URECA Faculty Mentors

According to the Council on Undergraduate Research (https://www.cur.org/), one of the key characteristics of excellence in undergraduate research is faculty commitment.  The success of the Undergraduate Research Experience and Creative Activity (URECA) grant program is dependent upon our faculty mentors who are highly committed to providing students with a hands-on research experience that includes instruction, guidance and direct modeling.  They support student learning in a manner that allows students to develop greater responsibility for his or her own work, develop and demonstrate valuable teamwork skills, and gain experience in critical inquiry. 

Below are some of our featured faculty mentors who continuously engage in mentored research through the URECA program.   

 Kevin Bicker photo

Kevin Bicker, Ph.D.
URECA Projects: Synthesis and MIC Testing of Antifungal Peptoids against Cryptococcus (Summer 2017); Characterizing the Therapeutic Potential of the Antifungal Peptoid AEC5 (Summer 2017); Synthesis and Screening of an Antimicrobial Oligomer Peptoid Combinatorial Library Against the Fungi Aspergillus, Candida, and Cryptococcus (Summer 2016); Synthesis and Screening of Antimicrobial Peptoid Combinatorial Libraries Against the Fungi Aspergillus, Candida, and Cryptococcus (Fall 2015)
Research Interests: Bioorganic chemistry, peptoids and peptides, solid-phase synthesis, assay development, drug development

 Jessica Gentry Carter

Jessica Gentry Carter, Ph.D.
URECA Projects: Evaluation of breed, milk production, and udder characteristics on somatic cell count and udder pathogens in lactating Holstein and Jersey cows. (Spring 2019); Effectiveness of Zinc Based Footbath Solutions over Industry Standard Copper Bath (Fall 2017)
Research Interests:
Beef cattle management, genetics and reproduction, dairy cow health and production, meat science factors that affect quality and tenderness

 Anthony Farone photo

Anthony Farone, Ph.D.
URECA Projects: The Isolation of Protozoa for Use as Mosquito Larvae Biocontrol Agents (Summer Team 2019); Using Caenorahabditis elegans as an infection model for novel bacteria CC99 (Fall 2018);  Effects of Gallium Protoporphyrin IX on Acinetobacter baumanii catalase (Summer 2017); Effects of Gallium-Protophorphrin IX on Acinetobacer baumannii's Catalese (Spring 2017) 
Research Interests: Host-pathogen interactions

 Mary Farone photo

Mary Farone, Ph.D.
URECA Projects:
Aurones and their Antibacterial Possibilities against Two Hospital Acquired Bacteria (Fall 2018); New Drugs for Bad Bugs: Aurones as Novel Antifungal Agents. (Fall 2017); Infectivity of Novel Intracellular Bacteria for Eukaryotic Cells (Summer 2017)
Research Interests: Microbiology, particularly host-pathogen interactions and drug discovery for the treatment of antibiotic-resistant microbes

 Emily Farris photo

Emily Farris, Ph.D.
Center for Dyslexia
URECA Projects:
The Examination of Neural Connectivity with Resting-State EEG (Summer 2019)
Research Interests: Enhancing understanding of reading difficulties with the ultimate goal of improving ability to identify individuals with reading difficulties and develop treatment programs tailored to the individual’s needs. 

 Ryan Seth Jones

Ryan Seth Jones, Ph.D.
Educational Leadership
URECA Projects:
The Impact of 3D Biology Lessons Within the Classroom (Spring 2019); Developing Procedures for Capturing Video and Audio of Small Group Interactions in Large Classroom Data Collection (Spring 2019); The effects of 3D biology lessons on student learning (Fall 2018)
Research Interests: Methods of supporting students to use mathematics and science to construct and revise knowledge, measuring the extent to which whole class discussions in middle grades classrooms support students, creating innovative technologies for teachers and students in middle grades math classes, developing new tools for assessing nuanced ways of thinking in middle grades students, and developing frameworks and curricular approaches for interdisciplinary STEM learning environments organized around data modeling practices.

 Jennifer Lovett photo

Jennifer Lovett, Ph.D
Mathematical Sciences
URECA Projects:
Middle School Students' Reasoning with Technological Mathematical Tasks (Summer 2019); Analyzing Student Understanding of Isomorphism (Spring 2018)
Research Interests: Teaching and learning of mathematics and statistics; teachers’ knowledge of mathematics and statistics

 Preston MacDougall photo Preston J. MacDougall, Ph.D.
URECA Projects:
A new approach to Research Communication, sharing results through stories. (Fall 2017); A New Approach to Nature: Storytelling and Science (Spring 2017)
Research Interests: Computer graphics and molecular modeling; scientific visualization; machine-learning in molecular design; creative writing in science communication; theoretical materials science; and philosophy of chemistry
 David Nelson photo

David E. Nelson, Ph.D.
URECA Projects:
Fluorescent Taggine of Genomic Parkin in Human Osteosarcoma Cells Using CRI (Spring 2019); Examining the Effects of Inflammation on Parkin-Dependent Mitochondrial Quality Control in Parkinson’s Disease Using Cell Line Models of Neurons and Microglia (Spring 2019); Investigating the effects of glucoseconcentration on macrophage polarization using a tissue culture model of type II diabetes mellitus (Summer 2018); The Effect of Intracellular C. Neoformans on Expression of lrf4 (Fall 2017); Compare the effects of lipopolysaccharide and inerferon gamma on the expression (Fall 2017); Measurement of M2-Associated Protein Markers in Macrophages Infected with the Facultative Intracellular Pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans (Summer 2017); Effect of Cryptococcus neoformans on Macrophage Activation State (Fall 2016); Investigation of "memory"-like properties within the PINK1: Parkin Mitophagy Pathway (Fall 2016); Determining the Effects of Different Capsular GXM Species, Shed by the Pathogenic Yeast Cryptococcus neoformans, on Macrophage NF-κB Signaling and Proinflammatory Gene Expression (Summer 2016); Effect of Cryptococcus neoformans Capsular Polysaccharide on Production of TNFα and iNOS in Macrophages (Fall 2015)
Research Interests: Cell biology, cell signaling, mitochondria, mitophagy, host:pathogen interactions

 Todd O'Neill photo Todd O'Neill
Media Arts
URECA Projects:
360 Video Augmented Reality Campus Tour (Summer 2019); Education, the Universal Solution: Research on Benefit of Music Education for Youth, Presented to the World via TEDxMTSU (Spring 2016)

Research interests: Application of emerging interactive media

 Joshua Phillips

Joshua Phillips, Ph.D.
Computer Science
URECA Projects:
Automatic Feature Association and Dynamic Threshold for the Combined Observable and Non-observable Task Switching Model (Summer 2019); Enabling Multi-Task Learning in Partially- and Non-observable Environments with Keras (Summer 2019); Combining Models for Observable and Non-Observable Task Switching to Achieve Working Memory for Autonomous Systems (Spring 2019); Unitization and Catastrophic Interference in Reinforcement Learning (Spring 2019); Dimensional Attention Learning for Working Memory (Spring 2019); Unitization Applied to deep reinforcement learning (Fall 2018); Application of N-Task learning on Traditional Computer Vision Problems (Spring 2018); Dimensional Attention Learning for Working Memory (Fall 2017); Holographic Reduced Representation for Working Memory Concept, Automating Action Learning (Fall 2016); Calibration of the Holographic Working Memory Toolkit Using the Delayed Saccade Task (Fall 2016); Holographic Reduced Representations for Working Memory Concept Encoding (Spring 2016); Spectrum Analysis of HIV Clades (Fall 2015)
Research Interests: Molecular modeling and simulation, computational models of working memory, machine learning and neural networks

 William Robertson photo Bill Robertson, Ph.D.
Astronomy and Physics
URECA Projects:
Constructing a novel experimental apparatus for use with acoustics research (Fall 2018); Modeling, Simulating, and Testing an Acoustic Lens (Summer 2018); Testing applications of the Photonic Crystal Based Biosensor (Fall 2017); Improvement of the Photonic Crystal Biosensor Design (Summer 2017)

Research Interests: Optics, acoustics, terahertz spectroscopy, computational science, and signal processing

 Elizabeth A. Smith photo Elizabeth A. Smith, Ph.D.
Human Sciences
URECA Projects:
Food Security, Coping and Support Strategies, and Diet Quality in College Students from a Moderate Sized University (Fall 2018); Mini Health and Nutrition Screen (Fall 2018)

Research Interests: Changing nutrition related health behaviors such as increasing fruit and vegetable intake, food insecurity, and preventing chronic disease through nutrition related health and wellness

 Ben Stickle photo Ben Stickle, Ph.D.
Criminal Justic Administration
URECA Projects:
Pirates With No Sea: The Rising Rate of Porch Package Theft (Spring 2018); The True Costs of Private Security. (Fall 2017)
Research Interests: Crime prevention, environmental criminology and metal theft, private security, police operations, administration and use of force
 Molly Taylor-Polesky Photo

Molly Taylor-Polesky, Ph.D.
URECA Projects:
The Digital Holy Roman Empire (Summer 2019); Map of the Holy Roman Empire (Summer 2018)
Research Interests: 
Cultural history, Early Modern European History, Digital Humanities

 Donald Walker photo Donald Walker, Ph.D.

URECA Projects: The endosymbiotic community of the causative agent of White Nose Syndrome (Pseudogymnoascus destructans) of bats (Summer 2019); Endosymbiotic bacteria impact the function of an important wildlife pathogen of bats. (Summer 2019)
Research Interests: Molecular evolution and molecular ecology of microorganisms with an emphasis on fungi.