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Phone: (410) 516-7160 / Fax (410) 516-5251
March 6, 1997
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Leslie Rice or
Hopkins Undergraduates Design Pathfinding Research
Junior Nate Dominy's study of the dieting habits of Howler
monkeys in the threatened jungles of Costa Rica will go a long
way toward explaining why some monkeys are on the verge of
extinction and others are not.
The results of senior Percy Lee's AIDS research completed in
a medical lab at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine will be
published in a medical journal later this year.
And after senior Juliette Wells pored through original
letters and unpublished manuscripts of Victorian novelist Barbara
Pym in an old Cambridge, England library, she developed a thesis
that offers a whole new look at some of Pym's characters.
These are just a few of the undergraduates at The Johns
Hopkins University who have designed and completed their own
research projects, many of which lie on the cutting edge of study
in medicine, the sciences, arts and humanities.
Recognized as the country's first graduate research
university, one of Hopkins' attractions for many undergraduates
is the opportunity to get hands-on experience working on
important, graduate-level research, often along-side top
researchers in their fields. The Provost's Undergraduate Awards
For Research and Excellence is one way students can do that.
Every year some 50 students are awarded up to $2,500 to propose
and carry out their own research projects.
On March 27, from 4:30 to 6 p.m., Hopkins provost and vice
president for academic affairs Steven Knapp will host the annual
awards ceremony. Beginning at 3 p.m. there will be a poster
session at which students will display the results of their
research. All activities will take place in the Glass Pavilion of
Levering Hall on the Homewood campus, 3400 N. Charles St. in
Following is a list of the undergraduates recognized with
Provost Undergraduate Awards for Research and Excellence.
1997 Provost Undergraduate Research
Creating a shape-changing robot
at The Johns Hopkins University
David Stein, (Brooklyn, N.Y.), a senior biomedical
engineering and engineering mechanics major, designed small
metamorphic robots that can change shape and reconfigure
themselves according to the requirements of the job assigned to
them. In the future, larger and stronger versions of Stein's
robots might stretch themselves across a waterway to form a
temporary bridge. After an earthquake, these devices might
position themselves along a damaged wall to help stabilize the
building. They could also play a key role in a space station,
forming a universal docking bay that could connect with space
ships and satellites of varying sizes and shapes.
Stein will remain at Hopkins to obtain his
master's in mechanical engineering, has been drawing on the
innovative robotics theories developed by his faculty sponsor,
Greg Chirikijian, an assistant professor of mechanical
In search of ... lactating female Howler monkeys
Nate Dominy (Doylestown, Pa.), a junior majoring in
anthropology, spent last summer conducting research in the
neo-tropical forests of Centro Ecologico La Pacifica, Costa Rica,
studying the diets of lactating female Howler monkeys. The
research is important in understanding why other Costa Rican
monkeys, like the Spiders and Capuchins, are declining or even on
the verge of extinction, while the Howlers are faring quite well.
The work wasn't especially dangerous, says Dominy, but it was
"Capturing monkeys is extremely difficult,"
says Dominy. "After all, they are moving in the top of the trees
and are the size of a large house cat. So hitting them with the
tranquilizer can be hard, especially since their rump is the only
safe place to dart them."
Then there is the danger of being bitten.
Howlers have an impressive set of canines--larger than any
dog--that, if they awoke from their sedatives early, would be
used savagely on a human researcher, Dominy says.
Although audio "real time" on the Internet may be useful for many
people, just that fraction of a second delay in sound over the
net makes collaboration among symphony composers cyberly
impossible. But senior Kito Mann, (Burke, Va.) a computer
science major and an accomplished musician, is developing a
JAVA-based "Dynamic Audio" system that will allow a composer at
Peabody to compose music with a friend at Julliard over the
Internet without missing a beat.
Architecture meets ecology
Matthew Schernecke (Philadelphia, Pa.)Jonathan
Weinberger (Scranton, Pa.), both juniors, are among a small
handful of people in recent years to be granted personal
interviews with the famous and eccentric architect Paolo Soleri,
who in the 1970s began building an experimental community in the
Arizona high desert north of Phoenix. Weinberger and Schernecke
studied the socioeconomic, political and historical ramifications
of Soleri's urban planning fantasy, which he calls Arcosanti, in
an attempt to identify potential solutions for large American
cities. The two students also studied the historical impact of
previous American "utopias" and so-called experiments, comparing
them with Arcosanti. Arcosanti embodies Soleri's vision of
"arcology," which combines architecture and ecology, and is
intended to reduce waste and suburban sprawl by housing people in
space-saving, self-sufficient complexes and preserving the
How is a grasshopper like a person?
By studying molecular mechanisms in grasshoppers, Arthur Tsai,
(Woodside, N.Y.), may have taken science a step closer to
understanding and treating spinal cord injuries. Tsai studied the
cellular and molecular cues involved in guiding genetic
instructions for the development of embryos of grasshoppers. The
work also has possible ramifications for studying the
regeneration of axons, or nerve fibers, in attempts to repair
spinal cord injuries. Tsai, who plans to attend medical school in
the fall, will publish his findings in a scientific paper.
On the tip of your tongue....
Matthew Goldrick (Hockessin, Del.), a senior majoring in
cognitive science, is creating a computer program that simulates
how the brain's neural network selects words to go with
meanings--a process that may seem trivial until a person is in a
state where he or she can think of a meaning but can't find the
form of its word. To design the computer program, Goldrick
studies clues from speech errors made by both healthy people and
those suffering neurological damage. The program simulates a
theory developed by his faculty supervisor, Brenda Rapp, an
assistant professor of cognitive science, that may explain the
mechanisms behind errors that occur in the brains of both healthy
and injured people.
A computer in the orchestra pit?
Chrysa Presta, (Annapolis, Md.) a senior at Peabody
Institute combines her two passions--computer music and music
composition--with her score, L'Ora Notturna. This is a
composition for a live orchestra and live electronics, using
real-time audio digital signal processing and conducted
electronics. To evoke a nocturnal mood, Presta went out into the
night and recorded the sounds of cicadas, crickets, frogs, the
wind and other natural music that the night makes. She then
recorded certain music instrumental effects and integrated them
with her recordings of the nocturnal outdoor soundscapes,
creating a rich, organic atmosphere. For example, certain piano
sounds such as quick plucking on the strings, were blended with
the sound of cicadas and crickets. From there, she composed a
musical score which will combine 15 live instruments with the
computer. During the performance, taking cues from the conductor,
the "musician" at the computer will use its mouse to make the
machine as expressive as any piano.
Protecting the environment
Thomas Gillard, (Alexandria, Va.) a senior majoring in
civil engineering, is studying what happens when contaminated
water seeps through layers of clay, creating a possible health
hazard. His research may lead to better design of landfills to
prevent such leaks from occurring.
Better breathing for cystic fibrosis victims
Senior Anupa Laheri's (Leonardtown, Md.) research in
gastoenterolgist Sandra Guggino's lab may lead to better
treatment for children suffering from cystic fibrosis. By
isolating in human tissue a"dry airwave" that exacerbates cystic
fibrosis, a tissue that had been previously found in rats,
Laheri's work will lead to better drug treatment in the disease.
Her findings will be published in a medical journal.
A new look at Barbara Pym
Senior Juliette Wells (Springfield, Va.) traveled to
Cambridge, England to study original archives of early 20th
century English novelist Barbara Pym, author of Excellent
Women and The Sweet Dove That Died. By studying
Pym's letters, notes and unpublished manuscripts, Wells has
gained a different insight into what drove this little-studied
English writer to pen certain characters in her published
Matthew Nemeth (Riverside Drive, N.Y., N.Y.), a senior,
traveled to South Africa to study its urban development in a
Breakthroughs in the fight against AIDS
Senior Percy Lee's (Arcadia, Calif.) study, which
identifies and studies the gene, bcl-2 Homolog in Karposi's
Sarcoma Virus could have important implications in the treatment
of AIDS patients. His findings will be published in a medical
Other projects and sponsoring departments:
Navnett Ahluwalia (Danville, Calif.), senior and Kerry
Cross (Delmar, N.Y.), history, "Hong Kong Youth: Confronting
Stephen Carlson, (Shreveport, La.), senior, philosophy,
"An Intensive Study of Niebuhr and Kierkegaard's Radical
Existential Praxix." How American philosopher Niebuhr's thinking
was radically changed with the introduction of Kierkegaard into
America. A look at Niebuhr's original letters and archives.
Alexandra Cohen (Albertson, N.Y.), senior, political
science, "Impact of a Palestinian Autonomous Region on Israeli
Tamas Gonda (Budapest, Hungary), senior, School of
Medicine, "Mechanisms of Polarized Activation of Na/H Exchangers
in Cultured Human Colonocytes."
Tang Ho (Abilene, Texas), "The Effects of Scatter
Factor/Hepatocyte Growth Factor on Human Glioma Malignancy."
Maki Hsieh, (Balt., Md.), Center for Social Organization
of Schools, "Religiosity, School Success and Community
Christina Jacobsen (Vancouver, Wash.), senior, School of
Medicine, Pediatrics, "The regulation of the HMGI(Y) Gene."
Stephen Kaminski (Leonard, Mich.), senior, chemical
engineering,"A Total Internal Reflective Fluorescene Study of
Protein Adsorption on Membranes."
Min Sang Kim (Warrenton, Va.), junior, engineering,
"Design and Implementation of an Autonomous Mobile Robot."
Alexandra Limkakeng (Grove City, Penn.), senior,
psychology, "The Effect of Neural Growth Factor on Non-Spatial
Mayur Bipin Patel (Vestal N.Y.), senior, chemistry,
"Beta-Turns in Aqueous Bilayers."
Noreen Qureshi (Sykesville, Md.), senior, Institute of
Policy Studies, "The Changing Meaning of Hijab: Nationalism and
Adam Rubin (Roslyn Harbor, N.Y.), senior, School of
Medicine, pathology, "Unique IgM and IgG Target
Epitopes--Frequency of Occurrence and Molecular Basis."
Parag Shah (Hanover, N.J.), senior, computer science,
"Visualization Aid for Cranio-Facial Surgery."
Yang Sun (College Park, Md.), senior, history, "Sun
Yat-Sen: Making of a Revolutionary."
Sunny Young (Alhambre, Calif.), junior, School of
Medicine, "Development of Mouse Tumor Model for the Test of
Cervical Cancer Vaccine."
Jennifer Anderson (Sandwich, Mass.), senior, chemical
engineering, "Experimental Studies of Coplymer-Solvent Solution
David Bonnyay (Nantucket, Mass.), senior, School of
Medicine, "A Ribozyme in Yeast TyI Transposition" (AIDS
Robert Kaida Chin (Hinsdale, Ill.), senior, School of
Medicine, pathology, "Identification of Gene Amplification in
Adenocarcinoma of the Pancreas" (cancer research).
Avniel Ghuman, (Hunt Valley, Md.) senior, physics,
"Critical Dynamics of Contact Line Motion."
Brian Glucroft (State College, Pa.), senior, Peabody
Institute, "A Discovery and Performance of Robert Muczynski."
Dan Hoit (Colorado Springs, Col.), senior, School of
Medicine, Pediatric Immunology, "Diphtheria Antibody Response to
Protein-Conjugated Vaccine in HIV Adults." Hoit's study
asked the question whether a pairing of two vaccines would
prevent pneumonia in AIDS patients.
Leo Am Kim (Irvine, Calif.), senior, biomedical
engineering, "Mechanical Characteristics of Individual
Recombinant Kinesin Molecules."
Justin I-hao Kung (Fountain Valley, Calif.), junior,
School of Medicine, pediatrics, "Identification of DNA Sequences
responsible for X Chromosome Inactivation: Mapping of Probes in
the Relevant Region."
Jonathan Lazarus (Bloomfield Conn.), senior, engineering,
"High Tibial Osteomy: Computer Assisted Planning and Precise
Cindy McClosky (Sykesville, Md.), senior, Peabody
Institute, "German Language and Cultural Study."
Rimmy Malhotra (Huntington, N.Y.) senior, engineering, "A
Portrait of the Former Yugoslavia."
Valerie Marchi (Rochester, N.Y.), junior, physiology,
"Functional Expression of the Cardiac Calcium Pump in Yeast."
Robert Mittendorff (McLean, Va.), senior, biomedical
engineering, "A Computational Study of the Auditory Cortex."
Lynette Sholl (Phoenixville, Pa.), junior, School of
Medicine, pulmonary and critical care, "Dysregulation of the IL-4
Gene in a Mouse Model of Asthma."
Kristi Stanton (Apple Valley, Minn.), sophomore, radiation
oncology, "Quantitative Assessment of Lung and Brain Tumors."
Gowriharan Thaiyananthan (Tulsa, Okla.), senior,
biomedical engineering, "Development of a Method of Force
Measurement From Clamped Myocytes."
Anthony Wei (Rochester, N.Y.), senior, School of Medicine,
neuropathology, "The Role of Mitochondrial Superoxide Generation
in Alzheimer's Disease."
Scott Witonsky (Montoursville, Pa.), senior, chemistry,
"The Search for Theoretically Predicted Magic Clusters."
Michael Yang (San Marino, Calif.), junior, biology "Design
and Synthesis of Chromogenic Substrate for Assay of Ceramide
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