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CURCA selects FUSE teams and grant winners

FUSE and CURCA 2015 preview
Andrew Shirley and Drs. Meg Smith and Erin Barding conducted a FUSE project in summer 2014 to determine if certain stress factors placed on a host caterpillar can influence the ratio of soldier wasps produced from the caterpillar after it has been parasitized.

A University of North Georgia (UNG) professor of psychological sciences hopes her research into cognitive development in children is the beginning of a long-term research opportunity for undergraduates on the university's Oconee Campus.

For 2015, the Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (CURCA) at UNG will support more than a dozen projects, including Dr. Katherine Kipp's work to establish a cognitive development lab.

"Oconee Campus students have not had this type of opportunity before, and it is a fabulous asset for students who plan on advanced study beyond the bachelor's degree, helping them get into graduate programs and even launching their careers," Kipp said.

Kipp, who received both a CURCA mini-grant and sponsorship in the 2015 Faculty-Undergraduate Summer Engagement (FUSE) program, said she expects to continue collaborating with future classes of undergraduates on the Oconee Campus as her research continues.

"Our goal is to create a lab that could serve as a platform for many future research projects," Kipp said. "The mini-grant and FUSE project will provide materials and students to carry out research with fellow college students and children, and will enable me to equip my lab with tests, assessments, computer programs, games, and portable, child-sized furniture," Kipp said. "The FUSE team involves two sophomore students who have been working with me since the beginning of fall semester. We are specifically investigating the nature of cognitive inhibition and executive functioning in children's cognitive development."

In early December, CURCA announced the faculty and students selected for mini-grants and for FUSE sponsorship, two UNG initiatives that enable faculty to work closely with students in a scholarly atmosphere ideal for both parties.

"Through FUSE and the CURCA mini-grants we are able to provide an unprecedented variety of research opportunities for the 2015 academic year," said Dr. Anastasia Turner Lin, assistant dean of student research and scholarship. "We are also excited to continue to expand CURCA's reach across UNG's campuses, as we have winners for both programs at UNG's Dahlonega, Gainesville and Oconee campuses. We look forward to seeing the results of these projects."

The FUSE program is an eight-week intensive research undertaking in which students collaborate with faculty mentors during the summer to explore subject matter that is often above and beyond what students experience during typical coursework. The program supports the university's mission by providing opportunities for inquiry and creativity and exposure to undergraduate research. The FUSE teams for 2015 are:

  • Dr. Sheri Hardee and Kim Griffin: "Gainesville: High School 2 College – Sustaining and Growing the NearPeer Service-Learning Program through Qualitative Inquiry"
  • Dr. Chuck Robertson, Jenn Freeman and Derek Dodd: "A non-invasive brain-computer interface training system: using a wireless EEG headset to control a drone in three dimensions"
  • Dr. Alistair Harvey and Bronson Jarrard: "Alcohol Intoxication and the Scope of Visual Attention and Memory: A Meta-Analytic Review" 
  • Dr. Katherine Kipp, Megan Lauderdale and Holly Williams: "Development of Attention and Distraction Tests for the Measurement of Thinking and Memory in Children and Adults"
  • Dr. David Connolly and Christian Shirley: "Law, Courts, and Social Power in Lumpkin County, Georgia: 1832-1850"
  • Dr. Melba Horton, Caitlin McMullan and Courtney Veath: "Water Pressure Effect on Lipid Production of Lake Lanier Algae for Biofuel Utilization"

CURCA mini-grants help faculty purchase materials and fund activities to delve deeper into their own research, often with the aid of their students. One project, proposed by Katie Simmons, Dr. Kelly Manley and Penelope Lyman, will explore the impact of college students teaching personal financial management skills to their peers, including possible changes in financial behavior in students receiving the lessons. This year's mini-grants total nearly $17,000, and are funding the following projects:

  • Drs. Steven Lloyd and Ryan Shanks: "The genetic basis of increased susceptibility to addiction after exposure to adolescent ADHD drugs"
  • Drs. Jennifer Mook and Natalie Hyslop: "Home Range and Habitat Use of the Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) in the Northern Georgia Piedmont"
  • Dr. Joanna Kim: "Images in Claude Debussy's piano music"
  • Dr. Ryan Meier: "In search of more Earth-Abundant Catalysts: Pyridyl-Substituted N- Heterocyclic Carbene Complexes of First-row Transition Metals"
  • Dr. Bryan Dawson: "Barriers for Women and Minorities in the Video Game Industry"
  • Dr. Katherine Kipp: "Establishment and Evaluation of a Cognitive Development Research Lab on the Oconee Campus"
  • Katie Simmons, Dr. Kelly Manley and Penelope Lyman: "Peer Financial Counseling to Promote College Student Financial Literacy"

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