» OURCA Ambassadors

Meet the 2017/2018 OURCA Ambassadors! 

Shannon-Corenthin-HeadshotJessica Bocinski - Lead OURCA Ambassador 

Year: Senior

Major: Art History and Anthropology

Mentor: Dr. Wendy Salmond 

Research Project/Creative Activity: The Invisible Artist: Reframing William Holman Hunt's Works through 15th century Netherlandish Art

Explain your research/creative activity: Over the past year, I have researched the connections between a Pre-Raphaelite artist named William Holman Hunt and 15th century Netherlandish painting. This comparison fosters a different understanding of the purpose of Hunt's works and the common misconceptions associated with his stylistic choices.

What advice would you give a student considering getting involved in research or creative activity? If you are passionate about a subject or are interested in research, you should absolutely get involved in one of the research and creative activity opportunities that OURCA has to offer. Undergraduate research and creative activity is a great way to make professional and personal connections with professors, gain invaluable experience that can translate into future graduate school or career opportunities, and learn more about your own interests. The research and creative activities on campus are also great ways to meet new people from different disciplines.

Ask Jessica a question!

Shannon-Corenthin-HeadshotJesse Rush 

Year: Senior

Major: Biological Sciences and Spanish

Mentor: Dr. Jason Keller

Research Project/Creative Activity: Temperature Effects on Humic Substance Reduction in a Northern Minnesota Peatland 

Explain your research/creative activity: Peatlands are a type of wetland, and understanding how these ecosystems function has important implications for understanding global climate change. For the past year, I’ve been investigating how humic substance reduction (when microbes “breath” organic compounds instead of oxygen) influences peatland carbon cycling and greenhouse gas production.

What advice would you give a student considering getting involved in research or creative activity? I would tell students that though they should pursue what they are passionate about they should not be afraid to explore new areas of research or something they have never studied before. It may lead them to a new passion or career they had not previously considered. 

Ask Jesse a question!


katie-peck-headshotKatie Peck 

Year: Senior

Major: Art

Mentor: Professor Lia Halloran

Research Project/Creative Activity: Weaving the Tides 

Explain your research/creative activity: I will be collecting trash and plastic items from beaches in Orange County through organized beach clean ups. Then I will weave the collected items to create a visualization of the pollution through the local watershed that ends up in the Pacific Ocean. The final sculpture is a 8.5ft x 10ft steel frame of trash emerging from the side. 

What advice would you give a student considering getting involved in research or creative activity? I would tell students to find their own area of interest or their passion and pursue it. Find a question or problem you're excited to answer! Don't be afraid to take a leap out of your comfort zone or your typical area of study. Push the boundaries of your topic and think about having interdisciplinary conversations surrounding your topic, and allow yourself to learn from different viewpoints. 

Ask Katie a question!

Shannon-Corenthin-HeadshotSarah Alexander 

Year: Senior

Major: Mathematics

Mentor: Dr. Peter Jipsen 

Research Project/Creative Activity: Totalization of Partial Algebras

Explain your research/creative activity: We are working to relate specific classes of partial algebras to total algebras through no-point, one-point, and two-point totalization. We specifically want to find a connection between effect algebras and involutive partially ordered residuated monoids.

What advice would you give a student considering getting involved in research or creative activity? I would tell a student considering getting involved in research that sometimes once you begin your  research you could obtain unexpected results and end up going in a completely different direction than you once thought. This is normal and that student should pursue this new direction in research rather than losing hope when the results don't turn out the way they once thought they would. It wouldn't be research if the answers were always easy!

Ask Sarah a question!

Romano HeadshotErika Gibson 

Year: Class of 2017

Major: History and Philosophy

Mentor: Dr. Stephanie Takaragawa 

Research Project/Creative Activity: A La Francaise: French food in Cold War Era White House Entertaining

Explain your research/creative activity: Building from my undergraduate thesis in which I explore Thomas Jefferson's use of French food as a tool for diplomacy, my SURF project explores how Cold War presidents also used French food and French entertaining during times of political instability.

What advice would you give a student considering getting involved in research or creative activity? Use your resources and be creative. OURCA is here to help you achieve your own research goals. The connections you make with other students and faculty will be invaluable in the future.

Ask Erika a question!

Natalite Tom Headshot Chloe Horner

Year: Senior

Major: Psychology and English Literature 

Mentor: Dr. Connie Shears 

Research Project/Creative Activity: Beyond the Body: Yoga as a Potential Intervention for Body Image Issues Among Women 

Explain your research/creative activity: My current research investigates the relationship between yoga and body image among women. Implications include strong potential to cultivate a more effective alternative to largely ineffective current methodology for treating body image disturbance in both clinical and nonclinical female populations. During my SURF study I authored a novel questionnaire to assess the potential relationship between yoga factors and body image factors and ran a pilot test to collect preliminary data. My continued research involves refinement of my novel scale applied to specific populations and larger sample sizes. 

What advice would you give a student considering getting involved in research or creative activity? Conducting research may seem like a daunting task, but it all boils down to an unanswered question. Participating in undergraduate research is taking your education into your own hands; it is empowering and exciting. The experience and insight you gain from research is an invaluable experience that you really can't glean from sitting in a lecture. If you have an unanswered question you believe deserves academic attention, don't hesitate to involve yourself in undergraduate research! 

Ask Chloe a question!

Nicole Hornaday Headshot Humam Alkhaled 

Year: Senior

Major: Biological Sciences 

Research Project/Creative Activity: Designing Cell-Penetrating Antimicrobial Peptides as Molecular Transporters of Antibiotics against Pathogenic Bacteria

Explain your research/creative activity: The objective of this proposal is to develop antimicrobial peptides that can be used to improve the delivery of the antibiotics through the bacteria membrane and minimize toxicity and bacteria resistance. The goal is to synthesize a peptide that can work both as an antimicrobial and a molecular transporter of antibiotics. The designed antimicrobial peptide will have the ability to disrupt the bacterial membrane and improve the delivery of antibiotics. The positively-charged peptide is designed to be selective for the bacteria membrane due to its high percentage of negatively charged lipids compared to the mammalian cells.

What advice would you give a student considering getting involved in research or creative activity? I advise students to choose a subject they are interested in studying rather than just picking any research they find to fill in a requirement for their program. Then, I highly recommend them to search the web and read multiple articles about what the faculty mentor has done in the past prior communicating them so students can share thoughts and have an idea of what their faculty mentor is focusing on his studies.

Ask Humam a question!

Benji Whitmore Headshot

Haley Miller

Year: Senior

Major: Environmental Science and Policy 

Mentor: Dr. Jason Keller 

Research Project/Creative Activity: Blue Carbon Biogeochemistry

Explain your research/creative activity: I am studying greenhouse gas fluxes from "blue carbon" ecosystems within California coastal wetland restoration projects.

What advice would you give a student considering getting involved in research or creative activity? If you're not sure what exactly you're interested in, reach out to faculty to see where their interests lie. Sometimes their passion for research is contagious, and then you can give it a shot to see if the field of study is something you really enjoy.  

Ask Haley a question!


Shannon-Corenthin-HeadshotNadiya Upegui 

Year: Senior

Major: Mathematics 

Mentor: Dr. Peter Jipsen 

Research Project/Creative Activity: Effect Algebras as Total Involutive Residuated Partially-Ordered Monoids

Explain your research/creative activity: For my joint SURF project with Sarah Alexander, we were interested in connecting the lesser-understood area of partial algebras with the well-studied area of total algebras. To do this, we used different types of totalizations, which are methods of creating a new algebra that preserves the structure of the partial algebra we were working with while removing the partiality of the original algebra (that is, ensuring the new algebra is total). The resulting total algebraic structure was then studied and compared to total algebras that are already well-known, which in turn helped us to develop a better understanding of the partial algebra we started with.

What advice would you give a student considering getting involved in research or creative activity? If you are on the edge about doing research, find a faculty member in your area of interest that you trust and just talk to them! You will find that almost all professors are happy to answer your questions, explain the research process, and even tell you how they began doing research when they were in your position. Of course, the only true way to know what research is like is to experience it yourself, so if you’re still on the edge after that, I’d say take the leap and do it!

Ask Nadiya a question!

OURCA Ambassadors on Chapman University Sign

Contact Us


(714) 628-2889
Smith Hall 101B

Mailing Address:

One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866

OURCA Deadlines & Events 

Fall 2017  

Invitation Only
Wednesday, December 6
BK 404
12-1:30 p.m.
Wednesday, December 6
Sandhu Conference Center
2-4 p.m.

Spring 2018

SURF Information Session
SURF Application Deadline
Friday, March 2
4 p.m.
Lunch with a Professor Week
 April 2 - April 6
Randall Dining Commons
11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. 
Meal Voucher Required 
Grant Proposal Workshop
Spring Scholarly & Creative Grant Application Deadline
Friday, April 13
4 p.m.
Friday, May 4
Invitation Only
Wednesday, May 9
Wednesday, May 9
Sandhu Conference Center