Research Rookies Peer Mentors

Research Rookies peer mentors are meant to serve as guides and resources for first-year Research Rookies. Peer mentors are expected to nurture an unbiased, unprejudiced and open environment that will strengthen the social and professional support system and knowledge base of first-year Research Rookies.


Peer mentors are responsible for:

  • Assisting with questions or concerns from small-group members
  • Obtaining progress reports from small-group members
  • Coordinating one group activity per month with small-group members
  • Notifying OSEEL staff of any issues with small-group members


Peer mentors must meet the following qualifications:

  • Have a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or higher
  • Have completed one year of Research Rookies
  • Demonstrate an ability to communicate effectively with first-year students
  • Be able to serve as a positive role model for first-year students

Apply to be a peer mentor!

Applications for the following year will open in February.

For more information about the role and responsibilities of a Research Rookies peer mentor, contact OSEEL at

Nicholas Casas Recognizing Causes of Congressional Incivility

This research explores what background characteristics are more closely associated with uncivil acts by members of Congress, while serving in Congress. Put differently, the research seeks to identify biographical attributes that predict uncivil member behavior. The time period of the study is the 45th (1877-78) through the 113th Congress (2013-14). Each implicated member is compared, randomly, with another member from their political party, their chamber, and their Congress, holding constant these factors as possible explanations for uncivil acts. Independent variables tested include: legal education and experience, judicial experience, state legislature experience, ideological alignment, congressional leadership, being the chair of a standing committee, and gender. The analysis suggests both leadership roles, state legislative experience, and gender associate with civility in the hypothesized manner. However, our test of legal background confirms the null hypothesis; there is no difference between those implicated and their matched pair.

Jessica Gall Human Heart Dissection

The purpose of the dissection of the human heart is to gain an in-depth knowledge of the structures located inside, as this is an organ of great importance in the study of anatomy. The expected results of this project are to successfully complete a full dissection of the heart so that each structure remains intact and identifiable. A variety of unique dissection techniques will be used in order to produce the most precise images of the anatomical structures within the heart.

Alexia Kingzette Reassurance Seeking and Spoiled Answers on Academic Tests

The current study examines the relationship between test-related reassurance seeking and spoiled answers on academic exams. Reassurance seeking can be an indicator that an individual was doubting their abilities while taking a test. This behavior can interfere with performance. Previous research has found that reassurance seeking is associated with lower ACT scores. This study examined the validity of the Safety Behaviors in Test Anxiety Questionnaire (SBTAQ) in the context of predicting exam performance in a specific course. Participants were students (N = 556) in an introductory psychology course. These students received a packet that instructed them to complete a variety of course assignments and activities focused on enhancing motivation, including the 10-item Reassurance Seeking Scale (RSS). After students were provided with feedback about their performance on the first exam in the course, they were directed to complete the assignment packet during a regular class session. Of particular interest was the ability of this scale to predict performance on the second course exam. Test-related reassurance seeking significantly predicted spoiled answers on the subsequent exam. Test-related reassurance seeking also predicted irrelevant changes and did not significantly predict corrections. Overall, these results provide additional evidence that test-taking reassurance seeking is associated with performance on academic tests and provides new evidence about the underlying process involved with spoiling answers.

Anita Latgnotha HDouble Strand Breaks in GBM Cells in Response to Radiation Therapy

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a deadly form of brain cancer that leads to death in most cases. The demand for improved treatments increases as more people are diagnosed with GBM. After engineering GBM cells to express fluorescent proteins, double strand breaks (DSB) in DNA can be detected and measured after radiation therapy. Images of irradiated GBM cells taken with a confocal scanning laser microscope (CLSM) express bright, circular structures that represent repair mechanisms for DSBs. The amount of repair mechanisms demonstrates the extent to which the cells respond to radiation. Observing and analyzing the impact of radiation therapy on brain cancer cells will provide a better understanding of the cellular processes, and aid in the search for improved therapeutic approaches.

Emili Mikolajczyk Investigating the disparity of employment opportunities of individuals with disabilities

This study examines Human Resource Managers (HRM) involved in the hiring process and the idea of disability discrimination while looking at a resume of an individual with a disability. HRM will receive a job description, an applicant resume (either male or female), and an interview summary and they must determine whether they would hire the individual. After deciding, participants will complete a survey asking them how qualified they felt the applicant was for the job, the potential starting pay for this individual, and personal questions such as their knowledge of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The experiment will attempt to prove that there is a discrimination towards individuals with disabilities in the workplace and a lack of knowledge of the ADA. Another aspect being observed at is the idea of Double Jeopardy, if being disabled and a female will lessen the chances of you getting hired for the position. After completing this study, we hope to close the gap between disabled and nondisabled people that are getting hired and raise awareness of the act that is in place to keep discrimination out of the hiring process, as well as the idea of gender bias in the workplace.

Paula Moraga Constructing a waveguide for the study of lipid membranes

This research project will make an attempt to remove background noise within x-ray reflectometer scans caused by water within a sample cell. An x-ray waveguide will be modeled using Matlab, first setting guiding layer as air, water, and later an artificial membrane. This waveguide will then be constructed using silicon, and tested by scanning an artificial membrane and comparing the results to the theoretical results of the waveguide that was modeled.

Aspen WheelerAbundance and Composition of Inclusions in Subglacial Antarctic Sediments

This study focuses on what chemistry of subglacial sediment grains from under the Whillans Ice Stream (WIS) in West Antarctica is favorable to support chemoautotrophic life. Previous work conducted as a part of the Research Rookies program (2016-17) indicated that there was microbially-mediated chemical weathering present on grains distributed widely under the WIS. The preliminary trends from feldspar grains indicated that diagenetic features are prevalent under the WIS and the abundance of these features increases as the size of grains increases. This year, feldspar grains will continue to be used and similar analyses will be conducted, but with a focus on internal compositions as opposed to external structures. Samples used in the prior study of diagenetic features on feldspar grains will be used for continuity. They come from two field sites: Subglacial Lake Whillans (SLW) near the end of the WIS and sites up the flow path referred to as “UpB”. Physical characteristics of the grain beneath the surficial diagenetic features will be determined with a Scanning Electron Microscope and the chemical composition will be determined using an energy-dispersive spectroscope (EDS). The ultimate aim of this project is to further describe the microbial relationship with the subglacial sediments under the WIS and assess if there is any preferential grain chemistry that the microbes target.

Jocelyn Zambrano The differences in Parent Involvement by Mother and Fathers, and the Impact on a Child’s Education

The purpose of this study is to find the differences in involvement in education by mothers versus fathers, and how these difference influence child outcomes. Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler (2005) suggest that personal motivators are the basis for parent’s decisions to become involved. In their model describing parent involvement, they describe personal motivators as the responsibility a parent feels to become involved, whether they believe their involvement will help, whether they feel like their involvement is expected or needed, and whether they have the personal and societal resources to respond to their child’s educational needs. Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler (2005) also describe the many forms parent involvement can occur. A parent is said to be involved when they portray to their child that learning is valuable, when they help their child with homework, when they attend school events, and when they contact their child’s school. This project will look at the most influential motivators for fathers versus mothers, the patterns of involvement from mothers and fathers, and how these patterns of involvement by mothers and fathers affect child outcomes. Fathers have often not been included in empirical research, so it is important to learn more about the motivators and outcomes of father involvement. Seeing if there is a relationship between motivations and the decision to get involved by mothers and fathers can help find ways to promote the best outcomes for children.

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