Alert
The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg returns to in-person instruction for the Fall 2021 semester. The campus remains closed to the public. Learn how Pitt-Greensburg is building a healthy and resilient community.

Pitt-Greensburg Undergraduate Research and Creativity Spotlight

Pitt-Greensburg is proud to celebrate the forward-thinking research and creative efforts of our students.

Hover over the student images below to learn more about them and their projects. The links accompanying some students' names lead to further information about their project - either a personal project website or an explanatory video provided by the student.

Top Project Winners

Kiara Devore photo

Kiara Devore photoKiara Devore ('21), History

Project Title: Deathly Good Entertainment: Amphitheater Development and the Political Realm

Project Goal: Much of the scholarship surrounding amphitheaters, gladiatorial fighting, and Roman politics tends to keep the topics separate from one another. My paper argues that political pressure to elevate one’s status in the Senate, as well as the societal expectations and pressures from Romans to hold these games, resulted in the evolution of amphitheater structures from temporary to permanent, stone buildings during the Late Republican Period (133 – 31 B.C.E.) into the Julio-Claudian Dynasty (27 B.C.E. – C.E. 68). The resulting structures created a more public space for political expression and manipulation, as well as social control.

Kayla Fencil photo

Kayla Fencil photoKayla Fencil ('22), Early Childhood Education

Project Title: We Can See Ourselves in Others

Project Goal: Maura Carr researched and compiled a list of children's books with diverse characters and shared it with SPSEA. The members and advisors then helped by recording themselves reading children's books from the list Maura provided, and even some that they found. I collected the videos, edited, and uploaded them to our YouTube channel, as well as recorded my own. The goal of the project is to expose children to books with characters that look like them. With COVID-19 making it hard to get to libraries or to buy books, kids need another way to read. Here it is!

Alexander Mikita photo

Alexander Mikita photoAlexander Mikita ('21), History

Project Title: The Development of High-Speed Rail in the United States of America: 1965-2009

Project Goal: Do you ever wonder why the USA doesn't have a single bullet train? How about why the rail system in general is so rarely used for transport? There certainly seems to be plenty of railroad tracks around Pittsburgh and Greensburg. This where a historical study of passenger rail development comes in. My project provides the historical background of rail development, focusing on pieces of legislation which have been passed over time and explaining why there is little to no development to show for it. Understanding this from a historical perspective can help inform how to approach developing high-speed rail today.

 

 

 

 

Kiara Devore
History
Kayla Fencil
Early Childhood Education
Alexander Mikita
History

Individual Projects

Lucas Ali photo

Lucas Ali photoLucas Ali ('21), Early Childhood Education

Project Title: Outer Space Literature for Children

Project Goal: Why stop at just the moon? Why not explore further? The Outer Space Literature for Children is intended to be a researched collection for Early Childhood Educators (preschool - 4th grade) to build and include their classroom libraries upon space related books. This collection provides educators three, 20 book sections according to age groups. Each book in the collection is chosen for appropriate age groups and have been selected by the researcher to be included in the final list. At the end of each section, five more books are featured based on topics such as diversity, educational value, and price.

Maura Carr photo

Maura CarrMaura Carr ('21), Early Childhood Education

Project Title: Multicultural Books for Education

Project Goal: Have you ever looked at a group of children's books and realized that most characters are the same, a young white boy in a nice middle-class family? The books show traditional American families and that just isn't representative of the world we live in today. My project's purpose was to create an annotated bibliography of many multicultural books that teachers could use in their classrooms for grades K-4. These are books that celebrate diversity and highlight the beauty of culture. Kayla Fencil then took my project and created a YouTube page where the books are read aloud as a resource.

Sydney Ellison photo

Sydney Ellison photoSydney Ellison ('22), Theoretical Mathematics and Philosophical Investigations

Project Title: Investigations on Indeterminism and Branching Space-Time

Project Goal: Does the inevitable closedness of the past determine the future? Well, sometimes yes, and sometimes no. While there exists an abundance of literature on the doctrine of determinism, the same cannot be said for its innate counterpart: indeterminism. My goal for this research is to examine the logical relationship between determinism and indeterminism, most markedly by exploring the notion(s) and fundamental conceptions of tense logic and temporality and the rigorous, axiomatic representations of indeterminism. I hope to exhibit that the notion of indeterminism is still widely deliberated upon, and to articulate why a meticulous, rigid depiction of indeterminism is imperative.

Ezra Miller photo

Ezra Miller photoEzra Miller ('23), Applied Mathematics

Project Title: A Close Examination of Newton and Steffensen Basins

Project Goal: We examine and compare Newton and Steffensen basins, particularly for transcendental functions, which pose a multitude of challenges due to their tendency to have infinitely many roots. Newton basins are known to be related to Julia sets, Fatou sets, and fractals, which are used in biology, geology, and physics. Do Steffensen basins fall within the definition of Julia and Fatou sets, or does this result in the discovery of a new set? The visualizations we created are fascinating and revolutionary. Although the images may appear simple on the surface, the details become magnificent after close observation.

 

Lucas Ali
Early Childhood Education
Maura Carr
Early Childhood Education
Sydney Ellison
Theoretical Mathematics and Philosophical Investigations
Ezra Miller
Applied Mathematics
Dennis Steiner photo

Dennis Steiner photoDennis Steiner ('20), Applied Mathematics

Project Title: Comparative Analysis of Betting Systems for American Roulette

Project Goal: Is a double or nothing betting strategy worthwhile? My research compared three different betting systems in American Roulette through the use of simulations in both Microsoft Excel and MATLAB: the Martingale, the Reverse Martingale, and Constant Betting. With $5, $10, and $20 initial bets, I modified existing code to resemble American Roulette. I had found that the Martingale method (doubling a bet after losing) had the most positive results for growth in cash; The Martingale System could be more useful than Constant or Reverse Martingale systems in the financial market. I strived to inspire future research in different betting systems.

Maxwell Weiser photo

Maxwell Weiser photoMaxwell Weiser ('24), Biological Science

Project Title: Troubleshooting a New Industry Protocol for Determining Glucan Content in Mushrooms

Project Goal: Did you know that cows eat more than grass? Mushrooms contain beta-glucan, important to livestock feed producers due to its high caloric content. As a technician at a mushroom spawn research lab, I have been running a new industry protocol to measure the beta-glucan content in new mushroom strains. Early tests showed beta-glucan content both above and below expected ranges. The goal of my project is to identify error in the protocol and standardize the procedure to ensure reproducible results. While not yet fully resolved, I continue to grow my academic research skills and apply them to an industry setting.

 

 

 

 

Dennis Steiner
Applied Mathematics
Maxwell Weiser
Biological Science

Group Project

Madison Hollis photo

Madison Hollis photoMadison Hollis ('21), Biological Science

Project Title: Evaluating Growth and Lipid Production of Microalgae Through the Use of LEDs and Compost Growth Media

Project Goal: Climate change is a crisis that we aim to treat using microalgae-based biofuels. Two areas of research for increasing microalgae growth and lipid production are light spectra and compost media. Our group tested various LED and T5 growth conditions, alongside media containing different compositions of compost tea on both marine and freshwater species of microalgae. We monitored the colony growths and used Nile Red staining to quantify overall lipid production. Our results indicate positive outcomes for using red LED lighting and compost composition as an alternative to standard growth media, which could prove to be very cost-effective for commercial use.

Christina Orban photo

Christina Orban photoChristina Orban ('21), Biochemistry

Project Title: Evaluating Growth and Lipid Production of Microalgae Through the Use of LEDs and Compost Growth Media

Project Goal: Climate change is a crisis that we aim to treat using microalgae-based biofuels. Two areas of research for increasing microalgae growth and lipid production are light spectra and compost media. Our group tested various LED and T5 growth conditions, alongside media containing different compositions of compost tea on both marine and freshwater species of microalgae. We monitored the colony growths and used Nile Red staining to quantify overall lipid production. Our results indicate positive outcomes for using red LED lighting and compost composition as an alternative to standard growth media, which could prove to be very cost-effective for commercial use.

Monica Rebar photo

Monica Rebar photoMonica Rebar ('21), Biochemistry

Project Title: Evaluating Growth and Lipid Production of Microalgae Through the Use of LEDs and Compost Growth Media

Project Goal: Climate change is a crisis that we aim to treat using microalgae-based biofuels. Two areas of research for increasing microalgae growth and lipid production are light spectra and compost media. Our group tested various LED and T5 growth conditions, alongside media containing different compositions of compost tea on both marine and freshwater species of microalgae. We monitored the colony growths and used Nile Red staining to quantify overall lipid production. Our results indicate positive outcomes for using red LED lighting and compost composition as an alternative to standard growth media, which could prove to be very cost-effective for commercial use.

 

 

 

 

Madison Hollis
Biological Science
Christina Orban
Biochemistry
Monica Rebar
Biochemistry