LSSU Undergraduate Research Projects Underway

Undergraduate research is an integral part of the student experience at Lake Superior State University. In fact, the University mission and vision statement emphasizes LSSU’s role in helping students develop their full potential, as well as contributing to the growth, dissemination and application of knowledge. The Undergraduate Research Committe (URC) is charged with promoting and recognizing the student research efforts that occur across campus, as well as encouraging new efforts. The committee consists of faculty members from various academic disciplines.

One of the main roles of the URC is to oversee the Undergraduate Research Fund, a program sponsored by the LSSU Foundation that awards grants of up to $500 to students to support project or research-based equipment, supplies, and travel. The student grants are awarded once each semester on a competitive basis.

Fall 2019 Funded Projects

  • Brenden Lukomski, who is a math and biochemistry major, was given a grant to study on an enzyme that acts on phosphates in grain products. Chickens do not naturally process phosphates in the grains they eat and must either be given a phosphorus supplement or have their food treated. Using the enzyme have environmental and economic benefits as it prevents the runoff of phosphorus contaminated water and allows the farmer to save money on supplements. Brenden’s research explores whether the bacteria-produced enzyme could be used in this way.
  • Pre-med major Brianna Regan secured a grant to do a comparison study of whether social media or video chatting increases stress more in young adults. Brianna used various physiological measures to gauge stress after a participant used social media or video chatting or neither.
  • Lucas Sheppard, a biochemistry major, received funding to study a possible alternative to antibiotic use. The bacteria that causes tuberculosis has been historically difficult to treat with conventional antibiotics due to the very thick, non-permeable waxy cell wall which surrounds the entire bacteria. Lucas investigated the antimicrobial activity of a specific peptoid and its isomers against tuberculosis.
  • Education major Victoria Size was inspired by a book to investigate something and this is best described in her own words from her grant application:  “Over the summer, I read a book entitled A $500 Housein Detroit.  I want to know why the school chose agriculture as a focal point in teaching soon to be moms, as agriculture seemed like an unlikely future career for these women.  The author of the book purchased a home for $500 in Poletown (area of Detroit).  I want to know what the community did to rally for themselves during a time of crisis and how it impacted the children in the community.”
  • Psychology major Jessica Thompson probed the student and faculty opinions and knowledge related to Title IX. Faculty are mandated reporters of Title IX incidents and Jessica hypothesized that “students will dislike compelled disclosure more so than faculty and will have less knowledge on it, faculty will be more well-versed and have a more positive view on the rules of confidentiality between professors and students, and faculty will be more in agreement with and more knowledgeable about faculty-student relationship policies.”

Spring 2020 Funded Projects

  • Psychology student Kassidy Hadix was awarded a grant to study whether differences in socioeconomic status, gender, and childhood trauma result in certain attachment styles. Kassidy used a series of questionnaires to identify correlations between attachment and other factors.
  • Breanna Kemppainen, an environmental science major, was awarded funds to chemically analyze the groundwater near McNearney Lake in Chippewa County. She is taking samples and running tests every three months for a year on this lake related to fluctuations in the acidity and alkalinity of the water.
  • Pre-med student Sophie McConkey is investigating the prevalence of a specific antigen in the Sault Ste. Marie area. The Duffy antigen increases in a human population when malaria affects humans. The wetlands of Sault Ste. Marie supported an abundant mosquito population that was infected with the parasite that caused malaria from 1840-1940. Sophie’s project examines the Duffy antigen frequency now and the process of natural selection related to the antigen.
  • LSSU pre-med student Rebekka Ranta is studying caffeine metabolism by analyzing DNA samples for a specific gene. The gene, which is named CYP1A2, has been found to determine the rate at which humans metabolize caffeine. Rebekka’s study hopes to show the percent of fast, medium, and slow caffeine metabolizers among LSSU students.
  • Do carp grow at different rates? George Schaffer, a fisheries and wildlife major, was awarded a grant to find out if Silver Carp, Bighead Carp, and a common hybrid of the two have different growth rates. He noted in his grant application that answering this question has ecological benefits.