Holster scholars present research
Published: Friday, September 21, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 21, 2012 00:09
This past summer, six UConn students delved into research projects that hoped to solve real-world issues, such as the discovering of new ways to produce clean water, analyzing impacts of aphasia on stroke patients and using art as a coping method for Holocaust survivors.
The Holster Scholar First Year Project, unique to first-year UConn Honors students, is a highly selective scholarship experience generously funded by UConn Class of ’68 alumni, Robert and Carlota Holster. The scholarship is aimed at providing bright and curious first-year students with the ability to craft independent research projects tailored to a burning question or idea. Selected students receive up to $4,000 in summer research funding, individualized mentoring and guidance from faculty and staff and enrollment in a one-credit course to plan the project.
On Sept. 20, the six Holster scholars culminated their research with presentations to the general public of their findings.
Katrin Acuna worked under the guidance of Dr. Emile Myers, Ray DiCapua and John Giardina to analyze the effects of sound and music on sensual pleasures. Her project, titled “Sculpting Sound and Painting Music: A Study, Documentary, and Art Exhibition,” explains the depictions of sounds through unconventional means such as colors, tastes and movements.
Kaila Manca, another Holster scholar, led a research project on how to mollify the impact of aphasia.
“My grandmother had a stroke and was tested with severe aphasia,” said Manca. “She was my motivation.”
Aphasia, Manca explained, is an impairment in communication from a brain disorder usually caused by a neurological injury. Affected patients not only have difficulties speaking, but also have difficulty understanding what is being said.
Manca’s goal was to make therapy for patients more effective.
“I saw that modern therapy lacked an emphasis on conversational speaking,” she explained. Patients may have been able to pass standard tests, but Manca sought to help them have a casual conversation with their spouses.
Following Manca’s presentation, Kevin Zheng presented his summer research project on the dietary analysis and epigenetic comparisons of drosophila melanogaster through multiple generations.
Julian Norton explained her research on art through post-memory. Norton went to Israel to better understand the culture and coping mechanisms used by Holocaust survivors and their families. Her research sought to answers questions such as what post memory is and how art contributes to it.
Holster scholar Xiao Li analyzed the heterogeneity of the hippocampus through single unit recordings and confocal microscopy. Lior Trestman’s research sought to use microbial fuel cells to purify water and create electricity in the process. He envisions many benefits from his research.
“The largest cost of running water treatment facilities is electrical. These fuel cells will help diminish those costs,” explained Trestman to the audience.