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The Cougar statue at SIUE


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Faculty members at SIUE consistently demonstrate their internal drive and dedication to contribute to U.S. and international scholarship, reflected in SIUE’s external support and consistently high ranking in research expenditures by the National Science Foundation. View the University’s annual report of sponsored research and projects at the bottom of this linked page.

“As impressive as the numbers may be, they fail to impart the tales of investigation, discovery and creation behind the research,” said Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate School Jerry B. Weinberg. “I hope you will be a frequent visitor to these web resources as we share with you SIUE activities, creations, outreach and discoveries.”

SIUE faculty and staff receive grants and contracts from funding organizations such as:

  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Science Foundation
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Department of Education
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • U.S. Department of Justice
  • U.S. Department of Labor
Research and creative activities are supported through the Office of Research and Projects within the Graduate School.
Candace Hall, EdD, and Ezra Temko, PhD

Research Centers

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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.

The Center for Predictive Analytics (C-PAN) at SIUE

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 Center for STEM Research, Education and Outreach

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.

The GeoSpatial Mapping, Applications, and Research Center (GeoMARC)

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

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. 

Center for Crime Sciences and Violence Prevention (CCSVP)

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.



Featured Stories

Nursing students take part in the Nursing Success Program

Promoting Inclusivity, Equity and Success in Nursing

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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.



Nursing student takes part in the Nursing Success Program

Southern Illinois Professional Development Center Expanding Adult Education

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:

  • transitioning adult learners into the workforce with use of SIPDC-designed tools and programs
  • building and supporting diversity, equity, inclusion and access initiatives (DEIA)
  • overseeing and supporting ADA coordinators in
  • adult education
  • developing and implementing effective data and hybrid communication practices
A few specific examples of their important work include:
  • the Illinois training “Designing for Equity and Access for ALL Learners,” co-created by Sarah Goldammer, Director of the SIPDC, and Tara Schwab, an SIPDC Educational Training Specialist
  • the creation of the statewide contextualized curricula in the health sciences; manufacturing; transportation, distribution and logistics IT; and entrepreneurial and career pathways career clusters spearheaded by Goldammer
  • development of a Bridge Development Basics Training, and implementation of Integrated Education and Training models, developed in part by Goldammer and Schwab
  • a series of educational videos created in collaboration with ICSPS that introduce concepts of DEIA and universal design for learning that are used throughout Illinois and across the country
“SIPDC leadership often consults with other adult education programs across the country in the areas of professional development, DEIA, transitional programs and most recently in how to provide a hybrid conference with integrated virtual and in-person options,” Goldammer said.

SIUE’s SIPDC serves all 78 adult education programs in Illinois. The thousands of teachers and learners impacted through these services provide a platform for SIPDC to improve lives every day throughout the state.
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).

International Workshop Examines Migration Processes’ Effect on Human Securities

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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.”  


international business

Enhancing Student International Business Capacities

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“Passport to Success: Enhancing Student International Business Capacities to Assist Rural and Minority Owned Businesses with South American Trade*” is a new program that will allow SIUE to produce graduates who have critically needed global business, international relations and foreign language skills.

“This initiative will allow faculty development to increase the trade skills of SIUE students while expanding exports from our region for businesses that are often under-resourced,” said Laura Wolff, project director, instructor in the Department of Economics and Finance. “International programs at SIUE in both the School of Business and the College of Arts and Sciences currently are under-resourced and directly serve only a relatively small number of majors.”

Funding from the U.S. Department of Education Business and International Education Program allows the School and College to collaborate in order to:
  • deepen the exchange relationship with La Universidad de Lima in Peru
  • add a course that would cross programs and address curricular gaps
  • create for-credit internship opportunities for students in business and international studies programs
“Additionally, our AACSB-accredited School of Business will use grant funding to review our international business curriculum and infuse existing courses with the knowledge and skills necessary for international trade, especially with the Andean community,” Wolff said.

SIUE’s International Trade Center is beginning programs and outreach specific to rural and minority businesses in our region to highlight the Andean community as a yet untapped potential market for their products. Partnering international programs with this initiative will not only help expand exports but will lead to graduates who have more exposure to international business, trade assistance and policy.

“Students will solve real-world problems for rural and minority-owned businesses as they engage in research to identify potential markets and partners for expansion,” Wolff said. “It will offer a great benefit to students as they engage with new learning and authentic assessment opportunities.”

Wolff and a group of faculty members will travel to La Universidad de Lima in May 2023 to further collaborate on a faculty exchange program and begin discussing future student exchange opportunities.

*This project is supported by the U.S. Department of Education Business and International Education Program as part of an award totaling $315,278, of which $157,639 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, the U.S. Department of Education Business and International Education Program or the U.S. Government.

Predicting the Persistence of Salamanders

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In the springtime, plants put on flowers and leaves, birds migrate, and frogs begin calling in wetlands. These seasonal biological activities, or phenology, are important to understand because, when the timing of certain processes is altered, it can affect an organism’s ability to persist in its habitat.

Studying phenology is especially pertinent in recent years — many organisms worldwide have experienced shifts in the timing of different activities in response to climatic change. Yet, scientists do not fully understand the intricacies of how climate-induced shifts in phenology will ultimately affect organisms.

Thomas Anderson, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, is examining changes in the timing of breeding and impacts on the persistence of four species of pond-breeding salamanders found in Florida and Missouri. Anderson, along with collaborators at Virginia Tech University, Appalachian State University and the U.S. Geological Survey, are in the final year of the study that began in 2017.

“My role was to examine how changes in the timing of breeding impacted the larval stage, the equivalent to a frog tadpole,” Anderson said. “We completed several experimental studies where we manipulated the timing of salamander eggs hatching into larvae in the laboratory, and then reared the larval salamanders, following them for up to one year in large outdoor enclosures.”

Anderson also monitored natural populations of salamanders at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. to understand what weather cues would initiate movement by salamanders back to their home pond to breed and how differences between years in those movements would affect larval salamander abundance and body size. This work was an extension of a previously funded project at Fort Leonard Wood, culminating in 11 continuous years of work at the base.

Funding from the Department of Defense Strategic Environmental Resource Defense Program* allowed the team to uncover several interesting findings.

“Unlike some systems or studies, variation in phenology had minimal impacts on salamander traits such as body size or survival,” Anderson said. “This occurred largely because other factors, like climate variation itself, overwhelmed our experimental manipulations of phenology.”

For example, winter severity and substantial drought had a bigger impact on salamanders than variation in phenology.

“Salamanders have some capacity to deal with variation in phenology in their growth rates,” Anderson continued. “If salamander larvae get off to a late start because of delayed breeding phenology, they could accelerate their growth rates to complete their life cycle on a typical schedule.”

*This project is supported by the U.S. Geological Survey as part of an award totaling $406,250, of which 100% are federal funds and 0% is 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, the U.S. Geological Survey or the U.S. Government.
Illinois chorus frog
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Conserving the Illinois Chorus Frog

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Approximately 43% of amphibians are currently experiencing some form of population decline. This global decline has largely been attributed to the combined effects of habitat loss, over-utilization, invasive species and disease, with habitat loss being the single most important contributor. Even when habitat remains physically intact, it can become unsuitable due to anthropogenic factors such as light, noise, pollution and vibration.

Conservation of amphibian populations is an area of major research for Rick Essner, PhD, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, particularly a local population of a state-threatened species, the Illinois chorus frog (ICF). While much more abundant in the past, the only remaining ICF population in the region is near and on the SIUE campus.

“Trying to conserve a species that’s poorly understood first requires researching the biology of that species, and we do that in a number of different ways,” Essner said. “We have been studying their movement patterns, breeding and feeding habits, population and demographic fluctuations over time.”

This species has a highly disjunct distribution and occurs in association with sand prairie habitat in scattered populations throughout Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas. ICFs spend the majority of their lives below ground and are the only anuran species documented to engage in subterranean feeding, where they presumably use vibration from invertebrate movements as a predatory cue.

Despite nearly ubiquitous presence in the environment, vibration is one anthropogenic factor that has received remarkably little attention. The impact of vibration is the most recent interest in Essner’s ICF research.

“Frogs are sensitive to vibrational noise and use that information for an array of different behaviors they engage in,” Essner said.

The rapid growth of wind energy in Illinois has resulted in the placement of wind farms within sand prairie habitat that supports ICF. Through funding from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Essner collaborated with Albert Luo, PhD, distinguished research professor in the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, to examine the effects of vibration on feeding habits.

Using a shaker table in the School of Engineering’s lab, researchers observed the ICFs behaviors in response to a range of vibrational frequencies designed to simulate wind turbine vibration patterns. Although the data is still under analysis, Luo and Essner found the ICF is capable of successful feeding over the range of observed frequencies, which is promising news for the DNR’s conservation efforts.

“This species is very unique and part of our heritage and biodiversity,” Essner said. “I find that the flora and fauna improve my life and the lives of many other people who enjoy natural areas around the state. I think that to lose a species like the ICF would diminish our quality of life a bit.”
Hands holding a red ribbon

Enhancing HIV Education for Future Pharmacists

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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.


Estimating the Economic and Health Burdens of HIV in Semi-Urban and Rural Illinois

According to recent data, the most common modes of exposure to HIV in Illinois were the activities of men who have sex with men (MSM), injecting drug users (IDU), and MSM+IDU, accounting for more than 75% of all HIV infections.

“The MSM and IDU communities are widely studied in urban areas, such as Chicago, but less so in more rural areas such as southern Illinois,” said Principal Investigator (PI) John Matta, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science. “Studying the behavioral and economic aspects of this population is imperative to understanding and preventing the spread of HIV, as well as to formulating a public health response.”

Matta’s project will involve collection and analysis of data concerning the prevalence and impact of HIV and IV drug use on the economy and healthcare accessibility in southern Illinois, particularly in the context of a post-COVID-19 world. By analyzing data from respondent-driven sampling (RDS) surveys, the project will produce current survey data from semi-urban and mostly rural counties in southern Illinois. In addition to producing useful public health knowledge, the availability of this data will encourage secondary studies by other researchers.

One of the primary goals of the project is to collect data from the southern Illinois MSM/IDU and related communities using an RDS survey. The survey is being conducted as a result of an Illinois Innovation Network grant with co-PI Koushik Sinha, PhD, associate professor in the School of Computing at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

“RDS has been found to produce more diverse samplings than previous methods in studies of groups such as MSM and IDU,” Matta said. “RDS avoids biases that are introduced by other survey methods, producing a random sample if certain conditions are met.”

To represent the full community of those affected, the survey aims to recruit MSM, IDU, MSM+IDU, as well as their sex and injecting partners, and the partners of their partners. The survey and subsequent analysis will attempt to discover the health and economic impacts of the epidemic on this population, including:
  • the economic impact of HIV and COVID-19, especially on self-employed populations
  • mental health impacts of HIV, drug use and the COVID-19 pandemic
  • impact on the ability to access health and financial resources
  • behavioral changes in the community in response to the epidemic and other notable events influencing this community
The survey will also collect a variety of demographic information, making the study data useful for secondary analysis in other contexts. Surveyors are making extra effort to recruit Black, Hispanic and rural residents.

Focusing on both health and economic impacts, the survey is collecting demographic information, economic data, drug use, sex frequency and practices, use of protective drugs and procedures, size of individual friendship networks and other social determinants of health, and transportation status.

The study will also further increase scientific knowledge of the RDS technique by collecting data via smartphones, which is expected to increase participation rates as smartphone usage is pervasive in many hard-to-reach populations.
Engineering students use portable scour testing device

Soil Erosion Research Aims to Improve Illinois Bridges

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Research shows that 60% of bridge failures in the United States are related to scour—the erosion of soil around the base of a bridge pier from the flow of water.

Through a $364,000 award from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), SIUE is conducting a four-year research project to analyze scour estimates at bridge sites in Illinois to improve bridge design and maintenance.

Abdolreza Osouli, PhD, PE, associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, is principal investigator (PI) on the project, titled “Developing Scour-Depth Estimation Using the In Situ and Portable Scour Testing Device (ISTD/PSTD) for Illinois Cohesive Soils.*”

“Our primary goal is to improve the scour estimate analyses at bridge sites in Illinois,” Osouli said. “Our work will improve the stability of existing and new bridges, reduce costs of bridge design and maintenance due to an enhanced knowledge of scour estimates at sites with a cohesive riverbed, and equip IDOT with state-of-the-art field equipment developed by the Federal Highway Administration in the field of scour measurement.”

Project co-PIs include:
  • Brent Vaughn, Laboratory Specialist, Department of Civil Engineering, SIUE
  • Paul Rydlund, PLS, CFM, Section Chief, Central Midwest Water Science Center, United States Geological Survey, Rolla, Mo.
  • Richard Huizinga, PE, Hydrologist, Central Midwest Water Science Center, United States Geological Survey, Rolla, Mo.
  • Timothy Straub, PhD, PE, Supervisory Hydrologist, Central Midwest Water Science Center, United State Geological Survey, Urbana, Ill.
  • Timothy Stark, PhD, PE, Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Funding also supports several SIUE master’s and doctoral students to contribute as research assistants and gain hands-on field and lab experience. “Our research team has extensive experience in the field of soil erosion and scour analysis,” Osouli explained. “This project will use in situ and portable scour testing devices (ISTD/PSTD) to extract better load versus erosion characteristics of the riverbed material.”

Now half-way through the award period, the research team has fabricated ISTD/PSTD, identified potential bridge sites, and conducted trial testing. Next steps include performing field testing at several bridge sites in Illinois, conducting laboratory experiments on collected samples, conducting 2D hydraulic modeling of the scour at the bridge sites, and developing an enhanced scour analyses procedure using ISTD/PSTD field data.

*This project is supported by the U.S. Department of Transportation as part of an award totaling $363,832, of which $272,874 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 the U.S. Department of Transportation or the U.S. Government.
Z.-Q. Lin, PhD, and students study lake sediment for metal contamination

Assessing Soil Contamination in Illinois Lake Sediments

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Frank Holten State Recreation Area (SRA) in Centerville, Ill. includes Whispering Willow Lake and Grand Marais Lake which provide more than 200 acres of water and five miles of shoreline. Though it is surrounded by several potential metal pollution sources, such as a Superfund site at Old American Zinc and the Sauget Industrial Corridor, metal contamination risk in sediment at Frank Holten SRA has not well been investigated.  

Just two miles north of Frank Holten SRA is Horseshoe Lake in Granite City, Ill., where elevated metals concentrations in lake sediments have previously been observed in relation to various metal sources surrounding the lake, including Granite City Steel Company, Hoyt Metal, National Lead and Midland Creosote. National Lead and Midland Creosote pollution sites are currently on the National Priority List (or Superfund sites). In addition to those point-sources of pollution, Horseshoe Lake also receives urban runoff from Granite City, industrial wastewater treatment lagoon discharge and surface runoff from local agricultural lands.  

With funding support provided by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and in collaboration with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Z.-Q. Lin, PhD, has investigated metal contamination in sediments and soils and conducted environmental risk assessments in the Metro East region, including Horseshoe Lake State Park, Frank Holten State Recreation Area, Chouteau Island and Brushy Lake. Lin is the principal investigator and professor in the Departments of Environmental Sciences and Biological Sciences.  

The objectives of the research included:  
  • compiling historically relevant, readily available information about sediment metals contamination in Horseshoe Lake, Whispering Willow Lake, Grand Marais Lake and Brushy Lake, as well as soil metals contamination on Chouteau Island  
  • developing and implementing a complimentary sampling and analysis plan  
  • determining sediment concentrations of metals in Horseshoe Lake, Whispering Willow Lake, Grand Marais Lake, Brushy Lake and soil metal concentrations on Chouteau Island  
  • making recommendations for future ecological and environmental risk assessments at those study areas based on the research findings  
“Our studies found that concentrations of lead and zinc are elevated in some lake sediments and above the recommended Probable Effect Concentrations in freshwater sediments,” Lin said. “This provides the Illinois Department of Natural Resources with potential environmental risk assessments for habitat restoration programs and effective local natural resource management.”
Business professionals

Most Accessed Theses

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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.


Instagram and Women’s Bodies on Display
Kirsten Carney, MS Mass Communications ’16

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.


Woman taking a photo in front of a mirror

Transformational vs. Transactional Leaders: How Different Leadership Behaviors and Communication Styles Affect Levels of Employee Motivation in the Financial Industry

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.


Are Women Opting Out of STEM Leadership Positions? The Impact of Stereotype Threat, Internalized Sexism, and Leadership Self-Efficacy on Women in STEM

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.


Relationship Satisfaction, Social Anxiety, and Smartphone/Social Networking Addiction

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.


Phone screen

Black Panther: Intersectionality in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

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.


Teacher with students in the background

Selected Grants for Graduate Students: Featured Doctoral Research Projects

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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.

Teacher Retention — Experiences of African American Teachers in Predominantly White Suburban School Districts
Public schools across the U.S. continue to see an increase in diversity among their student populations, but the racial demographics of teachers show a stark difference. People of color comprise a significantly smaller percentage of the teaching population in U.S. public schools than their white counterparts.

While changes have been made to recruitment practices in an effort to attract more diverse educators, less has been done to address the issues that cause teachers to leave a position once hired. Studies have shown a stronger focus on teacher retention may have a greater impact on addressing a lack of diversity among public school teachers.

Jamaal Heavens, who earned a doctorate in educational leadership in May 2022, became interested in the causes of low teacher retention rates among African American teachers after hearing first-hand from an African American teacher at an educator conference.

“I decided to study this topic after listening to an African American teacher speak about her experience working in two predominately white suburban school districts,” explained Heavens. “I felt her experience was very interesting, and I wondered if other African American educators had comparable experiences working in similar environments.”

Through his research, “Teacher Retention—Experiences of African American Teachers in Predominantly White Suburban School Districts,” Heavens sought to gain a better understanding of those experiences and the role they played in a teacher’s decision to stay or leave a particular teaching position.

Heavens, who currently serves as the assistant principal of Parkway West High School in St. Louis County, met with a small group of African American educators to collect qualitative data on their experiences. The responses he received revealed an overwhelming majority of participants experienced racism, feelings of alienation, and enhanced scrutiny from parents and co-workers. However, the educators also provided Heavens with several practical solutions that could be implemented to curb these negative experiences and better support teachers of color.

“The participants in my study believe African American educators’ experiences can improve if predominantly white schools develop affinity spaces where teachers of color feel free to vocalize issues, provide continued cultural awareness training to staff, develop effective mentoring programs, and actively recruit more teachers of color,” Heavens said.

“As chair of Jamaal’s capstone committee, I noted how impressed the faculty were with the fascinating and often troubling findings of his research,” said Tian Yu, PhD, chair and professor, Department of Educational Leadership. “They also commented on the high level of critical analysis in linking the findings to theory and to potential solutions.”

Developing a “Force Plate-Less” System Using Whole-Body Kinematics and Machine Learning Techniques for a Real-Time Biomechanical Gait Analysis
The study of how a person or other living creature walks dates back to 350 B.C. when Aristotle wrote “On the Gait of Animals.” In modern times, gait analysis is more commonly used to assess, diagnose and develop treatment for gait disorders in humans and to help athletes run more efficiently.

Clinical gait analysis is often conducted through an optical motion capture system, which uses a set of markers attached to a person’s body. Multiple cameras are positioned at different angles to track the location of the markers while a person moves. Force plates also inform the study by measuring the ground reaction forces generated by an individual’s movements.

The optical motion capture system presents several challenges relating to the data collection process:
  • missing marker data that requires a time-consuming post-analysis and provides less accurate data
  • a limitation in the number of gait cycles that can be studied based on the force plates available
  • the high set-up cost for installing force plates in a lab

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.”


Students using a computer to collect data from the Motion Capture and Analysis Lab

Female basketball players

Selected Grants for Graduate Students: Featured Master’s Research Projects

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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.


Black Female Collegiate Athletes’ Sense of Belonging in Predominantly White Sports

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.”


Evaluating Mental and Physical Exhaustion Secondary to Voluntary Wheel Running or Intermittent Fasting in Obese and Non-Obese Rats

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.


Hamster in a wheel

"Octomom" by Jocelyn DeGroot, PhD

Visualizing Research Impacts

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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.

Most Creative Representation of Research Impact

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.


“Octomom” by Jocelyn DeGroot, PhD

Best Representation of Research Impact

“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.”


“Pouring efforts in alcohol research” by Emily Petruccelli, PhD



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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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