Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Students can browse below to help find a research mentor. Please contact potential mentors directly.


Marguerite Tassi, PhD

Department: English

My speciality is Shakespeare. I also work on ancient literature, performance arts, and revenge drama.

For more information on Dr. Tassi: Website

Rebecca Umland, PhD

Department: English

Popular culture and myth, film studies, Arthurian literature, world literature, 19th century British literature.

For more information on Dr. Umland: Website

Jeff Wells, PhD

Department: History

My specialty is politics and journalism in the United States during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (1870 to 1920); however, I am willing to mentor student research projects related to US history since 1865 or other fields of history utilizing digital history methodology.

For more information on Dr. Wells: Website

Andrew White, DMA

Department: Music

I would work with students on vocal literature and vocal pedagogy projects, mostly literature review. I do not feel confident with voice science subjects involving experiments on human subjects.

For more information on Dr. White: Website

Keith Geluso, PhD

Department: Biology

I generally work with students interested in vertebrates (mainly mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds). I conduct mainly natural history studies of many different types and methods that result in published papers with students. I always have interests/projects ready to start but always interested in ideas of students too.

For more information on Dr. Geluso: Website

Austin Nuxoll, PhD

Department: Biology

Antibiotic therapy is often unsuccessful against chronic bacterial infections for one of two reasons: resistance and tolerance. Countless studies have focused on the former but despite important implications to human health, the mechanism behind tolerance is poorly understood. Tolerance is mediated by persister cells, which are formed by all major pathogenic bacteria. Chronic infections including indwelling devices, osteomyelitis, cystic fibrosis, endocarditis, and deep-seated infections are associated with biofilms. Many antibiotics are proficient at killing growing cells and we rely on the immune system to clear the remaining, dormant persisters. Biofilms are especially problematic, as they protect persisters from the immune system. We have a number of projects currently ongoing in our laboratory including, mechanism of biofilm formation, mechanism of persister formation, polymicrobial infections, and tolerance to the immune system.

For more information on Dr. Nuxoll: Website

Dustin Ranglack, PhD

Department: Biology

My research primarily focuses on large mammals (bison, deer, bobcats), their behavior and habitat use, and the ecological interactions between them. It is primarily field based.

For more information on Dr. Ranglack: Website

Julie Shaffer, PhD

Department: Biology

I am a microbiologist who studies the ability of ticks to spread infectious disease. We have been looking at tick distribution and the bacteria that they carry using molecular biology techniques.

For more information on Dr. Shaffer: Website

Paul Twigg, PhD

Department: Biology

I have a number of students for next year, but may take more depending on the student. I study molecular biology of plants. I'm currently working on biofuel plants and the relationship of plant roots with bacteria in the soil.

For more information on Dr. Twigg: Website

Kristy Kounovsky-Shafer, PhD

Department: Chemistry

We use 3D printing to create devices to elute and concentrate large DNA molecules. Students learn how to use AutoCAD to design the devices and then print them with one of our 3D printers. Next, students will load DNA molecules into the device and drive the DNA with an electric field into the channel of the device.

For more information on Dr. Kounovsky-Shafer: Website

Angela K. Hollman, PhD

Department: Cyber Systems

My research interests right now center around 3 main topics: 1) cybersecurity risk assessment; 2) networking & technology systems in relationship to health; 3) increasing multidisciplinary STEM (particularly "T" for Technology) education opportunities in middle schools.

For more information on Dr. Hollman: Website

Amy Nebesniak, EdD

Department: Mathematics & Statistics

I am interested in research topics within Mathematics Education. This could include a variety of topics, although much of my research has been on teaching mathematics conceptually, teacher professional development, and growth mindset.

For more information on Dr. Nebesniak: Website

Barton Willis, PhD

Department: Mathematics & Statistics

But next year: (a) departmental APR (b) hiring (c) attempting find a compromise plan for adequate classroom space once we move to the so-called applied STEM building. But two possible projects: (i) something with Quantum mechanics (ii) something with binomial transforms and special functions.

For more information on Dr. Willis: Website



Ladan Ghazi Saidi, PhD

Department: Communication Disorders

My research overlaps Neuroscience, Psychology, and Communication Disorders, both in healthy populations and patients with disorders such as aphasia, and dementia. I also work a lot on bilingualism and teaching a second language to adults. Some students from different programs in education might be interested in my filed of research. I use neuroimaging as a tool, this can be a great opportunity for students to learn technics and research in human neuroscience, and this can open the door for them to go very far if they re interested in this field. I also use behavioral tools. Students from a variety of programs from Psychology, biology, communication disorders, and all allied health programs may be interested in my field of research. Also, students in statistics can work with me, to gain experience in applied statistics in Biological and Psychological fields. For example, I have a bid project in creating a screening survey and students from statistics or other related programs may find my project interesting. For students who would like to work on their own interest,there is room to create many smaller and bigger projects within my filed of expertise.

Philip Lai, MA, PhD

Department: Communication Disorders

The research program in this lab centers around communication in children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Verbal and nonverbal communication are investigated in children with Autism, Williams Syndrome, Focal Lesions due to a Perinatal Stroke, and typically developing children. Social communication is important for success at home, school, work, and in the community. The inability to effectively process and convey information to others can lead to deficits in maintaining personal relationships and academic failure in school. Individuals with social deficits may experience negative social outcomes, including peer rejection, isolation, and limited involvement in social activities. Deficits in social communication skills can include impairments in a broad array of domains important for reciprocal social interaction. Recently, one of the main focus of the lab was to examine how children with Autism communicated with their parents during a play session. Data was gathered from thirty children around 30 months of age. Fifteen children were verbal and fifteen children were non-verbal. The first research question examined whether there were differences in how these two groups of children communicated with their mothers over a three-year period. The second research question investigated if differences were observed in how mothers interacted with their child during the task.

Jan Moore, PhD, CCC-A/SLP

Department: Communication Disorders

I work in the area of hearing loss prevention form noise and cognitive decline in older people who have significant hearing loss. If you are interested in memory and problem solving in aging I would be interested in talking to you.

Toni Hill, PhD

Department: Family Studies

My research interests are related to individuals and families in the area of interpersonal relationships, caregiving (grandparents as caregivers; multi-generational). I am also interested in teaching methods and research ethics.

For more information on Dr. Hill: Website

Bryce M. Abbey, PhD

Department: Kinesiology & Sport Sciences

Body Composition Analysis via DXA, in youth, teen and adult. Also have interest in school wellness policy implementation.

For more information on Dr. Abbey: Website

Kazuma Akehi, PhD

Department: Kinesiology & Sport Sciences

My research interests are the soft tissue architecture and muscle strength property adaptations before and after the athletic injuries and its therapeutic interventions.

For more information on Dr. Akehi: Website

Kate Heelan, PhD

Department: Kinesiology & Sport Sciences

My area of research is obesity prevention and treatment with both children and adults through community interventions involving physical activity promotion and nutrition education.

For more information on Dr. Heelan: Website


Jeanne Stolzer, PhD

Department: Family Studies

Over the last two decades, my research has focused on the biocultural effects of breastfeeding, attachment theory, and evolutionary based mothering. I have also published numerous articles related to ADHD, the medicalization of boyhood, and the physiological, neurological, emotional, and social implications of psychiatric drug use in infant, child, and adolescent populations.

For more information on Dr. Stolzer: Website

Paul Burger, EdD

Department: Geography

Geographic Information Science (GIScience) is used as framework for applying spatial methods to solve real-world problems related to human activity and resource management. Recent application areas include: market area analysis, target marketing, retail site selection (urgent care facility, veterinary clinic, retirement community), resource management (water resources), ecology (habitat suitability), accessibility analysis for services (medical care, school access) and hotspot analysis (voter patterns, crime mapping).

For more information on Dr. Burger: Website

William Avilés, PhD

Department: Political Science

My area of specialization is Latin American politics with a specific focus upon political violence and drug policy in the region.  I have published works on military power in the Andean region as well as on U.S. drug policies in Mexico, Central America and Colombia. More recently, my work has explored the ongoing conflicts between the needs of indigenous communities to natural resources (such as water) with the demands of multinational corporations for those same resources.

For more information on Dr. Avilés: Website

Joan M. Blauwkamp, PhD

Department: Political Science

In general, I study how the public participates in American politics. Potential areas for student research include: campaigns and elections, social movements, interest group activism, partisanship in the mass public, or public opinion. The class ranking of the student does not matter, as a suitable research project can be scaled for a first-year student up to a senior with research methods training.

For more information on Dr. Blauwkamp: Website

Krista Forrest, PhD

Department: Psychology

For more information on Dr. Forrest: Website

Julie Lanz, PhD

Department: Psychology

My research focuses on biopsychosocial factors that explain health and safety in adults. I have mentored undergraduate projects ranging from public health, workplace interventions, to health in college students (e.g., stress, social support, financial anxiety, essential oils, and social media use).

For more information on Dr. Lanz: Website

Bill Wozniak, PhD

Department: Psychology

My research activities are driven by the student's interests. In the past, I have mentored research on traffic safety (i.e., the moth effect), the effects of pet ownership on empathy. My principal personal interests lie in the reasons behind irrational beliefs, the differences between "knowing" and "believing," and the use of story telling in higher education.

For more information on Dr. Wozniak: Website