Perspectives of Young Adults using Social Media on Algorithm-driven Interventions for Detecting Body Dissatisfaction 
Celeste Campos-Castillo, Sociology  

Social media companies and researchers are increasingly using algorithm-driven interventions to detect content indicative of users struggling with mental health. To date, few studies evaluate how social media users view using algorithms to detect poor mental health and intervene. The focus of this project will be to design and conduct an online experiment to evaluate how young adults view the use of algorithms to detect body dissatisfaction, which is a risk factor for eating disorders and self-harm. The student will help develop the experiment by conducting literature reviews and interviews with young adults to pilot the experiment. Based on this information, the student will then use Qualtrics to design and field the experiment. The student will also help summarize the results and make policy recommendations. 

Electrical Manipulation of Particles and Viruses in a Microfluidic Device 
Woo Jin Chang, Mechanical Engineering  

The project uses a novel electrical manipulation technique called dielectrophoresis to trap and separate nano-size particles and biological viruses. This technology will be further applied to characterize biological cells for diagnosis, cell therapy, etc. The participating student will support graduate students in microfluidic device fabrication, biological and chemical sample preparation, conduct dielectrophoresis experiments, data collection, image analysis, and analyze obtained data. 

Characterization of the Electrochemical Water Sensor 
Woo Jin Chang, Mechanical Engineering  

The research group developed novel electrochemical water sensors to detect heavy metals, pH, and phosphate from various water resources. The PI is pursuing commercialization of developed water sensors, and characteristics of the sensors, such as repeatability in detection and robustness in long-term use are required. This technology will be further applied to environmental monitoring and drinking water quality monitoring. The participating student will support graduate students in electrochemical sensor fabrication, test sample preparation, conducting experiments, data collection, and analyzing obtained data. 

Yellow Perch Aquaculture 
Dong-Feng Deng, School of Freshwater Science 

Yellow perch (Perca flavescens) are an important food fish and ecological species in the Midwestern United States. The production of yellow perch from fisheries is decreasing and harvest and recreational capture is suspended. Aquaculture has become an important approach to produce yellow perch desired for human consumption in the Laurentian Great Lakes region. The goal of this project is to increase the profitability of yellow perch aquaculture by developing nutritionally balanced and cost-effective feed for fish farming. As a part of this goal, we will decrease fishmeal protein reliance by optimizing plant protein and carbohydrate utilization in feed fed to yellow perch. 

Effects of Estrogens on Learning and Memory in Mouse Models of Menopause and Alzheimer’s Disease
Karyn Frick, Psychology

Our laboratory’s main goal is to identifying the molecular mechanisms in the brain through which estrogens enhance memory in mouse models of menopause and Alzheimer’s disease.  This project will introduce students to the basic elements of neuroscience research.  Within the four- week program period, students will gain hands-on experience handling and behaviorally testing mice, and will be introduced to brain surgery, gonadectomy surgery, hormone treatments, brain dissections, and molecular biology techniques. 

Neurobiology of Attention and Perception in Humans 
Adam S. Greenberg, Psychology 

The Sensory Neuroscience, Attention, and Perception Laboratory (SNAP Lab) aims to understand how human behavior is guided by the world we perceive. We primarily study how perception of objects (in visual, auditory, and olfactory modalities) and attention to objects are implemented in brain mechanisms. We use a combination of cognitive neuroscience methods including psychophysics (human behavioral testing), functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), and computational modeling. During this four-week program, students will learn how to create visual/auditory/olfactory stimuli, test human subjects, and engage in supervised data analysis through hands-on experience. There may also be opportunities to collect and/or work with human neuroimaging data. 

Characterization of Nanoplastics in Freshwater Environments 
Laodong Guo, School of Freshwater Science  

The occurrence of microplastics in the environment has been widely documented in fish, drinking water, sewage, and natural waters, raising significant concerns about ecosystem and human health. Compared to microplastics, nanoplastics are more toxic and can be accumulated in fish and other organisms although few studies thus far have explicitly shown the presence of nanoplastics in natural waters due to inherent technical difficulties in sampling/isolation and characterization.  We seek to understand the occurrence, surface properties, and chemical reactivity of nanoplastics in freshwater environments and how the presence of natural organic matter alters the environmental behavior and fate of nanoplastics.  In this SURF project, students will learn the sampling and characterization techniques for aquatic colloids and nanoplastics using different instruments or facilities, such as ultrafiltration, asymmetrical flow field-flow fractionation, dynamic light scattering, ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy, and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy.  

Factors Related to Individual Differences in Foreign Language Sound Learning 
Hanyong Park, Linguistics 

Individual differences are often observed among learners of foreign language. Some learners seem to have more “talent” in learning a foreign language than others. For example, two language learners with the same native language background, the same onset age of learning, and the same duration of learning, often differ in their rate of learning the language and ultimate proficiency (e.g., less accented pronunciation). The first objective of this project is to identify specific predictors for such individual differences among language learners, focusing on sound learning. In collaboration with Prof. Isabelle Darcy at Indiana University, I collected a large amount of data on language learners’ various cognitive abilities (e.g., working memory, attention, processing speed, etc.) along with their perception and production data. We examined a portion of the data, showing the relationship between cognitive abilities and perception (e.g., Darcy, Park, & Yang, 2015; Park & Darcy, 2018). I will now examine the rest of the data, investigating the relationship between cognitive abilities and production among language learners. The student will be trained on how to analyze production data using a speech analysis software and perception data using Microsoft Excel. In addition, she/he will be involved in tasks related to experimental research (e.g., recruiting participants for an experiment, running an experiment, collecting perception and/or production data, and coding the data. 

Holding on to a Single Protein Molecule
Ionel Popa, Physics

Proteins are the molecules that perform the majority of tasks needed in our cells, and their activity is what determines how well our cells function and communicate with each other. Our body is made of ~37 trillion cells, and each cell has on average 10^10 proteins. So, it is hard to even imagine that one could separate a single protein molecule from such a high number and perform measurements on it in a laboratory settings. In this project, you will learn to do just that – to separate and tether a single protein molecule between a glass surface and a paramagnetic bead and apply mechanical forces in the picoNewton range (10^-9 N), similarly to what a protein experiences in our bodies. You will be measuring how mechanical forces trigger domain unfolding, which is the loss of 3D structure due to the breaking of the hydrogen bonds that hold the protein structure together. You will be joining a young, dynamic and diverse research team composed of chemists, biologists, physicists and engineers. For more information, visit 

Self-Healing Materials  
Pradeep Rohatgi, Materials Engineering  

Autonomous healing in materials is a lucrative technology since it reduces the chances of early failure and subsequent maintenance costs, while extending the life of components. Seld healing has been applied for various material classes, but its use in the water industry has yet to be explored. In this project, the student will develop a self-healing coating that can be used in a moist/underwater environment. The coating would have healants in nano/micro balloons embed in the coating that can undergo multiple cycle of damage and improve corrosion resistance of metal pipes and other components that are used in the water industry. 

Metal foams for Biomedical Application 
Pradeep Rohatgi, Materials Engineering 

A significant number of studies have been dedicated to the fabrication and properties of metallic foams. The most recent research is focused on metals with low weight and good mechanical properties, such as titanium, aluminum, and magnesium. Whereas the first two are already fairly well studied and already find application in industry, magnesium currently remains at the research stage. The proposed work will be on fabrication techniques, surface modifications, and properties of porous structures made of magnesium and its alloys. Magnesium foams are of potential use in industrial and biomedical applications. The objective of this project is to cast magnesium foams and test the mechanical properties. The methodology will follow a pressure infiltration technique developed by this lab group

Application of AI in Manufacturing Castings 
Pradeep Rohatgi, Materials Engineering 

The objective of this project is the application of Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning techniques in manufacturing metal matrix composites (MMC). It includes using AI techniques to predict properties of casting materials as a function of processing parameters and microstructural features, and to optimize the casting process in order to increase the efficiency and to reduce the cost of process by minimizing the number of defective parts produced. The student will learn techniques of casting to synthesize metal matrix composites and to characterize their micro-structure and properties using optical and electron microscope, corrosion, hardness, tensile testing machines. They will also become familiar with the application of data science techniques in materials manufacturing projects. 

Metal Graphene Composites 
Pradeep Rohatgi, Materials Engineering 

Graphene is among the strongest materials known to man. The idea of introducing graphene into a Metal Matrix Composites is to increase the overall strength of the composite. The challenges in this work a uniform distribution of graphene in the melt and aligning them in a specific direction. The objective of this project is to synthesize and characterize metal matrix composites with graphene as a reinforcement. The student will learn techniques of powder metallurgy and casting to synthesize metal graphene composites and to characterize their micro-structure and properties using optical and electron microscope, hardness and tensile testing.  

Educating Genius
Amanda Seligman, History

This project explores the history of the education of “geniuses” in the United States. UR@UWM students participating in this project during summer 2020 will research the biographies of one or more geniuses from world history and contribute to a research database and blog about how their characteristics map onto contemporary understandings of giftedness. 

The Stern Studio 
Nathaniel Stern, Art & Design 

The Stern Studio works with students from across art, engineering, and the humanities on public interest projects that include large-scale international exhibitions, documentaries and audiobooks or podcasts, books, and scientific research. Current projects include a docu-series on anti-racist action in Milwaukee, a series of kinetic sculptures that explore global energy use and eco-waste, a proposed podcast around art and science’s influence on one another, and a new battery design that replaces lithium with sodium. Student researchers will work on one or more of these projects as suited to their skills and interests, as well as upcoming deadlines for the studio. Please visit for sample projects, documentation, press, links, and more.