Potential Double Hoo Projects

The following graduate students are seeking undergraduate students to collaborate on a Double Hoo research proposal.

Name: Olyvia Christley
Email Address: ochristley@virginia.edu
Department: Politics
Specialization: Public opinion, gender politics
Research Focus: This study seeks to assess the efficacy of campaign advertisements featuring the candidate’s familial status conditional on the candidate’s sex.

Project Description: Political campaign advertisements frequently feature members of the candidate’s family. Little is known, however, on whether the candidate’s sex (male or female) influences perceptions of family focused campaign messaging. This study seeks to answer that question through the use of a survey experiment that asks respondents to respond favorably or unfavorably to campaign ads that feature various familial arrangements (i.e. two heterosexual parents/two children, single parent, two homosexual parents/one child etc.) for either a male or female candidate running for political office. Two of the primary goals of this project will be to assess the heterogeneous treatment effects (i.e. how the treatment effect varies across sub-populations including partisanship, race, geography etc.) and to gain a better understanding of the efficacy or limitations of family-focused campaign ads for men and women.

Undergraduate Student Role: I am looking for an undergraduate researcher to assist with designing and implementing the survey experiment for this project. Ideally, s/he would help design and produce the treatments (the campaign advertisements survey respondents will see) and assist in the actual data collection and cleaning. S/he might also be asked to help survey the existing academic literature on campaign advertisements and gender. Over the course of the project, the student would gain valuable experience with experimental design, including learning how to conceptualize, prepare for, and execute an experiment. In addition, the student would be exposed to current social science research methods more broadly. Prior knowledge of Stata and/or R is preferred but not required.

Name: Jeff Carroll
Email Address: jmc5xm@virginia.edu
Department: Philosophy
Specialization: Political Philosophy and PPE (Philosophy, Politics, and Economics)
Research Focus: The goal of this research project is to explore the similarities between the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of protest movements and the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of voting.

Project Description: Scholars that work in economics and political science have convincingly argued that an individual opting to vote is not efficacious and, in fact, irrational. Indeed, one is more likely to get struck by lightning on the way to the ballot box than for the vote cast to actually matter. My aim is to research the structural similarities between voting and participating in protest movements. If the arguments and empirics suggest that participating in protest movements is like voting, then the route taken to fight bigotry and prejudice should not be centered on protest movements. If the arguments and empirics suggest that participating in protest movements is not like voting and is more effective, then resources should be devoted to assisting protest movements that are just-promoting. Given the current political climate, this project has immediate relevance not just philosophically but also practically. Ideally, this project would continue over multiple years in order to assess the changing political conditions. I can think of no better place to perform this research project than in Charlottesville.

Undergraduate Student Role: The responsibilities the student will have include:  

  • Reading empirical work on protest movements.
  • Reading philosophical work on protest movements.
  • Reading empirical work on voting.
  • Reading philosophical work on voting.
  • Collaborating with me to help jointly author a journal article.

Name: Samuel V. Lemley
Email Address: svl6fy@virginia.edu
Department: English 
Specialization: Renaissance, 18th-Century, Bibliography & Book History
Research Focus: This project aims to recreate and reconstitute the original Rotunda Library in an online exhibit. This exhibit will allow users to virtually browse the Rotunda library collection as it existed in 1826 when it opened and to interact with the Rotunda’s history as a library and intellectually generative space.
Project Description: The recently completed Rotunda renovations, while beautiful and necessary, obscure and elide the Rotunda’s book-holding past. Using archival research and digital methods of display, our project will resuscitate and disclose this past, virtually ‘reassembling’ the 1826 Rotunda Library in a beautifully curated digital exhibit. In many ways, our project shares the objectives and commitments of the Library of Congress’s ongoing effort to reassemble Jefferson’s own library, sold to Congress after the war of 1812. Our project will accomplish a similar end, but at a smaller scale and in a digital medium.
Undergraduate Student Role: My undergraduate collaborator will be tasked with tracking down metadata for historic books and entering these metadata into the project database. This will involve data standardization, archival research—both locally in the special collections library at UVa and in the Library of Congress—and aiding in building a database and website using PHP, MySQL, and HTML/CSS. Training will be provided! And in many cases, we’ll be learning in tandem! Of course, a student with experience in these areas is most welcome to apply, but experience is not required. An undergraduate's involvement will—I hope—spark interest among the undergraduate community more broadly and encourage undergraduate students to pursue archival research individually.

Name: Lydia Warren
Email Address: lkw2eq@virginia.edu
Department: Music
Specialization: American Vernacular Music/Urban Electric Blues
Research Focus: My research focuses on documenting, preserving, and theorizing Memphis-based blues musicians from the post-Civil Rights era through the revitalization of Beale Street (1968 through 1991) to challenge two dominant narratives: 1. that blues music ceased to be relevant to urban African Americans after the Civil Rights movement, and 2. that the revitalization of Beale Street is beneficial to Memphis-based musicians. This work both informs and draws on ethnomusicology, tourism studies, arts advocacy, critical race theory and whiteness studies, feminism, southern history, and southern studies.

Project Description: Beale Street is Tennessee’s most popular tourist attraction and the official Home of the Blues, but receives little scholarly attention, and scant popular press aside from travel guides and recommendations. The Beale Street Oral History Project will record oral histories from those who currently perform on Beale Street, documenting and preserving their experiences, as well as musicians who performed on Beale before its revitalization. It will capture the stories of waitstaff, management, venue owners, promoters, sound engineers, and Memphians who, before urban renewal projects removed hundreds of homes, lived on Beale. Beale Street, a major touchstone in American music, has a story that is yet untold, and the Beale Street Oral History Project will actively engage in making public the story of this street.

Undergraduate Student Role: The undergraduate will fulfill a critical role in this research by conducting oral history interviews with musicians, venue owners, and local music supporters, photographing and documenting locations of past and current recording studios, urban lounges, and other important sites, and attending, observing, and recording live blues performances throughout the city. Multimedia tools will be provided. The student will be taught how to use the equipment, assigned people to interview, guided with what questions to ask, and told locations to document, but is also encouraged to explore, think creatively, and take an active and collaborative role in discovering and discerning who to talk to, what to ask, and which items to document.

Name: Ahmed Aly
Email Address: aaa2cn@virginia.edu
Department: Electrical and Computer Engineering
Specialization: Robotics and Deep Learning
Research Focus: We are trying to create Learning systems that can be embedded in a robot. The idea is to have robots learn similar to the way children/humans do.

Project Description: We use Deep Neural Networks/Deep Learning to achieve the robotic learning of different skills. We work on Perception (Computer Vision), Motion and a little bit of Language. The robot has to learn things incrementally and accumulate knowledge. That is why Deep Learning can be ideal for this sort of problems.

Undergraduate Student Role: You will help in compiling datasets (e.g. images), testing different deep models, writing programs and aiding in experiments with the robots. None of those things are “advanced” in nature. All you really need is solid programming knowledge of Python, although Machine
Learning is a definite plus. We will walk you through everything else.

Name: Sarah Mosseri
Email Address: sem2gw@virginia.edu
Department: Sociology
Specialization: Work, Culture and Inequality
Research Focus: This study investigates whether adherence to specific cultural schemas of work and family influence working mothers’ work-family balance strategies. 

Project Description: A substantial body of research has investigated the individual and structural determinants of women’s responses to work-family conflict.  However, these studies have focused largely on women’s decisions to abstain from either work or family completely, overlooking more moderate response strategies that allow for a continued, but modified, participation in both work and family life.  Focusing on these moderate response strategies, this article builds on previous literature by investigating the extent to which the meanings of work and family—characterized by two cultural schemas that guide social life within each—affect working mothers’ use of such strategies. Using data from The 500 Family Study, I use binary and multinomial logistic analyses to test the extent to which middle-class working mothers’ acceptance of the cultural schemas of work and family affects their likelihood of adopting two types of middle-ground strategies: employment trade-offs and family trade-offs.  Preliminary findings show that acceptance of different institutional logics leads to the adoption of distinct middle-ground strategies.  However, the relationship between acceptance of the institutional logic of family and employment trade-offs is mediated by women’s income and moderated by the presence or absence of a spouse or partner.

Undergraduate Student Role: This paper is under revision, and I am looking for an undergraduate student researcher to assist with the quantitative analysis.  Using STATA, the research assistant will revise/clean the data and run analyses.  Specifically, we will be exploring various model specifications (i.e., logistic regression, count models, biprobits) for examining the key relationship.  Interested individuals should be familiar with STATA and statistical methods. 

Name: Sarah Mosseri
Email Address: sem2gw@virginia.edu
Department: Sociology
Specialization: Work, Culture and Inequality
Research Focus: This study explores the ways in which high-status professionals in competitive work environments challenge and reinforce norms of overwork by examining how they discuss their time away from work.

Project Description: Organizational and occupational researchers have uncovered and described a “culture of overwork” that pervades many American workplaces, particularly those in high status, fast-paced professional services industries such as finance, law, consulting and technology.  This work-focused culture mandates that professionals display an unmediated devotion to career via long and intense working hours and the prioritization of work over personal.  Given this cultural background, this study asks: what are the different ways that professionals account for time not devoted to work activities? How do these accounts intersect with social status within the workplace? Do some workers feel justified in taking time away, while others find it necessary to explain their temporary disengagement?  How are “legitimate” reasons constituted—by content, by owner, by context?  This study attempts to answer these questions by analyzing the narratives provided within 65 in-depth interviews with high-status professionals.

Undergraduate Student Role: I am looking for an undergraduate researcher to assist with qualitative analysis of interviews and observational fieldnotes. The research assistant will learn to use NVivo (a qualitative analysis software), and through NVivo will inductively “code” interview transcripts and field notes based on patterns found in the data, as well as keywords pulled from previous research.   In addition, I will ask the research assistant to write short (1-2 page) memos about initial findings, which we will come together and discuss on a regular basis. 

Name: Sarah Mosseri
Email Address: sem2gw@virginia.edu
Department: Sociology
Specialization: Work, Culture and Inequality
Research Focus: This project explores the social and cultural processes of trust within American workplaces. 

Project Description: Workplace trust presents an empirical puzzle for sociologists of culture, labor and inequality. In national surveys, Americans indicate high levels of interpersonal trust at work while reporting very little trust more generally. Prior research suggests interpersonal trust in the workplace should be eroding in today's climate of transient and flexible work, workforce diversity and systematic employee surveillance, yet workers' trust in one another and in managers seems to persist within contemporary American workplaces.  The proposed research investigates this apparent incongruity by asking: (1) how trust is collectively constituted within local work contexts that are distinctly structured by varying levels of hierarchy, surveillance and social status and (2) how processes of trust influence the ways in which workplace actors develop and understand work relationships and assess work situations.  These processes are studied in four class-differentiated, service sector worksites—a restaurant, a communications firm, a high tech startup and among ride-hail workers—through 13 months of participant observations and 115 in-depth interviews with workers and managers.  

Undergraduate Student Role: I am looking for an undergraduate researcher to assist with qualitative analysis of interviews and observational fieldnotes. The research assistant will learn to use NVivo (a qualitative analysis software), and through NVivo will inductively “code” interview transcripts and field notes based on patterns found in the data, as well as keywords pulled from previous research.   In addition, I will ask the research assistant to write short (1-2 page) memos about initial findings, which we will come together and discuss on a regular basis. 

Name: Teressa Paulsen
Email Address: tp2yq@virginia.edu
Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics
Specialization: DNA dynamics and Cancer biology
Research Focus: Increasing attention to changes in DNA structure that lead to changes in gene expression during oncogenesis, has directed our research to circular DNA molecules that exist outside our chromosome. Our research focuses on the mechanism of formation and function of these circular DNA molecules. We are looking at small circles that amplify genes of known microRNAs and novel si-like RNAs which influence the expression of numerous cellular genes.

Project Description: The focus of this project is to find the function of cellular circular DNA molecules. We have found that circular DNA molecules are transcribed and can code for functional microRNA. They can also code for novel si-like RNA that modulate the expression of the gene the of which the circle was derived. Further research is needed to find what types of sequences of DNA allow for the formation of novel si-like RNA through DNA circle formation, such as repetitive sequences and high GC content. We will create artificial DNA circles that carry known endogenous genic circular sequences to determine which characteristics are necessary to form functional si-like RNA.

Another aspect of the research is to find which cellular mechanisms contribute to circular DNA formation. With the use of the CRISPR/Cas system we will create human cancer cell lines lacking proteins necessary for DNA repair to find which repair proteins are necessary for the formation circular DNA. Further, we will determine which type of DNA damage leads to circular DNA formation, e.g. double strand breaks, crosslinking, RNA polymerase stalling.

Undergraduate Student Role: This project will give opportunities to learn how to culture and treat cancer cell lines, isolate DNA and RNA from cells, quantify DNA and RNA sequences through QPCR, create novel DNA sequences through cloning and PCR, and use the CRISPR/Cas system to knock out a gene.

Name: Gail Hayes
Email Address: gmm8u@virginia.edu
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Specialization: Low impact development for stormwater management in highway settings
Research Focus: Our goal is to inform the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) on the performance of their highway stormwater control measures with regards to their maintenance efforts. Performance is monitored through water quality analyses done in lab as well as volume control monitored at the project site.

Project Description: Stormwater is rain or snow melt that flows over surfaces such as pavement, roofs, or lawns. The danger of stormwater lies in its threat to natural water bodies through the contaminants it collects along its path and also the possibility of high volumes causing erosion and flooding. Recent endeavors in stormwater management include low impact development (LID), a "green engineering" design theory which allows stormwater to percolate into the ground as close to its source as possible before it can cause damage to receiving water bodies. VDOT is interested in the performance of the LID stormwater control measures implemented along the recently expanded Lorton Road in Fairfax County with regards to maintenance efforts on these systems (e.g. mowing, planting, etc.). Twelve of the 46 individual control measures at this site are instrumented for flow monitoring and sample collection. Water quality monitoring focuses on trace metals, road salts, nutrients, and organics. Volume control is also monitored. Correlations will be made between stormwater management and the maintenance efforts by VDOT with the goal of recommending action to VDOT about their maintenance efforts.

Undergraduate Student Role: The student will choose one of the instrumented LID stormwater control measures on which they would like to focus and conduct the necessary lab analyses to determine if the control measure is performing satisfactorily in terms of both water quality and volume control in several storms over one year. The student will look for trends of performance with respect to several variables, including but not limited to VDOT maintenance activities, specific contaminants present, and age of the system in question as he or she conducts the relevant regression analyses. Additional opportunities for the student include column tests for road runoff through soil typically found in these LID control measures. The student will have an unusual opportunity to influence how the state government agency of VDOT handles an important liability, road runoff. No prior water quality lab experience is necessary and the student will not be expected to travel to Fairfax County. The goal of the undergraduate's role is to familiarize the student with analyses of common water quality parameters, the policies and laws regarding stormwater runoff, current technologies for mediating the effects of stormwater runoff, and efforts at improving these technologies.

Name: Zhiqiu Jiang
Email Address: zj3av@virginia.edu
Department: Urban and Environmental Planning
Specialization: Transportation Planning
Research Focus: This project focuses on 1) addressing the question if there is a disruption or adaptation of individual mobility by driverless cars ahead; 2) inferring individual’s travel mode choice and risk perceptions of driverless cars embracing the fusion of Facebook and Twitter text data, urban land use and socio-economic environment.

Project Description: Inferring Individual’ activity and travel mode choice is critical for transportation and travel behavior. State-of-Art trip purpose and travel mode choice inference are conducted by traditional travel surveys, GIS and land use data. However, there lacks a solution to recognize accurate mode preferences and activities in existing literature. Nowadays, the thriving growth of social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, provides a new opportunity to extract crowdsourced data. Transportation authorities have begun to identify social media data as another data source for transportation informatics. The objective of this project is, as a first attempt, to prove the effectiveness that social media, combined with existing land use and socio-economic environment data, can infer information of individual’s high-resolution travel mode choice and risk perceptions of driverless cars. In order to accomplish this goal, a text mining and sentiment analysis for travel mode preferences and opinions to the driverless cars are deployed in this project with a multidisciplinary team assembled with urban transportation planning PhD student (me) and another undergraduate or graduate pairing student. We also want to provide suggestions for how driverless cars as an emerging travel mode affects the entire urban mobility system and other existing transportation options such as walking, biking, or public transportation.

Undergraduate Student Role: We will together apply different text data analysis methods in the social media like Facebook and Twitter information mining for travel behavior, building modeling framework using text mining and sentiment analysis. We also will conduct a comprehensive literature review of previous studies in social media analytics and trip experience and mode preference inferences.

Name: Matthew Richey
Email Address: mdr2kz@virginia.edu
Department: Spanish, Italian, & Portuguese 
Specialization: Contemporary Latin American Fiction; Cultural Studies
Research Focus: My research explores questions of post-war masculinities in contemporary Central American literature. More specifically, I am studying the representations and expressions of gender through the marketing and consumption of material goods.

Project Description:
The research here will expand upon existing scholarship on gender, identity, and conflict in contemporary Central America. Although the primary focus of my dissertation will be on representations of masculinities in post-war detective fiction, it is the specific emphasis on gendered consumption and representation that makes this project unique. Adopting a cultural studies framework, the scope of this stage of research extends well beyond traditional forms of literature. In addition to brochures and print advertisements, we will also examine the political propaganda produced by both left and right-wing groups; before, during, and immediately following the decades-long conflicts in Central America. By looking at visual and textual representations of gender in relation to consumption, this project will contribute towards a greater understanding of the issues of labor, conflict, and displacement in postwar Central America. While some of the data collection may be done remotely via digital archives, much of the research at this stage will be carried out in libraries and archives. Possible research locations include Austin, TX; San Jose, Costa Rica; Managua, Nicaragua; and Berkeley, CA. 

Undergraduate Student Role: The primary role of the undergraduate student will be to collect and catalog data. With regards to data collection, the student will browse both text and copy in primary sources, such as magazines, newspapers, propaganda, and advertising posters. Primary sources, as well as the variables to be analyzed, will be clearly specified by the graduate student researcher. In addition to recording data, the undergraduate student will also catalog their findings in a database, while also providing crucial bibliographic information. Because the vast majority of the print copy will be in Spanish, the undergraduate student should have an advanced level of Spanish language proficiency. The project is not only suited for students interested in Spanish or Latin American literature; it is also relevant to undergraduates interested in marketing and consumer behavior, labor and migration, cultural studies, gender studies, history, and the visual arts.

Name: Zafer Vatansever               
Email Address: zv4xv@virginia.edu
Department: Electrical and Computer Engineering         
Specialization: Signal Processing
Research Focus: I am working on indoor positioning and navigation. My focus is to combine visible light communication and indoor navigation for autonomous robots.

Project Description: Indoor positioning and navigation will be essential applications with the advancements in mobile device capabilities. Indoor positioning using visible light communications that utilize light emitting diodes as the transmitters and a photodetector as the receiver has been studied in the literature. However, the navigation part of the problem is not studied very well. I would like to design a navigation scheme that accounts for communication and physical limitations, for example, the walls and furniture are physical obstacles, while the area that does not provide any connection to the internet is a communication limited area.  

Undergraduate Student Role: My first expectation from the students is critical thinking about the project, I do not expect them to know everything or an expertise in programming. I expect the students to have ideas about the topic, discuss with me possible new ideas on the project, read the latest papers. I may also expect them to help me with the simulations for generating results.

Name: Qijun Tang
Email Address: qt4kr@virginia.edu
Department: Biology
Specialization: Neurobiology & Behavior
Research Focus: The ubiquitous availability and low-cost of energy-dense foods that are high in fat and sugar has made obesity a world-scale health problem. Circadian rhythms governed by the brain control vital aspects of physiology including rest/activity cycles and metabolism. Even acute perturbation of circadian rhythmicity (e.g. shift-work) increases body mass index (BMI) and lead to maladaptive metabolic responses in humans. By using state-of-the-art neuronal “hacking” tools, I am working on understanding how brain is wired to coordinate timing of feeding behavior and metabolism.

Project Description: We have recently discovered a neuronal link between the brain’s reward and circadian centers. By using transgenic mouse model we have been able to decouple this interaction. Wild type animals when given free access to rewarding foods begin consuming across both active and rest phases of the day. This continuous “snacking” leads to obesity. Surprisingly, the transgenic animals with their reward and circadian centers decoupled only consume the rewarding food during their active phase. Although they eat the same amount of food as wild types during a single day, they do not gain weight.  Using state-of-the-art molecular techniques, I am studying these brain circuits to understand how our genetically engineered mouse model keep “fit” on energy-dense rewarding foods with the hope to develop therapeutic anti-obesity strategies.

Undergraduate Student Role: The undergraduate student will be exposed to cutting-edge molecular biology and neuroscience questions and methods. The selected student will initially learn to perform basic biology techniques including PCR (polymerase chain reaction), animal dissection and immunohistochemistry. Later, student will have the chance to work on advanced techniques including animal surgery, behavior assay, histology, electrophysiology, data processing and programming.  Students in our lab are expected to be engaged intellectually and actively participate in lab meetings. The student will become an expert on at least one technique and be responsible for a project related to the technique.

Name: Xin Deng
Email Address: xd9fw@virginia.edu
Department: Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Specialization: Thermoelastohydrodynamic (TEHD) analysis for fluid film bearing
Research Focus: Oil-lubricated bearings are widely used in high speed rotating machines such as those found in the aerospace and automotive industries. However, environmental issues and risk adverse operations are resulting in the removal of oil and the replacement of all sealed oil bearings with reliable water-lubricated bearings. Due to the different fluid properties between oil and water, the low viscosity of water increases Reynolds numbers drastically and therefore makes water-lubricated bearings prone to turbulence effects. My research focuses on writing new analysis code and creating numerical methods to predict the bearing’s performance and therefore the machine’s performance. This requires detailed numerical analysis to be performed in specialized bearing modeling and analyzing software for additional validation beyond what can be performed by comparing against existing experimental data. I also perform mathematical analysis of fluid mechanics equation to simplified models and code simplified methods for both academic and industry use.

Project Description: Currently no thorough research method exists to do thermoelastohydrodynamic (TEHD) analysis for both oil-lubricated and water-lubricated tilting pad thrust bearings. Modeling water lubricated bearing requires intensive modifications of the analysis method in the thermal, turbulence and deformation models. The goal of this project is to write new analysis code develop a through bearing modeling tool for both oil-lubricated and water lubricated bearings, including novel theoretical approaches to the modeling of turbulence, hot-oil carryover, surface irregularities, and thermoelastic deformation. To accomplish this goal, a new modeling tool for fluid film lubricated bearing is being developed and design explorations will be performed by running simulations in this developed software for a variety of operating conditions and design parameters and compared against the results for existing commercial computational fluid dynamics software, ANSYS CFX, to provide extension validation and verification of the new TEHD code. This research will form the basis of future work to analyze both oil-lubricated and water-lubricated bearings to be useful in various applications.

Undergraduate Student Role: The focus of the undergraduate role in this project will be utilizing the commercial computational fluid dynamics software, ANSYS CFX, to create the data necessary to validate my TEHD code. The undergraduate student will learn how to use ANSYS CFX with my assistance. This software is one of the most popular engineering/research methodologies in both academia and industry so the first several months will focus on building this skill. The student will then setup simulations for one particular bearing configuration and perform a design of experiments optimization for that configuration. Next, the undergraduate student will learn to perform data analysis and optimization through MATLAB and perform this analysis on his/her data. This data and analysis will be the basis for an initial journal publication of the viability of that particular configuration. Further simulations to analyze flow mechanisms and other bearing performance parameters, with corresponding additional publications, may be conducted time allowing.

Name:  Zhaonan Sun
Email Address:  zs2re@virginia.edu
Department:  Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Specialization: Injury biomechanics; Material characterization; Orthopedic biomechanics
Research Focus: My research goal is to make driving safe for everyone. In the center for applied biomechanics, I use experimental and computational methods to study the injury mechanisms of obese occupants during crash, develop models to predict injury risk, and design optimized restraint system to prevent injury when crash happens.

Project Description: To make driving safe for everyone, it is necessary to protect occupants with various body shapes. Current restraint systems are not optimized to protect obese occupants during crash. To design such restraint systems to mitigate the adverse effects on obesity, we must be able to understand the injury mechanisms and to predict injury risks for obese occupants during crash. However, based on prior research and literature, no currently-available obese human body models are capable of replicating the effects of obesity on occupant restraint to the degree necessary for countermeasure evaluation. Specifically, current models have stiffer adipose tissue response than experiments. It is believed that current constitutive models could not account for the fluid like properties of adipose tissue including a large bulk modulus (approaching incompressibility), low shear modulus, and the ability to undergo very large deformation. Therefore, the first step to create an effective obese model is to develop and implement a new constitutive model of subcutaneous adipose tissue. Both experimental and finite element methods will be used in this pilot study to create a constitutive model and to evaluate the tradeoffs between robustness, stability, efficiency and accuracy.

Undergraduate Student Role: The undergraduate student will have a unique experience in designing and implementing a full-scale material characterization study, including designing of experiments, data processing and material model fitting. He/she should expect to harvest and prep biological specimens, learn to operate material testing devices, process the data in a batch and fit them to various material models. Understanding of constitutive models is not required because he/she will learn several types of models along the way. This study by the undergraduate student is an essential part for modelling obese occupants during crash. While exploring various methods, the goal is to set up a standard protocol for subcutaneous tissue material property characterization.

Name: Jordan Buysse
Email Address: jdbuysse@gmail.com
Department: English
Specialization: Modern and contemporary literature, literary theory, digital humanities
Research Focus: This project considers the complex ouvre of eminent modernist Gertrude Stein via current text analysis techniques. These methods not only offer fresh perspective her work, but also will be designed with pedagogy in mind--that is, how do new methods and modes of 'reading' make Stein's work more accessible and appreciable to a broader audience? How might we fold these methods into a digital archive of Stein's work?

Project Description: Rather than pursuing a specific set of questions aimed at Stein's writing and its cultural moment, the project will consider the many ways in which text analysis might intervene on the reading of experimental texts.

The methods employed with be extremely broad, and will thus serve as a useful introduction to the current state of the art in text analysis for literary works. Some methods will include: stylometry, word vectors, topic modeling, and natural language processing (sentence parsing). Our tools will include the programming languages R and Python as well as a grab-bag of digital humanities tools such as Voyant and Gephi for visualization. For creating digital versions of (some of) Stein's texts, we will use OCR software available through the Scholar's Lab.

Undergraduate Student Role: No previous experience with text analysis or programming is necessary, though an interest or curiosity about these methods will make this project more fruitful. Likewise with the work of Gertrude Stein. The project will involve learning and applying some fundamentals of textual criticism and literary research as they relate to creating a digital archive of some of Stein’s texts.

Digitizing works using OCR software, learning basic text analysis tools (in R and Python), learning about data analysis methods and natural language processing, learning to write about these methods and their impacts, getting hands-on experience with the process of research in the humanities, basic data visualization.

Name: Kelly W.S. Ritter
Email: kws6cd@virginia.edu
Department: Architectural History
Specialization: 1930s Shanghai urban history, politics, arts and culture
Research focus: My project looks at the ways that cities, their form, politics, and culture, are grappled with in popular culture. My project examines the ways in which a Shanghai graphic and literary magazine, Modern Sketch, visualized cultural and political struggles in Shanghai during the 1930s. Modern Sketch captures multiple responses to the cosmopolitan city and its ever widening window on the world; it reimagines and reshapes the city according to contemporary issues ranging from the rise of fascism, urban poverty, the rights of citizens, and struggles between the Guomindang and the Communist party.

Project Description: Undergraduates who are interested in modern China, who read Chinese, and who are interested in urban history and architecture, politics, and/or arts and culture might be interested in this project. Given the literary nature of the publication it may also be of interest to those interested in contemporary Chinese literature. I will guide the student through a handful of directed readings for context and introduce them to relevant sources, depending on their interests. Together with the undergraduate researcher, I hope to develop a paper to be presented jointly at a professional conference.

This would be a valuable project for students thinking about graduate school. By the end of the project the student will be knowledgeable in grant writing, and gain significant experience in the analysis and synthesis of written and visual historical sources. The duration of the project is Jan 2018-Dec 2018.

Undergraduate role:

  • Jointly write the Double Hoos Grant proposal; I will lead them in learning grant writing.
  • Survey and analyze content based on their interests within Modern Sketch after receiving training in quantitative and qualitative methods.
  • Synthesize the historical research into a database.
  • Collaborate towards broad analyses of research.
  • Collaborate on writing and presenting a conference paper.

Name: Jeffrey Xing
Email Address: jeffrey@virginia.edu
Department: School of Medicine, Lab of Thomas Loughran, Jr
Specialization: Interdisciplinary: {cancer genomics, computational & experimental biology}
Research Focus: Investigate mechanisms of LGL leukemia (a cancer of white blood cells), utilizing an array of cutting-edge wetlab and data science techniques. Methods include (but are not limited to) genome sequencing & analysis, data processing & visualization, statistics and machine learning, genetic engineering, protein targeting, single-cell techniques. An interdisciplinary approach that blends modern laboratory and bioinformatics tools on real patient samples ensures relevance to both human disease and future treatment strategy.

Project Description: Dr. Loughran helped discover LGL leukemia more than 30 years ago as a hematologist-oncologist (PMID: 3966754). Ever since then, a longitudinal interest in the lab has been to study the pathogenesis and molecular mechanisms of this cancer and in parallel, devise and test new treatments (current therapeutic strategies focus on suppression rather than cure). New technological developments in recent years have allowed new and exciting directions of research, including for example: whole genome sequencing, epigenetic regulation, and high-dimensional single-cell profiling. We capitalize on these powerful techniques to pioneer new insights into mechanisms of disease, with the hope of translating our findings to impact patient care. We are fortunate to have a national registry of more than 1000 patients, an exceptionally well-funded research program, and a diverse team of talented scientists working together on the endeavor.

Undergraduate Student Role: The diverse disciplines in this project overlaps with Medicine, Biology, Biochemistry, Data Science, Computational Biology, Biomedical Engineering, and other related fields. Therefore, while prior experience will help, the specific skill set or background of an undergraduate student is not as important as a desire to learn and commitment to personal and career growth. Using myself as an example, I majored in physics with little background in Computer Science, Medicine or Biology and owe my career trajectory as an MD/PhD candidate to the excellent mentorship and guidance from an interdisciplinary scientific team. When I think back to my own training, it doesn't seem to matter what specific lab techniques or research areas I worked in; what matters more is the diversity of training and the quality of mentorship.

I am looking for a dedicated protégé to mentor over the remaining course of their undergraduate studies (continuing beyond the length of this award). Qualities that will make for a successful partnership include (but are not limited to): existing passion for a career that relates to one of the aforementioned fields; an innate curiosity to ask questions; and a willingness to work hard and take initiative (including self-learning). The primary goal is to think long-term and tailor a comprehensive training that ensures your success. In return, we will work as a close team covering all aspects of the project. This will help introduce a variety of new skills including those that are typical (experimental design & execution, data analysis, and scientific reasoning) and those that are under-emphasized (written/verbal communication, business strategy, organization & time management, reproducibility, and working in teams). Upon graduation, you are expected to have learned a variety of technical skills (experimental biology, data science/computational literacy) and "soft" skills (communication, logical reasoning, strategic planning, teamwork); co-authored a variety of tangible contributions (posters, manuscripts, conferences); and transitioned with our enthusiastic recommendation to your career of choice.

Name: Alexandra Garrett (Alexi)
Email Address: asg4c@virginia.edu
Department: History
Specialization: Early America, history of slavery, history of women/gender, public history 
Research Focus: My research seeks to reveal the relation between Lost Cause narratives in sources of public education in the American North and South and racial relations in those areas. The general idea is to see if areas of the U.S. that support Lost Cause narrations of the Civil War in their textbooks, state historical societies and museums, and public parks (via Confederate statues and other markers) also have higher rates of prejudice toward African-Americans. 

Project Description: The goal is to understand the connection between a state's public representation of its Civil War history and that state's race relations. To understand this connection, the researchers would compare how that state's role in the Civil War is represented in its textbooks, state historical societies and museums, and public park commemorations. We would compare these representations in different areas of the United States. We would first need to understand how sources of public historical education in northern states (most likely New York and Massachusetts) and southern states (most likely Texas and Virginia) differ in their interpretation of the Civil War. Then, we would research the historical race relations of that city, and measure implicit and explicit acts of racism in that state. We are aiming for relations of correlation, not causation. We'd need to have some sort of coding scheme to measure the degree to which textbooks, museums, and public parks contain differing levels of Lost Cause interpretations. Then, we'd see whether those Lost Cause scores can predict outcomes like implicit racism towards African-Americans or explicit racism (like hate crime rates). To measure implicit racism, we could try to get data from Project Implicit, which uses a task called the Implicit Association Test (IAT). The IAT is a way to measure whether people hold unconscious prejudices against African-Americans.

Undergraduate Student Role: The ideal undergraduate research assistant will have a passion for history, and will ideally be a history major or someone who seeks out history coursework. The undergraduate will research the history of the implementation of "Lost Cause" ideology in state-sanctioned K-12 history textbooks in certain states (most likely Texas, Virginia, New York, and Massachusetts). S/he will read the historiography on this topic in secondary sources. S/he will also contact state public history institutions (state historical societies, state museums, etc) to find out when, why, and under what circumstances these institutions host Civil War-era historical exhibits. S/he will also contact the appropriate bodies in at least three states (and major cities within them) to find out who produced Confederate monuments, when and why they were produced, and which taxpaying bodies pay for them. States and cities TBD. S/he will also help the graduate student write a research article on the findings. 

Name: Nenette Marie Arroyo
Email Address: nma7yu@virginia.edu
Department: Art and Architectural History
Specialization: Spanish Colonial architecture with a focus on the California Missions
Research Focus: My dissertation investigates the Spanish mission churches established by the Franciscans in California from 1769 to 1823. By examining their structures and religious furnishings, I seek to capture the Catholic rituals performed in these spaces and their central role in daily life at the mission for both priests and natives. My study aims to demonstrate that religious conversion of a colonized people is a complex negotiation of beliefs and practices between conqueror and subjugated, rather than a wholesale imposition from the ruling power.

Project Description: The dissertation will focus on three missions: San Francisco de Asis (in San Francisco), San Carlos Borromeo (in Carmel), and Santa Barbara (in Santa Barbara). For the Double Hoo grant, I am specifically proposing a project that will fund research travel to one or more of these sites. We will visit extant buildings, examine religious objects in their museum collections, and conduct research in onsite or nearby archives.

The main deliverable of the project is a database containing information on religious objects both currently located at the mission, and recorded in inventories or documented in other sources of the period. Most of these objects will be related to Catholic ritual, such as chalices, patens, censors, tabernacles, crosses, candlesticks, reliquaries, bells, vestments, etc. However, information on paintings, sculpture, and furniture may also be included.

Undergraduate Student Role: The student will travel with me to one or more missions and will assist in taking photographs of sites and objects, capturing pertinent information such as location, condition, and other relevant information (most of these while walking through the site and in discussion with me). She/he will also help with transcribing information from mission archives (inventories, letters, etc.) during our “library” days. Many of these documents are in Spanish, so a reading knowledge of the language is desirable. I am still in the process of choosing a database platform and tool that can be accessed online. I will train the student on the software and he/she will enter the information gathered into the database (type in text and upload images).

This is the baseline plan, but it can be customized or expanded depending on the student’s interest and skills. For instance, there are several possible digital applications (modeling, GIS, etc) if the student is inclined and/or we can get further funding.

Name: Matthew Slaats
Email Address: slaats@virginia.edu
Department: Architecture
Specialization: Civic Participation, Creativity and Democracy
Research Focus: With studies showing that the relationship between residents and local government becoming more frayed, the need for new modes of participatory decision making are becoming more and more important. For my research, we will explore the multitude of ways that residents presently engage in civic initiatives and then pursue new processes that are reinventing democracy through more equitable and inclusive systems.

Project Description: Over the 2017 and 2018 academic year, Just Cities will focus on pursuing core questions about how residents in Charlottesville engage in civic opportunities, why they engage, and what they hope to see happen as a part of those interactions. We will be surveying those that participate in public commenting processes, neighborhood associations, and voting to gauge these questions.
At the same time, we will be researching new modes of civic participation to develop a series of case studies that better understand how these systems might improve the dynamic between residents and local government. This will center on the work being done by the participatory budgeting project, democracy OS, the Citizen University, and in the creative placemaking field.

Undergraduate Student Role: The undergraduate collaborator will play a core role in guiding the scope and process of this research project. They will be an author at all levels, supporting development of the initial objectives for the year, devising modes of data collection, collecting that data, and gathering information from various online sources. This will be a team endeavor and the student will be a vital participant in these efforts.


  • Strategic planning and organization of interdisciplinary collaborations
  • Online research and report development – democracy initiatives
  • Engagement strategy development – Public Commenting and Neighborhood Association
  • Survey construction and distribution
  • Develop and execute on interview processes
  • Data review and organization
  • Blog writing to document efforts

Name: Andrew Frankel
Email Address: adf3ee@virginia.edu
Department: Curry School of Education – Education Leadership, Foundations, and Policy
Specialization: Comparative and International Education
Research Focus: This project uses ethnographic methods to understand how Tibetan students and teachers interpret national and global educational norms. My work is situated in the context of the “Education Revolution” – the phenomenon that entails not only increasing numbers of enrolled students but also the deep cultural shifts that schooling can generate. I focus on extracurricular learning opportunities (or ‘supplemental schools’) to understand how power is exerted through educational avenues and how young teachers make meaning of the academic forces that seem evermore to influence their lives.

Project Description: If so many commentators on education in the PRC – Chinese, Tibetan, and foreigners alike – have criticisms of the government-run schools for “Minority Nationality Students” like Tibetans, why do so many of the independently-organized and locally-run supplemental schools appear to resemble the state institutions so closely? This project uses the “extended case method” or global ethnography (Burawoy 2001) to understand how wider national and global forces are interpreted – adopted, adapted, or resisted – by young Tibetan teachers who work at supplemental extracurricular schools and tutoring programs. Through interviews, observant participation, and document analysis, I try to understand how these teachers conceptualize the meaning(s) and purpose(s) of their extracurricular programs. The project involves intensive ethnographic fieldwork in Amdo Tibetan areas in the PRC (mostly in Qinghai Province). Significant time will be spent at both short and long stays at various educational events and programs in the Amdo region of the Tibetan Plateau.

Undergraduate Student Role: This project is particularly well suited for students with knowledge of Tibetan and/or Chinense languages and cultures and interested in traveling to the Tibetan Plateau during the summer of 2018. The undergraduate student will receive training and guidance to assist with preparation and fieldwork for this project, which will include both intellectual and administrative/logistical responsibilities and take place predominantly on the Tibetan Plateau. Specific activities and responsibilities would include:
  • Coding and analyzing qualitative data using Dedoose software
  • Producing small-scale literature reviews
  • Teaching English in rural Tibetan schools
  • Managing photos, videos, and some recorded data
  • Managing administrative tasks, such as: data organization, travel itineraries, network contacts, etc.

By the end of the project, the undergraduate will have: gained unique experience in conducting and analyzing ethnographic research on the Tibetan Plateau; had many opportunities to study Tibetan and/or Chinese languages; spent roughly 2 months at various homestays on the Tibetan Plateau; and received significant training and experience in the research process, from writing grant proposals to research design, execution, and writing.

Name: Kate LeCroy
Email Address: kal8d@virginia.edu
Department: Environmental Sciences
Specialization: Ecology
Research Focus: In the big picture, we want to "save the bees" -- we're seeking to understand the status of native and exotic solitary bees in Virginia. We're doing this by interacting with citizen scientists all over the Commonwealth to collect nests of solitary bees, screen bees for disease, and estimate population abundances.

Project Description: The effects of stressors such as habitat loss, pesticide use, introduced species, and disease dynamics on bee populations are becoming increasingly well-documented, especially for the honeybee and some bumblebees. However, we still have not evaluated impacts of these stressors on wild populations of many native bee species that also provide critical pollination services to both our crops and our natural ecosystems. Mason bees (genus Osmia) are of particular concern, and we seek to track their populations. Mason bees readily nest in empty cavities in nature, and they have been found to use “bee hotels.” Bee hotels provide cavities for solitary bees as nesting resources, and they are popular among the public. These bee hotels may be of great utility for many of Virginia’s native bee species that are losing nesting resources due to habitat destruction and other pressures. However, bee hotels may inadvertently attract more non-native bees than native species, and they might serve as “hotspots” for disease spread among its inhabitants. Bee hotels were distributed to 100 participants in spring 2017 and collected June 2017 for analysis of population distributions, relative abundances, and disease. This data will hopefully reveal information about the status of native and exotic wild bees.

Undergraduate Student Role: Students who are interested in gaining hands-on experience with careful dissections, documenting disease spread inside nesting structures, and learning more about native bee nesting habitat structure are encouraged to join our team! A student joining our research group will assist us in opening up bee hotels that were placed out all over the state. Mason bees will be in a dormant (inactive) phase, and we will open up their cocoons for species identification and disease screening. The student will also have the opportunity to visit a UVa Environmental Sciences field station and meet other research faculty and students, schedules permitting. Most importantly, the student will be considered an integral part of the project’s success while receiving high-quality mentorship.