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Students Partnering with Faculty (SpF)

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Internal Funding for Research & Creative Activity

Students Partnering with Faculty (SpF)

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Link to Eligibility and Guidelines – Students Partnering with Faculty (SpF)



Using Homogeneous Time Resolved Fluorescence (HTRF) Assays to Screen for Novel CCR1 Inhibitors

Salvatore Coniglio (Faculty) Danielle Hamilton, Gregory Marshall, Ruslan Dzhatdoyev (Students)

Chemokines are small protein ligands that act upon many cell types in mammals and serve to promote chemotaxis, motility and inflammation. Chemokine receptors have been shown to play a role in a wide variety of diseases including arthritis, neurological disorders and cancer. Therefore, chemokine receptors are attractive targets for pharmacological intervention. This project spearheads the effort to identify potent and versatile CCR1 antagonists which will be prepared for preclinical and clinical testing. The goals of this project are: 1.) To establish a quantitative, fast, cost-effective, reliable and robust method of evaluating the potency of novel CCR1 antagonists. 2.) To identify the most potent CCR1 antagonists and thoroughly characterize their efficacy by generating dose response curves and identifying IC50 values for these compounds.

A Web-based System for Mining Images and Classification

Ching-yu Huang (Faculty) Reuben Hernandez, Amrita Shelar, Kevin Tapia (Students)

This project will provide students an opportunity to work on artificial intelligence and data mining technology and to develop an integrated web application and database management system. The project will focus on developing an online system to mine, classify and manage images. The system will have an advanced web-based Graphic User Interface for users to upload images, perform data mining functions in real-time, and automatically classify the images based on the collected image stored in the system. If the uploaded image can be recognized and classified, the system will display the image information. If the uploaded image cannot be classified, the user can enter and save image information to the collection in the back-end database server.

An International Comparative Study of Episodic Volunteering—South African Case 

Bok Gyo Jeong, Sara Compion (Faculty) Titilola Price, Natalie Hernandez (Students) 

This international study begins with the premise that increasingly, many people today commit their services voluntarily for a one-time event and do not expect to be called or to assist beyond that event, which signals a change in the nature of society’s so-called “Third Sector” (i.e. voluntary, nonprofit, civil society). Nonprofit and voluntary association managers understand that the success of any single, ad-hoc event often depends on recruiting numerous casual volunteers, who may not necessarily be active members of their association. This once-off volunteering could last an afternoon, a day, a weekend, or even a few weeks at a time, and the “contract” between the volunteer and leading organization is short-term, event specific, and usually task specific.

To investigate this changing nature of volunteering cross-nationally, Kean University’s Dr. Sara Compion and Dr. Bok Gyo Jeong have been invited to collect and analyze data from South Africa as part of a comparative study of episodic volunteering. This international study is being carried out in 22 countries, and is coordinated by Dr. Ram Cnaan at the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Lucas Meijs at Erasmus University in the Netherlands. Kean faculty and students will participate in the South African assignment. The once-off event to be studied is the Mandela Day of Service, held annually on July 18, whereby residents are expected but not required, to engage in giving and community service that helps mitigate poverty in their communities (see

User Testing of Virtual Reality Experiences at Liberty Hall Museum and the Michael Graves Residence 

Edward Johnston (Faculty) Daniella Almoneda, William Rodriguez (Students) 

There are two main goals for this project, which builds from current research with students at Liberty Hall Museum and the Michael Graves Residence. First, our research team plans to conduct user testing on current virtual reality content at Liberty Hall Museum and the Michael Graves Residence. Second, our team will identify emerging virtual reality platforms that will respond to challenges identified in that testing and move project content to those platforms. Our research team will identify volunteers for user testing and conduct user testing sessions on the current virtual reality experiences at Liberty Hall Museum and the Michael Graves Residence. These user testing sessions will happen in person. The student researchers will implement best practices in user testing, which they have learned in courses involving user experience. Next, we will collect and organize the results from the user testing sessions. Then, we will establish insights from the collected results. Three experiences will be tested. At Liberty Hall Museum, we will test users' experiences with the collection of 360-degree images of the interior of museum on the Ricoh Theta online virtual reality platform. Also, we will test users' experiences with digitally 3D-reconstructed images of one room in Liberty Hall on the OmniVirt virtual reality platform. For the Michael Graves Residence, we will test the virtual reality walkthrough experience that has been created on the Viar360 platform. The results of that testing should provide us with insights into difficulties that people experience when interacting with the content. Our research team will reach out to connections in industry and in the professional virtual reality content creation communities for advice. Also, we will be researching current articles to identify emerging platforms. We will create a list of all of these platforms. Then, we will explore each platform to which we can get access and determine if it can in fact respond to challenges that were identified in our testing.

World of Data: A Multi-User Virtual Reality Distributed Data Environment

David Joiner (Faculty) Carley Garlasco, Nicholas Marino (Students)

World of Data is software designed to help students, teachers, and researchers view data in a virtual reality environment. The goal of the project is to develop a 3D world that users can log into, communicate in, and upload and view data sets in 3 dimensions. Users in World of Data will be able to visualize and analyze multidimensional data in a unique interface that makes use of modern virtual reality hardware such as the Oculus Rift and Gear VR headsets, as well as Kean’s CAVE environment, but that also runs on standard PCs, Macs, tablets, and smartphones. World of Data is built using the Unity3D Game Engine, one of the leading development environments for virtual reality software. World of Data is a project designed to meet the needs of the students in the project, our department, the university, and the discipline as a whole on multiple levels. Students will get real-world experience developing a multi-user virtual reality application for multiple platforms. This will give the students substantial practice as computer programmers in a project that will also use their skills in mathematics. The end result will be software that is beautiful to use and makes use of modern, in-demand skills. They will be able to take the software with them as part of a portfolio of their work to showcase when applying for jobs after graduation.

A Comparative Analysis of Real-time Travel Information from Online Map Services

Daehan Kwak (Faculty) Max Acosta, Daniel Henriques, Philip Kenny (Students)

One of the most essential services in transportation systems is a route recommendation system, which provides optimal origin and destination (OD) route alternatives based on real-time estimation and prediction of travel times. Today, most navigation systems and apps can calculate the best route, taking into account real-time travel data, as well as historic data, to predict traffic flow. Travel time information has been the subject of considerable research because, from the traveler’s perspective, it supports better route decision making, better scheduling of departure times, reduces vehicle-operating costs, and improves the overall experience. With respect to transportation agencies, this information provides criteria to optimally manage and control traffic to reduce congestion, and thus, provide a more sustainable environment. To understand the characteristics of online map services, the objective of this study is to explore and gain insight into travel time variations and route recommendations by conducting a comparative analysis among state-of-the-art online maps. For example, what is the ETA difference among the map providers for a particular fixed route? Are different routes recommended among the map providers for a given origin and destination? To the best of our knowledge, we are the first to conduct a comparison analysis study of online maps.

Material Culture and Class at Liberty Hall

Marguerite Mayhall (Faculty) Nicole Duncan, Ashley Gross, Monica Morales (Students)

Liberty Hall has many objects in its collections that remain uninvestigated and thus present opportunities for undergraduate researchers interested in historic preservation to conduct original research that could benefit the museum. Understanding the particulars, as well as the overall scope, of the Kean family’s collection of porcelain, textiles, and other objects, however, could also lead to greater insights into the nuances of upper class culture, especially women’s culture, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the U.S. Students will be responsible for photographing objects and describing them in detail, including their condition, researching the type of object, its materials and techniques of manufacture, and its status as unique, ordinary, etc. They will then write catalogue entries detailing their research for inclusion in the final inventory. In the process, they will be introduced to specialized research databases and experts in the field, will learn to write about objects for a professional audience, and will begin to try to understand how these objects can tell us about the aspirations and accomplishments of the Kean family and others like them. In order to provide context for the family and the objects in its collection, students will read relevant texts, both fiction and non-fiction, that will give them a better understanding of how upper class families in the late 19th and early 20th century lived.

Design and synthesis of a dual antagonist of CCR1 and CCR2 for inhibition of glioblastoma

James Merritt (Faculty) Antoinette Antoinucci, Ariella Askew, Peter Matthus, Monica Morales (Students)

Our group has synthesized potent antagonists of the chemokine receptor CCR1 and demonstrated that these small molecules can inhibit microglia stimulated movement of glioblastoma cells in an in vitro tumor microenvironment. CCR2 is closely related to CCR1, is activated by the same protein ligands and is also involved in trafficking of glioblastoma cells. Unlike CCR1, the X-ray crystal structure of CCR2 has been determined. The specific goals of the project are follows: 1.) Test our best CCR1 antagonist to determine baseline CCR2 inhibition. 2.) Utilize ChemDraw 3D to determine best fit for our compound versus the bound CCR2 antagonist. 3.) Propose new compounds for synthesis to maximize interactions with the CCR2 receptor. 4.) Synthesize at least 6 potential dual inhibitors and send for testing in CCR1 and CCR2 binding assays. 5.) Utilize structure activity data to design and synthesize additional compounds in the fall of 2018.

A Comparative Study of Soil Quality - Spectroscopic Analysis of Remote Sensing Images of Agriculture and Urban Lands 

Dongyan Mu, Juyoung Ha (Faculty) Ijeoma Akpu, Maurizia De Palma, Paxton Tsang (Students)

In this collaborative research project with the College of Urban and Environmental Sciences at Central China Normal University (CCNU), we plan to identify organic and nutrients (Nitrogen and Phosphorous) levels in both urban and farming areas near the city of Wuhan in China. We expect to identify their possible sources of elevated nutrients and conduct a comparative study to elucidate the impact of land management and humans on natural soil quality. Furthermore, this project will conduct spectroscopic analysis to examine the spectra of soil and crops in situ and in remote sensing images in order to figure out the best way to extract soil spectrum from mixed spectra in the remote sensing images. The results from the research will be used to develop a holistic model for estimating soil nutrients and organic matters with both analytical and remote sensing images. The project eventually will contribute to the soil quality real-time monitoring, which is crucial in guiding crop production and promoting sustainable development in agriculture. Three Kean University undergraduate students will work closely with the advisors from Kean and graduated students from CCNU in preparing soil and crop samples, conducting analysis, interpreting results, and developing soil quality estimation models. They will be trained to conduct the project in a group environment, promote their critical thinking to emerging problems, and cultivate their ability to apply the knowledge they have learned in class into a real world application.

Multiplex UHPLC-HRMS Assay for Detecting and Quantifying Uridine and Its Metabolites as Potential Biomarkers of Metabolic Diseases 

Dil Ramanathan (Faculty) Lindsey Bodnar, Eloisa Franco, Anthony Triola (Students)

Biomarker mass spectrometry, applied to drug metabolism challenges, provides a powerful means for educating and training undergraduates in both basic and applied research from many disciplines. This project is interdisciplinary and involves undergraduate students designing and performing research to learn about metabolic disorders, biosynthetic pathways, uridine metabolism, and the basic research involved in characterization and quantitation of biomarkers. Metabolic diseases are abnormalities resulting from the combination of several medical conditions including abdominal obesity, high blood sugar, and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels. The last decade has seen major advances in the development of biomarkers for early screening of metabolic diseases. Uridine is a pyrimidine nucleoside that serves as an important building block in the biosynthesis of RNA, glycogen and biomembranes. Importantly, adipocyte-mediated control of plasma uridine is critical for insulin sensitivity and impaired in high-fat diet induced obesity in mice. To investigate the biological significance of uridine biosynthesis in adipocyte and its potential contribution in metabolic diseases such as diabetes, we aim to develop a multiplex ultra-high pressure liquid chromatography-high resolution mass spectrometry (UHPLC-HRMS) based method to detect and quantify uridine and other metabolites in the uridine biosynthetic pathway.

Improving Quality of Life - Music for Adults with Developmental and/or Physical Disabilities: A Unique University/Community Collaboration

Lyn Schraer-Joiner (Faculty) Samantha Adams, Chaance Barnes-Gould, Antonia Kitsopoulos (Students) 

This study will collect data on participants’ experiences in learning to play and sing rock band instruments as possible potential factors relating to enhanced Quality of Life specifically emotional well-being, personal development, interpersonal skills, and social inclusion. Specific emphasis will be placed upon the appropriate accommodations and modifications for methods and materials necessary for their success. The project will include a culminating rock concert that will showcase the musical learning from our sessions. The results of this study will contribute to a growing body of knowledge pertaining to the postsecondary experiences of individuals who have “aged out” of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). With this information, public schools and similar continuing education programs may be able to provide improved support services and resources needed to better prepare these individuals for the demands of living in and contributing to their communities.

Metagenomics of dead wood 

Maria Shumskaya (Faculty) Shazneka Blue, Lothar Vidal (Students)

Biodiversity science studies variety and variability of life on Earth. The amount of eukaryotic species (an organism whose cells contain a nucleus surrounded by a membrane and whose DNA is bound together by proteins into chromosomes) on Earth is estimated to be 8.7 million, with more than a half of them being insects and 10% being fungi. Every species plays its role in an ecosystem and is important. Most of the species are not catalogued yet, because they are small, they lack distinctive anatomical structures, or they are microscopic. Recent advancement in genome research allows us to isolate DNA from any organism and use it to identify and describe a species. Dead wood fungi are niche specialists who inhabit only dead wood. In general, dead wood is an important component of any forest by protecting soil against erosion, provides energy and forest elements such as nitrogen or calcium, facilitates regeneration of trees, improves water retention and creates multiple habitats. Dead wood fungi are the major decomposers of dead trees. Project goals include: 1.) Analyze and catalogue the diversity of invisible fungal organisms inhabiting dead wood from 10 parks with different management practices throughout New Jersey using metagenomics methods. 2.) Compare the species richness of invisible dead wood fungi across the areas with different management practices. 3.) Identify species and communities in need of conservation. 4.) Educate and train students in molecular biology techniques, metagenomics, and biodiversity as key components of expertise for the new generation of biologists. 5.) Provide students with the opportunity to participate in professional research, and present and publish their data.



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