Fall 2023


Brent Hokeness

Brent Hokeness

Relationship between the Timing of Hip-Torso Separation and Hitting Performance

This study, conducted in the Northern State Biomechanics Lab, investigated the connection between hip-torso separation timing and baseball hitting performance. Participants performed five game-like swings, hitting a ball off a tee into a net. The research utilized the lab's advanced motion capture and force plate technology, alongside a Blast Motion sensor, to gather biomechanical and swing metrics.

The focus of the study was on two key performance indicators in baseball hitting: bat speed and rotational acceleration. By examining these metrics, the research aimed to elucidate how the timing of hip-torso separation during the swing influences these critical aspects of hitting performance. This insight could provide valuable information for optimizing training and techniques in baseball hitting.


Sage Bultje

Sage Bultje

Cestodes of Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus): A Conservation Concern Study

This project delves into the identification of cestodes (tapeworms) in sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), a species of significant conservation concern, collected from Montana. The primary focus is on the detailed description and identification of these tapeworms. Utilizing techniques such as staining with aqueous carmine and Mayer’s hematoxylin, the worms will be prepared for microscopic examination. This will involve careful observation of key morphological features, including proglottids, ovaries, cirrus, and testes, to accurately identify the species of tapeworm.
Additionally, to explore the molecular aspects, sections of the tapeworms will be reserved for DNA extraction. This genetic material will be analyzed and compared with existing data in GenBank, assisting in understanding the tapeworms' evolutionary relationships with similar species. This study not only aims to identify the tapeworms in sage-grouse but also contributes to the broader understanding of the ecological dynamics affecting this conservation-sensitive species.

Jessica Splichal presents her projectJessica Splichal

Jessica Splichal

The Functions of microRNAs within CD34+ Hematopoietic Stem Cells

This thesis explores the vital role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in the regulation of CD34+ Hematopoietic Stem Cells (HSCs), which are multipotent stem cells located in the bone marrow and peripheral blood. HSCs are instrumental in generating all blood cell types throughout an individual's life. Their unique capacity for self-renewal and differentiation into diverse cell lineages is essential for maintaining bodily homeostasis and responding to injury or disease.
The study focuses on the intricate miRNA-mediated regulatory mechanisms within HSCs. It particularly emphasizes the impact of miRNAs on maintaining progenitor pools, promoting self-renewal, and guiding lineage commitment. To investigate these processes, the research utilizes a variety of biotechnological methods, including in vitro stem cell culturing, quantitative reverse transcription PCR (qRT-PCR), and immunofluorescent staining.
A key aspect of this study is the examination of how miRNAs exert precise control over critical cell signaling pathways and transcription factors, thereby influencing HSC behavior. This research aims to enhance our understanding of HSC regulation and has potential implications for advancing stem cell research and therapeutic applications.

Megan Fastenau

Megan Fastenau

Isolation and Bioinformatic Characterization of Bacteriophage MossRose and Mutagenesis of Gordonia rubripertincta for Host/Virus Relationship Studies

This project centers on bacteriophages, viruses that infect bacterial cells, with a specific focus on their interaction with the bacterium Gordonia rubripertincta. The aim was to isolate, purify, and genomically annotate bacteriophages from various environmental samples. Using both direct and enriched isolation protocols, we employed techniques such as serial dilutions, 'pick-n-jiggle/pick-a-plaque,' and spot-plating to successfully obtain pure viral colonies. The genomic DNA extracted from these colonies was sent to the Pittsburgh Bacteriophage Institute for Illumina sequencing.

While the complete bioinformatic analysis is scheduled for completion in spring 2024, preliminary studies on host-virus range specificity and viral titers are currently underway, involving several Gordonia species. Furthermore, we conducted functional genetics experiments using a mutated strain of G. rubripertincta. These experiments are integral to understanding the complex dynamics of bacteriophage-host interactions.

The anticipated findings from this research are expected to provide significant insights into the mechanisms governing bacteriophages and their specificity towards their hosts, contributing valuable knowledge to the field of virology and bacteriology.

Jacob Ebling and patientJacob Ebling and group

Jacob Ebling

VIDA Costa Rica Medical Mission Trip: Bridging Healthcare and Cultural Empathy

The VIDA Costa Rica Medical Mission Trip presents an invaluable opportunity for pre-health students to gain practical clinical experience in a culturally rich setting. This program is designed to immerse students in hands-on clinical training, working alongside local physicians in underserved areas of Costa Rica. Participants will engage directly in the diagnosis, treatment, and education of patients, offering vital medical assistance while gaining real-world medical experience.

Beyond providing essential healthcare services, the core objective of this mission is to foster a transformative impact on the health and well-being of the communities we serve. This experience is not just about delivering medical care; it's about creating a meaningful change. It's an opportunity for volunteers to develop deep cultural empathy and build collaborative relationships with the local population. Participants will leave with not only enhanced medical skills but also a profound understanding of the challenges and rewards of working in global health.


Spring 2022

  • Kai Brisk, from Buffalo, Minn., who is pursuing a bachelor of arts degree, for "Skopelos Foundation for the Arts Residency." 
  • Matej Cip, a music performance major from Hodslavice, Czech Republic, for "Connections between European Cimbalom and Chinese Yangqin.”
  • Gabrielle Grieme, for “Gaining Insight into Culturalism and Feminism Through Art."
  • Melissa Ulber, a music and criminal justice major from Riverside, Calif., for "Student Music Composition and Conducting Project."
  • Camryn Wipf, an elementary education major (B.S.Ed.) from Aberdeen, for “Golf Fore All: A Golf Clinic for Youth with Disabilities."






Studying music education

Grant total:  $871

“Clarinet Trio Recording Project and Performances Around SD”



This award will be utilized by a clarinet trio to create a professional recording of three pieces: Waltz, Op. 36, No. 3 - Amy Beach; Simple Gifts - arr. Kristen Denny-Chambers; and For the Sake of Art - Bill Malcolm. The recording will be submitted as an application to perform at the South Dakota Music Education Association (SDMEA) Conference in Rapid City, SD (October 28-30, 2021). In preparation for the performance at SDMEA, the clarinet trio will tour to area high schools (Watertown, Huron, and Redfield) performing both the aforementioned pieces as well as other prepared repertoire.


FALL 2020


Senior studying digital media

Grant total:  $785



Kate will be using this award for her senior art display.  She will travel to regional art galleries to gather ideas and use these to create a unique display of her art portfolio in the Avera Student Union art gallery.  



Senior majoring in marketing and management

Grant total:  $1,000

“Assessment of Advertising Appeals Using Google Ads”



For my proposed research I plan to study the correlation between search campaigns and desired conversions. In order to study this, it is imperative that I have access to an organization’s Google Ads account and Google Analytics account to runs tests and assess the results. Justin Fraase has given me permission to run search ads on behalf of NSU and he will be involved in the search campaign, along with my faculty sponsor Dr. Hannah Walters. NSU currently runs search campaigns and my campaigns will be run in conjunction, albeit separate than NSU’s current campaigns. The search campaigns will be run through Google search ads, of which I am certified to use, but have little experience actually using. I plan to use A/B testing with different search campaigns to determine the most effective appeal to potential students. The appeals include humor, emotional, testimonial, and rational.



Senior English major

Grant total:  $75

“Starting to HyFlex: Inital Instructor Experiences with HyFlex Course Design”



This project aims to better understand instructors implementing HyFlex for the first time in their courses. It looks over the systemic data collected over the Fall 2020 semester to better understand how Northern’s faculty have experienced the HyFlex model. The study consists of interviews conducted with each participant, from September to December once a month. Participants share their thoughts on their experience with implementing HyFlex as well as how they design their courses, how they have perceived student engagement, and how they have overcome unexpected challenges.


Spring 2020

Terrina Barnes

Junior biology major 

Grant total:  $1,000

“Survey of Western Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta): Population structure, efficacy of trapping techniques, and hematological measures of stress”


Project Description

In this project, we will survey the turtle population in an inlet pond on the edge of Clear Lake, in Marshall County, South Dakota (45.695469, -97.340790). Turtles will be extensively surveyed using three different trapping techniques. Population size and structure of Western Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta) will be estimated and compared to previously reported by catch data. In addition, the presence of other turtle species will be documented. Sex and morphological characteristics will be recorded and blood samples for both hematological and genetic studies will be collected. I will be assisting with all aspects of the field work consisting of setting/location of traps, mark captures, collect hematological samples, and record data.