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Bethel Announces 2018 Edgren Scholars

Bethel Announces 2018 Edgren Scholars

Bethel’s annual Edgren Scholarship award began in 2001 specifically to support faculty and student-led research in promising areas of academic breakthrough.

A strong component to Bethel’s learning atmosphere is the close relationships between top-quality faculty and their students, especially in regards to research projects. In 2001, Bethel launched the annual Edgren Scholarship award specifically to support faculty and student-led research in promising areas of academic breakthrough. The award provides summer compensation to faculty members—and a student stipend of $3,000—while they dedicate their time to their research. Many exciting projects have been developed as a result of this scholarship. Nearly 50 research partners have conducted research since the award’s inception, and Bethel is proud to announce this year’s group of researchers:

Assistant Professor of Physics Julie Hogan and Sam Johnson ’19
“Integrating Deep Machine Learning into New Physics Searches with the CMS Experiment”

Hogan and Johnson will study the performance of multiple deep machine learning techniques in a search for super-massive vector-like quarks (VLQs) produced in proton-proton collisions at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and collected by the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment (CMS). Johnson and Hogan will travel to Fermilab in Illinois and CERN in Switzerland to take advantage of large groups of CMS collaborators based at these laboratories. Once there, they will evaluate whether and how deep networks developed for CMS event reconstruction could identify and analyze the decays of VLQs more accurately. Three deep machine learning algorithms will be evaluated: Deep-Jet, BEST, and LoLa. Baseline performance will be established by identifying boosted hadronic decays using the same shallow observables from the previous search. The principle metric for performance improvements is statistical sensitivity to VLQs produced at very low rates. The team’s main goal for the summer is to determine which of these algorithms can most accurately identify VLQ decays and best expand our sensitivity to high mass VLQs.

Associate Professor of Psychology Sherryse Corrow and Rachel Nordberg ’19
“The Prevalence of Tone Deafness in Prosopagnosic Individuals”

Corrow and Nordberg are interested in prosopagnosia, a lifelong disorder in which individuals are impaired in their ability to recognize faces despite normal vision, intelligence, and memory. The disorder affects approximately 6.5 million people (2%) in the United States. Those with prosopagnosia report significant challenges with social interactions, both professionally and personally. In recent research, a rather surprising association between prosopagnosia and tone deafness was discovered. Tone deafness is a disorder in which people have difficulty in telling the difference between notes of a different pitch and have difficulty singing in tune. As prosopagnosia is typically considered a visual disorder that is selective for faces, these results are particularly surprising and important, meaning their research could potentially be quite groundbreaking and influential.

Professor of Biology Brian Hyatt and Maria Pecoraro ’19
“Examination of etv1 as a Potential Downstream Transcription Factor Gene in the Fgf Signaling Pathway During Lung Development in the Frog Xenopus Laevis”

The lung is one of the last organs to fully develop in air breathing animals. The process of lung development involves the coordinated interaction of a multitude of gene products, resulting in the formation of a fully functioning organ, including its gas exchange units, the alveoli. Hyatt and Pecoraro will explore whether or not etv1 acts in the fibroblast growth factor (Fgf) signaling pathway as a downstream transcription factor involved in lung development. Examining the effect of cell signaling pathways on lung development can be explored using a number of genetic tools. The team plans to test this in three different ways. First they will explore if increasing etv1 expression results in increased lung development, similar to increasing Fgf signaling. Next, they will explore whether altering Fgf signaling also alters etv1 expression in the lung. Finally, they will explore whether increased expression of etv1 can rescue lung development when Fgf signaling is inhibited in order to establish an epistatic relationship between etv1 and Fgf signaling.

Professor of Nursing Kristin Sandau and Karin Canakes ’19
“A Qualitative Study of Quality of Life and Self-Management in Patients on Mechanical Circulatory Support for End Stage Heart Failure”

Over 5 million people in the U.S. have chronic heart failure, for which the only definitive cure is a heart transplant. Due to the limited number of available donor hearts, durable mechanical circulatory support (MCS) devices such as left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) and total artificial hearts (TAH) are being implanted more frequently. Because of this trend, it’s important to obtain patients’ perceptions of quality of life and identify interventions to enhance self-management with such a complex condition and device. The researchers’ overall goal is to understand the perceptions of quality of life and self-management while living with a mechanical support device such as an LVAD or a TAH. They will survey adult outpatients with an LVAD or a TAH at one of the nation’s largest transplant centers, Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles, California, about their quality of life and management of their LVAD or TAH, hoping to better understand the effects of heart disease, treatment, and patient outcomes through this research.