Academics: Research Programs

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A Few Winners From Research Day 2013

Kristie Bronner

Music major, Kristie Bronner, C’2013, adviser Lawrence Schenbeck, Ph.D., first place, for her oral presentation “Quoniam tu solus”: An Exploration of Baroque Style and Listening Pleasure

My research provoked thought and connection between historical and current progress. It encouraged critical analysis and creative exploration that can be used to appreciate past works and stimulate present development. I expect to continue exploration of connections and improvements in past and present concepts and techniques. Dr. Schenbeck was extremely insightful and encouraging in my process. He also allowed me to exercise freedom and creativity in the development of my presentation after he provided guidance. After Spelman, I will be working at Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral as a youth event coordinator, youth counselor, and as a director in the worship and arts department. I will also be recording contemporary Christian music.


Alexandra Brown

Math major, Alexandra Brown, C’2013, advisers Karen Brakke, Ph.D., and Rhonda Holliday, Ph.D., first place for her poster presentation “Media Attitudes, Alcohol and Marijuana Sexual Expectancies Among Male Adolescent Detainees”

As my research seeks to eradicate risky sexual behavior and substance use in male adolescent detainees, I believe my work encompasses the breadth of sustainability. While my current research has only examined attitudes associated to media, alcohol and marijuana on sexual expectancies in male adolescent detainees, future work will seek to investigate possible behavioral associations to these factors. My adviser and mentor Dr. Rhoda Holliday has been exponentially supportive in helping shape and mold important research questions, analysis techniques and proper formatting of scientific writing. Without her guidance, much of my research would not have been possible.

While I have decided to take a year off before attending graduate school for a master’s in public health, I will be traveling to New York City to intern for a national afterschool youth development organization.


Brianna Burlock

Biology major, Brianna Burlock, C’2015, adviser Tokunbo Yerokun, Ph.D., second place for her poster presentation “Comparative Analysis of Serine Palmitoyltransferase – 1 SPTLC1 Expression in Caucasian and African-American Prostrate Cancer Cell Lines”

My adviser approached me with the idea of furthering research in prostate cancer, which is currently a popular topic in health care. After doing much research on the cancer, I wanted to find out why there is a difference in the behavior of prostate cancer cells in African-American and Caucasian men. I decided to look at a particular protein, one that my adviser had previously done much research on, and find out if the protein is expressed differently or similarly between the two races. After doing more research on the protein, I decided that it would be an interesting study. If there is a discovery in this research, it could change how Black men are treated and encourage better options for treatment. My adviser, Dr. Tokunbo Yerokun, always points out that research is ongoing. He emphasized that research is an everyday learning experience. There is never a day wasted in research. I plan to always keep that in mind especially when research gets frustrating, as it sometimes can. I plan to attend a medical school and become a medical doctor but I am open to other options in the science field.


Ariel Harden

Biology major, Ariel Harden, C’2014, adviser Tiffany Oliver, Ph.D., first place for poster presentation “Evidence that Variation in Proline Rich Domain Containing 9 is Assoicated With the Absence of Recombination on 21q and Nondisjunction”

My research deals with refining the risk of a woman having a child with Down syndrome. Increased maternal age is one of the risk factors for having a child with Down syndrome, regardless of the ethnicity or location of a woman. So this applies to not only the Spelman and Atlanta community but the World.  I expect to lessen the fear of having a child with Down syndrome for women around the world. My mentor is absolutely wonderful. She is brilliant, kind, wise, and an amazing research scientist. Without her, I don't know how any of the things I have accomplished could be possible. After Spelman I plan to attend Emory and obtain a Ph.D. in human genetics.


Monique Gray

Comparative Women Studies major, Monique Gray, C’2013, advisers Monica Melton, Ph.D., Taleria Fuller, Ph.D., and Crystal Pirtle Tyler, Ph.D., first place for her oral presentation “The Number of Lifetime Sexual Partners and Dual Contraceptive Use at Last Sex Among Female Adolescents:

I selected my topic with my mentors Dr. Taleria Fuller and Dr. Crystal Pirtle Tyler a Spelman alumna who work with in the CDC. I selected my topic based on my interest in reproductive and sexual help for female adolescents. My mentors from the CDC were extremely helpful for crafting my research. We had daily meetings and they were always available to read and edit my research. My research is extremely important since the rates of unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections are higher among teenagers aged 15 to 19 than most other age groups. After graduation, I will be going to China to teach and conduct public health research for 11 months.


Jazette Johnson

Computer Science major, Jazette Johnson, C’2015, advisers Yolanda Rankin, Ph.D., Alfred Watkins,Ph.D., Jakita Thomas, Ph.D., second place for her oral presentation “Mobile Healthcare Informatics: Alzheimer’s Music Therapy Mobile Application”

My topic is being developed in the memory of my late grandmother who passed from this traumatic disease in the summer of 2012. During the summer of 2012, I was doing two research projects one dealt with bioinformatics and another topic was themed “My Big Idea.” For “My Big Idea” I chose to research Alzheimer’s and music, at that point of the summer the Alzheimer’s disease started shutting down my grandmother’s body. Since I was doing research on Alzheimer’s I was the person providing some information about the disease to my family, so they would know what to expect from that stage of Alzheimer’s. When I returned to Spelman College in fall 2012, it was time for me to get back to researching Alzheimer’s and music. I had all the information I needed to start developing some type of program to incorporate Alzheimer’s and music. I decided to develop a mobile application that will assist caregivers in their therapy and treatment through stimulus brain activities and tips on caring for Alzheimer’s patients. Each of my advisers has contributed to the planning of this research project when it came down to developing my topic, understanding the best mobile application platform to use, and understanding the research cycle. I would like to publish a research paper as an undergraduate student. I also want to have the fully functioning mobile application on Google Play by the end of my senior year at Spelman College. After Spelman [I want] to obtain my Ph.D., possibly in artificial intelligence and to work in the industry. I also want to open a nonprofit organization that will help with the care Alzheimer’s patients


Cadiesha McKenly

Biology major, Cadiesha McKenly, C’2014, advisers Rosalind Gregory-Bass, M.D., and Winston Thompson, Ph.D., second place for her poster presentation “The Effects of Endometriosis on the Proteome of Human Eutopic Endometrium”

On May 29, 2012, I was blessed with the opportunity to become a member of a two-year research program titled Atlanta Center for Translational Research through Morehouse School of Medicine and Emory University.  It is through this program that I was assigned the topic “The Effects of Endometriosis on the Proteome of the Human Eutopic Endometrium.” This research is especially important to my Spelman community because endometriosis is a disease known to effect young women of reproductive age.  In addition, women who do not exhibit symptoms are often unaware that have the disease until they experience infertility, which is the most severe outcome of endometriosis.  Dr. Thompson, of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at Morehouse School of Medicine, has been a positive role model and a constant motivator to me through this entire project, and I am honored to have the opportunity to continue to work with him until my graduation from Spelman College; thereafter, I plan to attend Morehouse School of Medicine to continue my education in pediatrics.


Jenine McKoy

Environmental Science and Dual-Degree Environmental Engineering major, Jenine McKoy, C’2014, advisers Peter Chen, Ph.D., and Haviland Forrister, first place for her poster presentation”How’s the Air Up There?”: Using LIDAR Data to Compare the Air Quality on College Campuses in Metropolitan Atlanta

I have been fascinated with the weather, meteorology and atmospheric science since the fourth grade. So, when I had the opportunity to work study my interest on a collegiate level, I was ecstatic about the opportunity. In addition to having an interest in atmospheric science, I am also very passionate about environmentalism and environmental justice. After explaining to Dr. Chen my scientific interest and considering the resources available to me, he suggested that I explore the project to see if I could find any atmospheric trends within the city of Atlanta. Spelman is an excellent place for new scientific discoveries to emerge. Because we are specialized underserved communities including both women and people of African descent, through research we are able to solve the problems that plague our community. This summer I will be conducting research at the University of Colorado Boulder for one of the top atmospheric science research programs in the country called SOARS. Dr. Chen has been a supportive adviser and has taught me so much about my subject matter as well as the professionalism of the science field. Though our lab continues to be very successful at conferences and research events, Dr. Chen continues to work on improving our research skills as students and as future scientist.


Jani Mikel

International Studies major, Jani Mikel, C’2015, adviser Jerry Weaver, Ph.D., for her oral presentation “Are the IMF and World Bank Beneficial?”

I came up with this topic after taking two clases, Anthropology of Globalization and Gender and Transnationalism, that looked at how this new era of globalization and transnationalism affect nations but also the individuals of these nations. This topic is important to Spelman, the community, and the world in general as globalization is a major force today. As members of the global community, we need to understand our place in it both as a community and as individuals. With this research, I hope to learn more about international institutions such as the IMF, World Bank, and the UN, as I plan to have a career in international relations and diplomacy. I would like to thank Dr. Wever as he was a great mentor and really helped me with my project and making my ideas and presentation concise. After Spelman, I plan to enter in a dual-degree program, JD and master’s in International Relations. After that I plan to do foreign service work at the U.S Department of State. In the future, I hope to become an ambassador to a Middle Eastern nation.


Alexis Sims

Biology major, Alexis Sims, C’2015, adviser Rosalind Gregory Bass, M.D., for her first place poster presentation on “The Effect of Caloric Restriction on p53 Expression in Multidrug Resistant SDOV3 Cells”

My adviser helped me select and format my research experiment. I was already learning about Ovarian Cancer, and from there I was able to choose a protein of interest I wanted to test. This research is significant because endothelial ovarian cancer is currently the fourth leading gynecologic malignancy in the United States and it will affect over 20,000 women this year. This research is beneficial to Spelman women because through Dr. Bass’s research lab, we are able gain knowledge on this cancer and learn different techniques and skills when allowed the opportunity to precipitate in research. From this point, we will be able to impact the greater community with our findings and new knowledge then ultimately go off to make differences in the world. I am very grateful for Dr. Bass’s passion when it came to helping us really understand our topics and how to go about our research. She was always open to guiding me and answering any questions I had. I also believe her training has helped me develop into a better presenter as well. My plans after Spelman are to attend medical school and follow the pathway into becoming a neonatologist.