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Summer research projects provide Rockford College students real-world experiences

Tuesday, June 19, 2012  
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For immediate release – 6/19/12
Director of Communications Rita Elliott, 815-226-3374


Rockford, Ill., – Each summer, Rockford College supports research conducted collaboratively between students and faculty. The following students are conducting research projects.

Vanja Cosic, a senior biology major from Rockford, Ill., is working with Associate Professor of Mathematics Filiz Dik, Ph.D., to research and report on how mathematical methods can be applied to biology, specifically in using mathematical modeling of blood flow to investigate blood dynamics. Blood dynamics affects the vascular system, and it is important for treating and diagnosing patients who suffer from vascular system diseases. Ms. Cosic will look at how mathematical modeling can used to give doctors a dynamic image of the heart and the blood inside. She plans to go on to pursue a medical doctorate degree.

Mariah Dhaese, a sophomore math major from Oregon, Ill., is working with Associate Professor of Mathematics Filiz Dik, Ph.D., to research and report on how music can help teach concepts of mathematics. Students often use jingles to help them remember mathematical formulas. Ms. Dhaese plans to research a number of these jingles to explore what makes them successful. She also plans to research sound waves and relate them back to trigonometric and algebraic functions. She hopes that her research will help her in her future career as a high school mathematics teacher.

Ashley Eggert, a sophomore biochemistry major from Machesney Park, Ill., and Sam Medina-Conchi, a junior biochemistry major from Milwaukee, Wis., advised by Professor of Chemistry/Biochemistry Deborah Breiter, Ph.D., will travel to Paris, France to study France’s universal healthcare system. Both students plan to interview doctors and patients about their views of France’s universal healthcare system. Once back in Rockford, they will continue their research by interviewing doctors and patients at St. Anthony’s Hospital regarding their views on the private healthcare system here in the U.S. Using this information, Ms Eggert and Mr. Medina-Conchi will analyze the pros and cons of both healthcare systems. Both students plan to continue their schooling to become medical doctors.

Jeremy Ennis, a sophomore math major from Machesney Park, Ill., is working with Associate Professor of Mathematics Mehmet Dik, Ph.D., to research and report on how to implement technology effectively and cost consciously in high school mathematics classrooms. Mr. Ennis will research new types of calculators, online graphing programs, and software and how high school mathematics teachers can use them. He hopes in the end to create an aide for current teachers who need assistance in implementing new technology in their classrooms. He believes that familiarizing himself with this technology now will help him in his future career as a high school mathematics teacher.

Jason Haggerty, a senior biology major from Belvidere, Ill., is working with Assistant Professor of Biology Troy Skwor, Ph.D., to research and report on the presence of Aeromonas, a type of bacterium, in the Rock River. Aeromonas can cause a wide variety of infections in humans from "flesh eating disease” to gastrointestinal infections. Samples will be taken bi-weekly from at least three locations for ten weeks. If Aeromonas bacterium are found, Mr. Haggerty will identify its pathogen, species, and antibiotic resistance.

Angela Nelson, a junior math major from Loves Park, Ill., is working with Associate Professor of Mathematics Mehmet Dik, Ph.D., to research and report on Mathematical Knowledge Management (MKM). MKM is a new research field that focuses on using mathematics and computer science to catalog theories, formulas, and mathematical language in the fields of math and science. Ms. Nelson plans to research why it is needed, how the information is being obtained, who will manage it, how the database will be accessed, and what its goals are. She is currently working towards a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science.

Kayla Olsen, a senior biology major from Rock City, Ill., and Assistant Professor of Biology Troy Skwor, Ph.D., are working on to research and report on the effectiveness of near infrared (NIR) light emitting diodes (LEDs) of reducing matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) in cervical and ovarian cancer. Studies have been conducted showing that NIR LEDs have been successful in treating rheumatoid arthritis, a disease which has elevated levels of MMP expression. Cervical and ovarian cancers also have elevated levels of MMP expression. Therefore, it can be hypothesized that NIR LEDs would be successful in treating cervical and ovarian cancers. Ms. Olsen hopes that this research can identify a non-toxic and affordable treatment for diseases that have elevated levels of MMP expression.

Sarah Reed-McNamara, a senior art history major from Fox River Grove, Ill., along with Professor of History Catherine Forslund will research and report on the contribution and experience of Conscientious Objectors (COs) in the Civilian Public Service (CPS) during World War II. Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, has a special collection of primary sources and documents from the CPS camps. COs were mainly men from the Historic Peace Churches who performed work of national importance but, were not directly involved with the war effort. Ms. Reed-McNamara will continue this research for her Senior Seminar during the Fall 2012 semester.

Francisco Rodriguez, a senior biochemistry major from Rockford, Ill., is working with Associate Professor of Mathematics Mehmet Dik, Ph.D., to research and report on mathematical applications in the science classroom. It has been shown that poor math skills are a barrier to learning. Mr. Rodriguez plans to research how a poor knowledge of math from early on can hamper understanding in future science classes. It will be shown how common math equations are used in chemistry.

Shaimaa Suleiman, a senior biochemistry major from Rockford, Ill., along with Associate Professor of Mathematics Filiz Dik will research and report on how mathematical models can be used in the study of population biology. Population biology covers a wide range of population dynamics. Ms. Suleiman plans to focus on population age, growth, and synchronization. She will use mathematical models such as, Leslie matrices, linear stability, and reproduction number, to research these population dynamics. She plans to go to medical school to earn her medical degree.

Eileen Westerman, a senior psychology major from Pecatonica, Ill., will conduct research with faculty advisor Professor of Psychology Belinda Wholeben Ed.D., on Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Ms. Westerman will researched the effects of TBI and PTSD on the military and veteran population, current treatments, and the abnormal neurobiological relationships between TBI and PTSD. She also plans to research how colleges and universities accommodate students who are veterans with PTSD and TBI. She hopes to share her report at an undergraduate research conference.


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