Volume 17 - 2008
UNT - University of North Texas - Discover the Power of Ideas

Science, Scholarship &
the Arts at the University of North Texas

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Student Researchers

Maria Asencio

Environmental modeling

Maria Asencio

Maria Asencio received scholarships from the Hispanic Scholarship Fund in 2006 and 2007 and was one of only 80 students nationwide and three from Texas to receive a 2006 Morris K. Udall Scholarship, awarded for outstanding potential to pursue a career in environmental public policy or health care.

Asencio, who earned her UNT bachelor's degrees in computer science and mathematics in 2007, was a scholar in the Ronald E. McNair Post- Baccalaureate Achievement Program, which encourages low-income undergraduates and the first in their families to attend college to pursue doctoral degrees. She helped develop a mathematical model to predict how vegetation ecosystems will recover after a fire or excessive rainfall.

She conducted the research, funded by the National Science Foundation, under the direction of Miguel Acevedo, Regents Professor and coordinator of the proposed biological and environmental engineering program, and Michael Monticino, professor of mathematics and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Asencio now attends graduate school at Cornell University.



Aldo Aviña

Ladder-backed woodpecker

Aldo Aviña

Aldo Aviña, a senior geography major and a McNair scholar, is conducting research to understand and preserve Picoides scalaris, or the ladder-backed woodpecker.

The woodpecker, whose largest population resides in Texas, inhabits the Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area in Denton County. The eastern portion of LLELA historically was prairie but now is mostly covered with mesquite, hackberry and other trees. As the area is restored to prairie land, Aviña's research will help limit the impact on the woodpecker. It also will lead to a greater understanding of the behaviors of the bird and explore why it has chosen to nest so far on the eastern fringes of its range.

Aviña works under the direction of Miguel Acevedo, Regents Professor and coordinator of the proposed biological and environmental engineering program; Bruce Hunter, director of the Center for Spatial Analysis and Mapping; and Ken Steigman, director of LLELA and restoration specialist.



Ryan Burns

Medical physics

Ryan Burns

Ryan Burns, a U.S. Navy veteran who served as a nuclear reactor operator on a nuclear-powered submarine, came to UNT to study nuclear applications related to medical physics. Under the guidance of Duncan Weathers, associate professor of physics, he evaluated a new electrostatic lens for focusing ion beams and confirmed that the lens design focuses with smaller error than a conventional lens of its type. The research has applications in areas such as the analysis of nanostructures in materials or the study of cellular radiation damage.

A McNair scholar, Burns was awarded the Physics Chair Scholarship and participated in the Physics Research Experience for Undergraduates Program funded by the National Science Foundation. He earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics in 2007 and is completing a bachelor's in physics.



Rosa M. Fonseca

Human rights

Rosa M. Fonseca

Rosa M. Fonseca, who is majoring in political science with an emphasis on international relations, is researching how international factors play a part in the spread of human rights and human rights abuses.

Fonseca is studying the degree to which political repression clusters geographically. Her study shows geographic linkages may be an important factor in the spread of both political repression and respect for human rights. She's also examining the extent to which membership in international organizations and economic ties between countries affects the spread of human rights norms and abuses.

A McNair scholar, Fonseca is working under the guidance of Michael Greig, assistant professor of political science, and David Mason, Johnie Christian Family professor of peace studies. She is the first student to enroll at the Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México as part of its exchange program with UNT.



Amelia Lin

Carbon nanotubes

Amelia Lin

Amelia Lin was one of 20 students nationwide selected to USA Today's 2007 All-USA First High School Academic Team because of research she conducted with Zhibing Hu, Regents Professor of physics. Lin investigated the properties of carbon nanotubes encapsulated in microgels. They may be used in the future for drug delivery into human cells.

She also was awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship in 2007 and was a semifinalist in the 2007 Intel Science Talent Search, the nation's premier program to recognize high school student research in science, mathematics and engineering. She was chosen as a 2007 Presidential Scholar and was a 2006 regional finalist in the Siemens Westinghouse Competition in Math, Science and Technology.

Lin graduated in May 2007 from UNT's Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, a two-year residential program that allows talented students to complete their freshman and sophomore years of college while earning their high school diplomas. She is attending Harvard University to finish her college degree.



Peace Nwegbo

Osteoporosis and metabolic syndrome

Peace Nwegbo

Peace Nwegbo's research examines how the race and ethnicity of older women affect the link between osteoporosis and metabolic syndrome. Nwegbo is using data from three U.S. groups — African American, Mexican American and non-Hispanic Caucasian women 50 and older — to investigate occurrences of these medical conditions and help determine a possible physiological link between them in different ethnic racial groups. Her research mentor is Charles A. Guarnaccia, associate professor of psychology and a health psychologist.

Nwegbo is a senior biology major in the Honors College, which offers a rigorous academic program for students in all majors. She was awarded a scholarship through the Joint Admission Medical Program, which supports highly qualified economically disadvantaged students pursuing a medical education, and participated in an internship at the UNT Health Science Center at Fort Worth through JAMP.



Vinay Ramasesh

Chemical calculations

Vinay Ramasesh

Vinay Ramasesh, a second-year TAMS student, was awarded a 2008 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, bringing UNT's number of Goldwater Scholars to 39 since 1996. He was one of 40 students in the nation selected as a finalist in the 2008 Intel Science Talent Search, and is the third TAMS student to be named a finalist since 2006. He also was a regional finalist in the 2007 Siemens Westinghouse Competition in Math, Science and Technology, and is representing the Fort Worth region at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Atlanta this spring.

In Ramasesh's computational chemistry work with Angela Wilson, associate professor of chemistry, he examined the impact of new quantum mechanical approaches to calculate the thermodynamic properties of molecules. The approaches that he used resulted in an increase of accuracy in calculated energetic properties for large molecules without increasing the expense of the calculation in terms of computer time, memory or disk space. This will be useful to chemists in synthesizing new compounds or understanding chemical reactions.



Christine Rewolinski

Music education

Christine Rewolinski

Christine Rewolinski, a doctoral student in music education, received the 2007-08 Perry R. Bass Fellowship, awarded annually to students pursuing music degrees who aspire to teach. Rewolinski has a bachelor's degree in music education and bachelor's and master's degrees in violin performance. Working with Donna Emmanuel, assistant professor of music, she will use the $2,500 grant to conduct research for her dissertation on the occupational identity of musicians, both teachers and performers, in and out of academia.

Rewolinski is an experienced orchestral violinist who performs with the Dallas Opera and Fort Worth Symphony, as well as other regional orchestras. She has taught in elementary, middle and high school music programs and is the director of the Suzuki violin program at the University of Texas at Arlington.



Lloyd Spaine

"Green" manufacturing processes

Lloyd Spaine

Lloyd Spaine is a senior chemistry and computer science major and a McNair scholar. He is using computational chemistry to identify "green" manufacturing processes for isocyanates, which are used to make rigid polyurethane foam, the insulation material used in almost all refrigerators and freezers. Spaine's research investigates copper catalysts for isocyanate manufacture that do not require phosgene, a poisonous and flammable gas difficult to control in large quantities.

He works under the direction of Tom Cundari, professor of chemistry, and with the facilities of UNT's Center for Advanced Scientific Computing and Modeling — UNT's federally funded center of excellence in materials modeling and simulation. Spaine plans to complete a Ph.D. program that incorporates both chemistry and computer science.



Sámih Teymur

Terrorists and recruitment

Sámih Teymur

Sámih Teymur's research focuses on terrorism and a terrorist organization's recruitment process. His work involves the creation of a recruitment process map to understand how individuals break their bonds with society to join terrorist organizations. He also is examining at what point a terrorist justifies terrorist activities. In addition, Teymur explores the finances of terrorist organizations, their relationship with organized crime groups, terrorist propaganda and terrorists' relationship with the media.

Teymur earned his master's degree in criminal justice in 2004. He worked with Brian O'Connor, professor of library and information sciences, while pursuing his doctoral degree in information science, which he earned in 2007. He is the founder and president of the Turkish Institute for Police Studies at UNT.

The program, which brings mid-level managers of the Turkish National Police to the United States to earn graduate degrees, sponsors conferences attended by the FBI, Homeland Security, Interpol, scholars and policy-makers from around the globe.



Irene Turner

Science ethics

Irene Turner

Irene Turner, a master's student in philosophy and environmental ethics, was among 33 graduate students selected from universities nationwide to participate in a National Science Foundation-funded program examining the social, political and ethical ramifications of biotechnology. Turner was selected as an expert in ethics for the think-tank.

She also is doing research comparing the society-based harnessing and redirection of rivers with the society-based harnessing and redirection of children through the public school system. She has worked with Irene Klaver, associate professor of philosophy and religion studies and director of the Philosophy of Water project, and award-winning documentarian Melinda Levin, associate professor and chair of the Department of Radio, Television and Film. They conducted research for the Global River Project, documenting social and cultural facets of five of the world's rivers. Turner's current research interests include the influence of ancient Greek philosophy on Kabbalism.



Lily Ye

Gender and marketing

Lily Ye

Lily Ye, a doctoral student in marketing and logistics, placed in the top three in the 2007 Society for Marketing Advances dissertation competition, which included entries from more than 20 doctoral-granting universities and judges who are among the marketing discipline's most accomplished scholars.

Under the direction of Lou Pelton, associate professor of marketing and logistics, Ye is researching the impact of gender roles and identity on consumers' perceptions of brand equity. She examines multifactorial gender identity — psychological and social characteristics as well as physiological characteristics — and how those attributes contribute to consumers' brand perceptions and develop power brand families in the marketplace. Her dissertation compares the United States, the world's largest consumer market, with the People's Republic of China, the world's fastest-growing consumer market.

Departments

President's Note

Exploration of ideas provides the foundation for a bold research agenda.

News Briefs

New leaders set a new course, and awards and grants help develop materials, save endangered languages, protect the environment.

New Faculty

Researchers bring work in accounting, photography, plant pathology and thermal-fluid sciences to UNT.

Student Researchers

Student research covers medical physics, human rights, computational chemistry, music education, ethics.

Faculty Books

UNT authors write about higher education, cost control, police patrol, copyright law.

End Note

Interdisciplinary collaborations advance the greater good.



Web page last updated or revised: April 25, 2008
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