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Home » News » Nine CFA Students Present at 2023 President’s Showcase of Undergraduate Research

Nine CFA Students Present at 2023 President’s Showcase of Undergraduate Research

Published April 13, 2023

On April 6, FSU celebrated outstanding undergraduate research in its 2023 President’s Showcase of Undergraduate Research. This year, nine students from the CFA family presented on topics – Samantha Bikulcius, Jessica Cassette, Erica Darcy, Alycia Drapcho, Faith Goyette, Willow Hackett, Victoria Huguet, Samantha Lesser and Victoria Pagan.

Sponsored by FSU’s Office of the President and the Center for Undergraduate Research and Academic Engagement (CRE), this event serves as the culmination of the IDEA Grant, Tech Fellows, and iGEM summer awards, but the work these students present does not end here. Many of the award recipients will continue their intellectual pursuits through honors theses, independent study projects, graduate research, and entrepreneurial and creative work, both here on our campus and beyond.



Research Mentor: Micah Hirsch
Listening Effort in Dysarthria

Samantha Bikulcius is a double major in Communication Science & Disorders and Theatre. She spent her first year at FSU studying abroad and dove right into research as soon as she arrived in Tallahassee this year. Samantha hopes to help listeners better understand speech disorders and make social interaction easier for those with speech disorders.

Abstract: Dysarthria is a type of motor speech disorder that impacts the muscles used for speech production, often resulting in changes to a person’s speech and voice quality.This, in turn, can make it difficult for communication partners to understand dysarthric speech. The current study will investigate the role of listening effort in the perception of dysarthric speech using pupil dilation and self-reported effort ratings. During the speech perception task, participants will be seated in front of a computer equipped with an eye-tracking camera and listen to semantically anomalous phrases spoken by a speaker with dysarthria or a healthy control speaker. While listening to the phrase, their pupil dilation will be tracked by the eye-tracking camera. After hearing the phrase, they will be instructed to repeat back what they heard and provide a rating of their listening effort on a 7-point Likert scale. Participants will complete a total of 80 trials, 40 from the speaker with dysarthria and 40 from the healthy control speaker. Then, participants will complete selected assessments from the NIH Toolbox Cognitive Battery. Data collection for the study is currently ongoing. However, study hypotheses and future plans will be discussed.


Research Mentor: Joseph Watso
Do Breathing Patterns Affect Ratings of Perceived Exertion and Breathlessness?

Jessica Cassette grew up in Jacksonville, Florida and attended an arts magnet program that ignited her passion for the arts and sciences. She aims to investigate how the integration of the two fields can provide insight into the world. Jessica is currently a sophomore in the School of Dance. She plans to ultimately pursue a Doctorate in Physical Therapy and specialize in treating professional athletes. Jessica aspires to conduct clinical research studies that can aid in the development of innovative injury recovery and prevention techniques.

Abstract: Breathing patterns influence the perception of physical effort and breathlessness. Nasal breathing can calm the nervous system, but it is unknown whether nasal versus oral breathing affects the rating of perceived exertion (RPE) or the rating of perceived breathlessness (RPB). Purpose: Therefore, we tested the hypothesis the RPE and RPB would be lower with nasal versus oral breathing at rest and during exercise. Methods: We tested 11 participants aged 18-20 years old with body mass index values of 19 – 26 kg/m2. We asked participants to report an RPE (6-20 scale; no exertion to maximal exertion) and RPB (1-10 scale; none to maximal breathlessness for two 5-minute rest periods and two 7-minute exercise periods (75 watts on a semi-recumbent cycle). We randomized the order of nose-only and mouth-only breathing between participants. We conducted two-tailed, paired t-tests to determine whether breathing patterns affect RPE or RPB. Results: We found that at rest, breathing patterns did not affect RPE, but did affect RPB. However, during submaximal exercise, we found that breathing patterns did not affect either RPE or RPB. Conclusions: These preliminary findings suggest that while nasal breathing at rest can reduce subjective ratings of breathlessness, it does not affect subjective ratings of effort or breathlessness during submaximal exercise.

Research Mentor: Dr. Benjamin Gunter
What a Painting Represents: Fashion and the Life of Catherine Murat in 1837

Erica Darcy is a first-year student from Dayton Beach, Florida. She is a a Studio Art major with a minor in Anthropology. Erica’s research interests fall between the two subjects.

Abstract: In 1837, French portrait artist Jacques Amans painted Princess Catherine Murat, the great-grandniece of George Washington and wife of Prince (and lieutenant-colonel) Achille Murat, as their paths crossed briefly in Louisiana. It was here that Amans created a neoclassical portrait, depicting Catherine posed sitting in an elegant fashion. Pictured in a white Victorian style dress, this portrait of Catherine represents not only who she was at the time, but who she wished to be as well. This painting’s details provide evidence for the culture of class in Tallahassee, and the representation of new European trends by an American woman. By researching the portrait of Catherine, this project hopes to uncover the induction of Victorian trends in American fashion, and also to uncover the history of Catherine Murat’s life that can potentially be told through art.


Research Mentor: Michael Core
GIS Analysis of Heavy Precipitation Events & Contamination in Lake Munson

Alycia Drapcho is a sophomore dual majoring in Studio Art and Geography. Originally from Orlando, Florida, she began performing research for this project in order to learn how to work with GIS.

Abstract: In the past month, nearly 40,000 gallons of contaminated wastewater has spilled into Tallahassee waterways as a result of aging infrastructure. Although these spills have harmed community health and water supplies, the City of Tallahassee is not required to test for contaminants past a certain distance from the point source of the spill. However, independent tests by the Tallahassee Sewage and Wakulla Basin Advocacy Group have suggested that these contaminants travel far beyond the bounds of municipal testing. Tallahassee’s average heavy rainfall and waterway interconnectedness could suggest a correlation between heavy precipitation events and these contaminant flows. TO assess potential relationships, average annual rainfall data was compared against nitrogen, phosphorus, and turbidity concentrations. An R2 value was then calculated to evaluate correlation. Finally, HPEs and contaminant concentrations were mapped onto a GIS of Lake Munson to visualize any correlations between heavy rainfall and contaminant concentrations. Results showed a weak correlation between rainfall and contaminant concentration; the strongest relationship was between nitrogen and rainfall. This preliminary data could indicate the success of recent wastewater cleanup initiatives.


Research Mentor: Dr. Benjamin Gunter
Bouquet Balls: Social Dancing in Territorial Tallahassee (1820’s)

Faith Goyette is a junior transfer student from North Florida College where she worked as an English tutor, served as Vice President of the Student Government Association, Secretary of Phi Theta Kappa honor society, and graduated Suma Cum Laude with her Associate of Arts degree. Currently, Faith is in her first year at FSU as a BFA Dance student with a specification in Dance Science.

Abstract: Theater with a Mission (TWAM) is a Tallahassee-based organization that brings you face-to-face with Florida’s history through accurate and educational entertainment. Because the bicentennial of Tallahassee is approaching in 2024, TWAM is putting on a production of the events and social life of Territorial Tallahassee. As for my research, I am doing an individual historical analysis of certain aspects of life in Tallahassee in 1824 for TWAM’s upcoming production. My focus is the specific social dancing event referred to as a “Bouquet Ball,” and its significance in the social scene in Territorial Florida. Bouquet Balls were a smaller social gathering constituting a “handsome super,” coupled dancing, and most importantly the extravagant ending of the Queen of the evening passing a bouquet of flowers to the next unsuspecting gentleman. While Bouquet Balls were only hosted in Florida for eight years, they made great impact in the social scene of our dear Tallahassee.


Research Mentor: Annika A. Culver
The Shogun’s Grandniece

Willow Hackett is an Art History major at FSU finishing her first year. She is double minoring in Museum Studies and Asian Studies. Her current concentration is religious art of East Asia and Chinese contemporary art. Willow hopes to pursue a career in either museum administration, curation or as a fine art specialist at auction houses.

Abstract: The Nagamine family features a long, affluent lineage of Japanese immigrants to the United States, one who married into a family related to the bloodlines of Japan’s last Shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu. This relative, the Shogun’s grandniece, currently lives in a sleepy Oregon town with a small population, low diversity, and overall homogeneity. Her grandparents, Haruyuki and Yone Nagamine, immigrated tot the United States in the late 1910s and established a life in Los Angeles, specifically in the Silver Lake area. Now a “hipster” part of the city, Silver Lake attracted many young people for its inexpensive cost of living and bustling film scene. Before this, it attracted affluent immigrants; Haruyuki was a fruit distributor while his wife Yone was a successful midwife. They took up residence in a Spanish Colonial Revival-style house, common in L.A. due to its European and bourgeois look. This architectural style particularly attracted wealthy immigrants who wanted to assimilate into American society. However, during WWII, the Nagamines were separated by the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack, and Yone could not return back to the US with her daughter, while her husband Haruyuki, as a business leader in the Issei (first generation) Japanese community, was arrested and interned during the war. Their lives, and those of their daughter and granddaughter, represent the ups-and-downs of US-Japan relations in the 20th and 21st centuries. My research focuses on the demographics of Japanese immigration throughout WWII, and how these global situations affected the decisions and image of these immigrants in America.


Research Mentor: Liam Wirsansky
Montage: The Tallahassee Theatre Index

Victoria Huguet is a second year student at FSU dual majoring in Economics and Theatre. She is originally from Weston, Florida. Victoria became interested in research during her senior year of high school after taking AICE Global Perspectives, a course offered by the Cambridge program.

Abstract: This project is a culmination of theatre programs and companies in both the direct and greater Tallahassee area. It is created in the form of a digital library and contains both a theatre index and a calendar. The theatre index lists all of the companies in the form of profiles, each containing the same formatting. The information included in this format is the company’s social media sites and a summary of what the company does. The calendar is an extension of the company’s information, for it lists any upcoming events for the companies included in the index. This is all found on a Wix website and was created for simple and direct access to the arts in Tallahassee. Through this index, we are hoping to incorporate more theatre in the area and allow for more direct communication between companies, thus enhancing positive theatre morale in the city. If theatre companies can be in contact with one another, it is with the hope that more cohesive projects can be created and initiatives on which societal issues are focused can be developed. This will change the impact of theatre and showcase that there is more to the arts than one can simply perceive.


Research Mentor: Dr. Michael Neal
Representations of Spirituality in Postcards

Samantha Lesser is an Art History major from Jacksonville, Florida. She is interested in research involving history and photograph, and enjoys drawing and painting in her spare time.

Abstract: The purpose of this project is to utilize cards available in the FSU card archive to analyze the ways different forms of spirituality are presented. While depictions of Christian faiths are most common, I aimed to focus on the less popularly depicted belief systems to compare and contrast them with one another. To do this, I searched the archive using many terms that were related to different religions. After finding a sizable body of cards, I organized them into different categories and noted the different qualities of each one. I was able to find cards related to Buddhism, Christianity, Mormonism, Judaism, Taoism, and the practices of the Hopi people. After organizing the cards, I found that many of them utilized similar conventions even if depicting different faiths, provided that the subject matter was similar. Cards that were certifiably made for an American audience focused on the differences between Americans and these other cultures, often referenced in the captions on the back of the cards. Postcards are a very limited medium because they cannot capture many of the nuances of spirituality, but they are useful in depicting the spectacle of religion.


Research Mentor: Dr. Mickey Langlais
Intentionality, Love Languages, and Relationship Quality

Victoria Pagan is a first-year student from central Florida with a love for both the social sciences and the arts. She intends to pursue a career in psychology and social psychology research, and is considering additional career paths in art therapy and illustration. Victoria is currently a double major in Studio Art and Psychology.

Abstract: Gary Chapman proposed the concept of the five love languages, stating that there are five ways that humans communicate and receive affection within relationships. Chapman says that for the highest relationship satisfaction, the love languages should match or go together in some way, but amidst the few instances of research on the theory, results vary. This study hypothesizes that the congruence or matching of love languages doesn’t especially matter, but that the intentionality behind the actions within the partnership serves as the foundation for the connection that the love languages are proposed to build. Therefore, this qualitative study investigates three main questions: what is intentionality, how does intentionality impact romantic relationships, and what is the relationship between intentionality and the five love languages? Over forty-five undergraduate students at FSU were asked nine questions and the results were analyzed through thematic analysis to answer the primary research questions. Intentionality was described to be the purpose behind the actions of an individual and plays a key role in relationship maintenance through the communication of love, willingness, and the desire to develop a relationship further. In this way, the five love languages rely on intentionality to fuel romantic relationship satisfaction.


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