As part of its research month, the University of Texas at Tyler presented its seventh annual lyceum presented by the honors program and the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning on April 22.
Over 100 students presented a range of research topics with an oral presentation and poster session. Students discussed their research and answered questions in the spirit of the ancient Athens, Greece lyceum founded by the philosopher Aristotle.
“The creation, expansion and communication of knowledge lies at the heart of UT Tyler’s mission, and today’s showcase demonstrates the ability, insight and work ethic of our entire campus community,” Dr. Paul Streufert, executive director of the UT Tyler honors program said.
The Tyler Loop selected projects of four undergraduate students and their work as an example of the this program.
Topic: “PTSD, STDs and Infertility? Oh My!: Exploring the Relationship Between Military Sexual Trauma and Fertility”
Mentor: Dr. Adam McGuire
Psychology undergraduate major Katrina Henley chose her topic after she realized people don’t necessarily know much about sexual trauma in the military. She noticed the popular advertising to join the military but the lack of information about what could happen afterwards.
“Infertility is such a horrible thing that people go through and it’s more common nowadays too,” Henley said. “It is something to look into if you’re going to join the military and they’re not going to protect you …this is what might happen.”
Her research showcased some problems that come from sexual trauma, such as STDs or STIs which are causes of infertility, along with PTSD, a chronic stress factor that could cause infertility.
She also was able to research female veterans presenting higher instances of infertility among those who reported sexual trauma or stress.
Henley wants her research to bring about change.
“I’m really hoping it can lead to looking into more of a definitive correlation and doing research on people that have infertility issues and look into whether they have had sexual assault,” Henley said.
She said misconceptions about what counts as sexual assault or what happens after sexual assault can occur in Tyler and East Texas. She said she wants East Texans to do a better job protecting women.
“Infertility isn’t like a known cause of domestic violence, but if you have infertility issues, that increases the likelihood of domestic violence,” Henley said. “I feel like that is something that needs to be more well-known as a risk.”
Henley plans to work specifically with sexual assault victims and continue her research to help as many people as she can.
Topic: “Trumpet Mutes and a Discussion over Their History and Timbres”
Mentor: Dr. Jeremy McBain
Music education and trumpet performance undergraduate major Gavin Clarke has been playing the trumpet for about 10 years. He said he went through four different topics before finally deciding on one.
“For trumpet players, mutes are like toys, so I like buying mutes,” Clarke said. “It is something that spends a lot of my money, but it’s a lot of fun.”
His research consists of the different types of mutes used throughout the history of trumpets and the unique purposes of the mutes.
Clarke took different name brands of mutes and compared them with each other. As he dove into the research, he noticed different uses and how one company can make a mute entirely different from another one, although classified as the same type.
“I looked up everything and anything about trumpets, because you need a lot of specifics,” Clarke said. “There’s not as much research about music as other, bigger fields.”
Clarke said he never understood why mutes were used primarily for jazz music until college, because he was more familiar with the country and pop genres prevalent in East Texas.
“But over these past four years, jazz music has become a bigger deal in East Texas,” Clarke said. “There are a lot of bars and breweries that have jazz bands come out and play. It’s starting to pick up speed a little bit.”
Clarke said he aspires to play like Norweigan trumpet player Tine Helseth. He hopes his research will serve him later in graduate music studies.
Topic: “Role of Disutility from Pollution in Explaining Pollution-Income Paths”
Mentor: Dr. Luis Gautier
Undergraduate economics and math major Ayush Kumar chose a topic he finds interesting.
His research question, “Why agents with similar abatement technology fail to exhibit similar pollution-income paths,” points to the feedback between pollution and income.
This led to the argument that “low enough levels of disutility from pollution are associated with relatively high levels of income which ensure reductions in pollution.” In this case, disutility refers to the reduction of utility due to pollution.
“Our work is a formalization, so we are economic theorists,” Kumar said. “We developed a mathematical model and showcased that if an agent — that is a nation — has high enough marginal disutility from pollution, it can start showcasing large pollution impacts.”
He pointed to instances where large levels of pollution continue, meaning cleaner environments are not being valued as they should be, which could have negative consequences such as poor health.
Kumar said whether or not people believe humans cause climate change, one cannot deny the impact of pollution, because there is also an impact on production as a consequence.
“Even in East Texas … if we are to continue a process of sustainable development, growth cannot simply lead us out from the realms of pollution, but rather it also has to be active steps in curbing pollution,” he said.
After graduation, Kumar plans to join J-PAL, the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, as a research associate.
Topic: “Investigation of HK97 VLPs toward applications and drug delivery”
Mentor: Dr. Dustin Patterson
As an undergraduate biochemistry student, Gaini Ibrasheva started her research last summer with her professor. This being her first research experience, she said her professor has guided her and taught her the basic lab techniques.
“Working in the lab was pretty dangerous, because we’ve got all these molecules, so it was kind of scary at first, but I got used to it,” Ibrasheva said.
Her research consisted of developing virus-like particles, which are basically protein cages that can be used as vesicles to deliver drugs to certain places. These particles are not necessarily harmful, so they were able to load them on the inside with drugs and modify the outside of them.
“We first wanted to see if we can load certain molecules on the inside of them, so we set up a bunch of reactions and we were able to see that we can attach this fluorescent molecule that can go on the inside of the particle,” she said.
Working with triple negative breast cancer cells, Ibrasheva hopes to be able to modify the outside of the virus-like particle to deliver it to certain places such as cancer tissues.
After graduation, she wants to earn a doctorate degree and be involved in research and development in a pharmaceutical company.
Patricia Garcia is a recent college graduate from UT Tyler, where she majored in mass communication. She was the managing and newsletter editor for the Patriot Talon, an independent, student-run news source. Patricia hopes to curate works with impact and grow as a journalist.
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