Research 2013/14

Freshman Fellows Research Projects from the 2013/2014 Academic Year


This past academic year, Patricia Rempala worked with Cathy Bammert in the Clinical Laboratory Science Department for her Freshman Fellows project. They collaborated with Dr. John Lawrence and the Upper Michigan Brain Tumor Center to develop a laboratory test that could be done in under 25 minutes to detect certain mutations in a patient with glioblastoma (brain tumor). By performing this test, a surgeon could determine a more personalized approach to treating this patient's tumor. Patricia and her "team" started to develop a test and make progress, however, a group of PhD's published a similar test before Patricia's team could publish their own, so their research came to a halt. Although Patricia's research did not get published, being able to participate in the research made her realize how exciting the research really is and that she would like to continue studying clinical laboratory science. It confirmed that this truly is the type of work she wants to do in the future.

Patricia Rempala

Patricia chose NMU because she has always loved Marquette. Her aunt and uncle live in Ishpeming so she traveled to the area quite often when she was younger. Ever since she was three years old, she has always said she wanted to attend NMU. She loves the people here and the community atmosphere.

Patricia is looking forward to making new friends here at NMU and continuing in the CLS program. She is excited to try new things, especially new outdoor sports, however she is super excited to begin internships for her program to gain some real world experience in the laboratory!


Erin McNabbThis past year, Erin McNabb has spent her time working with Dr. Gabe Logan in the NMU History Department working on their Webpage. She created two new tabs on their homepage, as well as creating a Facebook page for the department. The tabs on the page were directed towards incoming students and explain the Secondary Education Program within the department, as well as helpful articles about what to do with a history degree. This project really helped Erin understand her own Secondary Education Social Studies major and made her even more excited to pursue it.

Erin chose NMU because of the beautiful scenery, the sense of community, and the amazing staff. She is looking forward to taking more of the awesome history classes at NMU, making even more friends with her outstanding classmates, and creating brand new memories. "This school is the best and I'm so proud to be a Wildcat!"


Hailing from Crystal Lake, Illinois, Carlene Stovall attended Prairie Ridge High School. While in high school, she was actively involved in the Varsity Dance Team, Spanish National Honors Society, and was a dance teacher.

Carlene is working on two Freshman Fellows research projects. One is revolved around one very important woman in Michigan history, Stella King. She was an integral member of the history of Mackinac Island. King started out as a nurse and midwife, and for decades was one of the only medical providers on the entire island. She delivered so many of the island’s residents that she is nicknamed Grandmother of the island. Mackinac Island’s current healthcare technology and healthcare system is a direct result of Stella KiCarlene Stovallng’s hard work and caring nature. Carlene’s mentor, Asst. Prof. Susanna Braman, has already done a lot of the research for this project, and they are hoping to visit Mackinac Island to interview some of the last living patients of Stella King. They hope to get Stella King and her selfless and life-changing work recognized by the State of Michigan.

The second part of Carlene’s research project is on a process called SODIS, which stands for Solar Water Disinfection. Asst. Prof. Braman and other nursing faculty and students have been making trips to Honduras for a few years now volunteering to provide care and medication to people in the rural areas. There, the NMU nursing group realized that a common health issue among the residents was sickness due to contaminated water. Asst. Prof. Braman, Carlene, and several professors of chemistry and environmental sciences are collaborating to research the benefits of SODIS. SODIS is a very simple, inexpensive and accessible method of purifying water, using a clean recycled water bottle, a tin roof or surface, and the natural heat and UV rays of the sun. Their research so far has proven that putting a water bottle out in the sun on the roofs for a certain amount of time can greatly decrease the amount of contamination in the water. They are working towards figuring out an exact length of time needed to kill the most amount of bacteria and other organisms in the water, and the hopes are to implement the method on future trips by Asst. Prof. Braman and the nursing program to Honduras.

Carlene’s favorite part about NMU is the town. Marquette is such a naturally friendly and beautiful place to live. Between the exhilarating views, the always interesting weather, the smiles and hellos of strangers, and of course the pasties, it is hard to find something to dislike about Marquette.

One interesting fact about Carlene? She is a certified open water scuba diver!


Kathleen KerberFreshman Fellow Kathleen Kerber is helping Professor Menard and McNair Scholar Kurt Benckendorf in studying the confidence levels of new nursing students during their simulation with mentors present. They have made an interview guide that asks them questions before and after their simulation, with the majority of the questions being about their abilities in performing the skills tested on during this simulation. The main purpose of this research is to see if having a peer mentor during this simulation will help them overcome anxiety.

“I chose NMU because I felt at home when I first stepped foot onto this campus.” That feeling hasn’t changed, and she doesn’t foresee it changing in the future. She loves how relatively small the campus is and how the professors are all willing to help their students. In addition, there are over 300 organizations anyone can join which gives them an opportunity to become involved. NMU is definitely the right choice!

Kathleen was active in many high school extracurricular activities: Key Club (4 years), Best Buddies (3 years), National Honor Society (2 years), Spanish Honor Society (2 years), Forensics (1 year), Student Council (1 year). She loves reading fictional novels, hiking, everything one can do outdoors, and hanging with friends and family while having many one-on-one conversations.

Some interesting facts about Kathleen….she was born in China and adopted at nine months old…she has been the shortest person in the class her whole life…she is a certified nursing assistant and was able to become certified during her junior year of high school and has been working at the same nursing home for a year.


Matt Trefilek

Programming, swimming, hiking, camping, anything outdoors…that’s a few of Matt Trefilek’s favorite hobbies. He is part of our freshman fellow team this year, and we are glad to have him!

Matt went to Boylan Catholic High School in Rockton, Illinois. While in school, he was involved in swimming, theater, choir, band, Senior Retreat Team, Mass Ministries, and German Club.

Matt is currently working on the C++ simulation code behind Dr. Tireman’s research on neutrons colliding with detectors. He cleans the code and ensures everything is running as efficiently as possible. The program will soon be shared between many other universities around the world.

In response to the question, “What do you like most about NMU?”, Matt responded, “I love the outdoor environment and how nice everyone has been—especially my professors.”

An interesting fact about him? Back home in Illinois, almost everyone called him “Tref” instead of “Matt”. He admits that it’s nice having people know his real name here!


Autumn PalmerAutumn Palmer is the second freshman fellow working with faculty mentor Dr. Judy Puncochar. She is researching this year’s and last year’s UNITED Conference. All of the data from the conference evaluations have been put into spreadsheets and organized by presenter. This information will then be categorized by male versus female, then white versus non-white to see if there is any underlying theme in the comments for each gender/race. The information collected will be used to determine the importance of UNITED to the NMU curriculum and encourage other colleges and universities to sponsor an event like UNITED to get their campuses excited about diversity.

Autumn is used to being busy since she was involved in many activities at Groves High School in Southfield, Michigan. She was in theatre, Imagine Club, National Honor Society, and Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Outside of the classroom, she enjoys card games and tricks, hiking, camping, swimming, canoeing, sailing, reading, and writing.

When asked what Autumn likes most about NMU, she responded with, “I love being able to do my homework on the top of a mountain, if I so choose.”

She is currently working on her backup plan to become a magician!


CChristine Wilsonhristine Wilson is a very busy gal as a Freshman Fellow. She is working with mentor Dr. Judy Puncochar and Autumn Palmer (another Freshman Fellow) and researching the UNITED Conference. This diversity conference is held annually on the campus of NMU and encourages individuals to become more diverse and learn about new cultures by listening to various featured speakers. The research group is looking back on the UNITED history and compiling the data to see what the high and low points were of each conference. All of the evaluation ratings from past years have been entered into an Excel form which will be used in their research. Once this project is completed, they will move on to organize the Elect Her Conference which prepares campus women for the upcoming Associated Students of Northern Michigan University (ASNMU) election.

A graduate of Baraga High School, Christine was involved in many activities in high school that prepared her for such a busy college life: Class President, Student Council, basketball stats, Yearbook and Prom Committee, International Travel Club, National Honor Society, Baraga Great Explorations Kid’s Club, and High Five Mentor.

Some of Christine’s hobbies include hiking, fishing & hunting, having fun with friends, camping, gardening, and working with kids. She is an Elementary Education Major with a Double Minor in Language Arts and Mathematics.

Christine’s favorite thing about NMU is the friendly and welcoming atmosphere. “Everyone really makes the U.P. look great, and being a Yooper, I’m really pleased with that.”

Italy…Germany…Switzerland…Austria. Christine has been lucky enough to visit all four countries!


William MasonFor William Mason’s freshman fellow project, he is researching how pH effects riboflavin-binding proteins. Riboflavin is an important nutrient in fetal development, and pH can drastically affect riboflavin-binding protein’s ability to transport it. William and his mentor, Dr. Mark Paulsen, are testing various pH’s in order to see at which pH the protein has an optimal binding capacity. In order to test this, they are using spectrophotometry to assess whether or not the protein is protonated or deprotonated (with riboflavin attached, or without).

A graduate from Lake Orion High School in Lake Orion, Michigan, William was actively involved in cross country, band, forensics, and Earth Club. In his spare time, William enjoys running, biking, rock climbing, working on his car, and spending time with family and friends.

“I love the atmosphere here at Northern. It’s small enough for you to feel like you know everyone, but still large enough for you to always be meeting new people and to experience new things. It’s such a friendly campus.”

One interesting fact about William? He enjoys running barefoot!



Michelle VanderHydeMichelle Vander Hyde graduated from Comstock Park High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she was a Freshman Mentor President, NHS member, and played tennis for four years and was a Captain—all while maintaining a 3.9 GPA!

For Michelle’s Freshman Fellow project, Dr. Carlson has her working with quite a few upper level psychology and graduate students proctoring students through their current experiment. It is called the Characteristics of Attentional Bias where a dot-probe task is used to study the relationship between certain stimuli and the side of the computer screen that the dot appears. The group is currently changing certain aspects of the experiment, but the focus is still, of course, attentional bias. They will begin using an EEG machine to enhance their studies of how the attentional bias occurs.

 “I love everything about NMU!,” exclaims Michelle. “The friends I’ve made are wonderful and easy-going. The people you meet on campus are always friendly, sincere, and open for conversation. My classes I’m currently taking toward my major are so exciting because I’m finally learning about things I have such a passion for. Also, the hockey team is phenomenal and so much fun to go watch…especially versus Michigan Tech!

When hockey isn’t on her agenda, Michelle enjoys reading, school, going to the movies and watching TV shows with her boyfriend, and traveling.

An interesting fact about Michelle? She is the youngest of six girls! When her mother went into labor, the doctor looked up at her father and just said, “How about you do this one?” That’s how Michelle’s father not only cut the umbilical cord, but delivered his little girl entirely.