Current Undergraduate Research Projects

You'll have a better experience on this website using a secure, up-to-date browser. Click here for information and instructions about updating.

The following undergraduate research projects are in progress during the 2021-2022 Academic Year.

Spirits of the Age and Narrative Metaphor

Mentor: Donald Roth – Criminal Justice & Business Administration
Research Student: Liz Frisbee

This project involves a range of student research related to the conceptual frameworks of Spirits of the Age and Narrative Metaphor. This research builds on past published work as well as summer research to flesh out the range of examples and connections into works of philosophy, psychology, sociology, and other related fields as they provide insights that may help in thinking about ways we connect with both culture and Scripture at the level of identity and action.

Chemoenzymatic Synthesis of Glycosylated and Sulfated CCR5 N-terminal Peptide Library

Mentor: Dr. Joshua Zhu – Chemistry
Research Students: Hope Weyrick & Anna Rediger

This research project aims to develop efficient chemoenzymatic methods for synthesizing glycopeptides containing O-glycans and Tyr sulfation. Therefore, we are aiming to efficiently synthesize CCR5-SGNTPs to build up the access to CCR5-SGNTPs and further provide new clues for related biomedical research.

Your Interpretation is Your Life (Baker Academic)

Mentor: Dr. Justin Bailey – Theology
Research Student: Rylan Brue

This book offers a user-friendly introduction to the conversation between theology and culture. Written with the Christian undergraduate and graduate student in mind, it serves as a primer on methods of cultural exegesis, comparing outstanding practitioners and putting approaches into conversation. The role of the undergraduate research student is to survey and summarize supplemental resources, compile indices, and end matter for the book.

Inclusive Special Education Strategies Handbook

Mentor: Dr. Kathleen VanTol – Education
Research Student: Andres Guzman Pipe

This project involves writing a handbook on inclusive special education strategies that can be implemented on a limited budget. As portions of the material are completed, they will be made available as online modules to teachers and parents in Nicaragua. The undergraduate research student will assist with research, organizing materials, translating materials into Spanish, and uploading the content into the online learning management system.

Impact of Dyslipidemic Levels of Oxidized Cholesterol on Endothelial Membranes

Mentor: Dr. Manuela A.A. Ayee – Engineering
Research Students: Tabitha Verhage, Gretchen Stennett, and Ivana Harsono

Dyslipidemia, or abnormally high levels of blood cholesterol in the form of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), increases the chance of developing cardiovascular diseases, potentially leading to heart disease, diabetes, or stroke. Blood levels of oxidative modifications of low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL - a major proinflammatory and proatherogenic factor) are also increased under dyslipidemic conditions. The most abundant oxidized sterol species incorporated into cells exposed to oxLDL is the bioactive molecule, 7-ketocholesterol. In this study, we computationally investigate the impact of 7-ketocholesterol on endothelial membrane biomechanical properties using coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations to compare dyslipidemic lipid compositions to normal physiological profiles. Undergraduate Research Students will learn how to create, run and analyze the results of molecular dynamics simulations that model the interactions between sterols and lipids multicomponent cellular membrane models. Students will gain the ability to work on complex model systems and extract results from large data sets. They will develop analytical skills and improve their attention to detail and gain proficiency using coding techniques in various programs. This study in part of an ongoing collaboration with researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Assessing Microbial Diversity and Abundance in Dordt’s Aquaponics System

Mentor: Dr. Robbin Eppinga – Biology
Research Students: Hannah Landman & Joel Heynen

Aquaponics has the potential to grow sustainable and nutritious plants and fish. Currently, Dordt has four functioning aquaponics tanks with grow beds. Two of the tanks house fish - walleye in a cold water tank and rainbow trout in the other. As part of a larger effort, it is our hope to be able to define the microbial community in these tanks and identify microbial ecosystems that promote fish and plant health and growth. Recently we had some fish die of a suspected bacterial illness. Three students and I collected water samples from three locations in each of the four tanks and plated these samples in serial dilution onto 60 agar plates, incubated at 37C and found substantial differences in microbial diversity and abundance. Since this assessment likely missed many organisms, due to only one incubation condition and one growth medium, we would like to expand this analysis to include incubations that favor organisms of different temperature and different nutritional needs; we would also like to expand the study to do some genomic work that will allow us to identify high abundance species. This could be a full analysis of these tanks in an ongoing effort to see how the microbial communities adapt to, and interact with, the rest of the organisms in the aquaponics system.