NASCA Award Winners 2021

The purpose of this award is to support undergraduate student research and creativity at the State University of New York at Fredonia. The student(s) receiving awards from the fund must be enrolled as full-time students at Fredonia and must be incoming Sophomores, Juniors, or Seniors. Awardees are required to present their work at the annual OSCAR Student Research and Creativity Exposition. If selected, students will receive their award in the Fall 2021 semester and must be able to fulfill their objectives by the following Spring in order to share their work at the OSCAR Exposition.

Evaluation Criteria

1. Potential of the proposed project to advance applicant knowledge in his/her field through research or creation of new work.

2. Clarity and completeness of the project description.

3.  Appropriateness of outcome and activities as related to the duration of the project and the requested funds.

Congratulations to our Fredonia students who won!

Below you will find a detailed description of the project each Awardee submitted.

Chris Sill

Christopher Sill

"My project will be a short documentary titled “The Covid Classroom.” The documentary will focus on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected SUNY Fredonia, and how the response from the campus, faculty, and staff positively impacted the students' education throughout the semesters that we have been recovering from the virus. The documentary will also cover how current and future students are being affected by the virus on campus, and what has been/will be done to help in these hard times. Interviews with faculty members will be conducted to get insight on how the response took place with their first-hand accounts, and research on COVID-19 cases, vaccinations, and policies from both campus, the SUNY system, and the state of New York itself will be conducted and shared as well."

Rachel Blake

Rachel Blake

"Hearing loss due to viral infection is not uncommon. For example, this has been seen with chickenpox, measles, mumps, etc. Since the emergence of the novel coronavirus, there have been some published reports describing ringing in the ears (tinnitus), and/or the onset of a hearing loss in symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals who have had COVID-19. Current studies on this topic are few and limited. Much is still unknown about COVID-19 and its long-term effects. In this research project, we aim to determine if there is an association between COVID-19 and hearing loss using a variety of audiological measures to assess the different areas of the auditory system. This will help us gain a better understanding of the mechanisms and/or structures of the ear that are impacted by the novel coronavirus, which may provide relevant information for the audiological management of COVID-19 cases."

Emilia Driscoll

Emilia Driscoll

"On a global scale, cancer is the leading cause of death. Although there are various types of cancer, one characteristic they all share is abnormal cell behavior that causes them to grow at an accelerated pace, resulting in the out competition of healthy cells (American Cancer Society, 2020). In most cancer cells, there is a higher occurrence of mitotic defects that cause changes in gene expression, protein structure, and can alter the number of genes present in the cell. Defects such as lagging chromosomes, anaphase bridges, and multipolar spindle formation contribute to the abnormal growth of cancer cells as they increase aneuploidy (Bakhoum et al, 2014). The irregular number of chromosomes results in genetic instability (Bakhoum et al, 2014). In healthy cells, there are mechanisms to help the cell divide normally. One such mechanism uses the kinase Plk1, which is necessary for the cell to enter mitosis (Zhixian et al., 2017). For this project, the goal is to examine the effects of modulating expression levels of proteins that interact with mitotic kinase Plk1 on carcinogen-induced mitotic defects in oral cancer cells. "

Reese Holahan

Reese Holahan

"Professional singers, especially classically trained singers, employ specific strategies in an effort to achieve the robust sound that is typical of the art form. One common type of strategy known as “formant tuning” or “vowel modification” involves the slight shifting of the quality and production of vowels as they are sung. This effectively modifies the positioning of the first two formants (vocal tract resonances responsible for differentiating vowel sounds) and serves to amplify the vocal sound in a more efficient manner. There is a vast body of research investigating how these techniques are applied to vowel sounds but very little work examining similar effects across consonants. This study seeks to investigate the ways in which singers may apply formant tuning strategies to certain consonants. More specifically, we will be looking for differences in frequency levels of the first two formants of /l/ sounds across contexts of singing and speaking. A deeper and more thorough understanding of the strategies used by classically trained singers will inform pedagogical approaches and provide more helpful goals and models for voice students."

Colm Roster

Colm Roster

"Tenodera Sinensis is a species of mantis native to Asia that engages in sexual cannibalism where the female may kill and consume the male during copulation. In some cases, males make up a large part of the female diet during the breeding season. The evolutionary maintenance of this relationship is still not fully understood. It is not clear whether the male is complicit in his own cannibalism. It may be evolutionarily beneficial for males to risk cannibalism if their probability of additional mating opportunities before the end of the season is low. In order to develop a better understanding of this sexual relationship, the male mating frequency must be experimentally measured. Paternity measurements can be achieved by genotyping polymorphic microsatellite loci. Such polymorphic loci have yet to be identified in T. Sinensis, this is what we have attempted to achieve.  Polymorphic microsatellites were isolated, amplified, and sent for DNA sequencing. This sequencing yielded 16 novel microsatellites to which we have designed PCR primers. We are currently testing individual progeny to determine if the allelic variation of these microsatellites exists. In the future, this variation can be used to determine the number of paternal contributors to ootheca collected from the field, which in turn will provide information about the number of mating opportunities a male can expect to have in the wild."

Samantha Reed

Samantha Reed

"The objective of my project is to further observe and understand the mechanism that cells use to reduce multipolar cell division rates through the clustering of extra centrosomes. When multipolar cell division occurs, cancer cells that have an incorrect number of chromosomes begin to develop. This development has negative effects on the genome. If I can further understand how the mechanism occurs and functions, I could develop a better understanding of how cancerous tumors progress and this understanding could lead to new forms of treatment."

Joan Adams (L) and Hannah Vanderbilt (R)

Joan Adams and Hannah Vanderbilt

"Our research project will allow us to connect over zoom sessions with gamelan musicians in Bali. We will learn more about our specific Gamelan instruments at Fredonia, as well as the culture from which they came. We will understand the historical significance of the iron that was used to create our instruments as well as the value of movement and sound in Bali. Through this cultural exchange, we will use this new knowledge to enhance our own ensemble and incorporate elements of dance into performances. Learning from Gamelan musicians in Bali will create a wonderful opportunity of learning and growth for our Gamelan ensemble here at Fredonia."

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