Bruning Award | Capital University, Columbus Ohio


Bruning Award

  • In May 2007, James and Marlene Bruning established an endowment to fund a student award to support undergraduate research and scholarly projects at Capital University. The intent of this award is to support high-quality undergraduate student research and scholarly presentations at professional academic conferences. Supported expenses may include conference registration and associated fees, travel, and the preparation and enhancement of research or scholarly activity materials. The Capital University Symposium on Undergraduate Scholarship planning committee will select the recipient(s) based on eligibility requirements and selection criteria. The planning committee also will approve all travel and budget expenditures by the recipient.

    How to Apply

    Student Eligibility Requirements:

    • Student(s) must be enrolled as full time student(s) in good academic standing at Capital University.
    • Student(s) must be planning to present their project at the Capital University Symposium on Undergraduate Scholarship.
    • Student(s) must be planning to present or has presented undergraduate research or scholarly project at an academic conference.
    • Student(s) must be willing to share their undergraduate research or scholarship experiences with the campus community. 
    • Student(s) must be willing to have the University publicize their name(s), photograph(s) and research project information.
    Nomination Procedure:

    The Symposium planning committee identifies candidates for the Bruning Award based on abstracts submitted to the Symposium on Undergraduate Scholarship each spring. Faculty mentors of the identified candidates are then asked to officially nominate the student for the Bruning Award.

    Selection Procedure:
    Nominated and eligible students for this award give their Symposium presentations to the Symposium planning committee prior to the Symposium. Presentations should follow the format of Symposium oral presentations (15 minutes long with 5 additional minutes for questions). Students who are planning to give poster presentations at the Symposium will be able to share their posters, but must also give an oral presentation. Nominated students must give their presentation to the Symposium committee prior to the Symposium in order to be considered for the award.

    The Symposium committee evaluates presentations using the appropriate rating form linked below:

    View the rating form used for Integrative Scholarship projects.

    View the rating form used for Empirical Research projects.

    The winner(s) of the Bruning Award is announced at the Honors Convocation each spring.

    Need more information?
    Contact Stephanie Gray Wilson, Assistant Provost for Experiential Learning, at or ext. 6894, CMC 285.

  • 2019 Bruning Award Winner

    Medieval and Modern Manifestations of Near-Death Experience

    Moriah Reichert 
    Mentor: Dr. Joy Schroeder, Religion

    Moriah Reichert (’19) is the 2019 recipient of the James L. and Marlene Bruning Undergraduate Research Award. Her project, “Medieval and Modern Manifestations of Near-Death Experience,” was conducted under the mentorship of Dr. Joy Schroeder (religion). Moriah’s Honors Capstone Project examined ancient and modern accounts of near-death experiences (NDEs). Her project’s comparative analysis between modern NDE accounts and the medieval mystic Julian of Norwich reveals parallels in contemporary modern accounts and one of the most studied mystics. This project suggests that the influence NDEs effect on personal religion requires a response from religious studies. Moriah is a senior religion major and will begin graduate study in religion with a theology focus in fall 2019.

    2018 Bruning Award Winner

    Authentic Imagery Between Cultures: Portraits from the Classroom

    Hannah Westhoven, Education
    Mentor: Olga Shonia

    Ohio K-12 visual art content standards require that students understand how artistic decisions and interpretations are influenced by social, environmental, and political views. Teachers must engage in authentic praxis to meet these standards effectively. Art educators can use authentic imagery to enhance students’ perceptions of culture by considering perspectives of artists and fellow students around the world. This project examined the effectiveness of an overseas exchange as an instructional technique to combat stereotypical imagery and increase cultural awareness. In this case study, two elementary school classes in the U.S. and Ireland participated in a self-portrait exchange, which included three phases: (1) an entrance questionnaire asking students to describe themselves and a member of the other culture, (2) the creation of a self-portrait, and (3) an exit questionnaire that recorded their reactions to the self-portraits from the other culture. By engaging with authentic imagery from peers, students were able to find similarities/differences, and gain appreciation for members of the other culture. This exploration of student identity and culture is an important step toward engagement with social action, and it further supports the argument for K-12 art educators to use authentic imagery and cultural exchange projects in their praxis.

    NOTE: Hannah also won the Diversity & Inclusion Award for this project

    2017 Bruning Award Winner

    Examining the Effects of IPA-3 on Protein Expression, Cell Proliferation, and Cell Migration in MDA-MB-231 and T47D Breast Cancer Cell Lines

    Rachel Bender, Chemistry and Biochemistry  
    Mentors: Tracey Murray and Alexandra Fajardo from the Wood Hudson Cancer Research Institute

    One type of prevalent cancer in the United States is breast cancer which accounts for 29% of all new cancers among women, and 15% of cancer deaths in women. The PAKs are a family of proteins found in a variety of breast cancers and were the main focus of this research. In completing literature research, I found that many scientists had examined various aspects of PAK 1, but few had looked at PAK 2. Additionally, while research had been completed examining the effect of IPA-3 on PAKs, little research had been done with breast cancer. Using Western blotting, Trypan blue exclusion assays, and migration assays, I examined the effect of IPA-3, a PAK inhibitor, on the proliferation and expression of PAK 1 and PAK 2 in MDA-MB-231 and T47D breast cancer cell lines. The results of this research showed that IPA-3 has a greater effect on the viability, migratory abilities, and protein expression in T47D cells than on MDA-MB-231 cells. This provides evidence that IPA-3 may have a greater effect on ER positive cells that express the receptor for estrogen than on triple negative breast cancer cells that do not express the estrogen, progesterone, or the HER2 receptors.

    2016 Bruning Award Winner

    Absolute Lymphocyte Count and Bone Marrow Transplant Abstract

    Becca Mowad, Nursing  
    Mentor: Heather Janiszewski Goodin

    Bone marrow transplantation (BMT) is a curative therapy for several diseases, however it brings complications such as graft versus host disease, increased infection risk, and transplant related mortality (TRM). Early identification of these complications represents the best hope of improving patient outcomes. There is evidence that absolute lymphocyte count (ALC) may represent a non-invasive method to predict both complications and outcomes for BMT, however it has yet to be studied in the pediatric population. This study retrospectively examines the correlation between ALC and outcomes of BMT, such as relapse rates of hematologic malignancy and TRM. ALC values were calculated at 30 and 100 days post BMT of 88 pediatric BMT patients. An analysis of ALC may be useful to predict the acquiring of infections or graft versus host disease; however, it did not show to be statistically significant as a predicator of transplant related death in the pediatric population in this trial. By knowing the impact of ALC recovery on outcomes, it can allow for enhanced treatment by identifying the patients at risk before proceeding with an invasive procedure and can determine how to best care for an immune-compromised patient. The study allowed a more consistent BMT protocol to be established across the ages.

    2015 Bruning Award Winner

    The Impacts of U.S. Factory Farming

    Sirrus Lawson, Economics and Political Science  
    MentorStephen Koch

    In this study my goal was to find an answer to the question, “How does the system of livestock factory farming in the United States impact food supplies, human health, and the ecosystem?” and to shape the answer in the form of a persuasive speech. My research methodology was a two part process. In order to garner the facts and statistics relevant to my research question I consulted a multitude of online articles dealing with the three subjects, read (and analyzed the sources of) Meatonomics by David Simon, and worked with agriculture professor Mike Hogan of the Ohio State University, to determine whether cropland that grows feed crops for livestock is suitable to grow grains for human consumption. To shape the style of my speech I analyzed and combined two rhetorical methods, Cicero’s dispositio and Gustave Le Bon’s theory of “Affirmation, Repetition, Contagion” in his book The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind to gain access to a new style of public speaking that would have the careful organization of the former and the concise crowd appeal of the latter. The conclusions I drew from the research were that livestock factory farming in the United States is a very resource intensive system (through usage of crop land and feed grains specifically), that facilitates the spread of food-borne diseases (E.coli and Salmonella most frequently) and is a major cause of both water pollution nationally and deforestation internationally (predominantly in the Amazon rain forest where forests are converted to feed crop land for raising beef cattle). The nature of my research is not only topical (for example factory farming runoff was one of the main causes massive algal blooms in Lake Erie in the summer of 2014) but also unique in contextualizing how we as humans directly and daily impact others and our ecosystem. To conclude I will explain how the system of factory farming is tied to and heavily promoted by federal government policy and what citizens as consumers and voters can do to curb its negative impacts.

    2014 Bruning Award Winner

    The Genetic Modification Analysis of Popcorn (Zea mays) Around the World

    Jessica DeBelly, Kashmere Pearson
    Mentor: Kerry Cheesman

    Advances have been made in agricultural biotechnology, and the prevalence of genetically modified food has increased substantially in the 21st century. A variety of crops are being modified to increase nutritional value and decrease damage from pests. Popcorn (Zea mays variant) is one of the top snack foods in the US, and one of the crops that has been targeted for genetic modification. The current experiment was designed to see whether or not common brands of popcorn in the US have been genetically modified (no previously published studies were found). Using modifications of standard procedures, published by Bio-Rad Inc., DNA was extracted from regular, organic, whole kernel, and pre-popped popcorn. The samples were crushed into a fine powder for DNA extraction before being amplified through PCR, run on 3% agarose gels (along with positive and negative GM controls). Results were visualized with ultraviolet light following ethidium bromide staining. Preliminary results (N = 60) show that nearly 75% of popcorn samples have been genetically modified. We compared genetic modification of popcorn companies within the United States to popcorn companies around the world. The results of this experiment allow consumers to know which brands and products of popcorn are genetically modified.

    2013 Bruning Award Winner

    Modeling the Spread of White-Nose Syndrome in Hibernating North American Bat Populations

    Sarah Bogen, Isaac Ressler
    Mentor: Paula Federico 

    North American bat populations are currently being threatened by an emergent infectious fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome (WNS) which causes mass mortality in hibernating colonies. Since it was first detected in New York in 2006, WNS has spread rapidly in the United States and Canada and killed over 5.5 million bats. Control of WNS is of major concern to both the scientific and caving communities, and the disease and mechanisms of transmission are still not well understood. We developed an individual-based model at the county level to gain insight into the spatial and temporal spread of the disease. We assume the probability of infection for each county in a given year is a function of the density of caves, the estimated cave temperature, and relative proximity to other infected counties. Model parameters were estimated by means of maximum likelihood. We compared model predictions with known infection data from 2006 until 2011. The model imitates the overall spatial and temporal patterns of the data and may be improved by decreasing the number of “false alarm” predictions in future extensions of the study.   

    2012 Bruning Award Winner

    Optimal Pricing Decisions for a Start-Up Company in the Car Rental Industry 

    Alexander Maze
    Mentor: M. Ali Ülkü   

    The car rental industry is worth more than $20 billion, accounting for 1.4% of the total GDP in the U.S., where car is the main mode of transportation. It is thus crucial to have a deeper look into the pricing decisions of the car-rental agencies (CRAs). This research aims to shed light on and to provide an analytical framework that can aid management of CRAs in making optimal pricing decisions while achieving the service expectations of the customers. Under the case of private information, and given the pricing scheme of the competitor, this research investigates and compares various multi-part pricing schemes, such as “fixed plus per-mileage,” to determine which one yields the maximum target profit for the sustainability of a start-up CRA. Regarding the value of transparency in service pricing to the customer, this research also studies the impact of the variability of probability distributions of mileage on the optimal prices and the resulting revenues. The determination of and the conditions under which a pricing scheme is superior to the others are attained by the theory of optimization and various operations management techniques.

    The Hopelessness of Traditional Eschatological Hope: A Broken World’s Cry for Active Hope in Suffering

    Sarah McIlvried 
    Mentors: Monica Mueller, Joy Schroeder 

    Eschatology, the study of the end of things, is often pointed to as the source of hope within the Christian faith. Such theology, which focuses on a new future without suffering, has sometimes been interpreted to ask humans to patiently endure their suffering and wait for it to pass, without providing anything substantial to help them cope. In the face of injustice this is often insufficient. Liberation Theology presents an alternative, more active, form of hope which exists in the midst of suffering and leads to change. I examine the movement of the Arpilleristas in Chile during the dictatorship of Pinochet to better understand how justice movements embrace a more active hope. By applying the beliefs of liberation theologians such as Dorothee Soelle, Jurgen Moltmann, and Vaclav Havel, I find that in a time when success seemed impossible and suffering dominated their lives, these women were able to cultivate hope through solidarity, a redefining of meaning in their lives, and action. For the sake of justice movements everywhere, such an understanding of hope is essential and must be adopted if we are to engage with this world rather than accept its injustices and suffering.