Meeting of the Minds

It’s summer, but that doesn’t mean all students are on vacation. Here are just a handful of them who opted to stay on campus and participate in original research projects with their professors.

This summer, photographer Scott Cook captured students working side by side with their professors on original research projects. Opportunities for this kind of high-level scholarly research offered through the Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program are typically only available in graduate programs, but Rollins undergraduate students are producing peer-reviewed publications or professional equivalents that are co-authored by the students and a faculty member. Their research already contributes to the larger academic community and prepares them for graduate work and future careers.

Pictured above, Eric Rokni ’18 (left) and Nikki Etchenique ’15 (right), and Professor of Physics Thom Moore are researching phantom partials, the overtones in the sound of a piano that are created by a complicated interaction of different kinds of string motion. Phantom partials are important to creating the sound of a piano, but their origins are not fully understood. For two years, Rokni and Etchenique have been studying these overtones and recently published a scientific article in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. Here, they’re using a Steinway piano that the music department donated and a laser Doppler vibrometer (LDV) to study the motion of the piano’s strings.

Did you know that a process that makes car brakes squeal is the same process that makes fingernails on a chalkboard squeak? It’s also the process that causes a musical instrument called a Himalayan singing bowl to make sound. Moore and his students Chloe Keefer ’17 (left) and Samantha Collin ’17 (right) are investigating the physics of the instrument using a process called high speed electronic speckle pattern interferometry. A camera takes pictures at a rate of up to 200,000 frames per second and the rest of the equipment uses the light from a laser to allow the camera to capture movements that are as small as a fraction of the diameter of a human hair.

In their project The Comparative Effects of Electoral Laws on Political Participation, Professor of Political Science Don Davison (left) and Margaret Lewicki ’16 (right) are trying to find out what factors influence voter turnout in elections.

Here, Davison and Lewicki are discussing the results from a series of regression equations—equations they’re using to estimate the impact of different electoral rules from Australia, Ireland, and the United States. They’ve noticed that Americans with the highest levels of political knowledge are still less likely to vote than citizens with the lowest levels of political knowledge in Australia and Ireland.

Assistant Professor of Biology Bobby Fokidis and Rachael Munoz ’16 (pictured here) are studying brown anoles, a common invasive Florida lizard. For their project Fasting Effects on Local Steroid Production in the Brown Anole, they’re interested in how stress and the energy status of the males impact their ability to make hormones. Here, Munoz is using a chord ruler to collect data.

Munoz examines markings on the orange dewlap, a male sexual character that brown anoles use in territorial bouts and to attract mates.

Fokidis shows Munoz how to properly capture an escaped lizard.

In their project Iron Catalysts for Michael Addition Reactions, Associate Professor of Chemistry Laurel Goj Habgood (left) and student Charles Hedges ’17 (right) use a glove box filled with only nitrogen gas to perform oxygen and water-sensitive chemical reactions. The glove box maintains an air-free environment.

Hedges (right) uses an NMR spectrometer to determine the structure of the molecules he and Habgood (left) think they are making.

In their project Photografting Biomolecules to Gold Nanoparticles, Tyler Lafferty ’17, Ibrahim Musri ’16, and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Ellane Park are making photoactive gold nanoparticles (particles under 100 nanometers in size) that can be used for biomedical applications. Here, they’re using a centrifuge to purify the samples.

Park shows Lafferty how to use a rotary evaporator, an instrument used to remove solvents.

Park instructs Hedges and Lafferty how to assemble a Schlenk line so that they can run reactions under nitrogen and vacuum conditions.