Example Capstone Projects

Current Projects

Blair Armstrong (Hamid Ghandehari, Pharmaceutics & Pharmaceutical Chemistry): Evaluation of Elastinlike Fusion Proteins to serve as Drug Free Macromolecular Therapeutics

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) is a traumatic and common form of cancer that represents over 4% of all cancers. In 2020, in the United States, it is projected that over 74,000 cases will be diagnosed and nearly 20,000 people will die. Traditional cancers suffer from a lack in efficacy resulting in immunotherapies that target upregulated receptors, such as CD20 to fight diseases like NHL. However, many patients either don’t respond or develop resistance to treatment. Thus, new treatment methods are needed. The aim of this project is to continue creation and characterization of new monomers of ELP-CCE fusion proteins to determine their potential to serve as drug free macromolecular therapeutics.

Alec Bang (Paul Stout, Art & Art History): Alienated

Alienated is an event exhibiting the amalgamation of the conceptual and physical knowledge I have been pursuing through my studies inside and outside the University of Utah. All visitors will be welcome to an immersive pop-up exhibit including contemporary conceptual furniture, intermedia sculpture and painting work, collaborative installation, and performative video encouraging community discourse and discussion. I am currently producing a body of work addressing ideas of feeling completely alienated from my heritage and ancestors, living on land which was wrongfully taken from indigenous natives who had been living here for millennia. The goal of this exhibition is to discuss the effects of colonization and industrialization on a landscape which is rapidly being fenced off to any but those who buy rights to extract profit from it.

Kristen Bennett (Laurel Caryn, Art & Art History): Utah's Disappearing Natural World

For my capstone project, I will be photographing endangered animals that are native to Utah. These animals that will be photographed have gone through the taxidermy process because it is currently nearly impossible to find them in the wild. Some of these animals include the black-footed ferret, grizzly bear, prairie dog, and spotted owl. I will be creating a large scale 3-D fragmented collage of these animals with elements showing their disappearance as well as why they are going extinct. It is important to understand how different species depend on their ecosystems and how outside environmental, agricultural, and human influences affect them. Through this understanding, people will become more aware of how to protect wildlife and the natural world around us for not only our benefit but for future generations as well.

TeMerae Blackwater, Emily Clissold, Jayne Hansen, Haylee Osgood (Anita Leopardi, Health Promotion & Education): Grow Together - A Resilience-Based Program for Families

Based on the research we conducted, the families housed at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Intermountain Area (RMHC) need a resilience-based program tied with proper coping skills and therapeutic techniques. Families with seriously ill or injured children are affected by stress from the various issues that come with the illness itself. It is important to address this because seriously ill or injured children cope better with their situation when surrounded by a supportive family that can help them cope with this life-altering event. Our proposed resilience-based program will introduce activities that the parents and siblings of the injured or seriously ill child will participate in to develop and increase resiliency. This invites the family unit as a whole to become resilient in coping with the emotional and physical trauma so that they may tend to the seriously ill or injured loved one.

Nathan Caines (David Strayer, Psychology): EEG study of glucose's effect on cognitive control

Research suggests that both cognitive control and self-regulation share glucose as a common limiting factor, which we elucidate through a double-blind placebo-controlled crossover experiment. We theorized that the application of glucose may prevent the peaks from ERN from shrinking with fatigue related with cognitively strenuous tasks. Therefore, we can detect if glucose and not the placebo, is able to “restore” the error monitoring system of cognitive control, which will raise the amplitude of ERN signals.

Erica Emery (Melissa Zahl, Occupational and Recreational Therapies): Pedal Away Parkinson's Program for Skaggs Wellness Center

To create a recreational therapy program for the participants at the Skaggs Wellness Center that is designed to facilitate inclusion in the Pedal Away Parkinson’s event. It is important for the participants at the Wellness Center to have a program that will allow them to feel confident in their biking skills and be aware of the different adaptations they can use when riding a bike. It is also a great way for the participants to get out into the community and be involved with others in and out of their social circle.

Braden Fallon, Valeria Delgadillo (Melodie Weller, Dentistry): Dual Reporter Plasmid System for Characterization of HDV Genomic Promoter Sequence

The Hepatitis delta virus (HDV), once thought to be variant of the Hepatitis B virus, has been shown to be a defective virus that relies on a helper virus for packaging and transmission (Wang et al., 1986). Through the sequencing of the virus, it was determined that HDV is a unique RNA virus with no shared homology to other viruses, thus resulting in classification in the genus Deltavirus (Casey, 2006; Homs et al., 2014). While a specific location of the promoter region of this virus is still under debate, a region at the end of the rod structure has been accepted within the research community as a likely promoter region due to its conservation among variants of HDV (Beard et al., 1996; Macnaughton et al., 1993). Within this promoter region exist binding domains and hormonal responsive elements, whose effect on the virus replication and antigen expression have not been fully studied (Zhou, Corden, & Brown, 1997). This study aims to evaluate the impact of hormones and transcription factors on HDV promoter activity utilizing the genomic promoter sequence in a plasmid reporter system.

Amy Folsom, Ashlee Crabtree, Jeni Eyre, Hannah Powell (Anita Leopardi, Health Promotion & Education): Coping with ME/CFS

Our health program addresses multiple facets of wellness that are necessary for people living with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) to function in their activities of daily living. We will conduct six weekly virtual sessions covering topics such as meditation, mindfulness, pacing, coping techniques, etc, through our partnered agency, The Bateman Horne Center.

Robert Keaney (Elizabeth Archuleta, Ethnic Studies): Creating Women Worriers

Every year, violence impacts approximately 730,000 American Indian and Alaska Native women. It has become a public health emergency that encompasses verbal, domestic, physical, and sexual violence, all of which have lifelong effects on women and their extended Native community. Last semester, the Skull Valley Band of Goshutes opened up Warrior Spirit Wellbreity Center to serve clients dealing with, not only substance abuse and mental health issues, but also histories of sexual and domestic violence. I began to design a combat sports program designed to help Native women rebuild their lives and look at their bodies as powerful and capable of incredible athletic feats. My project is specifically designed to benefit Warrior Spirit’s female clients, but workshops will also be offered to male clients, many of whom have also suffered abuse from historical trauma.

Rachel Roser (Laurel Caryn, Art & Art History): Blue is Human

My subject matter is photographing the hands of all different cultural backgrounds. When using cyanotypes as my chemical process, all hands will turn blue, and you wouldn't be able to see the differences in a race. We, as humans, are all the experiencing the same conditions of life. My work will focus on compassion, collaboration, cooperation, and altruism.

Walllis Scholl, Trevor Williams, Carolina Castro, Benjamin Arce (Tony Butterfield, Chemical Engineering): Evaluating Role of Triton-X in Tunability of Gold Nanostars

Nanostars have applications in photodynamic therapy, catalysis, sensing, and electronics. Because there is a strong correlation between nanoparticle morphology and optical properties, tunability of nanoparticle shape is important to the field of nanomaterials. The growth mechanism of branched gold “nanostars” is not very well understood, which limits reproducibility when researchers cannot explain the effects of various materials and methods.

Dinorah Segovia Galicia (Heayoung Yoon, Electrical & Computer Engineering): Fabrication and Characterization of Si Nanowire Plasmonic Sensors

There has been a continuous push to create more reliable and high-performance micro- or nano-structured devices for a wide range of electronics, optoelectronic devices, and bio-medical systems. One of the promising device architectures is three-dimensional (3D) micro- or nano-wire arrays that can provide superior optical sensitivity to those in conventional thick and bulk structures. My project will focus on the design, fabrication, and characterization of silicon (Si) microwires and nanowires using cost-effective chemical etching and thermal oxidation processes.

Douglas Tolman (Laurel Caryn, Art & Art History): Deseret Industria

Deseret Industria is an interdisciplinary art exhibition which integrates all of the conceptual and practical knowledge I have gained during my studies at the University of Utah. Visitors to the exhibition will be immersed in a cohesive display of large-scale photography, performance video and contemporary sculpture which encourages community-based discourse. This exhibition sets out to acknowledge the consequences of colonization on Utah's land, opening a community discourse on how we can repair past mistakes and prevent future ones.

Merosa Uiagalelei (Hokulani K. Aikau, Ethnic Studies): Pacific Islander Women In the Diaspora

Pacific Islander experiences as an underrepresented and marginalized community are often misunderstood. With this in mind I plan to attend and follow a PI women's writing group that meets bi- weekly here in Salt Lake City, UT whose mission is to provide healing through different writing processes and prompts that focus on the common matters particular to PI women over the course of this semester. I plan to conduct an event by the end of the semester to highlight the work of participants of this PI women's writing group through a facilitated workshop by a PI community activist who features her advocacy through poetry and is an award winning spoken word artist named, Terisa Siagatonu.

Jasmin Velazquez, Angie Camposano, Brenda Sanchez (Anita Leopardi, Health Promotion & Education): Seeds that Succeed

The program aims to teach adolescents how to cope with the obstacles they are faced with, how to improve their overall health and emotional well-being in order for them to grow into their most successful selves. Seeds that succeed will create a foundation of knowledge and skills all “seeds” need: Water (recognizing and learning to deal with emotions in a healthy way), Soil (good nutrition and physical activity habits), Sun (Individual skill building i.e. time management, locating resources), and Care (building strong and healthy relationships with people they can trust, who they can talk to and who will keep them accountable). The program will give students the strategies, knowledge and resources they need to maintain a positive outlook through hardship.

Past Projects