UC researchers continue to blaze new trails in science, medicine, business, education, engineering and the arts — literally transforming the way we live, work and learn.

Findings is the Office of Research’s newsletter, which began in October 2017. It delivers monthly updates to faculty, staff, students, and community partners about impactful research, initiatives, partnerships, events, and opportunities at the University of Cincinnati. To view current and previous issues of the newsletter, go to the Findings page.

Congratulations URC Graduate Student Stipend and Research Cost Program for Faculty-Student Collaboration Awardees!

Congratulations URC Graduate Student Stipend and Research Cost Program for Faculty-Student Collaboration Awardees!

The URC Graduate Student Stipend and Research Cost Program for Faculty-Student Collaboration advances high-potential research, scholarship, and creative work following the Teacher-Scholar model of graduate education while providing summer stipend support to outstanding graduate students, as well as funds to support related research costs

Awards are given to six to seven students in the following areas: Arts & Humanities, Behavioral & Social Sciences, Life Sciences, and Physical Sciences & Engineering. The total award includes up to $6,500 for stipend support and up to $1,000 for research costs payable to the department. These awards are overseen by the University Research Council, the University of Cincinnati's oldest and most prestigious internal funding mechanism. 

Congratulations to the following awardees! 



Erin Donnelly

Costume Design & Technology 

College-Conservatory of Music 

Starry Night: an evening with Van Gogh 

“A dance piece of Vincent Van Gogh creating his sensational Starry Night, cultivating techniques of costuming along with the creation of a new dance people that is able to combine elements of projection into the performance.” 


Chelsea Ensley 

English, Ph.D. 

College of Arts & Sciences 

Listening to Appalachian Voices in the Writing Classroom 

“My project seeks to understand and amplify the voices and experiences of Appalachian students to showcase how Appalachian student-writers perceive their own Appalachian identity, literacy, and cultural practices within the confines of the writing classroom. By conducting interviews with Appalachian students, I aim to show how growth-fostering relationships between students and writing teachers—relationships vested in collaboration, dialogue, and compassion—can empower Appalachian students and encourage them to become aware of, appreciate, and retain their cultural knowledge and language, while simultaneously advancing their academic language and practices. In addition to calling attention to the experiences of Appalachian students, I intend to demonstrate the benefit of growth-fostering connections for other marginalized students when it comes to navigating the conflicts associated with being a person with non-dominant cultural investments in the academy.” 


Tim Elmo Feiten

Philosophy, Ph.D. 

College of Arts & Sciences 

Mapping meso-level computational realizers of information maintenance and manipulation in the brain 

“This project is a collaboration with Dr. Javier Gómez-Lavin, whose prior work has shown that the concept of working memory serves as an umbrella term for a variety of distinct neuro-cognitive processes. We use topic modeling to analyze a large corpus of research papers on working memory and identify these underlying mid-level realizers. Recognizing and mapping this multiplicity of processes is crucial for capturing a more accurate computational description of the brain and how it carries out the cognitions that interest neuroscientists and philosophers, including reasoning, problem solving, future planning and potentially even conscious access. Our project thus promises to both increase our understanding of the existing literature on working memory and possibly provide guidance for future empirical work.” 


B. Kieran McAuliffe

Composition, D.M.A. 

College-Conservatory of Music 

Sonic Environment Generator 

“Indoor spaces, such as waiting rooms, hotel lobbies, and corporate offices often are sterile or dull, leading to mind-wandering or tension in human interactions.  We hope to improve such spaces with sound and music, and will design a prototype small device for generating adjustable sonic environments. The three prototype environments will each explore a different type of source material, ranging from the croaking of frogs to gusts of synthesized sound grains.” 


Hassaan Mirza

English, Ph.D. 

College of Arts & Sciences 

Recovered Voices: A Climate Disaster Oral History Project 

“This work will employ a series of autofictional, metafictional, and docufictional interventions to create a novel that intersects fiction with a researcher-authors' biography and climate-disaster ethnographies. I will use research funds to travel across three sites in my native Pakistan to conduct research on, and collect oral histories of, the floods of 1973 and 2022 that swept the region. This research will enrich my ongoing novel project that examines how memory is transformed by repeated cycles of climate-related disasters and how artists from precarious positions of trauma turn to art, as well as push up against its limitations.” 


Justin Reed 

English, Ph.D. 

College of Arts & Sciences 

Living with THE HUM 

“My novel and dissertation, tentatively titled THE HUM, is set in a near-future world ravaged by climate change. Part of the plot takes place in remote Colorado, where my characters search for answers about a mysterious auditory phenomenon. The URC Graduate Student Stipend and Research Cost Program for Faculty-Student Collaboration will allow me to live, research, and write in the location of my novel for part of the summer. My hope is to finish an initial draft of my book and the majority of my dissertation during this time.” 



Sabrina Bothwell 

Psychology, Ph.D. 

College of Arts & Sciences 

Sexual and Gender Minority Perspectives of Intimate Partner Violence Prevention Programs 

“It is important to identify sexual and gender minority (SGM) individuals' preferences to tailor intimate partner violence (IPV) prevention programs to their needs. Thus, we aim to center SGM voices in the development of specialized IPV prevention programs. This focus will ensure that resulting programming is culturally acceptable and accessible, thus encouraging participation in programs and potentially decreasing rates of SGM IPV.” 


Lisa Gies 

Psychology, Ph.D. 

College of Arts & Sciences 

Sense of Belonging and its Impact on Daily Functioning in Autistic Adolescents and Young Adults 

“As the disability community moves from a focus on inclusion to promoting belonging, it is necessary to know what truly makes belonging impactful and how it interacts with daily functioning. This study provides a unique opportunity to understand how autistic adolescents and young adults experience belonging and what aspects are most important (e.g., being invited, feeling needed), especially during a period of life that is greatly influenced by social connectedness. The URC supports the project’s overall objective to determine components of belonging that are identified as critical by autistic adolescents and young adults and how these experiences are shaped by and also influence their daily functioning as they gain more independence while transitioning to adulthood via a quantitative survey about functioning and qualitative interviews.” 


Amna S. Mira 

Communication Sciences and Disorders, Ph.D. 

College of Arts & Sciences 

Comparing Voice and Swallowing Biomechanics in Unilateral Vocal Fold Paralysis (UVFP): A Novel Approach Using Flexible High-Speed Laryngoscopy 

“This project aims to investigate laryngeal behaviors during voice and swallowing in people with Unilateral Vocal Fold Paralysis. Researchers will use a novel imaging technique to visualize the nature of the vocal fold closure during swallowing, in order to understand how dysphonia (voice disorder) is related to dysphagia (swallowing difficulty). Concrete evidence will be provided as to whether glottic insufficiency evidenced during swallowing is consistent with closure during voice assessments. Results will be clinically impactful by informing clinicians as to whether vocal fold closure during voicing can be used as a proxy for vocal fold behaviors during swallowing.” 


Yash Sharma

Political Science, Ph.D. 

College of Arts & Sciences 

Everyday Nationalism in India 

“The award would support my fieldwork in India this summer during a crucial period for Indian politics. The award would allow me to travel to India and hire research assistants and translators for my research project. I expect the project to translate into conference presentations, a journal article, and also contribute to my dissertation research.” 


Zhiwen Song 

Educational Studies, Ph.D. 

College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services 

Linguistically Racialized Experiences of ESL Teachers of Color: A Transnational and Raciolinguistic Perspective 

“The project explores race, racism, and racialization in English language education at tertiary level. This study is aimed at investigating the racialized experiences of ESL teachers of color (e.g., immigrants, international teaching assistants, minority groups) who are currently teaching college-level English as a Second Language (ESL) courses in US higher education. As fewer studies concentrate on the teaching experiences of racialized-English-speaking subjects working across the regional and national borders, this study also intends to provide an analytical account of and a critical inquiry into the subject from a raciolinguistic and transnational perspective. This project will contribute to the understanding of how English language teachers of color conceptualize their own racial and ethnic identity and how such understanding will shape teaching practices and their own becoming and identities.” 


Anthony Jerome Stone Jr. 

Sociology, Ph.D. 

College of Arts & Sciences 

More Than Magical Negroes, Thugs, and Slaves: How Black Men Understand and Respond to Racial Representations in Film 

“Although diverse Black men and boys with complex lives exist in America, research on Black male's representation in the media most often discusses problems and limitations with Black males’ portrayals. Moreover, such studies ignore the understandings of Black males who are not academic, but rather everyday audience members. This research uses in-depth qualitative focus groups and individual interviews with Black men from across the United States to ascertain how, and in what ways they use Black males in film to understand Black masculinity and selfhood. The findings of this study give a voice to Black men as audience members, who are too often ignored, and provides a nuanced, humanizing reading of Black males in film.” 



Olayemi R. Ajayi 

Biological Sciences, Ph.D. 

College of Arts & Sciences 

Effect of environmental variation on gene regulation in Ring-tailed Lemurs, Lemur Catta 

“Environmental variation has been shown to significantly impact animals' fitness, behavior, and physiology. However, little is known about the molecular mechanism through which they mediate this effect, especially for primates experiencing habitat variations. Our research will profile and compare the genome-wide gene-expression patterns of wild ring-tailed lemurs living in different habitats in the Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve (BMSR) of Madagascar based on habitat type, sex, and age using RNA-seq of blood samples. This first transcriptomic profiling of ring-tailed lemurs would elucidate the impact of the environment on genome-wide regulation and eventually, organism-level phenotype and fitness, helping us to better understand how species will persist in changing environments.” 


Ruma Chatterji 

Biological Sciences, Ph.D. 

College of Arts & Sciences 

How Short is the Short-Term Spatial Memory in Fiddler Crabs? 

“This research project will investigate the duration of short-term memory during path integration – a navigation mechanism whereby animals continuously update their current position by measuring the distance and direction of their movements. The path integration system is not always perfect, and its accuracy depends on various factors, such as error accumulation and storage of the home location in memory. Although the latter is a fundamental constituent of path integration, even simple aspects of memory subserving path integration, such as how long this memory lasts in a short-term timescale, are unknown. Using fiddler crabs as the study organism, experimental outcomes will determine if/when the memory associated with path integration degrades, thereby elucidating the critical role of short-term memory in the survival of animals using path integration.” 


Suchandrima Dutta 

Pathobiology & Molecular Medicine, Ph.D. 

College of Medicine 

A split CRISPRa system reprograms fibroblasts into functional cardiovascular cells for cardiac regeneration 

“In this project, a dual AAV-split system will be generated using multiple AAV vectors to express the dCas9-VP64 protein and single guide RNAs (sgRNAs) targeting endogenous cardiogenic genes. This new AAV- CRISPR activation system will then be transduced into mice cardiac fibroblasts in vitro to reprogram fibroblast to Cardiovascular Progenitor Cells. The research aims to develop clinically compatible non-integrating viral vectors to establish a new paradigm for CRISPRa technology that will benefit future in vivo studies and facilitate translation of direct cardiovascular reprogramming for treatment of myocardial infarction.” 


Levi H. Fox 

Cancer & Cell Biology, Ph.D. 

College of Medicine 

Elucidating the Functional Consequences of IFN-I Suppression in RON Expressing Breast Cancers 

“This project seeks to investigate the role of IFN-I signaling in tumor intrinsic cell death programming. Completion of the proposed experiments are expected to demonstrate that suppression of IFN-I signaling by RON RTK activity contributes to apoptotic evasion in breast cancer (BC) tumorigenesis. This project will provide mechanistic understanding of this pathway by directly characterizing RON regulated STAT1 activation and modulated transcriptomic program downstream of IFN-I signaling. These insights are expected to highlight IFN-I/STAT1 signaling as a vulnerability to RON-driven BC tumor survival, implicating IFN-I treatment as a therapeutic modality to induce STAT1 and overcome apoptotic evasion.” 


Dilini K. Herath Mudiyanselage 

Biological Sciences, Ph.D. 

College of Arts & Sciences 

Understanding the divergence of olfactory behavior between Drosophila species 

“Heterogeneity in the environment can shape species-specific behaviors, such as insect olfactory behavior, and result in adaptations to the peripheral olfactory system of the insect. This research project focuses on identifying odorant receptors expressed in select olfactory sensory neurons on Drosophila mojavensis antenna using in situ hybridization. Comparisons of expression patterns in this cactus specialist species will be made to those patterns found in the generalist species, Drosophila melanogaster. This work will extend our understanding of the receptor to neuron map across species and the evolution of insect olfactory systems with changes in environment.” 


Bidisha Paul 

Biological Sciences, Ph.D. 

College of Arts & Sciences 

Role of glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid receptors in anti-predator responses in Xenopus tropicalis tadpoles 

“Glucocorticoid signaling is critical for inducing anti-predator phenotype in a wide range of species. Disruption of glucocorticoid signaling by Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) can impair the survival of multiple taxa, including but not limited to amphibians in the wild. In order to prevent further decline of the amphibian population, the current study aims to identify the specific type of glucocorticoid receptor required for inducing anti-predator phenotype in amphibians. Results from this study will be used to develop a high-throughput assay for screening potential EDCs which can prevent induction of anti-predator phenotype by disrupting glucocorticoid signaling.” 



Salar Balou 

Chemical Engineering, Ph.D. 

College of Engineering & Applied Science 

Biomass-derived carbon dots for photothermal polymerase chain reaction 

“The research aims to develop a light-based thermal cycler for PCR devices that reduces energy consumption and time for heat transfer, expanding the application of PCR machines. The successful completion of the project would accelerate the detection of viral infectious diseases, potentially saving millions of lives. The research requires mastery of various fields such as chemical synthesis, computational programming, biochemistry of PCR, and more. The project will be carried out through student and faculty collaboration, with detailed research and hard work over a planned timeline.” 


Ashwin Chaturvedi 

Chemistry, Ph.D. 

College of Arts & Sciences 

Effects of β-Halogenated Porphyrins on Electrochemical Carbon Dioxide Reduction 

“Activities being supported: 1) We proposed a unique way of varying the electronic properties of the porphyrin macrocycle by incorporating an electron-withdrawing group at the β-positions of the porphyrin. 2) This idea is creative as it creates value-added chemicals with low energy input and helps mitigate the greenhouse gases concentration in the atmosphere. Research-related outcomes: 1) Will help decrease the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere primarily carbon dioxide. 2) Can help to produce hydrocarbons (liquid fuels) to replace traditional fossil fuels.” 


Josh Kline

Mathematical Sciences, Ph.D. 

College of Arts & Sciences 

Nonlocal minimal surfaces in metric measure spaces 

“In this project, we investigate minimizers of a nonlocal perimeter functional in the nonsmooth setting of a metric measure space.  By analyzing their geometric properties, we aim to establish and better understand the relationship between these nonlocal minimal surfaces and their local counterparts, which are more thoroughly understood in this setting.” 


Thinh Nguyen 

Electrical Engineering, Ph.D. 

College of Engineering and Applied Science 

Deep learning for artificial echolocators: An transdisciplinary study of foraging behavior in nectarivorous bats 

“Echolocating bats demonstrate sonar support for many complex tasks, from traversing through dense vegetation to airborne foraging. In contrast to bats, artificial in-air sonar applications in robots are limited to simple ranging or obstacle detection. We aimed to close the performance gap between artificial and biological sonar by building and training deep-learning models to model foraging in nectarivorous bats. By pursuing this research, we will advance in answering the hypothesis ‘Does complex behavior emerge from interactions of different sensorimotor loops?’.” 


Der Vang 

Chemistry, Ph.D. 

College of Arts & Sciences 

Exosome analysis via surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) as a tool for non-invasive cancer diagnostics

“This project seeks to develop surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) methods for diagnostics in liquid biopsies. We plan to combine high-information SERS spectra and machine learning to build predictive tools for cancer diagnostics. We are working on exosomes and nanovesicles samples that are promising cancer biomarkers. In this project, we will study the influence of surface interactions and the phase of the samples on our SERS substrates. This research will set the basis for advancing cancer diagnostics towards less invasive, early detection, and continuous monitoring methods.” 


Kaili Yan 

Chemistry, Ph.D. 

College of Arts & Sciences 

Electrosynthesis of Valuable Biopolymer Precursors from Biomass Feedstocks and CO2 

“In our project, we propose a cost-competitive and scalable electrosynthetic process to produce 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) using industrially produced furfural and CO2 as the feedstocks. Unlike the conventional synthetic approach of FDCA that requires HMF, which has yet to be produced on a large scale, our proposed bromine-mediated carboxylation strategy starts from furfural, a biomass-derived platform chemical enjoying a mature industrial production. Additionally, our FDCA manufacturing process is driven solely by electricity under ambient conditions (e.g., room temperature and atmospheric pressure). Along with the decreasing cost of electricity resulting from sustainable energy resources like solar and wind, electrochemical synthesis of commodity chemicals from biomass-derived intermediate compounds is becoming more economically attractive. Our bromine-mediated carboxylation process for FDCA production is carbon-negative, bearing great environmental benefits, which grants us strong confidence that it exhibits excellent commercialization potential once a modular flow electrolyzer of this process can be optimized within this funding period.” 


Syed Qasim Zaheer 

Aerospace Engineering, Ph.D. 

College of Engineering and Applied Science 

Investigating the influence of Zumwalt-class destroyer flowfield on safe ship-based launch of CPS hypersonic missiles 

“As part of the accelerated development and testing of hypersonic weapons program, the United States Navy has intended to conduct the testing of the Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) hypersonic weapon on Zumwalt-class destroyer by 2025. For such destroyer, the feasibility study showed replacement of one or both of the gun mounts on bow region with the Multiple All up Canisters (MAC) carrying the CPS hypersonic weapons. The numerical research study by the proposed investigators concerning characterization of the turbulent flow field of simplified model frigate (SFS2), the geometry and the flow Reynolds Number of which highly resemble that of USS Zumwalt, reveal generation of turbulent vortical structures on the bow region having integral length scales of the order of the diameter of All Up Round of the CPS missile. Therefore, in the proposed research, the influence and possible interaction of these vortical structures with All-Up Round (AUR) of CPS hypersonic weapon during its initial launch phase from the bow region of Zumwalt will be investigated. The proposed study will certainly provide better understanding of additional influence of ship turbulent flow field on the missile aerodynamics. Moreover, the analysis of clean geometry of the simplified destroyer will also help in better installation place / region of AUR canisters where turbulent scales of the flow and its intensity are less determinantal to missile aerodynamics.”