Below are abstracts of KU BEARS grant awards from 2022. Click on the titles to read each abstract.

  • Urban Change and Development: How Energy Consumption is Changing in the Lehigh Valley

    Michael Davis

    College of Liberal Arts and Sciences | Geography   

    Abby Wheeler  

    Major: Environmental Science | Geography             

     Overview: The Lehigh Valley, commonly classified as the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton, is a major population center of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This modern urban conglomerate relies on a diverse economic portfolio including, but not limited to, commercial, industrial, logistical, and residential drivers. These all require energy to propel the economic engine of the Lehigh Valley. Most often these energy sources have been fossil fuel based. Recently, renewable energy has become more proliferated in Pennsylvania and the local region. In Pennsylvania, consumers of energy have the option of selecting their energy provider and source of energy. This has allowed greater accessibility and opportunity for consumers to switch to renewable sources of energy.

    This study examines trends in energy generation and consumption across the Lehigh Valley. Allocation of the energy for specific purposes, such as lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, hot water, and others, are further examined to understand ever changing energy demands and how much energy is required for these essential property practices.

  • Organizing and Cataloguing the Don Yoder Collection at the Kutztown University Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center

    William Donner              

    College of Liberal Arts and Sciences | Anthropology/Sociology                  

    Edris Sarah        

    Major: Anthropology

    Overview: Sarah Edris examined and organized 16 boxes of materials of the Don Yoder Collection at the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center.

    Don Yoder (1921-2015) was the pre-eminent scholar of Pennsylvania German studies during his lifetime. He published numerous books, was one of the three founders of the Kutztown Folk Festival, was the key driving force in the academic development of the study of Folklife, was a professor of  Folklore and Folklife at the University of Pennsylvania, and a major consultant to the Kutztown Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center. At his passing, the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center received several hundred boxes of materials from his house.

    In consultation with the Center’s Director, Patrick Donmoyer, and myself, and using her own knowledge of Pennsylvania German German/Dutch culture and life, Sarah organized the materials into archival grade containers in the following categories:


    Anabaptist materials

    Kutztown Folk Festival

    Hex signs or barn stars

    Events about Pennsylvania German/Dutch folklife and history

    General Folklife (other than Pennsylvania Germans/Dutch)



    Publications (both by Don Yoder and others)

    Folk Music

    Deitsch dialect material 

    Jacob Yoder (Don Yoder’s father)

    Correspondence, letters, notes

    Notebooks (personal diaries and notes)

    Personal awards and commendations

    Genealogy (Don Yoder had a special interest in genealogies)


    Standard/High German materials and materials about life in Germany

    Student papers (Yoder was a professor in the Department of Folklore and Folklife at the University of Pennsylvania)

  • Can Yucatan black howler monkeys influence the carbon cycle?

    Christopher Habeck

    College of Liberal Arts and Sciences | Biological Sciences  

    Nicole Prantow

    Major: Environmental Science | Biology

    Corinne Ruggiero

    Major: Environmental Science | Biology

    Overview: During the summer of 2022, Corinne Ruggiero (ENVSCI/BIO) and Nicole Prantow (ENVSCI/BIO) traveled to a tropical forest reserve located in southern Belize with Dr. Chris Habeck (Biology/Environmental Science) to study the endangered Yucatán black howler monkey. Their goal was to understand how these monkeys influence the ability of tropical forests to sequester carbon from the atmosphere and store it for long periods of time in tree biomass. Ruggiero and Prantow learned how to locate monkey troops by sight, smell, and sound, record the age and gender of individual monkeys, collect fecal samples for molecular analysis, and identify trees and record their size. They also wrote several grants to fund their travel to the research site and to present their work at an international conference in Montreal, Canada. Ultimately, they found that the carbon storage in trees was far greater under areas where monkeys defecate and feed compared to random locations outside of these activity centers, supporting the idea that howler monkeys enhance the carbon sequestering capabilities of tropical forests. Along the way, Corinne and Nicole made meaningful connections with the local Mayan staff employed at the research station and expanded their cultural, social, and biological awareness.

  • A Comparison of Online Ticketing Behavior of Sport Consumers in Primary and Secondary Ticket Markets: Facial Expression and Eye-tracking Analysis on Ticketing Service Websites

    Soojin Kim

    Yongjae Kim    

    College of Business | Sport Management

    Sadie Doss        

    Major: Sport Management     

    Overview: With the growing demand for the secondary market, this study investigated sport consumers’ information acquisition and ticket purchase behaviors on the secondary market in comparison to the primary market. By analyzing the behavioral measures of attention and patterns (e.g., eye-tracking and facial expression analyses), the objective of this study is four-fold: 1) to identify and analyze consumers’ visual attention patterns on sport event ticketing websites; 2) to examine their perceptions about the primary and secondary ticketing services; 3) to explore the driving factors in their ticketing decision making process; and 4) to examine the role of fan identification in their responses to the websites. For the purpose of this study, three ticket websites (one for a primary market; two for a secondary market) were selected. Using a convenience sampling method, 56 college students were recruited to this experiment. Both primary and secondary markets promote behavioral ease and fluidity for all tasks used in the experiment. The secondary websites cluttered interface may make self-directed tasks, such as finding seats and prices, more challenging than on competitor sites. The primary ticket website shows longer task completion times and more self-reported difficulty, supporting the idea that brow furrow may indeed be indexing frustration in these tasks. Findings of this study provide not only strong empirical evidence of individuals’ visual attention and emotional responses to sport event ticketing websites, but also meaningful insights into the critical elements of the effective website development.

  • Numerical treatment of Temperature Profile Along a Three-Dimensional Wall

    Perry Lee

    College of Liberal Arts and Sciences | Mathematics 

    Liannah Kim   

    Major: Mathematics   

    Overview: A numerical temperature model on how heat travels from one section of a wall of an experimental apparatus to another section of the same wall was developed. This numerical model in terms of temperature (in discretized form of a partial differential equation, PDE) was solved numerically (using Mathematica, a computer algebra system). Preliminary numerical temperature results were found to be within 5% of the analytical temperature results. More analyses need to be conducted to gain further confidence on the numerical temperature model developed in this research. A comparison of the numerical temperature results with experimental temperature data along the wall was not achieved. This comparison will ultimately verify and validate the accuracy of the numerical temperature model developed.

  • The effect of human influence on occupancy estimates using camera traps at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

    Andrew Mashintonio        

    College of Liberal Arts and Sciences | Biological Sciences  

    Shannon Keller

    Major: Biological Sciences    

    Overview: The presence of humans can influence wildlife behavior. Wildlife conservation areas that offer outdoor recreation need to be able to balance the enjoyment of their visitors with the needs of the species living there. Estimating occupancy of these species aids in understanding what effects human disturbance has on wildlife. We analyzed images from 12 camera traps placed randomly at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Pennsylvania over three months to identify mammal species. We estimated occupancy and detection probabilities in relation to each camera’s distance to the nearest trail, distance to the nearest road, elevation, and distance to the nearest stream. We identified 14 mammal species. Occupancy estimates ranged from 31.38% for southern flying squirrels (Glaucomys volans) to 100% for Virginia white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Overall, detection probability decreased as the distance to trails and roads increased. Six species were not affected by the proximity of trails or roads, and of the remaining eight species, only porcupine (Erethiszon dorsatum) showed a positive relationship with distance. Elevation and the distance to streams had varying effects. Anthropogenic disturbance may be causing temporal changes in occupancy rather than spatial changes. As most species were either unaffected by proximity to trails or roads, or were more likely to be detected near them, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary should take measures to prevent negative or dangerous interactions between wildlife and visitors.

  • The Archaeology of Industrialization in Eastern Pennsylvania

    Khori Newlander      

    College of Liberal Arts and Sciences | Anthropology/Sociology      

    Adrianna  Moore      

    Major: Anthropology 

    Overview: The rise of American industry during the late-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries dramatically transformed the United States. Researchers who study early industrial communities wish to understand how physical, economic, demographic, and social factors intersected in the unfolding of industrialization. Archaeology is particularly well placed to provide relevant insight because it can trace trajectories of cultural change over extended periods of time. Archaeology can also recover material evidence of the countless men and women who, though lost to the history books, helped America become an industrial and economic power. In this study, Adrianna Moore and I examined the myriad changes wrought by industrialization through the archaeological study of two nineteenth-century industrial communities in eastern Pennsylvania: Stoddartsville and Joanna Furnace. Analysis of the artifacts recovered from these sites is yielding evidence of regional variability in the unfolding of industrialization, as well as variability in how different social groups (e.g., socioeconomic classes, ethnic groups) experienced industrialization. Thus, our analyses provide new data for understanding the contexts and consequences of industrialization in the past and how industrialization continues to transform the world in the present.

  • Beyond Gender

    Saidi Christine 

    College of Liberal Arts and Sciences | History          

    Nerius Hannan

    Major: History

    Rebekah Reilly

    Major: History

    Gender as a mode of organizing peoples, societies, or families is not inherent in human nature. In most Bantu languages, prior to colonialism, there were no words or identities that exclusively meant “woman” or “man” as separate biological or social categories, instead, life stages, special abilities or seniority were the ways in which people were recognized and organized. To live in a world where there are no binary gender categories is hard to imagine, yet this was part of the social environment in which the Bantu cosmic family thrived for over three thousand years. The words that Bantu speakers have used to describe the communities they have envisioned and created suggest that, for them, belonging to a family, becoming a parent or ancestor, and generational knowledge held primary social significance. The KU Bears researchers worked with primary documents from the White Father’s Archives, linguistic databases and various ethnographic sources to compile research data to analyze how gender or lack of gender was conceptualized in precolonial Bantu Africa.  A final product is both presentations for each KU Bear to give at academic conferences and the completion of an article to be published in a peer reviewed gender studies journal.

  • Long Term Map Maintenance for Mobile Robots

    Dylan Schwesinger   

    College of Liberal Arts and Sciences | Computer Science & Information Technology        

    Perrin Patrick

    Major: Computer Science & Mathematics Minor

    The goal of this project is to handle mobile robot navigation tasks where the environment is expected to change over time. For example, monitoring crop growth. The main aspect of this project is to investigate map representations that can be easily updated (repaired) when discrepancies are detected between the initial map representation and the sensor measurements of the real-world environment acquired during a navigation task.

    This project continues the line of research that began under the auspices of the KU BEARS program in the summer of 2019. That work focused on developing map representations. The focus for this project is to consider those representations where the goal of the robot is to increase the certainty of the map during online operation. That is, develop route plans in real-time that visit areas of the map that are less certain more frequently while simultaneously updating the map representation in real-time.

  • Mouns Jones Geophysical Project

    Laura Sherrod

    College of Liberal Arts and Sciences | Physical Sciences     

    Giovanna LaSpisa    

    Major:  Geology/Spanish        

    Giovanna LaSpisa was a research assistant/collaborator for the Mouns Jones Geophysical Project this summer. She augmented her summer experience by also assisting in the Joanna Furnace Geophysical Investigation. These projects required her to learn the setup and calibration of the geophysical equipment, determine the best survey grid layout for several survey blocks in multiple locations, train novice fieldworkers in the proper use of the equipment, construct a final report for a site contact, and present the findings to a historical society. 

    Giovanna spent three full days running geophysical surveys at the Mouns Jones property with a field crew of myself and one other student. All field workers were experienced in running geophysical surveys. Two geophysical methods were utilized at the site: ground penetrating radar (GPR) and magnetometer. With the team of three experienced individuals, we were able to cover a greater area than anticipated in the original proposal for the work. Due to the large quantity of data collected, the amount of time necessary for data processing was expanded. Giovanna and I met numerous times in the computer lab to process, analyze, and synthesize the data collected into a field report to deliver to the site contacts. We sat side by side working on the data we collected at the Mouns Jones field site to produce a final report and presentation for our site contacts.

  • Use of Acoustic Triangulation to Location Howler Monkeys

    Matthew Stone 

    College of Liberal Arts and Sciences | Biological Sciences

    Sydnie Bisesi

    Major: Biology

    Nicholas Heffelfinger

    Major: Biology

    Acoustic triangulation is a technique that uses microphones and recorders to locate the source of a sound. There are many applications of acoustic triangulation including the monitoring of wildlife, particularly those which are vocal. The endangered Yucatán black howler monkey is a highly vocal primate that can be easily heard over long distances making them ideal species to employ automated acoustic triangulation techniques. The goal of this study was to validate the use of automated acoustic triangulation as a technique to study the behavior of howler monkeys. Specifically, we assessed the accuracy and precision of an automated acoustic array to estimate the location, movements, and identity of individual howler monkeys. In June 2022, we deployed ten GPS-synchronized SM4 acoustic recorders set to record continuously during our stay. We then visually located howler monkeys while they were performing their calling bouts and collected up-close recordings using a shot-gun microphone. During the project we collected over 1300 hours of recordings. Howler monkeys called frequently during our trip, and we were able to visually confirm the location of 12 of those calling bouts.  Our preliminary analyses suggest that acoustic triangulation can accurately locate (up to 4m resolution) the source of calling monkeys; however, analyses can be complicated when multiple troops call simultaneously. Future analyses will focus on resolving those issues.

  • The Function of Feathers in Tree Swallow Nests

    Todd Underwood     

    College of Liberal Arts and Sciences | Biological Sciences

    Annmarie Sanderson                    

    Major: Biology | Organismal/Ecology

    Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) are well known for lining their nests with feathers. Feathers have been suggested to improve thermal insulation in nests for incubation and nestling growth, and to reduce ectoparasites in nests. Previous research has found that feathers in Tree Swallow nests decrease incubation time, increase fledgling mass, and improve other reproductive parameters. By contrast, research addressing the suggestion that feathers decrease ectoparasite numbers in nests has been equivocal. Using data from 2021 and 2022, we found that both the number and total mass of feathers in Tree Swallow nests were not significantly related to the number of mites in nests. Surprisingly, the number and total mass of feathers in Tree Swallow nests were not significantly related to hatching success, although there was a strong trend toward higher hatching success with an increase in feathers. Finally, we found that both the number and total mass of feathers in Tree Swallow nests were significantly related to fledging success of chicks. Overall, we found no evidence that feathers control mite levels in Tree Swallow nests. However, feathers may improve the thermal environment of the nest and may lead to higher hatching and fledgling success. These trends will be further explored with an analysis of temperature probe data that will be forthcoming for a future presentation.

  • Investigating Historical Perspectives and Accuracy in Middle Level Social Studies Classrooms

    Carol Haney-Watson        

    College of Education | Education, Middle Level, Library and Technologies Education      

    Morgan Bentley        

    Major: Elementary Education

    Historically, social studies curriculum and instruction in US elementary and middle schools has been driven primarily by textbooks. The historical perspective represented by publishers in textbooks is often primarily influenced by what politicians and school officials want students to learn as opposed to primary sources and accurate research. This perspective is very often not a balanced or accurate account of people, events, and motivations (Loewen, 2007). 

    Historical myths, misrepresentations, and omissions have long been in existence among the general public as well as many teachers themselves. Teachers tend to teach what and how they themselves were taught which, as previously stated, has not been accurate or complete in many cases (Lucey et. al, 2010). The recent rise of nationalism further affects the perspective from which we perceive and communicate stories from the past. Many issues, such as Critical Race Theory, have become politicized stratifying perspectives and overshadowing any priority for accurate factual information and balance of multiple perspectives (Ankeney, 1995). This study seeks to answer these guiding questions: How accurately informed are ML teachers on historical myths and accurate history? To what level are you allowed to reflect this information in your classroom teaching?

    All middle school social studies teachers in one county in Pennsylvania were invited to participate in a survey to assess their thoughts and perspectives on historical accuracy in their teaching. We hope the results of this study will inform both public schools and teacher education programs on the current status historical accuracy in middle level classrooms and provoke review of how social studies teachers are prepared.

  • Two-Person Impartial Pebbling Games

    Wing Hong Tony Wong     

    College of Liberal Arts and Sciences | Mathematics 

    Samuel Murray

    Major: Mathematics   

    A graph is a network with nodes (called vertices) and links between nodes (called edges). A pebbling game on a graph consists of moves that remove two pebbles from a vertex of the graph and add one pebble to an adjacent vertex. In a two-person impartial pebbling game, players A and B take turns to make pebbling moves on a given graph, and the first player with no legal pebbling moves loses. It has been proved in our previously published work that for any integer 𝑛 ≥ 5, if the total number of pebbles on the complete graph 𝐾! is at least 𝑛 + 7, then player A has a winning strategy when the total number of pebbles is odd and player B has a winning strategy when the total number of pebbles is even. In this project, we alter the pebbling move in the following manner. In each move, we remove 𝑘 + 1 pebbles from a vertex of the graph and add one pebble each to its 𝑘 adjacent vertices, where 𝑘 may vary or can be a fixed positive integer. We study the winning strategies for player A in this game and discover a similar alternate pattern as stated above when the game is played on a complete graph. We also investigate the winning strategies when the game is played on a complete bipartite graph. On top of the game perspective, we design a “dominant assignment” for different graphs, i.e., construct an initial arrangement of pebbles such that every nontrivial terminating game is attainable.