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Lee Ann Allen is a senior anthropology major and a scholar in the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, which encourages undergraduates who are the first in their families to attend college to pursue doctoral degrees. Allen’s research involves the Piro/Manso/Tiwa Indian Tribe, Pueblo of San Juan de Guadalupe, which has been seeking federal recognition for almost 40 years.
Allen — who has worked with mentors Diane Ballinger, retired lecturer in anthropology, and Ann Jordan, professor of anthropology — helped organize decades of tribal material to address deficiencies in documentation needed for the recognition process by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Federal recognition would provide funds for health care and education, including tribal language classes.
Allen won first place in a student poster presentation of her research at a meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology in Santa Fe, N.M., competing with more than 100 mostly graduate-level students. She returned to Las Cruces last summer to continue work on the archives in preparation for the possibility that the tribe’s petition might soon go on “active” status with the bureau.
Irene Cai attended the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, the nation’s first accelerated residential program for talented teens who take university courses to complete their first two years of college while earning high school diplomas. She received a 2009 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, one of the country’s most prestigious scholarships awarded to students planning careers in mathematics, science and engineering.
Cai worked with Douglas Root, associate professor of biological sciences, researching a genetic defect that causes an enlarged heart muscle, which can lead to sudden death in young people. Her research included a unique method of computer modeling to study the mechanical characteristics of molecules. She examined segments of cardiac myosin and determined that a genetic defect that changes the amino acid content mechanically weakens the molecule, which may lead to the disease.
Cai is a pre-med student at Yale University.
The research of Lawrence Chui, a doctoral student in accounting and a certified public accountant, may contribute to the development of tools to help auditors detect and prevent fraud in financial statement audits. His mentor is Mary Curtis, associate professor of accounting.
Chui is examining the differences in mindset between financial statement auditors and fraud and forensic specialists to identify factors that would improve an auditor’s ability to address potential fraud in company financial statements.
Chui’s honors include the 2009 American Accounting Association/Deloitte/J. Michael Cook Doctoral Consortium Fellow award and a 2008 Foundation for Applied Research grant from the Institute of Management Accountants.
TAMS student Sameer Deshpande was among 141 high school graduates in the nation selected as 2009 Presidential Scholars. As a Presidential Scholar, he traveled to Washington, D.C., in June to meet with the vice president and other dignitaries.
While at TAMS, Deshpande conducted research for Retractable Technologies Inc. of Little Elm to determine the best material for a new non-reusable safety syringe to reduce accidental needle-stick injuries, the chief means of transmission of HIV and Hepatitis B among health-care professionals. He worked with Witold Brostow, Regents Professor of materials science and engineering, in UNT’s Laboratory of Advanced Polymers and Optimized Materials.
In another project with Qiang Zhao, assistant professor of mathematics at Texas State University, Deshpande conducted research to identify genes associated with patient survival of a disease. He will finish his undergraduate degree in mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Shannon Dier, a master’s student in development and family studies supported by the Master’s and Doctoral Fellowship program at UNT, was awarded a competitive research internship last summer at the National Institutes of Health. She studied the psychosocial needs of children and families involved in clinical trials for cancer treatment, compiling information on the mental health characteristics and needs of patients who came to the NIH for a rare form of cancer and gathering data for several other studies.
Dier also worked with mentor Angela Nievar, assistant professor of educational psychology, on a study of Spanish-speaking at-risk families participating in the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters program. The study showed that families in the program had a better learning environment for their children than a comparison group and participants were more satisfied with their marriages than non-participants. Dier co-presented the research at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Child Development last spring.
Her plans are to become a child-life specialist and use her research skills to evaluate and improve child-life interventions for chronically ill children, helping them to cope with health care procedures and hospitalizations.
Computer science and engineering doctoral student Dhruva Ghai, with a specialization in VLSI (very-large-scale-integration), worked with Saraju P. Mohanty, assistant professor of computer science and engineering. Through his research in nanoscale mixed-signal circuit design, Ghai proposed new methodologies to make electronic circuits such as data converters, oscillators and pixel sensors faster and more efficient. Applications for the high-performance, low-power VLSI circuits include high-speed microprocessors, implantable devices, digital cameras and flexible electronics.
Ghai’s work was supported by a National Science Foundation award, and he has published papers in peer-reviewed journals including IEEE Transactions on VLSI Systems and Taylor & Francis’ International Journal of Electronics. He also presented his work at international conferences such as the IEEE International Symposium on Quality Electronic Design in San Jose, Calif., and the IEEE International Conference on Consumer Electronics in Las Vegas. He earned his doctorate last May.
Afshan Kamrudin, a member of the Honors College and a McNair Scholar, received her bachelor’s degree with a major in psychology in August 2009. She was among 31 students from Texas colleges and universities who received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to continue her graduate studies and prepare for a career as a researcher in behavioral health.
Kamrudin also was one of nine undergraduate students to receive the Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training grant from the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health, sponsored by Pennsylvania State University. Through this grant, she spent the summer in Geneva, Switzerland, researching hepatitis transmission at the International Centre for Migration Health and Development. Kamrudin and her McNair mentor, Mark Vosvick, associate professor of psychology and director of UNT’s Center for Psychosocial Health, researched people living with HIV and their quality of life. Kamrudin is pursuing a master of public health degree at Emory University.
Marcelo Ostria, an international studies and political science major, is a senior in the Honors College who received a $25,000 Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship for study abroad in 2010-11. He plans to enroll in graduate-level courses at the Universidad Alberto Hurtado in Santiago, Chile, to conduct research on South American politics, human rights practices and U.S.-South American relations.
Ostria was one of only eight finalists from Texas in the 2009 Harry S. Truman Scholarship competition and was named to the 2009 USA Today All-USA College Academic Third Team. Last summer, he conducted research on the activism of U.S. congressional members in Latin American issues at the Democracy and World Politics Summer Research Program for Undergraduates at Oklahoma State University through a grant funded by the National Science Foundation. His research mentors in the political science department include John Booth, Regents Professor, and Elizabeth Oldmixon, associate professor.
Ostria also was selected to receive the President’s Volunteer Service Award from the White House for the second year in a row. He is the founder of the UNT UNICEF chapter and has spearheaded fund-raising efforts to help oppressed children and combat poverty.
Information science doctoral student Lynne Simpson-Scott researched a correlation between adolescents’ self-esteem and how they evaluate their ability to find information, investigating whether that correlation varied according to race and gender. She compared the scores of 10th-graders on two tests. One measured self-esteem and the other indicated how they felt about their ability to gather information for schoolwork or personal use through face-to-face communication, computers and print media.
She found a statistically significant correlation for all groups measured, with the exception of African American males. The research may help schools create consistent policies for developing information seeking skills in all adolescent groups.
Simpson-Scott, who worked under the direction of Linda Schamber, associate professor and associate dean of the College of Information, graduated last May. She is an assistant professor in the science and engineering division of the Edmon Low Library at Oklahoma State University.
Arvind Singh is an M.F.A. student who works with Ben Levin, professor of radio, television and film, in the documentary film program. She received a project completion grant from WomeninFilm.Dallas to finish a documentary about Codepink, a grassroots peace and social justice movement launched in 2002 in response to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Singh’s documentary, The War, includes footage of an Iraq veteran who sought Codepink’s services and a 75-year-old woman who was arrested in front of the White House. Singh is the third documentary film student at UNT to receive a project completion grant from the organization in the past two years.
A filmmaker in her native India, she enrolled in UNT’s documentary film program in 2006 — six years after she sought political asylum in the United States when her government responded negatively to a documentary she produced about the killing of the Sikhs and the consequences for their children.
Joshua Taylor, a master’s student in merchandising, is investigating the impact of college students’ environmental attitudes on their intention to use reusable shopping bags. Collecting data from students enrolled in a web-based course over a 15-week period, he found that students who understand how their personal actions impact the environment are more apt to use reusable shopping bags, as are students who are knowledgeable about plastic bags and indicate higher levels of ecological concern. The study has managerial implications for businesses as they attempt to reduce their environmental footprint in the crowded U.S. marketplace.
Taylor’s research, under the direction of Christy Crutsinger, professor and associate dean of the School of Merchandising and Hospitality Management, was presented at the International Consumer Sciences Research Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, in June. He plans to attend Bard Graduate Center for the Decorative Arts in New York, N.Y., to pursue a doctoral degree in decorative arts, design and culture.
Jue Yang, a fourth-year doctoral student in computer science and engineering, works with Xinrong Li, assistant professor of electrical engineering, on wireless sensor networks for environmental monitoring applications. The networks consist of a large number of sensors that can monitor physical or environmental conditions, such as temperature, sound, vibration, pressure, motion or pollutants, at different locations.
Yang is developing networking protocols and signal processing algorithms for reliable data collection using the low-cost, battery-powered sensors. Data collected by the system — which can be set up at places difficult to access or expensive to wire — can be used to predict and prevent natural disasters such as flash floods and forest fires.
Yang’s work, funded by the National Science Foundation and part of the multidisciplinary Texas Environmental Observatory project, includes the design and implementation of a large-scale sensor network in the area’s Greenbelt Corridor State Park.
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Web page last updated or revised: January 27, 2010
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