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Villanova Match Research Program for First Year Students

Student research at Villanova

**The Spring 2021 application period is now open**

 

The Villanova Match Research Program for First Year Students provides opportunities for motivated first-year undergraduates to pursue undergraduate research in the spring semester. Applicants do not need substantial experience and will serve as research assistants to faculty mentors.

If selected for the Match program, students will conduct research for 10 hours per week for 10 weeks for which they are paid $1000. In addition to conducting undergraduate research, Match grantees participate in professional development seminars on resumes, cover letters, oral presentations, and proposal writing during the Spring semester.  

 

Student Application Instructions

For all opportunities presented by the Villanova Match Research Program for First Year Students, please complete the following steps:

  1. Review the research projects listed below and identify a project that interests you. Opportunities, arranged alphabetically by mentor name, are open to all students. You may apply for opportunities outside of your college and major. You may apply for multiple opportunities.

  2. Submit your application directly to the Faculty Research Mentor by Friday, November 13, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. A complete application consists of the following:
    • One-page resume
    • One-page cover letter
    • Email subject line should contain: Match Research Program Application, LastName
    • Combined into one PDF file
    • File should be named in the following manner: LastName_FirstName_Match Application
       
  3. The Faculty Research Mentor will review your application and should contact you to interview for the position in November or early December.

If you would like to discuss undergraduate research and formulate a plan for becoming involved in undergraduate research at Villanova, you are welcome, though not required, to make an appointment with the CRF team via Handshake.

Students interested in applying for Match projects through the Clare Booth Luce Engineering Scholars Program (CBL-ESP) must follow specific guidelines for completing their applications. Below, please find a summary of the Match projects offered  through CBL-ESP and click on the Application Instructions link to learn more.

Cover Letter & Resume Templates & Tips

* Cover Letter Template.docx
This template outlines a cover letter
* Resume Template CRF Header.pdf
This resume template and action verb list is a good place to begin if you do not have a resume

 

Spring 2021 Projects

Summaries of the Spring 2021 projects are listed below the table

 

  Arts & Social Sciences        
  Professor Email Department Project Title   
  Adriano Duque adriano.duque@villanova.edu Romance Languages Religious Graffiti in Morocco  
  Deena Weisberg
deena.weisberg@villanova.edu Psychological and Brain Sciences Fictional stories as teaching tools  
  Lance Hannon lance.hannon@Villanova.edu Sociology and Criminology Discourse Analysis of Online Police Forums  
           
  Business      
  Thomas Griffin thomas.griffin@villanova.edu Finance and Real Estate Financial Barriers to Female Entrepreneurship  
  Rishtee Batra rishtee.batra@villanova.edu Marketing and Business Law Examination of Cross-Cultural Corporate Social Responsibility Practices  
  Shelly Rathee 

shelly.rathee@villanova.edu Marketing and Business Law Numerosity and Consumer Evaluations  
 
Engineering
     
  Chengyu Li chengyu.li@villanova.edu Mechanical Engineering A computational investigation of unsteady aerodynamics of insects in perching maneuvers  
  David Cereceda david.cereceda@villanova.edu Mechanical Engineering Enhancing the bonding strength of dental restorations  
  Deeksha Seth (Villanova), & Dr. Devaleena Pradhan (Idaho State University)  deeksha.seth@villanova.edu Mechanical Engineering

Design of an experimental platform for image tracking to study fin kinematics related to reproductive behavior in fish  
  Lauri Olivier lauri.olivier@villanova.edu Engineering Entrepreneurship Program Development of unique frameworks to accelerate women led tech startups  
  Jacob Elmer jacob.elmer@villanova.edu Chemical and Biological Engineering Identification of Post-Transcriptional Modifications on Transgene mRNA in Transfected Cells  
  Jeffrey Koller jeffrey.koller@villanova.edu Mechanical Engineering Assembly and testing of a simple walking robot  
  Kyle Juretus kyle.juretus@villanova.edu Electrical and Computer Engineering Developing Fast and Efficient Hardware Security through Logic Obfuscation  
  Mojtaba Vaezi mvaezi@villanova.edu Electrical and Computer Engineering Implementation of Alamouti MIMO Communication using USRP Radio Transceivers  
  Pritpal Singh  pritpal.singh@villanova.edu Electrical and Computer Engineering  Solar Disinfection Water Potability Indicator  
  Xun Jiao xjiao@villanova.edu Electrical and Computer Engineering Develop Low-Cost Artificial Intelligence using Hyperdimensional Computing  
  Clare Boothe Luce Engineering Scholars Program (CBL-ESP): Please note special application instructions (click on link here)        
  Ani Ural    Mechanical Engineering Assessing the Role of Osteocyte Lacunae in Bone Fracture Using Finite Element Modeling  
  Hashem Ashrafiuon    Mechanical Engineering Fusion of sensor data for localization and size estimation of obstacles  
  Garrett Clayton   Mechanical Engineering Robotics and Mechatronics for Humanitarian Demining and Explosive Ordnance Disposal  
  Aaron Wemhoff   Mechanical Engineering State of Carbon Taxation in the World  
  Meltem Izzetoglu    Electrical and Computer Engineering Design, Development and Evaluation of 3D Printed Optical Head Phantoms    
  Xun Jiao   Electrical and Computer Engineering Brain-inspired Artificial Intelligence (AI) on Imbalanced Dataset  
  Nursing      
  Sherry Burrell and Jennifer Ross sherry.burrell@villanova.edu  Nursing Combining High-Fidelity Simulation with a Standardized Family Member: An Innovative Approach to Learning How to Manage Oncologic Emergencies  
  Tracy Oliver tracy.oliver@villanova.edu Nursing Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program for Food-Insecure Families  
           
  Science      
  Anil Bamezai anil.bamezai@villanova.edu Biology Role of T lymphocyte expressing Ly-6A protein in immunity against cancer  
  Benjamin Sachs benjamin.sachs@villanova.edu Psychological and Brain Sciences Evaluating Potential Pharmacotherapies to Reduce Binge Eating in Serotonin-Deficient Mice  
  Dana Opulente dana.opulente@villanova.edu Biology Adaptations to Different Habitats in Budding Yeasts  
  David Chuss and Javad Siah david.chuss@villanova.edu Physics Searching for Signatures of Small Dust Particles in NASA's Cosmic Background Explorer Archival Data  
  Steven Goldsmith and Tory Chase steven.goldsmith@villanova.edu; tory.chase@villanova.edu Geography and the Environment Determination of historical sediment contaminant sources in the Guánica Watershed of Puerto Rico  
  Kabindra Shakya  kabindra.shakya@villanova.edu Geography and the Environment Long-term Trends of Particulate Matter in Philadelphia Region  
  Kevin Minbiole kevin.minbiole@villanova.edu Chemistry Beyond QACs: The development of novel antiseptic compounds that diversify beyond traditional quaternary ammonium compounds  
  Scott Dietrich scott.dietrich@villanova.edu Physics  Electron Crystals in Graphene  
  Xue Qin  xue.qin@villanova.edu Computing Sciences A Novel GUI Based Mobile AI Assistant using Natural Language Processing  

Project Summaries

 

Arts & Social Sciences

 

Adriano Duque, Romance Languages and Literature

Religious Graffiti in Morocco

For this project, we will be examining existing photographs of water fountains in Morocco. By focusing on the graffiti around these fountains, we will hopefully unveil the different belief systems that surround the waterways and relate them directly to existing beliefs on genies and the devil in Moroccan folklore.

First, the student will help examine different pictures of waterways in Morocco, both from the Professor's personal collection and the internet. Secondly, the student will collaborate with the Professor in examining the material. Thirdly, the student will compose a poster for presentation at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research.


Deena Weisberg, Psychological and Brain Sciences

Fictional stories as teaching tools

Stories are important teaching tools in childhood. For one thing, even fictional stories often present information that is true in reality. For example, the Berenstain Bears books are meant to teach children that it’s good to share or that it’s not healthy to eat too much junk food. But do children learn these lessons from these fictional stories? Or do they think that the information presented in the books only applies within the stories, and not in reality?

In addition, young children have to rely on adults to read these stories to them. Adults can help children to interpret the stories, but how does this work? Can the way in which adults talk to children about the events of the stories help children to learn more effectively?

To answer these questions, this project presents young children with fictional stories and asks (1) what they learn from these stories, (2) how adults talk to them about these stories, and (3) how adult-child conversations can affect children’s learning and other aspects of their development. Gaining a better understanding of children’s interactions with stories can help us to create better educational media and to learn more about how children’s thinking skills develop.

The student will assist the professor and graduate students in all aspects of conducting and running psychological studies on this topic. Duties will primarily include watching videos of testing sessions and coding data, but will also include reading the scientific literature, recruiting subjects, interviewing subjects, and managing data. Applicants should have completed some coursework in psychology, cognitive science, and/or neuroscience. Previous experience with children is desirable but not required.


Lance Hannon, Sociology and Criminology

Discourse Analysis of Online Police Forums

In Criminology, detailed analyses of online forums have mainly focused on dangerous fringe groups, such as Neo-Nazis. A central rationale for employing content analysis methodology in the study of such fringe factions is that other potential methods of studying the group, such as representative surveys or in-depth interviews, are difficult to implement and unlikely to yield honest answers due to mistrust of outsiders. The current project seeks to extend the application of textual analysis to anonymous online forums for law enforcement personnel. While law enforcement is a mainstream social institution, a considerable amount of sociological research has documented the existence of an insular police subculture where frontstage performances for the public are often inconsistent with backstage conversations. It is likely that recent public scrutiny of policing practices have sharpened this distinction between frontstage and backstage.

This project will examine the most popular online policing forums where moderators require authentication of the author’s law enforcement credentials, but the author uses an anonymous pseudonym when posting. The primary role of the Match research assistant will be to assemble a textual corpus of police forum entries that can then be analyzed using a variety of qualitative and quantitative techniques. Two freeware resources that will facilitate qualitative and quantitative analysis of the textual data are Voyant Tools and AntConc. The results of this research are expected to contribute to our understanding of how law enforcement officers perceive recent protests against police violence and, more generally, how officers perceive the general public. The findings could also offer valuable insights into the narrative rationalizations used to frame police actions that are considered deviant by out-group standards yet accepted or even expected in police subculture.

The primary responsibility of the Match research assistant will be to assemble a textual corpus of police forum entries that can be appropriately analyzed using software such as Voyant Tools and AntConc. As discussed by Holtz, Kronberger and Wagner (2012) in their comprehensive guide, the extraction and refinement of textual data from internet forums requires good judgement and attention to detail. For example, “pictures embedded in postings, user avatars, emoticons/smileys, user information, and usernames can sometimes be of relevance for the analysis, but more often they are not and need to be removed along with automatically generated content of the web page such as headers, footers, forum rules, and advertisements” (2012). In addition to the primary task of data collection and cleaning, the Match research assistant will also be expected to conduct a focused literature review of the scholarship on police discourse and develop a working knowledge of text mining software.

Work cited: Holtz, P., Kronberger, N., & Wagner, W. (2012). Analyzing internet forums: A practical guide. Journal of Media Psychology, 24(2), 55-66. doi: 10.1027/1864-1105/a000062

 

Business

 

Thomas Griffin, Finance and Real Estate 

Financial Barriers to Female Entrepreneurship

Efficient financial markets should allocate resources to their most efficient use. If a person generates a great idea, they should be able to obtain the funding and legal rights necessary to build a business around that idea regardless of their gender, ethnicity, or other personal characteristics. Unfortunately, society and financial markets are influenced by laws, regulations, and long-standing biases that distort the allocation of capital and prevent some individuals from becoming entrepreneurs. (See, for example, “Are early stage investors biased against women?” by Michael Ewens and Richard Townsend https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2953011.) This research project will examine the lasting effect of U.S. laws and regulations that inhibit female entrepreneurship. For example, in the late 1800’s many U.S. states did not allow women to own property, in the early 1900’s a third of U.S. states did not allow married women to control their wages, and until the late 1980’s several states did not allow women to get a business loan without a male cosigner. This project will study short-run economic changes around the repeal of these, and other, U.S. laws that inhibited female entrepreneurship and also examine whether lasting impacts can still be felt today. As an example of the type of economic analysis that will be conducted, please read “Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law: Divorce Laws and Family Distress” by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers (https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=478162) and “Pockets of Poverty: The Long-Term Effects of Redlining” by Ian Appel and Jordan Nickerson (https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2852856).

The research assistant (RA) and I will be equal partners on all aspects of the project. I will meet weekly with the RA to review and modify our plan of research and to tailor the project to the RA’s skills and interests. First, the RA will conduct a thorough literature review of prior papers written on this subject. Second, the RA will research U.S. federal and state laws that could plausibly have impacted rates of female entrepreneurship and decide which law changes would be most suitable to analyze. Third, the student will write out a plan for the empirical analysis based on the law changes. Next, I will conduct the empirical analysis and teach the RA some statistical software skills, such as Stata. Finally, the RA will write a brief manuscript with our findings.

 

Rishtee Batra, Marketing and Business Law

Examination of Cross-Cultural Corporate Social Responsibility Practices

My research investigates what managers in different countries (e.g. Japan vs. America vs. Italy) consider to be Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives and how they prioritize which CSR activities to engage in. For example, are there cultural differences in the likelihood that managers in one part of the world will prioritize initiatives related to employee welfare whereas managers in other parts of the world may prioritize charitable donations or environmental initiatives. My past research has looked at survey data from managers in different countries but I'm also interested in running experiments to see whether cultural orientations will impact what CSR activities people prioritize.

1) Conducting a literature review: The student would be responsible for first bringing themselves up to pace with existing literature that looks at cross-cultural CSR practices as well as reading and summarizing new research in the area. This will be the primary responsibility.
2) Helping create experimental stimuli: Depending on the amount of work covered by the literature review, I would like to train the match student to use online software programs such as Qualtrics (which will be very helpful for future classes in VSB and in general for the workplace). The student would be responsible for helping me create and format experimental surveys on Qualtrics.

 

Shelly Rathee, Marketing and Business Law

Numerosity and Consumer Evaluations

This project focuses on understanding customer perceptions, meaning how individuals interpret the products, and how this interpretation affects their behavior. This project is mainly interested in understanding what changes people’s (specifically, consumers) perceptions about the product. Specifically, would people evaluate products differently when the product’s attributes are described with fractions compared to decimals description? For instance, when the gas mileage of a car is 222/5 miles compared to 22.40 miles for every gallon of gas, would it influence the perception about the fuel efficiency of the car. The project will involve not only testing this phenomenon but will also include testing of psychological theories that would be at play. The project requires a review of consumer behavior and psychology literature to underpin the theoretical mechanism. The project is a part of consumer behavior research targeted to be published in Top tier A Marketing Journals.

This position would entail following responsibilities:
1. Maintenance of test subjects records
2. Design experiments to gather the collection of data
3. Collecting research data through experimentation and surveys
4. Enter data into computer databases and other software
5. Perform data analysis
6. Formatting and Edit proofing the manuscript

The qualifications required for the position are:
1. Proficiency in Microsoft Excel and an interest in continued knowledge of software such as SAS and SPSS
2. Comfortable performing and designing experiments with close guidance and supervision
3. Excellent communication skills in verbal and written formats
4. You have a keen eye for detail and organization
5. Desire to learn ways of performing academic research
6. Aware of platforms like Amazon Mechanical Turk for data collection

 

Engineering

 

Chengyu Li, Mechanical Engineering

A computational investigation of unsteady aerodynamics of insects in perching maneuvers

Flying insects can do short landing or precise perching within a few wingbeats, and alighting onto natural or engineered surfaces of different orientations. The process landing on a ceiling or a vertical wall for an insect is a common yet complex aerodynamic feat. It is known that these perching maneuvers require a sequence of well-coordinated behavioral modules of the body. The aerial braking is achieved through large drag forces generated by the flapping wings and associated unsteady aerodynamic phenomena. However, the wing kinematics of these physical maneuvers remain largely unknown, and the fluid dynamic principles underlying this sophisticated behavior are still out of our grasp.

The current project aims to apply a fully-validated computational fluid dynamics (CFD) solver to simulate insects' perching maneuvers. We will turn high-speed photogrammetry of perching maneuvers of blue bottle flies (Calliphra vomitoria) into 3D surface reconstructions. The reconstructed data will be used to investigate the wing kinematics of flies during short landing. High fidelity simulations will then be carried out to understand vortex formation in both near-field and far-field of flapping wings and examine the associated aerodynamic performance. A Cartesian grid based sharp interface immersed boundary solver will be used to handle such unsteady flow simulations in all their complexity. The intellectual merit of the proposed work lies in transformative and fundamental contributions to understanding the perching maneuvers of freely flying animals in nature. Ultimately, this scientific basis will promote the design of bio-inspired flyers with superior aerodynamic performance and maneuverability.

Involvement in an inspiring research practice can be one of the most valuable educational experiences for undergraduate students. By engaging in research firsthand, students can better conceptualize course material, learn to balance individual and collaborative work, and discover an area of their passion. Additionally, undergraduate research assistant opportunity can provide students with a one-on-one mentorship that is otherwise inaccessible in the undergraduate curriculum. The research topics of the project include using Autodesk Maya to reconstruct biological locomotion, running numerical simulations in Linux system, post-processing of the collected simulation data, and writing the weekly report.

 

David Cereceda, Mechanical Engineering

Enhancing the bonding strength of dental restorations

According to the 2017 Global Burden of Disease Study, caries of permanent teeth are a worldwide epidemic affecting nearly 2.5 billion people and costing US$298 billion per year. In the United States alone, 122 million tooth restorations are performed every year, an especially important concern among children, underserved, and aging populations.
Ever since the 1990s, resin composites have been the most common material used for dental restoration. Yet, despite the novel therapeutic strategies and significant advances in the types of fillers, resin-based restorations have weak bonded interfaces. As a consequence, their average lifespan is only seven years and their need for replacement accounts for 50 -70 % of all clinical work.
From a mechanical point of view, human teeth present a structure composed of two hard tissues, enamel and dentin, which are strongly bonded at the so-called Dentino-Enamel-Junction (DEJ). Despite the elastic mismatch between enamel and dentin, teeth rarely fails at the DEJ because of the highly mineralized transition layer and its variable mechanical properties. Conversely, the mechanical properties of resin composites are quite uniform, creating a mismatch in properties of adjacent layers that frequently leads to the development of interlaminar stresses and subsequent failure.
How can we then increase the current lifespan of tooth restorations? Inspired by the nature of the DEJ, this Match project will address this question by creating and validating a computational-experimental platform to study the mechanics of bonded interfaces that connect materials with a significant elastic mismatch.

The Research Assistant is responsible for assisting the faculty member in a variety of non-administrative tasks which may include preparing resources, equipment, materials for the research, and documenting results in support of the research activities. This particular research project focuses on the mechanics of bonded interfaces. The research project is intended to provide the opportunity to learn proper research procedures and techniques in the area of computational biomechanics.

 

Deeksha Seth (Villanova), & Dr. Devaleena Pradhan (Idaho State University), Mechanical Engineering and Biological Sciences

Design of an experimental platform for image tracking to study fin kinematics related to reproductive behavior in fish

This is an interdisciplinary project that integrates a biological investigation with an engineering design project. The expression of reproductive behavior in vertebrates is often mediated by steroid hormone signaling to activate both central and peripheral neural circuits that innervate sexually dimorphic muscle targets. Specific regions of the brain and spinal cord regulate muscular coordination to appendages to produce movement. We propose to investigate specific movements during production of reproductive behavior in a bidirectional hermaphroditic fish, the bluebanded goby. Preliminary studies show characteristic fin movements which have yet to be fully characterized. Overall, these studies are critical to examine the regulation of complex reproductive behavior invertebrates. Currently, the challenges include a lack of ability to conduct controlled experimentation with consistent data collection for the fin movements. Image tracking is one of the most common ways to quantify fin movements during natural swimming. For consistent fin tracking in 3 dimensions, an instrumented apparatus and data tracking protocol is needed. Therefore, the objective of this project will be to research the overall behaviors of the fish in natural environment, develop a protocol for controlled experimentation with appropriate data collection and design an appropriate physical apparatus. The outcomes of this research will further our understanding of evolution in vertebrates, and has the potential to guide many biological, educational, sociological and psychological studies that pertain to gender differences.

The selected student will work with both Dr. Seth in Mechanical Engineering at Villanova and Dr. Pradhan in Biological Sciences at Idaho State University. The responsibilities will include (a) preliminary gross analysis of videos capturing the fish fin kinematics and swimming behaviors, (b) developing quantifiable metrics to characterize fish's and fins' motions, (c) benchmarking existing high-speed video capturing and video tracking technologies, and (d) developing a computer model for an experimental platform that can collect appropriate videos for the biological experiments.

 

Lauri Olivier, Engineering Entrepreneurship Program 

Development of unique frameworks to accelerate women led tech startups

Currently only 7% of venture dollars go to women led startups. This is despite the fact that women led tech startups have 35% greater ROI and 12% higher revenue than all male startups. Unique programmatic frameworks that enable women to overcome the perceptual and social barriers that keep them from realizing their potential are essential if we want to change these statistics. We are building the framework for a highly targeted university accelerator program to address these inequalities, to reset these messages and break down the barriers for female technology entrepreneurs. In this study best practices across current venture accelerator programs will be identified and perpetual barriers will be explored. These best practices will inform entrepreneurship education and will likewise serve the broader entrepreneurship community by equalizing the playing field of opportunity across genders.

The student research assistant (RA) will take a leadership role in the identification of best practices across current accelerator programs. The student will also be involved in survey development, data collection and analysis to extract trends and relations between perceptions and startup motivation. To do so, the RA will use Microsoft Excel to visualize and process the data.

 

Jacob Elmer, Chemical and Biological Engineering

Identification of Post-Transcriptional Modifications on Transgene mRNA in Transfected Cells

Gene therapy has the potential to cure a wide variety of genetic disorders, but some treatments are currently limited by low transgene expression levels. One potential problem that might be limiting transgene expression is the post-transcriptional modification of transgene mRNA. Indeed, the A, U, C, and G bases in many host cell mRNAs are known to be chemically modified in dozens of ways, some of which inhibit translation. The central hypothesis of this project is that these post-transcriptional modifications may also be inhibiting transgene expression.

The student(s) working on this project will be responsible for culturing and transfecting human cancer cell lines (PC-3, MCF7, and/or Jurkat) with a plasmid that expresses GFP. They will then isolate the GFP mRNA from the cell using a combination of techniques (polyT pull-down and oligonucleotide capture). The purified mRNA will then be degraded and analyzed via LC-MS to determine the presence and frequency of any RNA base modifications. The student(s) will also meet with Dr. Elmer weekly to discuss progress on the project and the next steps forward. At the end of the semester, the student will be required to write a short paper summarizing their results.

 

Jeffrey Koller, Mechanical Engineering

Assembly and testing of a simple walking robot

Human walking is an incredibly efficient means of transportation and allows us to maneuver all types of different terrain. Although walking is a relatively complex combination of dynamic movements, much of the fundamentals of walking can be described with a very simple model known as a compass gait model. The compass gait model is essential two rigid bars that represent the legs and a revolute joint to represent the hip. In simulation, if this model is given the right initial conditions, it can walk in a very similar manner as us humans do, and researchers have learned a lot about walking just from this simple model. In this project, we will be building and testing a very simple and small walking robot that draws inspiration from the compass gait walker. This robot has already been designed but will require assembly and fine tuning of the open-loop control algorithm. Eventually, this robot may be used to investigate different actuation modalities and different joint designs. It will also be used as an educational demonstration tool in the classroom.

The research assistant will be focused on four major tasks through the semester. They will first focus on a review of the literature to familiarize themselves with the theory behind this type of walking robot. Second, they will be tasked with the robot assembly. Third, once the robot is assembled, the research assistant will fine tune the open-loop control algorithm to ensure a stable gait for the robot. Lastly, the current robot design will likely need to be improved and iterated upon after being built. The research assistant will help to investigate how this design can be improved for future designs. The selected individual should be highly motivated, hard-working, and have an interest in robotics. Although the selected research assistant is not required to have any prior robotics experience, applicants should indicate if they have any previous experience with things such as circuits, motors, or microcontrollers (such as an Arduino).

 

Kyle Juretus, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Developing Fast and Efficient Hardware Security through Logic Obfuscation

New data breaches, denial of service attacks, and computer viruses are announced almost on a daily basis. Due to these attacks, cybersecurity research has increased rapidly to create a cyber landscape that provides confidentiality, integrity, and availability of systems throughout our digital world. However, a significant portion of the research in cybersecurity has been devoted to the software layer. Attacks such as Meltdown and Spectre underline the importance of ensuring the security of the hardware layer as well. This research project will focus on the development of logic obfuscation to prevent untrusted third parties from being able to discern the correct functionality of an integrated circuit (IC). In order to minimize the overhead of adding security to an IC, automation algorithms will be developed to transform the initial IC design into a secure IC design.
 
The Match student will be responsible for assisting in the development of the software library to implement IC obfuscation, as well as the simulation and analysis of the obfuscated IC design. The primary programming language used for the software library will be Python, with the secondary language being C++. The student will learn about IC design, graph data structures, SAT solvers, and modern electronic design automation (EDA) tools.
 

Mojtaba Vaezi, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Implementation of Alamouti MIMO Communication using USRP Radio Transceivers
 
Multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) systems is an advanced and effective approach increasing high-data-rate requirements for communication services. MIMO systems are an integral part of the 5th Generation (5G) cellular networks and will be used to support services with high-transmission rate of mobile users. In MIMO systems, space-time coding offers an approach which is robust to channel fading and improves the system capacity. Space-time code is applied to multi-antenna channels for both spatial diversity and time diversity. The data are specifically copied and encoded for multiple transmitting antennas to include more details, while at the receive side, the signals are independently received by each receiving antennas but jointly decoded to overcome transmission errors. In this project, we intend to implement Alamouti space-time block coding and maximal ratio combining (MRC) using NI LabVIEW software and NI USRP (Universal Software Radio Peripheral) hardware. The implementation focuses on the MIMO system with two transmit antennas and two receive antennas, with all the antennas working under same frequency. The performance of the implementation is evaluated by measuring bit error rate.
 
The student will learn to work with NI LabVIEW software and NI USRP hardware. After learning the concepts, the student will implement this system using GNU Radio software in USRP hardware. This project has a few contributions: (i) we developed some new signal processing blocks on GNU Radio in order to implement the MIMO system. New blocks, such as Alamouti source block and Alamouti receiver block will be developed and added into GNU Radio library. (ii) we will develop a maximum likelihood detector and joint decoder at the receiver end for the Alamouti-coded MIMO system. The GNU radio signal processing blocks that we will develop in this project will enrich the GNU Radio function library which will be beneficial to some other USRP/GNU Radio implementation.
 

Pritpal Singh, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Solar Disinfection Water Potability Indicator

Disinfection of biologically contaminated water may be achieved by putting the water in a bottle and exposing it to the UV radiation of the sun. This is a common technique used in developing countries for treating impure water. However, the amount of exposure to sunlight required to achieve potable water is not always clear. A student research group at Villanova has developed an initial prototype of an indicator that can determine how much exposure the water has been subjected to and then turn on an indicator light showing that the water is potable for drinking. We need a student to help with developing a second generation prototype of this device.
 
The Match student will be expected to develop and code an Arduino microcomputer to accumulate UV radiation data and text the data to a cell phone.
 

Xun Jiao, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Develop Low-Cost Artificial Intelligence using Hyperdimensional Computing
 
Artificial intelligence (AI) recently is able to exceed human accuracy in various application domains such as image recognition, medical diagnosis, and financial analysis. Inspired by the way the brain works, various brain-inspired AI methods are proposed recently such as deep neural networks (a.k.a, deep learning). However, the high computational complexity of DNNs makes it a challenge to deploy them in low-power embedded devices such as Internet of Things (IoT), wearable health, and mobile smart devices with limited hardware resources and energy budgets.

In this project, we will implement an emerging AI method called “hyperdimensional (HD) computing” on an embedded device, resulting in so-called “AI on the edge”. We will evaluate the accuracy and performance of our AI hardware with respect to emerging applications, such as image recognition, face detection, or human activity recognition. The final product/prototype is a low-power HD-based AI device with high accuracy for selected applications.
 
 

Clare Boothe Luce Engineering Scholars Program (CBL-ESP)

 

Ani Ural, Mechanical Engineering

Assessing the Role of Osteocyte Lacunae in Bone Fracture Using Finite Element Modeling

Osteoporosis is a disease evidenced by low bone mass and micro-architectural deterioration of bone tissue leading to skeletal fragility and fracture. The current osteoporosis assessment via bone mineral density has limited value in predicting fracture as it is a measure that reflects only the bone quantity. Therefore, identification of alternative structural and material measures of bone quality that predicts bone fracture risk is needed. At the microscale, intracortical vascular porosity reduces bone’s strength and fracture resistance increasing fracture risk. However, the influence of intracortical microporosity, composed mainly of osteocyte lacunae on fracture risk have been largely overlooked despite their presence in bone in large amounts. In order to address this gap, this project aims to quantify the contribution of osteocyte lacunar network on the bulk and local mechanical response of bone using a computational modeling approach.
 

Hashem Ashrafiuon, Mechanical Engineering

Fusion of sensor data for localization and size estimation of obstacles
 
In recent years, autonomous vehicles have begun making a transition into reality. However, their widespread use is still questionable due to safety concerns. Better sensing technology and more effective incorporation of sensor data into autonomous operation is key to safer vehicles. This research will focus on providing a fast and dependable sensor data processing and fusion that will enable an autonomous vehicle avoid collision with potential obstacles. Specifically, in this research we will use sensor data for localization and size estimation of obstacles on the path of autonomous vehicles without dependence on time consuming camera vision processing which may cause dangerous delays. The sensors used in the research will include but not limited to Lidar, Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) and possibly radar.
 

Garrett Clayton, Mechanical Engineering

Robotics and Mechatronics for Humanitarian Demining and Explosive Ordnance Disposal
 
Robots have become more and more common in High-Income Countries1 (HICs) but use in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LICs and MICs, respectively) is virtually non-existent. While this lack of use is not surprising to most people, there are many issues facing these communities where robots could make a huge impact. Consider Cambodia, one of the most unexploded ordnance contaminated countries in the world, robots could be used to keep humanitarian demining and explosive ordnance disposal technicians out of harm’s way. In India, where traffic congestion can be severe, drones could be used to increase the speed of supplies to first responders – this also has application in rural communities in the United States. In post-disaster relief, like recent events in Haiti or Indonesia, robotic devices could be used for infrastructure inspection and search and rescue missions. In these cases, and many more, robots could be the difference between life and death. The focus of this project is to join one of two ongoing research efforts to implement robots and other related technologies in MICs and LICs, with a focus on demining and explosive ordnance disposal efforts in Cambodia.
 

Aaron Wemhoff, Mechanical Engineering

State of Carbon Taxation in the World
 
Data centers are collections of large numbers (can be tens of thousands) of computer equipment housed in a single facility. Data centers collectively consume approximately 2-3% of U.S. electricity, and a single data center can use as much electrical power as a power plant generates. For this reason, researchers in the Center for Energy-Smart Electronic Systems (ES2) are interested in improving the environmental sustainability associated with data centers. Unfortunately, the data center industry is unlikely to adopt suggestions for improving their environmental sustainability unless there is a financial driver to do so. Therefore, one of our center’s goals is to link environmental and economic metrics for managing data centers. One key missing piece of financial information is the state of carbon taxation, which is present in some parts of the world but not the U.S. This project, therefore, focuses on creating a comprehensive survey of carbon taxation in the world, which pinpoints the areas of the world where pursuing environmental sustainability measures are more attractive. The student will present this research to data center industry leaders during a monthly web meeting with them as well as via a poster at a semi-annual center event.
 

Meltem Izzetoglu, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Design, Development and Evaluation of 3D Printed Optical Head Phantoms  

The past two decades have seen the growing importance given to the technologies deployed in providing measures of brain functioning in real-time under real-world settings. Understanding and monitoring of the neurophysiological state, inner workings, and functional make-up of the human mind by properly adapting these neuroimaging methodologies can guide the clinicians, scientist, and researchers in improving the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of brain disorders. Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is an emerging optics-based neuroimaging technology that holds untapped potential for clinical use and research applications by allowing the design of safe, portable, wearable, non-invasive, and affordable neuromonitoring systems with rapid application time, superior immunity to movement noise, and near-zero run time cost. As fNIRS gains more widespread use, calibration, testing, characterization and validation of the device design, analysis algorithms and measurements become essential. Human head-mimicking laboratory models (phantoms) have been an integral, necessary and important part in those processes such as initial or standard system quality tests, characterization of signal-to-noise ratio or performance comparisons among systems or algorithms. The objective of this research is to design, develop and evaluate optically, anatomically, and physiologically realistic human head mimicking phantoms based on 3D printing technology.
 

Xun Jiao, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Brain-inspired Artificial Intelligence (AI) on Imbalanced Dataset

The brain-inspired hyperdimensional computing is a kind of promising artificial intelligence (AI) scheme. It has recently shown beyond-human accuracy in many applications such as image recognition, financial analysis, and bio-medical signal processing. However, one major difficulty in biomedical-related datasets are the imbalanced dataset, which means that the number of samples in different datasets can vary drastically. Cost-sensitive learning is a type of learning in data mining particularly designed for imbalanced datasets. It takes the cost into consideration while in training. Specific methods including cost-sensitive sampling in data pre-processing stage, cost-sensitive hyperdimensional classifier training with custom weights on samples and cost-sensitive retraining by adding misclassification costs. The goal of this research is to build a cost-sensitive hyper-dimensional AI that is specially targeted at imbalanced dataset by introducing cost-sensitive learning.
 

Nursing

 

Sherry A. Burrell and Jennifer G. Ross, Nursing

Combining High-Fidelity Simulation with a Standardized Family Member: An Innovative Approach to Learning How to Manage Oncologic Emergencies

In order for learning to be meaningful, students need to be actively involved with information; otherwise, they fail to process and integrate information into their thinking and ultimately into their clinical practice. Simulation is an experiential learning strategy that provides students with a safe and supportive environment to enhance the integration of nursing knowledge and skills. There are two main types of simulation - high-fidelity simulation and standardized patient simulation. High-fidelity simulation involves the use of sophisticated life-like manikins to create life-like patient- and family-centered scenarios. Whereas, standardized patient simulations involve the use of trained actors to portray the roles of patients, family members, and/or members of the healthcare team to carefully simulate a patient care learning experience.

In previous research, simulation was found to be effective in enhancing oncology knowledge and skill acquisition in both registered nurses’ and undergraduate nursing students’ (Askew, Trotter, Vacchiano, & Overcash, 2012; Jang, Yoo, & Roh, 2019). More specifically, both high-fidelity and standardized patient simulations have been individually shown to be effective in preparing undergraduate nursing students with the knowledge and skills needed to manage unexpected, complex patient and family care situations common in oncology clinical practice, which are collectively referred to as oncologic emergencies (Kuhrik et al., 2008; Sharour, 2019). However, no studies have examined the effectiveness of a high-fidelity simulation combined with a standardized family member in facilitating nursing student learning of evidence-based oncologic emergency management principles, nor has this novel approach to simulation been evaluated within a seminar-style nursing course.

The purpose of this study is to address these gaps in the literature by evaluating the effectiveness of combining a high-fidelity simulation with a standardized family member in a seminar-style course, as an active learning strategy, in enhancing baccalaureate nursing students’ learning of oncologic emergency management principles. The specific aims of this study are to describe the effect of combining a high-fidelity simulator with a standardized family member during a seminar-style course on baccalaureate nursing students’ a) knowledge; skills competence; and self-perceived competence and confidence in managing oncologic emergencies; and b) satisfaction with and self-confidence in learning oncologic emergency management principles.

Seeking a first-year student with an interest in simulation and/or oncology nursing, who is highly motivated and detailed-oriented. The student will be involved various aspects of the research process including, but not limited to, conducting literature and database searches; collecting and entering study data; and assisting with the development of a manuscript.

 

Tracy Oliver, Nursing

Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program for Food-Insecure Families

Montgomery County is Pennsylvania’s 3rd largest county with over 800,000 residents. The county is ethnically diverse as it has the second-largest foreign-born population in the region, after Philadelphia County. About 2.80% of families and 4.40% of the population are below the poverty line, including 4.60% of those under age 18. The Montgomery County Office of Public Health (MCOPH) is responsible for addressing health and health disparities for County residents. MCOPH’s mission is to provide public health services to the community to improve its health. Such efforts include addressing food insecurity and access to fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly in youth. MCOPH is a recipient of a block grant to provide programs that focus on community health. The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program is instituting a fruit and vegetable prescription program for food-insecure families at the Abington-Jefferson Children’s Clinic in Lansdale with the goal to recruit 25 families by June 2021.

Faculty and staff from Villanova are partnering with MCOPH to implement and evaluate this program. The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program will provide weekly free produce from Living Hope Farm during seasonal harvest to food-insecure families who meet eligibility criteria. Each family will receive a prescription from their provider in exchange for fresh produce weekly. The Fruit and Vegetable RX program will be evaluated to ensure families who participate will increase their food access and the consumption of fruits and vegetables. The program evaluation will include contacting families before enrollment to evaluate fruit and vegetable consumption patterns and again at the end of the program to evaluate post-consumption patterns of fruits and vegetables.

The student research assistant will serve the following roles:
• Assist in the preparation of questionnaire packets and consent forms for distribution (if in-person).
• Assist in the consent process (via phone).
• Survey administration of enrolled participants (via phone).
• Assist in the preparation of nutrition education materials designed for multicultural and food-insecure families.
• Work with translation services when communicating with participants (language line) and coordinate the translation of nutrition education materials.
• Implement a tracking system for produce pick up
• Quantitative data entry from questionnaires (both pre and post)
• Participate in data analysis
• Manuscript preparation assistance (check references, literature searches, manuscript development, abstract submissions, poster presentations, etc.)

 

Sciences

 

Anil Bamezai, Biology

Role of T lymphocyte expressing Ly-6A protein in immunity against cancer

T lymphocytes play a vital role in immunity to pathogens and cancer. T lymphocytes recognize foreign proteins through their antigen receptor (also called as T cell receptor), and mount an immune response for body’s defense. While pathogens trigger robust immune response, tumor cells, which are mostly self-tissues do not. Aiding helper and cytotoxic T lymphocytes to generate strong adaptive response against all types of tumors is a strategy to cure cancer. Lymphocytes, after sensing a foreign protein, undergo cell division and increase in numbers to generate billions of clones for immune defense. Lymphocytes travel inside the tumor (tumor infiltrating lymphocytes - TILs) to fight the tumor. The tumor microenvironment incapacitates these TILs resulting in their exhaustion and inactivity. Our laboratory is currently studying the role of Ly-6A protein and its contribution to T cell activity/inactivity. We use mouse tumor transplantation model, where mouse melanoma (or adenocarcinoma) cancer cells are transplanted to the skin of genetically defined mouse strains to induce tumors. TILs from the tumors generated in Ly-6A deficient and sufficient mice are being analyzed for their capacity to respond to the tumor tissues. These studies will provide insights into the role of Ly-6A protein expressed on TILs to fight and eliminate the transplanted tumor. The Match student will engage in this project by:

1. Reading literature in the field of immunology, specifically lymphocyte and tumor immunology
2. Learning techniques in immunology
3. Conducting cellular and molecular immunology experiments, this will involve use of animals (mice) for tumor transplantation experiments
4. Presenting data in the lab meeting
5. Being a good citizen, by helping, collaborating with other lab members

 

Benjamin Sachs, Psychological and Brain Sciences 

Evaluating Potential Pharmacotherapies to Reduce Binge Eating in Serotonin-Deficient Mice

Binge eating disorder (BED) is the most common eating disorder in the USA, and it is strongly associated with obesity, which increases the risk of debilitating conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Several classes of drugs are currently used to reduce binge eating, including antidepressants [such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)], stimulants (such as lisdexamfetamine), and anticonvulsants (such as topiramate). While these drugs outperform placebo in clinical studies, many patients with BED do not benefit from these medications and thus require alternative therapeutic interventions. Identifying the factors that influence responses to various pharmacotherapies will be an important step towards developing optimal individualized treatments for patients. It will be critical to identify the classes of drugs that remain effective in individuals who fail to respond to a given class of drug. Unpublished work from the lab has shown that brain serotonin deficiency prevents several therapeutic-like responses to the SSRI, fluoxetine. Consistent with this, we have shown that female serotonin-deficient mice do not experience binge eating reductions following acute or chronic fluoxetine administration, despite the fact that fluoxetine does reduce this behavior in mice with typical serotonin levels. However, whether binge eating responses to fluoxetine are similarly impacted by brain serotonin deficiency in males has not been established. The goal of this First-Year Match Research Grant is to evaluate the behavioral and molecular consequences of fluoxetine and other potential binge eating pharmacotherapies in male mice with ‘normal’ and genetically reduced levels of brain serotonin. The study may contribute to improving treatment options for individuals with BED.

The research assistant would be responsible for performing binge eating experiments in mice, which involve extensive animal handling, administering drugs to mice in their drinking water, weighing mice once weekly and weighing their food four times each week. Once the behavioral testing is complete, the assistant would also have the opportunity to assist in sample collection (i.e., micro-dissection of specific brain regions, such as the nucleus accumbens, hippocampus and frontal cortex) to examine potential molecular correlates of drug responses. For this, the assistant would then learn to extract RNA from brain tissue, which the assistant would then reverse transcribe into cDNA prior to using real-time PCR to compare gene expression in brain regions that have been implicated in reward processing and food intake. The assistant would be responsible for keeping excellent records, entering the data to Microsoft Excel, and uploading it to an online electronic lab notebook system. In addition, the student would use a statistical software program to analyze the behavioral and molecular results.

 

Dana Opulente, Biology

Adaptations to Different Habitats in Budding Yeasts

A fundamental question in biology is the role of ecological and genetic processes in the origin and maintenance of biodiversity. Budding yeasts have been isolated from soil, insects, plants, fruits, the ocean floor, and from every biome and continent. Furthermore, evidence suggests that habitats are partitioned by yeasts through temperature, host species, and sugar preferences. The research in my lab will explore the ecology, adaptations, and genome variation of species of budding yeasts, providing the opportunity to explore the interplay between ecology and genetics of these species. Through a combination of sampling yeasts across multiple environments, high throughput growth experiments to measure adaptations, and genomics, we will identify the traits important for different habitats. We will also identify genetic differences responsible for these adaptations.

A research assistant will have the opportunity to work on both in the lab and computationally. They will also be able to choose specific aspects of the research they would like to focus on. This project requires collecting soil and non-animal samples from different habitats. A research assistant can take part in sampling different habitats if they would like or if they are interested in the more ecological aspects of the lab. After samples are collected, research assistants will use a techniques to isolate and identify yeast from those samples. If a research assistant would like, they can focus purely on the ecological and isolation part of the project. Alternatively, they can take individual yeast species and grow them in different conditions to determine whether they have specific adaptations and measure variation among species for those different conditions. Finally, I will be doing whole genome sequencing of these species, so research assistance can help with this aspect of the project as well as help analyze those genomes we sequence. Throughout the project, we will be developing skills to analyze the data we collect; research assistants would be responsible for analyzing and presenting their data in the lab. Also, there will be opportunities to write up the projects for publication once enough data has been collected and analyzed.

 

David Chuss and Javad Siah, Physics

Searching for Signatures of Small Dust Particles in NASA's Cosmic Background Explorer Archival Data

NASA's Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) provided key measurements to solidify and quantify the Big Bang model for the history and evolution of the universe. It did so by measuring the cosmic microwave background (CMB), the relic radiation from the infant universe. The dataset from COBE, which is publicly available, includes all-sky maps in the mid-infrared. These maps capture some of the diffuse foregrounds that can limit future measurements of the CMB. Preliminary analysis suggests that we can use these maps to extract the signature of very small dust particles that may also emit in the microwave. In this project, we will attempt to extract this signature from the COBE maps in an attempt to quantify the potential effect of these dust particles on future cosmological measurements.

The student will assist with developing and running python code that will produce and validate the maps produced from the COBE datasets.

 

Steven Goldsmith and Tory Chase, Geography and the Environment

Determination of historical sediment contaminant sources in the Guánica Watershed of Puerto Rico

Rivers transport sediments and their associated pollutants (i.e. heavy metals) from nearby land to the coast causing stress to vulnerable coastal ecosystems, such as coral reefs. Yet, the inability to trace sediment contamination to non-point sources within a watershed can hinder the initiation of meaningful conservation measures. This study focuses on the tropical Rio Loco watershed (175 km2) located in southwestern Puerto Rico, which contains extensive agricultural practices in nearly two thirds of its catchment area. The Rio Loco river ultimately discharges into Guánica Bay whose waters and adjacent coral reefs have been designated a “management priority area” by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Coral Reef Conservation Program.

In this study, we are analysing the heavy metal content of four sediment cores (one estuary and three river channel) collected from the Rio Loco watershed. Individual sediment increments from each core will be analysed for their total and bio-available metal concentrations using nitric and acetic acid, respectively. Geochemical fingerprinting software will be used to compare downcore metal concentrations with previously collected soil source types (i.e., agriculture, forest, urban, etc.) to determine which land use/land cover practices are primarily responsible for historical contaminant loading and ultimately guide conservation measures. Downcore concentrations will be compared to existing regulatory standards for both freshwater and marine organisms. Finally, a review of historical aerial imagery for the region will be conducted to determine the onset of sediment pollution drivers.

The Match student would be required to meet with the faculty mentors on a weekly basis to discuss all aspects of the project. In particular, the student should set aside a 2-3 hour block of time to work with the mentors on sediment digestions and subsequent metal analysis, as well as data analysis techniques. It is anticipated that the student would gain more independence with the data analysis techniques over the course of the semester.

 

Kabindra Shakya, Geography and the Environment

Long-term Trends of Particulate Matter in Philadelphia Region

Fine particulate matter pollution has been one of the major air pollution concerns in Philadelphia region. It is important to investigate variability of PM and the factors associating with such variability. Particulate matter data is available for several decades from US Environmental Protection Agency. This study will focus on analyzing seasonal and yearly fluctuations of PM at Philadelphia region from 2000. The study will analyze the changes in contribution of major chemical species to fine particle mass over the years and the changes in the ratio of fine particle mass to PM10. The study will help to understand the changes in particle emission sources and the implications for human health.

Student will download and analyze the data in consultation with the mentor. Student will investigate the trends and make plots and run basic statistical tests. Student will review the literature and write discussion on the findings.

 

Kevin Minbiole, Chemistry 

Beyond QACs: The development of novel antiseptic compounds that diversify beyond traditional quaternary ammonium compounds

The Minbiole group has been developing novel antiseptic agents for a decade. We work to update the general class of compounds known as quaternary ammonium compounds, or QACs, which have been commonly used in antiseptics like lysol for about a century. Unfortunately, due to sparse innovation, there is much room for improvement. Further, bacteria are developing resistance at a rate faster than new antibiotics are coming to market. Working with Dr. Bill Wuest at Emory University, we have collaborated on two dozen publications, as we learn what cationic amphiphile structures are most effective at inhibiting bacterial growth, including biofilms. We have advanced to the exploration of novel amphiphiles that contain metal structures, those with sulfur instead of nitrogen, and other variations.

The research assistant will get to know the research group's goals and plans for the development of new antiseptics. Synthetic organic chemistry, at a level appropriate for a strong freshman, will be started. The research assistant will work alongside a graduate student or senior undergraduate to learn techniques in synthetic organic chemistry.

 

Scott Dietrich, Physics 

Electron Crystals in Graphene

Many people consider electricity flowing like water in a pipe, but this analogy breaks down when electrons interact strongly. This collective behavior of electrons in a material is often greater than the sum of its parts – more is different. Exciting new electronic properties result when electrons interact strongly: they can crystallize, superconduct, coalesce, or more. This project uses microwave radiation to characterize these unconventional electronic states. Understanding this collective behavior could lead to new technology in the areas of energy-efficient electronics, data storage, and even quantum computation.

Graphene – a single layer of carbon atoms arranged into a honeycomb lattice – is the most efficient carrier of electric current yet discovered. It has been the center of 15 years of intense research and industrial interest since its discovery. While its remarkable current-carrying ability promises a major revolution in energy-efficient electronics, this project aims to understand the crystallization of graphene’s electrons that occurs at very low temperatures and high magnetic fields. Just like phases of matter, these electron crystals melt at certain temperatures and often compete with other phases such as liquid or gas. Characterizing the properties of these crystals will allow us to better understand the interaction between electrons and the preference for solid phases to exist.

Measuring the properties of fragile electronic crystals is a difficult task. This project uses a technique called microwave transmission spectroscopy (MWTS) to study electron crystals. Microwave radiation is passed down a waveguide built on top of the graphene layer. When these electromagnetic waves pass near the graphene, some fraction gets absorbed while the rest continues through to a detector. By analyzing what makes it to the detector, we can understand how the electrons are acting at different temperatures and magnetic fields.

All measured structures are built from scratch by the student. Students begin by exfoliating bulk graphite and hexagonal boron nitride crystals to obtain single and few layer flakes. The thickness and quality of these flakes will be studied using an atomic force microscope (AFM) and then stacked using a dry transfer technique to form heterostructures (layered stacks of different materials). Students will add waveguides on top of these heterostructures using the cleanroom facilities of both Villanova University and the Singh Center for Nanotechnology at the University of Pennsylvania. Several graphene devices will be constructed with varying degrees of hBN impurities. Students will perform initial room-temperatures tests in the 2D Materials Laboratory of the faculty mentor. Students will then work with (and possibly travel to) collaborators at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, FL for experiments at low temperatures and strong magnetic fields.

 

Xue Qin, Computing Sciences 

A Novel GUI Based Mobile AI Assistant using Natural Language Processing

AI assistant is an application program that understands natural language commands and completes tasks for the user. For example, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. However, these assistants are strictly attached to their products. This project is to develop a new AI assistant framework that can serve thousands of apps in the market regardless of the development companies. For example, we could send messages through Snapchat or search primary care doctors on Zocdoc with the help of the assistant. This project will leverage the textual information on the application’s Graphical User Interface (GUI) and automatically generate the AI assistant execution code. This project includes Mobile GUI Analysis, Test Automation, and Natural Language Processing (NLP). The textual analysis will be based on techniques from NLP called text similarity.

The overall approach will involve five aspects:
1. Textual information retrieval from application’s interfaces.
2. Information processing
3. Building a mapping strategy from text to program code
4. Automatically code generation.
5. Evaluation and Validation

This project's primary goal is to propose a new approach that connects user-interfaces, NLP, and the existing AI assistant. And it could be extended to solve problems like senior assist with IoT devices that are controlled by the app.
This project will also bring many research questions like improving the flexibility of text analysis, enhancing scalability among applications in different categories, and how ambiguous command influences the assistant's accuracy.

The research assistant will perform a variety of tasks associated with the project, including:
1. Deciding the supported AI assistant functions (searching, creating, etc.) for the new framework based on the
existing AI assistant market study.
2. Observing app's GUIs to reveal the extractable text features.
3. Analyzing, filtering, and processing the text information and then building a general mapping strategy from text to program code
4. Learning and applying automatic code generation from the existing Software Testing framework.
5. Learning how to do the evaluation and validation of the new framework.

Past Freshman Match Participants

Year
Student Department Mentor Project Title
2019 Olivia Pfeiffer Economics Xiaoxiao (Maya) Li Gender  Pay  Gap  in  the  C  Suite 
2019 Olivia Moyer Economics Xiaoxiao (Maya) Li Gender  Pay  Gap  in  the  C  Suite 
2019 Xiaofei Yu Marketing and Business Law Aronte Bennett & Beth Vallen Impact  of  Container  Based  Consumption  Inferences
2019 Yihang Lin Marketing and Business Law Yoon-Na Cho Effect  of  ambient  lighting  in  consumer  decision making
2019 Megan Leahy Marketing and Business Law Matthew Sarkees Generation  Z  and  the  Opioid  Crisis:  Marketing  and  Public  Policy  Implications  
2019 Isabel Langas Romance Languages & Literature Agnese Codebo Mapping  Trash  and  Art  in  Latin  America
2019 Allison Baroni Romance Languages & Literature Adriano Duque Mapping Folklore in Valparaiso
2019 Daniel Estrada Romance Languages & Literature Laura Sandez Visualizing LatinX Philly
2019 Mia Arrington Sociology & Criminology Meredith Bergey Connecting  Social  Policy  and  Medicalization:  The  Case  of  World  Trade  Center  Cough 
2019 Luke Rathbun Biology Anil Bamezai Investigate, using  a  mouse  tumor  transplantation  model,  the  role  of  immune  checkpoint iinhibitor  Ly-6A  expressed  on  Tumor  Infiltrating  Lymphocytes  (TILs)  in  tumor  immunity
2019 Lily Day Biology Robert Curry Effect of hybridization on problem-solving abilities of Pennsylvania Chickadees
2019 Kristen Meeh Biology Troy Shirangi How  genes  build  neural  circuits  for  animal  instincts.  
2019 Alexis Price Computing Sciences Robert Beck Persuasive Human Computer Interaction
2019 Maya Rao Computing Sciences Robert Beck Persuasive Human Computer Interaction
2019 Matthew Borkoski Geography & the Environment Steven Goldsmith Evaluating the Relationship between Suburban Land Use Practices and Water Quality
2019 Alec Henderson Geography & the Environment Steven Goldsmith  Evaluating the Relationship between Suburban Land Use Practices and Water Quality
2019 Gillen Curren Geography & the Environment Kabindra Shakya & Peleg Kramer Air  quality  mapping  at  Villanova  Campus
2019 Anthony Berna Mathematics & Statistics Kaitlyn Muller The  Effect  of  Physics-Based  Modeling  on  Synthetic-Aperture  Radar  Target  Detection 
2019 Frank Simutis Mathematics & Statistics Kaitlyn Muller The  Effect  of  Physics-Based  Modeling  on  Synthetic-Aperture  Radar  Target  Detection 
2019 Peter Webb Physics David Chuss & Javad Siah Exploring  Interstellar  Magnetic  Fields  from  the  Stratosphere 
2019 Sebastian Flores Physics David Chuss & Javad Siah Exploring  Interstellar  Magnetic  Fields  from  the  Stratosphere 
2019 Catherine Petretti Physics Joey Nielsen  Mapping  a Black  Hole  Wind: Determining the Orbital Period and Wind Geometry in  GRO  J1655-40  
2019 Andrea DiRenzo Psychological & Brain Sciences Laura Getz  Interactions are Essential: Audiovisual Integration and Top-Down  Influences in Perception 
2019 Lily Nelson  Civil/Environmental Engineering Eric Musselman & David Dinehart Compressive  Behavior  of  Wood  Perpendicular  to  the  Grain 
2019 Matthew Dorchak Civil/Environmental Engineering Eric Musselman & David Dinehart Compressive  Behavior  of  Wood  Perpendicular  to  the  Grain 
2019 Shenda Huang Mechanical Engineering Xun Jiao Energy-efficient Neural Networks with Low-precision Parameters
2019 Kelly Delawder Mechanical Engineering Bo Li  Build  Highly  Sensitive  Environmental  Sensor  from  Polymer  Nanocrystals  Assembledon Crystalized  2D  Materials  
2019 William Taubner Mechanical Engineering Bo Li  Build  Highly  Sensitive  Environmental  Sensor  from  Polymer  Nanocrystals  Assembledon Crystalized  2D  Materials  
2019 Kelsey Chodorow Nursing Sherry Burrell Quality of Life in Caregivers of Veterans with Cancer
2019 Charlotte Lane Nursing Mary Ann Cantrell A Clinical Simulation Program to Increase Graduate Nurses’ Clinical Competency and Clinical Judgment in the Practice Setting
2019 Patricia Santos Nursing  Sunny Hallowell Virtual  Reality  Simulation  for  Teaching  and  Evaluation  of  Medication  Safety Adminisration 
2019 Laura Cesar Nursing Michelle Kelly Adverse  Childhood  Experiences and the Child with Special Health Care Needs
2019 Isidora Martin Nursing Meredith MacKenzie Greenle Hypertension  Self-care  among  Indonesian-Americans 
2019 Elizabeth Kelly Nusing James Mendez The Predictive Ability of the Stanford Integrated Psychosocial Assessment for Transplant (SIPAT) for Length of Stay and Survival up to Four Years after Lung Transplantation 
2019 Sinead Dolan Nursing Jennifer Yost Quantifying Redundancy in Research
2019 Adam Kucharczuk Nursing Tracy Oliver Assessment of Weight-Related Bias among Undergraduate Nursing students beforeand after Curriculum Imbedded Sensitivity Training
2019 Eleanor Latz Nursing Jennifer Ross Gunberg The  Effect  of  Curricular  Integration  of  TeamSTEPPS  Training  on  Baccalaureate  Nursing  Students’  Knowledge,  Attitudes,  and  Skills  in  Teamwork
2018 Michaela Mazzo Romance Languages & Literature Adriano Duque Mapping Latino Oral Culture in the United States
2018 Gia Beaton English Jean M. Lutes Recovering an African American Woman Writer's Lost Work: Alice Dunbar-Nelson and "His Heart's Desire"
2018 Lucinda Mileto English Jean M. Lutes Recovering an African American Woman Writer's Lost Work: Alice Dunbar-Nelson and "His Heart's Desire"
2018 Jackie Solomon English Jean M. Lutes Recovering an African American Woman Writer's Lost Work: Alice Dunbar-Nelson and "His Heart's Desire"
2018 Michelle Ferrer Romance Languages & Literature Laura V. Sandez Visualizing Latin @ Lit
2018 Beatriz De Jesus Romance Languages & Literature Mary Kate Donovan Race and Celebrity in Spanish Cimea Culture of the Silver Age
2018 Kathleen Roberti Finance Tina Yang Inside the Boardroom: Evidence from the Minutes of Board Meetings
2018 Chris D'Amico Accountancy & Information Systems Lucy Chen Consequences of using IFRS within the United States: The case of audtior behavior
2018 Yanyao Shi Economics Michael Curran On the Persistence of Stock Market Portfolio Prices
2018 Joseph Carmody Economics Michael Curran On Stock Market Connectedness across Countries
2018 Ibrahim Annabi Economics Michael Curran A Country-Level CAPM Analysis
2018 Taylor Hinch Accountancy & Information Systems Erica Harris Are We There Yet? CEO Gender Diversity in the Nonprofit Sector
2018 Nicholas Yoo Mechanical Engineering Bo Li Scalable assemble two dimensional nanomaterials on polymer substrate for flexible sensors
2018 Anthony Etim Mechanical Engineering Aaron Wemhoff Increasing the Impact of Data Center Modeling Software 
2018 Yuhan Wang Mechanical Engineering Morteza Seidi  Design & Evaluation of Head Protective Gears to Mitigate Head Injuries
2018 Alec Cárdenas Civil & Environmental Engineering Eric Musselman & David W. Dinehart Wood Connections for Improved Seismic Performance
2018 Courtney McPheter Civil & Environmental Engineering Eric Musselman & David W. Dinehart Wood Connections for Improved Seismic Performance
2018 Min Ji Hong Chemical Engineering Jacob Elmer Preparation for an Ultra-Stable and Ultra-Portable Blood Substitute: Freeze-Drying of Earthworm Hemoglobin
2018 Philip Yang Mechanical Engineering Calvin Hong Li Clean Water Recovery from Air by Bioinspired Nanostructured Surfaces
2018 Alexa Schoeneborn Mechanical Engineering Calvin Hong Li Clean Water Recovery from Air by Bioinspired Nanostructured Surfaces
2018 Aarya Deb Mechanical Engineering Gang Feng Developing Strong and Highly-Conductive Ultra-Light Nanomaterial Network
2018 Allison Day Nursing Mary Ann Cantrell A Clinical Simulation Program to Increase Graduate Nurses' Clinical Competency and Clinical Judgement in the Practice Setting
2018 Alexa Steady Nursing Sunny Hallowell Understanding the Impact of Homelessness on Mothers, Infants, and Families
2018 Paige Kenyon Nursing Sherry A. Burrell Quality of Life in Caregivers of Veterans with Cancer
2018 Abigail Gehsmann Nursing Tracy L. Oliver Assessment of Weight-Related Bias among Undergraduate Nursing Students before and after Curriculum Imbedded Sensitivity Training
2018 Tiffany Pearson Nursing Jennifer Yost Making Decisions in Healthcare
2018 Chris Braganca Chemistry Dan Kraut Coupling between ATP hydrolysis and substrate unfolding by the proteasome
2018 Elisabeth Dimitratos Psychological & Brain Sciences Benjamin Sachs Examining sex differences in binge drinking behavior at baseline and in response to stress
2018 Lauren Hurley Physics Georgia C. Papefthymiou-Davis The bio-mineral core of engineered human ferritins overexpresed in E. coli
2018 Rahul Thapa Physics David Chuss & Javad Siah Mapping Galactic Magnetic Fields from the Stratosphere
2018 Lexi Tumblety Physics David Chuss & Javad Siah Mapping Galactic Magnetic Fields from the Stratosphere
2018 Audrey Lawrence Biology Anil Bamezai Immune Response by Helper T lyphocytes: Role of Lipid rafts and Membrane order in cell signaling through the T cell receptor
2018 Emily Scheuring Geography & the Environment Kabindra M. Shakya & Nathaniel Wreston Determination of aldehydes and ketones in drinking water from a variety of storage containers by HPLC 
2018 Kyle Abo Chemistry Ryan P. Jorn Interfaces Matter: Co-solvent Preference in Lithium-ion Battery Electrolytes
2018 Austin Leitgeb Chemistry Ryan P. Jorn Interfaces Matter: Co-solvent Preference in Lithium-ion Battery Electrolytes
2018 Susannah Sapp Biology Alyssa Y. Stark The effect of temperature and humidity on gecko-inspired synthetic adhesives
2018 Hamna Khalid Computing Sciences  Robert Beck Persuasive Human Computer Interaction
2018 Seung Yeon (Amanda) Jeong Computing Sciences Robert Beck Persuasive Human Computer Interaction
2018 Hannah Murray Sociology and Criminology Meredith Bergey Sociodemographic Correlates of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: The Importance of Intersectionality in Addressing Unmet Needs for Speciality Care
2017 Makenna Kariuki Education and Counseling Jerusha Conner Today's Youth Activists
2017 Rahma Goran Theology/Religious Studies Vincent Lloyd The Sources of Dignity in African American Culture
2017 Amanda Gerstenfeld English Jean Lutes Legendary Effect: Transcultural Intimacies in Willa Cather’s The Professor’s House (1925) and Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927)
2017 Jade Huang Communication Amy Way Locating Youth Experiences in the Work Life Negotiation Literature
2017 Martin Vega Psychology Joe Toscano Speech-based texts for diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss
2017 Travis Nix Communication Len Shyles Political Advertising in the 2016 Presidential Election: Does it help voters decide?
2017 Caitlin Ramirez Public Administration Lauren Miltenberger Where's the Love? Understanding how complex contracting systems can cause hardships for systems aimed at reducing homelessness in Philadelphia
2017 Francis Coen Mechanical Engineering Qianhong Wu A Biomimetic Approach to Study the Brain Response under Fast Impact
2017 Blaire Miran Civil & Environmental Engineering Shawn Gross Long term deflection of concrete beams with fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) composite reinforcement
2017 Rebecca Moretti Civil & Environmental Engineering Wenqing Xu Identifying the precursors of disinfection by-products in the swimming pools
2017 Srijana Chapagain Chemical Engineering Noelle Comolli Nanoparticles for tumor targeting
2017 Shlok Kaneria Computing Sciences Edward Kim Physical Computing and Machine Vision
2017 Jason Drucker Computing Sciences Edward Kim Physical Computing and Machine Vision
2017 Gwen Saccocia Biology Robert Curry Social networks and personality in Carolina Chickadees
2017 Jessica Moszkowicz Biology  Troy Shirang How a developmental gene shapes a sex-specific neural circuit
2017 Janet Nguyen Biology Troy Shirang How a developmental gene shapes a sex-specific neural circuit
2017 Mackenzie Jorgenson Computing Sciences Robert Beck Persuasive Human Computer Interaction Supporting Sustainability
2017 Julia Ferrante Computing Sciences Robert Beck Persuasive Human Computer Interaction Supporting Sustainability
2017 Josephine Papotto Geography & the Environment Kabindra Shakya Air Quality in Villanova Campus
2017 Augustus Most Physics David Chuss Classifying Galactic Star-Forming Regions with Planck Data
2017 Gus Singleton Management  John A. Pearce II Major Obstacles to Success for a Small Business Founder-Manager
2017 Xinyue Sheng Accountancy & IS Lucy Chen Acquirers' Use of Fairness Opinions and Subsequent Goodwill Impairment
2017 Tian Tian Accountancy & IS Erica Harris Nonprofit Related Party Transactions: Friend or Foe?
2017 Adam Kebbeh Accountancy & IS Erica Harris Nonprofit Related Party Transactions: Friend or Foe?
2017 Emma Bernhard Finance Tina Yang The Impact of Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) on Corporate Governance
2017 Frances Steadman Nursing Sunny G. Hallowell Creating a PING (Patient Information Networking Group) - to Bridge Care from the Hospital Home
2017 Patrick Treacy Nursing Elizabeth B. Dowdell Toddlers and Guns
2017 Allison Lorenz Nursing Amy McKeever The Opioid Crisis in American Women
2016 Lauren Henderson Mechanical Engineering Aaron Wemhoff Models for improving the energy efficency of data centers
2016 Alexander Vetter Psychology  Michael Brown Exploring the Animal Mind
2016 Gianna Perez Psyschology Michael Brown Exploring the Animal Mind
2016 Victoria Lyou Human Resource Development Christopher Castille  Personality-Oriented Work Analysis Assessment Validation
2016 Athul Rajesh Chemical Engineering Jacob Elmer Cross-linking earthworm hemoglobin with glutaraldehyde to produce an ultra-stable blood substitute
2016 Zhenglin Yu Mechanical Engineering Calvin Li Graphene synthesis for graphene polymer nanocomposite of increased thermal conductivity 
2016 Andrew Lee Mechanical Engineering Gang Feng Developing nanostructured energy storage materials
2016 Katherine Mohr Nursing Elizabeth Dowdell "Trauma Normalization" in a population of children living in homeless or domestic violence shelters
2016 Erin Donnelly Nursing  Elizabeth Dowdell "Trauma Normalization" in a population of children living in homeless or domestic violence shelters
2016 Emily LaPorte Nursing Meredith MacKenzie Pilot testing the COPE intervention with family caregivers of frail older adults
2016 Maria Djogova Chemistry Dan Kraut Determining the Fate of Ubiquitin During Proteasomal Degradation 
2016 Mansi Mann Chemistry Dan Kraut Determining the Fate of Ubiquitin During the Proteasomal Degradation 
2016 Hwa Yoo Biology Matt Youngman Flipping the switch: Identifying molecules that activate the DAF-16 transcription factor during aging in the roundworm Caenorhabdities elegans
2016 Amanda Summers Biology Matt Youngman Flipping the switch: Identifying molecules that activate the DAF-16 transcription factor during aging in the roundworm Caenorhabdities elegans
2016 Silvia Jaramillo-Regalado  Computing Sciences Robert Beck  Persuasive human computer interaction in support of sustainability
2016 Daniel Giangola Computing Sciences Robert Beck Persuasive human computer interaction in support of sustainability
2016 Joseph Michail Physics David Chuss & Javad Siah Exploring galactic magnetic fields with planck data
2016 Jyotasna Yadav Economics Sutirtha Bagchi The liability of being foreign: do regularors treat foreign firms differently?
2016 Rachel Azzoli Economics Sutirtha Bagchi The liability of being foreign: do regulators treat foreign firms differently?
2016 Allison Garippa Economics  David Fiorenza Creative descrution in the music industry
2016 Madisyn Schwartz Finance Tina Yang Are female executive teams targeted differently in corporate takeover battles?
2015 Erickson Lee Communication Len Shyles Digital Politics
2015 Anna Marie Eakins Psychology Katrina Sawyer Desired and feared selves of formerly trafficked women: The role of workplace stigma in determining achieved selves
2015 Alyssalee Curcio English Kamran Javadizadeh Bedlam & Parnassus: The Institutionalization of Midcentury American Poetry
2015 John Coppa Mechanical Engineering David Jamison 3D Medical Image Reconstruction of Lumbar Spine Geometry
2015 Camden Palvino Civil & Environmental Engineering Seri Park Data Analysis to Establish Congestion Management Process  
2015 Lucy Andersen Nursing Melissa O'Connor Determining Readiness for Discharge from Skilled Home Health Services: a Mixed Methods Study
2015 Hannah Durnin Nursing Amy McKeever Learning Needs and Barriers to Prenatal Care and Prenatal Education among Low-Income High-Risk Minority Women 
2015 Elena Capello Biology Elaine Youngman Regulation of Argonaute-family proteinsimortant for fertility in a nematode germline
2015 Joyce Li Biology Samantha Chapman Root decomposition and productivity across a mangrove – salt marsh ecotone
2015 Ryan Allen  Chemistry Jennifer Palenchar Characterization of  b-Hydroxybutyrate Dehydrogenase from Trypanosome Parasites
2015 Jack Roscoe Finance Tina Yang CEO Pay and Pay Disclosure 
2015 Manny Garcia Economics David Fiorenza Business Improvement Districts (BID) in Pennsylvania 
2015 Meissa Kostecki Finance Michael Pagano CEO Pay and Pay Disclosure