Lucerna Undergraduate Research Symposium

Four UMKC students presented research at Lucerna Symposium on March 17.

UMKC students Karah Chappel, Anuhya Dayal, Kai Milanovich, and Lauren Textor shared their research projects with an audience of 50 people at the annual Lucerna Symposium on March 17.

These students are among the twelve undergraduates whose scholarship appears in the new volume of Lucerna, the UMKC undergraduate research journal produced by Honors Program students that publishes the work of students in all disciplines.

UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal spoke about the importance of undergraduate research at the Lucerna Symposium, which concluded with a panel discussion by presenters.

The twelve contributors and their topics are Karah Chappel, “Exploration of the Referral Process of Social Work Within a Policing Structure”; Lauren Cooper and Brooke Friday, “The Neuropathological Analysis of Sport and Blast TBIs”; Robin Conrad, “The Many Names of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: How They Have Improved and How They Can Continue to Improve”; Anuhya Dayal, “From MMR to COVID-19: A Study of Vaccination Perception Over Time and the Modern Effects of Social Media”; Denise Dean, “Associations of Environmental Factors and Physical Activity Behaviors: A Photo Analysis”; Dominic Guillen, “A Simpler Annuity”; Ellie Jackson, “Iran: Analyzing the Dominant Coalition of an Authoritarian Regime”; Niki Joshi, “Reconciling Two Identities: The Letters of Anandibai Joshi”; Kai Milanovich, “Performing Escape: Imagining Future with Plato’s Symposium”; Carson Rau, “Spatial and Social Organization in Restaurants: The Dynamics of Cooperation and Contention”; and Lauren Textor,“The Necessity of Art Programming in Restructuring the Prison System.”

At the Lucerna Symposium, the faculty advisors of contributors were recognized: Debbie Brooks, JD; Dr. Stephen Christ; Dr. Crystal Doss; Dr. Richard Delaware; Dr. Jane Greer; Dr. Amanda Grimes; Dr. Chi-Ming Huang; Dr. Jennifer Huberman; Dr. Dawn Iwamasa; Dr. Joseph Lightner; Dr. Lee Likins; Dr. Mona Lyne; Dr. Gwen Nally; Dr. Ken Novak; Dr. Michelle H. Smirnova; Dr. Ann Wood; and Dr. Henrietta Rix Wood.

To access the digital version of Lucerna 2022 and learn more about the journal that is accepting student submissions for the next volume to be published in March 2023, go to https://honors.umkc.edu/get-involved/lucerna/

Meet a Lucerna Author: Denise Dean

What is your Lucerna project about?

My article, “Associations of Environmental Factors and Physical Activity Behaviors: A Photo Analysis, is about how the built environment affects physical activity behaviors among underserved communities in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

Why are you interested in this topic?

I am interested in improving health equity for our community and exploring the associations of the built environment on health behaviors was the perfect start.

What have been the benefits and challenges of this project?

The benefits of this project include working closely with faculty and becoming familiar with scholarly-scientific writing.

What is your advice for students who are interested in publishing their work in Lucerna?

My advice for students who are interested in publishing their work in Lucerna is to make sure you meet your deadlines and carefully read the requirements before submitting your work.

What are your professional plans or goals?

My professional goal is to work towards global health equity by developing sustainable water and sanitation systems as well as increasing access to culturally tailored health education. I will be starting my Masters in Global Public Health Spring of 2022 and plan to pursue a doctoral program soon after.

Meet a Lucerna Author: Brooke Friday

What is your Lucerna project about?

My project, “The Neuropathological Analysis of Sport and Blast TBIs,” co-written with Lauren Cooper, is about traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Essentially, we’re looking at how the brain is impacted on a short and long-term basis once a TBI has occurred.

Why are you interested in this topic?

There were a lot of things that drew me to this topic. First, I have always loved the intricacies of the brain, and how it is able to adapt and constantly change, especially during injury. Second, a lot of my family is in the military and have been deployed across seas and have had to face the idea that something could change their lives in an instant, so it was almost a tribute to them in a way as well. We’ve seen a lot of studies that have focus specifically on sports injuries. We wanted to see how a military versus sports traumatic brain injury differed.

What have been the benefits and challenges of this project?

There was definitely a challenge in getting the research we needed, especially on the military blast side. There isn’t a whole lot of information out there, which is one of the reasons why we wanted to investigate it. The government isn’t going to just publish all this on their soldiers. But after intense research and even contacting currently deployed relatives, we had so much research at our hands. There was a lot of sifting through information to figure out statistics and the specific impacts of the mechanism that an IED had on the brain. There were weeks where we were just going through this information with a fine-tooth comb and it really taught us the importance and diligence of this information and why it is so important to get out there for others to see.

What is your advice for students who are interested in publishing their work in Lucerna?

If I had to give any advice, it would be to put your heart and soul into your research. That sounds cheesy, but if you love what you were researching and you have such an affinity for it, you won’t back down until it’s perfect. And once you think you’re done, go over it five more times. See if there’s any more information out there to help you. We gain access to more information every day and research that spans our knowledge that needs to be examined. Use your resources and professors, and reach out to people who are experts in the field you are researching.

What are your professional plans or goals?

My professional plans are to become a surgeon and specialize in neurology. I graduated from UMKC in May 2021, and I currently attend St. George’s University School of Medicine in Grenada. I plan on taking part in further neurological research opportunities here.

Meet a Lucerna Author: Lauren Textor

What is your Lucerna project about?

My article, “The Necessity of Art Programming in Restructuring the Prison System,” is about art programming in prisons and how it can be helpful in lowering recidivism rates and expanding the skill sets of incarcerated individuals. I combined quantitative data from previous research studies with the qualitative answers of people who have worked with prison programs.

Why are you interested in this topic?

I believe that everyone should have access to a creative outlet! My love of writing has gotten me through the most difficult times of my life. I had heard about organizations that facilitated art projects in local prisons before, so I decided to look deeper into it. I decided to incorporate interviews with facilitators into my research, and that’s when the project took off for me. My sources shared so many personal stories with me. From the first interview that I conducted, I could tell that this was going to become more than just another paper to me.

What have been the benefits and challenges of this project?

I’m much more educated now on how our justice system functions, but there’s so much ground to cover that I still feel like I’m only beginning to understand it all. I’m grateful that I was able to connect with so many people who not only consented to being interviewed, but fully embraced it. The biggest challenge was in editing, because I found the writing process so enjoyable and I felt loyal to my first draft. I went through so many rounds of edits, partly so that I could find a more objective tone. There was no way to condense all the information that I gathered from the interviews into a single paper, so I had to make some sacrifices and narrow my focus.

What is your advice for students who are interested in publishing their work in Lucerna?

There is no one way to do research! I was intimidated by the idea of it at first, but research in its most basic form is just asking a question and then attempting to find an answer. I research local restaurants extensively on Yelp, and you could most definitely write a paper about the overlaps in the Kansas City foodie scene and the gaps that we’ve yet to fill. Pick something you care about and go from there.

What are your professional plans or goals?

I’m still figuring out what I like. I have always loved writing, and I care about humanitarian issues, so for the past few years I’ve planned to combine the two through nonprofit work. I’m planning on going to graduate school, but not directly after undergrad. I want to give myself time to explore all the fields that I’m interested in.

Meet a Lucerna Author: Anuhya Dayal

What is your Lucerna project about?  

My article “From MMR to COVID-19: A Study of Vaccine Perception Over Time and the Modern Effects of Social Media” is about the perception of vaccination and how it has changed from the age of MMR to COVID-19. I look at how social media has played a role in anti-vaccination sentiment and the evolution of this movement across time. 

Why are you interested in this topic?  

While I was writing this paper in Fall 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had just started and vaccines were being made. Seeing how this virus turned the world upside-down was flabbergasting, and the perception of the new vaccine was equally intriguing. While the virus was new, the concept of vaccination wasn’t, so the public reaction to COVID-19 vaccination was immensely interesting to me. Also, as a medical school student, the crossover between the medical and social worlds was something I hadn’t studied before, but I integrated two aspects of my own life that I hadn’t looked at analytically before.  

What have been the benefits and challenges of this project?  

There were many benefits and challenges of working on this project. Some of the benefits include researching an interdisciplinary topic in a detailed manner that I haven’t been able to before. I was given the opportunity to dive into a unique type of research that broadened my knowledge and perception of social media and social movements in a medical context. I was able to enhance my writing style and learned to work flexibly to create the best paper possible. I was also immensely grateful to work with an amazing mentor who helped me write this paper every step of the way.  

Some of the challenges include the time and attention to detail that producing a good quality research paper required. More often than not, research requires a different level of patience and grit that can be difficult to maintain at the early stages of the paper. Additionally, keeping up with deadlines was definitely challenging, but an important requirement to meet.  

What is your advice for students who are interested in publishing their work in Lucerna 

My advice for students who are interested in publishing their work in Lucerna is to start early and submit with no regrets. I think starting early and making many edits/revisions yourself or with a mentor/peers is a vital first step to writing a successful paper that will be accepted into the journal. The second piece of advice is to simply submit their paper! Don’t be afraid of your work not being good enough or traditional enough. Lucerna is an open-minded journal that loves unique and creative pieces. Along those lines, if you ever have questions, don’t be afraid to ask the staff! Everyone is really friendly and wants to help you succeed!   

What are your professional plans or goals? 

I am a second-year student in UMKC’s BA/MD program. My professional goals are to graduate from medical school and hopefully match at a good residency program. While I am not sure what specialty I would like to pursue, I aim to become a helpful and humble clinician-scientist, both practicing medicine and (hopefully) working in my own research lab.