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Students awarded fellowships for summer research

This summer, seven Augustana College students are participating in full-scale scientific research projects under the guidance of faculty advisors. Each project is funded through an Augustana Summer Student Research Fellowship-up to $3,000, plus additional funding for project expenses.

The fellowships provide students of all disciplines opportunities to gain hands-on practice in their field, which can translate to graduate school and careers after college. The program encourages research in the natural or social sciences or creative projects under faculty guidance. Students' work on these projects can inspire them to conduct more cutting-edge research in their later years of study, and also direct them to the post-graduate field of study they would like to pursue.

Jadyn Derr, a senior communication studies major from Sioux Falls, S.D., is working alongside Doug Tschopp, entrepreneurial center director in CORE. The main focus of Derr's research is how the new iGeneration (current ages 15 and under) uses technology at home, and how this affects their learning and communication styles.

Alexander Mahaffey, a senior geography major from Gothenburg, Sweden, is conducting research with the support and assistance of Dr. Christopher Strunk, assistant professor of geography. Mahaffey's research is focused on the Swedish-American community that existed in downtown Moline during the mid-late 1800s and into the early 1900s. Migration patterns, regions of origin in Sweden, and various organizations and associations formed by the "Swedes of Moline" all played a part in creating a distinctive ethnic community. While similar research has been conducted by others before Mahaffey, it has never been viewed through the lens of a geographer.

Paige Pierson, a senior biochemistry major from Sandwich, Ill., is conducting research with the help of Dr. Pam Trotter, professor of chemistry. Pierson is researching two types of yeasts, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Yarrowia lipolytica, which are perfect model organisms to test both physiological and metabolic mechanisms. The main focus of her research "is a gene found in both yeast species, which has the potential to answer unsolved questions relating cellular metabolism to antioxidant functions.".

"Above all, research into this gene would tell us more about fat metabolism and could potentially shed light into human fat metabolism," Pierson said.

Isaac Smith, a junior chemistry major from Marion, Iowa, is working with Dr. Greg Domski, associate professor of chemistry. His research is on the synthesis and characterization of mono-bimetallic Iridium (III) complexes supported by pyridine functionalized N-heterocyclic carbene ligands.

Bonnie Thornton, a senior Spanish and honors history major from Mount Vernon, Iowa, is working with Dr. Brian Leech, assistant professor of history. The focus of Thornton's research is Black Hawk State Park Historic Site, a public space enjoyed for both its natural and historic value. Thornton seeks to understand the natural conservation and historic preservation movements' influence on local efforts to convert private property into public land. She hopes to "contribute a local history enriching the appreciation of this space."

Kassandra Tyra, a senior biology and environmental studies major from Aurora, Ill., is researching alongside Dr. Tierney Brosius of the biology department, and Dr. Michael Reisner, director of the Upper Mississippi Center for Sustainable Communities and assistant professor of environmental studies. Tyra's research is focused on how urbanization impacts the family of beetles commonly known as ground beetles.

Aubrey Waddick, a senior political science, French and economics major from Algonquin, Ill., is working alongside Dr. David Dehnel, professor of political science. Waddick is focusing on changing environments and evolving policy, comparing an analysis of international environmental operations in China and the United States.

"Ultimately, I hope to contribute to the academic community's understanding of China's growing civil society," Waddick said. "As [it is] the most populous country with the second-largest economy, it's important to understand the factors influencing China's political actions and policy decisions."

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