Research 2014/15

2014/15 Freshman Fellows Research Projects:

Alissa Chrisekos is a freshman in the Earth, Environmental, and Geographical Sciences (EEGS) Department. Her faculty mentor is Dr. Susy Ziegler, Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and EEGS Department Head. 

Where are you from and why did you choose to attend NMU?

I'm from  Clarkston, Mi and I choose to attend NMU because I love the outdoors, and this was far away from home but still in state tuition.

Describe your project.

My faculty mentor is Susy Ziegler. The project that I am working towards is the implementation of rain gardens in the Marquette area, this would help to lessen pollutant runoff into Lake Superior. I am doing an experiment on two different types of plants and how they react to salt and sand. Those ingredients are used for snow and ice on roadways so it is important to see how that runoff could degrade the plants being used in the garden. I have been studying types of gardens, types of plants to use, and trying to contact places around the city where rain gardens could be of use.

Why is this work important, how will it be used?

This is important because Lake Superior is a relatively clean body of fresh water and I intend to do my part and keep it that way. Being able to help make sure something does not become a bigger environmental issue before it gets more polluted is more forward thinking and will be less costly in the end. I am hoping to use this directly in my own work by actually designing a rain garden for a specific space, planting, taking care of, and studying the actual amount of pollutants that are captured.

What do you see yourself doing in the future in terms of undergraduate research and/or scholarly work?

I do not know exactly where my life plan takes me, but I have an interest in aquatic ecology and over-fishing of the oceans is a major concern of mine. In any work that I do I hope that it helps us as a society to better understand or be able to take positive environmental action.




Read about previous freshman fellows and their research projects:

McKensey Gariepy is a freshman fellow in the Chemistry department. McKensey is a pre-nursing student who is working with Dr. Brandon Canfield, Assistant Professor of Chemistry.

Tell us about your fellowship project. 

For my fellowship project I am doing research on Thimbleberries. Dr. Canfield and I are researching to figure out the amount of antioxidants within the berries. In order to do this we are measuring the total phenolic acid content within different samples of Thimbleberries that were picked in multiple areas of Marquette this past August. High phenolic acid amounts are often linked to high antioxidant amounts within foods.  Berries were frozen for storage, and in order to measure the phenolic acids they must first be crushed, dehydrated, extracted, and filtered. Following this sample preparation procedure, we have begun measuring the phenolic acid content using an assay that involves light absorption as a function of concentration.

What value has this experience brought to you so far?

This experience has helped me in applying the lessons I have learned in Chemistry to real life scenarios. The fellowship has allowed me try new things about myself and science. I now know how to successfully pipette and this has helped reaffirm that science is the career field I wish to pursue.

Why did you choose NMU?

I chose NMU for several reasons. My first reason was that I have family up in the Marquette- Munising area. Northern also has a prestigious Nursing Program which I hope to one day be a part of, and the freshman fellowship offered a unique opportunity I wished to take full advantage of. Plus, the landscape of Marquette is beautiful and the community is so friendly.

What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

For the remainder of freshman year I am looking forward to continuing my fellowship and trying out new experiences. One of the things on my freshmen year bucket list is snow camping. As for my undergrad, I can't wait to see all the new and exciting opportunities that Northern and Marquette have to offer. In the future, I plan to get into the Nursing program here at Northern and then apply for to a graduate program to become a Nurse Practitioner


McKensey Gariepy

Page Queener is one of 26 students chosen to participate in the Freshman Fellowship program for the 2014/15 academic year. Page is from Attica, Michigan and graduated from Imlay City High School. She is carrying out her fellowship work under the guidance of Breanne Carlson in the College of Health and Human performance. She took some time out of her busy academic schedule to tell us a little about her project, what brought her to NMU, and what she is looking forward to in the coming year. 

Tell us about your fellowship project. 

"My fellowship project is all about how we can find a different way to help people who have diabetes with low blood circulation in their feet. In many cases, patients must have their foot or leg amputated because they lose circulation completely. Breanne Carlson and I are trying to determine if the Garra Rufa fish (Dr. Fish) can help promote blood circulation. These fish are often used in “Fish Pedicures” because they eat dead skin, making feet very soft. While the fish are feasting, it causes a lot of vibrations on the foot which could potentially increase blood circulation. Currently, we are still in the literature review part of the project. We are just trying to gather as much information as we can about diabetes, the fish, and why this method will work. Breanne is actually training to be an Olympic weightlifter, so of course she is very focused on health and fitness. This project is a great fit for her because now she can help potentially thousands of others with their healthy lifestyle." 

What value has this experience brought to you so far?

"Even though we have barely dipped our feet into this project, it has been an awesome experience so far. There is no time schedule of when we need to get things finished, so I’m kind of on my own to find the time to work on the project. I’ve always been pretty confident with my time management skills but this has taken them to a whole new level because of the amount of work that needs to be put in. This project also makes me feel important. We always heard throughout high school, “I’m going to change the world one day,” but now I have a sturdy platform to actually do that. It’s weird to think that I could actually change the way people live their lives and really bring a lot of good to a lot of those with diabetes. It’s just an overall great feeling."

Why did you choose NMU?

"There are so many reasons why this school was the best pick for me. First of all, I never wanted to go to a big school. With too many people in one university I felt as if I wouldn’t have been able to get help if I needed it. Northern is not too big or too small. I can still get the full college experience here without being completely overwhelmed with all of the people. Also, I really wanted to establish my independence after high school. I have always relied on my parents for a lot of things in my life. I wanted to be sure that I would be able to be on my own without them. Moving up to NMU, which is eight hours away from my hometown, was a perfect way to establish myself and my independence. Finally, the environment up here is amazing. I was never a crazy outdoorswoman back at home, but as soon as I moved up here, I was ready for anything. So far I’ve been hiking, kayaking, and I cannot wait to learn to ski! I’ve been up here for a little over a month and it already feels like home."

What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

There are so many things to look forward to this year! First of all, getting my fellowship project rolling for next semester is going to be sFeo exciting. I can’t wait to start working with the fish and the patients and finding out if all of our hard work will be put to good use. I’m also really excited for the next few months because of Club Volleyball. I tried out and made the Club Volleyball team here and we have some tournaments coming up soon. I’ve played volleyball ever since I was little, so being able to continue it in college is awesome. The rest of my undergrad is going to be a fun ride. I’m going for Pre-Pharmacy and majoring in chemistry, which will not be the easiest thing in the world to do. But I know that once I graduate with my degree, I will feel accomplished and ready for graduate school. Right now, I’m planning on going to Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia to get my Doctor of Pharmacy. They have a great pharmacy program and in a great location. It’s going to be exciting to experience the arctic tundra up here and then move down to a more tropical state afterwards. I have a pretty solid plan in place and I’m anxious to see what life brings me next!