The Program also funds Undergraduate Research Consultant Teams (URCT) which are small “strike teams” of students from multiple disciplines who will execute well-defined, one semester projects guided by a faculty advisor. The goals of the URCTs are to:  (1) provide students with opportunities for inquiry and discovery in the context of real-world cutting-edge research, and (2) foster interactions between disciplines (e.g. Humanities and Natural and Social Sciences) that reflect the diversity of perspectives necessary to solve society’s problems.

Faculty Mentor:  Peter Gordon, Psychology and Neuroscience    
Strike Team:  Kate Oldham; Natasha Vernooji; Amy Alum; Kalleen Kelly; Anna Ostrowski  
This project will investigate ways of facilitating navigation through documents by individuals with severely impaired vision (low vision) who nonetheless retain some ability to read. The research project will focus on the target case of facilitating use of an outline while conducting a deposition by a lawyer with retinitis pigmentosa. RP causes severe narrowing of the visual field such that an individual with the condition may be able to see clearly in the very center of the visual field but cannot pick up any information from the periphery of the visual field. Without peripheral vision it is impossible to take advantage of the organizational information in an outline. Instead, an individual with a very small visual field must start reading the outline at some point and search forward a word at a time from that point. A similar problem occurs when text-to-speech synthesis is used in screen readers; conversion of text-to-speech begins at one place in the text and proceeds serially from that point. In both situations the ability to navigate to regions of text that are most informative is greatly reduced, making it very difficult to use notes to help in an ongoing task. While the project will focus on the target case of a lawyer with RP conducting a deposition, it is expected that the results could be generalized to other situations where individuals with low vision could benefit from using notes while engaged in goal-directed activities. The goal for this one semester course is to evaluate the feasibility of a larger-scale project aimed at systematic empirical study of text navigation by individuals with low vision and at the development of assistive technology for text navigation that is tuned to an individual’s pattern of preserved and impaired abilities.

Spring 2018

Faculty Mentor:  Mark Sorensen, Anthropology    
Strike Team:  India Benson; Carissa Cueva; Darien Campisi; Mallory Happ; Syndney Puerto-Meredith
Coronary heart disease and stroke are two of the leading contributors to mortality and morbidity among adults in the United States. Previous research has shown that inflammation is related to cardiovascular outcomes, yet the development of inflammation in healthy young adults is not well understood. This study investigates lifestyle, obesity and inflammation in college students in order to understand the inflammatory process in young adults. The study objectives are to (1) investigate variation in inflammatory biomarkers and the relationships between biomarker and body composition and cardiometabolic risk; and (2) examine independent associations between inflammation and stress, physical activity, and sleep. We hypothesize that higher concentrations of inflammatory cytokines will be associated with higher waist circumference, abdominal adiposity, blood pressure and lipids. We hypothesize that inflammation will increase in response to baseline psychosocial stress, low physical activity levels, and poor sleep quality/duration, therefore, we expect students with higher chronic stress, sedentary lifestyles, and poor sleep habits will have higher levels of inflammation. Inflammatory cytokine levels, however, will be lower in individuals with higher levels of physical activity, low stress, and those who experience quality sleep. It is hypothesized that the interaction of these three lifestyle factors (physical activity, sleep, stress) will have a larger impact on inflammation than each individual factor alone. Longitudinal physical activity, sleep (7-days each) and stress (3 days) data will be used to develop a ‘risk index’ that predicts levels of inflammation and cardiometabolic risk. The study will recruit 30 UNC students. Health profiles will be generated via questionnaire, monitoring devices and biomarkers, and will be used to examine inflammation and its relationship to physiological and lifestyle characteristics. The data collection process will occur over total seven days.

Spring 2018

Faculty Mentor:  Daniel Kreiss, Communications Studies
Strike Team:  Kate Frauenfelder; Jenni Ciesieliski; Meredith Martinez; Gabrielle Micchia; Brinley Lowe; Abby Rogers; Meredith Randolph; Haley McDougal; Jordan Townsend; Samantha Paisley; Elizabeth Park
Over the past few years, scholars have pursued the first systematic analyses into the organizations and staffers that create and manage contemporary political communication. To date, however, there has been a lack of studies on the experiences of female communication practitioners in this historically male dominated field, especially in the context of the growing area of political technology. This URCT study inquires into the experiences of women working in the domains of technology, digital media, data, and analytics on political campaigns. We are empirically documenting the overall hiring patterns of women working in the domain of political technology, analyzing a comprehensive dataset (N=876) of all staffers working on Democratic and Republican primary and general election presidential campaigns from 2004-2016. We are also conducting a series of open-ended and semi-structured qualitative interviews with female practitioners in this dataset to learn about their experiences working in political technology. Through these interviews we aim to understand, in a rich qualitative way, if these women have felt supported in the course of their careers, the workplaces that they encountered on campaigns, the mentor relationships they have had and their importance, and the barriers toward women’s advancement in political technology (or the key variables behind their success).

Spring 2018

 See the published manuscript by Dr. Daniel Kriess and Ms. Kirsten Adam.

See the Report by Dr. Kreiss and the Strike Team.

Faculty Mentor:  Jordynn Jack, English and Comparative Literature
Strike Team:  Maebelle Mathew; Schweta Bhatnagar; Akhila Boyina; Destiny Ho; Pragnya Dontu
For clinicians and public health researchers, the 29 million Americans with Type II diabetes represent a medical problem of vast proportions. Diabetes is a top-ten cause of death costing billions in medical dollars, increasing by 1.4 million new cases per year. Accordingly, treatments and interventions focus on mitigating physiological symptoms; however, there are also psychological symptoms that need to be addressed. Dance has been studied as a therapy method for many diseases and chronic illnesses. While previous studies have shown the positive impact that dance has had on the physical condition and abilities of patients with chronic illnesses, studies that evaluate the effects of alternative therapy methods such as dance have on a patient’s body image and psychological well-being are more novel. This study will focus on the psychological aspects of this particular intervention method. Our hypothesis is that participants in a series of dance classes will show reductions in diabetes distress, improvements in diabetes empowerment, and/or improvements in body image. The rationale for the resulting increased empowerment and body image is that dance as an alternative form of therapy will allow the patients to express themselves and their experiences with diabetes in a positive manner. This expression will allow the patient to have a better relationship with their diabetes and with their body. During the eight-week dance workshop, participants will learn four different dance styles: Bollywood, Hip Hop, Contemporary, and Latin. Each style is meant to invoke a specific emotion within the participants, and will be explored over the course of three bi-weekly classes each. The results from this study may allow parties who work closely with diabetes patients, such as diabetes consultants, physical and psychological therapists, and medical professionals, to learn more about the experiences of diabetes patients, opening avenues for more personalized care options.

Spring 2018

Faculty Mentor:  Nels Popp, Sports Administration
Strike Team:  Elizabeth Farley; Alexander Spaeth; Morgan Donnelly; Isabella Dokall 
The objective of this Undergraduate Research Consultant Team project is to partner with the Durham Bulls minor league baseball team to develop a predictive model for home day-of-game (walk-up) ticket sales based on a variety of external and internal inputs. Once the best model with the highest?- value is established, the URCT would then produce a self-updating, software interface which the Bulls could use to input daily variables and derive attendance predictions. Such a tool would enable the team to better set ticket pricing, schedule promotional elements, and understand more intimately their consumers’ behaviors. Bulls team executives have expressed a desire to have software which could produce this sort of analysis and after preliminary discussions with these team executives, the Bulls have already agreed to share ticketing and scheduling data captured over the past five seasons. The URTC would meet with team executives early in the spring to learn more about the team’s business objectives and about what team data is currently available. Once the URTC understands both the team’s specific business concerns and what sorts of data are available for analysis, students will begin collecting, sorting, and cleaning numerous variables (ticket price, weather conditions, promotional activities, day of week, opponent information, etc.) with the end goal of finding the factors which most predict variance in attendance. Variables would include both data already captured by the team and outside marketing variables such as weather, opponent quality and additional events occurring in the community.

Spring 2018

Faculty Mentor:  Paul Weinhold, Orthopedics and Biomedical Engineering
Strike Team:  Drew Pierce; Blake Mauro; Thad Creech; Alexander Brown; James Raynor
Injuries to hypovascular regions of tendon and menisci have a low healing potential, and there is a great need to identify effective stimuli for healing of such injuries.  Hypoxia inducible factor-1alpha (HIF-1α) is a transcription factor that leads to coordinated expression of genes associated with angiogenesis, glucose transport, matrix metabolism, and cell proliferation. This proposal will investigate local delivery by suture of the HIF-1α regulator, desferoxamine (DFO), to the repair site as a means to improve healing outcomes. The first objective of the proposal is to develop a rapidly biodegradable coating for delivery of DFO on several nonabsorbable suture materials used for tendon repair, and characterize the delivery time course in the lab setting. In the second objective of the proposal, a rat Achilles tendon repair model will be used to evaluate the in vivo performance of the DFO coated (at two concentrations) suture relative to a control suture with coating alone. We will evaluate early healing outcomes including tensile strength, collagen organization, and vascularity of the healing repair. The expected contribution of the research is that local delivery of DFO on suture to the repair site can serve as a cost-effective and reliable means to increase vascularity and improve healing strength after tendon injury. The new technology will provide the surgeon a tool to spatially direct blood vessel formation by a master switch stimulus in surgical applications where hypovascularity diminishes health outcomes. It is anticipated the described approach will overcome past limitations of using a single growth factor to coat suture in attempts to improve tendon healing.

Spring 2018

Faculty Mentor: Don Hornstein, Law
Strike Team: MacKenzie Dion; Emily Galvin; Cameron Champion

We intend to provide an informed resource for farmers and agricultural organizations to reference for evaluating the economic costs and benefits of implementing insect-based feeding techniques. In addition, the study will provide an analysis of various countries’ progress with integrating insect-based feed into their food systems. As the relationship between animal feed and the environment is an important but relatively specific, this research shall serve to expand the base of knowledge and raise awareness for the need to direct more resources to consider this issue. The project will proceed in four parts: (1) a cost-benefit analysis based on existing literature, (2) a compilation of international developments in plant-based feed techniques, (3) consultation with local agriculture experts, and (4) interviews with farmers to gauge public interest.

Fall 2018

Faculty Mentor: Marsha Penner, Psychology and Neuroscience
Strike Team: Gabrielle Jeifa; Amanda Kessler; Haley Kirse; Anna Zhao; Brianna Cross

Science communication and outreach is one way that the work of laboratory scientists can be shared with a wide audience of non-experts. Neuroscience is one area of science that is often of interest to the general public, yet there is very little formal education on the nervous system in schools. Neuroscience outreach efforts can help to fill this knowledge, but there is limited research on the kinds of activities that are most effective at communicating neuroscience concepts. The goal of this research project is to assess the effectiveness of neuroscience outreach activities. Specifically, we will determine if neuroscience outreach activities can communicate the fundamental neuroscience concepts and the principles of hypothesis testing to middle-school students. Our research will be of interest to educators in both formal and informal settings.

Fall 2018

Faculty Mentor: Glenn Hinson, Anthropology and American Studies
Strike Team: Veronica Chandler, Taylor Gartman, Abbott Ndukwe, Meagan Watson

In 1921, a white mob in Warren County, N.C., lynched two innocent men. In the years since, the county’s “authorized” histories have erased all records of these murders. Sharp memories of the lynchings, though, are still very alive in the region’s Black communities. In fall 2018, a UNC class began collaborating with the Warren County NAACP to foster public awareness of these lynchings, with hopes of creating a memorial to the “victims, and then sparking a broader truth and reconciliation process. The URCT team-who, with the class, had archivally identified, and then interviewed, descendants of the 1921 victims-will extend this process by gathering oral histories from community elders and exploring long-hidden archival materials that document the double-lynching. By compiling the storied and written history, the team will actively contribute to the reconciliation process, and help craft a model that other communities can use to address contested public memories.

Spring 2019

Faculty Mentor: Laura Miller, Mathematics and Biology
Strike Team: Maddie Bye, Liam Pongracz, Reagan Howell, Gloria Hope, Abinaw Katuru

Both physical and biological mechanisms affect the movement of zooplankton. These tiny aquatic animals are move with the local flow but·can also bias their distributions actively controlling some aspects of their locomotion. Mathematical models of plankton movement typically assume that the organisms either go passively with the flow or have an additional random motion that can be added to the background flow velocity. These assumptions have not been rigorously tested. We will use brine shrimp as a model organism for studying the movement of plankton given its ease of culturing in the lab. The broad goals of this Undergraduate Research Team are then to (1) determine the relevant fluid dynamics and physics for individual swimming brine shrimp, (2) reveal some of the behaviors of plankton that may drive long distance dispersal, and (3) incorporate fluid physics and behavior into mathematical models and experimentally validate those models.

Spring 2019

See the published manuscript by Dr. M. Kemal Ozalp, et al.

Faculty Mentor: Frank Leibfarth, Chemistry
Strike Team: Hayden Dumaw, Megan Ramsey, Charlotte Dorn, Kristopher Lukas, Suraj Pendyala

This project revolves around a recently published manuscript that describes the construction of an open source plastic extruder that can take scrap 3-D printing waste and recycle it into commercial quality 3-D printing filament.  Students will construct an improved version of the recyclebot and use it to explore their own sustainability-based research project.  Once built, students will use this recyclebot for outreach in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area as well as establish a recycling service for local 3-D printer users.

Spring 2019

Faculty Mentor: Mark Sorensen, Anthropology
Strike Team: Supreet Goraya, Vaishnavi Sripurapa, Zachary Cochran, Leva Juzumaite, Michera Gentry

The purpose of this study is to investigate the impact of psychosocial stress on inflammatory profiles of traditional age college students and how this relationship is potentially modified by physical activity. The goals of this study are (1) to identify and map the most prominent cultural domains of stress amongst college students, (2) to understand how these chronic stressors impact inflammatory profiles, (3) to understand the inflammatory response of college students to acute stress, and (4) to illustrate the role of physical activity in moderating against the negative impacts of psychosocial stress on inflammation. Semi-structed interviews, free listing, pile sorts, and risk mapping will be used to identify the cultural domains of stress experienced by college students. Accelerometry and questionnaires will be used to quantify physical activity. Biomarker collection will be used to measure both cortisol and inflammatory profiles for each participant.

Spring 2019

Faculty Mentors: Amanda Thompson (Lead Advisor), Anthropology and Nutrition; Margaret (Peggy) Bentley, Nutrition; Jill Stewart, Environmental Studies and Engineering
Strike Team: Don Fefjar, Elijah Watson, Kishan Patel, Nick Badhwa

Students will travel to Isabela, Galapagos, Ecuador to conduct an interdisciplinary study of food and water quality, security, and accessibility on the island.  This will be done through GIS and laboratory analysis of water samples, food frequency and diet surveys, and in-depth ethnographic interviews.  Results will be shared with residents at an annual research symposium in the Galapagos and create background for potential interventions.

Spring 2019

Faculty Mentor: Keely Muscatell, Psychology and Neuroscience
Strike Team: Sophie Joseph, Rahul Mehra, Xeuyang Li, Catherine Young, Ishan Thaker

The Stress and Inflammation Research Project will examine the effects of an acute social stressor on the immune system. Thus far, the immune system has been identified as a biological pathway through which stress can affect physical and mental health; however, the characteristics that make a person’s immune system more vulnerable and/or reactive to stress remain poorly understood. To investigate this, the present study will examine how exposure to a surprise public speaking task impacts levels of inflammation in the body and how responsive our skin is to being stimulated with histamine. We will also explore individual differences (e.g., socioeconomic status, social support, anxiety, and generation is college) that may influence psychological and immune system responses to stress.

Fall 2019

Faculty Mentor: Mehul Patel, Emergency Medicine
Strike Team: Alexandra Beja-Glasser, Hannah Asibal, Krishna Patel

Data visualizations can be used to help quickly and effectively communicate health risk information. With the use of visual aids, patients and family members can better understand potential benefits and harms of medical treatments and the inherent uncertainty in this information. Our overall research goal is to develop effective data visualization and communication of health risk information during medical emergencies.

An acute ischemic stroke is a time-sensitive emergency where a clot is lodged in an artery in the brain and blocks critical blood flow to tissue. During this time limited, high stakes medical condition, emergency care providers are ethically bound to inform patients and their families about the potential benefits and harms of treatment. Our interdisciplinary Undergraduate Research Consultant Team will describe patient and family member preferences and expectations for communicating risks of acute stroke treatment and create various data visualizations for future research of risk information communication.

Fall 2019

Faculty Mentor: Erik Wikstrom, Exercise and Sports Science
Strike Team: Gabriella Diaz, Rima Patel, Nikhil Vytla, Caelan Eckard, Sameer Bhatti

The goal of the project is to create a durable vibration based feedback device to improve walking biomechanics in those with chronic ankle instability. This population is known to walk on the outside of their foot, which predisposes them to additional ankle sprains leading to long term pain and disability. The feedback device will detect excess pressure under the outside of the foot and provide a vibration stimulus to the lower leg to notify the user of an incorrect step and facilitate an improved foot position on the subsequent step. The research team will be responsible for improving upon the current prototype regarding its durability, efficiency, and weight, and begin developing a mobile app to interface with device and track its use.

Fall 2019

Faculty Mentor: Jane Cooley Fruehwirth, Economics
Strike Team: Luke Hargraves, Benjamin Gorman, Susan Huynh, Sarah Parker, Brittany-Diana Wiafe

America’s colleges are struggling to respond to what is widely-perceived to be a growing mental health crisis on their campuses. This project will study determinants of anxiety and depression in first-year students at UNC-Chapel Hill both through surveys and interviews. Members of the Undergraduate Research Consultant Team (URCT) will help design the qualitative interview protocol and analyze the qualitative interview data. They will also help design, collect, and analyze the survey data. Finally, they will assist the PI and her team with writing policy briefs on findings and disseminating to key stakeholders at UNC.

Fall 2019

Faculty Mentor: Yong Cai, Sociology
Strike Team: Abhishek Shankar, Anum Imran, Deepak Venkatasubramanian, Preeyanka Rao

Epidemiological analysis of Asian Indian linked infant birth/death certificate files in California has revealed that “although [Asian Indians were] seemingly of low sociodemographic risk,” they “had high levels of LBW [low birth weight], growth retardation, and fetal mortality” (Gould et al. 2003). Recent revisions of this study have supported this claim (Madan et al. 2006, Kurtyka et al. 2015). Socioeconomic status (SES) has been directly correlated to health by virtue of being a fundamental cause of disease and inequality, so for the highest presenting SES population to have such poor birth outcomes represents a significant anomaly, deserving of further exploration. This project seeks to conduct an updated literature review of this health trend, provide an in-depth analysis of Asian Indian birth outcomes from the most recently available CDC data set and compare any trends to other racial groups, and provide potential public policy suggestions to help reduce and amend any disparities.

Fall 2019

Faculty Mentor: John Caldwell, Asian Studies; Donald Lauria, Environmental Science and Engineering
Strike Team: Mehal Churiwal, Lauren McCormick, Naijha Nsehti, Hannah Feinsilber, Annika Alicardi

This project aims to advance the knowledge of Indian doctors, local health workers, and others about the impact of environmental and community conditions on diarrhea levels in Bokaro, Jharkhand, India. There are several potential factors causing high diarrhea levels including pollution from the Bokaro Steel Plant, plant worker communities, and unsanitary behaviors of local residents. Research and data collection will involve working with local doctors and others to collect historical data on diarrhea cases and reviewing reports on environmental and health factors in Bokaro Steel City. Later this year, the team will conduct fieldwork within the communities. The team will analyze the data by stratifying based on demographic information and creating maps of diarrhea case locations. The results of this study will help to inform future research directions in the area.

Fall 2019

Faculty Mentor: Alecia Septer, Marine Science
Strike Team: Hannah Wilkins, Emily Clarch, Mady Krueger, Timothy Hall, Alexander Warwick

Our lab uses the symbiosis between bioluminescent bacteria and the Hawaiian bobtail squid to understand how bacterial symbionts interact with each other as they colonize a host. Each squid harbors multiple strains of the bacterium Vibrio fischeri in a structure called a light organ.  We recently published a paper showing that each animal contains a mix of lethal and non-lethal strain types that fight to compete for a limited number of host colonization sites. IDST195 students will use wild-caught squid specimens to perform a series of experimental “modules” to answer the following questions: (1) How many strain types are found in each squid? (2) What proportion of strains from each adult have the ability to kill other symbionts? The answers to these questions will inform our understanding of the ecological function and evolution of interbacterial killing and its prevalence in a natural symbiosis.

Fall 2019

Faculty Mentor: Wayne Rosemond, Epidemiology
Strike Team: Andrew Reiter, Neil Rowan, Daniel Kim, Hannah Rayala

Cardiovascular Disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, constituting an astounding 1 in every 4 deaths nationwide. The financial burden of cardiovascular disease from the cost of healthcare services, medications, and lost productivity, reaches over $200 billion annually. Although progress has been made in diagnosis and prevention, the exact causes of abnormally high rates of morbidity remain largely unexplored. This investigation aims to fill this gap in knowledge by examining the environmental determinants of cardiovascular disease through a case-control study in North Carolina. The goals of this study are (1) to examine differences in food behaviors, diet intake, and food policies between two NC counties, (2) to construct a profile of environmental level risk factors for each county, and (3) to identify and evaluate the relative contribution of each of these factors to overall cardiovascular health risk in the region. In doing so, we hope to provide insights with the potential to inform regional health policies and prevention-based programs.

Fall 2019

Faculty Mentor: Marissa Domino, Health Policy Management
Strike Team: Niyanta Patel, Emma Caponigro, Joanna Kuang

UNC-Chapel Hill faces a growing demand for mental health services, yet Counseling and Psychological Services remains under-resourced. The UNC Peer-Based Support Network (PBSN) aims to help non-crisis students struggling with academic, social, or transitional issues. The program empowers students to create a community in support of mental wellness. This study will follow fifty UNC-Chapel Hill students entering the support network and assess changes in their behavior. The data will also help shape PBSN trainings for facilitators, group topics, and support services offered to participants. By targeting measures of self-efficacy and social support, we hope to foster long-lasting habits towards self-care and mental health.

Fall 2019

Faculty Mentor: Drew Coleman, Geological Sciences
Strike Team: Ava Broadway, Eli Parker, Jin Kang, Hannah Brown, Mike Viola

We will be trying to determine, via a pilot research project, the possibility of H. neandertalensis’ social structure following the theory of female dispersal, currently being proposed on suggestive evidence found at the El Sidron site located in Spain.  We will be looking at male and female Sr86/87 analysis from samples taken either from 1st or 3rd molars from adult fossilized remains.  This should tell us who among them are local and are not.

Fall 2019

Faculty Mentor: Elizabeth Havice, Geography
Strike Team: Katie McMahon, Isabelle Smith, Katelyn Cline, Florence Brooks, Alexis Tammi, Leslie Alanis

Our team will assess sustainability goals for UNC’s food system, and identify third party standards that will help UNC to meet goals. Carolina Dining Services (CDS) has been using a third party certification called the ‘Real Food Challenge’ (RFC) to guide its sustainability practices, but is identifying limitations of the current system and considering alternatives. To inform this process and help ensure that the UNC food system is sustainable and supports local rural economies in the state, our research team will:

  1. Conduct interviews with stakeholder groups at UNC and in the broader community
  2. Review of how peer-institutions are defining and addressing sustainability concerns in their dining systems
  3. Organize a day-long symposium to develop a dialog among experts to inform UNC’s ongoing planning on food systems sustainability
  4. Develop a final report and poster to share with stakeholder and at the Annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research.

Fall 2019

Faculty Mentor: Claudio Battaglini, Exercise and Sports Science
Strike Team: Jordan Kirby, Valerie Nguyen, Kaitlyn Nichole Barham, Michael Byrd

Our URCT project involves the inauguration of a new exercise oncology research program at the Catholic University of Brasilia in Brazil. This project is a continuation of Dr. Battaglini’s Get Real and HEEL Breast Cancer rehabilitation program. This program uses exercise interventions to improve the quality of life of breast cancer patients before, during, and after their treatment. While this is a well-established and effective program at Chapel Hill, our team will be assisting our Brasilian partners in creating a new exercise oncology program at their university. The purpose of our team is to conduct the initial research to evaluate the effectiveness of the exercise intervention on the program’s first participants.

Spring 2020

Faculty Mentor: Geoffrey Bell, Environmental, Ecology, & Energy
Strike Team: Emi Mcgeady, Felix Evans, Lennon Kuhl-Chimera

This project blends undergraduates in environmental science, communications, and engineering for an interdisciplinary exploration of how drones can be used for environmental conservation. We will collect aerial imagery of Chapel Hill forests with a DJI Phantom-4 drone to produce high resolution maps and 3D models of forest structure. We will pair these remote sensing data with traditional forest surveys, which provide the actual structural attributes of these sites and will ground truth the drone data. Communications undergraduates will participate in the research to gain an in-depth view of how science works and appreciate the value of drones in conservation to produce an outreach video about this project and how drones help solve environmental problems. Lastly, engineering students will design and build a drone mount for a 360° camera for producing virtual reality videos of our sites and research activities that will be used for teaching in conservation courses at UNC.

Spring 2020

Faculty Mentor: Daniel M. Cobb, American Studies
Strike Team: Mackenzie Collura-Repp, Samara Perez Labra, Gabrielle Walton, Lauren Grace Yannotta

Drawing on innovative methodologies, neglected sources, cutting edge scholarship, and traditional and digital means of communication, “Born in the Opposition: The Experiential World of D’Arey McNickle” reimagines the remarkable life of D’Arcy McNickle (1904-1977), one of the most important Native writers, intellectuals, and political figures of the twentieth century. Four undergraduate students will collaborate with the faculty advisor to complete a transcription of McNickle’s handwritten diary during the spring 2020 semester. This will be followed by a week of research during the summer of 2020 in one of three locations chosen by the team. The research will be used to contextual a portion of the diary the team selects and contribute to the construction of a digital representation of that portion of the diary during the fall 2020 semester. The team will also have the opportunity to co-author with the faculty advisor an essay for submission to a peer-reviewed journal.

Spring 2020

Faculty Mentor: Shauna Cooper, Psychology and Neuroscience
Strike Team: Anabelle Maya, Alexandia Organ, Jaxmine Bunch

Racial and economic inequities continue to impact the health and well-being of women and girls in North Carolina and across the nation (NC Child Health Report Card, 2018). Much of the existing information has centered on implications for women’s (adult) health outcomes and not fully understood impacts during the early lifespan (childhood; adolescence). An important area of focus is identifying critical areas of inequity that impact girls’ health outcomes, with a developmental focus. Further, understanding how girls begin to make sense of health assets, resources, and barriers within their communities is an opportunity to highlight assets and areas of resilience. Utilizing a community-based participatory framework, this research will identify health assets and barriers that shape well-being among girls and women in the city and county of Durham.

Spring 2020

Faculty Mentor: Robert Maile and Shannon Wallet, Surgery/Dentistry
Strike Team: Bharath Biyyala, Delane Dixon, Kalyani Manian, Robin Ni, Parsa Pazooki

Patients with severe burn injury experience an acute systemic immune dysfunction. This results in increased susceptibility to potentially devastating hospital-acquired infections. Females affected by burn injury have significantly higher inpatient mortality rates than male counterparts. The function of many cells involved in early responses to burn injury, including barrier and immune cells, are influenced by estrogen-induced signaling. Therefore, we hypothesize that estrogen signaling contributes to sex differences in physiological responses and outcomes after burn injury. In the Spring of 2020, the Burn Lab Undergraduate Research Team (URCT) will address this hypothesis through a series of experiments designed to uncover how estrogen affects the ability of epithelial cells, the body’s primary barrier cells, to respond to and recover from injury.

Spring 2020

Faculty Mentor: Noreen MacDonald, City & Regional Planning
Strike Team: Caroline Le, Daniel Bonomo, Meredith Chambers, Grayson Hinnant, Maria Rita Furtado

This project will analyze the health impacts of Barcelona’s Superblock urban planning model. The Superblock model describes the redesigning of a city in which one in which approximately nine city blocks are converted into a Superblock. In this model, only residential traffic is permitted within the superblock, with all through traffic and public transit being routed around the area. Through this design, city blocks become more pedestrian-oriented. Our project examines the effects of the Superblock model on environmental factors that are known to affect residents’ health, such as levels of air, noise, and heat pollution, traffic congestion, and the incidence of automobile accidents. Additionally, this project examines residents’ attitudes and acceptance towards the Superblock model in order to determine if the model has become an accepted part of Barcelona’s social fabric.

Spring 2020

Faculty Mentor: Cori Dauber and Mark Robinson, Communications
Strike Team: Dominick Antonietti, Mary Bennett Doty, Christina Oh, Amanda Sin, Sofia Triana

There is an extensive literature on the propaganda produced by violent extremist groups. But this material is studied because of the assumption it contributes to radicalization, (ultimately to acts of violence). But much of the research studies the propaganda in isolation from understanding who, if anyone, actually looked at it. We will start there. In conjunction with the FBI Behavioral Assessment Unit we are developing a data set of the videos in possession of those arrested for acts of terrorism in the US: we will then analyze those videos. On the white supremacist side this is more difficult: there is no federal law for “domestic terrorism,” but a patchwork of federal and state laws. Working with an alumnus currently at the US Department of Justice we will develop that data set, (doing that will be a major contribution), then develop an understanding of the materials they were exposed to.

Spring 2020