186 South College

grab your coffee, sit back and hang out with the UD Honors Program for a while

Tag: research (page 2 of 3)

In the [research] Trenches 11.17.2012

Leanne Keller (Psychology and Cognitive Science) and Liz Hetterly (Biology and Dean’s Scholar in Global Health and Social Justice) tell us about their senior thesis projects.

Leanne Keller: “The Effects of International Adoption on Children’s Abilities to Sustain Attention: An Assessment of Group Differences and Long Term Sequelae”


“I think I am most excited about actually looking at my results, as I’ve been collecting and analyzing data since the beginning of the summer so I’m really looking forward to seeing what’s there. The most challenging part of my research has probably been how different what I’m doing is from the interests of most other people in my lab. My research focuses on cognitive development, but the lab that I work in usually looks more into emotional development and attachment. In a lot of ways, I’m on my own with what I’m doing, especially with reviewing the existing literature, because I’m one of the few people in my lab who have really looked into it. That really ties into what I’m hoping to learn from this process, as I want to more fully understand the research process at all stages.

Participating in undergraduate research can give you a good clue into how things usually go, but I really think the independence of a senior thesis and the control of a project from the very starting stages of coming up with a proposal to putting the finishing touches on the final paper is beneficial beyond other available research opportunities. After graduation I hope to go to graduate school for a Ph.D. in either a Clinical or Developmental Psychology, where I’ll be involved in projects like this thesis for many years to come!”

Liz Hetterly: “Unintended pregnancy and need for family planning services among the urban adolescent poor in Bangladesh”


“What most excites me is the idea that this is “real” research…this is not just a lab or a class exercise, but real-life research that there is a genuine need for, that will have a real impact on people’s lives. That’s exciting to me. It’s exciting to think that this is the type of work I might be doing in the future. For me, the most challenging part is communicating with the other people who are working on this project…this may be specific to me, because I’m doing an international research project. But being halfway across the world and staying in the loop on how the study is going has been a challenge. I was able to accomplish a lot more when I was there in Bangladesh over the summer, and that is why I’m planning on returning for winter session. Being there in person makes an enormous difference.

I’m expecting to gain a better understanding of the barriers adolescents in urban slums of Bangladesh face in accessing family planning services, and in what ways we can reduce those barriers. On a broader scale, I’m hoping to learn about the context of reproductive health around the world – to learn about the lives of young girls in Bangladesh, the context that they live in, and how that influences their ability to make choices concerning their reproductive health.

My plans for after graduation are to work in South Asia doing research on maternal and reproductive health, in order to gain some more experience and research skills before going on to medical and graduate school. To this end, doing a senior thesis has been INVALUABLE. I wouldn’t be qualified to continue working in this area if I didn’t have the experience of going to Bangladesh this past summer and completing a thesis. My senior thesis has given me the skills, experiences, and connections needed to further my academic and professional career. Most of all, my senior thesis has helped me see exactly what I want to do in the world! After my experience in Bangladesh, I knew that I was interested in the social determinants of health and health issues affecting girls and women, and that is what I plan to study in the future.”

In the [research] Trenches 11.8.2012

AJ Reitter talks movie music and Ashley Lavery learns legalese.

AJ Reitter: Wagner to Williams: The Evolution of the Leitmotiv


It is very exciting to learn about why the film music we know and love today is so popular and successful; it all stems from the musical successes of 19th century operatic and symphonic techniques. The most challenging part of this research is my analysis of contemporary film music. Most film composers will not release their full scores to the public, so my analysis is done almost entirely through listening to a soundtrack. This is a major challenge with a score as dense as Star Wars, with several themes layered throughout, and it is difficult to listen in such a broad manner. It is also challenging to remember how all of the themes interact without being able to see it on a page in front of you, and so sometimes I have to musically dictate what I hear onto a piece of paper to keep everything straight.

From this experience, I am hoping to learn if I want to study film music for the rest of my life. After graduation, I hope to be attending either a Master’s or Doctoral program in Musicology, with the intent to be a music history professor someday. Writing my thesis has been very helpful in that it has taught me to synthesize varied sources and use what information already existed to find support for my opinions. This process has also been beneficial in helping me decide on a topic of a possible dissertation down the road.”

Ashley Lavery: The Depiction of Rape Victims in Legal Opinions: A Textual Analysis of Appellate Opinions


“I can name two parts of my research that have been the most exciting: the very beginning, and more recently. The beginning was exciting because the entire endeavor was entirely unknown to me. I was first came up with the idea/question while doing my reading for my Criminal Law class with Dr. Fichtelberg in the fall of 2011. We were reading rape cases and kept coming across vivid detail of the victim’s sexual history and descriptions of her appearance, etc. in the opinions and background of the case. I approached Dr. Fichtelberg originally about how prevalent this was and pitched it as a research idea. I knew I wanted to do a thesis all along, but finding something interesting, relevant to my field, and having such an outstanding response from an esteemed professor was incredibly exciting to me. He jumped right on board, and I began working on project that few other students undertake. I loved the idea of such a challenge, and through my undergrad career I learned that research is my niche.

More recently, the most exciting part has been piecing it all together. I read well over a thousand of pages of literature and case law on rape reform, rape law, and legal opinions, and now that I have completed my first draft, it has been an incredible sense of accomplishment. In addition, I have noticed a significant change in my analytical skills; thus even though I’m not finished yet, I can already tell I’ve already gained something from the experience and have recognized more areas of research into which I can dive. The entire experience has made me incredibly excited for the opportunities that lie ahead.

The biggest challenge I found was narrowing the research and providing a fresh outlook on the topic. There is loads of literature on rape and judicial opinions; there was no way I could ever read all of it, so I had to find and focus on a group of articles. The articles lead me to the cases, and then I was set. It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that I couldn’t cover every aspect of rape cases. I couldn’t wrap my head around being as focused as possible. Dr. Fichtelberg helped me to understand this, and it has been full steam ahead ever since.

My most recently developed aspiration is to obtain my Masters and Ph.D. in Criminology, so I really sought to learn how to conduct major scholarly research. Dr. Fichtelberg and the entire experience has exposed me to such methods. I have learned that good initial research raises more questions than it answers, and I may be able to expand on this research in my post graduate studies. It has been a tremendous capstone to my education at UD.

After my time at UD, I hope to enroll in a criminology masters and/or doctoral program, and this thesis will hopefully be a key to admission into those programs. I originally had this idea of just focusing on judicial opinions, but my analysis and literature research has shown me that there are various opportunities for research expansion, such as the role juries play in rape cases, what they look for in trials, and how they view the victim and defendant if the victim’s sexual history is admitted into evidence. Writing a senior thesis in my last semesters at UD has taught me how to perform extensive research on a topic; however, it has also shown me how much I have to learn. That is invaluable, and I am incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to start something during my undergraduate career that I can take to new heights in my future studies.”

In the [research] Trenches 10.31.2012

This week, Jock Gilchrist, Chris Hartung and Patrick Byrd talk about how their investigations into human thought and behavior.

Jock Gilchrist: “Sustainable Progress: Human Behavior and Methods of Social Change”

“I’m hoping to learn how we can achieve the most effective social change that betters society in a permanent, sustainable way so that we can continue to subsist on earth without facing major environmental, governmental, or economic meltdowns–even, dare I say–not just avoid catastrophe, but inspire a healthful and beneficial way of existing.

For me, the thing most exciting about doing research for a senior thesis is being able to pursue a topic I’m personally interested in without the fetters of a typical academic course. The most challenging part of my research is compiling the important ideas from different sources and synthesizing them into something coherent.

I want my career to be based around spreading the concepts of real sustainability to the wider public, whether that means through environmental organizing, journalism, or teaching. If I go for a Masters or PhD I want it to be in Climate Science, Religious Studies, or Sustainable Development. My thesis is providing a solid basis to pursue one of those fields”

Chris Hartung: “Thomas Aquinas on Free Will”

“The most exciting thing [about writing a thesis] is finding elements of Aquinas’s thought which no one else seems to have noticed before. The most challenging part is finding all of the relevant secondary sources, especially since some of them have never been translated from the original Latin/French/Italian. I’m hoping to learn more about the philosophy of St. Thomas, since he is probably the greatest Christian philosopher of all time. I’m planning to go into seminary next year. Writing this thesis will give me a head start on the philosophy courses, since they put so much emphasis on St. Thomas.”

Patrick Byrd: “How Do We Talk About Vagueness”

“The most enjoyable thing about research, particularly with philosophy, is seeing the myriad of viewpoints that others have. Some are common ones, while others can be really off the wall at times. Over time, though, one begins to see a conversation form with individuals responding in articles and referencing one another.

I guess the most challenging part of the research is trying to find support for my view. At times I have been a staunch supporter of one stance, but am forced to change my mind based upon a very good argument, even if I don’t like it. But I guess that’s the goal in research.

In doing this research I set out one goal to maintain. I wanted my “solution” about vagueness to reflect how the “folk” feel about the issue. Basically I wanted to understand why do we have the normal opinions one could have on vagueness, and try to support that. My inclination is that the way we commonly use our language is done so for a reason, and that reasoning needs to be taken into consideration. However, I need to find support for that inclination, which has always been important to the way I think about philosophy.

I plan on entering a doctoral program in philosophy. These can be quite competitive, thus having the senior thesis project would be an asset in such.”

Honors Students Reflect on a Summer of Scholarship

by Katie Galgano

With the stress of spring semester and final exams behind them, most students at the University of Delaware packed their things to return home for a relaxing summer, but for the participants in the Summer Scholars Program, their academic pursuits were only just beginning. As their peers made their way to the beaches, the Summer Scholars made their way into labs, classrooms, and the field to conduct original research alongside distinguished faculty in their various departments. Though the program is open to students across campus, its rigor makes it particularly attractive to Honors students like Kevin Chang, a junior biomedical engineering and computer science student. He calls it “an experience that you can’t replicate anywhere else.” Kelly Burke, a junior music education major with minors in disability studies and math, expressed some initial reservations about participating in the program: “I was really hesitant, because it meant that I wouldn’t be able to go home for the summer, but I’m so glad I did it.” Her research, under Professor of Music Suzanne Burton brought her into classrooms of infants and toddlers to analyze how music affects vocalization in those with speech and language disorders. “Working with the infants and toddlers was so much fun. Every class they’d find a new way to impress me with their progress,” she reminisces.

The insight that Kelly and the other scholars gained expanded far beyond the confines of their specific focus areas into the practice of conducting research as a whole. As Kevin Chang explains, his research on using jello-like hydrogels to control the growth of blood vessel cells under Professor of Materials Science and Deputy Dean of Engineering Kristi Kiick taught him “much more than just lab techniques; it also [taught him] how to ask the right questions so that [he] could find out what [he wanted] to know.”

Kyle Tucker, a junior in chemical engineering and computer science conducted research with Chemical Engineering Professor and Interim Dean of Engineering Babatunde Ogunnaike. Kyle, who focused on improving wind turbine efficiency by predicting future wind speeds, learned that “things hardly ever work out the first time,” and that you should “be prepared to fail before you succeed.”

Neuroscience and psychology student Erin McKenna reflects Kyle’s sentiments as she recalls a particular day when she was left with no option but to turn away all her subjects. In the midst of an intense July heat wave, Erin was slated to gather data for her studies on emotion-induced blindness only to discover that the air conditioning in Wolf Hall was not working. “We had to send subjects home because sweat interferes with the signal picked up by the electrode cap,” she describes. “Essentially, we had to send people home because they would’ve been too sweaty in our lab and our equipment wouldn’t have worked properly as a result.” For Erin, working with Psychology Professor James Hoffman, the Summer Scholars Program taught her not only how to roll with the punches, but the importance of anticipating as many of those punches as possible when designing experiments. “I was surprised by how much thought and preparation goes into designing each experiment. With strict ethical standards and the cost of running an experiment, professors need to be sure that each experiment will draw some type of conclusion, whether supporting or not supporting the hypothesis.”

The Summer Scholars Program offers a doorway into research that many of its participants eagerly pursue during the rest of their undergraduate careers and perhaps even beyond. While Kevin’s research over the summer focused primarily on the impact that the stiffness of the hydrogels had on cell viability, he will next explore the effects of other hydrogel properties on viability to ensure that the hydrogels can most effectively aid in blood vessel cell replacement. For junior ecology and biology student Samantha Nestory, her work on re-vegetating a disturbed industrial landscape with Professor Judith Hough-Goldestein in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology introduced her to restoration ecology, which she now is considering as a possible career path. Each of these students will also produce a senior thesis, earning them the Honors Degree with Distinction come graduation.

As the Summer Scholars came together to present their finding at the research symposium on August 9, they were able to reflect on a truly remarkable journey of discovery. Perhaps one of the greatest strengths of the Summer Scholars Program, though, is not the field experience, but the bonding and close sense of community that forms when a group of highly motivated, intellectually curious students come together to work in close conjunction with leading experts in their departments. “I became close with the members of my lab and the department, so UD feels even more like a family for me,” Samantha explains.

Summer Plans for UDHP Students

For some, the summer is a time to relax and take a break. But we found some Honors students who are taking on some interesting projects, internships, and trips this summer.

Lauren Cutajar-Wynne
Class of 2012
Major: Political Science
Hometown: Long Island, NY

Summer plans: I am currently a Legislative Fellow at the Delaware General Assembly. I work for the House Majority Caucus. Once my fellowship concludes at the end of the legislative session on June 30th, I will be interning for Senator Carper in his Wilmington Office for the rest of the summer. I am on the left in the photo in the yellow shirt. To my right is Shannon Marshall (Class of 2010) who came back to UD to visit to support UDANCE 2011.

Gabriel Di Gennaro
Class of 2011
Dean’s Scholar Concentrations in Music Education, Vocal Performance, and Theatre Performance
Hometown: Woodbury Heights, NJ

Summer plans: I was accepted into the Emerging Artist Program of OperaWorks in Los Angeles, CA this summer. From the website: This two-week program was created specifically for exceptionally talented young singers who want to build strong stage skills. OperaWorks provides the tools for life-long learning that will benefit singers throughout their careers. The program culminates in two public performances on June 18 and 19 of an original work incorporating opera, improvisation and physical theater. I was fortunate enough to be one of 30 students accepted out of a pool of over 300 applicants.

Daniel Faber
Class of 2012
Major: Vocal Music Education, Music Theory/Composition minor
Hometown: Cherry Hill, NJ

Summer plans: I will be spending my summer in the Dallas/Fort Worth area working with a professional musical theater company called Texas Family Musicals. I auditioned in Boston at the New England Theater Conference and was hired as a contracted performer in two productions in four major theaters. I’ll be spending June and July there, and then I plan to travel to Bangalore, India for a cultural exchange in August.

Sara Gartland
Class of 2012
Major: Math Education and History
Hometown: Cochranville, PA

Summer plans: I will be riding horses all day every day this summer! I currently compete my own horse at the highest level of national competition in my sport of Three Day Eventing, and have just started to do international competitions. This summer I will be training with my horse to prepare for the Plantation Field Advanced Horse Trials and the Fair Hill International CCI in the fall. I will also be exercising racehorses and dressage horses, and teaching riding lessons.

Katherine Gloede
Class of 2012
Major: Instrumental Music Education – Flute, Applied Voice minor
Hometown: Morganville, NJ

Summer plans: This summer I will be the flutist for The College Light Opera Company on Cape Cod in Falmouth, Massachusetts. Each week we will perform a different musical or operetta, while learning and rehearsing the next week’s work. In addition to room and board, the orchestra members are awarded a scholarship.

Amanda Hoffman
Class of 2013
Major: Food Science, Nutrition and Chemistry minor
Hometown: Deer Park, NY

Summer plans: This summer I will be working as an intern at TIC Gums located in White Marsh, MD. TIC Gum’s provides edible texturizers and stabilizers to the food industry. As an intern at TIC Gum’s I will be working on research and development in the Texture Innovation Department.

Hilary Kerchner
Class of 2013
Major: Chemistry
Hometown: East Petersburg, PA

Summer plans: I am a recipient of a GlaxoSmithKline Summer Fellowship where I will be able to continue participating in research on my very own project with the Mary Watson’s Group here at Delaware for ten weeks in the summer.

Shane Palkovitz
Class of 2012
Major: English: Ethic & Cultural Studies Human Services: Administration and Family Policy
Hometown: Kamblesville, PA

Summer plans: I will be conducting research in the Summer Scholars Program for the Humanities at UDel. I will be working under the supervision of Dr. McKay Jenkins to study human displacement. The brunt of the research work will be done by reading. However, a short trip in July and a one-month trip to Southern Africa in January ’12 will provide me with opportunities to do qualitative investigations and gain material for a nonfiction Honors Thesis in a related area of study. Also, I plan to be writing and recording folk music in my spare time.

Jonathan Saddler
Class of 2012
Major: Chemistry
Hometown: Glenwood, IA

Summer plans: I’ll be visiting friends across Europe from Poland to Bulgaria, before spending a few weeks teaching English at a children’s summer camp on the coast of the Black Sea in Ukraine. After that, I’ll be travelling around Turkey and India visiting more friends before meeting up with a buddy to go hiking in the mountains of Malaysia and Indonesia…after 5 weeks overseas, I’ll wrap up the summer with some good cooking back home and a few U.S. road trips with friends and family….a great way to enjoy my last summer before the real world!

Andrew Tremblay
Class of 2011
Major: Music
Hometown: Somerset, MA

Summer plans: I will be starting as a Performing Arts Intern at the Longwood Gardens in Chester County, PA. I’ll spend a year with the organization working on the administrative end of all of their music and theatre events, doing everything from marketing and publicity to operations and production management. I’m looking forward to gaining some great work experience in the arts administration field and enjoying lunch breaks amongst the beautiful plants and flowers in the conservatory!

Kevin K. Zhang
Class of 2014
Major: Neuroscience
Hometown: Hockessin, DE

Summer plans: I will be interning in the dental clinic at Esperanza Health Center in inner-city Philadelphia as part of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship’s Gateway program. I will serve the people who come to the clinic and learn about issues of social justice and how my faith impacts my career.

Older posts Newer posts

© 2019 186 South College

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

Subscribe By Email

Get every new post delivered right to your inbox.

Please prove that you are not a robot.

Skip to toolbar