Recent Publication: John Martin & Anna Martin

John Martin, an Assistant Professor of Engineering Technology, published this article in June 2017 with assistance from Anna Martin of Kent State University.

Title: “Work In Progress: The Effects of Embedded-Formatting Applied to Statics”

Authors: John Martin and Anna Martin

 

Abstract:

Worked examples have been shown to be very effective in order to reduce cognitive load (Carol 1994), however there are many instances where worked examples may be ineffective. One instance is where a worked example may contain a number of unique pieces of information, each being incomprehensible to the learner in isolation, therefore the learner must mentally integrate each piece in order to understand the instructional material. A classic example of this is having a picture of a graph consisting of lines and then separately below having a list of equations for each line. There is a need for the learner to mentally integrate the two different sources of information, which asserts an increased burden on cognitive load therefore stifling the learning process. This is what is referred to as the split-attention effect (Sweller 1998). One way that has been shown to alleviate this problem is the use of embedded-formatting (Mayer 1990). Embedded formatting is where the unique portions of information are physically integrated with one another in order to reduce cognitive load. So, for example the graph with line equations described earlier could be shown where the equations are displayed on the graph directly next to the line that it is defining, so that the reader does not have to integrate the two mentally – it can be done visually.

Statics is typically the first core engineering course civil and mechanical engineering students take, therefore much of the information in this class is novel to the learner. Worked examples are often used in textbooks and are very useful, but they generally consist of a free-body diagram (FBD) and then a separate list of accompanying equilibrium equations for that specific FBD. This requires the learner to mentally integrate the two novel sources of information in order to make sense of the worked example, which can cause cognitive overload or an overload on working memory. This study will focus on identifying the effectiveness of using embedded-formatting with regards to engineering Statics worked examples.

For this study a quantitative quasi-experimental pretest-posttest study will be utilized to gain a better understanding of the effects of applying embedded-formatting to worked examples of Statics problems on student learning. Students within two separate engineering Statics courses will be considered, where the first groups/class will be given worked examples utilizing embedded-formatting and the second group/class will be given traditional worked examples as part of their instructional material. Additionally, a subjective measure of cognitive load will be used to quantify between group cognitive loads, while a posttest will measure student learning of the topic in general. The instructional technique will serve as the independent variable consisting of two groups; while the engineering concept knowledge of Statics, along with the subjective cognitive load scores will serve as the dependent variables to be measured using multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA).

Recent Publication: John Martin & Anna Martin

Mr. John Martin, an Assistant Professor of Engineering Technology, published this article in June 2017 with assistance from Anna Martin of Kent State University.

Title: “Work In Progress: The Effect of Partially-Completed Worked Examples Applied to Statics”

Authors: John Martin and Anna Martin

 

Abstract:

Traditionally, instructional strategies used for teaching engineering subjects revolve around a scaffolded type framework, where problems are solved in-class by the instructor whom provides guidance to students that are simultaneously engaging in the problem solving with the instructor. This type of learning strategy is based off of a guided problem-solving approach. After a number of problems are solved in this manner the next step is usually to assign problems for the students to solve entirely on their own, taking away all the instructor support from the problem-solving approach. Research suggests that entirely removing all guidance too soon generally results in a situation where student learning must then rely on randomness. This is where the learning process is accomplished by randomly combining elements of information and then determining which combinations are effective (Sweller 2004), which is very inefficient.

This type of learning technique is very common within engineering subjects, as well as many other subjects and is based off of what is sometimes referred to as discovery learning (Bruner 1961). Research has suggested that making use of partially-completed worked examples can reduce cognitive load by decreasing the burden on working memory (Carrol 1994, etc.), in turn leaving more memory capacity to acquire knowledge. In partially-completed worked-examples learners are given a problem where certain portions of that problem are missing and they are required to fill in the missing steps. Implementing this instructional strategy can serve as a bridge between fully guided problem-solving and completely unguided problem solving. Adding the use of partially-completed worked examples to fill the gap between worked examples and independent problem solving has proven to be very effective in prior research (Paas 1992).

This study will examine the effectiveness of implementing partially-completed worked examples when directly applied to the field of Statics. This study will specifically examine whether or not the use of partially-completed worked examples create a more efficient and complete learning process when learning Statics.

We will utilize a quantitative quasi-experimental pretest-posttest study to gain a better understanding of the effects of partially-completed worked examples of Statics problems on student learning. Students within an engineering Statics course will be divided into two groups, where the first group will be given partially-completed worked examples along with traditional problems, where they are to solve the partially completed problems first and then the traditional problems afterwards. The second group will be given only traditional problems to solve. Additionally, a subjective measure of cognitive load will be used to quantify between group cognitive loads, while a posttest will measure student learning of the topic in general. The instructional strategy will serve as the independent variable consisting of two groups, while the engineering concept knowledge of Statics, along with the subjective cognitive load scores will serve as the dependent variables to be measured using multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA).

Firm student understanding of fundamental courses such as Statics is crucial for their success in subsequent courses, and is also vital in providing solid background knowledge to appropriately comprehend more advanced topics. In order to maximize the learning process a clearer understanding of how the role of guidance during problem solving impacts student learning is necessary. This study hopes to shed light on the way in which instructional delivery impacts learning of engineering concepts.

Recent Publication: John Martin

Mr. John Martin, an Assistant Professor of Engineering Technology, published this article in November 2017.

Title: “Exploring Additive Manufacturing Processes for Direct 3D Printing of Copper Induction Coils – Symposium on AM: Novel Applications session.”

Author: John Martin

 

Abstract:

The production process of creating custom induction coils is often a tedious and time-consuming procedure, which is largely due to the fact that the coils are created by hand for the most part. Generally each coil is a specialized size and shape depending on customer requirements so there is very little repeatability involved in the production process of these products. This paper looks at the practicality of printing copper induction coils that could provide appropriate material properties, such as electrical conductivity. The paper also focuses on which printing method(s) might be the most efficient and/or practical. There has been little research done on the 3D printing of copper material compared to other metals such as steel, and the majority of research that has occurred focuses on material properties; mainly thermal conductivity. This study focuses on the practicality of the printing of the physical shapes, specifically a hollow curved or spiral shape. The most common and successful method that has been used thus far utilizing additive manufacturing (AM) for the production of copper parts is investment casting, where the mold is created using AM. While this method has merits, it isn’t a directly printed part. Also successfully casting a hollow curved or spiral shape would be extremely difficult and likely not practical. Induction coils can take on a seemingly unlimited amount of shapes and sizes. However, typically there tends to always be two main characteristics for a coil, those are: some type of hollow tubing is utilized for water cooling, and the existence of curved paths. These two characteristics in combination present some difficult hurdles regarding the physical printing of the part. Another major difficulty is the fact that the final material must be very dense in order to afford the superior electrical conductivity properties, which standard copper used for electrical purposes has. The main processes inspected for this study are powder bed fusion, namely selective laser melting, selective laser sintering, electron beam melting as well as direct energy deposition, using either powder or wire for the material feed. After considering all the various techniques for applying additive manufacturing to create induction coils, the selective laser melting process seemed to be the most practical and showed the most promise.

Biomedical Research Series: Dr. Diana Fagan

Dr. Diana Fagan

Within the Department of Biological Sciences at Youngstown State University, there are many areas of research being explored by faculty and students alike. In a monthly series, we will highlight faculty research that covers various aspects of biomedical efforts from DNA to bacteria, fungi, and more.

Dr. Diana Fagan is a Professor of Biological Sciences at YSU. She is a microbiologist and immunologist. Her background in research is primarily with antibodies and cell culturing. Her research has led her to multiple recent collaborations.

One of these collaborations is with Dr. Pedro Cortes, an Associate Professor of Civil/Environmental and Chemical Engineering. He approached Dr. Fagan with his interest in producing Nano sensors that can sense explosives. She has assisted him by using a system called phage display where viruses that infect bacteria are tested for their ability to bind specifically to molecules of interest. The phage having peptides on their surface that bound to the molecules of interest are then removed from the culture for use and the phage is then reintroduced into the bacteria to continue replicating itself. Following this, the phage binding and specificity are tested using an antibody method called an Eliza that will cause a color change if the molecules are properly bound. Researchers can then take the peptide and purify, sequence, and test it for its ability to bind to molecules in a pure form.

After Dr. Fagan completes this process, she gives the peptide to Dr. Cortes. He coats the nanofiber with that peptide. An electric current goes across fiber when it encounters the bound molecules. If it binds it will give you a signal.

Dr. Fagan and Dr. Cortes have used proteins that bind to molecules in blood to test their sensors. They have found that when blood is introduced early in the testing, the Nano sensor will send a signal faster than when blood is not present immediately.  The purpose of this research is to potentially use a patch that can be put in military personnel or police uniforms so if they are shot and bleeding, a signal will be sent at a distance for people to know where to go to aid the wounded.

Dr. Fagan also uses the same research in collaboration with Dr. Cortes to detect explosives using the sensors.

The same methods are being used by graduate students in Dr. Fagan’s lab to produce peptides that bind to Staphylococcus aureus, the bacterium that causes Staph infections. With this research, she and her team of graduate students can find a way to potentially kill the bacterium.

As an additional project, Dr. Fagan uses adult mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow to find a faster solution to wound healing. Recently, she has used the mesenchymal stem cells in rat models. She started this process by growing stem cell cultures from rat bone marrow. Surgeons from St. Elizabeth Hospital perform surgery on the rats at Youngstown State University. Before closing the incision, her team divides the rats into groups. One group received platelets on the incision. The second group received stem cells and platelets on the incision, and the third group received nothing. The rats were then allowed to heal for 4-8 weeks and then were sacrificed. Using a cutting tool, Dr. Fagan and her research team cut part of the rats’ abdominal tissue into chunks. They conducted histology and collagen synthesis tests.

Dr. Hazel Marie, an Associate Professor of Manufacturing Engineering, used a machine to pull the tissue to test the strain on muscle until it tears. As compared with rats that were untreated, it was found that rats who received only platelets had two times stronger skin, and those who received both platelets and stem cells had three times stronger skin. She is improving this research by using the process of phage display so that she may find individual molecules made by the mesenchymal stem cells that can be used as a potential artificial system for wound healing.

You can see poster publications from her team on the various topics, below.

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For more information about her research, you can contact Dr. Diana Fagan at dlfagan@ysu.edu.

STUDENTS: It’s Time to Fill Out Scholarship Applications!

Attention STEM students!!

Looking for a way to lower your student debt? Applying for scholarships is the best way!

Take some time over break and fill out these applications! The deadline for is February 1st for all scholarships applicable to the 2018-2019 school year.

You can apply for all YSU Foundation Scholarships through the Scholarship Application. You can find the website here where you can apply using your YSU credentials.

Need help filling out the application? Click here for a step-by-step tutorial.

Incoming STEM students who are residents of Ohio may also apply to the Choose Ohio First Scholarship Program. To read more about this program, please visit the Choose Ohio First website here.

Student Spotlight: Brian Duricy

Brian DuricyYSU STEM loves to highlight student achievements and experiences! Please email us about students who have accomplished great things at STEMNews@ysu.edu so we can get the word out about our exceptional students!

Brian Duricy is a fourth-year mathematics and economics major with a political science and philosophy minor.

Currently, Brian does not do any research, but he hopes to start with a faculty member next semester. He is really interested in cryptocurrencies and statistical applications.

As a high school student, Brian has taken college in high school classes at Kent State University. He has also taken a transient class at Kent in Fall 2016. His first semester of college was spent at the University of Pittsburgh before coming to YSU.

“I love that you aren’t pigeon-holed to a specific field in STEM. I will never feel bored in my majors because statistics can be applied to anything. One week I can work with physics-related topics, the next I could be working with mathematics,” said Brian. “I also really love the flexibility at YSU so I can have two majors and two minors comfortably.”

This past month, Brian participated in the ethics bowl at YSU. The ethics bowl consists of multiple cordial arguments based on descriptive cases. A team’s coaches come up with broad-based ethics questions pertaining to each case that is designed to help the team get used to the main points of the case and what they could potentially be asked in competition. Seven minutes are given to the team to answer each question presented to them by the judge. Everyone on the team is given a part to answer. These parts consist of introductions, main points, and objections.

For this ethics bowl, Brian was the objector. His main duty in the competition was to come up with ways the other team may approach his team’s case and say they were wrong. The opposing team then had 5 minutes to respond to Brian and his team. The match continues after this with the opposing team presenting their case.

“What I really love about ethics bowl is that you get into a lot of discussions that you know are ethical or not ethical, but until you sit down and really think about them, you don’t get the understanding behind why they are ethical or unethical,” said Brian.

For the remainder of the match, Brian was also responsible for responding to the opposing team alongside his teammates.

“The things I have learned in my mathematics logistics classes really prepared me for ethics bowl because of the thought process the classes instilled in me,” said Brian.

Brian is also a member of the Actuarial Science Club and Moot Court.

Beach Buddies Founder Bill Dale Visits YSU!

Bill DaleBill Dale is the founder of the Beach Buddies organization that takes charge of cleaning up litter on beaches. He was awarded the British Empire Medal by Queen Elizabeth II in 2017 for “Services to the Marine Environment.”

Bill Dale started a career in journalism at the age of 18. He founded the Isle of Man Gazette in 1985 and The Manx Independent in 1987. He left to start a career in freelance writing, public relations and photography in 1990. He launched The Southern Chronicle in 2011 and the Northwestern Chronicle in 2014.

Bill then founded Beach Buddies in October 2006 where he first officially collected debris in January 2017. It started with two volunteers and five dogs, and it now has 8,000 volunteers and, sadly, only one dog remains. He was appointed assistant commentator to Ian Cannell for the official Tynwald Ceremony in 2006 and appointed Sole Commentator in 2016.

Bill has been a regular guest speaker (about his career and the Beach Buddies organization) since 2013. He is currently in the middle of developing a new education program in schools that is designed to raise awareness of how careless littering introduces severe problems to the environment and wildlife populations.

His various other career experiences include operating the rowing boat ferry across Peel Harbor to Peel Castle in the 1970s to joiner, bricklayer, electrician, plumber, golfer, footballer, skier, basking shark watcher, and so many more!

Bill Dale provided a free, open lecture for the Youngstown community on Wednesday, October 25, 2017, at 7:00 p.m. This date also happened to be Bill’s birthday so people that came to his lecture were able to wish him the best on his special day. Bill’s visit to the USA has brought a lot of attention to his efforts in the Isle of Man, which is his home station. You can click here to view the news story that was published about his trip. There is also a video interview that is available for you to watch here about his various efforts with Beach Buddies.

While Bill Dale was at YSU, he spoke on the marine environment and how littering affects the environment. He showed the audience pictures of animals that were caught up in various types of litter that a human just threw out their car window without a second thought. Some of the animals he showed us were birds, sea turtles, seals, fish, and even non-marine life such as hedgehogs. He urged that people must stop littering because of how much it is damaging the wildlife and environment around the world.

To find out more about the Beach Buddies, you can visit his Facebook Page here. You can also contact Dr. Ray Beiersdorfer for more information on his visit to YSU at rebeiersdorfer@ysu.edu.

Faculty Faction: Dr. Richard Deschenes

Dr. DeschenesDr. Richard Deschenes is an Assistant Professor in the Civil/Environmental and Chemical Engineering Department. He graduated with his Bachelors, Masters, and PhD degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of Arkansas Fayetteville. He was born in New Hampshire but later moved to Maine for 4 years, and then moved to Arkansas for 10 years before coming to Ohio.

This is Dr. Deschenes first university teaching experience. “I have always been interested in teaching and academia,” said Dr. Deschenes. “I felt that YSU had that perfect balance of research and teaching for me.”

He enjoys that YSU does not stress research as heavily as many other big-name colleges in the country. Dr. Deschenes wants to focus on teaching in his first few years at YSU. He is excited to get to interact more with his students because of our smaller class sizes. He wants to promote more practicality in his courses, especially in lower level courses where the students usually do not have the opportunity to be hands-on.

“I believe that having more practical classes will help students to build a strong foundation for their future,” said Dr. Deschenes.

He also plans to begin his research in concrete durability and structural engineering. With that being said, he also wants to apply for research grants, both public and private, so that he can provide funding to his student researchers.

This semester, Dr. Deschenes is teaching Statics for engineering students as well as Structural Analysis 1 and its Lab. In the spring, he will be teaching Statics again, but will move forward to teaching Strength of Materials Lab and Structural Analysis 2.

In the future, Dr. Deschenes wants to get involved with the Higher Learning Commission accreditation at YSU and to stay involved in the university while also maintaining ABET accreditation for the Civil Engineering Department. He also wants to potentially co-advise the YSU Student Chapter of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) with the department head, Dr. Islam. He then plans to help establish a student chapter of the American Concrete Institute (ACI) here at YSU.

Dr. Deschenes spends his free time jogging and hiking. He also enjoys cheering on the New England Patriots and the Boston Red Sox. He has 9 siblings, 8 of which are younger than him. And, he’s not the only civil engineer in his family! Two of his siblings are also civil engineers. Isn’t that cool?

To reach Dr. Deschenes, you can email him at radeschenes@ysu.edu, or visit him during his office hours from 9:30am to 11:15am on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

Student Spotlight: Evan Harris

Evan HarrisYSU STEM loves to highlight student achievements and experiences! Please email us about students who have accomplished great things at STEMNews@ysu.edu so we can get the word out about our exceptional students!

Evan Harris is a junior Electrical Engineering student. He is a research assistant at YSU that helps collect data in groundbreaking experiments involving 3D printing and artificial intelligence.

Evan performs his research under Dr. Eric MacDonald, a professor and distinguished researcher in YSU’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He has also worked with several of Dr. MacDonald’s co-workers, other distinguished professors and researchers on staff at YSU, as well as his classmates Andrea Beck and Chad Lynagh.

“Our group is currently handling projects dealing with Additive Manufacturing ranging from Commercial 3D printing to Industrial Sand Casting utilizing Computer Vision and Machine Learning, to recognize when a print is failing or about to fail,” said Evan. “We are also using the university’s S-Max 3D printer to gather experimental data on sand molds containing cavities of complex geometries to be used in metal casting, something that wasn’t previously possible. YSU is one of only two universities in the country with S-Max printers.”

“We hope to increase the efficiency, quality, and performance of both methods of 3D printing,” said Evan. “The commercial project aims to create a closed-loop system that recognizes common hazards, stops defective prints, and saves filament (feedstock) in the process. We’re comparing data we collect from our sand casting experiments to today’s models, looking for inconsistencies. Porosity is a very complex, yet important, property when it comes to casting metal, so the more data we can collect, the more we can learn about what causes defects and how that compares to current models.”

Through this research project, Evan hopes to learn more about Additive Manufacturing and have the opportunity to help advance the field in future.

“It’s an exciting area of study that could expand existing technologies and lead to new ones,” said Evan. “Large companies are beginning to take advantage of 3D printing metal parts that are currently out of production.”

When speaking about the 3D printing, “our YSU professors are also pioneering research into the way metal casting works. We’re one of only two universities in the country to have an S-Max 3D printer, and that gives us the ability to design our own experiments and try things that have never been explored, which to me is really exciting,” said Evan.

In addition to his research, Evan is a member of Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honors Society, and a member of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Evan is also a huge Steelers fan.

To find out more about the research Evan participates in, visit the Google Scholar page for Dr. Eric MacDonald. You can also email Evan at emharris@student.ysu.edu.

Tau Beta Pi Welcomes Fall Initiates!

Tau Beta Pi InitiatesTau Beta Pi has initiated their new members this fall! The Tau Beta Pi Association is the oldest engineering honor society in the United States and the second oldest collegiate honor society in America. It is made of honors engineering students who have shown a history of academic achievement as well as a commitment to personal and professional integrity.

“Our purpose is to uphold to qualities of excellence and integrity of engineering,” said Tayah Turocy, current president of Tau Beta Pi. “We strive to be role models, achieve academic success, and hold leadership positions while being connected to a large network of engineers.”

Tau Beta Pi is one of the multiple Ohio Lambda Chapters at YSU. They have a similar process of initiation to the other chapters on campus. They truly celebrate the hard work of students. The group supports dedicated, hardworking, and successful engineers.

“After our initiation this week of 41 initiates, we now have almost 60 active members in our Ohio Lambda chapter. Tau Beta Pi is a society that one must be invited to join. A student must be of junior status or above to be considered,” said Tayah. “A student is eligible if they are pursuing an engineering degree and are in the top 1/8th of their junior class, top 1/5th of their senior class, or top 1/5th of their graduate class.”

Tau Beta Pi hosts several events each year. Their two main events are their fall and spring initiation. Their initiation process is very involved.

“Candidates go through an interview process with the current members, and they are elected by vote,” said Tayah. “After being elected to join, candidates go through an initiation ceremony, take a group photo in front of our symbol, the “bent,” and are invited to celebrate with their guests at a banquet.”

Additionally, Tau Beta Pi hosts Engineer’s Week. This is a weeklong competition in spring between civil engineering, chemical engineering, industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and mathematics students. The events of the week range from paper airplanes to duct tape a team member to a wall to penny wars.

Throughout the year, Tau Beta Pi also holds a Pi day event, futures for engineers’ sessions. If you’ve seen people walking around campus with laptop stickers that look like Ohio and have a “Y” for Youngstown, that’s also Tau Beta Pi!

“Many people do not know anything about Tau Beta Pi when they are asked to join, but it is the largest engineering society in the world with over 580,000 members,” said Tayah. “Also, we just had our largest initiate class in 17 years!”

For more information about the organization, visit www.tbp.org. To keep up with Tau Beta Pi’s events on campus, you can also follow them on their Facebook page: YSU Tau Beta Pi Ohio Lambda Chapter.

Although a student must be invited to join, it is never too early or too late to think about joining. Freshman and sophomore students can look forward to being invited in the future by keeping their grades up, and juniors and seniors can improve their grades to be asked in a future semester. If thinking about attending grad school, students can look into how that school’s chapter operates. For more detailed questions, contact Tayah Turocy at tdturocy@student.ysu.edu.

Several Pennsylvania Schools Visit STEM This Month!

We encourage school groups to visit the STEM College and learn more about the opportunities available to students who choose to attend YSU! This month, we were excited to host several schools from Pennsylvania.

Check out some of the pictures from their visits below! Students met President Jim Tressel, Dean Steelant and several amazing STEM faculty members.

 

Aliquippa High School visited YSU STEM on November 7, 2017. They traveled about an hour to explore the variety of options STEM provides to its students!

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Farrell High School visited YSU STEM on October 17, 2017, and October 24, 2017. They really enjoyed the tour and activities that were set up for them on their visit! 

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Sharon High School visited YSU STEM on October 25, 2017. They sure loved their visit to STEM!

 

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If you are interested in bringing a group to visit the STEM College, please contact Emilie Eberth at 330.941.2884 or egeberth@ysu.edu.

Ward Beecher is Being Renovated!

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There have been many great renovations to Ward Beecher this year!

The north end of three floors was painted. The construction crew also put in new ceilings and updated the light fixtures. They also replaced the flooring tiles and installed benches with outlets for students to use at their disposal. The mechanical systems were also improved in the north end of the building.

Next summer the south end of the building will be renovated, completing the project. This was the first time any renovations have happened in Ward Beecher since the early 1980’s.

Dr. Sharif Gets Additional Funding Through NSF Grant

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Dr. Bonita Sharif, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems at Youngstown State University, has recently been awarded a Community Research Infrastructure grant from the National Science Foundation.

This project grant, totaling $527,806 over three years ($237,196 to YSU and $290,610 to KSU), began in June 2017 and is expected to finish in June 2020. This project relates closely to Dr. Sharif’s CAREER award research on eye-tracking from last year and is in collaboration with a team at Kent State University.

“The purpose of the award is to build infrastructure to help support incorporating eye tracking within the developer’s work environment,” said Dr. Sharif.

Basically, Dr. Sharif and her team are creating an extension for integrated development environments (the platforms developers use for coding) that will allow developers to track their eye movement within the platform. They will be able to replay the eye tracking data to learn from how they look at code.

Dr. Sharif says that this software and research is important because it will help developers’ self-awareness (to learn from their own work and become more efficient) and because it will help educators teach students better. It will also help researchers to conduct large-scale studies in the industry with minimal effort.

“We can show novices how experts fix bugs by what they look at first,” said Dr. Sharif.

It is her goal to release a beta version of the software by the end of the first year and to involve other researchers in beta testing and technical briefing sessions.

“At this point, many researchers have seen a demo of our system,” she said, “but really it’s still just a prototype. We want to make it to a point where it is production ready and people can just download it, install it, and use it. I believe the joint effort with Kent State will be great in moving this forward.”

The full project title is “CI-New: Collaborative Research: An Infrastructure that Combines Eye Tracking into Integrated Development Environments to Study Software Development and Program Comprehension.”

The students involved are undergraduates Ashwin Mishra, Alexander Bonnette, Nicholas Iovino, Chris Hardaway, and graduate student Sahaj Bhattarai.

View the abstract for the project and the full details of the award here.

Biomedical Research Series: Dr. Chet Cooper

Dr. Chet Cooper

Within the Department of Biological Sciences at Youngstown State University, there are many areas of research being explored by faculty and students alike. In a monthly series, we will highlight faculty research that covers various aspects of biomedical efforts from DNA to bacteria, fungi, and more.

 

Dr. Chet Cooper is a Professor of Biological Sciences at YSU. He holds a BS degree in Biology from Pitt-Johnstown. He earned his Master and PhD in Microbiology from the University of Texas.

Dr. Cooper researches a fungus that effects AIDS patients in Southeast Asia. The fungus cannot be found in soil or vegetation but it is known that it affects bamboo rats and humans. The only way a human can be infected by this fungus is by traveling to Southeast Asia and being HIV positive. The fungus is breathed in and can live in the body for several years before symptoms are observed.

The fungus, Talaromyces marneffei, was first discovered in the 1950s and brought to greater attention in the 1970s and 1980s when the AIDS epidemic occurred in Thailand. In some places in this country, up to 30% of AIDS patients contracted the fungal disease.

The fungi start attacking a person with AIDS by first giving the patient pneumonia. The infection then will spread to the skin, giving the patient skin lesions. After that, the infection will spread to the organs of the body and can be 100% fatal if it is not treated.

Dr. Cooper started researching fungi in graduate school. His first position out of graduate school was in a state health department in New York. He became familiar with different types of fungi through that position. Soon after, Dr. Cooper was asked to study how this fungus that attacks AIDS patients reacts to anti-fungal agents. His colleague from Thailand worked with him, and his research has progressed since.

“There are only 4-5 labs that study this around the entire world,” said Dr. Cooper. “People come from different countries to earn their PhD at YSU and work in the lab with this fungus.”

“There are several anti-fungal drugs that can be used to treat people who contract the fungus,” said Dr. Cooper. “But we are seeing more and more people experience side-effects and resistance to the drugs.”

At room temperature, the fungi grow filamentously. When the fungi are in the body, it is a single-celled organism that takes the form of a yeast. Dr. Cooper has recently been focusing on genes that could potentially be linked to the yeast phase of the fungus.

“A great co-worker of mine, Dr. Min, developed a software package for the entire genome of fungus,” said Dr. Cooper. “It will tell you the gene products that are pushed out of the cell.”

This software found 538 tentative genes that could potentially be connected to the fungi.

“It is also very important to know that fungi get their nutrition by sending enzymes out of the cell, digesting the substance, and absorbing,” said Dr. Cooper.

Undergraduate students that work with Dr. Cooper are developing a method using Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) to identify genes and see a particular gene is on the list of 538 tentative genes. They have used a different form of PCR to see if the genes were specifically expressed in the yeast phase or both the yeast and room temperature phases. The purpose of this was to find solely the corresponding yeast phase genes. It turns out that they found genes that were like this.

This gives evidence that those types of genes are being expressed.  In a future study, Dr. Cooper and his undergraduate students will grow the fungus in the yeast phase and examine it for the proteins produced. If they find the same types of protein in the fungi it will prove the gene is associated with it.

Ultimately, Dr. Cooper wants to determine the genes and proteins that are produced by the pathogenic form, which can lead to treatments and potential cures for this fungus and many others.

Some people who contract the fungus go into remission following initial treatment. However, they must take an antifungal drug for the rest of their lives because the fungi take hold in their immune system. If the drug is not taken, the person will become sick again because the body will not attack its own immune system.

 

To contact Dr. Cooper about his research, you can email him at crcooper01@ysu.edu.