SIUE’s Research Centers are engaged in innovative, collaborative projects both on and off campus. They provide educational offerings and offer opportunities to collaborate with our faculty and students on customized projects.
Thanks to decades of advancements in computational technology, we live in an era where it is relatively easy to collect and store data. Yet, making sense of “Big Data” is not always a simple task. The Center for Predictive Analytics is a university-wide research center that serves both the SIUE community and external partners by using and developing state-of-the-art data analysis, machine learning and data visualization techniques to mine complex data for meaningful insights and real-world applications. In addition to supporting the analytical needs of our faculty researchers and industry partners, the Center offers educational and training opportunities in data analytics and machine learning to SIUE students and regional workforce, supports student retention and intervention strategies at the campus level, and promotes the ethical use of data analytics and machine learning through workshops, seminars and conferences.
The SIUE Center for STEM Research, Education and Outreach is a collaborative enterprise among several SIUE academic units, local community colleges and school districts, regional offices of education, and the community at large. The Center’s mission is to develop, strengthen and promote STEM research, education and outreach in the region.
GeoMARC is a research center that is focused on the use of advanced technologies in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), remote sensing, digital image processing, geospatial automation, and machine learning to help solve a wide range of issues within government, private, institutional, and local communities. The center’s primary goal is to foster cross disciplinary and multi-institutional partnerships in order to develop and promote the use of geospatial technologies to conduct, lead, and influence research and innovation. In addition to research, GeoMARC is actively engaged in providing community and intra-university educational outreach for the advancement of spatial thinking and the evolving uses of geospatial technologies.
The IRIS Center at SIUE is an interdisciplinary facility designed to support individual and collaborative scholarship that applies digital content as a primary methodology. The center's mission is to facilitate cross-disciplinary projects that involve innovative uses of technology in the humanities and social sciences, support these projects with facilities, equipment, and human resources, foster active collaboration between faculty and students, encourage the development of curricular innovation that makes use of digital applications, and promote digital endeavors that intersect with community initiatives.
The NCERC is a nationally recognized research center dedicated to the development and commercialization of biofuels, specialty chemicals and other renewable compounds. The NCERC’s fully functional dry grind pilot plant and laboratories are equipped with advanced biofuels capabilities including corn fractionation, pretreatment, and a fermentation suite with 5, 30, 150 and 1500L scale-up. Facilities are staffed by industry veterans with more than 100 years of collective experience in fermentation and biofuels production. This knowledgeable team has the flexibility and expertise to design and carry out projects in any region of the advanced biofuels or specialty chemicals space.
The Center for Crime Sciences and Violence Prevention (CCSVP) contributes to crime/violence reduction efforts in the region. CCSVP promotes and develops partnerships involved with violence prevention/reduction and works with stakeholders to assist in product/program development and evaluation of crime/violence prevention efforts. CCSVP assists in improving accountability and transparency of all stakeholders in the criminal justice process and serves as a regional clearinghouse for granular criminal justice data, improving access to data across agencies, researchers, and the public.
The School of Nursing has long been committed to diversity within the School to both enhance learning and produce a more diverse nursing workforce. Pathway programs to recruit and retain underrepresented minority (URM) students have been in place for 35 years.
Through a $97,000 grant from the Illinois Board of Higher Education, the School is now developing a mission-aligned admissions process that looks at an applicant as a whole, taking into consideration experiences and attributes in addition to academic metrics such as GPA and standardized exam scores.
“Holistic admission is an effective strategy in diversifying the nursing workforce,” said Co-Principal Investigator (PI) Ann Popkess, PhD, RN, assistant dean of undergraduate programs. “This can additionally address disparities in healthcare access, given that a high percentage of graduates return to provide care in their communities.”
“Holistic admission avoids looking only at academic metrics, which is what we have been doing for a long time,” said Co-PI Amelia Perez, PhD, RN, associate professor and chair, Department of Family Health and Community Health Nursing. “This will lead to a more equitable admission process that broadens opportunities for potential students to be evaluated beyond a GPA.”
To begin the process, Co-PI Jerrica Ampadu, PhD, RN, associate professor and coordinator for diversity, conducted a retrospective study of 660 graduates of SIUE’s nursing program to identify predictors of successful first-time pass rates on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Her team evaluated 41 predictors, including prerequisite grades, nursing grades and demographic data.
Of those, the most compelling predictors correlated to success in specific nursing courses rather than current admission criteria. Students were 4.5 times more likely to pass the NCLEX on the first attempt if they received a higher grade in the foundations course. They were 3.9 times more likely to pass on the first attempt if they had a higher grade in mental health courses.
The next step was to develop a process and instruments to implement holistic admissions, employing a toolkit from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and evaluating strategies reported in the literature and from other nursing schools.
“We then established outcome measures, including the admission, retention and graduation of URM students, as well as ways to measure their performance within the nursing program,” Popkess said.
The School will also continue to emphasize pathways into the program as a means of increasing the number of URMs. A new pathway initiative, the Summer Success Program, launched in 2022.
“The summer success program is designed to introduce students to the School of Nursing and provide educational resources to be successful in their courses as incoming first-year students at SIUE,” Ampadu said.
SIUE is home to the Southern Illinois Professional Development Center (SIPDC), which supports and enriches adult education and literacy programs throughout Illinois. Completely funded by grants from the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) and the Illinois Center for Specialized Professional Support (ICSPS), the dedicated SIPDC team builds and provides the tools Illinois teachers, administrators and career navigators/counselors need to effectively address the needs of Illinois adult learners as they work hard to build better lives for themselves and their families.
As part of the ICCB’s Adult Education Professional Development Network, the SIPDC focuses on:
Human migration has played a key role in history, from the earliest dispersals out of Africa to the millions of people forcibly or willingly leaving their homes today. With increasing migration in response to political upheaval and climate change, there is a growing need to address how migrants may successfully integrate into host societies.
Contemporary social science research has focused on short-term interactions between migrants and hosts, but successful integration must also be assessed over the long term. Archeology is capable of bringing together contemporary migration dynamics with the long-term processes of interaction between migrants and hosts by using the common language of material culture to bridge temporal and population scales.
Through funding from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Principal Investigator (PI) Corey Ragsdale, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology, led a workshop in April at Félix Houphouët-Boigny University in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). The workshop was organized in collaboration with the Coalition for Archaeological Synthesis (CfAS) and the Doctoral School (SCALL) at Félix Houphouët-Boigny. Timpoko Keinon-Kabore, professor at the Research of Human Society and Science Unit at the University Felix Houphouet-Boign, served as co-PI.
The workshop brought together archaeologists who have studied migration from diverse perspectives to collaborate and synthesize their data and expertise around migration processes’ effects on human security. The seven dimensions of human security are defined by the United Nations as economic, food, environmental, health, personal, political and community.
“The workshop was a tremendous success with more than 50 people in attendance each day,” Ragsdale said. “The first two days were long, intensive days of presenting case studies related to migration. Half of the presentations were from coalition members from around the world while the other half were local Ivorian scholars.”
Participants spent the next two days traveling the country visiting sites important to migration and cultural heritage, as well as meeting with numerous provincial government leaders and village chiefs. The workshop ended with a discussion that produced four policy recommendations for migration based on cumulative knowledge and research.
“We are in the process of writing for publication the results of the workshop, as well as formalizing our recommendations,” Ragsdale said. “We made great colleagues, had a positive impact on the community and established a meaningful collaboration that will last a long time.”
“Cote d’Ivoire has never hosted such an event,” Ragsdale said. “This was a huge honor for them to do so and show West Africa as well as the world that they are leading the way when it comes to scientific, evidence-based policy making.”
Beth Cady, PharmD, infectious diseases pharmacist and clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice, has been involved in the four-year grant “Midwest Integration of the National HIV Curriculum (NHC)*.” The goal for the project, which started in 2018, is to enhance the quality of HIV education and training at accredited health profession programs in various regions of the Midwest using an integrated distance learning platform. NHC consists of six modules to provide ongoing, up-to-date information to healthcare providers in the U.S. The curriculum covers core competency knowledge for HIV prevention, screening, diagnosis, ongoing treatment and care.
Twenty-three programs are participating in the project. In addition to SIUE’s School of Pharmacy, there are three graduate programs of medicine, 10 advance practice registered nursing programs, and nine other Doctor of Pharmacy programs. “School of Pharmacy students have spent most of their time in modules that focus on medication therapy,” Cady said. “Those provide education on antiretroviral therapy for both treatment and prevention of HIV, and treatment and prevention of co-occurring conditions such as sexually transmitted diseases and opportunistic infections.”
Cady collaborates on the project with Natalie Tucker, PharmD, an infectious diseases pharmacist at HSHS St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Ill. “I coordinate the courses in which HIV is taught,” Cady said. “Dr. Tucker teaches most of the HIV content in the School of Pharmacy curriculum using material from the NHC platform. Together we encourage students to expand their knowledge in HIV care by signing up for the NHC distance learning platform.” When they do, they are provided with reading materials, practice test questions, and the opportunity to obtain a certificate of recognition.
In addition to teaching, Cady and Tucker also meet during the year with participating healthcare programs and project leaders to discuss ways of improving the project or enhancing delivery of the material.
*This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $554,743, of which $554,743 are federal funds with 0% financed with nongovernmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.
SIUE’s graduate students submit theses, dissertations and doctoral research projects through the Graduate School to ProQuest, an electronic thesis and dissertation system. Their work becomes part of the most comprehensive collection of dissertations and theses in the world, accessible by researchers around the world. Highlighted below are the most accessed theses since 2015.
Using content analysis, Carney’s project sought to understand how women choose to portray their bodies on Instagram by examining photos from two hashtags that focus on bodies – #thinspogram and #fitspiration. The study examined social comparison theory and self-presentation as to why women choose to post pictures of their bodies on social media platforms such as Instagram. The study found that women posting photos in either hashtag tend to post sexualized photos of their bodies along with almost always appearing alone in the photos rather than with a group. The study also found that a flat stomach is becoming a more sexualized body part on women.
Danielle Riedle, MS Organizational Communication ’15
Riedle’s study investigated the perceptions of support staff in the financial industry to identify to what extent perceptions regarding the leadership behaviors of direct supervisors affected their levels of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and what motivational techniques used by transactional and transformational leaders appear to be most effective at motivating support staff. The research questions were investigated through qualitative in-depth interviews with 14 employees in the financial industry. Analysis of data shows a close relationship with transformational leaders and positive intrinsic employee motivation, and with transactional leaders, a positive relationship with extrinsic employee motivation.
The results of this study indicate that when intrinsic motivation is available without any extrinsic motivation, people are motivated intrinsically, but feelings of motivation diminish quickly. When intrinsic motivation is present with extrinsic motivation, intrinsic motivation is significantly undermined.
The large difference in the generational cohorts was the most substantial finding from this study. More than 83% of the cohort ages 22-28 years preferred a transactional leader, and more than 83% of the cohort ages 43-54 years preferred a transformational leader. The results of this study have implications for recruiting and selection, and leadership development.
Janna Locke, MA Industrial-Organizational ’15
Due to the discrepancy between men and women in STEM careers and in leadership positions within those STEM careers, Locke’s study examined the relationship that perceptions of stereotype threat and internalized sexism have on women’s decisions to advance or continue in their STEM careers. Additionally, the study examined whether women’s decisions to advance or continue in a STEM career could be impacted by their levels of leadership self-efficacy.
Those results were compared to women in gender neutral careers to determine the impact that these variables have on women in STEM careers. Women in STEM and gender neutral careers were surveyed. Results revealed that perceptions of stereotype threat for women in STEM were positively related to their levels of internalized sexism, that leadership self-efficacy significantly moderated the relationship between perceptions of stereotype threat and internalized sexism for women in STEM, and that leadership self-efficacy for women in STEM was positively related to their intentions to advance or continue in their career.
Exploratory analyses suggested that perceptions of stereotype threat and internalized sexism were both significantly related to advancement for women in STEM. These results yielded practical implications for organizations regarding the gender gap in STEM and in leadership positions within STEM careers, along with possible future research that should be conducted on the concept to further understand why this gender gap exists.
Kristen Sleeper, MA Clinical Psychology ’18
The purpose of Sleeper’s study was to determine whether relationship satisfaction moderated the relationship between social anxiety and smartphone/social networking addiction. It was hypothesized that those who have higher levels of social anxiety and are also less satisfied in their relationships will have the highest scores on measures of smartphone/social networking addiction.
Two multiple regression analyses were run, one with smartphone addiction as the dependent variable and the other with social networking addiction as the dependent variable. Results suggested no significant findings regarding smartphone addiction. However, there was a significant interaction between relationship satisfaction and social anxiety when social networking addiction was the dependent variable.
Higher relationship satisfaction and higher social anxiety were related to the highest levels of social networking addiction; among those with participants with higher relationship satisfaction, those with lower social anxiety had the lowest levels of social networking addiction. For those with low relationship satisfaction, the level of social networking addiction stayed the same regardless of social anxiety.
Madelaine Deardeuff, MS Media Studies ’19
Black Panther, the 18th installment in the global mass media phenomenon referred to as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has become one of the most economically and culturally significant films released by media juggernaut The Walt Disney Co. The critically acclaimed film portrays an advanced, culturally rich society in Africa untouched by colonialism and features a predominantly Black cast. Most significantly, the film’s representation of women earned a large amount of praise.
Using intersectionality as a theoretical basis, Deardeuff conducted a qualitative content analysis of the film Black Panther to discover exactly how the film’s women have been characterized. The women of Black Panther, including Okoye, the warrior general; Nakia, the international spy; Shuri, master inventor/engineer; and Ramonda, the supportive Queen Mother; feature characterizations that challenge stereotypes of Black women often depicted in popular culture.
The Graduate School’s Research Grants for Research Doctoral Students program awards small grants on a competitive basis to support research/projects initiated and conducted by students of the SIUE EdD programs, DNP programs and cooperative PhD programs to enhance their academic progress.
Goksu Avdan, an industrial engineering doctoral student, sought to use his engineering background to develop a gait analysis system that does not rely on the use of force plates but instead uses only the motion of whole-body — not the forces which cause the motion — to conduct a real-time biomechanical gait analysis.
“Our research project gave me a chance to utilize my industrial engineering skills with hands-on clinical experience to provide clinicians with a more effective, less time-consuming and more cost-effective gait screening procedure,” explained Avdan. “Another reason why I chose this research topic is that understanding the gait patterns of individuals will lead us to the early diagnosis of gait abnormalities, resulting in a better treatment plan for them.”
Through Avdan’s research project, “Developing a ‘Force Plate-Less’ System Using Whole-Body Kinematics and Machine Learning Techniques for a Real-Time Biomechanical Gait Analysis,” he is developing a model to predict ground reaction forces and whole-body joint movements without using force plates. Avdan is now collecting data in SIUE’s state-of-the-art Motion Capture and Analysis Lab, where Avdan’s faculty advisor, Sinan Onal, PhD, associate professor of industrial engineering, serves as director.
“The results were promising and brought us a step closer to developing our proposed gait analysis system when force plates are unavailable in the lab environment or for individuals who are unable to step on force plates properly,” said Avdan. “These individuals include children with autism spectrum disorder and people who are elderly or who have Parkinson’s disease. Helping these individuals improve their quality of life was enough for me to work on this research topic.”
SIUE provides a dynamic environment for master’s students to enhance their education and advance knowledge in their fields. The following projects were supported in part by the Graduate School’s Research Grants for Graduate Students.
Emily Schwabe, MS Kinesiology-Exercise and Sport Psychology ’22
Inspired by her own experiences as a female collegiate athlete, Emily Schwabe investigated the differences in sense of belonging between Black and white female collegiate student-athletes on predominantly white sports teams at historically white institutions (HWI).
A secondary purpose was to assess the relationship between school and sport variables for female collegiate athletes from underserved groups. Of the participants in the study, 100 identified as white and 33 identified as Black. Each completed a demographic survey and the Psychological Sense of Belonging Membership questionnaire for both sport and school.
Results indicated that Black female athletes possess lower scores of having a sense of belonging than white athletes. Black female athletes showed statistically significant lower scores in multiple areas — acceptance by school faculty, acceptance by students, acceptance by athletes, school belonging, sport belonging, and overall sense of sport and school membership.
Having lower levels of sense of belonging, as this current study has shown for Black female athletes, can lead to negative outcomes, such as frustration, unhappiness, loneliness, social isolation and/or depression. Therefore, the results of this study suggest that Black female athletes are at a greater risk for obtaining negative outcomes, such as depression or isolation, and not being able to inherit the positive outcomes of having a sense of belonging.
“These findings offer unique insights into the nuanced and diverse experiences of black female athletes at HWIs and how those differ from white female athletes in both school and sport settings,” Schwabe said. “As the first research study to measure Black female athletes’ sense of belonging, the results of this study highlight a need for coaches and athletic administrators to provide critical care to Black female athletes’ experiences and overall well-being.”
Paige Niepoetter, MS Biological Sciences ‘22
Intermittent fasting is a popular eating pattern that alternates between fasting and eating on a regular schedule as a means of managing weight. In her project, “Evaluating Mental and Physical Exhaustion Secondary to Voluntary Wheel Running or Intermittent Fasting in Obese and Non-Obese Rats,” Paige Niepoetter examined intermittent fasting (IF) and voluntary wheel running (VWR) to understand their effectiveness in controlling obesity without causing side effects such as physical and mental fatigue.
Rats were fed a high-fat diet (HFD) to induce obesity. Baseline behavioral tests were employed to determine physical and mental fatigue before placing them on either IF or VWR. IF involved an 18-hour daily fast with access to food over the remaining six hours.
VWR was used to model human exercise and involved a running wheel being placed in the rats’ home cages with daily activity tracked by VitalView software. The rats were exposed to these regimens for three weeks before behavioral testing occurred again. Open field testing tracked the animals’ movements, such as distance traveled and the speed with which they traveled.
“Like humans, rats are attracted to novel objects after being with a familiar object,” Niepoetter said. “By tracking the time an animal spent with either a novel or a familiar object, we were able to measure recognition memory, which is an indirect measure of cognition.”
The novel object recognition intervals tested were zero, one, two and three days after initial exposure to the familiar object. IF and control groups were able to distinguish the novel object significantly better than the VWR rats at the zero hour.
Blood ketone levels and physical activity were significantly greater, whereas the body weight gain was significantly lower, in the IF group compared to the VWR or control animals. These results suggest a lack of physical fatigue in the IF rats.
Higher ketone levels were associated with increased physical activity but decreased the capability of the animals to distinguish the novel object.
Additionally, the study found VWR to be effective in decreasing weight gain in the group but not in HFD-fed rats. Neither VWR nor IF contributed to mental fatigue.
The SIUE Graduate School’s Visualizing Research Impacts (VRI) competition offers SIUE faculty, staff and students the opportunity to share the results and impact of their research and creative activities through imagery.
Faculty and students submitted a wide array of entries that depicted a wonderfully rich diversity of creative activities and disciplines from across the institution, including entries from the sciences, arts, humanities and nursing.
Jocelyn DeGroot, PhD, Professor and Assistant Chair, Department of Applied Communication Studies
DeGroot’s recent research on motherhood, co-directed with Tennley Vik of the University of Nevada, Reno, explored how mothers perceive, experience, and describe the domestic workload inequity and challenges related to motherhood.
“Mothers engage in invisible labor preparing meals, cleaning, shopping, scheduling for the family, emailing teachers, making health decisions, and doing numerous other activities that often go unnoticed,” DeGroot said. “Our research indicates that mothers feel the intense burden of performing motherhood flawlessly as they project a positive self-image, avoid sharing challenges, and discuss only positive experiences. This results in women’s domestic labor being further hidden from view.
“‘Octomom’ recognizes the invisible labor accomplished by mothers and aims to begin conversations about workload inequity,” she explained.
“Pouring efforts in alcohol research”
Emily Petruccelli, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences
Petruccelli’s research explores the molecular mechanisms underlying alcohol use disorder (AUD). Using RNA-sequencing, her team identifies and tests specific gene transcripts differentially expressed in Drosophila (fruit flies) that show addiction-like behaviors.
Each data point on the graph is one of the 17,561 genes in the fly genome. By comparing control animals to those previously exposed to repeated bouts of ethanol, gene expression changes can be observed. Relative fold change is represented on the x-axis and the inverse of the statistic’s value, so that highly significant changes are higher in the plot, represented on the y-axis.
"Our research has highlighted conserved molecular pathways hijacked by alcohol in the nervous system,” Petruccelli said. “This allows for further testing to aid in the development of novel, more effective AUD therapies.”
Research and Creative Activities magazine brings to life faculty scholarship at SIUE, offering an inside look in a range of disciplines, from sculpture and science to economics and engineering.
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