it came many benefits- not just for the award itself, but also in terms of helping Barr on her journey in research, which Briggs encouraged by also inviting her to one of his research courses that lead to their partnership. He brought the awards to the attention of Barr and commended the University and its efforts to support student research.
“The University does such a nice job of putting these types of programs and awards in place to support the work of students and faculty, and I think that really means a lot,” Briggs said.
Barr was supported by the award as it helped her have a source of income while working on the project. She hopes that by conducting this research project there will be a better the needs of children with autism and the needs of their families in getting behavioral therapy. Briggs also remarked on how helpful the application process and the award process. It was also encouraging of the relationship between mentors and students throughout the procession of the project and how that in itself is a great experience.
Summer 2021 Recipients
The summer 2021 award recipients of the Undergraduate Research Stimulus Awards were:
Partnered with faculty member Dr. Ellen Koch on the research project: "Fear Acceptance Versus Fear Reduction for Proper Extinction Learning in Augmented Reality Exposure Therapy.”
Carlos Mellado Fritz
Partnered with faculty member Dr. Brittany Albaugh on the research project: "Understanding the Difference in Thermal Stability of UHRF2."
Partnered with faculty member Dr. Steven Backues on the research project: "Optimization of Compucell 3D to Mimic Autophagic Body Clustering.”
Partnered with faculty member Dr. Paul Kominsky on the research project: "Investigate the Feasibility of Carbon Dioxide in an Applied Particle Image Velocimetry System.”
Partnered with faculty member: Dr. Lynne Shetron-Rama on the research project, “The Effects of Yerba Santa on Haemophilus Species.”
Partnered with faculty member: Dr. Aaron Liepman on the research project: "Analysing the Temperature Response of GGT1, a Photorespiratory Aminotransferase.”
Partnered with faculty member: Dr. Christopher Gellasch on the research project: "Source Tracking of Chemical and Microbiological Contaminants in Millers Creek.”
Partnered with faculty member Dr. Heather Shouldice on the research project: "The Current Status of LGBTQ+ Inclusivity in U.S. Choral Classrooms.”
Partnered with faculty member Dr. Meriam Caboral-Stevens on the research project: “Nursing Student Lockdown Fatigue."
Partnered with faculty member Dr. Zuzana Tomas on the research project: "Examining K-12 English as a Second Language Teachers’ Use of Resources on Promoting Racial Equity."
Amongst the summer 2021 semester recipients, Sydney Timmer, a current senior majoring in K-12 vocal musical education, is partnering with Heather Shouldice, an associate professor of music education, for her project. Timmer’s project that is to be supported by the award and currently being conducted is “The Current Status of LGBTQ+ Inclusivity in U.S. Choral Classrooms.”
Since her freshman year, Timmer and Shouldice have discussed conducting a research project. This year will be the first time they will be able to conduct their first official research project and be able to collect data and analyze it.
Timmer got the idea for the project based on a final project in another course in which she began to explore how to vocally train transgender singers. Timmer saw that there was little research on the topic of where choral classrooms stood on LGBTQ+ inclusivity.
Shouldice had encouraged Timmer to apply for the award, and Timmer’s experience in applying and then later coming to find out she had become a recipient of the award was exciting.
“It was very exciting,” Timmer said. “Coming into Eastern I always knew it was a goal of mine to do some sort of research and come out of my University experience with some sort of research...So finding out that I was awarded this and that I was able to have the opportunity to focus on research during the summer and really spend my time doing something for this it was just so exciting. I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity.”
Despite initial challenges in navigating the survey questions to be created for the research project, Timmer hopes that by conducting this research project through the summer that there will be a baseline of data that views what LGBTQ+ inclusivity looks like in choral classrooms. From the research Timmer hopes to inspire teachers to start including inclusive practices in their classrooms.
For Timmer, the award has been helping the monetary costs that come with approving and sending out the survey. In the future, the award may help Timmer share the results of the research at conferences. Shouldice also noted that the award may help other students in relieving the burden they may have trying to dedicate time at school with other concerns such as work.
“I think this is really helpful for relieving some of the burden for our students,” Shouldice said. “At EMU we have a lot of students who work, who support themselves in part or in full. And if they’re spending all their time on work they don’t have as much time to engage in these thoughtful activities...I think this stimulus award is a great opportunity to help our students earn some money to support themselves in exchange for the time that they’re devoting to the research project.”
To learn more about the awards and other undergraduate research opportunities visit the Undergraduate Research website.