LSSU Students Undergraduate Group

Students Research Enabled by Undergraduate Research Grants

The LSSU Undergraduate Research Committee awards multiple grants of up to $500 each to support senior capstone project, research-based equipment, supplies, and travel. Grants are made on a competitive basis. An anonymous benefactor established the undergraduate research grant program at LSSU with a substantial gift in 2007. Since that time, this special initiative has grown with continued financial support from alumni and friends through the LSSU Foundation.  If you wish to support the LSSU Undergraduate Research fund program, please contact the LSSU Foundation or make a gift online.

Following are summaries of research conducted by recent recipients:

Haven BarnaHaven Barna

The impacts of enrichment on the problem-solving abilities of rats (Rattus norvegicus)

The physical, psychological, and overall well-being of animals can be negatively impacted by captivity. Enrichment is a method of keeping captive species engaged by giving them activities to partake in throughout the day. Enrichment devices could include toys, novelty objects, food, sensory activities, and much more.  My project will utilize rats to investigate the impacts enrichment can have on problem-solving ability. There will be a control and a treatment group. The rats in the control group will not be exposed to enrichment, while the rats in the treatment group will. Each rat will be evaluated by recording the time it takes them to complete a maze before and after the experiment takes place. This data will be analyzed to look for differences between the rats that were exposed to enrichment, and the rats that were not, to assess how problem-solving ability is impacted by enrichment.

Jared EmmackJared Emmack

Determining differences in rhizospheric soil microbial communities in stands of Eastern White Pine

In this study, the goal will be to determine differences in rhizospheric soil microbial communities between differing aged stands of Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus).  Soil samples have been collected at 3 locations; a site near Tahquamenon State Park, a location just southwest of Sault Ste. Marie, MI, and a site near Copper Harbor, MI.  The extracted microbial DNA from the soil samples are then analyzed for microbial community abundance as well as diversity within the community.  This will determine whether or not the Eastern white pine individuals are selecting certain microbial community characteristics throughout their lifetime.

Nash JohnstonNash Johnston

Effects of salinity on serum cortisol in Atlantic salmon

This project will look into safe handling techniques of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in regard to performing a “Dip” into a salt bath for vaccinations. Salmon will be randomly assigned into three salt test groups with a further level of variation being length of test. Blood was taken post different salinity exposure in order to determine a safe concentration of salt to use for a “Dip”, as well as length of time. Total blood cell count and plasma cortisol levels were analyzed under microscope, and via ELISA test respectively. ANOVA test was used for data analysis to find a difference between the tests: serum cortisol and salinity treatment.

Renee ResendesRenee Resendes

Effect of PFAS on Zebrafish Ova

Renee Resendes of Windsor, Ontario tested the effects of PFAS (Per and Polyfluoralkyl Substances) on the development and mitochondrial function of zebrafish ova. The two most common forms of PFAS are PFOA and PFOS, which are persistent in the environment and of common exposure to humans. The study aimed to determine if there was a correlation between changes in embryonic development, and energy production as a result of exposure to PFOA, PFOS and in combination. Results showed that PFOA and PFOS in combination effected embryonic development, caused changes in energy regulation, and within these conditions even resulted in embryo death before 14 days old. Research of PFAS is of value because of the potential harm these chemicals have on reproductive and developmental processes and overall adverse human health effects.

Taylor SeveranceTaylor Severance

Does acetaminophen suppress emotional output?

Recently, some newly found side effects of acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, have shown suppressed emotional output. This study was designed to use social conformity as a medium to monitor any behavior, mood, or physical changes acetaminophen may have on those who consume it. A total of 48 participants were evaluated during a small group activity on their cortisol levels, mood states, blood pressure/pulse, and behavioral changes. The data gained will be analyzed to determine if acetaminophen is decreasing physiological stress reaction and mood changes, and if the suppression of stress may result in a behavioral change.