Four UA Little Rock students receive SURF research fellowships

Madeline Burke

Four UA Little Rock students have received the prestigious Student Undergraduate Research Fellowships from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education to conduct research this spring with help from faculty mentors.

The Student Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program provides up to $2,750 to undergraduate students to conduct in-depth research projects in their specific fields of study with the assistance of faculty mentors. To be eligible, all fellowship recipients must have a minimum grade-point average of 3.25, at least 30 hours of credit toward a degree, and support of a faculty mentor. Funds also are provided for students to travel to conferences to present their accomplishments.

The students will complete their research this spring semester and will exhibit their work at the Student Research and Creative Works Showcase on April 18 in the Jack Stephens Center. In addition to the SURF grants, the students receive some matching funds through UA Little Rock’s Office of the Vice Provost for Research.

The UA Little Rock fellows include the following:

Bonn Belingon – “Enzymatic Studies of BbI06 from Borrelia burgdorferi,” ($2,750 from SURF, $1,250 match to equal $4,000)

Belingon, of Marion, Arkansas, is researching how to isolate and target specific enzymes that are found in  B. burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. Currently, drug resistance to B. burgdorferi has surged and new strategies are needed to combat the disease. Belington and his mentor, Dr. Shanzhi Wang, will purify and characterize the BbI06 enzyme and determine 10 inhibitors against the bacterium.

Madeline Burke – “Duck and Cover: How the Outdated Maritime 1851 Limitation of Liability Act Shields Shipowners From Liability,” ($2,750 from SURF, $1,250 match to equal $4,000)

Burke, of Little Rock, is investigating the legal and ethical considerations of the 1851 Limitation of Liability Act that protects shipowners from liability. This act was cited by Ride the Ducks, the company that owned the duck boat that sank and killed 17 people on Table Rock Lake in Missouri on July 19, 2018. Burke will use library and government databases to create a research presentation for a national conference and submit an article for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Dr. Casey Rockwell from the Department of Marketing and Advertising is Burke’s mentor.

Caroline Kornelsen – “Understanding of Förster Resonance Energy Transfer in Ionic Materials,” ($2,750 from SURF, $1,250 match to equal $4,000)

Kornelsen, of Fallbrook, California, and her faculty mentor, Dr. Noureen Siraj, are researching novel and inexpensive approaches to developing new materials that possess Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) characteristics. FRET is a non-radiation energy transfer process between donor and acceptor moieties. Ionic material with FRET characteristics will be developed using a fluorescent organic ion as donor and counterion as acceptor. FRET characteristic in an ionic material will be understood by developing several derivatives of ionic materials using same cation but variable anion or vice versa. These materials are important in the arena of energy, healthcare, and the environment. This project will allow Kornelsen and Siraj to learn more about the parameters that depend on FRET efficiency in ionic material.

Michael Meziere – “Examining the Relationships between Religiosity, Rape Myth Acceptance, and Sexual Misconduct,” ($2,125 from SURF, $625 match to equal $2,750)

Meziere, of Little Rock, is examining if religiosity plays a factor in the misconceptions and myths surrounding sexual assaults on college campuses. To carry out this study, Meziere will conduct surveys to gather information on religious beliefs and sexual attitudes. The data gathered will be presented in a poster presentation at the Academy of Criminal Justice Studies annual meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, in March 2019 and the UA Little Rock Student Undergraduate Research Expo in April 2019. Dr. Molly Smith from the Department of Criminal Justice is Meziere’s mentor.

Madeline Burke is one of four UA Little Rock students to receive a Student Undergraduate Research Fellowship. She is researching an old maritime law which says the owner of a sunken vessel is not legally responsible for its cargo. Photo by Benjamin Krain

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