The Ohio State University at Marion


Research opportunities growing on campus

As one of a small handful of tier one research universities in Ohio, The Ohio State University provides undergraduates the opportunity to conduct meaningful research in a host of fields.

Ohio State Marion is a big part of the university's research tradition. Students have the opportunity each year to take part in the Denman Undergraduate Research Forum on Columbus campus, Marion campus students are also able to display and talk about their research at the annual Undergraduate Research Colloquium, held Friday, April 20, 2018 in the campus's state-of-the-art Science and Engineering Building.

Students who take advantage of honors and research opportunities in Marion, gain a real academic advantage, working alongside expert faculty, who guide and mentor students throughout the research process. The skills they gain through undergraduate research can inform and positively impact a senior thesis, grad school application, or a future career.

PHOTO GALLERY >>> 2018 UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH COLLOQUIUM AT OHIO STATE MARION <<<


Check out student research abstracts below....


“Development of an Artificial Backpropagation Neural Network for Classification of Irises”

Ruksana Kabealo
Class Rank - Sophomore
Major - Computer Science and Engineering
Adivsor - Dr. Golrokh Mirzaei

Abstract: Artificial Neural Networks (ANN) are computational networks inspired by the biological network of neurons that comprise the human brain. These networks consist of anywhere from tens to millions of simple but densely interconnected processors. Once configured, ANNs undergo training where they are familiarized with pre-labeled data. This allows them to associate traits with labels, in order to process and categorize future information. To evaluate the effectiveness of the network, it is tested through processing new, unfamiliar data. One of the main applications of ANNs is classification, a form of learning where the goal is to assign data to a category. A backpropagation ANN, a type of multi-layer, feed-forward network trained according to error back propagation, was developed using MATLAB to classify a dataset of Irises into three categories: Iris Setosa, Iris Versicolour, and Iris Virginica, based on four attributes: sepal length, sepal width, petal length, and petal width. The optimal configuration of the neural network was found and compared to other attempted configurations. The network was evaluated by accuracy rate, sensitivity, and specificity.

“Novel Derivative of THC as Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitor”

Jennifer Detwiler
Class Rank: Senior
Major: Biology

Christopher Roscoe
Class Rank: Senior
Major: Biology

Advisor: Dr. Ryan Yoder

Abstract: Tetrahydrocannabinol has shown to be an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, at least in part. The acetylcholinesterase enzyme is responsible for hydrolyzing the acetylcholine molecule at the synaptic cleft, which terminates the nerve impulse. As an inhibitor, THC moderately inhibits the hydrolysis of acetylcholine but it interacts well with the peripheral anionic site, which prevents the protein from acting as a chaperone in the aggregation of amyloid plaques. Amyloid plaques are a key marker in the progression Alzheimer’s disease. By temporary inhibition of acetylcholinesterase, it is possible to reduce the build-up of plaques over time. The following research utilizes molecular modeling techniques to design a novel derivative of THC that preserves its interaction with the peripheral anionic site, improves its inhibition at the reactive site, and reduces psychoactive properties by limiting its selectivity at the CB1 receptor.

“The role of gestures in the mental representation of plurals”

Madeline Nicol
Class Rank: Senior
Major: Psychology
Advisor: Dr. Nikole Patson

Abstract: The present study investigated what effect hand gestures have on the conceptual representations listeners construct when hearing a plural noun (e.g., cats) produced in speech. Participants watched videos of an actor verbally saying a sentence while simultaneously producing hand gestures. After each video, two pictures were presented, and participants were tasked with selecting the picture that best matched the scene described in the video. The critical manipulation was the type of gesture used in the video; either punctuated, which is a discrete movement, or unpunctuated, which is continuous. In each set of picture choices, one picture displayed the plural items from the sentence as a collective pile, and the other picture displayed the items as distributed, or scattered. It was predicted that the collective picture would be selected significantly more frequently following an unpunctuated gesture. The results show an opposite effect, in that participants in the punctuated condition demonstrated a preference for the collective picture. This supports the idea that gestures have influence over conceptual representations of plural nouns, although not for the reasons originally predicted. Other characteristics of the gestures (e.g., shape) may have a stronger influence over representations, however future work is necessary.

“Autonomous Monorail for the Smart City of Columbus”

Abby Kitchen (kitchen.156)
Class Rank: Sophomore
Major: Electrical Engineering

Dallas Finley
Class Rank: Sophomore
Major: Mechanical Engineering

Jason Joehlin
Class Rank: Freshman
Major: Chemical Engineering

Advisor: Dr. Mostafa Elsaadany

Abstract: The Smart City Columbus project is a great initiative that tries to solve persistent problems that the local as well as global communities are facing. With a greater population, comes greater pollution. In order to preserve the planet, measures must be taken to reduce the pollution, like having more energy efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles. The purpose of the project was to design, test, and present an Advanced Energy Vehicle (AEV) that can transport people from Linden to Easton and Polaris. In order to follow the Smart City Columbus project constraints, it was necessary to optimize efficiency and safety, and minimize cost. The team initially came up with four possible designs then used a rubric to screen and score each individual designs, and chose an AEV design that was lightweight, energy efficient, and provided safety for its passengers. Once a final design was established, it was time to start running tests that would optimize the AEV. The materials test was done to discover which materials would increase the distance that the AEV goes and use the least amount of energy, while also providing safety. After performing the tests, the team decided to use acrylic. The propeller configuration test was conducted to determine how the type of the propellers affect the performance of the AEV. The team decided to use the 3030 propellers because of their significant impact on the distance travelled by the AEV. Finally, the energy analysis test was conducted to determine how the forces on the AEV affect its energy consumption. One major constraint of the project was the cost, which is composed of the cost of the parts for the vehicle and the costs for the energy that is consumed when the AEV runs on the track. There a budget of six-hundred thousand project dollars to use for parts and energy. It has been a priority to remain under the budget that was set by the project administrators. After conducting several tests and experiments our group believes that the AEV designed is both cost effective and energy efficient. Both the method for moving the AEV and the parts used affects the efficiency of the vehicle. It has been determined that using a light yet sturdy material and a method of greater propulsion significantly increases efficiency. Through more research on methods for braking and propulsion, a more efficient vehicle is easily attainable.

“The oldest semi-aquatic rodents in North America: evidence from the ankle morphology of two fossil beavers (Rodentia, Castoridae)”

Christian A Harris
Class Rank: Junior
Major: Biology
Advisor: Dr. Jonathan Calede

Abstract: Although modern beavers are well-known semi-aquatic rodents, the fossil record of the beaver family is rich in burrowing forms. In fact, despite a long evolutionary history stretching back to almost 37 million years ago, the oldest known semi-aquatic beaver in North America, which is also the oldest known semi-aquatic rodent on the continent, is only around 18 million years old. Recently, fossils of a new group of beavers, called Microtheriomys, were uncovered in Oregon. They are known only from partial jaws and teeth and their phylogenetic affinities suggest that they may be semi-aquatic. In the absence of preserved skeletons, this hypothesis has remained untested. I here present new fossil remains of Microtheriomys from Montana that are 29 million years old. Specifically, I present the first postcranial remains for Microtheriomys: two astragali. The astragalus is the ankle bone connecting the tibia to the foot and previous research has showed a link between its shape and the locomotion of rodents. I expanded upon a previous analysis of modern rodent ankle morphology and built a dataset of 16 measurements of the astragalus for 101 specimens representing 67 species, 45 genera, and 24 families. This dataset includes rodents with various locomotions including arboreal, jumping, running as well as generalist rodents and, critically, burrowing, semi-fossorial, and semi-aquatic rodents. I incorporated these data, and measurements from the fossils, into a canonical variate analysis to predict the locomotion of the extinct beaver Microtheriomys based on the shape of its astragalus. I find that the 29 million year old fossils resemble most closely modern semi-aquatic rodents. This is evidence for a semi-aquatic rodent over 10 million years before current evidence. This suggests the presence in Montana of habitats that supported semi-aquatic species despite evidence for the contemporaneous aridification of the environment.

“A Safe and Energy-Efficient Autonomous Vehicle for The Smart City of Columbus”

Wesley Krist
Class Rank: Freshman
Major: Mechanical Engineering

Zachariah Balthaser
Class Rank: Freshman
Major: Computer Science Engineering

Dawson Pike
Class Rank: Freshman
Major: Computer Science Engineering

Advisor: Dr. Mostafa Elsaadany

Abstract: The need for energy-efficient vehicles has been on the rise and new technology relating to efficient modes of transportation is being developed every day. In a city environment, public transportation is crucial and to keep emissions and costs down, a more energy efficient vehicle needs to be developed. The purpose of this project is to develop an energy efficient vehicle that will help the people of Linden travel to Polaris and Easton as well as helping Columbus become the first smart city in the United States. The first objective was to design a preliminary model and to acknowledge what would be the primary attributes that the team would develop towards. Following this, four conceptual designs for the primary AEV were constructed which would be used to complete advanced research and development. From the four conceptual designs, two were chosen to be developed further, with the final design having attributes of both; The team refers to final design as Eagle One. Moving into the advanced research and development, propeller configuration tests were conducted, which showed the most efficient propeller radius and pitch when considering energy efficiency. The chosen configuration was two identical propellers using the pull method, as they provided the greatest distance using the same code as tested with the other configurations. The next experiment conducted was Battery Testing. This determined the average rate of change in the total charge of the battery after each run and the efficiency of the batteries for endurance. It was discovered that the battery consumed around 0.337 volts/meter. The last experiment for R and D, Material Testing, the mass, tensile strength, energy consumption, power consumption and average speed of the AEV were evaluated. Acrylic was found to be the best available material in terms of both weight and durability. Further, three performance tests were conducted. In the performance tests, two different AEV designs and Arduino codes were tested for energy efficiency and time to complete the task. Eagle One was found to be the most energy-efficient design using a code that balanced energy consumption and time variables. Based off the results gathered throughout the experiments, all the best attributes were combined to construct the final version of Eagle One. Through testing of the final task, it was found that Eagle One completed the task using 215 Joules in a time span of 67 seconds. This was all completed while staying within the requirements of the Mission Concept Review provided by project administrators. The capital cost of Eagle One was $162,760.00. The energy consumption cost was $107,500.00 and the time cost was $100,500.00. Having fees of $125,000.00 for energy consumption and $90,000.00 for time usage, the total cost of Eagle One is $585,760.00 which is $14,240.00 under our budget of $600,000.00. With all of this in consideration, we believe that Eagle One is an energy efficient design as well as a cost-effective design.

“The Persuasion of Ambivalence”

Lydia Drake
Class Rank: Junior
Major: Psychology
Advisor: Dr. Vanessa Sawicki

Abstract: In our research we are interested in whether a person’s ambivalence affects the arguments they generate with the intent to persuade. Part of our research involves measuring a participant’s ambivalence, a participant with high ambivalence would acknowledge both the positive and negative aspects of a topic. Low ambivalence is demonstrated by having an opinion determined by only positive or only negative aspects. We are examining how the target of persuasion affects message generation. Participants were tasked with generating an argument to either persuade themselves or someone else. We predict that, when attempting to persuade someone else, ambivalent attitude holders will not be able to generate strong arguments, the reasoning being that ambivalent attitudes are not strong themselves. However, people are motivated to reduce ambivalence in order to hold a less conflicted attitude. We believe that one possible way of doing so may be trying to change one’s attitude. From this perspective, we expect that ambivalent attitude holders who are tasked with generating arguments to persuade themselves, will be motivated to make attitude-consistent argument generation, which would be writing more persuasive messages.

Women in Sports- "How Gender Inequality Persists in the Modern World"

Megan Oder
Class Rank: Senior
Major: Criminology
Advisor: Dr. Donna Bobbitt-Zeher

Abstract: Sports are a large part of our American culture. It provides a sense of community and comradery amongst complete strangers. Sociologist Emile Durkheim would agree that sports produce what he calls collective consciousness because these events provide members of society with an opportunity to gather and participate in an activity that requires the possession of similar knowledge. People are brought together by sports, and that has an impact on society. What many people don’t see, however, is how female athletes are treated differently than their male counterparts. Many female athletes are subjected to discrimination and they face a lack of adequate resources. They receive less pay and they are often held to different standards than men. Up until the creation of Title XI, women were limited in the sports they could play and they were not guaranteed equal access to sports like men were. Even though Title IX regulations have worked to end discrimination and gender segregation in sports, these issues of gender inequality are still prevalent in sports today. Using Cecilia Ridgeway’s theoretical framework, which she presents in her book Framed by Gender, I will analyze how gender inequality in the world of sports has changed over time and how, despite factors that were meant to eliminate gender inequality, these inequalities still exist today.

“The role of visual salience on plural noun production”

Nathan Baker
Class Rank: Sophomore
Major: Psychology
Advisor: Dr. Nikole Patson

Abstract: There are many factors that influence the perception of distinctive visual groups. Visual salience, the distinctive qualities of an object that distinguish it from its surroundings, is one such factor. To test the impact of visual salience on perceived distinctiveness, participants were asked complete a photo caption for a series of photographs. Pictures contained either: one individual, a group of individuals, or a group of individuals with one visually salient individual (i.e., the ‘VIP’). The study examined which visual features will impact when adults view an individual as being separate from a larger group of people. For example, if in a group of people, one individual is visually salient, will that person seem independent from the rest of the group? To test this hypothesis, each photograph was accompanied by a photo caption containing a blank space that could be filled in with either a plural or singular noun. We predict that people will be less likely to use a plural noun in the VIP condition, as that would indicate that the participant viewed the visually salient member as separate from the rest of the group. Preliminary analyses indicate that participants were indeed less likely to use a plural noun in the VIP condition compared to plural condition where there were multiple individuals, but no ‘VIP’. These data suggest that pictured individuals with greater visual salience were more likely to be viewed as separate from a larger group of people.

Adolescent Girls' Reactions to a Body-Image Centered Young Adult Novel

Hannah Fuller
Class Rank: Senior
Major: Middle Childhood Education
Advisor: Dr. Linda Parsons

Abstract: For many girls, adolescence is characterized by many developments not only physically and mentally, but in how they are perceived by peers and, thus, how they perceive themselves. As adolescent girls undergo these changes, books and other media “bombard [them] with cultural values and images that communicate the importance of looks and sexuality” (Glessner, Hoover & Hazlett, 2006). Of these societal expectations, one that is particularly harmful is the negative perception of body image that girls experience in their adolescence. The impact of which can include low self-esteem, depression, social anxiety and other issues that are not linked to obesity, but rather victimization (Pipher, 1995).

This qualitative study will explore their reactions to fat female protagonists that struggle with identity and societal pressure to conform. Findings will take place in book clubs within three sites: a middle school, high school, and university setting. These findings will be a part of a larger cross-generational study. This thesis explores specifically the reactions and concerns of middle school students surrounding a young adult novel featuring a fat female protagonist: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy. During the discussion, researchers recorded participants’ impressions, reactions, and questions about the text. Discussions were be open-ended and driven by the participants and facilitated by the researchers. Data for this research was transcribed from discussions and participants’ written notes.

By interacting with these middle school students and analyzing data collected in book clubs, the study found that the adolescent readers position themselves relative to how comfortable they feel participating in a book club and engage with others based on how they identified with the novel. Students that didn’t identify with the protagonist and didn’t feel comfortable in the book club, withdrew and didn’t engage with the group. The study also explores the “safe” responses that take place in adolescent book clubs, such as platitudes and banal responses, and their substitution for genuine responses and engagement. We hope to contribute our findings to the scholarship around young girls’ development and how they simultaneously internalize and challenge body image. The information generated in this study could be used to inform educators through publication.

“Genetic analysis of Skb1 function in DNA break repair”

Bailey Lucas
Class Rank: Junior
Major: Zoology
Advisor: Dr. Ruben Petreaca

Abstract: Cancer cells are characterized by the accumulation of mutations, particularly in genes that control cell growth. Remarkably, some evidence shows that these mutations accumulate early in the life of the individual, yet cancer characteristics are delayed by 40-50 years. Analysis of cancer cells shows that in addition to mutations they have a high level of chromosomal re-arrangements such as large deleted regions. It has been proposed that this accumulation of chromosomal aberrations serves as a secondary “driver” (in addition to mutation accumulation) of cancer formation. Using yeast, which serves as a DNA damage repair model organism, here we investigate the function of the enzyme Skb1 in DNA double strand break repair. We propose that Skb1 suppresses formation of chromosomal a aberrations by preferring repair of DNA damage through an error free repair mechanism.