2019 Pioneer Scholars

Carroll University recognizes the 2019 Pioneer Scholars and their mentors for their academic and scholarly achievements. Read descriptions of the research projects explored during summer 2019.

Kate Gentry & Tina Schneider


Kate Gentry


Tina Schneider

Mining Phage Genomes for Novel Antibiotics

The CDC considers antibiotic resistance to be one of the greatest public health challenges that we are currently facing (www.CDC.gov). Although resistance is a naturally occurring process in bacteria, misuse in healthcare and agricultural practices has resulted in an increased spread of resistance that is becoming unmanageable. Compounding this problem, drug companies are not interested in developing new antibiotics as the financial payout pales in comparison to other medications.

The danger of the lack of remaining effective antibiotics is illustrated in the case of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic pathogen. Each year, over 50,000 healthcare related infections in the United States are attributed to this pathogen making it one of the leading causes of healthcare related infections (www.CDC.gov). P. aeruginosa is also the primary cause of lung infection in patients suffering from cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that affects approximately 70,000 people worldwide (www.CFF.orf). In 2013, the CDC compiled a list of 18 antibiotic-resistant pathogens in the United States that pose the greatest risk including multidrug resistant P. aeruginosa (www.CDC.gov).

Given the risk that multidrug resistant P. aeruginosa poses, there is a push to develop alternative strategies to combat infections. Viruses that infect bacteria, also known as phages, might hold the key to identifying novel antibacterial products or new targets for antibiotic development. As part of their normal replication cycle, phages must shut down many vital host cell processes to hijack the host cell machinery for their own purposes of making more viruses and they need to kill the bacteria to release the new viruses. For example, Artilysins are modified versions of the phage genes that kill bacteria to release the new viruses. The have been used in place of antibiotics in food and veterinary uses as well as topically in humans (www.lysando.com). This project will continue along a similar track by analyzing genes coding for cytoplasmic proteins and their possible use for inactivating the bacterial cell activity.

Previous students in Dr. Schneider’s lab have isolated phages that can infect and kill P. aeruginosa and they sequenced their genomes. Having the sequence information allowed them to predict genes and it allows us to clone out genes of interest and screen them for functions like the ability to kill bacteria. We have identified 6 genes of interest and have begun the initial steps of cloning them this spring into E. coli (BIO485). This project will be to express these genes in P. aeruginosa and screen them for their antibacterial potential. We will also try to gain a better understanding of function for any genes that have antibacterial properties using various bioinformatics tools.

Allison Gonzales & Lenny Ramsey


Allison Gonzales

Lenny Ramsey, Carroll University

Lenny Ramsey

Changes in Attention After a Concussion

Concussions are a relatively common injury, yet their effect on the brain is still poorly understood. Most people who suffer from a concussion complain of headaches, fatigue, dizziness, memory problems and difficulty concentrating. While some individuals state these symptoms go away relatively quickly, others are not as lucky and suffer months or even years afterward. Even though concussions are being researched more than ever, there are still many aspects that are unknown. This research project looks specifically at how concussions influence concentration and memory (two of the main complaints). There will be two different groups tested, consisting of 15 right-handed people each. Some aspects of attention are found on the right side of the brain and is more consistently the case in right-handed people. One group will comprise of individuals who have sustained a concussion within the past 6 months, and the second will consist of individuals who have never had a concussion. To make sure there are no outside factors, we will choose subjects that have no other neurological issues.

To begin, the group that has had a concussion will be asked how they feel their symptoms are rated on the post-concussion severity scale for a baseline rating. The post-concussion severity scale is a well-established scale in the medical field that has people rate their symptoms from 0-6 based on how they feel. For example, one of the questions would be to rate their dizziness from 0-6, with 0 being not dizzy at all, and 6 being severely. Once we have their score, we will be able to use this scale to compare their ratings to the behavioral and neuroimaging measures we are collecting.

Beginning this research topic, we will give each participant a HLVT test to test his or her memory. We will give them a list of words to memorize and see if they can recall the list right after hearing it (immediate recall). 20 minutes later we will ask them to recite the same list and see if they can remember all of the words (delayed call). Each group will also be tested on how long they can hold their concentration and how well they are able to shift their attention from one task to another using the computerized Posner task. The Posner task has been used to measure attention at the behavioral level through reaction times, as well as at the brain activity level using neuroimaging. Participants will be hooked up to an electroencephalography (EEG) machine to gather data on how their brain is functioning. An EEG is a non-invasive method that allows us to measure brain activity using a cap with electrodes that are placed on the test subject’s head. We will be specifically looking at brain activity in attention regions both during activity and at rest. We will then compare the behavioral data as well as the EEG data between the two groups.

For this research project, we are hoping to use the behavioral data of the HVLT and Posner task to find any memory and attention issues and see if those issues correlate with each other and with the symptoms participants still have (measured with the severity scale). With the EEG, we want to see the underlying neurophysiology changes that are abnormal. If there are no significant behavioral effects through the Posner task, we may be able to see that the individual with a concussion has more brain activity (which means they are taking more effort to complete the task) in the EEG than those without a concussion. Understanding what is happening in the brain after a concussion can help with developing treatments. Having a good way to measure lasting effects could help identify who needs long term treatment.

Megan Neubauer & Pascale Engelmajer


Megan Neubauer

Pascale Engelmajer, Carroll University faculty

Pascale Engelmajer

Motherhood across Religious Lines: An Exploration of Buddhist and Christian Mothers

In this project, I will explore whether we can establish a meaningful connection between motherhood in both Buddhism and Christianity, by examining the figures of Mary and Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī (in religious texts) and the influence in the Middle ages (scholars who have written about their experiences of this nature). The concept of motherhood and religion is a relatively new area in religious studies, therefore, this project will be original. To examine this concept of motherhood and religion further, I will examine some texts from the Middle Ages, a period during which Mary and Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī were greatly respected in their duty as a mother. I will be tying in ancient texts with Middle Aged texts to formulate a comparison of the representations of a mother within Buddhism and Christianity, thus answering the question: Is there a connection between how ancient religious mothers from two different religions “mother”?

The idea of mothering, for my purpose, will come from the current definition given by Sara Ruddick (2011) in Maternal Thinking. Mothering for Ruddick consisted of three trademark qualities: protecting, nurturing, and training for society. Additionally, I will focus on the importance of Mary and Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī as spiritual mothers. These foundations of mothering will be used as a reference for which I will look for evidence while reading material and while writing my essay that gives an analysis of my findings. I will then begin my research by reading the sacred texts of both Buddhism and Christianity and work to understand the activities and qualities that makes Mary and Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī mothers through quotes from scripture. This includes texts from the Bible (around 60-100 A.D.) and excerpts from the Pali Canon (around 5th century B.C.). I will then use texts from the Middle Ages to gather more knowledge about the religious figures as mothers, due to a lack of sufficient information in the sacred texts alone. By using this influential time period, I am allowed to gain a unique perspective of the representations of Mary and Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī as mothers. For Mary, I will rely on sources from the scholar Bernard of Clairvaux, a French abbot in the 1100s, to gain a better understanding how medieval mystics related to Mary as a mother. For Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī, I will use texts from Lankan Medieval Literature. Based on these texts, I will hope to highlight similarities and differences in how these two religions understand motherhood and the activities of mothering in a spiritual context.

This question will be answered, after the research mentioned above, as a formal comparison paper using the structure of Sara Ruddick’s teaching on motherhood. I will touch on examples from Mary as a protector, nurturer, trainer, and spiritual guide and then compare these examples with Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī’s examples as a protector, nurturer, trainer, and spiritual guide. At the end of this extensive paper, I will draw conclusions from the comparison to explain why both these women fuel Christianity and Buddhism still today and their relevance to our society.

Leonard Steinert & Todd Levine


Leonard Steinert

Todd Levine, Carroll University faculty

Todd Levine

Choosing Your Host: How the Pigments of Mussel Lures Determine Which Host Parasites Infest

Freshwater mussels inhabit all except one continent, but at least 40% are threatened globally (Lopez-Lima et al. 2018).  North America is home to more mussel species than anywhere else in the world and these mussels shape the ecology of rivers and lakes throughout the continent (Haag. 2010). Surprisingly, the larvae of pearly mussels (unionids) spend the first stage of their lives as parasites on fish, which are called glochidia. Adult mussels, ready to transfer their glochidia to fish hosts, produce lures to attract fish. A fish that mistakes a mussel lure for food (like a smaller fish or crayfish) attacks the mussel, causing the mussel to release these glochidia. Mussels in the Mukwonago River exhibit a variety of lure patterns, for example rainbow mussels create lures that have an appearance similar to a crayfish (personal observation). The purpose of this project is to explore how behavior contributes to the relationship between mussel lures and potential  host fishes.

If mussel lures are effective, fish should spend more time visiting mussels with lures than other areas of the stream, regardless of whether mussels are present in those areas.  However, what appears to be a lure to a human may not actually attract a fish or may not attract the correct fish.   In previous work with students, Dr. Levine found that mussel lures in the Mukwonago River had various patterns (shapes and colors).  This project will (1) determine whether mussel lures alter fish behavior in the river and (2) will document whether variation in lures is correlated with variation in fish behavior.  To observe fish that interact with a mussel’s lure, waterproof cameras will be sunk and directed toward a mussel with a lure. This will be compared to fish activity near mussels without lures and in randomly selected areas of the stream without a mussel.  In addition, the species of fish that visit the mussels with lures will be recorded. These species will be compared with a list of fish that are “physiologically competent hosts”, meaning that the glochidia that infect the host are likely to be successful in developing into mature mussels.

Using these data, we will be testing three additional questions. Fish in the lab have been shown to be compatible with glochidia infestations, but are the fish that visit the mussels the same as the ones identified in the lab, or are there more or fewer species of fish that are attracted to the mussels lure? Mussels exhibit lures that look like other aquatic organisms; do the fish that visit the mussels prey on organisms that resemble the mussel’s lure? Are mussels living in close proximity likely to exhibit more similarly pigmented lures than those living farther apart?


Dr. Levine and Leonard Steinert has had an abstract accepted for the(Virtual) Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society meetings later this month (April 2021) and submitted a presentation entitled, "Fish species and behavior affected by modified mantle lures of Lampsilis cardium.

Cameron Tom & Kimberly Redding


Cameron Tom

Kimberly Redding, Carroll University faculty

Kimberly Redding

Deeper (in)Sights: Voices of Carroll at 172

During the 2017-2018 school year, Carroll invited Saskia de Rooy from Netherlands for the Artist in Residence program to participate in in(Sight), a project providing a campus narrative through art. In the fall, Saskia sculpted a diverse group five members of the Carroll community, including both student and staff. These 3D portraits were all made from the same piece of clay, symbolizing human equality. Saskia came back in January to kick off the second half of the in(Sight) Project. This time around, students across multiple disciplines were involved. Higher level art students were helping to create paintings and 3D portraits of models throughout campus and ENG170H students were invited to interview models. Students from HIS495 (Kennan Seminar), under the instruction of Dr. Kimberly Redding, trained interviewers and provided them with guiding questions, along with choosing which interviews would end up in the final exhibit in order to gain expertise and familiarity working with oral history. HIS495 students experienced the ins and outs of oral history, learning different research methods and curatorial practice.

Excerpts from the models’ interviews were used and portrayed in an interdisciplinary exhibition, giving visitors a deeper understanding of the models, artists, and the impact art has helping us connect with one another.

This project aims to further what the Kennan students started- to create a time capsule of the Carroll community in 2017-2018. This project will consist of transcribing the interviews, totaling a little more than 700 hours of oral history. Using the transcripts, we will write two different essays, looking at the recurring themes in the different stories of the Carroll community. Using these stories and photos of the artwork, we will work with Saskia to create an exhibition catalogue, serving as a time capsule for Carroll life around 2017-2018.

Hailey Von Dross & Jenni Huck


Hailey Von Dross

Jennifer Huck, Carroll University faculty

Jenni Huck

Women’s Health and Well-being: In their own Words

This project will be a continuation from a completed Pioneer Scholar grant (Summer 2018), as well as a continuation of an Independent Study with Dr. Huck (Spring 2019), and will touch on information learned during PBH324: Program Development, Assessment, and Evaluation in Public Health. This will be a new project and new research study about women offenders and reentry in Wisconsin. The plan is to survey and interview women to learn about their processes, ideas, and feelings connected to incarceration and reentry and will include information about community connections, formal criminal justice control, and programming. As discovered in the Pioneer Scholar Research grant program last summer, the needs women have for successful reintegration into society are not being met by reentry programs offered in the state of Wisconsin. Two interviews were conducted last summer with The Women’s Center and The Demeter Foundation. It was our goal to determine their opinions of why some addressed social ties counteract recidivism while others do not, to learn about the successes and failures of their current and past programs, as well as to discuss beneficial changes to future reentry programs. While this information proved useful in determining the motivation behind reentry programs, very little information was obtained from females who had been incarcerated.

During the Spring of 2019, I am fortunate to be taking PBH324: Program Development, Assessment, and Evaluation which “...presents methods for the identification of population-based needs for public health intervention, development of programs to meet those needs, and evaluation of the effectiveness of these public health interventions” (Dr. Pinahs-Schultz, syllabus). The focus for my project in this course is on our Incarceration Nation, and focuses on women being a subgroup more likely to end up incarcerated. Additionally, I am completing an Independent Study with Dr. Huck in which we are continuing to assess women’s reentry needs, with a focus on healthcare. For the independent study, we are in the process of replicating a study completed between 2011-2013 by Jennifer Lorvick, Megan Comfort, Christopher Krebs, and Alex Kral. The study, “Health service use and social vulnerability in a community-based sample of women on probation and parole,” compared access to health care and other social vulnerabilities of women who had been on probation or parole within the past year to those who had not has any criminal justice involvement. Using that study as a baseline, Dr. Huck and I developed a survey to see how women perceive their overall health. We will be working in conjunction with the Hope Center and Joyful Souls, and are waiting to hear from a few more prospects, to deliver the surveys into the community. Information gained from the surveys will be entered into SPSS.

During the Summer 2019 Pioneer Scholar, is it our hope to modify the survey used during the Independent Study based on the results we uncover. We would like to expand our reach into the community and hand-out more of our updated surveys both within Waukesha, Dane, and Milwaukee counties. The majority of outreach will focus on non-profit re-entry programming outside of the Wisconsin Department of Correction (i.e., not prison-based or connected to a probation office) that might include faith-based programming, alcohol programming, and mental health care facilities. We will attempt to reach out the correctional facilities, but have been denied entry in the past. The following questions will be addressed in the study: How do women (incarcerated, on parole, and non-affiliated with the criminal justice system) perceive their healthcare? Does incarceration affect the use of alcohol and other drugs? Does incarceration affect the willingness of women to seek health treatment? Are women, affiliated with the criminal justice system or not, aware of their resources in the Waukesha, Dane, and Milwaukee communities? Once more information is gained from the survey results, we hope to interview women who were recently incarcerated, recently on parole, and those without any criminal justice affiliation, to compare their access to healthcare, and their overall health satisfaction. The gathered information from surveys and interviews will be examined for patterns. These conclusions will be added to the literature review, and will be compiled into an executive summary. The final state of the project is to present the complete findings at the Midwest Criminal Justice Association Meeting.

Alyssa Wolf, Amy Cropper & Sue Lewis


Alyssa Wolf

Amy Cropper, Carroll University faculty

Amy Cropper

Susan Lewis, Carroll University faculty

Susan Lewis

Cavity-Nesting Birds, Climate, and Behavior: A Scientific and Artistic Approach

I propose an interdisciplinary project that intertwines the scholarship of art professor Amy Cropper and biology professor Susan Lewis. Professor Cropper is working on a project that involves building and installing birdhouses for later use as sculptural material.  Her work explores intersections between nature-made process and human-made order.  Dr. Lewis’ scholarship involves connections between parent-offspring behavior and the critical global issue of climate change.  Within this project, I will monitor the birdhouses to investigate the effect of experimental increases in temperature on incubation and care of local cavity nesting bird species under Dr. Lewis’ guidance.  My observations will contribute to Professor Cropper’s project, as the data I collect on the species, nesting behaviors, feeding, and fledging in each house will be an important component in her exhibition scheduled for February 2020 in Carroll’s Bliss Gallery. A more detailed description of the proposed study with Dr. Lewis on temperature manipulation and its effect on nesting habits of local cavity nesting birds follows.

Cavity nesting birds heavily rely on optimal temperatures within sheltered chambers to successfully incubate eggs and raise offspring. Microclimatic changes influence the timeline of incubation for bird eggs and affect the care provided by the parent (Wiebe, 2001).  Climate change is causing substantial variations in temperature resulting in more frequent extreme weather events as well as changes in average weather conditions (CCSP 2008). Due to this, climate change has the potential to alter nest temperatures of cavity nesting birds and, concurrently, affect the development and viability of their chicks as well as energy budgets of the parents during incubation and chick rearing.

Dr. Lewis, Professor Cropper, and I will work together to install 20 birdhouses at Prairie Springs over Carroll’s spring break, ensuring optimal placement for the temperature study and to attract the desired species. Half of them will have tarpaper covering the roof to increase nesting temperature (monitored throughout the study). The other ten houses will act as a control, experiencing ambient temperature. The birdhouses are constructed specifically to attract certain cavity nesting birds, such as black capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus), eastern blue birds (Sialia sialis), and tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor). Nests will be monitored to document nesting, egg laying, and fledging success.  In addition, the behavior of parents at each nest will be observed from a non-invasive distance until chicks have fledged to record the duration of incubation and foraging bouts. Besides noted visiting time to each individual birds’ nest by the parent, other behaviors will be noted such as duration standing watch for predators outside the nest, number of items brought into the nest, and time spent within the nest per visit. During and after the experiment we will be examining the houses for unique differences that are connected to both scientific and artistic components of this project. 

We expect that higher temperatures in experimental nests should change the amount of time a parent must incubate its eggs/offspring, allowing more time out of the nest for foraging and potentially allowing chicks to hatch and fledge more quickly. The degree to which these actions effect the outcomes of the reproductive success of the various parents as a species will be compared between the control and the experimental groups. These results then will be integrated into scientific, artistic, and interdisciplinary presentations at a variety of venues in spring 2020.

Elaine Yarger & Scott Hendrix

Elaine Yarger, Carroll University Pioneer Scholar

Elaine Yarger

scott hendrix photo

Scott Hendrix

Bloody Papists: Anti-Catholicism and Irish Immigration to England in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century

Immigration is very much in the news today, with many raising concerns that immigrants may not “share our [American] values” as then-candidate Trump put it while campaigning in 2017. More than 70% of Americans agree that it’s important immigrants “share our [American] culture,” according to a Pew Research poll of the same year. Language such as this is nothing new; as historians such as Noel Ignatiev have demonstrated in his study How the Irish Became White (Routledge, 2009, 2nd edition), that Americans frequently attacked the Irish immigrants in the 19th century for failing  to share in American culture. Central to this criticism were attacks on the religion most Irish immigrants shared--Catholicism. This 19th century anti-Catholicism in both the U.S. and England has been the subject of intense study, but very little work has been done on English attitudes toward the Irish and Catholicism in earlier periods, representing an exciting opportunity for research.

This study will examine the attitudes of the English toward the Irish, with a focus on anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant rhetoric, at the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century. This is a particularly promising period for research, as Irish immigrants flooded into London during the 17th century in order to escape the destruction of the British Civil Wars (1642-1646 and 1648), which devastated Ireland, and in search of jobs on the new turnpike and canal building projects undertaken in the second half of the 17th and the early 18th centuries. Thus, already by the 1660s the area around the St. Giles parish church in London was known as “Little Dublin.”

In order to understand the attitudes of the English the scholar and mentor will examine records relating to Irish immigration to England in the National Archives in Kew Gardens, near London, as well as records and newspapers- an innovation of the 17th century- contained in the British Library. Furthermore, court records from London’s Old Bailey, the central court in London, will prove invaluable. In 2015, researchers from the University of Sheffield completed a project compiling and cataloging these records from 1674 to 1913, which will allow the Pioneer Scholar team to investigate Irish contact with the authorities and the language directed at Catholics in the English court system. Although references to Irish immigrants have been digitized, many of the actual records detailing their court cases have not. The digitized records, therefore, provide tantalizing glimpses language used in court cases, but often do not provide the level of detail needed for this research project. Similarly, the National Archives contain the records assembled by the State Paper Office, summarized in the Calendar of State Papers but lacking in narrative detail, as well as Catholic church registers, baptismal records, and other documents stored in the archives since the destruction of Catholic churches in the region of London known as “Little Dublin” in the 17th and 18th centuries. Finally, outside of London, our preliminary research indicates that Liverpool’s City Archives contain a large number of legal, social, and family documents relating to the sizable Irish community that existed in the city from the end of the 17th century. According to Thomas Evans, archivist for the city of Liverpool: “These records are a largely untapped resource, but we have rather a lot from the period you’re interested in.”

We propose not just to analyze records of how many Irish men and women were present in London and Liverpool in the 17th and 18th centuries, but to scrutinize the language used about those immigrants in order to understand the way in which anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant bias were intertwined from this early period. The result will be a published article.


Yarger will present her paper "Bloody Papists: Anti-Catholicism and Irish Immigration to England in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century" at the 2020 Phi Alpha Theta Biennial Convention in San Antonio from Jan. 2-5, 2020.

Teal Zimmerman & Colleen Pennell


Teal Zimmerman

Colleen Pennell, Carroll University faculty

Colleen Pennell

The Challenges Behind Empowering Individual Diversity Through Literature

This project will investigate how middle school librarians and teachers define diversity, explore how they promote diverse literature into their respective libraries and how they address controversial issues that may arise within young adult literature. As a Pio-Scholar, I am interested in understanding the role of diversity in classroom and school libraries and how teachers and librarians address controversial material in instruction, including how they describe their use of diverse texts within their instruction. To understand this topic, I will send out a survey to both librarians and middle school educators that will interrogate this issue. I am hoping that my findings will help inform practicing and preservice educators about how teachers are using diverse texts and provide ideas for additional research and resources in this area.


Teal Zimmerman will present her research in February at the Wisconsin State Reading Association 2020 Conference. As a WSRA student scholarship award winner, she will receive complimentary admission and lodging for the 3-day conference. 

Panoramic View of campus