Category Archives: 2016-UCUR-Abstracts

Creation and Optimization of a Logo Recognition System

Michael Zhao, University of Utah, Haozhi Qi and Xiaohui Zeng, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Owen Richfield, Tulane University, and Sun Lin, Lenovo Research HK

We evaluate the performance of a classical image retrieval pipeline (visual bag of words model), using SURF descriptors and hierarchical k-means vector quantization with an inverted file index, and compare this to the performance of two convolutional neural network (AlexNet and GoogLeNet) pipelines when it comes to the task of recognizing logos. We analyze how various parameters of the clustering algorithm affect the accuracy of the visual bag of words model, as well as why the visual bag of words model fails to perform well in this domain. We also provide timing data for a practical use case, where these pipelines are incorporated into a logo recognition app for Android phones. Further directions include, for instance, investigations on how the choice of quantization method affects accuracy, and more scalable ways to incorporate deep learning into the pipeline. This project was supervised by Lenovo under the IPAM program Research in Industrial Projects for Students in Hong Kong.

How do nuclear scientists and engineers talk internally among themselves about the Fukushima energy crisis?

Haoran Yu, University of Utah

This project examines how scientists and engineers researching low-­‐carbon energy technologies talk among themselves about the social, political, and cultural implications of their research. It is part of professor Endres’ NSF Collaborative Research Project: The Influence of Low-­‐Carbon Energy Technology Scientists and Engineers on the Composition of Energy Policy. That project examines discussions among scientists and engineers about low-­‐carbon energy technologies, particularly within two distinct but related energy technology sectors: wind, and nuclear. My research question is: How do nuclear scientists and engineers talk internally among themselves about the Fukushima energy crisis? I am particularly interested in examining the role that the Fukushima crisis has on the way energy scientists and engineers talk about the future of energy technologies in the context of climate change and the need for new energy policy. The significance of this research for this paper is first, since climate change has become an important topic, it is important to see how scientist talk about it as a sociopolitical issue in addition to its technical viability; second, there is a gap in rhetoric of science research about how scientists talk among themselves about the sociopolitical aspects of their research. In this research paper, I will analyze a subset of the data collected by the research team using NVivo qualitative analysis software. The methods are rhetorical and qualitative. Qualitative research is used to collect the data, which is based on participant observation and interviews with key scientists and engineers at the American Nuclear Society conference. This data has been collected already by other members of the research team. Rhetorical methods, which analyze strategies of persuasive discourse , such as narration, description, exposition, and argumentation will be used to analyze the internal expert-­‐to-­‐expert rhetoric of wind and nuclear energy scientists and engineers to examine what sociopolitical aspects are important to scientists and engineers. Our potential findings are: first, description of the ways scientists are talking about Fukushima is valuable because it has not been researched before and will add to scholarship in rhetoric of science. Second, there is potential to contribute to our understanding of the role that scientists and engineers have in the development of energy policy. This research is part of a larger collaborative research project that involves the PI (Professor Endres), two graduate students, and myself. This project represents an analysis of one part of the larger data set, in which I will be able to perform an analysis that contributes to the larger project. The results of this analysis, once completed, will be incorporated into the larger research project and hopefully integrated into a collaborative presentation or publication.

PMMA Formula Modification through the Preinfiltration and Infiltration Times to Create Optimal Product for Immunohistochemistry Studies

Amy Yu and Kaitlynn Castolene, University of Utah

Approximately 185,000 amputations are performed in the United States annually. The current standard of care for limb loss patients is the suspension-­‐type attachment of an exoprosthesis to the residual limb. However, it is not suitable for all amputees. Patients often experience discomfort and pain, even when they have been successfully fitted with suspension-­‐type attachments. It is for these patients that the Percutaneous Osseointegrated Docking System (PODS), an alternative docking system, are being developed. PODS devices are titanium alloy (Ti6Al4V) implants that use host bone to anchor the implant into the medullary canal of an amputated limb. During development, embedment of prototype PODS device in polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) allows sectioning, staining, and evaluation of the body’s histological response to the device implantation. Various PMMA formulas are being used in different laboratories throughout the country, with mixed results. These formulas are not suitable for immunohistochemistry (IHC) studies as they often generate high temperature during polymerization which causes degradation of cellular and protein structures. This project focuses on identifying the preinfiltration and infiltration times needed to produce and replicate an optimal PMMA product by modification of an existing formula (Technovit 9100 NEW kit). This optimal PMMA product will exhibit less heat during polymerization in the shortest amount of time and allow successful preservation of cellular structures for IHC studies. Nine groups of three specimens will be embed with the Technovit 9100 NEW kit (Energy Beam Sciences, East Gran by CT). These groups are randomly assigned to various combinations of preinfiltration and infiltration times. The embedment process of each combination is then measured and recorded. The specific combination that polymerize the fastest will be identified by the integrity of the embedded sample. The best PMMA embedment with the least amount of polymerization time and sample damage will be identified and replicated for validation of the process. We anticipate the optimal PMMA product will be produced by the two hour preinfiltration time and two hour infiltration time combination. This optimal PMMA product will exhibit fast low temperature polymerization and allow successful preservation of cellular structures for IHC studies.

Effect of Cumulative vs. Non-cumulative Assessments on Student Learning in an Introductory Biology Course

Kurt Williams, Nicole Rice, Michelle Baek, Nicholas Nelson, Shannon Rose, Patrick Stockdale, and Elizabeth Gibbons Bailey, Brigham Young University

Assessment has long played an important role as a measurement tool of student mastery over course content. However, testing has also been shown to be an effective learning tool in its own right. Assessments need not be only tests of learning, but can also be tests for learning. Previous research has shown that one way to transform exams from being metrical to learning tools is increasing frequency of assessment. Typical undergraduate courses rely on midterm exams; unpublished data suggest that smaller, more frequent assessments significantly increase student learning. Growing evidence supports the idea that cumulative assessments promote student learning more than traditional, non-cumulative exams. The purpose of the present study is to investigate the effects of cumulative vs. non-cumulative assessments on student learning within the model of smaller, more frequent exams. While cumulative assessments provide repeated exposure to course content, non-cumulative assessments provide opportunities to test course material with greater focus. In this study, one section of an introductory biology course for non-majors is given cumulative assessments, with about half of the questions drawn from previous units and the rest covering the current unit. The other section is given non-cumulative assessments, with the entire assessment drawn from current material. All other instructional techniques will be identical between both sections: same lectures, same assignments, same class activities, etc. At the end of the semester, student learning will be analyzed by comparing scores on a common final exam for the two sections, controlling for student reasoning ability upon entrance to the class. Attitudinal data will also be gathered to investigate student attitudes toward cumulative vs. non-cumulative assessments.

In Vitro Evaluation of Silver Nanoparticles to Treat Acute Sinusitis

Fei Wang, University of Utah

In Vitro Evaluation of Silver Nanoparticles to Treat Acute Sinusitis UCUR Abstract Fei Wang Department of Bioengineering, University of Utah Acute sinusitis affects 16% of U.S. population, with more than 30 million annual diagnoses. Acute sinusitis is a bacterial infection of the upper respiratory tract, which is caused by inflammation of the paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity. Common treatments including antibiotic therapy, decongestants, and nasal saline irrigation can be ineffective because of the drug resistant pathogens and short duration of relief from nasal congestion. Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are expected to provide effective treatment for acute sinusitis, because they have demonstrated potent antimicrobial properties with decreased bacterial resistance and the ability to provide continuous silver ion delivery to infected tissue sites. Despite extensive research using AgNPs to treat a variety of diseases, there has not been a study that uses AgNPs to treat acute sinusitis. The goal of this study was to provide a better treatment for acute sinusitis via bactericidal ability of AgNPs. Therefore, it was hypothesized that silver ions, produced from silver nanoparticles, would be effective for killing bacteria responsible for acute sinusitis with minimum cytotoxicity to nasal epithelial cells. To test the hypothesis, the release of silver ions from AgNPs was determined by measuring UV absorbance of 10 ppm AgNP solution (prepared in ASTM grade II water, PH=7) at room temperature over 4 hours using a UV spectrophotometer and was tested using ICP-MS after different conditioned AgNP samples were placed in room temperature for 12 days; the minimum inhibitory (MIC) and the minimum bactericidal (MBC) concentrations of AgNPs were determined for their ability to eliminate 5×105 colony forming units (CFU) of Haemophilus influenzae (H. influenzae) and Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pneumoniae), the primary pathogens associated with cause acute sinusitis. Human nasal epithelial cells viability was determined after exposure to an AgNP solution over 24 hours to evaluate toxicity of AgNPs. Absolute values of optical absorbance indicated an AgNPs ion release rate equivalent to 0.1 ppm/hour, with minimal particle aggregation. ICP-­‐MS results showed silver ion percentage was increased from 2.15% to 13% over 12 days. The MBC and the MIC of AgNPs against H. influenzae and S. pneumoniae were about 3 ppm, 2.6 ppm and 2.5 ppm, 7 ppm respectively. The human nasal epithelial cell viability data showed viable cells up to 20 ppm of AgNP solution exposure, and the safe margin for AgNP administration is 15 ppm to 30 ppm. Preliminary studies validated that silver nanoparticles could provide persistent release of silver ions, which were effective at killing bacteria responsible for acute sinusitis with minimal toxicity to human cells. Therefore, the goal is to evaluate the feasibility of AgNPs to reduce the incidence of acute sinusitis.

Transforming Utah: Focusing on How Transgender Persons Negotiate Their Identities

Mathew Walker and Kylee Hallows, Weber State University

With celebrities like Caitlyn Jenner, Laverne Cox, and Chaz Bono coming out as transgender and a Primetime TV show which focuses on a transgender person, Transparent, winning multiple Emmy awards, the frequency of conversations focused on what it means to be a transgender person has increased across the nation. Despite its conservative political and religious background, Utah is no exception to having these conversations. Although positive views on transgender persons have increased, many transgender persons still must fight for acceptance. Through a thematic content analysis of three personal interviews, three published interviews, and two published narratives, this study examines the conversation of Utahans who have come out as transgender. Research suggests that a transgender person either feels the need to “pass” as male or female or identifies within a societal construct of gender outside the male/female dichotomy (Roen, 2001). This study uses Transgender Theory [which combines Queer Theory’s notion of gender being a fluid social construct and Feminist Theory’s notion that the treatment of gender is unequal (Nagoshi & Brzuzy, 2010)] as a theoretical foundation to analyze the acceptance of transgender persons across different stages of transition – from those who have chosen not to transition to those who have completed the transition process. The major theme that emerged from the data was that transgender self-identification influences acceptance levels from other transgender and non-transgender people. Results suggest that transgender people who attempt to “pass” as male or female experience stronger acceptance from non-transgender persons than the transgender people who identify themselves outside of the male/female binary. This information can be important to transgender people as they strive for acceptance and negotiate their identities in a conservative culture.

Roles of TRIL in Nodal Signaling during Xenopus Development

Hannah Wagner, Utah State University, and Yangsook Song Green and Jan Christian, University of Utah

During early embryonic development of Xenopus, correct levels of Nodal signaling are important for gastrulation and head formation. It is thought that TRIL, a transmembrane protein, represses Nodal signaling. Embryos that have TRIL expression reduced by morpholino injection do not correctly undergo gastrulation nor head development and expression levels of Nodal markers indicate an increase in Nodal signals. When TRIL is overexpressed, a similar phenotype to that of TRIL-­‐knockdown embryos is observed. The phenotypes of several overexpressed TRIL deletion constructs indicate that the intracellular domain of TRIL is required to repress Nodal activity. We hypothesize that TRIL significantly prevents Nodal signaling, leading to defects, and that the intracellular domain of TRIL is necessary for TRIL function. Using PCR, expression levels of Nodal markers in embryos injected with TRIL deletion constructs showed that full-­‐length TRIL unexpectedly increased Nodal activity. Also, all constructs that contained the TRIL intracellular domain increased Nodal activity. Whole mount in situ hybridization (WMISH) was used to examine expression of Nodal markers in an endogenous state. Although there was a larger amount of variation, the results of WMISH also suggest that full-­‐length TRIL increases Nodal activity. A western blot for the molecule pSmad2, an indicator of Nodal activity, gave a similar result. Taken together, these results suggest that exogenous TRIL does not repress Nodal activity but may block endogenous TRIL function when overexpressed, and the intracellular domain of TRIL is necessary for TRIL to function in conjunction with the Nodal signaling pathway.

Stakeholder Perception of K-12 Education Mission Fulfillment: An evaluation of DaVinci Academy

Hayley Tomney and Pamela Payne, Weber State University

The purpose of this project is to partner with the DaVinci Academy of Science and the Arts to evaluate stakeholder perceptions of DaVinci’s fulfillment of their mission. Stakeholders include: students, parents, facility, administrators, and the community. The DaVinci Academy of Science and the Arts is a title one school located in Northern Utah. The DaVinci Academy started out as a high school grades 9th-­‐12th in fall of 2004 expanding to include elementary and middle school since that time. The school has a maximum capacity at 1100 students which they have reached. The board and administration of the DaVinci Academy came to partner with Weber State University Community Research Team to obtain an evaluation of their mission fulfillment. In this presentation we will share the instruments used to gather data from various stakeholders and the process by which this partnership has developed. This partnership is on-­‐ going with the goal of collecting survey data in spring of 2016 and fall of 2017. Data will be collected in a step wise process from parents, students, faculty, administration and community members. Following completion of the survey, we intend to have focus groups developed in order to understand the survey data at a deeper level so that it may be used to enhance the school. Thus far, we have agreed with school administration that the mission statement of the DaVinci Academy has three dimensions: 1) Student Outcomes; 2) Learning Environment; and 3) Public/Private Partnership. The intention of the survey is to assess stakeholder perception of whether DaVinci Academy is fulfilling the mission in these three areas. This presentation will present a literature review, data collection instruments designed for each of the stakeholders and a discussion of the process by which this project is moving forward.

Analyzing Carbon Capture Ability of Solid Sorbents Using Thermogravimetric Analysis

Shalauna Thompson, University of Utah

As climate change due to greenhouse gases becomes more of a globally recognized problem, efforts to reduce these gas emissions receive more attention each year. Carbon dioxide is a major greenhouse gas and the burning of fossil fuels contributes a significant amount to the atmospheric CO2. Recognizing the need to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, federal policies have been passed requiring states to reduce industrial greenhouse gas emissions. Current carbon capture methods are generally not cost effective, or are energy intensive, so they are not widely used industrially. It is therefore pertinent that cheaper and more efficient carbon capture technologies be explored as a way to reduce these emission levels. The purpose of this project is to research various solid sorbents as viable technologies in carbon dioxide sorption. The optimal conditions for adsorption and the reversibility of this process were determined for different sorbent designs and functionalization. Various morphologies of carbon nanotubes were provided by Dr. TC Shen (Utah State U). The nanotubes were then functionalized with carboxyl groups and amines by Dr. Kara Stowers (Brigham Young U). In addition, titanium nanotubes were provided by Dr. Swomitra Mohanty (U of U), and lithium fly ash provided by Dr. Aimaro Sanna (Heriot-Watt U). The mass of carbon dioxide adsorbed by the materials was determined using thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). TGA was also used to determine the optimal temperature for carbon capture, and multi-cycle experiments were done to examine the reversibility of the sorption process. Additional characterization of the materials using Brunauer, Emmett, and Teller Theory (BET) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was done. The significance of this project is evident because innovations in carbon capture technology can help industry meet emissions standards while simultaneously moderating the amount of greenhouse gases released.

Anemia Research in Africa: Interpreting Unexpected Results

Kaeli Thomas and Karen de la Cruz, Brigham Young University

Research hypotheses

  1. Administration of intermittent low-dose iron will increase hemoglobin levels in the subject population.
  2. Administration of an anti-­‐parasitical agent will increase hemoglobin levels in the subject population.
  3. There will be no statistical difference in the hemoglobin levels of the two groups.


  1. Setting and sample: Kindergarten students in primary schools of Eastern Region of Ghana.
  2. Design: Quasi-­‐experimental quantitative design. It was culturally unacceptable to have a control group in this study.
  3. Instruments: Taylor medical grade electronic scale, stadiometer, Stanbio STATSite MHgb monitor.


All children enrolled in the study were assigned to one of two intervention groups: Fe supplementation only or anti-parasitic medication only.

Group 1: Each child was given a single dose of an anti-parisitic medication, Benznidazole, at the beginning of the intervention and at 3 month intervals for the duration of the study.

Group 2: Each child received 5 mg liquid iron supplement on each Monday, Wednesday and Friday that they attend school for the period of 6 months.

Ghana utilizes a year round school model. Missed doses were not made up. The village Headman and community health clinic medical provider supervised the administration of Fe supplement and anti-parasitic to the children using the schedule provided by Primary investigator.

Data analysis

A paper data collection instrument was created for this study. Each subject was assigned a unique and arbitrary ID to ensure accuracy for repeated testing. Data was entered from the paper data collection tool into an excel spreadsheet. Data entry was independently verified. Data were imported into SPSS version 21 for statistical analysis. Data were reviewed for missing values and outliers using descriptive statistics and appropriate figures. Variable change scores were examined for anomalous values and outliers before analysis. Relationships between predictors were examined using logistic regression.


Pretest comparisons for height, weight and hemoglobin levels indicated no significant differences between intervention groups. Significant proportions of the study participants in both groups were anemic (hemoglobin levels < 11 g/dl) at pretest, 40.4% in the Fe supplement group and 30.1% in the anti-parasitic group.


Both intervention groups showed similar hemoglobin levels at pretest and posttest. Neither intervention improved anemia status. We suspect these findings result from differences in diet due to seasonal changes. During the dry season, the food selection is different from the rainy season. We plan to continue the study to test this hypothesis.