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Faculty-student collaboration at the heart of BW Summer Scholars

Breaking new ground in research is at the center of BW's Summer Scholars program, a 10-week living-learning experience that enables students to design their own research or creative project under the supervision of a faculty mentor.

BW Summer Scholars image of Tommie McQueary
Summer Scholar Tommie McQueary is working on a collaboration project between BW and Cedar Point to create an updated educational workbook for the park's "Physics, Science, and Math Days." His project takes him on-site (as pictured here) to study the park's rides to create STEM-based questions.

Under the direction of Dr. Laura Hopkins, BW Summer Scholars is an annual program for students of any major. This year, 12 students are gaining insights and experiences that can prepare them for future endeavors like graduate school or a career.

Joseph Barnhouse

Hometown: Norwich, Ohio
Major: Music Education
Project: Working with Dr. Kenneth Heinlein on "A New Curriculum for Young Tuba Players: Learning to Play Low"

Synopsis: "I am going to review books of published exercises that focus on building clarity, tone, flexibility and musicality in the low register while playing the tuba. I will personally work through each selected exercise under the guidance of Dr. Heinlein. We will then write a literature review of the exercises, organize the best exercises into a progressive curriculum for students to build the 4 fundamental skills cited above, record the exercises to be used as a reference, and upload the recordings to YouTube."

Mia Basit-Hightower

Hometown: Maple Heights, Ohio
Major: Political Science
Project: Working with Dr. Matthew Ward on "Affirmative Action before the SCOTUS decision: Income and Education Gaps in Ohio"

Synopsis: "My project stems from the 2023 Supreme Court decision in University of North Carolina v. Harvard, where the constitutionality of Affirmative Action was challenged. With millions of Americans having benefited from this reparative policy, I wondered if the Court's decision can be expected to create new or exacerbate ongoing harms to impoverished and minority communities that Affirmative Action policies were designed to target. My research is looking at how Affirmative Action policies have impacted the educational and financial outcomes of lower-income and minority Ohioans."

Brendan Bentkowski

Hometown: Brunswick, Ohio
Major: Chemistry
Project: Working with Dr. Lisa Ponton on "Determination of the Photochemical Properties of Salicylic Acid under the Exposure of Ultraviolet Light"

Synopsis: "My project is centered around chemical actinometers, which are chemical systems that can measure how much UV radiation has been introduced to a system by measuring the progress of a chemical reaction. The most common chemical reaction used in these systems is based on the formation of salicylic acid. Unfortunately, salicylic acid decomposes under UV exposure. More experiments need to be done to better understand the kinetics behind the formation and photodecomposition of salicylic acid, so that this chemical actinometer system can be further optimized to be applicable to longer time frames."

Madalyn Dietrich

Hometown: Brunswick, Ohio
Major: Sociology
Project: Working with Dr. Brian Monahan on "'Evil Is Not a Cultural Phenomenon. It's a Human One.' Understanding the Social Construction of Offenders on Criminal Minds"

Synopsis: "Criminal Minds is a popular drama TV show. Through this project, I will utilize qualitative coding strategies and analysis in order to identify patterns in how the show portrays offenders, crime and the criminal justice system. I will compare patterns within the fictional program with publicly available crime data from the FBI's Uniform Crime Report and NIBRS data (National Incident-Based Reporting System) in order to identify the discrepancies between real world offenders and those whom we portray in fiction. At the end of this project, we will produce an analysis with enough rigor to hold up to peer review in order to circulate for publication."

Hannah Dodson

Hometown: Clarksville, Tennessee
Major: Neuroscience
Project: Working with Dr. Colleen Nye on "Sex-Dependent Telencephalic Oxidative Stress and Blood-Cortisol Analysis in Obese Danio rerio"

Synopsis: "My research is focusing on the stress responses that zebrafish experience when they are introduced to a high fat diet that has been classified as 'unhealthy.' We are looking to see if exposure to this relatively unhealthy diet impacts male and female zebrafish differently and whether our results require further analysis for the impact of the diet change on cognition. The project has already introduced me to numerous behind-the-scenes parts of scientific research and has further helped me find my niche within neuroscience research."

Alexa Gossett

Hometown: Beloit, Ohio
Major: Neuroscience and Psychology
Project: Working with Dr. Elizabeth Benninger on "An Analysis on the Therapeutic Intervention of Surf Therapy and how it is Utilized Internationally"

Synopsis: "For this project, I will be researching the therapeutic intervention of surf therapy in various locations in the world. I will be interviewing different organizations and individuals that specialize in the field on a similar set of criteria to better understand the procedures and benefits of this practice. I hope to analyze this data and compare these organizations and practices to one another. I intend to generalize the practice in a way others can learn from and utilize in their own efforts to understand and take part in this method."

Jonathan Horowitz

Hometown: Valencia, California
Major: Theatre (stage) and Religion
Project: Working with Dr. Ellen Posman on "Jewish Cleveland: History and Analysis"

Synopsis: "I am interviewing members of some of the oldest Jewish families in Cleveland and religious leaders to compile oral histories. I am also interviewing staff at the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland, which is responsible for developing educational materials that are distributed to various Hebrew schools in Cleveland. Using this research, combined with archival research from other relevant sources, I will write a paper that constructs an argument about the evolution of Judaism in Cleveland with an eye toward the education of Jewish youth."

Alexandria Macko-Dobrovic

Hometown: Solon, Ohio
Major: Computer Science
Project: Working with Dr. Rachelle Hippler on "Digital Transformation in Guatemalan Healthcare: Integrating Advanced Features into Clinic Management Software"

Synopsis: "Mission Guatemala has partnered with BW's software engineering program for assistance in developing a medical records database system that was installed in May 2024. My project builds on that database. It includes travel to Guatemala to do research and designing, implementing and testing a comprehensive pharmacy management module that simplifies and enhances medication-related processes — including prescription workflows, inventory management and patient medication history tracking."

Tommie McQueary

Hometown: Batavia, Ohio
Major: Engineering and Physics
Project: Working with Dr. Jonathon Fagert on "Cedar Point Physics, Science, and Math Days Workbook"

Synopsis: "The project is a collaboration between BW and Cedar Point to create an updated educational workbook for the park's 'Physics, Science, and Math Days.' This workbook includes STEM-based questions related to the park's rides that will be used by middle and high school students. The primary goal is to revise existing questions, develop new ones for recent rides and ensure the questions align with educational standards. This update aims to enhance STEM learning and promote BW as a leader in STEM education."

Sydney Miller

Hometown: North Olmsted, Ohio
Major: Neuroscience
Project: Working with Dr. Clare Mathes on "Ethanol-Induced Neural Activity in Male Compared to Female Rats"

Synopsis: "While the impact of acute ethanol administration has been studied in male rats, there are no studies comparing the data collected from females versus males. Female brains have structural and functional differences due to hormone fluctuations across development. The importance of analyzing both sexes goes beyond this study. Future researchers may use this study's findings to investigate sex differences in how chronic ethanol administration impacts the brain compared to acute administration and how this may require different treatment approaches that include sex as a consideration."

Elizabeth Norris

Hometown: Loudonville, Ohio
Major: Pre-Allied Health/Pre-Physical Therapy
Project: Working with Dr. Michael Kovach on "Comparative Endocranial Morphology of Extant Crocodylians"

Synopsis: "I am comparing the shapes (morphology) of various crocodylia species' brains via CT scans and animation software. I have been provided CT scans, from which I am able to use software to create a model of the skull. From this newly formed skull model, I can fill in where their brains would have been and make a model of the brain from that space using software. Once the brain model is created, I can interpret how the shape of the brain might play a role in their livelihood. The goal of this research is to understand how morphology of the brain can correlate to the crocodylia's sensory systems depending on their ecology."

Hannah Wetmore

Hometown: Strongsville, Ohio
Major: Political Science
Project: Working with Dr. Matthew Ward on "The Effect of White Nationalist Rhetoric on Ohio Voter Choice"

Synopsis: "Working on this project is giving me the opportunity to work on my research skills, presentation skills, and dive into a project I am passionate about and that matters to me. My project's goal is to get a pulse on what influences Ohio voter choice and what direction Ohio voters are headed in. The political landscape of Ohio has always been important. As our nation drastically changes politically, it is important to evaluate how our state is changing."

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