Villanova Match Research Program for First Year Students

The Villanova Freshman Match Research program provides opportunities for motivated first-year students to pursue undergraduate research in the spring semester. Applicants do not need substantial experience and will serve as research assistants to faculty mentors.

If selected for the Match program, students will conduct research for 10 hours per week for 10 weeks for which they will receive a $1000 stipend. In addition to conducting undergraduate research, Match grantees participate in professional development seminars on resumes, cover letters, oral presentations, and grant writing throughout the Spring semester.  

Student Application Instructions

To apply for the Villanova Match Research Program, please complete the following steps:

  1. Review the research projects listed below and identify a project that interests you. Opportunities, arranged alphabetically by College and Department, are available in all Colleges!

  2. Attend an optional Match Resume and Cover Letter Workshop, which will be held at the following time and location:
    • Wednesday, October 18 at 6:00 pm (Bartley 2045)
       
  3. Submit a resume and cover letter directly to the Faculty Research Mentor via the e-mail address provided below by November 1, 2017. You may apply for more than one opportunity and you are welcome to apply for opportunities outside of your field of study.
    • Please include in your one-page resume your high school GPA and SAT/ACT scores in addition to relevant academic and professional experiences and skills.
    • Please include in your one-page cover letter your motivations and qualifications for this research assistantship.
    • To learn more about cover letter and resume writing, see the files under Cover Letter & Resume Templates & Tips
       
  4. The Faculty Research Mentor will review your application materials (resume and cover letter) and will contact you to interview for the position in November.

To formulate a plan for becoming involved in undergraduate research at Villanova, please make an appointment with Catherine Stecyk.

Cover Letter & Resume Templates & Tips

* Match CRF Workshop 30 mins, 10-18-17.pptx
Powerpoint featuring useful information and tips about cover letter writing
* Cover Letter Template.docx
This template provides not only a format to follow, but also tips about the content of each paragraph
* Resume Template and Action Verb List.doc
Revamp how you describe your accomplishments with this resume template and action verb list

 

Spring 2018 Projects

Summaries of the Spring 2018 projects are listed below the table

Arts
Professor Email Department Project Title
Dr. Adriano  Duque adriano.duque@villanova.edu Romance Languages
& Literature
Mapping Latino Oral Culture in the United States
Dr. Jean M.  Lutes 
jean.lutes@villanova.edu English Recovering an African American Woman Writer's
Lost Work:Alice Dunbar-Nelson and "His Heart's Desire"
Dr. Laura V. Sandez
laura.sandez@villanova.edu Romance Languages
& Literature
Visualizing Latin @ Lit.
Dr. Mary Kate Donovan mary.k.donovan@villanova.edu
Romance Languages
& Literature
Race and Celebrity in Spanish Cinema Culture of
the Silver Age
Engineering
Dr. Bo Li bo.li@villanova.edu Mechanical Engineering Scalable assemble two dimensional nanomaterials on polymer substrate for flexible sensors
Dr. Aaron Wemhoff aaron.wemhoff@villanova.edu Mechanical Engineering Increasing the Impact of Data Center Modeling Software
Dr. Morteza Seidi morteza.seidi@villanova.edu Mechanical Engineering Design & Evaluation of Head Protective Gears to Mitigate Head Injuries
Dr. Eric Musselman & Dr. David W. Dinehart eric.musselman@villanova.edu; david.dinehart@villanova.edu Civil & Environmental
Engineering
Wood Connections for Improved Seismic Performance
Dr. Jacob Elmer jacob.elmer@villanova.edu Chemical Engineering Preparation of an Ultra-Stable and Ultra-Portable Blood Substitute: Freeze-Drying of Earthworm Hemoglobin
Dr. Calvin Hong Li calvin.li@villanova.edu Mechanical Engineering Clean Water Recovery from Air by Bioinspired Nanostructured Surfaces
Dr. Gang Feng gang.feng@villanova.edu Mechanical Engineering Developing Strong and Highly-Conductive Ultra-Light Nanomaterial Network
Nursing
Dr. Mary Ann Cantrell mary.ann.cantrell@villanova.edu Nursing A Clinical Simulation Program to Increase Graduate Nurses' Clinical Competency and Clinical Judgment in the Practice Setting
Dr. Sunny Hallowell sunny.hallowell@villanova.edu Nursing Understanding the Impact of Homelessness on Mothers, Infants, and Families
Dr. Sherry A. Burrell sherry.burrell@villanova.edu Nursing Quality of Life in Caregivers of Veterans with Cancer
Dr. Tracy L. Oliver tracy.oliver@villanova.edu Nursing Assessment of Weight-Related Bias among Undergraduate Nursing Students before and after Curriculum Imbedded Sensitivity Training
Dr. Jennifer Yost jennifer.yost@villanova.edu Nursing Making Decisions in Healthcare
Sciences
Dr. Dan Kraut daniel.kraut@villanova.edu Chemistry Coupling between ATP hydrolysis and substrate unfolding by the proteasome
Dr. Benjamin Sachs benjamin.sachs@villanova.edu Psychological &
Brain Sciences
Examining sex differences in binge drinking behavior at baseline and in response to stress
Dr. Georgia C.
Papaefthymiou-Davis
gcp@villanova.edu Physics The bio-mineral core of engineered human ferritins overexpressed in E. coli
Dr. David Chuss &
Dr. Javad Siah
david.chuss@villanova.edu; javad.siah@villanova.edu Physics Mapping Galactic Magnetic Fields from the Stratosphere
Dr. Anil Bamezai anil.bamezai@villanova.edu Biology Immune Response by Helper T lymphocytes: Role of Lipid rafts and Membrane order in cell signaling through the T cell receptor
Dr. Kabindra M. Shakya &
Dr. Nathaniel Weston
kabindra.shakya@villanova.edu; nathaniel.weston@villanova.edu Geography &
the Environment
Determination of aldehydes and ketones in drinking water from a variety of storage containers by HPLC
Dr. Ryan P. Jorn ryan.jorn@villanova.edu Chemistry Interfaces Matter: Co-solvent Preference in Lithium-ion Battery Electrolytes
Dr. Alyssa Y. Stark alyssa.stark@villanova.edu Biology The effect of temperature and humidity on gecko-inspired synthetic adhesives                   
Dr. Robert Beck robert.beck@villanova.edu Computing Sciences Persuasive Human Computer Interaction
Dr. Meredith Bergey meredith.bergey@villanova.edu Sociology and
Criminology
Sociodemographic Correlates of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: The Importance of Intersectionality in Addressing Unmet Needs for Specialty Care
Business
Dr. Tina Yang tina.yang@villanova.edu Finance Inside the Boardroom: Evidence from the Minutes of Board Meetings
Dr. Lucy Chen Lucy.chen@villanova.edu Accountancy &
Information Systems
Consequences of using IFRS within the United States: The case of auditor behavior
Dr. Michael Curran michael.curran@villanova.edu Economics On the Persistence of Stock Market Portfolio Prices
Dr. Michael Curran
 
michael. curran@villanova.edu Economics   On Stock Market Connectedness across Countries
Dr. Erica Harris erica.harris@villanova.edu Accountancy &
Information Systems
Are We There Yet? CEO Gender Diversity in the Nonprofit Sector

Project Summaries

 

Arts

 

Dr. Adriano Duque, Romance Languages & Literature

Mapping Latino Oral Culture in the United States

My project draws from a corpus of children songs collected by Villanova Students between Fall 2010 and Fall 2016 among Latinos in the United States. Having assembled more than 300 songs, I am now working with Tech Services at Falvey Library to develop a website to make the corpus available and generate several methods to search and classify the material according to national origin, folkloric motifs and geographical distribution. My aim is to compose a sample webpage based on five songs and to developing FERPA compliant tools to further expand my project, beyond the class room.

Contact: Adriano.duque@villanova.edu

 

Dr. Jean M. Lutes, English

Recovering an African American Woman Writer's Lost Work: Alice Dunbar-Nelson and "His Heart's Desire"

An under-used archive at the nearby University of Delaware houses an extensive collection of works by Alice Dunbar-Nelson, an African American journalist, essayist, and fiction writer whose work in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century has been unjustly neglected by scholars.  I am working on a study of a newly discovered short story found in Dunbar-Nelson’s papers, an exquisite and surprisingly earnest piece of fiction titled “His Heart’s Desire,” which features a small boy who desperately wants to own a doll. It’s a powerful portrayal of childhood and a fascinating meditation on binary models of gender – and it was first published in The Chicago Daily News in 1900, as one of my undergraduate research assistants just discovered in September 2017! (The scholars who found the story in the Dunbar-Nelson’s papers didn’t know that “His Heart’s Desire” had actually been published, although they suspected it might have been.)  The results of this work will either be published in a scholarly journal or in a forthcoming book-length collection of work on Dunbar-Nelson, to which I have already been invited to contribute.

Contact: jean.lutes@villanova.edu

 

Dr. Laura V. Sandez, Romance Languages and Literature 

Visualizing Latin @ Lit.

This project on visual pedagogies in the humanities combines quantitative models with the coding of visualizations.These visualizations will be employed in the course Visualizing Latin@ Lit. We will think of visualization both in qualitative and quantitative terms. Our goal is to create assignments that train the imagination into asking different questions according to the tools employed; exploring the different questions tools can and cannot answer. Concretely, we will be developing materials for the course called “Visualizing Latin@ Literature.” At the end of the course, students will be asked to read, pose questions, plot graphs and compare different forms of reading. The ideal candidate will: Know how to code a graph in python or R with tooltips (non-random data) Attend the course Visualizing Latin@ Lit. Have an interest in learning, or a personal understanding of, what it means to be a minority. Be concurrently taking a course on statistics.

 

Contact: laura.sandez@villanova.edu  

 

Dr. Mary Kate Donovan, Romance Languages & Literature  

Race and Celebrity in Spanish Cinema Culture of the Silver Age

This project explores the role of American celebrities of color in developing notions of modernity and cosmopolitanism in Spain during the decades prior to the Spanish Civil War. In 1920s and 1930s Spain, the cinema experience extended far beyond the limits of the screen itself. With nearly sixty distinct Spanish film magazines in circulation during the first part of the twentieth century, viewers experienced cinema culture through a range of popular media and cultural ephemera. As scholars such as Eva Woods Peiró, Kathleen Vernon and Jo Labanyi have noted, film magazines were aimed primarily at women readers and were closely linked to shifting notions of femininity, female sexuality, and the role of women consumers in society. Much like the film industry itself, these magazines were transatlantic publications, their gaze set on Hollywood and its star system. Spanish film magazines provided their—largely female—readership with access to Hollywood stars, including the industry’s few celebrities of color. Performers such as Anna May Wong, Josephine Baker, and Lupe Vélez were pioneers in challenging the marginalized position of actors of color in the film industry both domestically and abroad. Spanish film magazine such as Cinegramas and Popular Film represented these stars for Spanish readers who, although removed from the particularities of race politics in the United States, were nevertheless intrigued by their “exotic allure,” the intersection of racial otherness and Hollywood glamour. By reading the—often problematic—representation of these stars in Spanish film magazines, this project explores how Spanish readers used this celebrity as a tool for negotiating their own identities as cosmopolitan at a moment when Spain was often perceived as existing on the cultural margins of Western Europe.

Contact: mary.k.donovan@villanova.edu

 

Engineering

 

Dr. Bo Li, Mechanical Engineering

Scalable assemble two dimensional nanomaterials on polymer substrate for flexible sensors

Flexible and wearable sensors start to play important roles in health monitoring systems. Nanomaterials-polymer flexible electronics harness unique electrical and sensing functionality of nanomaterials and flexibility of polymer leading to miniaturize, light-weighted, and cost efficient health monitoring and environmental sensing system. Unfortunately, the progress of the flexible electronics is hindered by the low efficient manufacturing technologies. The goal of the proposed research is to develop a scalable assembly method that can achieve large-scale assembly of arbitrary two dimensional (2D) nanomaterials directly on the designated polymer substrates with accurate control in assembly thickness, continuity and deposition location. Here, we will seamlessly integrate most cost-efficient and scalable synthesis technology, liquid exfoliation method, with a solution-based dynamic energy driven assembly (DEDA) method. We will understand the fundamental mechanism of DEDA method by systematically investigating different combinations of 2D materials (e.g. graphene, MoS2, and h-BN), solvents and polymers, and optimize the assembly through controlling the assembly conditions (e.g. concentration, temperature, agitation, and assembly time). Considering the enormous amount of polymer substrates and 2D materials available in the market, this study will greatly enrich the device species allowing the different designs of the device for various applications. More importantly, the assembly mechanism and principles can be generalized to other nanomaterials systems.

Contact: bo.li@villanova.edu

 

Dr. Aaron Wemhoff, Mechanical Engineering

Increasing the Impact of Data Center Modeling Software\

Data centers are facilities that house large amounts of computer servers and accompanying hardware for use in online transactions such as online searches, online banking, and internet routing. These facilities expend up to 2-3% of the U.S. annual energy consumption, which is largely wasted in cooling and electrical power losses. Therefore, any improvements in energy efficiency can have a major impact on cost reduction and environmental source pollution. Therefore, the NSF industry-university cooperative research center (I/UCRC) in Energy-Smart Electronic Systems (ES2) has the goal of reducing data center energy costs by one third. One ES2 project focuses on the development of the flow network modeling tool Villanova Thermodynamic Analysis of Systems (VTAS), which models the energy flows throughout a data center, indicating points of inefficiency and allowing the user to compare different cooling and power delivery strategies. One area of need for VTAS is for it to be more user-friendly, which means that its graphical user interface (GUI) requires a significant upgrade. This upgrade will draw in more industrial users, thereby increasing its impact on the overall data center industry.

Contact: aaron.wemhoff@villanova.edu

 

Dr. Morteza Seidi, Mechanical Engineering  

Design & Evaluation of Head Protective Gears to Mitigate Head Injuries

This project proposes the development of innovative impact resisting material systems for injury mitigation in sports. Despite ongoing efforts to address and decrease traumatic brain injuries (TBI) due to sports and recreational activities, it is still alarming that approximately 1.6 - 3.8 million sports-related TBIs occur in the United States each year. As a result of that, there is a significant interest in developing and evaluating innovative high-performance sport helmets. Accordingly, the objectives of this research and development agenda are the design, fabrication, and testing of a highly impact resistant protection system consisting of a high performing, comfortable, impact resisting material that will be used in sport and military helmets. A comprehensive experimental study will be conducted to investigate the material behavior of the shock absorbing layers used in a new headgear design. The effect of material stiffness and geometry on impact properties and strain-stress behavior of the materials will be quantified at both low and high strain rates. It is noteworthy that the hands-on nature of this research makes it ideal for undergraduate research activities.

Contact: morteza.seidi@villanova.edu

 

Dr. Eric Musselman and David W. Dinehart, Civil & Environmental Engineering  

Wood Connections for Improved Seismic Performance

The focus of the research project is the characterization of novel connections for wood shear walls used in area prone to large intensity earthquakes or hurricanes. Two MS students and one PhD student are working on fabricating and testing wood shear walls in the Structural Engineering and Teaching Research Laboratory (SETRL). These students are focused on the effects of wall openings and hold downs on the performance of the walls under cyclical loads. The performance of a wood shear wall is governed by the connection behavior. A connection consists of the sheathing material (typically plywood or OSB) connected via a fastener to the framing material. SETRL has the equipment required to evaluate these connections, and it would be the role of the first year student to conduct the testing and analyze the data that results from the testing program.


Connection specimens consist of a single piece of framing lumber (typically a 2X4) connected to a section of sheathing using a single connector. The resulting specimen is placed in a computer controlled testing frame and loaded with cyclical loads of an increasing magnitude until failure. The student will design, construct, and test the specimens. Standard connections (nails, screws, adhesive) would be tested first to provide a comparison for more novel materials that may increase the energy dissipated and stiffness by the connection. These materials could include polymer adhesives such as polyurea that have good adhesion and ductility. The connection results will be used to identify materials for full-scale wood shear wall testing.

Contact: eric.musselman@villanova.edu and david.dinehart@villanova.edu

 

Dr. Jacob Elmer, Chemical Engineering  

Preparation of an Ultra-Stable and Ultra-Portable Blood Substitute: Freeze-Drying of Earthworm Hemoglobin

Donated blood is the safest and most effective treatment for patients with severe blood loss.  However, since red blood cells must be constantly refrigerated, donated blood is frequently unavailable in remote areas that lack proper storage facilities (e.g. military battlefields).  Indeed, it has been estimated that up to 80-90% of preventable battlefield casualties could be avoided if some sort of blood product was available on the front lines.

These limitations have motivated the search for a “blood substitute” that can safely and effectively transport oxygen (the most important function of blood) after being stored for long periods of time at high temperatures. Most blood substitutes use human or cow hemoglobin as a starting material, since it is the main component of blood and an excellent oxygen carrier.  Unfortunately, those products ultimately failed clinical trials due to a variety of adverse side effects.

Our approach is to use one of the naturally extracellular hemoglobin (also known as erythrocruorin, Ec) found in the common earthworm Lumbricus terrestris (LtEc).  Indeed, we have already shown that LtEc has higher structural & thermal stability, a lower oxidation rate, and a higher molecular weight (3,600,000 g/mol) than human hemoglobin. Our preliminary animal studies in both mice and hamsters have also shown that LtEc safely delivers oxygen in these animals without causing the adverse side effects observed with human and cow hemoglobin-based blood substitutes.  Therefore, LtEc may be an ideal blood substitute for military use, since it appears to be safe, effective, and able to withstand long term storage at high temperatures (i.e. ultra-stable).

The goal of this project is to further enhance its versatility by developing a protocol to freeze-dry LtEc into a lightweight (i.e. ultra-portable) powder that can be stored almost indefinitely without any loss in function and then resuspended completely and quickly when needed.

Contact: jacob.elmer@villanova.edu

 

Dr. Calvin Hong Li, Mechanical Engineering  

Clean Water Recovery from Air by Bioinspired Nanostructured Surfaces

The conversion of vapor in are to liquid impacts many industrial applications, such as power plant efficiency, desalination, water harvesting and building energy. In particular, dropwise condensation can yield a 10-times higher condensation rate than filmwise condensation. The formation and sustainability of dropwise condensation rely on the surface wettability. In nature, many biological surfaces have special interfacial interactions with liquids – or special wettability – to survive in their innate environments. The diverse functionalities of these biological surfaces are enabled by their unique surface architectures. This project will experimental test the clean water recovery by varying geometry and surface chemistry with nanostructures. Specifically, the project will create a surface that is covered with micro/nanostructured forests and hydrophobic, which can enhance droplet nucleation while with hydrophobic areas that facilitate droplet removal.

Contact: calvin.li@villanova.edu

 

Dr. Gang Feng, Mechanical Engineering  

Developing Strong and Highly-Conductive Ultra-Light Nanomaterial Network

The development of high capacity, light-weight, high efficiency, highly durable, and mechanically robust energy storage materials can have critical environmental and economic impacts. In this project, we will design and develop ultra-light 3-dimensional (3D) networks of nanomaterials by self-assembly of nanomaterials, such as nanowires, carbon nanotubes, and 2D materials. The 3D nanomaterial-assemblies will be embedded into thermal energy storage materials to largely increase their efficiency. Particularly, the nanomaterial-network would behave thermally and electrically as a fast transfer path and mechanically as a reinforcement to the energy storage materials.

Also, the reinforcement mechanisms of the 3D nanomaterial network will be studied by increasing the interfacial bonding strength between the individual nanomaterials in the network. The reinforcement techniques will include sintering and atomic layer deposition (ALD).

The morphology, thermal, electrical and mechanical properties of the nanomaterial networks will be characterized comprehensively using advanced characterization techniques, such as scanning electron microscope (SEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM), transient plane source (TPS) technique, scanning thermal microscopy (SThM), scanning conductance microscopy, and nanoindentation.

Contact: gang.feng@villanova.edu

 

Nursing

 

Dr. Mary Ann Cantrell, College of Nursing

A Clinical Simulation Program to Increase Graduate Nurses' Clinical Competency and Clinical Judgment in the Practice Setting

The primary aim of this National League for Nursing (NLN) funded project is to assess the extent to which graduate nurses, who participate in a program of safety-focused clinical SBLE can increase their clinical competency and clinical judgment and transfer these demonstrated skills from a simulated environment to a practice setting. A secondary aim of this study is to compare those graduate nurses who participated in this safety-focused simulation program with a control group of graduate nurses, enrolled in the same nurse residency program, who did not participate in these safety-focused simulation-based learning experiences (SBLE), on the outcomes of clinical competency and clinical judgment in the practice setting. This study will use an experimental interrupted time-series design. The Integrative Model of Clinical Judgment guides this study. The sample of 122 graduate nurses will be drawn from a nurse residency program from the Main Line Health System. The intervention will be comprised of four SBLE that incorporate the 2017 Joint Commission National Patient Safety Goals. Study participants in the intervention arm of the study will have their clinical competency measured with the Creighton Competency Evaluation Instrument (CCEI®) and their clinical judgement measured with the Lasater Clinical Judgment Rubric (LCJR©) following each SBLE. The clinical simulation will occur in the simulation lab in the College of Nursing. Study participants, in both the intervention and control group, will have these outcomes measured in the practice setting.

Contact: mary.ann.cantrell@villanova.edu

 

Dr. Sunny Hallowell, College of Nursing

Understanding the Impact of Homelessness on Mothers, Infants, and Families

For more than a decade, women and children have been described as the largest group of entrants to the homeless shelter system. During this time the number of females identified as head of households has increased. Homelessness exposes families to an increased risk early life exposure toxic stress and chronic de-stabilizing events may contribute to long-term health consequences (eg. obesity, diabetes, heart disease).

A recent Call to Action by the American Academy of Nursing has highlighted breastfeeding is an evidenced based intervention that may mitigate the effects of toxic stress. Factors that influence infant feeding practices among homeless women and associated maternal-infant health outcomes are not well known.

In Philadelphia, inconsistent hospital and shelter surveillance/tracking systems limit the ability for health care providers, educators and shelter systems to co-ordinate care and predict when these families enter the homeless shelter system. This prevents the opportunity to build a culture of health where entry into the shelter system may provide a stabilizing environment at a critical time of development for mothers and their newborns. We are at the review of the literature stage of this project.

Contact: sunny.hallowell@villanova.edu

 

Dr. Sherry A. Burrell, College of Nursing

Quality of Life in Caregivers of Veterans with Cancer

Cancer not only affects the patient, but also the informal caregivers who assist the patient throughout the cancer journey. Improved cancer survival rates and a shift in the delivery of cancer treatments to the outpatient setting, have resulted in an increased need for informal caregivers (Kent et al., 2016). An informal cancer caregiver is defined as relative, friend or neighbor who provides a broad range of assistance to an individual with cancer, which often includes: monitoring for side effects of treatment; managing symptoms; assisting with activities of daily living; and providing emotional, financial and spiritual support. Informal caregivers often take on the role without adequate knowledge, skills and resources, and experience negative emotional, physical, social and spiritual consequences, which can result in a poor quality of life (QoL) (Northouse et al., 2012; Kim & Given, 2008).

It is estimated that there 5.5 million informal caregivers of Veterans in the United States (Ramchand et al., 2014). Informal caregivers of military service men and women with cancer are faced with unique challenges due to the complex underlying health conditions prevalent in this population, including: depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome and traumatic brain injuries (National Alliance of Caregiving [NAC], 2010). In a recent survey, caregivers of Veterans (N=462) reported experiencing a high level of physical strain (66%), stress and anxiety (88%) and participating in unhealthy behaviors, such as having poor eating habits (56%), spending less time exercising (69%), and skipping their own medical appointments (58%) (NAC, 2010). Despite these negative health-related consequences; QoL in those caring for Veterans with cancer have not been widely reported. The purpose of this project is to use the integrative review methodology to explore the literature pertaining to QoL outcomes and factors related to QoL in caregivers of Veterans with or surviving cancer.

Contact: sherry.burrell@villanova.edu

 

Dr. Tracy L. Oliver, College of Nursing

Assessment of Weight-Related Bias among Undergraduate Nursing Students before and after Curriculum Imbedded Sensitivity Training

Obesity is one of the leading public health concerns in America today with more than 66% of the US adult population reported as being overweight or obese (Ogden et al., 2006). Discrimination and weight stigmatization are unfortunate experiences obese individuals encounter in the healthcare setting (Puhl & Brownell, 2001). Healthcare providers such as physicians and nurses may harbor biased attitudes about weight, which can contribute to discrimination (Budd, Mariotti, Graff & Falkenstein, 2009).  Weight bias may directly affect a patient’s involvement in healthcare therefore, it is essential to identify and to alleviate weight stigma among future healthcare professionals. Since nursing professionals are often the frontline of care, they must first identify if they are unknowingly harboring any personal stigma or bias against overweight or obese patients. Thereby, targeting nursing students to receive weight sensitivity training may be imperative to not only teach students about the complexities of obesity, but to provide a skill-set to combat stigma in their future nursing practice.

Overall, the goal of this project is to utilize the expertise of Registered Dietitians who work either as faculty within the Villanova University College of Nursing or staff at the MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education to implement a weight sensitivity training program during the fall semester 2017.  This project is presently underway and is developing, implementing, and evaluating a teaching strategy to promote sensitivity training and prepare undergraduate nursing students to provide nondiscriminatory patient care to the overweight and obese patients during their NUR 3115 Practicum in Nursing Care of Adults and Older Adults course.  It is expected that sensitivity training will increase the nursing students’ awareness of personal biases and provide a foundation to alleviate weight bias.  The development and cultivation of non-biased attitudes has the potential to influence their future conduct as nurses.

Contact: tracy.oliver@villanova.edu

 

Dr. Jennifer Yost, College of Nursing

Making Decisions in Healthcare

It may seem outrageous, but it can take up to 17 years to get what research has shown to “work” implemented in health care. It has also been estimated that 30-45% of people are not receiving care that has been shown to “work” and 20-25% are receiving care that is not needed or is potentially harmful. One of the reasons these issues exist is because using research is a complex process that involves being able to find, retrieve, and interpret the best available research and then decide how that research applies. This leaves us wondering, how do we help patients, caregivers/families, health care professionals, and organizations consider the best available research evidence in decisions about health care? Among health care professionals, syntheses of the literature about how best to promote the use of research among nurses are still lacking. As such, the purpose of this project is to update the literature on what “works” to improve the ability to use research in practice among nurses in the hospital, and if their use of research improves the health of patients.

Contact: jennifer.yost@villanova.edu

 

Sciences

 

Dr. Dan Kraut, Chemistry  

Coupling between ATP hydrolysis and substrate unfolding by the proteasome

The proteasome is an ATP-dependent machine in all eukaryotic cells responsible for unfolding and degrading substrate proteins. In the Kraut lab we study the processivity of the proteasome – that is, its ability to unfold and degrade substrates containing folding domains without falling off the substrate. Substrates to be degraded are polyubiquitinated, meaning a chain of small proteins called ubiquitin are attached to lysines within the substrate. In addition to targeting the substrate to the proteasome, ubiquitin seems to activate the proteasome for better unfolding of its substrates. In this project we propose to examine the mechanochemical coupling between ATP hydrolysis and unfolding. If we slow down the rate of ATP hydrolysis (by including a non-hydrolyzable ATP analog), how does that affect the rate of unfolding and the proccesivity of unfolding? How is this affected by ubiquitination of the substrate? We will initially use Green Fluorescent Protein as a model system.

Contact: daniel.kraut@villanova.edu

 

Dr. Benjamin Sachs, Psychological & Brain Sciences  

Examining sex differences in binge drinking behavior at baseline and in response to stress  

Binge drinking exerts a tremendous toll on American society through its numerous direct and indirect effects, including the promotion of increased risk-taking behaviors, aggression, sexual violence, poor academic performance, liver damage, and the development of psychological disorders, such as major depression. Two of the many factors that influence binge drinking are gender and stress. Being male and having a history of significant life stress are both associated with increased binge drinking, but the effects of stress on binge drinking have been reported to differ between the genders. Specifically, at least one study has found that stress is positively associated with binge drinking in male college students but negatively associated with stress in female college students. The extent to which these sex-specific relationships between stress and binge drinking result from sexually dimorphic neurobiological responses to stress (or alcohol) in males vs. females has not been established. The current work seeks to evaluate the potential neurobiological underpinnings of sex differences in stress-induced alterations in binge drinking behavior. Sex differences in responding to other drugs of abuse, such as cocaine, have been suggested to derive in part from differences in the striatal expression of Alk, a kinase that is known to be regulated by estrogen. Here, we plan to compare the effects of stress on binge drinking behavior in male and female mice using the chronic restraint stress and drinking-in-the-dark paradigms in mice. In addition, we intend to evaluate the effects of stress and alcohol on Alk expression in males and females to determine whether sex differences in Alk regulation could contribute to the differential rates of binge drinking in males and females following stress.     

Contact: benjamin.sachs@villanova.edu

 

Dr. Georgia C Papaefthymiou-Davis, Physics

The bio-mineral core of engineered human ferritins overexpressed in E. coli  

Iron is a required element necessary as an enzyme co-factor and as a substrate for heme biosynthesis.  However, iron is also toxic. Malregulated iron accumulation can be responsible for organ dysfunction. Ferritin, the iron storage protein, has evolved to bind ferrous ions in solution and convert them into a ferric irons within a biomineral core of nano meter dimension within a protein shell.  Thus, ferritin performs the dual function of iron detoxification and iron storage.  The mechanism of oxidative iron deposition into the ferritin core of engineered mammalian proteins overexpressed in E. coli is being investigated.  In particular, the size, size-distribution, crystallinity and spin structure of the antiferromagnetic biomineral core is examined via Mӧssbauer Spectroscopy and Electron Transmission Microscopy, as a function of protein shell composition and number of ferroxidase centers on the protein.

Contact: gcp@villanova.edu

 

Dr. Davis Chuss and Dr. Javad Siah, Physics  

Mapping Galactic Magnetic Fields from the Stratosphere

NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is a cutting-edge observatory based in a Boeing 747 that observes the sky at an altitude of up to 45,000 feet. Our group at Villanova is part of a team that is commissioning a new camera called HAWC+ for SOFIA that will use polarization to trace magnetic fields in our galaxy. This camera is now producing science-grade data that will provide new understanding of the role that these fields play in the star formation process.  By making detailed maps of molecular clouds that serve as stellar nurseries, HAWC+ will be able to test models of star formation more precisely than ever before. Our team is leading several key analysis projects resulting from the initial data from HAWC+/SOFIA.

Contact: david.chuss@villanova.edu; javad.siah@villanova.edu

 

Dr. Anil Bamezai, Biology

Immune Response by Helper T lymphocytes: Role of Lipid rafts and Membrane order in cell signaling through the T cell receptor

Helper T lymphocytes play a vital role in immunity to pathogens and cancer. These cells recognize foreign entities through their antigen receptor (also called as T cell receptor), and mount a robust immune response. Antigen receptors, and many other integral membrane proteins participating in T cell response against a pathogen or tumor are located on the plasma membrane. Early cell signaling events triggered by these membrane proteins occur at the membrane, therefore a comprehensive understanding of membrane microenvironment is critical for the understanding responses that cells generate. Lipid rafts composed of sphingolipids, cholesterol are the constituents of liquid ordered phase (Io) of the membrane. Lipid rafts are surrounded by a liquid disordered (Id) fluid phase which is enriched in unsaturated lipids and non-raft proteins. Recent findings suggest that lipid rafts provide a platform for the recruitment of proteins involved in helper T cell signaling. Disrupting lipid rafts and the membrane order (Io) it generates results in loss of cell signaling. Our research is focused on the mechanism through with the lipid rafts and membrane order controls the cell signaling.

Contact: anil.bamezai@villanova.edu

 

Dr. Kabinidra M. Shakya and Dr. Nathaniel Weston, Geography and the Environment

Determination of aldehydes and ketones in drinking water from a variety of storage containers by HPLC

With the increased use of various types of containers used for storing drinking water, it is important to learn about the quality of water in such storage systems. Previous research has found the possible contamination of aldehydes in bottled water stored in plastic containers such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles. Aldehydes such as formaldehyde can be mutagens and carcinogens. Formaldehyde in drinking water may come from the industrial treatment of water and/or leaching from the plastic containers. In this study, we will analyze drinking water stored in various types of containers including water available for retail purchase. The objectives of this study are to compare the presence of aldehydes (formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and crotonaldehyde) and ketones (propanal, butanal, and cyclohexanone) in various types of water containers by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), and to test the effect of temperature and bottle caps on aldehyde content. Aldehydes and ketones will be measured by HPLC following US EPA Method 8315A.

Contacts: kabindra.shakya@villanova.edu; nathaniel.weston@villanova.edu

 

Dr. Ryan P. Jorn, Chemistry  

Interfaces Matter: Co-solvent Preference in Lithium-ion Battery Electrolytes

As concerns intensify over global climate change associated with fossil fuel emissions, electrification of cars has gained increasing momentum.  To date, the biggest challenges associated with producing all-electric vehicles have been limitations imposed by the materials involved: namely the choice of electrodes and electrolytes to achieve sufficient energy density and cyclability.  In metal-ion batteries, such as lithium and sodium, one often makes use of several additives to imbue the electrolyte with optimal properties.  For example, vinyl carbonate has been used to encourage the growth of a stable electrode interface during battery operation, and mixtures of solvents have been used to tailor electrolyte.  One popular combination of solvents used in rechargeable batteries incorporates ethylene carbonate (EC) and propylene carbonate (PC).  On its own, PC reacts violently with carbon electrodes during charge cycling, however introducing EC and changing salt concentrations can minimize PC’s reactivity.  The assumption in previous work has been that these changes in composition are reflected in changes to the solvation structure of lithium ions that subsequently alters the chemistry at the electrodes.  Studies have been performed to demonstrate preferences for EC and PC in the solvation shell of lithium ions, however no work has been done to address the influence of the electrode and electric fields on solvation preference.  Our group has developed a model to describe mixed electrolytes of EC and PC solvating a common lithium salt, LiPF6, however further simulations are needed to explore the validity of this model and its implications for synthesizing new lithium ion electrolytes.

Contacts: ryan.jorn@villanova.edu

 

Dr. Alyssa Y. Stark, Biology  

The effect of temperature and humidity on gecko-inspired synthetic adhesives

The sticky toes of geckos have fascinated humans for centuries. However, only recently have we begun to discover the mechanism behind how geckos stick and un-stick. This body of work has inspired several gecko-inspired synthetic adhesives, most of which are micro- and/or nano-structured polymer tapes. Although many gecko-inspired synthetic adhesives are successful at replicating some of the gecko's amazing performance capabilities, most fail when environmental conditions become complex. This project focuses on the complex interaction of two common environmental conditions: temperature and humidity. In the natural system, gecko adhesion increases as humidity increases, but only at low temperature. We found that the synthetic system replicates this behavior, except at high humidity and low temperature, where it loses its grip. This project will focus on this particular temperature and humidity regime, and uncover why geckos can stick in these conditions and the synthetic tape cannot. We will test the adhesion of multiple types of gecko-inspired tape in a walk-in, environmentally controlled chamber.    

Contacts: alyssa.stark@villanova.edu

 

Dr. Robert Beck, Computing Sciences

Persuasive Human Computer Interaction

Persuasive Human Computer Interaction is a subarea of HCI research focused on changing human behavior.  Investigators conduct experiments and make observations to discover effective strategies.  For example, does winning virtual badges at ever increasing levels of involvement promote lasting behavior changes?

This project is investigating ways to use persuasive HCI to promote the use of the bottle-filling water fountains installed on campus.  These fountains are a good source of sustainability data because they have built-in counters that record the use of the fountains. The project is part of a larger study of computing and sustainability, where in this context sustainability means making the planet safe for life into the foreseeable future.

The literature suggests a number of strategies involving aspects of computing and HCI including

·       Informative and normative social influences: the desire to be right and the desire to be liked and socially accepted.

·       Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation: appealing to one’s sense of public good or providing rewards for acceptable behavior.

·       Extrinsic motivation and group coherence:  promoting team success and social reward for actions.

The quest is to find which computing based strategies are best for promoting sustainability.  These strategies change as the technology changes: smart water bottles, Wi-Fi enabled watches, ubiquitous computing approaches are some possibilities.  The project blends sophisticated technology with common actions of humans to help them tread more lightly on their environment.

Contacts: robert.beck@villanova.edu

 

Dr. Meredith Bergey, Sociology and Criminology

Sociodemographic Correlates of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: The Importance of Intersectionality in Addressing Unmet Needs for Specialty Care

This project seeks to examine social correlates of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder amongst children and adolescents in the United States. Particular attention will be paid to an area that has to-date been underexplored: the importance of intersectionality across social groups in addressing unmet needs for specialty care. The research will explore the most recent data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).

Contacts: meredith.bergey@villanova.edu

 

Business

 

Dr. Tina Yang, Finance

Inside the Boardroom: Evidence from the Minutes of Board Meetings

Due to data limitation, previous studies have only used publicly observable data such as director’s attendance of board meetings and dissenting votes to infer the functioning of independent directors inside the boardroom. Since the day-to-day workings of a boardroom are private, it is very difficult to assess the decision-making process of independent directors and how such processes impact firm value.

In this project, we propose to collect detailed minutes of board meetings for Chinese listed companies to provide an inside look at how independent directors make decisions and perform the monitoring role, what drive board dynamics, and importantly how board dynamics impact firm value.

To the best of our knowledge, only two studies have been able to collect data from board minutes. Both studies use a sample of 11 Israeli firms. We propose to sample publicly-traded firms in the second largest economy in world—China. We will also be able to link the board minutes data to firms’ financial data and stock returns, which the previous studies have been unable to do.

Therefore, this proposed project can address some interesting questions that have not been directly addressed in the literature before. For example, do independent directors rubber stamp management’ decisions or do they ask tough questions? Do they think independently or do they groupthink? Do they collaborate as a democratic group or do they follow a leader (e.g., the Chief Executive Officer or the Chairman of the Board)? Which type of independent directors (e.g., female director, younger directors, etc.) lead to a more dynamic board? Whether and how do board dynamics impact firm value?

Contact: tina.yang@villanova.edu

 

Dr. Lucy Chen, Accountancy & Information System

Consequences of using IFRS within the United States: The case of auditor behavior

 

In this research project, I examine the effect of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) versus U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) on audit fees and auditors’ decision to issue going concern opinions. Most countries around the world allow their domestic publicly traded companies to use IFRS in preparing their financial statements. The U.S. remains one of the few countries which does not permit IFRS for domestic firms, even though foreign companies listed in the U.S. are allowed to prepare financial statements in accordance with IFRS without any reconciliation to U.S. GAAP. There are over 500 foreign companies that report to the SEC using IFRS alone and audits of these firms are conducted in accordance with U.S. auditing standards. For example, Nokia is cross-listed in the U.S. and its financial statements are prepared under IFRS alone. These U.S.-listed foreign firms provide a unique setting to investigate the effect of different accounting standards within the context of the U.S. market.  I try to shed light on whether and how the use of IFRS and U.S. GAAP by U.S.-listed foreign firms affects the behavior of auditors in terms of audit fees and their propensity to issue an opinion on a client’s ability to continue as a going concern. I argue that IFRS, by specifying broader requirements and requiring more judgment in application than U.S. GAAP, increase auditors’ effort and engagement risk, which leads to higher audit fees and a higher likelihood of issuing going concern opinions. This project should be useful to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as it deliberates whether and how to incorporate IFRS information for U.S. domestic firms.

Contact: lucy.chen@villanova.edu

 

Dr. Michael Curran, Economics

On the Persistence of Stock Market Portfolio Prices

This paper studies the persistence of aggregate stock market portfolio prices relative to that of the U.S. for over 60 countries. In particular, we contribute to the financial macroeconomic literature by focusing on the extent of purchasing power parity or equilibrium relative price reversion in financial assets. This is a relatively unexplored area in the field. From a theoretical standpoint, if “Chartists” or “momentum traders” dominate the market, then stock market prices can exhibit random walk tendencies. Conversely, “Fundamentalists” or “newswatchers” may impose more discipline in the market, thus leading to mean-reverting tendencies in asset prices. Given that fundamentalist strategies are more likely to prevail when asset prices are far away from equilibrium, while technical analyses are more likely to dominate in the local neighborhood of equilibrium, we adopt a nonlinear approach to modeling relative stock market prices. Accounting for potential heterogeneity in dynamics over the cross section, we execute our study on a country-by-country basis. The empirical analysis intially entails examining the results of linear and nonlinear unit root tests for relative stock market price indices, before proceeding to linearity vs nonlinearity testing. Subsequently, we estimate relevant univariate time series models and obtain measures of persistence from both standard monotonic rate of decay formulae and generalized impulse response functions. The latter measures provide a sense of the degree of parity convergence in bilateral series, thus giving a sense of the frequency with which potentially profitable arbitrage opportunities are exploited. Importantly, in the second part of our paper, we endeavour to relate this key statistical property of persistence in stock market prices to macroeconomic fundamentals. Namely, we examine if the levels of and inertia in relative fundamentals are systematically related to inertia in relative stock market prices.

Contact: michael.curran@villanova.edu

 

Dr. Michael Curran, Economics

On Stock Market Connectedness Across Countries

This paper examines financial connectedness or “contagion” between stock markets internationally. We build a dataset of country-level stock market indexes for a panel of 60 countries by choosing the stock market within each country that has the largest market capitalization. Initially implementing cross-country dependence tests, we proceed to estimate various measures of financial and macroeconomic connectedness between the major stock markets across countries. We provide theoretical and empirical comparisons of alternative measures of connectedness, in the context of the multi-country univariate case as well as the the multi-country multivariate case. In the latter part of our paper, we discuss theoretical considerations behind combining mixed frequency data. In our study, financial data is available in higher frequencies than macroeconomic data. We investigate goodness of approximation for filters treating lower frequency data as missing and compute maximum likelihood estimates for impulse response functions from our model. We also provide an alternative approach invovling the state space framework with exact formulae for computing the impule response functions (under certain conditions).

Contact: michael.curran@villanova.edu

 

Dr. Erica Harris, Accountancy & Informational Systems

Are We There Yet? CEO Gender Diversity in the Nonprofit Sector

We conduct an exploratory investigation of gender diversity in the nonprofit sector.  Gender disparity and associated consequences have been well-researched and documented for Corporate America.  There are limited gender studies in the nonprofit sector. This paper seeks to address that shortfall. Using a determinants model, we identify the characteristics of firms that are more likely to have a female CEO. We further investigate this by industry and size.  Then, in a matched sample, we test how nonprofits with female CEOs perform, in comparison with their male counterparts, in organization with charitable versus service oriented focus.  Using a sample of over 15,000 firm-year industry diverse organizations, we find that nonprofits with female CEOs are less complex, better governed, and more fiscally responsible.  We further find that organizations employing female CEOs report lower future donations, but higher future profitability consistent with a focus on operations in place of fundraising.

Contact: erica.harris@villanova.edu

Past Freshman Match Participants

Past Freshman Match Participants

Student Department     Mentor         Project Title
2016      
Lauren
Henderson
Mechanical
Engineering
Aaron
Wemhoff
Models for improving the energy efficiency of data centers
Alexander
Vetter
Psychology Michael
Brown
Exploring the Animal Mind
Gianna
Perez
Psychology Michael
Brown
Exploring the Animal Mind
Victoria
Lyou
Human
Resource
Development
Christopher
Castille
Personality-Oriented Work Analysis Assessment Validation
Athul
Rajesh
Chemical
Engineering
Jacob
Elmer
Cross-linking earthworm hemoglobin with glutaraldehyde to produce an ultra-stable blood substitute
Zhenglin
Yu
Mechanical
Engineering
Calvin
Li
Graphene synthesis for graphene polymer nanocomposite of increased thermal conductivity
Andrew
Lee
Mechanical
Engineering
Gang
Feng
Developing nanostructured energy storage materials
Katherine
Mohr
Nursing
Elizabeth
Dowdell
“Trauma Normalization” in a population of children living in homeless or domestic violence shelters
Erin
Donnelly
Nursing Elizabeth
Dowdell
“Trauma Normalization” in a population of children living in homeless or domestic violence shelters
Emily
LaPorte
Nursing Meredith
MacKenzie
Pilot testing the COPE intervention with family caregivers of frail older adults
Maria
Djogova
Chemistry Dan
Kraut
Determining the Fate of Ubiquitin During Proteasomal Degradation
Mansi
Mann
Chemistry Dan
Kraut
Determining the Fate of Ubiquitin During Proteasomal Degradation
Hwa
Yoo
Biology Matt
Youngman
Flipping the switch: Identifying molecules that activate the DAF-16 transcription factor during aging in the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans   
Amanda
Summers
Biology Matt
Youngman
Flipping the switch: Identifying molecules that activate the DAF-16 transcription factor during aging in the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans   
Silvia
Jaramillo-
Regalado
Computing
Sciences
Robert
Beck
Persuasive human computer interaction in support of sustainability
Daniel
Giangola
Computing
Sciences
Robert
Beck
Persuasive human computer interaction in support of sustainability
Joseph
Michail
Physics David Chuss/
Javad Siah
Exploring galactic magnetic fields with planck data
Jyotasna
Yadav
Economics Sutirtha
Bagchi
The liability of being foreign: do regulators treat foreign firms differently
Rachel
Azzoli
Economics
Sutirtha
Bagchi
The liability of being foreign: do regulators treat foreign firms differently
Allison
Garippa
Economics David
Fiorenza
Creative destruction in the music industry
Madisyn
Schwartz
Tina
Yang
Finance Are female executive teams targeted differently in corporate takeover battles?