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Student Profiles 2017-2018

The NASA Nebraska Space Grant is proud of our funded students.  The profiles below highlight the excellent research and aerospace workforce development activities being undertaken in Nebraska this year.  

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Click here for 2016-2017 Fellowship Profiles.

 

Rhonda Plofkin received her B.S. in Atmospheric Science in 2014 from Creighton University. She went on to receive a M.S. in Business Intelligence and Analytics, also from Creighton in May 2018. Rhonda is currently interning at NASA Ames Research Center. She is using Artificial Intelligence to identify stratocumulus clouds off the west coast of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean. She would like to use machine learning to gain a better understanding of atmospheric data in the future.

John Mailolo is an undergraduate student at Creighton University, pursuing a major in neuroscience. Through the support of the Nebraska Space Grant he has interned at NASA Ames during the summer of 2018. His research involved the effects of the spaceflight environment on gene expression in bone cells and the effects of a potential countermeasure for use during spaceflight.

Sarah Vaughn is a Senior Physics major with an emphasis in computational science at Doane University in Nebraska. In the summer of 2017, she completed an internship at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory where she assisted the scientists and engineers at the 3.5 meter WIYN telescope with the removal and re-coating of the primary mirror and worked with the bench spectrograph and helped perform instrument changes.She also shadowed one of the scientist in an overnight observing run and helped her to collect data for her research then reduced the spectra data that was collected using a program called IRAF.

After earning her undergraduate degree she plans to continue her education through graduate school and pursue a career in Computational Astrophysics.

Mary Radke is a junior in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. With the support of NASA Nebraska Space Grant, she is interning at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. There she is

designing end effectors for a robotic arm which could be used in future surface sampling missions in space.

Maven Losey is an undergraduate student from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who is now entering his third year as a Mechanical Engineering major. After graduation he plans to become a robotics engineer and design new tools and products for transportation and simple task completion. Through the Space Grant Maven has been able to work with Ryan McCormick, another engineer at JPL originally from UNL, to design and remodel a robotic arm for a miniature rover called the PUFFER which could one day be carried by another rover to explore small spaces on extra terrestrial bodies.

Nathan Jensen was born in Omaha, NE, and moved to Lincoln to attend UNL in the fall of 2014. After co-captaining the university’s high power rocketry team for two years, conducting robotics research in the Mechanical and Materials Engineering Department, and working on an internship at NASA Ames, he graduated in Spring 2018 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. Now enrolled as a graduate student to continue his robotics research, Nathan wishes to enhance his understanding of fluid dynamics and controls in a second internship at NASA Ames before continuing his studies. He hopes to work for NASA after completing his post-graduate education, and wants to design autonomous vehicles for interplanetary exploration.

Ben Bradley recently graduated from the University of Nebraska Lincoln with a B.S. in mechanical engineering and a minor in computer science. At the university, he participated extensively in on campus research labs, supporting fundamental physics and robotics research. In UNL's Advanced Surgical Technologies Laboratory he worked extensively with surgical robotic systems. Ben has previously worked with NASA, developing advanced x-ray optics at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Fall 2016 and designing a small robotic satellite manipulator at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Summer 2017.

I am a senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in mechanical engineering from Humphrey, Nebraska. Along with bachelors degree, I am also pursuing minor degrees in robotics engineering and international engineering. During my time at UNL, I have been a member of the Aerospace Club, NASA Robotic Mining Competition team, and the NASA Undergraduate Student Instrument Project team. After graduation in December, I am planning on going to grad school. Eventually, I would like to pursue a career in the aerospace industry, especially in the areas of robotics or space structures.

Parker Durham will be a senior mechanical engineering major this fall at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has worked as an undergraduate research assistant in the Advanced Surgical Technologies Lab at UNL under Dr. Farritor since May of 2016 and interned at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory during the summer of 2017 where he worked in a team to design a grasping mechanism for docking a small cube sat with large space debris objects. This summer, Parker will be working on a lunar sample handling carousel for Honeybee robotics. After graduation, Parker plans to either further his education in mechanical engineering or pursue a career in robotics.

Nathan Mann is a senior Mechanical Engineering student at the University of the Nebraska-Lincoln. He has participated in the Aerospace Club for two years as a member of the Rocketry Team and one year as the Outreach Coordinator for the Aerospace Club as a whole. He also has participated in undergraduate research opportunities through Dr. Carl Nelson’s Applied Mechanisms and Design Lab and Dr. Sangjin Ryu’s Bio/Flow Systems Lab. This summer, he is participating in an internship with the NASA Ames Research Center’s Aeromechanics Branch

through the NASA Nebraska Space Grant. After graduation in December 2018, he hopes to begin a career in aerospace engineering.

Miles Chasek is a senior at Chadron State College majoring in geoscience and mathematics. Working with Dr. Michael Leite at Chadron State College and the Geo-Analogs Team at JPL, Miles is studying the geological properties of the Mars 2020 Geo-Analogs. The data Miles is collecting will be used to update and revise internal documentation of the Mars 2020 Geo-Analogs at JPL.

Shelley Kosola is a sophomore at the Nebraska Indian Community College in Santee, NE.  She is studying for her Associates of Science degree with an emphasis in Environmental Sciences and Natural Recourses.  After she graduates, Shelley plans to pursue her education in Environmental Science and Natural Resources emphasizing soil health and sustainability. Her research focuses on Environmental monitoring through prairie restoration and soil health utilizing local weather data, time laps photography, soil analysis, plant inventory, and insect inventory.  Shelley wants to learn how the weather data and climate trends affect the regenerative processes of prairie restoration and how that will impact the Native American communities. 

Marcus Redwing is from the Santee Sioux Tribe and the Ho-Chunk Tribe of Wisconsin. He is currently attending Nebraska Indian Community College in South Sioux City, Nebraska. Marcus plans to contribute to this research project by utilizing his experience in computer technology, software, and audio/visual construction. His research focuses on environmental monitoring through prairie restoration and soil health utilizing local weather data, time laps photography, soil analysis, plant inventory, and insect inventory. Marcus wants to learn how the weather data and climate trends affect the regenerative processes of prairie restoration and how that will impact the Native American communities.

Lorraine Smith is a sophomore at the Nebraska Indian Community College at Santee. She is studying for her Associates in Science degree. After graduation, she plans to transfer and pursue her degree in Nursing. Her research focuses on Environmental Monitoring Through Prairie Restoration Research; utilizing time laps photography, soil analysis, plant inventory, insect inventory and local weather data. She wants to know if our monitoring data can help us determine climate change trends that affect our Native American Communities.

Cornelia Farley-Widow is a sophomore at Nebraska Indian Community College in Santee. She is studying for her Associates in Science degree. After graduation, she plans to transfer and purse her degree in Range Management. Her research focuses on Environmental Monitoring Through Prairie Restoration Research: utilizing time laps photography, soil analysis, plant inventory, insect inventory and local weather data. She wants to know if out monitoring data can help us determine climate change trends that affect our Native American Communities.

Aleisa LaBelle is a sophomore at Nebraska Indian Community College at South Sioux City, NE. She is studying for her Associates in Science degree. After graduation, she plans to transfer to a university to earn her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science or Sustainability. Her research focuses are on Environmental Monitoring through Prairie Restoration Research; utilizing time laps photography, soil analysis, plant inventory, insect inventory and local weather data. She hopes to use the information and knowledge from this project to help further her education and provide environmental resources to Native American tribes.

Nathan Pindell received his undergraduate degrees in Physics and Geology from Chadron State College in 2015, and returned to pursue his graduate degree in Geology. He plans to further his academic career with a doctorate with applications towards space sciences and scientific literacy. His current research is to observe micrometeorological conditions and dust-devil characteristics for evidence of a relationship between the two. Working with NASA’s JPL, the SETI institute, and a geoscience consultation firm, the goal is to possibly provide some insight into the atmospheric conditions and erosion / deposition rates on Mars. His advisor in this project is Dr. Mike Leite, Professor of Geology at Chadron State College.

Todd Leidy is an undergraduate student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha studying Computer Engineering. 

He works as a software engineer in the pharmaceutical industry by day, and is an avid microcontroller enthusiast by night.  Todd worked under the guidance of Dr. Kendra Sibbernsen at MCC to create a GoPro camera stabilization (CHAD) pod for a high altitude balloon launch during the 2017 solar eclipse.

Nicolette Larsen is a senior at the College of Saint Mary, double majoring in Chemistry and Biology.  She is a Marie Curie Scholarship student at CSM. She plans to complete her degrees in May of 2018. Nicolette plans on using her degrees to help her pursue a career as a Pharmacist. She is also a member of the College of Saint Mary Softball team, Green team, and Math and Science Club. Nicolette also does pharmaceutical research and works as a Pharmacy Tech at CVS.  Nicolette enjoys helping children learn to love math and science so these education fields can continue to grow.

Niki Sansburn is a senior majoring in Human Biology and will continue her Masters in College of Saint Mary's P.A. program next year. The Science Outreach program works with and encourages student volunteers in the delivery of classroom science activities.  Last year, new activities were developed for electricity, force, and motion.  A new activity this year is 'Erosion' which has been requested 4 times thus far.  Feedback from elementary students, teachers and program volunteers has been very positive. 

Jonathan Hautzinger is attending the University of Nebraska at Omaha and pursuing a BS in Computer Science and an MS in Information Assurance with a focus in Cyber Security. He is working with Dr. Jung Chien from the University of Nebraska Medical Center on improving a virtual environment that will be used to supplement physical therapy treatment for gait movement. This software could potentially be used to treat the adverse effects of long term space flight on astronauts.

R.J. Shute is a third year doctoral research assistant obtaining his Ph.D. in exercise science.  He currently works in the Exercise Physiology Lab and has been the course instructor for optimizing sports performance as well as a teaching assistant for anatomy and physiology, exercise physiology, measurement and evaluation, and lab methods.  R.J. received his master’s degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and his undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska- Lincoln with majors in nutrition, exercise, health science and dietetics.  R.J.’s project will be on human gene response related to mitochondrial dynamics during exercise in cold environments versus a room temperature environment.  His research interests include environmental physiology, skeletal muscle physiology, and sports performance.

Fay Zuni Cardona is majoring in Physics with a minor is Mathematics. For her fellowship project she worked under Metropolitan Community College Physics Professor, Dr. Kendra Sibbernsen’s High Altitude Ballooning (HAB) project. She also had the opportunity to help NASA Ames Research Center with their Astrobiology experiment. NASA provided spore bacteria that was part of the payload for the HAB, that was launched on August 21st during the Total Solar Eclipse. Fay was in charge of securing the experiment on the pods, balloon recovery, and the data collection. This experiment will help NASA better understand the nature of extremophilic bacteria in extreme environments such as Mars. She will be transferring to the University of Nebraska at Omaha in spring of 2018.

Elizabeth Spaulding is a junior Mathematics major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is currently researching wake turbulence with Dr. Jae Sung Park in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. She will be creating a computational fluid dynamics program to model wake turbulence. Her interests include mathematics, computer science, fluid dynamics, and learning languages. She is also a part of the UNL Rocketry team.

Jared Soundy graduated from Augustana University with a BA in computer science with minors in mathematics and biology. He is currently a doctoral student at the University of Nebraska Lincoln studying computer science and plans to graduate in May 2020. His NASA Nebraska Space Grant Fellowship enables him to study the trade-offs between efficient routing and network security implicit in delay/disruption tolerant network protocol design.

Mona Al-Mugotir graduated from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, in August of 2002 with a bachelors degree in biochemistry.  Professionally, Mona worked for eight years in both academic and industrial laboratory settings before joining graduate school.  Currently, Mona is a 6th year PhD student in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology at the university of Nebraska medical center in Omaha.  She is working in Dr. Gloria Borgstahl’s laboratory and her project involves targeting the RPA:RAD52 DNA repair complex for cancer therapeutics.

Lucas Struble is currently a graduate student at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and is a Ph.D. candidate in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program.  Lucas works in the research group of Dr. Gloria Borgstahl to acquire structural information on the RPA-RAD52-DNA complex through x-ray scattering.  This research will provide information on future therapeutic targets for cancer treatments.  

Jahaun Azadmanesh graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha in 2015 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biotechnology and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Jahaun studies the catalytic mechanism of human manganese superoxide dismutase, a vital antioxidant protein, using Neutron Macromolecular Crystallography. Knowledge of the catalytic mechanism will provide crucial insight into treating oxidizing damage from ionizing radiation experienced by astronauts.

Jacy VerMaas Hannan is a pediatric occupational therapist currently pursuing her PhD at the University of Nebraska Medical Center under the direction of Dr. Max Kurz. Jacy received her BA in psychology at UNL and her MA in occupational therapy at the University of Southern California. Her research focuses on visual perceptual and visual motor processes using behavioral, biomechanics and neuroimaging techniques. Jacy’s NASA Nebraska Space Grant project will focus on developing psychometrics to measure how visual and haptic information is integrated and weighted during tasks. This study will begin to build novel algorithms that can be used to quantify the changes in perception that may occur after long-term space flight.

Anthony Kohtz is a senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Geology and Microbiology. Under the direction of Dr. Karrie Weber his fellowship will focus on a methanogen, isolated from wetlands outside of Lincoln, that grows on calcium carbonate as the sole carbon source. He will utilize Raman spectroscopy, electron microscopy, and stable-isotope probing to investigate these microbe-mineral interactions. After completing his undergraduate degree, he plans to pursue a graduate degree in geomicrobiology.

Melissa Mosbrucker is pursuing her bachelors degree in chemistry at the College of Saint Mary as a Marie Curie Scholar. Under the direction of Dr. Dunesh Kumari, she is studying the antioxidant capacity and bioavailability of tertiary combinations of curcumin, resveratrol and a polymer. After finishing her degree at the College of Saint Mary she intends to advance into a Ph.D. program in Pharmaceutical Science. Over the course of this last summer she began her project and received training on various analytical instruments. She is deeply passionate about the application of chemistry and mathematics and wishes to make a significant contribution to the world of science over her lifetime.

Mary Elizabeth Ramirez is senior at the College of Saint Mary earning a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, and is graduating in December of 2018. She is a member of the Math & Science Club and the Green Team, as well as an on-campus tutor for math and chemistry. After graduating, she plans on pursuing a PhD in Chemical Engineering focusing on either energy or materials chemistry. For the NASA Nebraska Space Grant Fellowship, Mary is using Green Chemistry principles to measure various physicochemical properties and qualities of extracted virgin coconut oil, then plans to develop a skin care formulation free of phthalate, paraben and petroleum ingredients.

Erika Bowman is a senior Biological Systems Engineering student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her degree focus is in Environmental and Water Resources Engineering.  She will graduate May 2018. After graduation, Erika plans on pursuing a Master's degree in Environmental Engineering. She currently works with Dr. Francisco Munoz-Arriola studying hydroclimatological interactions and modeling. Throughout her undergraduate career, she has worked with soil moisture technologies involving field data collection and implementation. With the NASA Nebraska Space Grant, Erika will further her soil moisture research to incorporate NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) data in order to compare the radar and radiometer measurements with in situ data modeling for Nebraska soils.

Ethan Davis is a graduate student in the Mechanical and Materials Engineering Department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He received both his B.S. and M.S. degrees from UNL and is currently pursuing his PhD under the guidance of Dr. George Gogos. With a specialization in thermal sciences and fluid mechanics, Ethan works on two-phase heat transfer within a highly collaborative, multidisciplinary group. Ethan’s work for the NASA Nebraska Space Grant Fellowship focuses on the effect of capillary wicking on the pool boiling performance of Femtosecond Laser Surface Processed metals.

TeSean Wooden is going into his senior year at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He will be finishing his undergraduate career with Bachelor degrees in Exercise Science and Biomechanics. He is also a  teaching assistant under the mentorship of Dr. Takahashi. With the NASA Nebraska Space Grant Fellowship, he hopes to inspire undergraduate students to explore the field of biomechanics and others like it.

Ethan C. Hill received his MS degree in exercise physiology and nutrition from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and BS degree in exercise and sport science from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. He is currently a PhD student in exercise physiology and nutrition at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.  Ethan is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and the American Physiological Society. His NASA Space Grant project will examine the effects of low intensity concentric blood flow restriction training versus low intensity eccentric blood flow restriction training on muscle strength, muscle hypertrophy, and neuromuscular adaptations.  The project will also examine the time course of muscle soreness and exercise-induced muscle damage as a result of both training interventions. 

Thomas Hafner is a senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering and will graduate in December of 2018. Upon graduation, he plans on attending graduate school in the area of mechanical engineering. He hopes to one day become a professor and teach the next generation of engineers. For the NASA Space Grant Fellowship he will work under the guidance of Dr. Jae Sung Park in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at UNL. Thomas will investigate how to reduce skin friction or drag in turbulent flows and develop a turbulent model for drag reduction.

Alex Wiesman is a PhD student in the IGPBS Neuroscience program at UNMC studying under Dr. Tony Wilson, and a Predoctoral Fellow of the National Institutes of Health. His research is focused on using functional neuroimaging to understand the neural codes that subserve attention and memory processing in health and disease. Alex's NASA Nebraska Space Grant project will examine how stimulus-entrained neural rhythms interact with endogenous rhythmic activity during attention processing in healthy adults. These studies will provide insight into the mechanisms by which the human brain dynamically allocates attention to the visual space; a cognitive function that is critical in aerospace environments. 

Kevin Thiessen earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Creighton University in 2010. Currently, he is a PhD Candidate in Biomedical Sciences at Creighton University School of Medicine. Under the supervision of Dr. Kenneth Kramer, he will examine protein levels in the blood plasma of zebrafish that exhibit signs of vertigo (swimming in circles) or have predisposition to vestibular disorders after exposure to low gravitational forces. This will help determine if microgravity causes and/or enhances defragmentation or dislodgement of the otoconia in zebrafish.

John Sunderland is a junior at Creighton University pursuing a double major in Physics and Mathematics. He joined Dr. Andrew Baruth's nanomaterials lab in the spring semester of his freshman year where he has been working on developing more cost effective materials, particularly sulfide thin films, for use in next generation solar cells. John is currently investigating the synthesis of Cu2ZnSnS4 thin films as a possible replacement for platinum as the counter electrode in dye-sensitized solar cells. Once he develops a method to consistently synthesize the films, he plans to construct a dye-sensitized solar cell using the synthesized Cu2ZnSnS4. The performance of the solar cells will be analyzed, and the synthesis process will be refined to optimize the performance of the solar cells in a space environment. After finishing his undergraduate degree, John intends to pursue a graduate degree in materials science.

Mason Rhodes is a sophomore at Creighton University majoring in biomedical physics with a minor in mathematics.  He is currently working with Dr. Jack Gabel using spectrum analysis with data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and will be studying the literature accretion disk wind models of quasars in order to find new information regarding the accretion and outflow mechanisms of quasars. Mason is also writing the introductory astronomy lab manual and is looking forward to taking leadership roles in the physics and astronomy clubs.

Chelsea Klemetson attended Minnesota State University Moorhead where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology with a minor in psychology in 2015. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate degree in Physical Therapy at Creighton University and will graduate in May 2019. Chelsea is working with Dr. Terry L. Grindstaff at Creighton University to investigate the effects of quadriceps weakness and lower body muscle fatigue on biomechanics, strength, and functional performance.

Brian Puckett is a senior at Hastings College, currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree with a major in physics and a minor in mathematics. In summer 2016, Brian researched unique energy harvesting devices for the Department of Aerospace Engineering at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. During summer of 2017, he was at College Station, Texas, researching plasma physics related to electric propulsion devices for the Aerospace Engineering Department at Texas A&M University. Brian will use his previous research experience to guide him throughout this academic year, when he will be designing, constructing, and testing a novel astronaut-powered rover for extraterrestrial applications. He plans to pursue a graduate degree in mechanical engineering upon completing his undergraduate degree.

Dr. Rashelle Hoffman is a physical therapist with a specialty in geriatrics. She is a Ph.D. Student and graduate assistant at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Munroe-Meyer Institute under Dr. Max J. Kurz. Her research focuses on adults and examines cortical activity alterations between single and dual task conditions. A better understanding of how a person dual tasks on the ground will allow us to maximize dual task abilities while a person is in outer space.

Luke Monhollon is attending the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and pursuing an Engineering degree in Biological Systems. He is working on an improved EVA tool design for the Asteroid Redirect Mission, which may also be involved in NASA´s plan for humans to reach Mars in future years. Monhollon has participated as a lead in the Air and Space Research program (ASR) and has completed a summer internship at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. 

Walker Arce is an undergraduate in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  He works in the Biomechanics Research Building (BRB) under Dr. Zuniga developing and testing electronic control systems for 3D printed upper limb prosthetics.  Walker will be developing and testing a software based scaling, fitting, and printing system for 3D printed prosthetics. The software will expedite the workflow in the 3D Printing Laboratory at the Biomechanics Research Building by automatically taking the 3D scanned limb and performing all of the sizing and fitting requirements for prosthetics, then printing them on 3D printers.

RJ Barber graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2016 with two Bachelor’s of Science degrees, one in Athletic Training and one in Education. He is currently pursuing a Master’s of Science degree in Exercise Science with a concentration in biomechanics, also from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. His fellowship project will investigate how long-term smoking affects balance. This project may provide insight on the systemic effects of ultrafine particle inhalation during long-duration space flight.

Christopher Chapin is an undergraduate student at the University of Nebraska – Omaha, majoring in Mathematics and Physics. He is doing research on a family of equations related to x^4-17y^4=2z^2 and searches for solution sets of the form {a+b*sqrt(d) | a,b are rational, and d is a square free integer}. This problem is related to Fermat's work and Elliptic Curves.

Drew Dudley attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Systems Engineering. Upon graduating from UNL in December of 2016, he began his graduate assistantship with Dr. Zuniga in the Department of Biomechanics at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. With the NASA Space Fellowship Grant, Drew is working on an inexpensive process to 3D print anatomical models for surgical planning. Drew plans to graduate with a Master’s degree in Biomechanics and to move into the field of biomedical engineering.

Angel Gonzalez is a graduate student studying Biomechanics at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He currently works at the Biomechanics Research Building of UNO as a Research & Teaching assistant under the mentorship of Dr. Takahashi. With the NASA Nebraska Space Grant Fellowship, he hopes to inspire undergraduate students to pursue a Stem Related field in their career-path.

Jayson Henrickson is a Masters student pursuing his degree in Exercise Science with a concentration in Biomechanics at UNO. While working as a graduate research assistant, his research has primarily focused on analyzing biomechanical factors that contribute to chronic ankle instability (CAI). His upcoming study will examine the effects of visual and environmental perturbations and the effect they have on altering a human’s gait cycle in individuals with CAI compared to healthy controls. This research has the potential to improve the understanding of the sensory influences on individuals with CAI and help to develop prevention and rehabilitation strategies in this population.

Dan Jaravata is an undergraduate research assistant in the Biomechanics Research Building at University of Nebraska – Omaha under the mentorship of Dr. Vivien Marmelat. He is pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in Biomechanics after spending 6 years of active duty service with the United States Air Force. For his fellowship project, he will be analyzing the effects of increasing center of mass stability on gait dynamics in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Zachary Motz is a Doctoral Research Assistant at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, with a research focus of motor control and motor learning. His research interests include how humans entrain their movements with external stimuli.  He received his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry with a minor in Chemistry at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and received his Master of Science degree in Exercise Science with an emphasis in Biomechanics from UNO.  As part of his Fellowship, Zachary will investigate the ability in healthy young adults to couple and uncouple postural sway with different environmental stimuli. 

James Pierce is a graduate research assistant in the Department of Biomechanics at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He completed a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Saint Thomas in 2014 and has worked in aerospace engineering, product development, manufacturing engineering and 3D printing. With Dr. Jorge Zuniga as a research mentor, James is pursuing research into the process of motor learning and control with special emphasis on coordination in pediatric users of custom, 3D printed prostheses. After this project has been completed, he plans to pursue a doctoral degree, with the dream of teaching and mentoring future scientists.

Auston Viotto is a sophomore at the University of Nebraska at Omaha studying mechanical engineering.  He is a member of the Nebraska Engineering Student Council, UN Robotics, and Engineering Ambassadors. He is designing a method to create a 3 dimensional pixel by superimposing a laser beam onto itself which would then be manipulated in space to produce holographic images without the use of medians or special glasses.  His aim is to benefit medical teams before critical surgery, military and emergency services’ use of topographical maps, and NASA researchers in zero gravity environments.  Professor Derrick Nero is the mentor for Auston’s research project.  After Auston graduates, he plans on pursuing a career in aerospace with companies such as NASA, Lockheed Martin, or Northrop Grumman.