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The Development of an Eye-Tracking Program to Assess Information-Processing and Attentional Patterns to Facial Expression StimuliMentors: Kathryn Bell and Stephanie Gray Wilson, PsychologyThis past summer I was extremely lucky to receive the support of the Summer Scholars Program and was able to stay on campus to work on the research project that I am completing as my Honors Capstone experience. The project is focused on how individuals who have and have not experienced childhood abuse differ in their attention to faces with the use of an eye-tracker. The equipment records participants’ chosen responses to what emotions they are being shown, how quickly they identify the emotions, and where their eyes travel over each face. In order to begin conducting this research, the eye-tracker slideshow had to be created, and use of the equipment familiarized, which is where this summer support was so beneficial. I was able to finish the time-consuming slideshow and become acquainted with the processes of collecting and analyzing the eye-tracking data before the start of the fall semester. Without the time to do this work over the summer, I would have had to complete this same work in two weeks’ time at the beginning of the semester in order to begin recruiting participants and collecting data in time to and finish the project by the end of the fall semester, a feat that simply would not have been possible. In addition to being able to begin testing participants immediately upon students’ arrival back on campus this fall and being given a much greater chance of finishing my work on time, the months I would have spent at home working at a photography studio all summer were spent actually working on research related to my major and intended career path, which was an incredibly fulfilling experience. Instead of working my nine-to-five that was both emotionally and physically exhausting, I was given the chance to focus my energy on something constructive and purposeful that could have far-reaching benefits for sufferers of childhood abuse. Thanks to the Summer Scholars Program, I had a truly fantastic summer and feel excited to continue my research efforts into the fall semester as well as into the future.
The Effect of Various Intersections on the Density and Flow of TrafficMentor: Dr. Paula Federico, Mathematics, Computer Science and PhysicAs a first year student, I was excited to participate in the Capital Summer Scholars Program. I was motivated to analyze and develop a computational model which simulates traffic flow between urban intersections. I also collected data by video recording traffic at various intersections throughout Columbus to compare and validate my computer simulations. I reviewed literature on traffic flow theory and its applications and I was able to incorporate some of these ideas into my project. Through this educational experience, I learned about the challenges of collecting, analyzing, summarizing and reporting data. For instance, I had to write my own code to sub-sample large data files and automate the process which gave me the chance to apply skills recently learned in my Computer Science class. I learned how to approach a complex problem by solving smaller problems first. The problem solving process is unique to each problem, but there are some general guidelines I did not really understand going into this project. Thankfully my advisor, Dr. Paula Federico, guided me throughout the process. I also learned to code in a new programming environment specially designed for agent-based models. The formal aspects of the program, like writing a report and giving a technical presentation, were also a very valuable learning experience to someone new to research. I believe it is very important for students in research fields to develop a strong basis for written and oral communication outside of scheduled University Core classes. The Summer Scholar program provided me an invaluable opportunity to experience the process of research to generate new knowledge and to connect with professors in my field of interest. I hope that many more students have the opportunity to participate in this type of learning experience.