Student and Faculty Profiles

From our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) fellows to our innovative and entrepreneurial graduate students, Kent State University and the Office of Student Research place a premium on student scholarship, research and innovation.

The profiles below highlight the efforts and successes of our students, who are showing the Kent State community and the globe how to do world-class research at every academic level.  In addition to the profiles below, explore the experiences of our student researchers through The Research Review, a Podcast series showcasing many of our student researchers.  


The Research Review Podcast

The Research Review Podcast

Tell us about your undergraduate or graduate-level research, innovation and entrepreneurship!
Contact OSR Director Ann Gosky at or 330-672-0837.

Nicholas Baird in a blue shirt, and glasses

Nicholas Baird is a senior at Kent State University majoring in Mechatronics Engineering. Baird initially struggled to decide on his major, explaining that he was “interested in a lot of different types of engineering.” In the end, Baird landed on Mechatronics Engineering because of the major’s unique blend of engineering concepts.


Portrait of Bria
Bria Shackleford, SURE PROGRAM 

Bria is a junior at Kent State University majoring in Biology with a Pre-Med concentration. Bria participated in the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program for SURE 2023. She has given several presentations about her time in the SURE program and is eager to share her experiences.                                               



Portrait of Anna Anello

Anna Anello is a Senior at Kent State University and is double majoring in Neuroscience and Computer Science. Anello has participated in the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program multiple times and is eager to tell us about her background and what drove her into research.



Dr. Bathi Kasturiarachi Portrait
Dr. Kasturiarachi and Kent State Alum Cameron Gmitra

Dr. Bathi Kasturiarachi is an associate professor in mathematics based primarily at Kent State University’s Stark Campus. Apart from teaching mathematics, Dr. Kasturiarachi also teaches computer science courses. Dr. Kasturiarachi is actively involved with undergraduate research, and states that “undergraduate research is a critical component of any undergraduate program.” Dr. Kasturiarachi explains that completing undergraduate research allows students to apply what is taught in the classrooms in a productive and hands-on way, better preparing students for their careers after graduation.

Gmitra portrait

Dr. Kasturiarachi was paired with Kent State University’s recent alum Cameron Gmitra through Choose Ohio First, which is a scholarship program for Ohio residents geared toward STEM majors. Gmitra graduated from Kent State University with a degree in actuarial mathematics and a minor in computer science. Together, Dr. Kasturiarachi and Gmitra discovered a way to visually depict geometric series.

A portrait of Jordan Gallegos
Jordan Gallegos, SURE Program

Jordan Gallegos is a senior undergraduate student double-majoring in Spanish and History. She is researching the history of Colonial Peru and has been working to translate historic medical texts and hospital records from Spanish to English.





Portrait of Frances Brunner
Frances Brunner, BFA Fashion Design Major

My name is Frances Brunner, and I am from Louisville, Kentucky. I am currently in my senior year as a BFA Fashion Design major at Kent State University. I was first introduced to the idea of fashion by conversing over an entrepreneurial dream to create a fashion brand called “Frank & Glenn” with my childhood best friend, Mary Glenn, in high school. Upon her passing, I took to embroidery to cope, and this started my career in Fashion. I entered Kent State with a few years of sewing under my belt, but I felt insecure that I would find my place in fashion, especially as a designer. However, I was surprised at how welcoming and supportive the Kent State Fashion School community was.

The program and professors really met me where I was professionally, and I found that although always motivating, the program only challenged me as much as I challenged myself.

Picture of Andrew Pertz

Andrew Pertz is an aerospace engineering student with a minor is applied statistics. Andrew worked with Dr. Lu on one oh his topics related to an orbital maneuver called aerocapture. Dr. Lu encouraged Pertz to participate in the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE). During SURE, Pertz aided in researching an innovative concept for planetary exploration called aerocapture co-delivery to the planet Venus. This was a very interesting time of his college career because he began to work indirectly with engineers and scientists at NASA. Later in the summer, he received notice that he would be presenting at the conference and received funding to attend.

Photo of Aisha Ahammed

Aisha Ahammed is a sophomore undergraduate student majoring in Computer Science with a concentration in Cybersecurity and a minor in Data Analytics. Ahammed chose to pursue a minor in Data Analytics as a result of the research project she completed during the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program in 2023, where she developed a program for generative AI-based music composition. The program Ahammed created was able to learn deep neural networks from existing music and create new music based on those neural networks.



Félix Latimer is a Junior and majors in environmental and conservation biology with a concentration in environmental policy and management. During his time in the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program, he worked alongside Dr. Andrea Case, Ph.D., and Dr. Christopher L. Blackwood, Ph.D., studying geographical data about subspecies of lobelia across the United States. Félix is hoping to use this experiment as a reference for how research is conducted on the ground for a future career as a policy analyst on environmental issues in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


Joshua Daniel standing on a bridge in front of a white buildingJUNIOR PSYCHOLOGY MAJOR, JOSHUA DANIEL

Joshua A. Daniel is a McNair Scholar and a junior majoring in psychology. He is studying African American maternal mental health in the Program for Research on Anxiety Disorders among African Americans (PRADAA) to help improve the mental health within African American communities.





Alex Bathrick in a gray sweatshirtJunior Classics and History Double Major, Alex Bathrick

Alex Bathrick, a Classics and History double major, worked with Dr. Emily Metzgar, Ph.D., to perform research through the SURE program in 2022. They will be shifting their research focus for the SURE 2023 program and will be performing research with Professor Matthew Crawford, Ph.D.




Marceline Myers in front of a fish tankJunior Physics Major, Marceline Myers

Marceline Myers is a junior undergraduate student of physics working in quantum mechanics and radioactive decay. During her research with liquid crystals, she produced helical light from self-polarizing liquid crystals at a G-lum score of 0.11, a previously unheard-of intensity for controlled light. Myers was nominated to speak at the 17th annual Northeast Ohio Undergraduate Research Symposium (NOURS) and is currently writing a manuscript to publish her research.



Autumn Redd in front of some foliageSophomore Neuroscience Major, Autumn Redd

Autumn Redd is a sophomore neuroscience major with a pre-medicine concentration. She is working under Dr. Lique Coolen at the Brain Health Research Institute (BHRI) to study the expression of neuropeptides and spinal cord injuries.





Tyrese BensonSenior Africana Studies Major Tyrese Benson and Professor Richard M. Berrong

Tyrese Benson, a senior Africana Studies major, is working with Professor Richard M. Berrong to create a documentary presenting the lives of Black GIs in France during World War II and the effects of their encounters with the French on the development of the Civil Rights Movement here in the United States after the War. Through the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program, Benson has been able to record the narration for the documentary, learn how to edit it, and even interview an Army tank veteran.


Jonathan EvanickStudent Profile: Jonathan Evanick and Visiting Assistant Professor Aimee L. Ward

Jonathan Evanick is a sophomore majoring in public health with a minor in economics. Together with Visiting Assistant Professor Aimee L. Ward, the pair are researching and evaluating the problem of college student homelessness in the state of Ohio. Their project seeks to provide information about student homelessness trends and suggestions to colleges on how they can improve their resources and methods on the issue.


Wayne NiehSenior Nursing Major Wayne Nieh

Wayne Nieh, a senior nursing student at the Kent State University Geauga Campus, is a student ambassador for undergraduate researchers and has participated in the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program since 2021.






Image of Xavier Heipp
Senior Theatre Major Xavier Heipp and Dr. Yuko Kurahashi, Ph.D.

Xavier Heipp, a senior theatre major, is working under the mentorship of Dr. Yuko Kurahashi, Ph.D., to research and author an open-resource book on Shakespeare. He is completing this research through the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program, an eight-week summer program designed to allow students to build skills in critical thinking, research, communication, and problem solving by engaging in faculty-supervised research.

Angelina DiFranco's Interview with Xavier Heipp

Xavier Heipp is a senior theater performance major at Kent State University with a double minor in pre-law and philosophy. Throughout his tenure at Kent State, Heipp has been an active member of multiple student organizations in the School of Theater and Dance such as All In[clusive], Bachelor of Arts Theater Student Alliance, and he serves as president of Transforum Theatre. He has also worked as the Nursing Simulation Coordinator for Kent State’s College of Nursing and has been featured in an episode of The Research Review podcast. Most recently, Heipp received the School of Theater and Dance’s Best Dramaturg Award for his involvement in Kent State’s production of Much Ado About Nothing.

Kaitlyn Engelhart
Senior Speech Pathology and Audiology Major Kaitlyn Engelhart and Associate Professor Hayley Arnold, Ph.D.

Kaitlyn Engelhart, a senior undergraduate majoring in Speech Pathology and Audiology, and Associate Professor Hayley Arnold, Ph.D., worked together through the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program to study the correlation between stress levels in pre-school age children and stuttering frequency. To help improve communication skills in children, Kaitlyn is studying to become a clinician for early childhood intervention.

Alexandra Baxter
Senior Theatre Design Major Alexandra Baxter and Associate Professor Fabio Polanco

Alexandra Baxter, a senior theatre design major participating in this year’s Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program, was mentored by Professor Fabio Polanco in the production of the play La Siempreviva. Professor Polanco was the director for the play, while Alexandra was the stage manager.


Garrett Hartley
Garrett Hartley and Professor John West Sponsored by the Shirley and Bill Doane SURE Fund for Research in PDLC Cells

Garrett Hartley, an undergraduate Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) participant in the college of arts and sciences, is supervised by faculty member John West, Ph.D., in his research on Polymer-Dispersed Liquid Crystal (PDLC) cells. By researching these PDLC cells, they hope to identify specific qualities these cells possess and apply them to sensing and fibers.

Tisha OwusuaSenior Psychology Major Tisha Owusua and Associate Professor Clarissa A. Thompson, Ph.D.

Tisha Owusua (she/her) and Clarissa A. Thompson, Ph.D. (she/her), are a student and faculty pair working with senior graduate student Charlie Fitzsimmons (he/him) to conduct research on intersectional identities in math cognition and the impacts of race and gender on math anxiety. Tisha Owusua will be graduating from Kent State University this year and starting a School Psychology Ph.D. program at The Ohio State University this fall.

Hayley Shasteen
Kent State University Alumna and Ph.D. Student at The Pennsylvania State University Hayley Shasteen

Hayley Shasteen (she/her) is an alumna from Kent State University who graduated with a degree in psychology in 2021. She currently works as a science writer for BioSpace and has been accepted into the Ph.D. program in the Biobehavioral Health Department at The Pennsylvania State University. Her primary research focus is on helping patients with systemic lupus erythematosus and brain fog caused by this condition.


Taylor Miller
Senior Psychology Major Taylor Miller and Associate Professor Christopher Was, Ph.D.

Taylor Miller (she/her) and Christopher Was, Ph.D. (he/him), are a student and faculty pair performing research on the impact of distractions in online learning. Conducting this research as part of her honors thesis, Taylor is exploring the relationship between mind-wandering and multitasking during synchronous learning sessions at home among college students. Taylor was a first-place winner at the 2021 Undergraduate Symposium on Research, Scholarship and Creative Endeavors. In April 2022, Taylor and Dr. Was will be presenting this research at the Midwestern Psychological Association conference in Chicago.


Moira Armstrong
Senior English and History Major Moira Armstrong and Associate Professor Molly Merryman, Ph.D. 

Moira Armstrong (they/them) and Molly Merryman, Ph.D. (she/they) are a student and faculty pair participating in the Queer Pandemic Project, a digital, video-based oral history project. Moira Armstrong, honors student at Kent State University, is a research assistant on the project; while Dr. Molly Merryman is an Associate Professor in the School of Peace and Conflict Studies and the research director for Queer Britain, the largest LGBTQIA+ museum in the United Kingdom. Together, they have helped conduct research for the Queer Pandemic Project and are writing an article to be published in an upcoming special edition of the Journal of Memory Studies. 


Jordan Smith Headshot
Sophomore Public Health Major Jordan Smith and Associate Professor Kamesha Spates, Ph.D. 

Jordan Smith and Kamesha Spates, Ph.D., are a student and faculty pair who participated in Kent State’s Sophomore Research Experience. Jordan is a member of the Racial Justice Health Equity Research and Education Collaborative. Dr. Spates is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Kent State. They did work together on Congolese refugee women in the United States and their experiences in resettling. 

Thomas Sonnanstine
Senior Biochemistry and Psychology Major Thomas Sonnanstine 

As a transfer student, what drew you to KSU? 

Sonnanstine: I originally attended Johns Hopkins University where I planned on playing football, but after suffering a hip injury my first semester, I decided to stop playing and transfer to Kent State. I chose to transfer to Kent State because of its partnership with Northeast Ohio Medical University, along with its proximity to my family. 

To read more about Thomas’s student profile, click the link above!  

 Benja Duff Profile Picture
Senior Exercise Science Major Benja Duff 

How did you get involved with the McNair Scholars Program? 

Duff: When I was a freshman on the track and field team, my teammate Brandon Harris, who was already in the program, told me about McNair and pushed me to do it. As a student-athlete, he wanted to see more of us involved in campus academics. He knew that I was a STEM major and what my goals looked like and felt McNair would help me achieve those goals. He's the reason that I got involved in McNair. 

To read more about Benja's student profile, click the link above. 

The McNair Scholars Program is run through the University College. To learn more about the McNair Scholars Program, click here


Kai Clemons Headshot
Senior Child Psychology Major Kai Clemons 

How did you get involved with the McNair Scholars Program?

Clemons: I got involved in McNair because I would always be in the Center for Undergraduate Excellence studying and I loved the atmosphere there. I’d always look at the brochures and I remember that I picked one up for McNair and it described how the program assisted students interested in graduate school.

I’m in a lab at Kent called the PRADAA lab. PRADAA stands for Program for Research on Anxiety Disorders among African Americans. I remember them telling me that McNair was a great program, and so I applied. I had a lot of people that I knew who were in it and the way they’d talk about the sense of family, amount of support and community that is there to push you to the next best thing really attracted me. When I got in, I was so happy.

The McNair Scholars Program is run through the University College. To learn more about the McNair Scholars Program, click here

Emily France
B.A. Psychology, Emily France

What do you research? 

France: I studied the special population of Black pregnant and postpartum women with the Program for Research on Anxiety Disorders among African Americans (PRADAA) lab underneath Dr. Neal-Barnett. Specifically, in this population I examined their exposure to chronic stress, trauma, and racism. 

Interested in reading more about Emily’s student profile? Click the link above.  

Meggie Moore
Senior Biology Major Meggie Moore

What do you research?  

Moore: I've been working in Dr. David Ward's Ecology laboratory for one year. Specifically, this past summer, I worked on a salinity project that examined the effects of adding various levels of salt to five different species of trees. The results from the experiment can be useful in determining the effects of road salt on similar tree species that are present around the Mentor Marsh. 

Click the link above to read more about Meggie’s student profile.  

Madelyn Kist
Senior Chemistry Major Madelyn Kist

What do you research? 

Kist: I'm a new member of the Shen research group. We use single molecule microscopy to study polymeric materials and their functionality in everyday life. By utilizing 3D super-resolution microscopy and other techniques like NMR, we monitor polymerization in real time. 

To read more about Madelyn’s research, click the link above! 


Follow the links to read what the 2020 SURE students had to say about their experience with the program!


Headshot of Kyra Fogg
Senior Psychology Major Kyra Fogg and Professor Angela Neal-Barnett, Ph.D.

When senior psychology major Kyra Fogg joined the SURE program, she gained much more than simply a strong relationship with psychology professor Angela Neal-Barnett, Ph.D., because of the research team she worked with. In order to study the intergenerational trauma among pregnant black mothers and their children, Kyra and Dr. Neal-Barnett worked with a doula, a music therapist, a grad student in the psychology department, a community member and a postbaccalaureate student. According to Dr. Neal-Barnett, being a good SURE mentor involves having good graduate students and a good team for the undergraduates to connect with. Want to know more about Kyra’s time with the SURE program? Click the link above to read their interview! Read more about Kyra's research



Tiera Moore Headshot
Senior English and Political Science Major Tiera Moore and Professor David Kaplan, Ph.D.

Senior political science and English major Tiera Moore joined the SURE program after participating in the Sophomore Research Experience (SRE). During her most recent SURE experience last summer, Tiera worked with professor David Kaplan, Ph.D., on his book about nationalism. Tiera says the SURE program provided her with an in-depth research experience and invaluable networking opportunities. According to Dr. Kaplan, Tiera's research allowed her to learn about the steps in acquiring the sources necessary to put together a book. Want to know more about Tiera's time with the SURE program? Click the link above to read her interview! Read more about Tiera's research


Headshot of Patrick Baker
Senior Applied Engineering Major Patrick Baker and Associate Professor Yanhai Du, Ph.D.

Senior applied engineering major Patrick Baker participated in the 2020 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience Program (SURE) with associate professor Dr. Yanhai Du. During his SURE experience, Patrick researched the additive manufacturing of fuel cell components in Dr. Du’s lab. Additive manufacturing, as Dr. Du explains, is another term for 3D printing. Both Dr. Du and Patrick believe the SURE program assists both faculty and students; students garner research experience for their future endeavors and faculty receive assistance on their research projects. To learn more about Patrick’s time with Dr. Du this summer, click the link above! Read more about Patrick's research


Headshot of Kelly Harper
Senior Theatre Studies Major Kelly Harper and Professor Yuko Kurahashi, Ph.D.

During this summer’s SURE program, senior theatre studies major Kelly Harper worked with Dr. Yuko Kurahashi, professor of theatre, to research the background behind the musical “Missionaries” by Elizabeth Swados. “Missionaries” focuses on four American women who were murdered in December 1980 during the wake of the 12-year El Salvadoran Civil War. As production dramaturgs this summer, Kelly and Dr. Kurahashi studied the history of the Civil War in El Salvador and the background information of each character to ensure it would relate to a contemporary audience. The School of Theatre and Dance had been planning to stage “Missionaries” under the direction of Fabio Polanco in Fall 2020 before it was canceled due to the pandemic. The production team hopes to be able to use Kelly and Dr. Kurahashi’s dramaturgical research later for another production of “Missionaries.” While Dr. Kurahashi says it can be challenging for theatre students to form the bridge between research and the stage, the SURE program provides the academic, organizational and financial support that students need to succeed. To hear more about their time with the SURE program this summer click the link above. Read more about Kelly's research

Headshot of Madeline Sterling
Junior Nursing Major Madeline Sterling and Associate Dean for Research Mary K. Anthony, Ph.D., RN

Through the SURE program, junior nursing student Madeline Sterling worked with Associate Dean for Research in the College of Nursing, Mary K. Anthony, Ph.D., RN, to research how nurse’s cognitive work can be affected when there are interruptions in the hospital trauma room. Madeline met Dr. Anthony through the Honors College and said the SURE program has shown her the various ways her nursing degree could be used in the future. Dr. Anthony and Madeline both feel that the SURE program allows undergraduates an opportunity to begin developing research skills and to be a part of a research team while also serving as a pipeline to a Ph.D. program. Interested in hearing more about how the SURE program could benefit you? Click the link above to learn more about the interview with Dr. Anthony and Madeline! Read more about Madeline's research

Headshot of Daiyanera Kelsey
Junior Environmental Conservation Biology Major Daiyanera Kelsey and Assistant Professor Lauren Kinsman-Costello, Ph.D.

The SURE program allowed Daiyanera Kelsey, a senior studying environmental conservation biology, to figure out her long-term career goals! Through the SURE program, Daiyanera got to work in the lab of assistant professor of biological sciences Lauren Kinsman-Costello, Ph.D., studying the Campus Center Drive Water Quality Basins. Dr. Kinsman-Costello said she values the SURE program and how it provided her the opportunity to train undergraduate students in the research values and ethics that are important to society. To hear more about how the SURE program has affected Kent State students, click the profile above with Dr. Kinsman-Costello and Daiyanera! Read more about Daiyanera's research