Ballard and Seashore Recipients Fall 2019

Ammar Sahib Abdulameer Al Khafaji

Al Khafaji, Ammar Sahib Abdulameer; Pharmacy »

The intranasal route is an attractive site for drug delivery. Nanoparticles may provide unique therapeutic opportunities when included in nasal drug delivery systems. Solid lipid nanoparticles (SLNs) of two sizes, 30 and 150 nm, were synthesized and their uptake was investigated in the nasal tissues. Our uptake studies showed that the uptake of 150 nm SLNs was limited. On the other hand, we found that the uptake of smaller SLNs (30 nm) was more optimistic as a drug delivery vehicle since they can pass through the intercellular spaces of the nasal mucosa by delivering loaded drug moieties into the olfactory bulb region of the brain.

Alexander Ashland

Ashland, Alexander; English »

My dissertation examines the ways in which mid-nineteenth-century writers negotiated literary and nonliterary media in an effort to respond to and shape changing conceptions of race, gender, and class. I argue that documentary media motivated writers to experiment with a hybrid aesthetic in which literature and its sources encouraged not only an affective response to slavery, but also an interrogation of the social and political structures that supported its institutionalization and curated its postbellum response.

Brett Bahle

Bahle, Brett; Psychological and Brain Sciences »

Vision is our primary sense for gathering information about the world. Because high-acuity vision is limited to the very center of the visual field (fovea), we frequently orient the fovea to objects of interest. In my dissertation, I investigate how different sources of information influence this orienting behavior, with the goal of informing basic scientific questions about the nature of gaze control and understanding how performance in important, attention-demanding real-world tasks can be optimized.

Nathan Black

Black, Nathan; Chemistry »

High surface area materials have many applications in heterogeneous catalysis, energy storage, and ion adsorption. By using botanical templates, more sophisticated high surface area structures can be attained. My dissertation focuses on using plants materials, such as plant leaves, celery and, potato, as templates for porous metal oxide and carbon structures. These plant-derived structures have been studied as both photochemical and electrochemical catalysts for water purification and green energy.

Samuel Brensinger

Brensinger, Samuel; Applied Mathematical and Computational Sciences »

General relativity is Einstein's theory of gravitation. It's a major improvement over the classic Newtonian theory of gravitation, but in physics, every answer comes with many new questions. My research exploits an existing symmetry in general relativity by applying projective geometry to the theory. The expanded theory, which may be called projective gravity, seeks to solve problems related to dark matter, dark energy, and the quantization of the gravitational force.


Pratik Rajesh Chheda

CHHEDA Rajesh, Pratik; Pharmacy »

My research focuses on identification of bioactive compounds using virtual screening along with the design and synthesis of novel organic compounds that exhibit high affinity for target enzymes. I am working on different classes of compounds that are being developed as potential therapeutics for the management of Helicobacter pylori and Plasmodium falciparum infections as well as probes to better understand the biological processes leading to the respective disease conditions.

Michelle Colpean

Colpean, Michelle; Communication Studies »

This project interrogates the gendered dimensions of anti-Muslim racism and the constitution of cultural identities in the U.S. through several contemporary case studies centered on image. Analyzing them in the context of shifting geopolitical interests and long histories of representation and racialization, I examine the relationship between contemporary public discourse about Muslim, Arab, and Middle Eastern women and the ways that broader U.S. publics are themselves constituted by these particular discourses.

Matthew Cring

Cring, Matthew; Genetics »

Bardet-Biedl syndrome (BBS) is a rare genetic disorder with no current effective treatments. Patients have a variety of features, including obesity, visual impairment, intellectual disability, and male infertility. My research focuses on testing gene therapies aimed at treating some of these features, particularly visual impairment and male infertility using mouse models of the disease. I am also looking at the protective effects of mutations in BBS genes against glaucoma.

Biyue Dai

Dai, Biyue; Biostatistics »

Penalized regression is one of the most popular statistical tools to analyze high dimensional data, where the number of features exceeds the number of observations. My research addresses two important questions in this active research area. First, we proposed a new cross-validation regime that improves the model fitting for penalized Cox regression. Second, based on a penalized regression fit, we developed a test statistic that improves the false discovery rate estimation of selected features.

Natalie Del Vecchio

Del Vecchio, Natalie; Epidemiology »

The project’s objective is to evaluate how patient characteristics, surgeon selection factors, and hospital size and accreditation affect the likelihood of having a Cancer Care Coordinator or receiving a Survivorship Care Plan, and how all of these factors affect post-treatment health-related quality of life. Successful completion will significantly improve understanding of the effects of social and care-related factors as cancer patients navigate the complex healthcare system, and provide important information for clinicians and patients.


Joseph Jakarasi


Jakarasi, Joseph; History »

My dissertation, which is concerned on matters of health and healing in Africa, tells the story of the importance of kinship relations in the tending of the sick. In it, I show how kinship relations are particularly important in under-served rural communities in Zimbabwe.

Kate Lechtenberg

Lechtenberg, Kate; Teaching and Learning »

Current research argues that discussing social, cultural, and political issues in high school literature classrooms is both necessary and fraught with tensions. In this study, I collaborate with four secondary teachers to explore how educators choose texts, facilitate complex classroom dialogues, and communicate with students, parents, and administrators about these decisions. Our work goes beyond existing research focused on individual classrooms to explore how teachers relate to departmental, school, and community conversations about educational equity.

Jason Mixdorf

Mixdorf, Jason; Chemistry »

Allylic fluorides are ubiquitous scaffolds in the architecture of pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, materials chemistry, and positron emission tomography (PET) imaging. Recently, methodologies have focused on the utilization of transition-metal catalysis to forge allylic carbon-fluoride bonds. My dissertation describes the development of a new procedure for the synthesis of enantiopure allylic fluorides utilizing iridium catalysis. Additionally, this method was derivatized for the production of allylic [18F]fluorides as potential radiotracers for qualitative and quantitative assessment of disease state.

Luiza Notini de Andrade

Notini de Andrade, Luiza; Civil and Environmental Engineering »

Iron oxides are ubiquitous in Earth and their redox reactions control the cycling and availability of important elements. In my dissertation, we explored the connections between mineral surface defects and iron redox chemistry. Specifically, we investigated how the presence of surface defects influences Fe(II)-Fe(III) electron transfer and microbial reduction of goethite. Our results provided new insights into the redox mechanism, allowing us to make better predictions about the behavior of iron oxides in natural environments.

Iva Patel

Patel, Iva; Religious Studies »

My dissertation titled, “Taming of the Mind: The Rhetoric of Instruction and the Cognitive Practices of Becoming Swaminarayan Devotees in Nineteenth Century Gujarat,” analyzes vernacular lyric literature of the internationally prominent Swaminarayan Hindu tradition to examine sectarian instructions for perfecting devotion. Through a study of language and practices of shaping devoutness, it comments on cultural categories of selfhood, religious identity, and everyday living as mediated by a modern religious movement.

Tri Hoa Phan

Phan, Tri Hoa; Chemistry »

Surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) is a highly sensitive technique that detects trace amounts of biological, chemical, and radiologically-relevant molecules based on enhanced vibrational signals using plasmonic nanoparticles. Reproducible SERS signals, however, require stable optical properties of nanoparticles. My thesis focuses on addressing this challenge by promoting reproducible SERS detection of small molecules through materials design and both fundamental and applied studies. Importantly, the influence of intermolecular interactions on vibrational spectroscopy is revealed.

Gurjap Singh

Singh, Gurjap; Mechanical Engineering »

Current levels of oil shipment by rail have caused significant strain on rail infrastructure and led to crude oil train derailments and related fires. This work aims to understand crude oil droplet combustion and thereby to lead to methods to improve train fire safety. Crude oil obtained from different US oilfields has been tested with additives such as nanomaterials and polymers to make it harder to burn while not compromising its value to oil refineries.

Jianing Song

Song, Jianing; Biomedical Science -- Pharmacology »

Protein homeostasis, which is a balance between protein synthesis and degradation, plays a key role in maintaining normal brain functions and ensuring proper brain development. Abnormal stability and turnover of brain- or neuron-specific proteins often times lead to neurodevelopmental disorders. My dissertation focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms by which genetic mutations of ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) cause X chromosome-linked intellectual disability (XLID).

Brad Stilwell

Stilwell, Brad; Psychological and Brain Sciences »

In searching for objects in a cluttered visual scene, such as finding a friend’s face in a crowd, we selectively attend to some objects and disregard others. Typically, we find our target object (our friend’s face) by efficiently guiding our visual attention toward that object’s features. My dissertation addresses the open issue concerning how well we can guide attention away from distracting, non-target features, especially when we have strong guidance to the target.

Nicole Thiher

Thiher, Nicole; Chemical and Biochemical Engineering »

Electron beam (EB) polymerization is a fast, eco-friendly, and low energy means of curing thin films, adhesives, inks, and coatings. EB offers many advantages over traditional polymerization methods, but the relationship between starting materials, processing conditions, and final properties is not well understood. My research aims to gain a better understanding of these "recipes" by studying the fundamentals of EB reactions in order to expand the use of EB polymerization in industry.

Josh Thompson

Thompson, Josh; Integrated Biology »

Asymmetric cell division, unequal distribution of cell fate determinants between daughter cells, underlies the development and maintenance of varied tissue types. The Wnt/β-catenin asymmetry pathway asymmetrically distributes Wnt signaling components to differentially regulate Wnt target genes in daughter cells post-division. The main effector of this pathway, β-catenin, instead localizes symmetrically to centrosomes. By investigating molecular motors, I will demonstrate cell fate-relevant roles for this localization of C. elegans SYS-1/β-catenin and its regulators in SYS-1/β-catenin inheritance.

Dylan Todd

Todd, Dylan; Neuroscience »

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) can occur when a fetus is exposed to alcohol during gestation. Alcohol exposure causes damage to the developing brain, however there is a wide range of outcomes between babies with similar alcohol exposure levels. One potential explanation is the baby’s genetics. By removing key genes in mice and studying whether they become more vulnerability to alcohol, my research could guide the development of new medicines to help protect the developing brain.

Wenda Tu

Tu, Wenda; Statistics;

The applicability of linear regression analysis hinges on the presumption that the dataset enjoys a single linear model. In reality, however, a dataset may admit multiple groups, each of which assumes a distinct model. In real data analysis, this subgroup structure involving functional heterogeneity is generally unknown. A suite of methodologies has been developed to unravel such subgroup structure. The proposed methods have wide applications in various fields (e.g., marketing, agriculture and clinical trials).

Rachel Walerstein

Walerstein, Rachel; English »

Masculine Gestures: On Imitation and Initiation in Modernism explores tropes of social initiation and gender imitation in American literature and film between 1915 and 1940. I focus specifically on sites where a complex negotiation of gender identity and Americanness is undergone— the boxing ring, the battlefield, the city, and the rural south— in order to trace the way men’s embodiment was figured in response to fears that masculinity itself was in crisis.

Qinghua Wang

Wang, Qinghua; Mechanical Engineering »

My PhD thesis focuses on the development of two new laser surface engineering methods for multifunctional surfaces. The first method is an innovative nanosecond laser-based high-throughput surface nanostructuring process that efficiently treats large-surface-area engineered metal alloys. The second method is a novel laser-based metasurface fabrication process using transparent glass-based or polymer materials as the substrate. These two methods are time-efficient and cost-effective, and the technological breakthrough will render practical treatment of macroscale functional surfaces.

Anne Welhaven

Welhaven, Anne; Biostatistics »

High quality early phase clinical trials are important to identify safe and efficacious interventions for further study. For these trials, rapid recruitment and late toxicity onset can cause suboptimal outcomes. My research aims to address these challenges by developing new dose-finding trial designs that modify when study participants can be included in the trial and the dose-response modeling. These designs are evaluated via simulation study against established designs as well as using actual trial data.

Shweta Pandharinath Yelgaonkar

Yelgaonkar Pandharinath, Shweta; Chemistry »

My research is focused on utilizing principles of supramolecular chemistry to construct targeted organic functional materials. Employing strong, directional non-covalent interactions, we aim to design desired molecular arrangements and, in turn, control overall reaction pathways in solids. We have developed a template strategy that can facilitate carbon-carbon bond formation ([2+2] photodimerization) in a solvent-free environment. This solvent-free method has allowed the multistep organic synthesis in just one-pot, and development of new reactions in solid-state.